Crazy Quilt - A Collaborative Birthday Gift

My "Sister-from-another-mother" turns 60. I needed something very special for her. It had to be hand made (of course!): It had to come from the heart. A quilt would be lovely. Sure, I could do it all myself, but wouldn't it be so much better, even more meaningful if a group of her friends were part of it? Each one bringing their own story, sentiment, and hand to the whole?

I contacted friends, and those friends helpfully reached out to other friends, and soon we had a quilt posse, armed with funny anecdotal ideas, needles, threads and scissors.

A color palette was chosen from my stash of Alabama Chanin organic cotton jersey, general parameters set, a deadline put in place.

I made a "quilt map". I used the free-flowing pattern from my Woodland Critter quilt and added a row of rectangles along one side. I cut out all the base pieces, two layers each. As none of her friends lived in my town, I mailed swatch kits to the others involved.  Each person would create their own swatch design using the chosen color palette. We all felt a child-like giddiness as it was to be a surprise!

Each swatch I received back in the mail was like Christmas morning, opening that special package.
Here is a school of pup fish from one friend, reminiscent of a group camping trip taken years ago.

Another dear friend of hers sent this joyful canine for the dog lover.

Leaping foxes for the animal lover from yet another friend.

Another member of the posse sent Lama Love, for the birthday girl had raised and kept lamas for decades.

See the llama in the yellow portion? That's a Peruvian knitted finger puppet sewn on.

I had saved the remnants of the rooster and the rose from the first quilt I had made. I was so happy to find the perfect use for them!

Here's a shot of that first quilt made from an Alabama Chanin DIY kit.

And here from another friend, Musical notes dancing about as she plays the violin and guitar and thrives on music.

Flowers and plants for the avid outdoors-woman and gardener extraordinaire.

And this pretty square to represent her adopted, rescued greyhounds.

The family tree, rooted into the map of her home city where she grew up and still lives, surrounded by family and friends.

And some sweet  little details here and there.

I gleaned some great ideas for the lichen covered tree from this youtube video.

Here's the process for this funky, yellow patch.

I used a disappearing pen to make a grid; stitched in the middle of each; then cut along the lines.

When washed the edges will curl and look like this.

I created this stencil for a Camp Stitches class I taught.

I appliqued the snipped petals from it for this bit of embroidery.

The quilt was constructed with Coats and Clarks buttoncraft thread; then the edges were blanket stitched with embroidery floss to finish off this soft throw.

I enjoy seeing the back side stitches on my other quilts, knots and all, and I knew my friend would be the same, so I did not cover them up.

Each and every stitch of this quilt is imbued with love and friendship and best wishes. What started out as a little kernel of an idea, blossomed into a gathering of friends, celebrating our mutual comrade with a showering of affection.

Happy Birthday, my dear, sweet friend ~~~ Cheers!

Cocoknits Paulina ~ My Very First Sweater

I'm feeling rather giddy today. I've always admired those that can sit down with a ball of yarn, work their magic, and end up with a beautiful sweater to be cozied up into. Over the years I've daydreamed of nonchalantly knitting away whilst chatting with friends, never skipping a beat or dropping a stitch. For me, though, it is no small feat, really a mountainous task. I know I'll never be at ease like those knitting masters, but I'm very happy and satisfied with my first go. This project would have not been possible and successful without my ever present knitting guru girlfriends and our local yarn shop, Wool Town. Lovely comments and cheerings-on from my Instagram friends were also very heartening and kept me going. Thank you, one and all!

This sweater is from Cocoknits, the Paulina pattern. I used very soft, affordable yarn from Berroco Yarns, called Remix Light. "Delight in the making" is on the homepage of Cocoknits. There was much hemming and hawing and angst, but there was also "Delight in the making". I really like the way this garment fits. The sweet little uptick in the front is so flirty. Yes, I must wear a dress or t-shirt under it, but it's super cute! The yarn is very soft and bouncy. It floats like a feather on the body.

One tip from a friend was very useful. See the yellow highlighted place on the pattern in the photo above? That's highlighter tape, excellent for helping keep your place on the pattern.

Here's a photo of the back of the sweater. You can modify the pattern if you like to make the front without the lift, in which case it would look like the back. 

I made these cute little bags from a drop cloth. The small one is perfect for keeping the yarn corralled: and the large one is big enough to fit all of my knitting needs for one project.

It was a long, circuitous path, but I learned so much in making this sweater! I've already got two more projects lined up. It may be awhile, but I now have the confidence to look forward to "Delight in the making".

Nani Iro Self-drafted Dress

When my son gave up his chambray and Winnie the Pooh toddler room for his "big boy" bedroom, I lovingly passed along some of the cherished pieces, the glider, and stuffed animals to friends with newborns who needed and really could use nursery items. Because I have a wee bit of a hoarding tendency with all things fiber, I tucked the linens back into my closet. Yep, that's me. I particularly loved the chambray sheets, and thought I would make a really sweet something out of it one day. Fast forward a couple of decades, and finally I've found the perfect use for that sheet.

When I took the block printing class with Valerie Wells, I came across this gorgeous Japanese fabric, Nani IRO Textile, Encouter @Naomi Ito. I just could not leave the Stitchin' Post without a couple yards.

Isn't it dreamy? It's double gauze and practically floats off the bolt. I knew it would make the perfect summer dress.

I usually only hand stitch with jersey fabric, but this fabric was special enough to jog me out of my normal routine and forced me to step out of my comfort zone and attempt that summer dress that had been simmering around in my brain for years.

You think I could have found a pattern I liked? Of course not! I have a couple dresses that I love the look and fit of, so I bit the bullet and made a self-drafted pattern. I laid the dresses onto paper and traced out the shapes I needed. I folded the images in half to make sure both sides were even. I compared these to some other patterns I had, and they seemed to make sense. I added a seam allowance to my pattern. With baited breath, I cut my pattern out of that lovely chambray sheet for practice. Low and behold, it fit.

I frayed the hem, the waist casing, and the tie.

I contemplated making the skirt a little fuller, but I only had two yards of the Japanese fabric, minus a little I had taken off to use for my table runner, so I pretty much kept to my original pattern, just extending the skirt out as much as my yardage would allow. You can see how the sides dip down ever so slightly with the extra fabric in the image below.

When making my second dress, because the double gauze fabric tends to fray a lot, I used French seams to keep as many of those stray threads corralled as best as possible. I also used seam tape on the shoulder seams to keep them tidy.

I had a difficult time deciding which color trim to add.

I texted some friends these photos for their opinions. Lavender was the clear choice.

I added a casing over the waist seam and at first I tried this satin ribbon.

It's pretty, but wasn't quite what I wanted. So next I tried a piece I had crocheted with a tiny flower on each end.

I like this one best. I'm even wondering what it would look like to take off the lavender trim and add a simple crochet edging......but that will be another project for another time.

For now, I'll enjoy my two new summer dresses, of course after the snow melts and warm breezes begin.