Saturday, December 1, 2012

World AIDS Day Project

The ever-so-gracious and absolutely wonderful Stephen is once again hosting his Worlds AIDS Day Project, this year with funds raised going to the Lansing area AIDS network. It's for a great cause, and Stephen has gathered up a GREAT group of sponsors and prizes that you can win for contributing. And I'm one of them! This handmade album could be yours: Woven Album Head on over here to read all about this great cause and how you can help.

Saturday, November 10, 2012


Amy's MIL Connie is a big quilter. Due to failing eyesight and portability, she only works on hex quilts these days, and they are done completely by hand. She likes to test the limits of the hex while remaining true to the traditional quilting patterns and methods. I was visiting Connie the other day to do some finish work on her bookshelves. She's also in a state of divesting her quilt library. Welcome to MY new quilt book collection: My New Quilting Library While I was there, I chatted to her a bit about her quilts, and managed to get some pictures of her 3 most prized quilts, which are the main features of 2 bedrooms in her home. Connie Handmade This first one is made from 2" hexes. Connie collected fabrics from all of her neighbors and students and parents and all the people in her life at the time, and made this fantastic traditional flower hex quilt. She said she enjoyed working on the hex quilts while her kids were young due to how easy it was it was to take along with her. The quilting itself took longer than the top - she couldn't take it with her, and had to work on it in spurts here and there. But she got it done! Hexes Connie decided to take the hexes a step further - this next quilt is constructed of hexes that end up being 1/2" once sewn. She says this is the smallest reasonable (HA!) size to work with and still have shape and pattern recognition in the finished quilt. This quilt is BANANAS. Due to the excess material behind each hex piece, the finished quilt has a slightly puffed-hex feel to it. On the back of the bench. She opted to maintain the hexagonal edges on this one. The finished piece is about 40" x 30". Mini-Hex, Mini-Quilt I got the impression from Connie that the quilt she is most proud of is her Bicentennial Quilt. It's a red-white-and-blue hex quilt that is chock full of fussy-cuts. DSC01687 In talking with her, she mentioned that many bicentennial quilts were constructed to include parts of ancestral centennial quilts that were never completed! Connie didn't have any of those on hand, but she also did not want to leave her children with an unfinished quilt. She opted to have the hand-quilting done by someone else, but maintained the traditional quilting patterns. Fussy Bicentennial Details She also "signed" it in 2 corners, with fussy cuts of her name. "Signed" Connie's asked me to help her sign the back of these quilts by embroidering her signature on the back of each. Hooray! It will be great to get a better feel of how they're made. More Connie chronicles to come - she claims to have some unfinished quilt pieces to pass on to me, and I'm sure to be inspired by this bundle of books!

Wednesday, October 10, 2012


I just finished up a pretty interesting bookbinding project. A set of flashcards, printed on 2mm thick pressboard, flush to edge on one side, to be bound together in some way. The cards are just stunning - they are from B.Impressed, a wonderful letterpress shop in the Boston area. Flashcard Book After thinking about this project for a looooong time, I decided the best way to handle this would be a hybrid accordion/flag binding. I could use the front of each card for attachment since the type/text did not go flush to edge. I chose a mid-weight Canson paper in a red to match the printed type. Bits I created a small (5mm) accordion pleat to use as a hinge on each of the cards. I then wrapped the remaining paper around the outer (2mm) side of the board, working it tightly, before crafting the next hinge. Each fold was carefully measured and scored before being adhered to the next image. This added a little bit of bulk to the spine edge of the book, but not excessively - it allows the book to open quite nicely, it almost "rolls" open. Round I wanted to avoid any extra torque or pull on the paper hinges, so once the boards were all together I went in on the back of the spine and glued the back-hinges together as well. This served to stabilize the whole thing a bit more - it wasn't as Slinky®-esque. I finished the whole thing with slightly oversized black cloth-covered boards and adhered the frontispiece to the cover. Completed You can see in that final image that the red on the spine does not go flush to edge. The original boards were not cut flush - the sizes varied by about a millimeter in any/all directions. Rather than trim them all down, I opted to use them as is, and bring the hinge mechanism in from the edge by a hair. I'm pleased with how it came out. I feared that doing it flush would show any inconsistency more than deliberately working with the inconsistencies. I'm satisfied with how this came out! I did a lot of thinking about exactly how to tackle this project - it was a great problem-solving project (which I love!) and it was nice to come up with a solution combining different bindings and solutions.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

FO: Coffeehouse Pullover

Months ago, I was lucky enough to get on the special order list for Southern Cross Fibre. I knew for sure that I wanted to make a colorwork *something*, but I wasn't certain of just what. I toyed with the idea of a little bit of EVERY color from the Spring/Summer 2012 Semi-solids collection, then narrowed it down to something like 8 different 2-color combinations. In the end, I decided on "Java" and "Silver Sconce" on Shetland. Beginnings I set out to spin yarn that as similar in hand to Jamieson's Shetland 2-Ply - I had been eying the Schoolhouse Pullover by Meg Swansen in the book "Knitting in America" for YEARS. This seemed to be just the right time - and yarn! - for it. Adding to that, I had a wedding anniversary right around the corner. I decided that I'd make this for D as an anniversary present. It's Sweater Time! The pattern calls for a purl-when-you-can border, but I read that many people still had the lower edge curling. I opted for a turned cuff, and decided to sneak in a little bit of personalization on that edge - I put D's name, my name, the year knit, etc. Coffeehouse - Cuff Detail The body of the sweater went quite quickly. The patterns are easily memorized, and the whole thing is knit in the round. When it came time to steek the armholes for the sleeves, I decided to work a crochet steek and to pick up and begin knitting the sleeves down BEFORE cutting the steek. This was just a little bit of insurance to make sure the stitches wouldn't pull out from the strain of picking up stitches. Things slowed down a bit on the sleeves knitting, as it became very hot and humid here (once again, ugh) and at this point I had to have the entire sweater on my lap while working on it. There is an I-cord detail worked along the top of each of the sleeves, and the decrease shaping is ingeniously worked under it. Coffeehouse - Seam Detail The collar gave me a bit of trouble - it turned out to be quite boat-necky, even with my having made it smaller in the knitting. I knew D wouldn't wear it if it was too wide. I worked an I-cord bind-off, and then picked up inside of that to work a turned hem mitered collar. I think the double bind-offs around the neck give it some much-needed structure and shape. Coffeehouse - Neck Detail And it fits! And he loves it! I'm thrilled to have finally made this sweater, and I can't wait to see it worn. Hooray! Coffeehouse

Monday, September 3, 2012

On Hand-Quilting

It's been cooling off a bit this week (finally!) and that means I can get back to some quilting! I've had a few quilts in assorted states of non-completion due to hand-quilting. I thought I'd chatter a bit about hand-quilting and how I do it, when I do it, and all that jazz. I hand-quilted all of my quilts for a few years, simply due to the logistics of having to cram an entire queen-sized quilt into my wee machine and definitely wanting to work from the center out. In my thinking about it, I was pretty convinced that the maneuvering of a large quilt in the machine would take me about the same time to quilt as it would take to work it up by hand. I've since learned that this is not true, and I've become quite comfortable with machine-quilting. But every once in a while a quilt demands hand-quilting! Hand-Quilting Right now I'm working my way through this Retro Flowers quilt. I'm working 2 lines of quilting within each petal of the flower (I can go back in and do another round if I think it needs it). I knew that I wanted to quilt this within each petal, and I machine-quilted 2 petals and did not like it one bit! The curve of the petals is a bit too tight to be able to comfortably manipulate the entire quilt through. I ripped that stitching out (...before getting a picture, sorry!) and decided that hand-quilting would be the best way to go. Circles Quilt - front I tend to do any hand-quilting using 2 strands of DMC floss rather than traditional quilting thread. I also work the stitches to be a bit longer. I figure if I'm going to go to the trouble of hand-quilting the whole thing, I want it to show, to be a design element. I also find that it lends itself to a stronger motif on the back of the quilt: Circles Quilt - back For some quilts, the decision to hand-quilt is largely a logistical issue. I've decided to hand-quilt the Vortex Quilt because the quilt is IMMENSE - it's ~80" square. I also thought it might be a bit of a beast to run through the machine, as there are many many many tight seams piled up very close together toward the center. Due to the size of this quilt and the overwhelming task of hand-quilting it, I've had the help of some friends! It's getting quilted up bee-style, with each person working on a different portion of the quilt. While this leads to a bit of unevenness in the stitching, I'm not too concerned - I think the quilt is large enough and things are distributed enough that it won't matter in the end. (Also, it will be DONE!) Vortex Quilt This simple Crosses Quilt also received the hand-quilt treatment: Crosses Quilt - Front Again, I think this was a decision based on size. I find that I am also more prone to hand-quilt if the quilt-top can be broken down into a base shape - squares, circles, petals. That way I can gauge my progress a bit more, and I can set "goals" for myself when I'm working on it (...only 2 more squares...) For this green quilt, I treated the large empty squares with diagonal stitches of tangerine and mimicked the lines of the pieced blocks in white and green. That was all to make the back nicer: Crosses Quilt - Back I also love how the hand-quilting feels in the completed quilt - it really puckers it up nicely. This embroidered bird quilt got it too: Bird Quilt, QUILTED & BOUND Again, largely due to the size of the quilt. But also due to the bird images - any all-over pattern would interfere with the embroidery. And the combination of embroidery with machine-quilting on this Did. Not. Work. If I recall, I may have also been of the twisted mind "Hey, I've already put 600 hours of work into this, what's another 20?" It was definitely the right thing to do in this case. So, that's how I feel about hand-quilting and why I do it sometimes. Stock up on DMC, get your needles and thimbles, and get to it! It's quite satisfying.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

In Memoriam

I've been working on a production project over the past few months and it is heading out the door this week.  It's been a really interesting, involved process, and I thought I'd share a bit of it here.  This project was great because I felt I had a hand in every part of it.

In Memoriam: Innards

The client lost her husband a few years ago.  She had a copy of his autobiography, which he had been working on for a number of years, and a plan to finally properly lay it out and honor his words.  I laid out the text and worked back and forth with the client to do some tidying and general edits (for clarity) and we opted to make a box to house the unbound sheets of these memoirs, symbolic of the unfinished text.  The box features a tray with notches on either side to easily remove the text.  An attached ribbon serves as a placeholder for when the items are returned to the box.

In Memoriam: Text

The frontispiece was letterpress printed.  It is based on a woodblock print made by the client's husband many many years ago, with a quote from Edgar Allan Poe that he related to.

In Memoriam: Frontispiece

A stamping die was made to blind-imprint the covers of the boxes.  The goal here was subtlety - we wanted the entire project to be.... "quiet", and really to honor the text that was inside.

In Memoriam: Blind Stamped

An edition of 11 boxes were made, with most of them going to close family members, and with at least one circulating copy. 

In Memoriam: Stacked

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Tour de Fleeeeeeeeeeece

I've been teaching for the past few weeks, and it has also been HOOOOOOTTTTTTTT.  But of course I could not miss out on the Tour de Fleece!!!!


I managed to spin up 7 pounds of fiber this year - a small cat!  It's mostly SCF and HY, with a bit of melseyknits & Fantom Farms thrown in for good measure.

It is so nice to spin for a PURPOSE - to know what weight yarn I'm aiming for, to have an idea of what yardage I'll need, etc.  I've had a few things in mind for some of these yarns, especially the sweater lots, and it feels great to be one step closer to having the actual garments :)

I mentioned it's been hot:

A Little Obscene

This has been the state of both cats lately.  PORNOGRAPHICAT.

Meanwhile, I've been (slowly) working on this quilting project, which at this point is, um, *mildly* obscene?

So I Sewed Up All Of These Flaming Vaginas

I'm thinking with the next bit it won't be as porny.  Hoping to get back to it in the next week or so.  The basic printout I'm working from is a print from the delightful Neil Stevens - I've got a number of his amazing Tour de France prints from last year.  The colorblocks of his bird prints seemed IDEAL for a quilt, and I'm hoping I can do the prints justice!

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Retro Flowers!

Sometime in September I stumbled upon The Retro Flowers Quilt and fell in love.  It was charming!  Simple, bold, striking!  So many possibilities!  I had some leftover fabric from the Vortex Quilt, and set out to recreate the Retro Flowers in solids.

My New Procrastination Technique Is Unstoppable

I cut out all of the colored bits and *most* of the white - I used some scrap muslin from one of the sample dresses from my wedding.  And I started sewing.  And sewing.  I worked on this project off and on - whenever I got the sewing machine out, I'd sew up another flower square, bundle everything back up, and let it rest again.  My project rhythm was broken up a bit when I had to cut out more of the white arcs, and that's when the project went on a many-months-long hiatus.

The other day I got everything out again - it was time to just Finish This.  And so I did:

Twister-Flowers Quilt Top

I made 17 flowers, so there will be one included on the back of the quilt.  The top measures about 60" or so square - I put a few inches of sashing around the whole thing.  I ended up supplementing the leftover solids with 5 more colors.  Next will be finding a suitable backing fabric and quilting this baby up!

This project was immensely satisfying - once everything is cut, the flowers go fairly quickly, and it's wonderful to have a completed square in a short time.  I didn't spend too much time figuring out he final placement of the squares - at that point I just wanted them all attached, and I figured it would look fine no matter where they ended up.  I'll likely make another one of these - I think it would be a great stash-buster to make one with prints!

Monday, May 21, 2012

A Festival of Quilts

With all the sewing going on over here, I thought it appropriate to participate in the Bloggers' Quilt Festival this year!  People have been making some great quilts, and it's been great to hear a bit of the process or story behind them.

I'm going to talk a little bit more about my favorite quilt that I've made - the Rainbow Vortex Quilt.

Top Spiral

When the American Museum of Folk Art had the "Infinite Variety" showing of a vast collection of red and white quilts, I was floored by the red and white vortex quilt.  I couldn't stop thinking about it!  Pictures kept popping up online, adding to my obsession. 

Right around this time I picked up a rainbow of Kona solids - a half yard each of 12 different colors.  I had no specific plans for these colors - the only "rule" was that it could only be supplemented with white fabric. 

I continued to think about the vortex quilt. I got out some paper and mocked the whole thing up, did a lot of math, tried out different things.  I thought about the easiest way to cut and piece the whole thing.  I thought about it all again.  And again.  And again.
Sir Drafts-A-Lot on A Saturday Morning

I finally got out the rotary cutter and set to cutting.  I managed to sew the majority of the pieces together over the course of an afternoon.  The center of the top features an absurd 48 seams over a very very small amount of space - I had to trim these back, and in the end I placed a quarter-sized circle of white fabric in the center. 

Getting There!

Due to the close proximity of many of the seams at the center of the quilt top, I thought the best way to go about quilting this was by hand.  But I also wanted it to be DONE.  I invited some crafty ladies over and we had a splendid quilting bee, each working an arc of color in a matching thread. 

This quilt it gigantic, but definitely one of my prouder quilting achievements.  I'm thrilled with how it came out, I'm ecstatic that my math WORKED, and I love how the colors play together.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

The Springback Account Ledger

My friend Amy is scheduled to teach a workshop on Springback Binding in a few weeks, and asked me if I would help work out the timing for some parts of it.  It's not a structure that I've made before, so I was curious to see how it all came together.  And I like working on things with her!  We had one meeting to go over the initial steps in the structure and discuss where students may run into problems and some of the timing of things.  And then I got too excited about the whole thing!

Springback, Drying

I worked with a book that was converted from individual page .pdf form into a paginated collection of 4-folio sections.  This was I would have a completed, real book instead of just a "model" book.  The sewing took a bit (as this was a thick textblock) but after that it all went quite smoothly.  The main obstacle I encountered was drying time - I was anxious to continue!!!!

Hasty Corners

The flange for this thing is magnificent - it's got SO MUCH stuffed into it and ends up being ridiculously stiff.  The leather is easily applied and didn't stretch too much.  It took seemingly forever to dry though.


And it works!!!  And I'm thrilled with it.  I'm a fan of books with slightly-too-thick covers, so I love this structure.  The opening mechanism is great - you can feel it "pop" the textblock out of the spine.

Springback Test

The springback binding is most commonly seen in old account ledgers.  The "spring" allows the spine to pop out and lets the pages all open flat, straight across the gutter.  To do this you create a magnificent lever that is incorporated into the binding.  The boards for these books are generally quite thick, and the spine is solid as well.  The leather applied to these books was traditionally only edge-pared, allowing for a little bit more stability with the thicker leather.  

Monday, May 14, 2012

Everything's Coming Up Rabies! I Mean Babies.

I'm in mega-making-things-for-babies mode.  Yet another racket!  Crib sheets are all sold in overpriced sets, everything is too precious.  Taking a hint from knotty bits, I picked up some fabric and made some crib sheets (so fast! so easy!).  Next up: The Quiltening.

Ugly Baby Quilt

Baby quilts are so fast and fun and easy.  It's great to be able to pick out a pattern knowing that you don't have to commit to making enough to cover the whole bed.  I tend to not be as fidgety with baby quilts either because I know they'll just be covered in bodily fluids instantly.  And they're easy to run through the machine for fast machine quilting!  And you don't need mega-yardage.

Anyway, this one.  I picked up that adorable bear fabric awhile back.  I had wanted to make a Carpenters Square Quilt for quite some time, and this seemed a reasonable opportunity to try it out.  It's a piece of cake!  Though I will say that before it got that brown stitching it was a little bit retina searing. 

Next up:

Baby Chenille

This is one of those Faux Chenille Baby Blankets and Boy Howdy is it easy to make.  And pretty fast!  It is super plush and delightfully soft and cuddly.  I think the rounded corners are charming as well.

I took a break from the quilting and moved on to some knitting and made this little Snug:


This was a super fast knit.  I think I knit it up on US7s?  The yarn is a 3-ply explosion of Hello Yarn goodness in 3 colorways and fibers: "Kale", "Fresh Start", "Spring Loaded" (Falklands/SAF/Merino).  I spun this up 2.5 years ago with no real plans for what it would end up as.  This seems as good a knit as any.  The pattern is clearly written and it is FAST.  It is also *almost* seamless.

I travel next!  Expect adventures and knitterly visits, cheese and mustard, and maybe some Big Sky :)

Saturday, May 12, 2012

As Promised: SHIRT MAYHEM!

With skirt madness temporarily sated, D expressed interest in picking up a pattern to make some Hawaiian style shirts.  In fact, he wanted to make them himself.  So off we went to pick out a pattern.

Shirt Magic!

This is Simplicity 5581.  The shirt is pretty easy to make, except for the collar (of course) which is pretty fidgety (as collars go).  I've had this fabric forEVER, and it was great to put it to use.

Next up, D wanted to make one a shirt too.  I figured the best way to go about this would be for us EACH to make a shirt at the same time. This way I could walk him through some of the more difficult parts and use the shirt I was working on as the model/demo.  After a run to gather here to pick up some more fabric, we got to work.  Two shirts later.....

(this is the one that I worked on)

Mr. Roboto

...and ROBOTS!  This is the one that he worked on.  Pretty great, right?!?!?!

Next up: QUILTS!