Wednesday, October 29, 2014

perfect fall sweater

I made this.  In just 10 days!!  Fastest sweater I ever knit.  I felt propelled by the oncoming chill of autumn.


And, it's awesome. Wear it every day.



Best fall ever.


All the details on my Ravelry page, here.
(And one day I will start taking decent pictures with something other than my iPhone again, I promise!)

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

craft south recap

I am embarrassed that it took me a MONTH to gather a few sentences about my amazing, incredible, indescribable weekend in Nashville attending Craft South, with none other than Anna Maria Horner and Heather Ross (insert squeals here).

I attended with my bestie Samantha from Toronto.  We used our 40th birthdays as an excuse to the husbands to do this.  Yes, I have milked this birthday for all it is worth and then some.  I have no shame.  We then got my good friends Kelly (Kelby Sews), Angela (Cut to Pieces) and Michelle (I like Orange, too) to join in the fun.  Kelly lives in Franklin, TN, so we all came a day early and had a girlie pow wow at her house the night before!  So much fun.  Including the incredible quilt swap I talked about in my last post.

( I want everything in Kelly's sewing room. All the things!!)

Friday night, the weekend began with cocktails and appetizers at a local restaurant.  I sat next to Heather (that's what I call her now. Heather.  My buddy.).  You know, no biggie.


And then here is Anna Maria checking out (and COMPIMENTING!) my handmade clutch. Gah! 



Then it was off to the temporary studio to settle in for the weekend.




Okay, I am at a loss for words (weird, eh?). I have stopped and started a commentary about 10 times.   How to describe this weekend?  Essentially, this weekend was 25 amazing ladies, hanging out in a studio full of hand stitched inspiration, in close quarters with my two Quilting Rockstars.  I told my husband that it was like if Jon Bon Jovi and Richie Sambora had invited him to their place for the weekend to jam in the garage and hang out.  Yah.  That cool.

(God, I hate this picture of me.  WHY DIDN'T I TAKE A DECENT PICTURE?!?!) 

We went for dinner at Anna's HOUSE.  I mean, she said to us as we entered, "go ahead and throw your stuff on our bed!"  Talk about down to earth and folksy!  We hung out with her family, who were amazingly welcoming and who actually performed a concert for us- songs written by her eldest son and his friend, along with other favourites, performed by the "boys", Anna's husband and daughter.  Talented and creative just like their mother.



Then Anna Maria and Heather took the time to draw us each a picture of whatever we requested, to embroider later.  How amazing is that???


Speaking of original art, back in January (my, ahem, ACTUAL birthday), my husband had ordered me a Heather Ross custom family portrait for my gift.  I had been in contact with her about it and it was so incredibly great to be able to have her give it to me in person.  I love it so much, and how it captures my family and our life right now, scampering around in the minivan.  I have it framed and on my wall at home.

(I know it looks like Heather is trying to cop a feel in this picture, but I assure you, 
she is far too classy to attempt such a thing)


So we stitched.  We learned. We were inspired.  We laughed.  And time passed FAR too fast.  I gained a love of needleworks that I didn't know I had.  I look forward to incorporating more of it into my crafting in the future.

So, in short, if you ever have the opportunity to attend Craft South at some point, I have one word for you-  GO!!!!!

Thursday, October 9, 2014

finished quilt and the best gift ever

So Michelle (ilikeorangetoo) and I decided ages ago to do a swap, and planned to do it in person while together at Sew South. It was meant to be something small- a pouch, oven mitts, whatever, but a bunch of stuff happened this year for both of us personally, so it looks like, unbeknownst to the other, we both upped the ante!

I decided to make her a quilt, using my scraps from her favourite fabric line ever, Good Folks by Anna Maria Horner.  I didn't have much, so improvised a design based on my Liberty iPad mini cover I made, and both inspired by this mini quilt I saw on Pinterest.



I used a variety of low volume fabrics for the background, quilted it in swirly loops reminiscent of flight.  I named it "Migration", and even made a groovy label ;)  The back is a silky soft AMH voile, of course!



In return, I too received a quilt.  But not just ANY quilt.  A freaking epic all voile masterpiece that was entirely HAND QUILTED.  Are you kidding me???



I died.  I certainly cried.  I was so overwhelmed by her work and her generosity.  This is the first quilt I have ever had made for me, and it is so, so precious.



It was even touched and admired by The Great One herself!



And it has been getting plenty of use at my home.  Thank you again, Michelle, for this incredible gift.     You must really like me.  ;) xoxox


Wednesday, October 8, 2014

peace and love and Liberty (of London)

I bought a bunch of Liberty cuts while at Purl Soho in NYC, and got right down to using them.  As opposed to hoarding them.  Which, on occasion, I have been known to do ;)

First I made a couple really cool wraps, based on the Lululemon Vinyasa scarf.  Basically it is like a big rectangle with snaps than can be used to make it a wrap, scarf, cowl, shawl...there is a video of the 10 ways to use it!  I decided to make a couple with Liberty and chambray. It has been a great fall accessory!  Don't mind the post full of crappy iPhone pictures...it seems I am too lazy to pull out my fancy camera anymore!



I also decided to make a liberty pouch.  I actually planned to make enough for all my friends I was meeting at Craft South,  but only got one done, so Kelly (kelbysews) was the recipient.  The outer is patchwork of Liberty and chambray, the inner is a robin's egg blue shot cotton.  I made it large and square to accommodate and embroidery hoop and also put a piece of felt inside, suitable for storing needles.  I plan to make another for me (eventually).



I STILL have a Liberty quilt planned, which one day I will get to actually piecing- it is cut up and ready to go.  It is such a lovely fabric to work with, so soft...but pretty pricey.  Used sparingly!

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

holy cowls!

I must have an instinct, much like the geese, to tell me that winter is on its way, because I have been knitting up a storm lately.  Mostly big, chunky, squishy cowls...so cozy!  

This one for me:



This one (and matching hat) will be a Christmas gift- made with the wool from Purl Soho.




This one was made for my fabulous friend Michelle (IG: ilikeorangetoo), which I gifted to her while in Nashville.



Originally the cream cowl was a gift for Angela (Cut to Pieces), but little did I know that she is allergic to wool, and it instantly made her itchy!  So I kept it (big hardship) and knit her up a new one quickly during our Sew South weekend out of a super soft alpaca yarn that she had bought herself.  Doesn't she look adorable in it?




All of the above cowls were made with the same simple pattern, bulky yarns held single and worsted yarns held double, doing a simple k3 p3, in a multiple of 6 stitches plus or minus one stitch to allow the pattern to spiral.  For most of these I cast on about 79 stitches to wrap double around the neck comfortably, and they each took 2 skeins.

I also made another very cool cowl/sling type thing, finished also while at Sew South for my bestie Samantha (IG: samsews).  It was a pattern (Panem cowl on Ravelry) based off this super cool knit worn by "Katniss" in the latest Hunger Games movie.


I love how this turned out, and it is totally the funky style that suits Sam, don't you think??  I have more yarn to make one for me, someday.



More finishes on the way!

Monday, October 6, 2014

around the world blog hop

One of my very favourite blogging/quilting/IG friends, greenleaf goods, tagged me in the Around the World Blog Hop, to share a bit about my crafting process.  So come on in, take a peek inside my brain (if you dare)!!!

1. What quilting/sewing thing am I working on?

I have total ADHD when it comes to crafty projects.  I usually have ten things going at a time.  But I have to say, at the moment I am being pretty tame!  In quilting, I just finished this "hope" rainbow quilt top.  I was having a craptastic week last week, and normally when I am stressed and needing to spend time on other things, that is when inspiration hits.  I was driving and the picture of this one just popped in my head.  I went home and sketched it, and made it up over the past week.  It will be a gift- it felt really good, in the midst of MY stress, to be doing something positive for someone else to boost THEM up.  There is always someone going through something worse than you are, so this was very therapeutic for me as I was sorting my own issues out.



In addition, I have a Liberty quilt top and a Briar Rose one all cut and waiting to be pieced.  Also an assortment of Liberty scraps half assembled, intended to be made into pouches (when I got distracted).



As for knitting, I am inches away from finishing an awesome bulky sweater that will be PERFECT for fall!  Just bought the buttons :)  I also have another cardigan that I abandoned to switch to this one, which I will pick up again soon. I love the fact that knitting is so portable, as our family is always on the go.  I try to keep a project stashed in my purse at all times!




2. How does my work differ from others of its genre?

I draw so much inspiration from the IG and blogging community.  So often, I will see something someone else has made and that will be the starting point for my own project, which then evolves into something else.  I think that I am different in that I rarely start out with a plan, and often not even a finished quilt in mind.  I just start cutting and piecing and let the work evolve.  A prime example would be my Ghastlies quilt. I just began to frame some fussy cuts and when I felt like I had done enough, I pieced them together, and added a scrappy border, too.  Then I got the idea to quilt it with a big spider web.  I love how it came together, it remains one of my favourites.



Another example is this mini quilt I recently completed for my best friend.  She wanted me to make something based on her favourite quote.  I used the words as my inspiration, emphasizing different ones by using different materials and colours, and even added some embroidery.  Then I added lots of texture with free motion quilting.  Again, I started this project with no idea of how it would look finished, just making decisions as I went.  It's amazing what ideas might be rattling around in your brain if you pause to listen ;)



I really never work from a pattern in quilting or sewing.  To me, these are my opportunities to be creative.  I am going to attempt some clothes, though, so we will see if I can follow a pattern there!  In knitting, however, I normally do follow a pattern.  Knitting is my therapeutic activity- mindless and receptive, the combination is great for meditation and relaxation.  

3. How does my writing/creating process work and why do I write/create what I do?
As I said, it is normally very impromptu.  I find a fabric or a project that inspires me, then I take and element from it and build on it to make it my own.  I love the journey of making a quilt, all the steps that lead up to the finished product.  Well, except basting.  Who likes basting??
I also feel that quilting, writing and knitting is all about connecting with others.  I am making something that I want them to love, so I want it to suit them.  I spend the time I am working on it thinking of the recipient.  I really try to make the gift FOR the recipient, THEIR tastes and style, not mine, which sometimes challenges me out of my comfort zone.  Even if our styles are very different, I can usually find a way to amalgamate them somewhat so the piece can be very THEM but also be ME.  
I love the writing aspect of blogging, something that is lost somewhat with the short snippets of IG.  I love spinning a long tale, telling a joke,  and I always strive to be honest and real.  I am not perfect, I have many flaws, but despite that, I have a life filled with love and fun and laughter, along with the inevitable frustrations and hardships.  I think because I speak like that to people through what I write, I have made some true connections and some wonderful friends. And that human connection is what it's all about!
So now I get to choose a couple friends to do the blog hop!  I am going to tag Krista of Poppyprint, who, speaking of around the world, just got home from Italy, and who comes up with wonderful creative techniques like Improv Under the Influence that I would love to hear more about!  I am also going to tag my Australian friend Shay of Quilting in my Pyjamas, who I daresay has a schizophrenic approach to quilting, or at least her to-make lists!  ;)

Thanks for reading through!  I have lots of finishes to share with you soon, I promise!

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

NYC, baby!

So, I made the decision years ago that my 40th birthDAY would, in fact, be celebrated for a YEAR.  Why?  Because I am actually really excited to be 40.  I mean, why not?  I have my family and friends, a great home, a career and hobbies I love, so much to be happy about at this point in life.  My 30s were so much about building my family and career, that I feel like my 40s will be the time to reap the rewards of that hard work.  I became a mom about a week before my 30th birthday, which was celebrated by a quick dinner at a restaurant, where I basically couldn't sit comfortably and I milked through my shirt and dashed home in embarrassment, so...yah, I thought I was owed some fun for the Big 4-0 ;)

I am also extremely lucky to still be close with many of the girlfriends of my youth.  Five of us, who have been friends since Kindergarten, decided to take a trip to NYC to celebrate our birthdays in style, and to toast our lifelong friendships.

I had TECHNICALLY been to NYC before.  What does that mean, you ask?  Well, 8 years ago, I went with another friend to celebrate her 40th. She had recently moved to North Carolina, so I flew there to see her and her family, and she arranged a bus tour to NYC for us.  Did you know that North Carolina is really FAR from NYC?  Well, as Canadians, we really are not all that sharp about US geography so, um, we did not.  So our trip started with a REALLY LONG bus ride, made even longer when the bus broke down on the side of the road for 6 hours.  This was especially painful as I happened to be 8 weeks pregnant with LBNL, so was nauseous and had a bladder the size of a pea.  In addition, the bus tour was through a church group of extremely exuberant African American Southern senior citizens, who were the sweetest people ever, but who piped their homemade cheesy soap operas through the tvs and tended to shout "Hallelulia" and "Amen" approximately 47 times per hour.  It was quite the experience!

And the fun didn't end there- we arrived in NYC to catch the tail end of Hurricane Ernesto, which caused rain to pummel us sideways, preventing any kind of walking outdoors (which is how you DO NYC!), nor could we see through the windows of our city tour bus so....yah.  Not fun.

I digress.  But you can see how my life is a bit of a sitcom?

Anyways, this time?  I WENT to NYC!  And we sure did it right.

We shared some laughs with Rob Schneider at his standup show:



We saw amazing musicals:





 We had many cocktails:





We shopped:



We danced until the wee hours of the night, and then we did karaoke (check out my pit stains, dudes):


We even went here.....



...and did this:


So many awesome things happened.  And one of my favourites?  Visiting Purl Soho!!


So many pretty things....



And I brought some home with me :)


The stuff in my Purl Soho bag was WAY more expensive than what I had in that little blue box above, lol!  But I just LOVED being in there, surrounded by succulent yarns, soft and gorgeous Liberty of London fabric, the friendly staff, and all the inspiration! Heaven :)

So all in all, I would say this trip was FABULOUS and we are already busy planning our Big 5-0 return!!