Bed Rest, Weeks 1-3

Sooooo…

…had some surgery in November, which wasn’t supposed to take that long to recover from, but then, at the one-week follow-up appointment, my doctor broke the news that I needed to stay in bed for another five weeks.  So I went from expecting one week of lying around to SIX WEEKS.  DURING THE HOLIDAYS.

The six-week follow-up appointment happens during the week before Christmas, so I’m pretty much stuck in bed, drooling over all the gorgeous Instagram posts of beautiful Christmas quilts and lamenting that I can’t finish all the stuff that I promised myself that I was going to finally finish up this year.  2016 has not been a banner year for me, people.

BUT…I do not want to be one of those people who mopes about and whines about their difficulties, so that has meant trying to stay “busy” despite the bed rest.

Week #1:

I spent the days leading up to my surgery frantically finishing up a quilt to the point where I’d only have the hand stitching of the binding left to do.  During my first week post-op, I finished hand stitching the binding.  Then I designed some alterations for a dress I own that’s too short on me, and, inspired by the idea of sewing clothing, I read Couture Sewing Techniques, which then had me researching Christian Dior-everything for a few days.

Week #2:

After receiving the very unexpected news of another five weeks of bed rest, I panicked and decided to start a Christmas EPP quilt, but after finishing two of the blocks I realized that I didn’t actually want to make it and abandoned it.  I’ll keep the blocks for something else in the future.

Then I decided that the quilt label for the quilt I’d just finished binding could use a little extra pizazz, so I opted to embroider parts of it, which took the rest of the week and little of the next.  (There is a lot of napping happening during my day.)

20161119_113949

I also read The Art of Manipulating Fabric, and Draping: The Complete Course.  I’m seeing some garment construction in my future, and I’m excited.  I have three daughters who are about to embark upon their teenage years, and I’ve always thought that one of the funnest parts of having girls would be making their party and dance dresses, and it’s always good to practice a skill before you actually *need* it, so maybe next year will see me venture into that arena a bit.

Week #3:

Thanksgiving, which had to be delegated to my kids and they did a pretty great job of it.  A friend from my quilt guild saw my SOS Instagram post and brought me over a ton of books to read, so I spent most of my third week reading:

  1. A Curse Dark as Gold (very good retelling of “Rumpelstiltskin!”)
  2. Dragonfly (enjoyed very much!)
  3. Once Upon a Marigold (not sure I’ll finish it), and
  4. The Blue Sword (enjoying)

So here we are, amidst Week #4, and I was really hoping that my doctor’s “six weeks” prescription was just overly cautious, but I tried to sew up the swap block for November this week and it about killed me with pain and exhaustion to just do a fabric pull, so I had to send out an email apologizing for the block’s tardiness because it will not be getting finished anytime soon.  And, as a precaution, I wrote to December’s swap recipient as well and gave her a heads-up that her block could end up being late as well.  Sigh.

BUT…I woke up from this surgery with NO BACK PAIN for the first time in three years, so the future is looking mighty bright!  I can rest three more weeks if it means no back pain.

And, for Week #4, I’m feeling the knitting a-calling to me…especially:

  • Color-Tipped Italian Cashmere Beanie by Churchmouse Yarns (because it’s beautiful in that wonderfully elegant way that “simple” is beautiful)
  • Honeymoon Cowl by FitzBirch Crafts (learning double knit could be fun)
  • Botanical Yoke Pullover by Purl Soho (oh, that cabled yoke…will have to wait, but it’s sure fun to stare at it when I can)
  • St. Brendan by Kelbourne Woolens (I’m making this some day, but not now because it takes some planning), or
  • Socks! (Because I can do that…)

My son does need a new winter hat…I think my second daughter might need one, too…OH! And I was supposed to mend my youngest daughter’s Hello Kitty hat…bed rest or not, a mama’s work is never done.  I cannot wait to get back to making pancakes, and vacuuming, and cooking dinners that don’t come from a box.  Resting is a nice change, but it’s sucky to be forced to rest from taking care of the people you love.

Evolution of a Crafter: Gifts

We made it through Halloween.

And like a collective sigh, the online creative world shifted from maple leaf quilt blocks and fabric pumpkins to an overwhelming insistence that “YES, YOU HAVE TIME TO MAKE ALL YOUR CHRISTMAS GIFTS.”  Overnight.  I went to bed on October 31st proud of myself for getting my kids’ costumes done right, and woke up the next morning to an online frenzy of DIY gifts.

Many years ago I stumbled across the advice to get your handmade Christmas gifts done before Thanksgiving so you didn’t spend December in a state of anxiety over whether or not you’d finish your gifts.  For the most part, I adhere to this wisdom because it’s the only way that Christmas baking is happening–I dearly love Christmas baking, and I don’t have time for it if I’m struggling to also finish knitting and quilting projects.

So I tried something different this year.  On January 1, 2016 I drew up a list of the people I generally give gifts to at Christmas and concocted an rotation of various categories that I like to make, assigned them to a ten year schedule, and then plugged my gift list people into the categories based upon what age they were turning this year.

Example:  If your age on your birthday in 2016 had you turning something ending with a 5 (ie. 5, 15, 25, 35, etc.), then you were assigned a hat because I assigned hats to 5.

Other categories included: Pillow (1), Socks (2), EPP (3), Apron (4), Scarf (6), Mittens (7), Choice (8), Bag (9), and Quilt (0).

After spending my New Year’s Day happily ensconced in pattern searching and stash diving, I woke up on January 2nd with  optimism and excitement.  I decided to start with the big items first and work my way down to the smaller things, and first on my list was a quilt to make for a special girl who celebrated her tenth birthday in 2016.  (Understandably, I can’t show you a picture of it until after Christmas…)

And it was glorious for a few weeks–oh, the pace was exhilarating, and I patted myself on the back for my excellent plan.

But then, in March, I had to start a project that just wasn’t interesting to me, mostly because of the colors.  I lagged behind my schedule as I grit my teeth each morning and forced myself into my studio to continue plodding along towards the completion of that project.  The next gift on the list was once again in a color palette that failed to excite.  My life started to look like one long, endless road of projects I didn’t really want to make.

And on top of all that, so many people had babies this year.  To date, I’ve completed six baby quilts, with another 1-3 possibly in the works.

picmonkey-collagepicmonkey-collage2

 

People, I am gifted out.  I have spent this entire year making gifts for people. THE ENTIRE YEAR.

I don’t regret it at all, but I’m also just. done.

I think I’m evolving.

Have you noticed that so many people, when learning a new skill, give away their projects?  It’s like they make that first project to figure out how to work the new skill, and then start cranking out projects and just give them all away?  I’ve touched on this idea before in a previous post, but it seems that we go through a phase of “Look at what I can do!” with any newfound skill, gifting any living being with the works of our hands.  I think it’s part excitement and pride in a job well done, and the other part love.  All good things.

picmonkey-collage

Some of the swap blocks I’ve made this year. I’ve actually been able to do a lot growing with The Beehive Swap!  New techniques and skills galore!

But there comes a point when you look around and know that you’ve spent most of your time creating beautiful works of art, and realize that your personal life is quite devoid of any of that particular beauty because you’ve given it all away.  There is beauty in service and giving, definitely; but…that moment when you realize that your dwelling is practically ascetic causes a big pause and an even larger moment of reflection.

Giving gifts is good.  Improving one’s skills while working on said gifts is also good.  There has been a lot of good this year.  (Please no one who received a gift from me this year think that I’m upset or regret making something for you.  That is totally NOT the case AT ALL.  I’m quite proud of all the nice things I made for you all this year.)

But…

…it’s falling short.  There are new techniques to try, new skills to learn, and they don’t fit into gifting categories, so I’ve been slow to start working on them, despite my heart being pulled in that direction.

So, I think it’s time for a Gifting Decommission.

Less time spinning my wheels creating more of the same, and a new focus on learning new techniques and stretching my abilities.  I can’t do that with the pressure of gift lists on my shoulders; with the thoughts of “Now who would like this?  Maybe I should change that color to match their decor a little better.  Hmm, I know that so-and-so really loved that appliqued one, so maybe I’ll put this pattern aside and do something with more applique because then I can give it to her for Christmas…” in the back of my mind.  A shift to making art for the sake of art.  “What is best for this project?” instead of “What is best for this person?”

My creativity needs to be mine, and I also need the time to tackle new techniques that will allow me to progress.

I’ve a few gift projects that are near completion that I’ll see through to the end, but after they’re done, that’s it for a while.

It’s time to build a cocoon and do a little bit of growing.

This is what I will tell myself in two weeks when I snap and think that, yes, I SHOULD MAKE ALL THE GIFTS.

I am not an elf in Santa’s workshop.  It is not my job to make gifts, nor does my livelihood depend upon my ability to supply others with gifts.

Now to get going on that cocoon…

Briar Rose baby quilt made by Cara Brooke @ thatcraftycara.com

Briar Rose Baby Quilt

Briar Rose quilt made by Cara Brooke @ thatcraftycara.com

Another baby quilt completed during this Year of ALL THE BABIES™!  This was for another friend from college, and I decided to bust out the coveted Briar Rose charm packs that I had been saving for “something special.”  She had mentioned in Facebook comments that she hoped to not “drown in a sea of pink,” and Briar Rose is the perfect amount of girly without a lot of pink, in my opinion.

Briar Rose baby quilt made by Cara Brooke @ thatcraftycara.com

My oldest daughter, Emily, helped me out with piecing the top as part of her summer chores (I’ve assigned one hour of sewing to her everyday in the hopes that she’ll start making  a dent in some of her WIPs).  I then took over from there with the quilting and finishing.

Vine and clover quilting on Briar Rose baby quilt made by Cara Brooke @ thatcraftycara.com

 

I was stressing pretty bad about the baby quilts when I started quilting this one, and I just decided to let go of all of the expectations of getting gifts done before the babies were born so I could actually enjoy the process of making the gifts.  I was going to burn through the quilting on this with a simple stipple design, but the quilt spoke to me and it wanted some sort of floral quilting.  Floral stipple?  Nope.  Chrysanthemum all-over design?  Nope.  And then the idea of vines and clover popped into my head, and the quilt clapped its hands in excitement, and off we went.  It took longer to do, but I’m so glad I went that route.  It was a good exercise in doing something new.

Back of Briar Rose baby quilt made by Cara Brooke @ thatcraftycara.com

I tracked down some Briar Rose yardage* for the back, which made my matchy-matchy heart so happy, and I dipped into my preciously-hoarded stash of my own Briar Rose yardage for the binding.

Briar Rose baby quilt made by Cara Brooke @ thatcraftycara.com

I decided to take some time and also have fun with the label, and I love how it turned out…little, teeny pinwheels!  Oh, be still my heart.  Love, love, love.

Quilt label on Briar Rose baby quilt made by Cara Brooke @ thatcraftycara.com

It’s simple patchwork, yes, but I’m super proud of it–beautiful fabric, new quilting design, and adorable little label.  It makes me smile to look at the pictures every time I see them.  AND it was a joint project with my girl…win-win all around.

Briar Rose baby quilt made by Cara Brooke @ thatcraftycara.com

*I found the Briar Rose yardage at Lark Cottons, and they still have yardage of various prints!

Dr. Seuss Baby Quilt

Yes, it is indeed a post from me, and it’s even about a finished project.  Whew, end-of-school kinda kicked my butt this year, and I haven’t been sewing, blogging, or doing anything beyond mommy duty for months.  Life gets that way sometimes.

Anyway, you’re here for the finished quilt, not my life story.  Here we go…I give you the FINISHED Dr. Seuss Baby Quilt:

SONY DSC

SONY DSCSo, many years ago, I don’t how many precisely (five? eight?), the Dr. Seuss fabric came out and people went absolutely bonkers for it, myself included.  I bought up a couple yards without any plan for them, and, because I was in the midst of homeschooling and really young kids, it went into my stash to hibernate.

This May or June I found out that a friend from college was pregnant…and due to give birth in about three weeks or so.  Now, I’d always liked this friend, but I was in the midst of my “young children” years when she had her other kids and I hadn’t been able to make anything back then, but here I was, all primed for baby quilt-making, just a little short on time…and after a couple of days of stewing over it, I just decided to go for it.  Operation Sew-It-Like-You-Mean-It was a go.

Stash diving brought out the Dr. Seuss goods, which I matched up with some other coordinating fabrics, and I found a fun pattern that looked like it could come together quickly in Amy Smart’s Fabulously Fast Quilts.  Woo hoo!

SONY DSC

SONY DSC

 

SONY DSCIt was fast, and I had a lot of fun making it!  And, to top it off, I bought some of the most perfect binding fabric from a member of my quilt guild.  I love, love, love the black and white stripe!

I used up all of my yellow Dr. Seuss print on the back, bordered with strips of the Dr. Seuss prints from the front.

SONY DSC

I think it’s rather happy, no matter which side you’re looking at.  I hope it’s well-loved, and used until it’s worn out to rags.  That’s Valhalla for a baby quilt.

SONY DSC

SONY DSC

 

And many thanks to my little quilt models…

SONY DSC

…they’re so fabulous.

AGF Stitched with Kimberly: “Blithe” quilt pattern

Hello again!  It’s time for another round of AGF Stitched with Kimberly, featuring a new pattern and some lovely Art Gallery Fabrics!

agf-stitched-LOGO

The new pattern this time is called “Blithe,” and the Fat Quarter Shop version used a new fabric collection called Chalk & Paint, which, when I first saw it during those gray, cold days of late January, just filled me with so much excitement over the eventual arrival of spring that I decided to make a spring-colored version myself.

SONY DSC

I went with a bunch of fabrics from the Paperie collection and the Playing Pop collection, with a few selections from the Millie Fleur collection as well, paired with the solid “Icy Mint” from the Pure Elements line.

SONY DSC

I really liked the look of this pattern, but I had the idea to scale it down and decided to go with it.  Instead of six-inch blocks, I scaled it down by 50% to make three-inch blocks, and made some cheerful throw pillows.  The pillows measure 18.5 inches square.

SONY DSC

Love it.  The pattern used Triangles on a Roll, which I’d always wanted to give a try, so there was some extra fun in doing that–I think if I need to mass-produce HSTs in the future that I’ll go this route again.

I’ve been obsessed with pebbling quilting for a few months now, so I decided to take the plunge and give it try as well.  I used Aurifil 50 in “Medium Mint” for pebbling on the mint sections, and Aurifil 50 in “Natural White” to outline quilt the prints.  Using the darker mint thread really brought out the green tones of the Icy Mint fabric, which was neat.

SONY DSC

To help you out with making your own Blithe quilt, the Fat Quarter Shop has assembled two kits using that fabulous Chalk & Paint fabric collection:

Blithe Quilt Kit

Backing Set for Blithe Quilt Kit

And, the pattern is free, and you can get your own copy by clicking here.

There’s also a video explaining the pattern more in-depth.  Enjoy!

In exchange for creating this project, Art Gallery Fabrics provided me with the fabric.  Thank you to both Art Gallery Fabrics, and to the Fat Quarter Shop for allowing me the opportunity to sew up another beautiful pattern with such great fabrics!

SONY DSC

SONY DSC

Gingham Block pattern

We have a sewing group in my neighborhood, and we’re running another quilt block swap this year.  The pattern that February’s queen bee wants cannot be found online, so I’ve written one up for us.  It’s going to be pretty cute!

Gingham Block pattern.docx-page-001

Gingham Block pattern.docx-page-002

Just right click on the images, save, and print.

Or, you can click here and view the file in PDF format.

And, to answer the oft-asked question:  The “medium” and “dark” color should be shades of the SAME color.  (ie. “medium PINK” and “dark PINK”)

 

It Begins: Journal Covers for my Activity Days Girls

I serve as a leader for my church’s Activity Days program, which is basically our version of Girl Scouts for girls ages 8-11 years old.  When they turn twelve years old, they advance into the Young Women’s program, and we say good-bye.

I started serving in this position last spring, and we haven’t had any of the girls turn twelve in that time until now…and it just so happens that it is my very own daughter who is advancing.

SONY DSCServing as Activity Days leader when my girl is moving up is interesting because I have firsthand observations as to what would actually be valuable to her at this point in her life, and then I can apply that knowledge to the other girls as they reach this age.  And since you really do fall in love with these girls as you teach them and spend time with them, you want to give something to them when they leave, and the Young Women’s organization seems to be pretty big on keeping a journal, so I decided to go with making journal covers for my advancing twelve year olds.

This week was my daughter’s last Activity Days meeting, as she turns twelve in February, so we said our good-byes and presented her with her journal cover that will hopefully see her through to adulthood and beyond.

SONY DSC

I used Lori Holt’s journal cover pattern that can be found over at AllPeopleQuilt.com.  I’m planning on making a lot of these over the next few years (seven alone this year), so I think in the future I’m going to size it down to fit a composition book–this particular pattern fits your  basic full page journal ($15 +/-), which my Activity Days budget cannot handle purchasing for each advancing girl.  But a $2 composition book for each girl?  You betcha, and it will be so easy to replace those journals as the girls fill them up during their angst-filled teenage years of seeking solitude in writing their emotions.

I used a lot of fabric from a fat quarter bundle of Wee Wander fabrics that I bought specifically for my daughter a year or two ago.  She’s big into blues and greens and absolutely loved the collection, but then I gifted her the “Locket” quilt for Christmas, so I probably won’t be making a Wee Wander quilt for her anymore.  Which means I can start using it in other projects, and what better project than one meant for her?

The gingham is from Tasha Noel’s “The Simple Life” collection, and the other three non-Wee Wander prints inside the journal cover are from the years when I wasn’t paying attention to the names of fabric collections, and were conveniently missing their selvages, so I don’t know their names.  (That hexagon one, though…it’s on the tip of my tongue…Riley Blake?)  And the coral tile-looking print…I think it had something to do with Ty Pennington.)

SONY DSC

Front inside pocket

SONY DSC

Back inside pocket

SONY DSC

Back outside cover

SONY DSCThe navy strip on the top of the cover is from Pat Bravo’s “Dare” collection, leftover from binding the “Locket” quilt, and used when I cut my cover fabric the wrong size…good thing we quilters aren’t scared by that sort of mistake, eh?

The “e” on the front cover was cut with my Silhouette Cameo (font = Garamond), and then I just slowly machine straight-stitched it onto the pocket.  We’ll see how it stands up to wear-and-tear; it is backed with some fusible webbing to try to avoid fraying.

It’s a cute little thing, and I hope it gets a lot of use!

I’m going to be the mother of a twelve year old in a matter of weeks.  Goodness me.  Hopefully she’ll have journals filled with happy memories and wise lessons…

Linking up:
Made by You Mondays @ skiptomylou.org
Sew Cute Tuesday @ Blossom Heart Quilts
Linky Tuesday @ Free Motion by the River
Let’s Bee Social @ Sew Fresh Quilts
Needle & Thread Thursday @ My Quilt Infatuation

 

 

Fat Quarter Shop’s Top 10 Videos: Star Cakes Quilt

Top-10-VIdeosHello Lovelies!

Star Cakes is another fun quilt in the parade of the Fat Quarter Shop’s Top 10 Videos of 2015.  I chose to make a baby-friendly-sized version, because WOW, you can get FIVE baby quilts out of TWO layer cakes with this pattern, and WOW, I know FOUR women who are pregnant with girls at the moment.

Plus, the Star Cakes quilt pattern is free.  Oh, yes, I’m a very happy quilter indeed.

So, consider this as Cara’s Star Cakes Quilt #1, of many to follow:

 

 

SONY DSC

I used the lovely Gooseberry collection, and Bella Solids in Admiral Blue.  It will make a nice little playmat for my friend’s wee girl.

There are lots of other bloggers who are participating in today’s Top 10 quilt hop, and their work is lovely:

Shruti of 13 Woodhouse Road

Rachel of PS I Quilt

Melissa of Happy Quilting

Tina of Emily Ann’s Kloset

Cara of That Crafty Cara (you’re here!)

Kim of Persimmon Dreams

Pat Sloan

And there’s more fun:  Fat Quarter Shop wants to see YOUR versions of their Top 10’s, and they’re offering a $100 gift certificate to one lucky quilter who posts their photos on Instagram with the hashtag #starcakesquilt and #FQStop10.

Thanks for the opportunity to sew up this great pattern, Fat Quarter Shop!

Star Cakes quilt, a free pattern from the Fat Quarter Shop, made with Gooseberry Fabrics and Bella Solids in Admiral Blue.

Linking up:
Sew Cute Tuesday @ Blossom Heart Quilts
Linky Tuesday @ Free Motion by the River
Let’s Bee Social @ Sew Fresh Quilts
WOW Wednesday @ Esther A. Liu
Needles & Thread Thursday @ My Quilt Infatuation

Layers of Charm “Flower Sugar” Quilt

Top-10-VIdeosHappy New Year everyone!  In celebration of the new year, Fat Quarter Shop decided to showcase their top ten YouTube videos from 2015, and the Layers of Charm pattern was one of them.  It is a very easy pattern to stitch!

 

SONY DSC

I chose to make my Layers of Charm quilt using the very pretty Flower Sugar 10″ Origami Square pack, and paired it with a White Bella Solids Charm Pack I had on hand.

Every time I’ve seen a Layers of Charm quilt, I’ve always noticed those middle diamonds, and I’ve always thought that they made perfect little blank canvases for some embellishment, so I went with it and added a redwork rose to my center diamond:

SONY DSC

I simply traced a vintage roses pattern (found all over the internet) onto the fabric, and then used some DMC cotton perle #8 in color #321 to stem stitch the design.  I think it goes perfectly with the Flower Sugar “look.”

I then did some double diagonal lines of quilting with 40 weight Aurifil thread in color #2250, and I love how they cross each other!

SONY DSC

I loved making this quilt, and it turned out so beautiful!

If you’d like to watch the Layers of Charm video, here it is:

And, the pattern is FREE and you can download it here: http://static.fatquartershop.com/media/wysiwyg/pdf/LayersofCharm.pdf

One layer cake + one charm pack.  Simple.

Also, if you head on over to the Fat Quarter Shop’s Jolly Jabber blog, they’re offering a $100 gift certificate giveaway in connection with this #FQSTop10 event.  Go find out how to enter!

Thank you, Fat Quarter Shop, for this great pattern and the opportunity to share it with others!

But, wait!  Others are making the Layers of Charm quilt and showing it off today!  Go check ’em out:

Tina of Emily Ann’s Kloset
Tricia of Notes of Sincerity
Anorina of Samelia’s Mum
Erica of Kitchen Table Quilting
Kelly of My Quilt Infatuation
Cara of That Crafty Cara
Connie of Free Motion by the River
Gerri of Planted Seed Designs
Shruti of 13 Woodhouse Road

Linking up:
Sew Cute Tuesday @ Blossom Heart Quilts
Linky Tuesday @ Free Motion by the River
Let’s Bee Social @ Sew Fresh Quilts
Needles & Thread Thursday @ My Quilt Infatuation

January Queen Bee!

I’m so excited to have seen the sign-ups for the 2016 rendition of the Beehive Swarm Swap.  And, as luck would have it, I was assigned January as my special Queen Bee month!  I’ve been eagerly awaiting the appropriate time to start talking about my block choice, and it’s finally here!  (I made myself wait until after Christmas…it was so hard.)

So, hi!  I’m Cara.  I’m crafty, and I’ve chosen the “Wanta Fanta” block for my block, and I made up a little sample block to show the colors I like:

Wanta Fanta quilt block

I’m OK with a little bit of low-volume white background, and I’m also OK with plain white, or white-on-white.

For the colors, I’d like any combination of turquoise/aqua, navy, red, spring green, and happy pink.  I’m not a big fan of batiks or 1800’s prints, and I really love gingham and florals.  I’d really like each block to be a different color…but also waver on whether or not that’s too much to ask, so please proceed as you best see fit.

I’ve also made up a Pinterest board, in case that proves helpful:

Wanta Fanta Pinterest board

Follow Cara’s board 2016: Beehive Swap “Wanta Fanta” on Pinterest.

I’m so excited to see what you come up with!  Giddy, giddy, giddy! Thank you!

Linking up:
Linky Tuesday @ Free Motion by the River
Let’s Bee Social @ Sew Fresh Quilts
WOW Wednesday @ Esther A. Liu