Sunday, February 28, 2010

Introducing Baby J.J...

You probably guessed why I disappeared for a couple weeks.

Baby J.J. made her grand debut on Feb 16...isn't she a cutie?

She is such a joy. D and I spend a lot of time just staring at her. She's making some faces...little smiles, pouts, pursing her lips, raising or furrowing her eyebrows...

I likely won't be around much for a while, but please do check in from time to time in case I've had a burst of energy and managed something crafty. I'm not sure I'll be doing any quilting for a bit since that means lots of stairs to run up and down from all day, but I'll probably manage some knitting.

And, of course, I'll post more pictures of JJ when I can.


Monday, February 15, 2010

More Quilting! This time, a Flock of Red

Last week I started another crib-sized quilt, the Flock of Triangles quilt, which is a Denise Schmidt pattern based on a traditional quilting pattern called Flying Geese. I just googled it and found a free pattern for it online - right here. I bought the book last year and this is actually the first time I've made something out of it.


I was inspired after seeing a blue and white version at a friend's house, and, remembering that it was in my pattern book, I decided to try one myself. The only rules were that it had to be made from fabric that currently exists in my stash. I could have gone with green and white, but the red looked more fun. Plus it's pretty much the perfect month for lots of red, with Valentine's day, Chinese New Year and the Vancouver Olympics.

This time, I actually cut out ALL the pieces for the quilt top at once. I see why quilters suggest you do that - now I'm committed to sewing all those suckers together! Unlike with the snowball quilt, I cut and sewed bit by bit, and got bored 2/3 the way through and ended up abandoning the plan for a queen-size quilt for a wee-sized one.

So, I cut out the pieces over a few days, and then laid out all the triangles in the order I was going to sew them. Stitching the triangles together is a little tricky because they're sewn on the bias instead of the grain, which makes them stretchy and a little fussy to iron. And, you line up the pieces to sew within a 1/4" seam, which does NOT mean just lining up point to point...I found this out after stitching a whole row of triangles and had to go back and rip the damn thing out. The even-feed foot has been a huge help, and after about 9 rows I'm finally getting the hang of it.

Here's my progress so far - only 3 more rows to go! Then I have to figure out what to do about the quilt backing. I only planned for the quilt top, and not the bottom. It might require a dangerous trip to the craft store...uh oh.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Owls & Friends (and DIY curtains)

Just thought I'd show you what J.J.'s nursery looks like.

The room was already painted a light beige, and we decided to keep it that way and add colour to the room with other pieces, like a striped rug and polka dotted curtains. Eventually, we sort of just ended up with what you could call an owl theme. They must be really popular right now because there are owls on everything in the stores. Hopefully JJ likes owls, and isn't scared of them!

There's a pretty tree growing beside her crib with songbirds and owls, and there are owl sheets on her little mattress...

Here's Mr. Green Owl sitting on his branch, shocked eyes looking over the dresser (please excuse the bottle of beer...and no, I wasn't drinking it)

Mr. Hedgehog peeking up from beside the closet...

I have to say, it was a lot of fun to put up the decals! As a kid, it would have been so much fun to cover your bedroom walls with stickers...especially since stickers are usually reserved for putting on paper or in sticker albums. The wall decals actually came from Target. They were on clearance a few weeks ago and I thought it would be fun to add some animal friends to the nursery. They are supposedly easy to remove and even re-use, so we'll see...

Here's the crafty part of this post: here are the curtains that took me, oh, about 4 months to get around to making. I bought the fabric ages ago, and as usual, there were more interesting things to work on than curtains! I was originally going to make Roman shades because of the way one window frame is flush with the wall, but D was able to install a curtain rod that worked with the width of my curtain.

They were very simple to make since I only did one panel per window instead of two. Each panel is approximately 1.5 yards of 45" upholstery-weight cream fabric, with 1/2 yard of the same weight polka dotted fabric attached to the bottom. Then I did a 1/2" hem along the length (I left on the selvages so I wouldn't have to fold under). Because I was a little short on yardage, I decided to serge the raw top and bottom edges to keep as much length as possible. Then I turned up a 1" hem on the bottom, and did a binding on the top with some leftover cream fabric. I made the curtain rod loops also with leftovers, each one cut to 5" long and about 3" wide and sewed them onto the backs (just eyeballing the distances between loops).

Now if only J.J. would make her appearance so she could start enjoying her little nursery! There are only 4 days left until my due date, and STILL no signs of her coming. It'll be slightly depressing when my response to "when are you due?" becomes, "Oh, 3 days ago". Although I am told this is entirely possible and actually not uncommon for first babies!

Anyhow, I didn't really have anywhere else to put this, but here's a pair of socks I've been knitting...just some basic, cuff-down, 64 stitch socks. It's by Socks that Rock in the Knitters without Borders far making some crazy tiger stripes. The wool is incredibly sock and squidgy!

Happy Valentine's Day, and Happy Lunar New Year!

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Woodland Shawl

The Woodland Shawl is done! I started knitting this at the end of November and finished about a week ago. I'm happy with how it turned out - warm and cozy despite being a lace scarf. Here I am modeling it on our front porch:

Pattern: Woodland Shawl
Yarn: Knitpicks Gloss Lace in Sterling, 1.5 skeins
Needles: US6 circulars

It's a free pattern on Ravelry, written by Nikol Lohr (find it here). I'd definitely recommend working with the chart, as the written instructions get tedious after a while. The great thing about the leaf motif is that it's easy to memorize so you can work on it anywhere. Occasionally I'd forget to do some YOs, but it's easy to drop down and fix if you mess it up. I was a little worried that the shawl wouldn't be long enough until I blocked it. Gatsby supervises:

If you've never knitted lace before, this is actually a good one to start with - you can easily use any weight yarn, needles, and adjust the width of the shawl to your liking. I think this would look really nice in a heavier yarn.

We got a ton of snow over the weekend and the roads are finally starting to clear up. Today we took Gatsby to the vet, and we're off to see a movie soon - Up in the Air. Tomorrow is the Lunar New Year, so happy new year to everyone!

Friday, February 12, 2010

The Snowball Crib Quilt

Thought J.J. arrived in my blogging absence, didn't you?

Nope. She's waiting until she's good and ready. In the meantime, I've actually been quite productive with crafting, and just haven't had a chance to post much. Knitting and quilting have been keeping me occupied while waiting for my due date (which is February 18, in case you were curious).

The big news of today is...I'm finally done with the Snowball Quilt!! Does anyone even remember this thing? It's been through a lot. Packed and moved, sat all over by the cat...I had planned this as my first large quilting project, and began sewing precisely one year ago. Originally I had ambitiously wanted to make it a queen-sized quilt with a two-coloured border, but I got so sick of cutting out the pieces that I decided to truncate it into a lap quilt. Turns out that it makes a nice crib-sized quilt too, so it's going to be for J.J.'s room.

The octagon design is traditional quilt pattern called the snowball. I first decided I wanted to use this pattern after seeing an amazing Kaffe Fassett quilt of a similar design (although I selected quite different colours). To assemble each snowball, you need one 5" square and four 1.5" squares. You place a small square in each corner of the large square and sew along the diagonal of the small square. Marking this with a pen probably helps, but if you're lazy like me, you can just eyeball it. Then you iron out the small squares to get the nice octagon shape, and trim the excess off the corners. You end up with many, many little scrap triangles...whether they can be used is up to you...if you're willing to work with such tiny pieces go for it! I have mine stashed in an envelope in case the urge ever strikes me. So far it hasn't.

The actual quilting was done on the machine, in rows, stitch-in-the-ditch. You can see some hand-quilted circles in the octagons, which I was working on whenever watching an episode of Lost and needing something to do. I think the Fassett quilt had circles that were machine-stitched, but I chickened out of doing this since I don't have much practice doing curves. Hand-quilting looks beautiful, but is painstaking work. Especially stitching circles. Over several weeks I only managed to do about 20 circles, and there are about 80 in this quilt. I am considering this quilt done, although I may go back and add a circle or two here and there if I feel like it!

The backing was cut 1.5" larger than the quilt top so that I could cheat a little on the binding. Mine's a fake's just folded over and sewn down using a blind hem stitch. From the front, you can't really tell though, since the thread matches the border pretty well.

All the fabrics I used came from Joann's, which has a decent selection if you are persistent in your hunting. Next time though, I think I'm going to try some online fabric shops that sell more interesting fabrics that I learned about through these nifty quilting blogs:

Oh Fransson!
Bison Girl

Now I'm working on a Flock of Triangles quilt in red and white! I saw one in deep blue and white and it looked gorgeous...but I'm on a craft diet and not allowing myself to buy new stash until I've used up a good deal of what I've already got.

Monday, February 1, 2010

Baby Orangina Dress

I have to show off the prettiest little dress that my friend made for J.J....

Apparently it was one deceptively difficult, hellish knit that took at least 8 attempts and lots of ripping back, because the pattern was written in another language and didn't make any sense. And the final garment had to be heavily modified. Something like two other people on Ravelry had ever knit it.

BUT!! Is it the cutest thing ever or what? And the fabulous thing is, it'll be super long-wearing - she can wear it as a top when she gets bigger. Thank you, Rachel! This baby sure has some talented aunties in the Lehigh Valley...

In other news, I am officially in waiting mode - I surpassed the 37-week mark without any labour drama, and will be 38-weeks on Wednesday. The waddling is getting comical...