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Modern Churn Dash {Sugar Block Club 2016}

14/01/2016

Last year, for the first time in ages, I didn’t finish a full size quilt. Life got too busy, the studio got too messy, and my creativity was more interested in playing with smaller projects, trying out new techniques and patterns. And so my one quilt under construction spills out of a box on the back of my desk, a little cascade of blue, orange and yellow pennants tumbling down to remind me to pick them up again some time.

And I will, I promise I will. But for this year I also really fancied doing some sort of quilt along, both for the fun of the community and for the added impetus to finish a big project. Enter stage left the Sugar Block Club.Space for the Butterflies - Modern Churn Dash

Run by Stitchery Dickory Dock, the Sugar Block Club is a year long, free, Block of the Month club based on giving a modern twist to traditional blocks. It’s perfect. My quilting aesthetic is down the modern end of the spectrum, and one block a month is very achievable. That’s one evening cutting out and marking up and one evening sewing. In fact, it’s so achievable, that I’ve decided to do two.

Because the problem with block of the month quits is that, even with sashing, I don’t find they make terribly big quilts. And as both adults in this house top 6 foot and the children will almost certainly follow, we like quilts big enough to really curl up in. If you’re snuggled up on the sofa you want to have your feet tucked in and still be able to pull it up under your chin don’t you. My most used quilts are the ones that feel the most luxuriously huge!

And so I have a plan; two blocks each month will give me 24 in total at the end of December, which can either make one big quilt for the year, or, if I think it would look sweeter that way, two matching but not matching quilts for the girls to spread over their beds.

As for the fabric, I spend a very happy evening emptying out my bags of scraps onto the lounge floor and sorting them into colour piles. I’ve got some more bits and bobs to add from my fat quarter stash but the plan is very much that all the blocks will come entirely from the stash. According to my scraps I make mostly blue and quilts and I’m not breaking too far out of that mould; I’m pulling blues, yellows and greens to make a very Spring feeling sort of quilt and the white background will be a mixture of all the white scraps in my stash.  It’s mostly Kona (Snow maybe?) but there’s a fair amount of “whatever the quilt shop had” white as well as some pretty white on white prints that were leftover from some of my earliest quilting attempts.

Space for the Butterflies - Modern Churn Dash

And so we come to these first two lovely blocks, based on a Churn Dash block, which is something I’ve never made before either.

I love the flying geese almost as much as the method of construction (which is completely ingenious and I need to use again next time I need flying geese) and it makes for a very pretty block.

Space for the Butterflies - Modern Churn Dash

I’m very proud of this particular corner which is all terribly nice and matching – some of the others show a little too well that my sewing machine and I need to become better acquainted again.

Space for the Butterflies - Modern Churn Dash

Looking at the the two of them together I wonder whether I ought to unpick the blue and yellow block to add in some green at the corners, it’s really pretty by itself but looks less balanced next to the other one, but as these are only two out of 24 and I really don’t like unpicking that much, and I don’t actually have that much of the right sort of green in my stack of fabric (I need to do a little more stash diving to see what I can come up with in the fat quarters) I’m going to leave it for now and then if I want to make a different block in December, well that’s scarcely going to be a hardship is it.

So there we have it, the start of my first quilting resolution for 2016, and I can’t wait for next month a new block to play with.

Joining Crazy Mon Quilts for Finish it Up Friday and Frontier Dreams for Keep Calm Craft On

 

Handmade Quilting Work in Progress

Nearer to being Finished on a Friday

16/10/2015

I have a mathematical conundrum for you and I promise it’s easier than the one about the crocodile and the river from Scottish Highers. These question is, if I keep either following or linking up to Crazy Mom Quilts‘ Finish it up Friday, how many weeks will it be before the number of quilts pinned to my “I’d like to make that” board exceeds the possibility of my ever making all of them even if we assume (a) unlimited stash and (b) that my crafting time will increase exponentially as my children get older.

Hint: not much longer I suspect.

But other than a Pinterest board that’s bursting at the seams, and being in complete awe at how quickly some people can turn out quilts, the other side effect of hopping from quilt to beautiful quilt is that it inspires me to keep pressing on with my fishing net quilt, even if my progress is oh so very much slower.Space for the Butterflies - fishing net quilt

I have at long last finished sewing half of the blue right angled triangles to my centre fishy triangles and this week’s big task has been to chop up all the chain piecing and press the seams out.  It doesn’t sound like a lot I know, but we are talking 219 base triangles so that’s a fair amount of ironing.

With a big project like this I try to make myself finish one stage completely before I move onto the next, otherwise I’d run the risk of ending up with half a finished quilt and the other half still a pile of triangles here there and everywhere, but I did indulge myself and make one finished block.

Space for the Butterflies - fishing net quilt

It means that I can finally start to really see how it’s going to look when it all comes together, up until now I’ve played around with the triangles and imagined it in my head but it’s just not quite the same as when there are actual seams involved.

Space for the Butterflies - fishing net quilt

The next step will be to complete the rest of the blocks.  I’m using two colours of Kona solids as the blues (if you squint at the block above you can just about see that they’re different, it’s a stronger contrast in real life) but without any particular pattern in mind.  It isn’t an even split, I’ve got a lot more of the lighter blue than the dark and rather than mapping out what I want where, I’m just picking up the next triangle and sewing it.  I should end up with some dark-dark, some dark-light, and a lot of light-light which (fingers crossed) is going to give a sort of ripple effect when you look at the net.

And then it will just be a case of putting all the blocks together. Just!!

I am starting to think ahead to that far off day though and wonder about borders.  Because there’s very little in terms of intricate piecing in this quilt so I think to run it from edge to edge might be a bit too simple, it might need one or even two borders frame it, and maybe give me somewhere to free motion quilt some fish, what do you think?

I promise I haven’t forgotten my other projects either, the super top secret knitting is finished, washed, blocked and just waiting for the moment when we discover whether it needs flowery buttons or less flowery buttons and as for my Dresden Plate, I finally realised what must have been blindingly obvious to everyone else last week, namely that I’d lost a piece down a pile of books at the back of the dresser (that there was a bit missing being the obvious bit, not its location at that time which was far from obvious!) and I have now completed the circle.

Space for the Butterflies - Cath Kinston Dresden Plate

It still isn’t a cushion yet but we’re getting there!

Linking up with Frontier Dreams

Elma Family Handmade Work in Progress

Just to keep my hand in

09/10/2015

I think that in my old age I am becoming less project monogamous. Emphasis on the “project”.  In younger days I don’t think I ever really got how some people could have a dozen or so different projects on the needles/hook/near the sewing machine.  Surely you chose your project, you sat down whenever you had time and worked on it, and then you’d have a finished whateveritwas and look around to start the next thing.  How could you have projects piled up and not just finish them?

Now of course it’s blindingly obvious.  My projects move slowly because I just don’t have as much time to dedicate to creating things and I once did, and that’s ok, I’m making people; nourishing and nurturing my little three and for these few brief years of their babyhoods they keep my hands full in the best possible way.

But it does mean that if, for example, I committed myself to finishing my crochet ripple blanket, which I adore, and which has grown by precisely one row since you saw it here last, I’d be doing nothing but crochet for a year at least.  Now I love crochet as much as the next mildly obsessed craftaholic, but a whole year of crochet means no knitting or quilting or sewing, or random crafts picked up by way of a Mollie Makes cover kit (of which my supply appears endless). And I’d miss them.

Space for the Butterflies - Cath Kidston Dresden Plate

All of which is a very convoluted way of excusing the fact that despite the gorgeous crochet ripple perched on the arm of the sofa, despite the confetti of blue and orange triangles heaped over my sewing table willing themselves into becoming a quilt, despite the loom kit that I really really want to try out, and despite the very nearly finished top secret baby knit for a baby which I believe is also very very nearly finished, this week I pulled out the kit from my Cath Kidston Patch book and started a little English Paper Piecing.

Space for the Butterflies - Cath Kidston Dresden Plate

Just to keep my hand in of course.

I’m going to make the cushion version rather than the bag because (a) we have a lot of bags and (b) I owe Elma a cushion for her bed, and while I flirted with the idea of having the centre circle be pink, or possibly red polka dots, I’m sticking to the blue centre, through I might play around with the layout of the petals.Space for the Butterflies - Cath Kidston Dresden Plate

So far I’ve been diligently stitching petals to paper; I’ve used freezer paper for the templates but I think that there must be quite a lot of starch in the fabric squares, they feel very stiff and for the first time ever I’ve had real trouble in getting the paper to stick, so I’m sewing them on well so nothing can shift about.

It’s made life a little interesting when it comes to pulling in the pleats for the top of the curves too and I’m sure some of them are a bit bumpier than they should be but hopefully it will all even itself out when I sew them down onto the background.

Space for the Butterflies - Cath Kidston Dresden Plate

They are lovely fabrics (as always) and this time the patterns are so familiar.  The blue polka dots I had as a roll of washi tape, the red floral was the tote bag I carried papers to work in for several years.

And if I don’t get too distracted by anything else, it might just make a very cute little cushion cover!

Space for the Butterflies - Cath Kidston Dresden Plate

 

 

Crochet Handmade Handmade for Elma Handmade for Kitty Knitting Quilting Sewing Work in Progress

Starting, well everything

11/09/2015

In a move that surprises no one, and is probably, by which we mean almost absolutely certainly, driven by my impending return to work and a feeling that I’ve achieved absolutely nothing over the summer/the last year, I’m starting things.  Lots of things.

Even though I know that in actual practical terms I will have about the same amount of crafting time while working as I did while staying home with three small children, somehow I feel that all my time is about to disappear in a puff of smoke and I must therefore make all of the things right now.

Space for the Butterflies - Starting Everything

I’ve started with a hat.  Kitty’s birthday cardigan (still waiting for its buttons and a good blocking) took two and a smidge skeins of Malabrigo Rios, leaving me with a nice squishy ball of leftovers that I’m hoping will be just the right amount for a Cabernet Hat.  I’m in that early stage where you look at the hat bunched up on the needles, and look across at your tall four year old daughter, and back at the needles again with a little frown.  I didn’t take any chances, I know that Kit does not wear anything that says aged 4 on it (or even 5, it’s more like 7-8), so I measured her head and I’m knitting a medium.  It should be perfect, but hats always look so little when you’ve only down a couple of inches don’t they.

I’m knitting on with faith and hope, because if it fits Kitty is going to love it (and if it does’t, guess what Elma, you have a new hat!).

In the background, sitting on the arm of the sofa, I’ve got the yarn to cast on a super top secret secret secret project which I’ll be able to tell you all about as soon as a tiny person makes an appearance within the next couple of months, and underneath it my beautiful crochet ripple.  Poor thing, it’s been rather neglected since Game of Thrones ended and I could go back to knitting and actually looking at the television when we want to watch something, rather than crochet and merely listening (which if the only way I can watch GofT).  It is great for picking up and just doing a couple of stitches, I know exactly where I am in the pattern and row 20 is growing slowly but surely.

Space for the Butterflies - Starting Everything

Space for the Butterflies - Starting Everything

When I started it on Boxing Day I had a vision of spending the next Christmas snuggly tucked up underneath it and while I have no doubt that that will be the case, it’s probably going to be because I’m working on row 35.  I’m sure if I wasn’t working on anything else I’d finish, sooner, though still probably not by Christmas, but we all know that isn’t going to happen.  Maybe I should assign myself a day of the week for crochet, and a day for knitting and a day for sewing and all the rest just to make sure everything gets a turn.

Space for the Butterflies - Starting Everything

Space for the Butterflies - Starting Everything

On the other end of the sofa is the little pile of intended sewing projects.  I’ve not stopped making the triangle quilt although I did have a bit of a pause over the summer when we went to Europe because even had we been able to get power, there was no way the sewing machine was fitting in the car, and the back of my desk is piled high with lengths of blue and gold chain pieced bunting.

Space for the Butterflies - Starting Everything

Space for the Butterflies - Starting Everything

 

It’s so very pretty but with little ones around it’s not always possible to sneak off to the studio for a little sewing so I’ve been hunting out some hand sewing, starting with the ‘cover kit’ from Cath Kinston’s Patch book which has been on my shelves for goodness knows how long.  The pattern is for a tote bag with instructions to make a pillow instead and I think that’s the route I’m going to take.  I’ve got a sizeable collection of fabric tote bags and I can just see a pretty Cath-print Dresden Plate cushion sat on one of the girls’ beds.

Space for the Butterflies - Starting Everything

And then, and this was probably the point where sensible forward planning crossed the watershed, the latest Mollie Makes arrived (issue 57).  I love this issue, it’s one of my favourites both in terms of the articles and the projects.  I usually find that I like looking at the projects but they rarely scream “make me now”, and then I turned a page and saw this chandelier mobile:

Space for the Butterflies - Starting Everything

Only in pink, with pink and purple flowers, and maybe a little green if the girls would let me sneak it in.

And then this little zip up bag:

Space for the Butterflies - Starting Everything

Which I’ve only not started yet because I can’t decide whether it’s the perfect thing for the vintage fabric squares that we got in our Blogtacular goodie bags, all the blue scraps I can find for a seaside sort of effect, or full on glorious technicolour.

Realistically, I’m going back to work next week.  I might finish a hat, a row or two on the ripple, or a few more triangles on my quilt, but isn’t it lovely to think and plan and dream, and book up every millisecond of crafting time until next Easter.

 

Embroidery Family Finished Handmade Knitting Work in Progress

Stardust {handmade in a tent}

04/09/2015

I knit most of my way around Europe.  I’m lucky that because I can knit fairly simple projects without having to look at the needles it doesn’t make me either car sick or miss out on the world flying past the windows and so most of my craft storage space more commonly known as the passenger footwell was filled with yarny projects, with small and appropriate spots left for my feet.

One of the projects you’ve already seen modelled by the birthday boy and the other is still a knit in progress and destined for a certain somone’s fifth birthday.  It’s not a secret knit, she came to choose the yarn (Malabrigo Rios in Purpuras) and had some very decided views on the pattern (more on which another time) so I wasn’t trying to knit inside a pillowcase or only late late at night when the girls had fallen asleep.  I think if I tried to knit a completely secret present it would stand a nearly 100% chance of not being finished on time.

I’m on the first sleeve now so I’m in with a good shout of the finish line.

But when I was doing my craft packing I wanted to mix it up a little, to have something in hand for the days when it might just be too hot, too sticky, or too muddy to drape yourself in thick squishy wool.  I thought about a little hand piecing, or another mini quilt, or something to play with the piles of felt that the girls gave me for my birthday, but by this point it was nearing midnight on the night before we left and so I turned once more to my seemingly inexhaustable supply of Mollie Makes cover kits.  And there near the top was the kit from issue 53.

What could be more perfect than sitting under the stars stitching an embroidery of the night sky. Into the bag it went.

Space for the Butterflies

The thing I forgot about the night skies is that when you’re camping, they’re dark.  Some are darker than others, depending on whether the campsite has lighting and whether that light is a distant glimmer (Annecy) or your second moon (Merville-Franceville until 11pm when it was abruptly turned off) but when the sun had smouldered over the horizon it really wasn’t the time for embroidery.

And so I knit and watched the night sky.  Watched star after star after star appear from the deep, watched the plough chart a steady course across the sky as the earth twirled beneath it, watched for meteors and saw mostly aeroplanes and once something that I thought was an aeroplane holding oddly steady in the sky but turned out to be a village half way up a mountain.

Space for the Butterflies

And in the quiet of the early morning I stitched.  It should come as no surprise that I chose the pattern to reflect what we were seeing, though the other two are beautiful (and might have to be added to the collection at some point).

Back home this last week I finally finished it off.  We used to use rubber faux wood roll frames for mini cross stitches and Christmas tree decorations when I was little and we always finished those off but slicing away the fabric as close to the frame as possible, but this is much cleverer;

 

Space for the Butterflies

I cut away the corners of my blue square, then sliced them into strips and then used a liberal application of fabric glue to frame and fabric to pull them over and stick them to the back.  It’s given it a really neat finish and I shall use it again when I’m framing in a hoop.

And now I just need to find a good spot to hang it.  Kitty made the first claim, and I’m seriously considering putting in a row of hooks just above her headboard to show off all her latest treasures and curios, so it could go there.  But then Elma declared undying love for it and actually, it might go rather nicely in Pip’s room so at the moment it’s travelling.

Space for the Butterflies

Either I’ll decide where it goes, or I’ll be making a couple more!

PS. If you are making the kit, the “everything you need” on the front of the packet should read “everything you need except for the carbon tracing paper you need for the first step”. Carbon tracing paper not being widely available in French campsites I just copy sketched it freehand with a blue ink pen and it was absolutely fine.

Linking up with Crazy Mom Quilts and Frontier Dreams