Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Escaping








It tends to be the routine parts of our days that are the most challenging...the morning rush, the after-school vortex (as my friend recently referred to it), the nap time battles, and the mealtime battles...oh, those are the hardest for us, lately. And, then, there's just the simple challenge of life at home with a strong-willed and quite loud 2-year old. Whew. I don't think I'll go there in this post.

I have been sewing a lot less lately, and trying to leave my free time more open for outings like this one. It's amazing how grounding it can feel to escape and tune the world out, even for just an hour. It can be so nice to venture out with just the older two. We can listen to good music in the car, make some halfway decent ground on a trail, and stop for a treat without a peep or complaint. As we wandered down the trail on this beautiful winter day, I realized that it was one of the easiest hours I had spent with my children all week. And, filled with the best conversations. So, so good.      

Friday, January 23, 2015

A Dreamy Quilt

Last year, after I went to Sew South, I joined up with some fellow quilters I met there and together we formed a fun little "sewing circle". We did quite a lot of sewing and swapping for each other - mini quilts and birthday gifts - but above all we got to know each other better and became great friends, spread across two states. It's been so awesome having these people in my life! 


This year, we are embarking on a new, awesome and inspiring quilt-y journey known as traveling quilts. Our traveling quilts will work like this...each person comes up with a theme and color scheme and overall concept for a quilt. Each person starts their own quilt - sewing as many blocks as desired, and then ships them off to the next person in line. Each recipient than adds to the quilt, ships it to the next person in line, so on and so forth, until it's made it's way around the circle. At the end of it all, each person should have a finished quilt top. We plan to present ours to each other sometime in 2016. I'm already so excited!  


I knew right away that I wanted to use this collaboration as an opportunity to make a quilt in a color palette that is perhaps not my norm. When I sew, I tend to want to saturate the things I make with color, color, color. But, yet, I find myself repeatedly drawn to quieter quilts with lots of white, and subtle dusty colors.


When I started searching Pinterest for ideas and images for my quilt, I couldn't help but tag the items I found as "dreamy". And, from there my dream-inspired quilt concept grew. It's actually a concept that is very relevant for me, as I've been focusing a lot lately on getting more sleep, and being a well-rested and generally happier person.

I felt like my sewing room was all aglow over the past few weeks as I started sewing up the first few blocks for this quilt...

  




These blocks were mailed to my friend, Patrice, this week - a paper pieced feather (free pattern available from Shape Moth here), a row of sparkly HST diamonds, and a fun improv block. This was some of the most creatively fulfilling sewing I've done in a long time. So excited for this new endeavor! I may share little bits and sneak peaks of the sewing I do for my friends' quilts here, throughout the year. But, more than likely it'll be kept under wraps...we all are in for a great surprise!

Thursday, January 15, 2015

My Antrorse Sweater







You guys!!! I knit a sweater, I knit a sweater, I knit a SWEATER!!! It was right around a year ago, that I started knitting Antrorse, a pattern by Follow my blog with Bloglovin

href="http://veryshannon.com/ihza96txzfg5gm683u24sk3y0m43tx" target="_blank">Shannon Cook from the beautiful collaborative book Journey....aptly named, as this has certainly been a fun (and long) creative journey for me.

I started with such gusto. The pattern was super easy to follow, fun and quick to knit. With the top down construction I could easily try it on and see that it was fitting well along the way. I was so excited that I was actually knitting a sweater. Then, somewhere along the way, I just kind of lost interest. It might have been the color, or the many mistakes that I wanted to fix, but didn't, or the sleeves. Gah! Knitting sleeves is the pits! I don't know...perhaps I'm just a lazy knitter.

Anyway....this sweater. I really had to force myself to finish it - to sew on those buttons, weave in all the little ends, try and hide all of the holes I had under the arms. I finished it on New Years Day (a year later!) and immediately tried it on. And, I LOVED it. Like, truly, LOOOOVED it. Even with all of it's glaring mistakes. I almost slept in it that night. The next morning I wore it hiking and decided it's pretty much the perfect hiking sweater. I wore it again on a crazy cold day and decided it's pretty much the warmest and coziest thing I own and heretofore I will wear it on every crazy cold day.

The wool (this yarn in cypress by Quince & Co) is amazing, it's soft and squishy, keeps me warm when I need it but comfortable too (as wool does). And, it's green. Ha! I admit this color choice was completely random. I wondered if I gave Mark the wrong name (since it was a Christmas gift from him), or I thought it was different, or had too much wine that night? I dunno. I do kind of wish I went with a basic grey or oatmeal. But then I think,  "this is different", and I like that.

You can read more about this sweater, or grab the pattern over on Ravelry (link here) And, I also highly recommend this book, Journey...if you're a knitter or even if you just like dreamy photography - the book is stunning and inspirational. I'm looking forward to trying another pattern from it! But, maybe not a sweater this time.

Friday, January 9, 2015

Tent Camp Quilt

I'm so excited to share my last quilty finish of 2014, which was this Tent Camp quilt, a collaboration with the Grace Circle of do. Good Stitches. This quilt was inspired by my love for the outdoors and camping. I shared a quick tutorial for these blocks, which I find look like little tents, back here. The original inspiration for this design came from this quilt by Andy over at A Bright Corner.

Tent Camp Quilt - Grace Circle do. Good Stitches

The lovely ladies of Grace Circle sent me blocks in a simple green, blue and low volume palette. I added sashing in white as I felt it helped distinguish the little groups of tents. I hardly ever sash a quilt top, but I'm so glad I did in this case!

Tent Camp Quilt - Closeup

For the quilting, I wanted to play on the camping, outdoorsy theme, so, I decided to try quilting a topographic design. I spent a lot of time in college and when I worked as an engineer looking at topo maps and at the risk of sounding like a nerd, I just think they're really cool. I had an idea about how I would approach this type of free-motion quilting, but I searched online a bit too. And I'm so glad I did...this video was super helpful! I also referred to the elusive map print from Carolyn Friedlander's Architextures line for a bit of guidance.

Tent Camp Quilt - Quilting & Back

Aside from the density of this quilting pattern (quilting is not my favorite part of making quilts, ahem), this might be my favorite FMQ-ing to date. It was surprisingly easy, the fact that the lines did not need to be consistently smooth, or evenly spaced, allowed for more liberated sewing. I'll take it!

Tent Camp Quilt Back - Grace Circle - do. Good Stitches

Continuing with the theme, I used some amazingly soft Shetland Flannels (by Robert Kaufman) for the back. The flannels seem to have a heavier weight than some of the quilting flannels I've used in the past, making this quite a warm and sturdy quilt. I can just imagine sitting by a campfire on a cold night with this quilt.

Tent Camp Quilt

The binding is mostly this ledger print from Architextures by Carolyn Friedlander, with a little bit of scrappy flannel thrown in for fun. I love how a little bit of scrappy binding adds interest to a quilt.

Tent Camp Quilt - Scrappy Binding

This quilt is all ready to be sent off to My Very Own Blanket, where it will be provided to a young person in need. This was a very, very happy 2014 finish for me and the Grace Circle. My hope is that the recipient of this quilt not only receives comfort and warmth, but a encouragement to explore the world, for there is so much to see!

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Hi

...seems the most appropriate thing to say following my absence here. I've missed blogging so much, missed sharing my creative endeavors here, and even more so documenting those bits of my life that somehow seem to disappear if not written down.

With the beginning of this bright new year, I've done my own reflecting.  Last year was a good year, but a somewhat stressful year for me. I just never quite settled into it. I have sat down and tried to put it all into words so many times over the past week, and I finally decided that it would be in my better interest to simply move forward. To harness that extra spark and energy that comes with this new year and do my best to live a happier, less stressful life everyday.

So here goes...I'm excited and hopeful for this year! I want to take all the hikes. I want to sleep....a lot actually. I want to make a dreamy quilt with the best of sewing friends (more soon!). I want to go camping with my 2 year old. I want to run and swim like I did last summer. I want to take more pictures, and not with my phone. I want to make the perfect apple pie. I want to hang out with my siblings more. I want to sit by a campfire and talk late into the night with my husband. I want to write about my life, not just what I make.

I'm looking forward to being back in this space and sharing more with you. Thanks for being here. Happy New Year!!