Monday, June 30, 2014

Anne's Pickle Dish

Yesterday, I wrote about my favorite quilt as part of the Sew Mama Sew series that has been running all month long.  I'm so sorry I didn't get the memo sooner, so we are squeezing in right under the wire here!  As I was writing my post, I couldn't help but think of my friend's Pickle Dish.  Anne Reinhart is the dear friend who makes her way into so many of my posts.  I've been able to show many of her quilts here, as she has donated them for auction.  But this Pickle Dish deserves a post all its own!  I love it so much and really think it demands being shared with and appreciated by as many as possible.  Since she doesn't have her own blog, I've invited her to share about her "favorite quilt" by completing the Sew Mama Sew interview.  

Q: Tell us about your favorite quilt.  When did you make it?  What pattern did you use?  What fabrics?

Truth be told, every time I finish a quilt, I think "THIS ONE is my favorite EVER." But when I finished my Denyse Schmidt pickle dish last month after a pregnancy-mandated quilting hiatus, I knew it wasn't just my favorite, but that it would be a hard one to top.  I started it last fall after seeing so many beautiful examples pop up online.  I debated for some time between using Sarah Fielke's pattern in Material Obsession 2 or Kaffe Fassett's pattern in Quilt Romance.  It was a little like choosing between two evils as both required me to venture outside of my quilting comfort zone!  I ended up choosing Kaffe Fassett's pattern as my starting point since I enjoy paper-piecing.  The fabric choice, however, was never in question.  I have an outlandish supply of Denyse Schmidt prints, and I figured that if I was going to tackle the pickle dish, I might as well go all out and cut into all of those lovely prints that I have been stockpiling!

Q: What memories or people does the quilt make you think of?

This one definitely makes me think of my little guy, Matthew.  I started it unaware that he was on his way and finished the quilting with him tucked in the Baby Bjorn.  And, well, I'll go ahead and blame him for being the hold-up on finishing the binding... he and I have been too busy snuggling for me to do my hand-stitching!

Q: What do you like best about the quilt?

I just love those gorgeous fabrics all playing together so nicely.  I'm not sure I came close to making a dent in my Denyse Schmidt stash, but I love seeing so many different prints from her different lines.  The only fabric that isn't hers is the black and white polka dots.

Q: How did you grow as a quilter while making it?

This quilt was definitely a challenge for me... not so much in execution, but in overcoming my fear of curved piecing and my dislike for templates.  Two new skills in one quilt... what was I thinking?!  Thankfully, I discovered that cutting out all of those center "eyes" with a template was manageable and that curved piecing isn't so bad... although it requires a lot of pinning!  So I survived the process, and amazingly, when all was finished and I unfurled it to show off to my husband, I found myself telling him how much I really want to make another one!

Q: If you could make this quilt again, what (if anything) would you do differently?

I would absolutely make it bigger.  When I started it, the projects seemed so daunting I was worried that if I increased the size, it would end up in my UFO pile.  It was such a relief when I finished the paper-piecing, and then the block assembly, that I convinced myself that it was big enough just the way it was.  In hindsight, one more row would have really made it perfect.

Q: Where is the quilt now?

I'm a quilt-stacker.  What can I say, I love the look of a stack of quilts!  In the weeks since finishing up my Pickle Dish, my husband retired from the Army, we moved most of our belongings into storage, and moved temporarily to the beach.  But no worries, I smuggled most of my quilts to our new locale and have happily stacked them here with us.  Although... this stack is a little bit "to-do" (confession: I have five quilts with bindings to finish!) and a little bit "where-am-I-going-to-put-all-of-these-in-this-tiny-house?!"!

Really... isn't Anne GREAT?!  And don't you think she needs her own blog?  Please join with me by protesting her lack of a blog in the comments section.  All the quilts in the pretty stack need their own airtime.  Want to see the ones I've already blogged?  Surf around by clicking the list below.  And enjoy!

Dolce Quilt
Little Stripes
Mark's Quilt
Classic Rail Fence Quilt

Sunday, June 29, 2014

My Favorite Quilt

It's finally time to show a quilt that I get to keep for myself... hooray!  And just in time to participate in the "My Favorite Quilt" series over at Sew Mama Sew!  Throughout the month of June, they have been showcasing the favorite quilts of quilt bloggers.  Then regular folk like me can participate by completing their interview and linking up.  What fun!  So here we go...

Q: Tell us about your favorite quilt.  When did you make it?  What pattern did you use? What fabrics?

Last November, I participated in a Kate Spain charm swap that Michele over at Quilts from my Crayon Box hosted.  Around the same time, my quilty friend, Anne, brought over her "HST Overload" quilt to show me.  I wanted to keep it for myself.  But being the good friend that I am, I let Anne keep her quilt and decided that I would just make my own, using the Kate Spain charms that would be arriving soon.  I've never looked back.  I did look on Pinterest a few weeks later, though, and realized that I had pinned Rita's quilt many, many moons ago.  So I guess it was on my "to-do list" even before I saw Anne's quilt or signed up for the charm swap. All at once, the quilting stars aligned, and I had the impetus to actually make this quilt.  I love it when that happens! And I love it when the perfect fabric for backing goes on sale, too.  

Even though all this happened back in December, the next few months were quite busy with the quilt auction.  So this quilt was not actually finished until a few weeks ago.

Q: What memories or people does the quilt make you think of?

Well, of course it makes me think of Anne.  I had to channel her good taste in order to put all these fabrics together.  I usually would not do such a "loud" quilt, not to mention one that lacks Kona White!  Also, Anne did the clamshell quilting for me, and when her third baby was only a week old!  (I promise I did not ask her to do it then.  She gave me a coupon for Christmas for a "free quilting" - what a sweet friend! - and I do believe I got the quilt to her before her original "maternity leave."  But she had a harder-than-expected pregnancy, so it did not get done before Baby Matthew arrived.)  

I also think of my husband when I see the quilt, mainly because he dislikes it so!  At first glance, he reported with disdain, "It has too many colors in it!  I mean, there must be 25 different colors in that quilt!"  If only he knew that the selvage of the backing alone showed 25 different colors...  

Q: What do you like best about the quilt?

I love the colors!  Quilting for me is primarily about the fabrics.  I was excited to participate in the Kate Spain charm swap because I love Kate Spain's use of bright colors as well as her lovely, nature-inspired designs.  I'm not sure that I was originally planning to use all the charms in one project, but I'm so glad that I did!  I might have otherwise agonized about how to separate the charms into different projects.  But that would have required too much thinking and too much making things "matchy-matchy."

Q: How did you grow as a quilter while making it?

I learned that I might really want to start trimming down my HSTs.  Or at least snip off the dog-ears.  With four little kids and one with special needs and cancer, I try to cut corners and quilt as quickly as I can.  But I must admit that handing over the quilt for Anne to do the quilting was a bit embarrassing.  "Umm, try to avoid the points where the blocks meet; you might break a needle," I sheepishly confessed.  Fortunately for me, the quilting seemed to go well for her, and now that it's all said and done, I really don't notice the bulk in those corners.  Still... I might want to do it "right" the next time.  

Q: If you could make this quilt again, what (if anything) would you do differently?

I would work a bit more on the layout.  Now that I see pictures of the quilt and also look at it at every meal (it's in view of my seat at the dining table; makes me happy!), I see blocks that I wish weren't right next to each other.  I do remember working on the layout quite a bit, though, and agonizing over it.  I'm sure I reached a point (as with every quilt) where I just threw my hands up in the air with "enough is enough!" and went with what I had.  

Also, I would make the quilt bigger.  It's only 52 by 58 inches, so rather small for a throw quilt.  Big enough for me to keep warm, but no room for my husband.  Though, I don't think he minds!

Q: Where is the quilt now?

We just moved into a new home, and my new-to-me quilt rack has a perfect home on a little wall by the fireplace.  So the quilt lives there.  It's kind of in between two rooms, so like I mentioned before, I can see it at every meal.  It's also in sight of my husband's new couch.  It's a pretty sweet couch that is the centerpiece of his study.  And though he loves me dearly, he has his limits with this little hobby of mine.  As soon as we got the couch into the room, he turned to me and said, "Listen: no draping quilts over this couch, or making pillows for it, okay?"  (How does he know my mind so well?!)  All that to say, the blues in the quilt really do accent the couch nicely!  So the quilt is close enough to the couch for me get a bit of homemaking satisfaction out of the connection, but still far enough away from it to maintain this thing called "marital bliss" that we've got going on.

But when he's out of the house, who says I can't stage a photo shoot?! 

So there is my favorite quilt.  It was an easy choice because it is, in fact, my only quilt! That's right: I've made dozens of quilts for auction, for friends, for my own kids, but this is the first that is just for me and just for fun.  Wow, that makes me happy!  I think I'll sign off here so I can go pet it right about now...

Monday, June 23, 2014

Kai's Quilt

Look at this kid!  Isn't he just the cutest?!

So this is Kai (the name is short for "Malachi").  He is my friend, Tracy's, fourth child.

Kai at two months old

Tracy is the same, sweet friend who kept my kids every week for the last year and a half while I took Charlotte for chemo.  (And the same friend who made this quilt and this quilt and this one, too.)

So one day in early May, Tracy told me that she would be leaving within the week to go pick up Kai from Las Vegas and bring him home.  "What?!"  Even though her adoption papers had been with the agency for almost a year, this all seemed very sudden.

Well, off she went to Vegas to pick up Kai.  Now even though I had other baby quilts in the queue, I stopped everything and whipped up this quilt top.  After all, Tracy would do no less for me.  I got the top done (tweaking one of Camille's patterns), then off went to New York City for a long weekend with the husband.  (Our May trips make Tracy and me sound much more exciting than we are in real life!)  

Of course, Anne came to my rescue yet again.  While I was enjoying myself in NYC, she did her great meander on this fun quilt, even though she had a teeny newborn herself!  (In the picture above, I just love the Sarah Jane print of cloud shapes; particularly, the little house makes me think of Kai having a forever home in Tracy's family.)

The quilting was all done when I returned home, so Anne dropped the quilt off, I slapped the binding on, and it was ready for Tracy and Kai when they returned from Vegas.  Hooray!  I love a good surprise; and what could be better than a surprise quilt?

Tracy likes Ed Emberly, so I did the backing in these frogs.  Which, I must add, I have seen in pictures online, but oh my goodness: they are sooo  much cuter in real life!

I am so happy that this quilt has been such a hit with Tracy and Kai.  Tracy just loves the colors!  And of course, she loves Sarah Jane and Camille, too!  I think I nailed this one... yay!

Our family is so happy that even though we've moved to a wonderful new home, we are still not too far from Tracy's family - just about an hour away!  They've already come to play at our home in the woods.  

I wish I had a picture of all of them, but they are all so quick and busy that all my pictures came out blurry!  The one above is of Kai's big brother and sister, Asher and Betsy, with my Elyse in the middle.  What sweet kids!

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Helllooo, June!

Oh my.  I'm just so grateful that May is over.  That was one rough month!  It started out just fine: a trip to the Big Apple with my husband to celebrate our upcoming 10-year wedding anniversary.  It was sweet; minus those moments when I would pick fights with him (what? during our child-free vacation?!) because...

We would get back and be thrown into a wild and quick do-it-yourself move.  That's right: I've not been quilting or blogging or anything of the like because I've been packing boxes and then more boxes and now unpacking and unpacking and unpacking some more.

But - we did it!  I oscillated between thinking that we were crazy for trying to move ourselves (with FOUR kids who still need to be clothed and fed and taken to chemo!) and thinking "We can do this, we can DO this!"  And in the end, we did it!  Well, almost.  Boxes abound... but little by little they are getting unpacked.

So now for some quilt chatter.  Oh how I miss sewing!  Back when I had time for that sort of a thing, I made this cute crib quilt.  I had no idea who it was for, only that I loved the fabrics (ModKid by Patty Young for JoAnn's with some Kona grays thrown in).

 I saw this quilt and decided I want to make one just like it!  It was my first time doing hourglass (sorta) blocks.

I love these fabrics!  I don't know about you, but I think that Patty Young and I pulled off "modern" just swimmingly!

I did some straight-line, 1/4 inch echo quilting.  And thanks to my Machingers, not a single pucker!  (Where oh, where did I go wrong with Matthew's quilt?!)

The backing fabric was on deep discount at JoAnn's, so I snatched that up a few months ago.  It didn't match perfectly, but looked good enough, I thought.  And the binding was some leftover jelly roll strips from my Hashtag Glimma Quilt.

I was so happy to give this quilt to a sweet friend of mine who tried to bid on a quilt or two during the quilt auction in April.  Though she didn't win a quilt, she went on to make a generous donation to the Pediatric Brain Tumor Foundation anyhow, so it only seemed fitting that I invite her to grab one of my "homeless" quilts.  I'm so happy that her nearly 2-year old twins took to it right away!  

And now for a few kid pictures.  First up: Miss Charlotte Grace.  I think it's been awhile since I've put up a picture of her.  Here she is in a photo that I took in our old home.  She is so sweet during this move.  She says, "New home" like "nyew home" and is quite confused as we drive around our new town.  She does not recognize the roads yet, and so is always asking questions about where we are going.  I can tell that she's trying to get her bearings and memorize our routes around town.

And now for Charlotte's partner in crime: Marian!  This little nugget just loves that Army helmet!  Well, she loves any hat really.  I just love this picture of the two of them: Marian loves to act silly to get Charlotte to laugh, but Charlotte's expression here is saying, "Not amused, Marian."

I love these kids!  Oh, and that sweet shirt that Marian is wearing?  Yes, my friend, Jenn, seems to be not only a great quilter (see here and here), but she embroiders, too!  All my kids received these great, personalized tees that they wear all the time. Thanks again, Jenn!

Okay, I'm off to unpack my one box for the day. I know that doesn't sound too ambitious, but trust me: it'll take me till lunchtime just to tear the tape off the top.  Be warned, moving mothers: children will still need to be fed and diapered.