Saturday, April 18, 2020

hold tight quilt

It’s finally finished!!! Last summer, I was tossing around the idea of making a rainbow quilt for Mae when I stumbled across this Hold Tight quilt pattern on Instagram. I immediately knew that I wanted to make one for Mae with rainbow-hued balloons!

I spent hours selecting colors of Kona Cotton fabric to create the transparency effect of the balloons and the rainbow gradient. I mapped out the colors in PowerPoint with overlapping transparent shapes to try to get the colors and values right. It doesn’t exactly match my design (even 340 colors of Kona Cotton weren’t enough to capture the range of orangey-pinks I wanted), but I love how it turned out.

Choosing colors was quite challenging using only online color swatches! I ordered a big stack of fabrics from CaliQuiltCo on Etsy, and only swapped out a few with additional fabrics purchased from Jo-Ann. I ended up with balloons in azalea, carnation, melon (also used for binding), peach, school bus, highlight, sour apple, cypress, breakers, spa, thistle, and magenta. The overlapping shapes are camellia (melon + peach), melon (carnation + peach), cheddar (school bus + highlight), limelight (peach + sour apple), pool (cypress + breakers), Niagara (breakers + spa), and wisteria (thistle + magenta). Phew. That’s 18 colors in case you were counting. Oh, and white. Lots of white. 19 colors.

As with many of my projects, the supplies sat dormant for a bit while I mentally prepared myself. In January, I steeled myself for the challenge of making my first bed-sized quilt. I sized up the shapes about 10% and added an extra column of squares to the left side of the pattern to make the quilt about 68” wide (good for a twin sized bed). I made a couple test squares and encountered a slight issue, which was quickly resolved by Sharon, the pattern author (very responsive). Then I started cranking out squares. Press, pin, sew, repeat. I finished piecing the quilt top in late February. I added white borders to the top and bottom to lengthen the quilt.

While piecing the quilt, I spent lots of time considering what to use for the fabric on the back. I was debating between a striped pink backing or something more fun, and I just could not stop thinking about this Michael Miller “Children At Play” Balloons fabric. The colors coordinated nicely with my quilt top, and the whimsical little bunnies and girls holding the balloons were just perfect for the theme. Plus, from far away it just looks like polka dots, so the pattern isn’t too distracting.

I knew that actually quilting this on my machine would be nearly impossible and wouldn’t turn out as neat as I wanted, so I handed it off to a long-arm quilter, Judy from Fine Finishes Longarm Quilting. This was my first time using a long-arm service and I am SO glad that I did. I chose white Glide thread, Hobbs 80/20 bleached batting, and a repeating cloud pattern (inspired by similar pattern I saw on another Hold Tight quilt on Instagram). The stitching looks so good! I picked up the quilt from Judy after about 4 weeks. (Don’t judge me for violating our stay-at-home order. I put way too much time into this project to let it languish, just hours away from completion.)

For the finishing touches, I hand-stitched the balloon strings in gray #8 DMC perle cotton embroidery thread. (They are hard to see in the photos, but they add a fun detail up close.) I also added a little corner tag, similar to the one I put on Mae’s baby quilt.

Finally, I machine-bound the edges with more Kona Cotton. I finished the binding this morning, and was so excited to share that I had to photograph and write this TODAY! Mae is THRILLED that her quilt is finally finished. She’s been asking about it non-stop. As soon as I finished taking photos outside, she ran upstairs to try it out on her bed. Now she’s fast asleep, snuggled up under a beautiful quilt made with my love (tons), blood (only a few pin pricks), sweat (dang, my craft room gets hot), but surprisingly no tears (my projects usually involve at least one melt down). So happy with this finished quilt!!!

Tuesday, April 14, 2020

easter at home

Happy Easter!

We celebrated a socially-distanced Easter over the weekend. We tried our best to make it feel special, but it was definitely weird to be away from my family for the holiday (for the first time ever).

On Friday we dyed eggs. Mae woke up yelling, “it’s egg ‘diving’ day!” She had been looking forward to coloring the eggs since Dan brought home the dye kit from the grocery store last week! (She couldn’t wait to use the included stickers, so we made Easter cards for family on Wednesday.)

On Sunday morning, Mae immediately went searching for her Easter basket and found it in the first place she looked! We made fancy French toast from a loaf of bread I baked on Saturday. Yum! We all ate lots of candy, and Mae made a pretty good dent in her big chocolate bunny.

I watched live mass streamed from the University of Notre Dame basilica. A very strange way to celebrate Easter for sure, but I was at least quite comfy on my couch.

The highlight of Mae’s day (besides all the candy) was hunting for eggs outside. We did three egg hunts: one where Mae and I hid the eggs and Dan hunted (and Mae helped), one where Dan and Mae hid the eggs and I hunted, and one where Dan and I hid the eggs and Mae hunted. She could have kept egg hunting all day! We might have to play “egg hunt” more this summer!

I was glad her Easter dress from last year still fit, and glad I didn’t have any grand plans for making new Easter clothes this year. I’m swamped with nursery and other craft projects at the moment. At least I finished painting the nursery this weekend!

Wednesday, April 1, 2020

weave me alone

Here's a little weaving project I finished back in January. This is only my second project on my cricket loom, and I am pretty happy with how it turned out! (I warned you after my first project that there would be more weaving puns in the near future.) It was also the only handmade Christmas gift I made this year. (Yes, I know I said I finished it in January. Stop judging.)

The yarn is one skein of Wonderland Yarns Cheshire Cat in the colorway Too Much Pepper (same as I used in my Breathing Space Sweater) and one skein of Jessica's Creations sock yarn in the colorway Lilac from Kentucky Wool Fest from last year (my mystery bag purchase!). I warped the loom with 110 ends about 110" long. I wove a semi-random plaid pattern, tucking the ends in as I wove. I tried to wet-finish by hand washing in a bucket of water, alternating hot and cold, but I didn't get much shrinkage or felting since both yarns were superwash. The edges were a bit messy and uneven while washing, but they mostly evened out with blocking and drying.

I gave this scarf to Kathy when we celebrated our belated Christmas at the beginning of this year. She made me these adorable socks! They are the Pierogi Slipper Socks made from Rock and String Creations yarn in the colorway Meow, which I admire at Wool Fest every year. They are a perfect fit, and I am wearing them as I type this. (The stripes are different cat colors! My favorite stripe is the calico. It's so cute!)

Scarf project details on my Ravelry page.