Friday, February 26, 2010

Hopelessly Crafty

I was in Michaels with my son when he saw a book with knit snake on the cover. “Make me a snake Mommy.” He’s three years old and has taken to randomly asking me to make things for him. He knows that I can make stuff. He’s seen me make quilts and blankets and socks. He even helped with the placement of the circles on my Mom’s quilt.

So he saw the book and asked me to buy it and make him the snake. Here’s what makes me hopelessly crafty. I already HAD a book with a pattern for a toy snake. A crochet snake to be exact. Not only that, I already had enough yarn AND stuffing to make it without having to buy anything else. I’m like one of those people who can just whip up a rack of lamb and a cheese soufflé on a whim from the stuff in their kitchen, except mine would be amigurumi. Frankly, I don’t even remember why I was at Michaels in the first place.

He wanted a “big, big” snake which is good since he has a mother who never checks gauge and that is exactly what he ended up with. The pattern was for a big snake, but I don’t think it was supposed to be quite this big. But who cares when you get to watch this.

By the way, the pattern is from Baby Crochet by Lois Dakin.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Circle Group

My mother had been dropping not so subtle hints that she wanted a quilt. “So what are you going to do with all of these quilts?” and “Are you ever going to give these quilts away?” That sort of thing.

So I decided to make her a quilt this past Christmas. Up until now, I’ve been hesitant to let them leave the house because of the little imperfections they have. They don’t really bother me because I understand that they are part of the process of learning the techniques. Most non-quilters probably wouldn’t even notice them, and I do have them on display in my house. But I think if you are going to give someone a gift, it should be good quality. I finally feel that my work is in a place where there aren’t going to be big holes or loose stitches or cut off blocks.

I used the Eclipse pattern by Joyce Robinson. I decided sometime around September or October to make the quilt, so I needed to start right away and didn’t have time to come up with an original pattern. I also needed something that was going to use fabric I already had in my stash and that I could assemble fairly quickly. This pattern fit the bill and had the added bonus of feeding my growing obsession with circles.

I have to say that this is probably the best quilt I’ve ever made. Not in terms of how it looks, but technically. The seams all lined up, it was perfectly flat, it is as square as I’ve ever gotten anything. It made me ridiculously happy when all of the blocks fit together the way they were supposed to. I ended up liking the quilt so much, I was actually a little sad to see it go.

It is a throw sized quilt. The circles are needle turn appliqué. It is machine and hand quilted and beaded. In the original pattern, the circles are attached by quilting them down. But raw edge appliqué makes me edgy and I didn’t want to do the amount of machine quilting that would have required to attach them securely. Also, I just really like doing needle turn appliqué. My mother once had a consulting business called the Circle Group and that’s where the name comes from.

So here are the three things I learned. First, when you machine assemble blocks, you can press the seams open. The blocks will line up better and the quilt will lie flatter. I think you only have to press the seams to one side when you hand piece. Second, circles are awesome, especially when you have an EZ Cut Circle ruler. And third, trust your vision and just keep going. It will turn out better than you hoped.