What’s on the Design Wall

As I may have mentioned before, I spent a lot of years wasting time coveting what I could not have. I have watched as my friends bought longarm quilting machines and the latest and best embroidery machines. Due to space and cost, a longarm is not an option for me, and I had to face the fact that a $10,000 embroidery machine was not in my future either. About a year ago I decided to return to my hand quilting roots and I have been so happy with that decision. Not only do I love the process, I am much happier with the finished projects as well.

Recently I have been rediscovering hand applique. First of all, I dug out a long languishing project, Loopy Tulips by Jaimie Davis of Sunlight Cottage Industries. This will not be on the front burner, but I'm plodding along on it.


My real love now has been discovering the designs of Erin Russek. She blogs at Once Piece at a Time. Go on over and take a look, but be prepared, as I did, to spend an entire day reading all of her back posts. She is a really talented designer and shares so much of her work for free. I have started on my Christmas quilt using her Jingle blocks. I was fortunate to have a gift card and really enjoyed being able to coordinate and buy all the fabrics at once!


I am using the freezer paper and starch method of preparing the pieces. I really like getting the block prepared and being able to sit down and stitch without having to worry about turning under the edges. I especially love making circles, although I found these little circles really taxed my skills!



Quilting has commenced on Abby's quilt and it's actually gone a little faster than I expected. I had told her to prepare for at least a year to finish, but maybe it will be done before then. No promises, especially as I seem to be distracted at the moment with preparing little circles!  I bought a wide piece of fabric – Wintergreen by Moda – for the backing and I'm loving it. Between that and the wool batting, it's like quilting through butta.


One piece of exciting news. Hang on to your hats!! I bought a new iron. Yeah, I know. Only we quilters could get excited about that. I've been using a Panasonic Cordless and as much as I really want to love it, I just can't. It's fine for pressing quilt blocks, but just doesn't stay hot long enough for pressing pillowcases and yardage. I did a lot of research – talked to other quilters, read blogs and reviews and then . . . . bought the one that was on sale at the Navy Exchange. So far I'm loving it. I like that instead of just a few large steam holes, it has lots of little ones. This provides for a much more even steam. And it heats up lightning fast. The real test will be if it doesn't start spitting down the road. I'll keep you posted as I know you will be holding your collective breaths!


One of the downsides of doing all this hand work is that it is slow going and therefore doesn't provide for a lot of ever changing blog fodder, so it seems only right to fill it up with exciting appliance news. I'll try to have more exciting news next week, but no promises!


Finishing Fool

As much as I love to knit, finishing those knits has never been my favorite part of the process. Maybe that's why I end up knitting so many shawls! But the pile was growing deeper and I finally decided to go on a marathon finishing process. Here are the results:

Acorn Trail


This was made using Amy Herzog's Custom Fit pattern. I think it needs a little tweaking here and there, but overall I am very pleased. It's probably one of the most well-fitting and flattering sweaters I've ever made. As much as I love the buttons, I may have to replace them. They are just a little too small for the buttonholes.

Ben's Shawl Collar Sweater


My son is always hard to buy for, so last Christmas I gave him a box of yarn. The goal was to knit him a sweater before this Christmas and I succeeded. The parts of it had been done for quite a while, but I was a little freaked out about doing the shawl collar. This is my own design and I was making it up as I went. I finally just dived in and the collar ended up being a piece of cake. He is enormously pleased with the result. GQ anyone?

Touch the Sky



This was made for my daughter-in-law by request to match the child-sized one I made for Mei Mei. I was able to locate the same yarn and now they have matching sweaters. I think this style is darling on both of them. In the interests of complete disclaimer, I have to confess that Mei Mei will not wear sweaters I make for her. We barely got it on her for the photo. So there probably won't be many more sweaters for her in the future.

Felicia Vest


This one also sat in the finishing pile forever. All that was needed were the armhole edgings. Despite my best efforts I wasn't all that enamored of the fit. Once finished I blocked severely and it's passable. However, I look like a dork in the model picture, so you get a picture of the sweater alone

So there you go! Not too many knitting projects going now because I'm on a quilting spree. I finished the piecing on Abby's quilt. I was going to have a friend baste it with her longarm, but ended up going over to my friend's house to hand baste instead. She has a wonderful large table and it was so easy to spread it out. I didn't even end up with a backache. I'm really enjoying the handquilting process!


And I've found my next project! These wonderful Christmas blocks by Erin Russek of Once Piece at a Time really caught my eye.

Jingle Blocks

I love the combination of pieced and appliqued blocks. Let the fabric shopping commence!