FO Friday: Maypole Quilt

a quilt laying on concrete. the quilt has overlapping lines that look woven in white, browns, and greens.

Pattern: Maypole Quilt by Suzy Quilts

Fabric: Michael Miller Couture Cotton in Sage, Kona Cotton in Seafoam, Kona Cotton in White, Kona Cotton in Lingerie, Kona Cotton in Suede, and FIGO Desert Wilderness Circles

Size: Crib (40″ x 45″)

Started: January 18, 2020

Completed: February 8, 2020

close up of a corner of a quilt on concrete. the quilt is folded over so the front and back are both visible. front has strips that look overlapping and woven, back has dots right next to each other that look like water colors. both in green, brown, and white colors.

I love making baby quilts, and no matter how early I plan them, I have an uncanny knack for starting them while the mom is actually in labor. I have wanted to make this pattern, the Maypole Quilt, ever since it came out and was thrilled with the fabrics I picked out. But I still finished it after baby’s arrival . . . the good news is kids don’t outgrow quilts.

a quilt on concrete. back is visible with a fabric that looks like watercolor dots right next to each other in browns, greens, and black on a white background.

Before I get into making the quilt I need to give a shout-out to Fancy Tiger Crafts, where I got the fabric from. One of the colors I ordered online turned out to sell out in their store while I was checking out and so wasn’t available for my order. One of their staff members took pictures of similar fabrics they had in stock next to the rest of my fabrics to help me pick out a substitute, and they didn’t charge me the price difference between what I paid for and the substitute. It may not be local to me, but Fancy Tiger is a local fabric shop and it shows in details like this.

close up of a corner of a quilt on concrete. it shows the quilting on the front - straight lines across the strips of fabric that appear interwoven.

The Maypole Quilt pattern was really easy and came together incredibly quickly. I cut and pieced the top in an afternoon. As always, then I found out the baby had been born and without the pressure of getting it quilted before the baby arrived I procrastinated on quilting. I decided to follow the example in the pattern and do straight line quilting along the strips. This is my first time not doing free-motion quilting and gosh is this so much quicker. It took me a few attempts to figure out how to make reliable straight lines at thirds in the stripes. I tried at first with that attachment you can put in your foot that sticks out a set amount. I couldn’t figure out a way to screw it into place on my walking foot so it led me astray. I had much better success with my hera marker and a ruler (it makes a physical impression on the fabric that fades/washes out, rather than coloring on it).

another view of the whole quilt top on concrete.

I am totally in love with how this whole project came out. I am pleased with the colors I picked out for the top based on looking at pictures of the backing on my computer. The brown could be a little redder, but everything else feels great. And I like the texture from the quilting and from not pre-washing my fabrics and then washing the finished quilt. I hope the mom loves it as much as I do!

FO Friday: Breton Cowl

a white woman in an olive green and chartreuse striped cowl and a sky blue top stands facing the camera, seen from the waist up

Pattern: Breton Cowl by Antonia Shankland

Yarn: Shibui Knits Drift in Field and Shibui Knits Silk Cloud in Pollen

Needle: US9 (5.5mm)

Ravelry Link: here

Started: October 18, 2019

Completed: November 22, 2019

I am a stripes gal, they’re the pattern you see most in my wardrobe. When the lovely ladies at Mason-Dixon Knitting gave me a kit for the Breton Cowl and a copy of the Field Guide containing the pattern I was thrilled to knit some more stripes for my closet. They didn’t ask me to review the kit, this is just me proudly blogging my FOs 😌

white woman in an olive green and chartreuse striped cowl and a sky blue top stands with her head turned to the side

Not only does this pattern contain stripes, it contains my other knitting love – garter stitch. I really love the contrast of the squishy garter background and the stripes in a different fiber and texture. It gives a bit of visual interest to the cowl and makes it the perfect thing to throw on with a simple top.

Do you have go tos that are hard for you to resist in a pattern? I’d love to hear about them below!

FO Friday: Persephone Pants

a white woman in mustard pants and a white tshirt that says "just for fun" with flowers among the letters stands with legs crossed and a hand on her hip

Pattern: Persephone Pants by Anna Allen

Fabric: Stretch Twill in Mustard

Size: 16

Started: November 27, 2019

Completed: November 28, 2019

One of the patterns I have heard recommended nearly unanimously on the Sewing Internet has been the Anna Allen Persephone pants. They’re supposed to be incredibly comfortable and universally flattering. That is a lot of hype, and I was not sure these would live up to it for me – this is not a silhouette I can ever remember wearing and after a life of mostly RTW I generally assume most pants will not look good on me. I am so glad that sewing has pushed my outside of my comfort zone here, because I love my first pair of Persephones and plan to make many more!

a white woman in yellow pants and a white tshirt. she is standing sideways looking at the camera with her back hand in her hair.

The unusual thing about this pants pattern is that they don’t have an outside seam. You cut out the pieces and they look totally unlike pants. I found the instructions to be incredibly clear, though, and they came together really quickly. The pattern is drafted for a button-fly, but I hate those so I used the zipper expansion pack which made a scary step super easy. I made a sad zipper mistake – I trimmed it and then zipped my zipper pull right off! There’s no way to recover from that mistake, unfortunately, so I had to rip out my zipper and replace it with a new one. I truly thought I might lose the pants entirely and was shocked at how simple the process was. Sewing is pretty amazing in that way, you can recover from so many mistakes!

a white woman in mustard pants and a white tshirt with her back to the camera. her arms are above her head and her hip is cocked as is she was caught dancing.

One thing I was worried about in terms of these pants being flattering is that they have no back pockets. I do think a lot about the underwear I wear with these, but I think that may especially be an issue because this fabric is on the thinner side of bottom weight and is lighter colored. I plan to experiment with adding pack pockets to my next pair as I use them a lot in my clothing and the front pockets on these are cute but not super convenient to use. You can’t see the front pockets in any of my photos, I realize – they sit between the belt loops on each side and are just big enough to hold my phone.

a white woman in mustard pants and a white shirts stands at 3/4 to the camera holding and looking at a black cat.

A local stray cat joined us so we decided to include her in our photoshoot. One choice I made that I regret was not interfacing the waistband. The interfacing I had would not stick to the fabric and in a fit I just tore it off and sewed on the piece without it. The waistband crumples down a lot and would definitely look nicer if I had taken the time to try again rather than being so impatient. The other thing I would do differently if I were to redo this pair is I would go down one size. These pants are drafted for non-stretch fabric. I thought the 3% spandex in my fabric wouldn’t be a big deal, but I think it makes them look a bit stretched out and messy at times, and I think a slightly smaller size would have mitigated this.

a white woman in mustard pants and a white shirt stands on one leg with the other behind her and her hands out, open-mouthed smiling at the camera

My favorite thing about these pants is that they are truly high-waisted – they sit at my natural waist. One of the hardest things about dressing with an ostomy is getting waistbands to hit in a comfortable place. This is the first pair of pants I have found that are high enough to entirely cover my bag, rather than bisecting it, and one of the reason I plan to make them a staple of my wardrobe.

Do you have a pattern that works just right for your body that you make over and over? I’d love to hear about it in the comments!

2020 Goals

I love the process of setting goals and assessing how I progressed towards accomplishing them. I have more uncertainty in my near future than average, thanks to my chronic colorectal cancer, but I find I can’t quit planning for the best case scenario. So, here is what I would love to accomplish this year.

Sewing

Top of my list are the 3 outstanding projects I have for other people. I started a quilt for my husband’s 40th birthday, which was back in 2015. I also promised my sister a dress for her birthday last January. And finally, I am making a baby quilt for a friend who is due next week. I need to get those finished before I make anything for myself. Once I do knock those out, I have a long queue of projects planned. I’m most excited about a pair of Persephone Pants in denim, and a Wilder Gown in ochre gauze. I also want to make a few new to me items – a jumpsuit and a bra.

Knitting

I am feeling really excited about knitting lately and have been tearing through my latest project, a Pamplemousse sweater. I have Arete in my queue as well as socks for my husband and some little crocheted bowls for the house. I set my goal for the Ravelry Project Challenge to 6 projects, which is what I aimed for and hit exactly last year. I would love to knit mostly from stash, though I am not going to make any vows not to buy new yarn, just to check first to see if I can use what I have.

Reading/Learning

I still have a large pile of unread crafting books – 30 according to Goodreads. I am going to get through as many of those as I can this year. Next on my list is to research color, finding my colors, and building my wardrobe using that info.

What are your goals for 2020? Learning something new? Improving a skill? Just enjoying the ride? I’d love to hear in the comments below!

2019 In Review

One of the highlights of my 2019 was how I grew as a crafter. In June I went to a jeans-making retreat at Fancy Tiger Crafts and while there was no flash of knowing I was changed, I can see since coming home the difference it has made in my sewing. I made underwear and overalls, both of which I would have assumed were beyond me. But I made jeans! So I can figure out underwear (which, it turns out, are actually really simple!). This was also the year I began to feel more comfortable making pattern adjustments – grading between sizes and shortening pattern pieces.

Above are the 16 projects I completed and shared here this year (there are 3 more done but not blogged, but that’s a different story). I have sewing, knitting, and crochet projects. I’m sure this is the first year in my crafting life that my sewing projects outnumber my knitting, and I suspect it will continue that way in the future.

As I sometimes touch on, I am living with chronic colorectal cancer. This year I received 21 doses of chemotherapy, will continue to get treatment every other week for the foreseeable future. Every stitch I hooked and sewed and knitted this year was with cancer in my lungs and bones. These pictures are celebrations on days that I felt good. I think crafters in particular know the joy that comes with finishing the creation of a tangible thing and while I will never lose that, I want to value the days where I make nothing but carbon dioxide as I exhale.

I’ll be back soon with some thoughts and goals for 2020. I hope you’ve enjoyed following along here. If you want to keep up with my health, I have a cancer blog I update (more) regularly (than this one).

FO Friday: Ballerina Bun Covers

a young ballerina in a coral leotard jumping in a leap

Pattern: Ballerina Bun Covers by Crochet by Jennifer

Yarn: ArtFil Belle in a pink, Indigodragonfly DK Matter in Diplodocus Words, and Suburban Stitcher Merino DK in Tandoori

Hook: USG (4.25mm)

Ravelry Link: here

Started: August 11, 2019

Completed: September 1, 2019

the profile of a ballerina with a blue bun cover on her hair

There is a feeling of intense pride when your child sees an item in a store and announces, “My mom could make that.” When shopping for this year’s ballet gear my daughter saw a crocheted bun cover and after bragging about my skills, requested one for herself. I am not an experienced crocheter, but I didn’t want to say no to her request so I made good use of the internet’s resources and made it happen.

back view of  ballerina with a pink bun cover and one leg bent at the knee with foot behind her

Going through my stash at home my daughter couldn’t decide between three different skeins, so I offered to make her multiple covers. My crochet skills definitely improved as I went – on the first one I failed to notice the pattern switching from rounds of double crochet to single crochet, while the last one I was able to whip up in under 30 minutes without needing to look up any of the stitches. The pattern recommends finishing with a ribbon laced through the holes at the bottom, but instead I chose to crochet the final round onto a hair elastic. That has worked really well in practice – I can secure the cover mostly with the elastic and just use a couple back-up bobby pins to keep it there.

the back of a ballerina with a pink/orange bun cover

I made a wild guess as to how big to make the covers and ended up doing 3-4 rounds in the section you vary to adjust the size. That works well for her current modest bun, but it would definitely have to be bigger for someone with more or thicker hair. These are easy to make and I would happily make her a whole new set next year to match her new leotard color or accommodate her growing mane. Have you made anything to impress your kids with your crafty skills?

FO Friday: A Spell For Waning

a white woman in an orange cardigan wear a pink and red cowl

Pattern: A Spell For Waning by Jill Draper

Yarn: Jill Draper Makes Stuff Kingston in Hasbrouck Ave and Abeel St

Needles: US11 (8.0mm)

Ravelry Link: here

Started: September 5, 2019

Completed: October 13, 2019

close up of pink and red cowl with woman's hands

One of the yarn companies I return to over and over again is Jill Draper Makes Stuff. I love that she uses domestic wool to create interesting yarns. I think I’m also drawn to them as a native upstate New Yorker – so many of the yarn and color names are familiar to me from my hometown of Ithaca, NY. Last year at Rhinebeck I was thrilled to take home some of Jill’s new yarn Kingston, a woolly, heathery wonder. I cast it on this fall and was able to make this pattern in time for this year’s Rhinebeck. Is there a name for knitting up last year’s festival yarn for this year’s festival? There should be, because it always feels so satisfying to accomplish!

close up of pink and red cowl with woman's hand

I chose this pattern because I love garter stitch. And when it is knit with three strands held together it is especially squishy and textural and delicious. In this pattern you start holding three strands of one color and gradually replace one strand at a time of a different one to create a subtle color gradient. It makes a lovely effect, and combined with the subtle shaping to create a fold to warm your neck, adds up to an easy pattern with lovely details.

The only negative thing I have to say about this project is that when I finished it I realized I would never wear it here because it’s far too warm. Luckily, Rhinebeck is a magical place and it found a home with my housemate Marissa. She is a fellow garter stitch lover and has never made herself a cowl. It will get lots of love around her neck in the Northeast, which makes me very happy because I believe wool wants to be worn. Do you like to give away knits to loving homes?