(Nearly) Wordless WIP Wednesday: Yarn Dyeing Edition

The story of my latest project, in photos:

There's A Thread: Yarn Dyeing Cards

There's A Thread: Dyeing Yarn

There's A Thread: Hand Dyed Yarn

There's A Thread: Hand Dyed Yarn

There's A Thread: Knitted Cowl

I know it looks like a sleeve, but it’s going to be a cowl. I was inspired to get back to dyeing by these cool mini-skein cowl kits that Pepperberry Knits had for sale at my local yarn store recently.  I couldn’t find them for sale on the Pepperberry site anymore, but you can see it in the background here.

Is This Quilt Done?

Ok, I need some outside perspective on this one. I’ve been kind of hating this quilt from the beginning, EXCEPT now that it’s quilted I think maybe I love it, EXCEPT… it’s not what I planned.  And so I’m not sure — should I stop, or should I add the hand-quilting that I thought was going to “rescue” it? Help!

Here is the finished top. As you can see, it is lacking a certain something. Contrast, maybe?

Modern Lemoyne Star Quilt

I thought quite a bit about how I could quilt this. I printed out about 10 copies of the photo and doodled over all of them. In all of my doodles, I incorporated big-stitch hand quilting around each of the stars, because that was what I thought would make those stars pop a bit more. (Actually that’s exactly why I did the hand-stitching on this pillow, which worked like a charm.)

Anyway, here is what it looks like now, after the machine quilting portion of my plan. There’s a stitching line 1/4 inch away from each star, which I used as a boundary for the swirls, and I also thought I would hand stitch over it. But now that I’m looking at it, I think maybe the quilting itself already solved the problem. I’m struck by how much more cohesive it looks already.

Modern Lemoyne Star Quilt

Here’s a closer look at what I’ve done so far. The overlapping swirls are a pain to quilt but they give such a nice texture. In the colored portions, I stitched in the ditch and then did some freehand arcs. I’ve become a big believer in stitching in the ditch after taking “Design It, Quilt It” with Cindy Needham on Craftsy. She has a sample of two free-motion quilted blocks, one with ditch stitching and one without, and the piecing looks SO much better on the one that has it. It’s like Spanx for your quilt, invisible but just works to tighten everything up!

Modern Lemoyne Star Quilt

What do you think? Should I still add the big-stitch quilting? I’m leaning towards yes, but I’m not sure I trust my reasons. (I already bought the special colors of perle cotton, for example. I’m pretty sure that’s the worst reason ever.) Also it doesn’t match the vision I had of what I thought this quilt was going to be. I think the hand stitching might take it there, but I also wonder if it might over-complicate what is now a pretty nice quilt. Any thoughts?

Irish Lass Baby Quilt

Ok, I told you this one was going to be epic, and I hope you agree. After poring over Judi Madsen’s wonderful book Quilting Wide Open Spaces and getting some encouragement from my longarm mentor Sue Fox, I recently decided to attempt something with much more detailed quilting than I have ever done, and the result is this baby quilt version of the “Irish Lass” quilt in Judi’s book.

There's A Thread: Irish Lass Baby Quilt

I simplified some of Judi’s suggested quilting designs to make them more manageable for myself, but the quilting is still pretty crazy!

There's A Thread: Irish Lass Baby Quilt

Here’s a close-up of what I’m calling the “Flying Spaghetti Monster” motif. I’m really proud of my micro-pebbling here. I followed Judi’s advice and slowed the machine way down, to the point where I could see each individual stitch as it was being made. I ached the day after, and I’m not sure this super-dense quilting is something I’ll want to do regularly, but I really love the way it looks and feels. Each of these took about 40 minutes of quilting. The whole quilt took me about eight hours total, as well as some initial practice time.

There's A Thread: Irish Lass Baby Quilt

The binding on this quilt is one of my favorite parts. Crisp but pretty, no? I’m hoarding this fabric now for binding future projects.

There's A Thread: Irish Lass Baby Quilt

Overall, this project is definitely a lot more “traditional” than my usual style. I don’t know that I’ll continue to move in this direction, but working on this project has given me a lot more confidence in my quilting, and I think that will influence how I think about projects in the future. I’m noticing other people’s quilting choices more now, and feeling drawn to projects that make the quilting a more prominent part of the design.

Oh, and a bonus random tip for you: Hobbs wool batting is fantastic. This was the first time I tried it, and it quilts SO smoothly. It’s lighter and airier than cotton (a surprise for me), and it doesn’t crease like cotton, although it does still give you a crinkly texture if you wash it. In short, it is dreamy and you should try it if you haven’t yet.

Linking up with Needle and Thread Thursday at My Quilt Infatuation and Finish It Up Friday at Crazy Mom Quilts.

Bohemian Rhapsody

So, nearly a year ago, I posted about my Garnets and Gold quilt top. It sat and waited patiently while I did a million other things, but this awesome clashy riot finally got the quilting it deserved.

There's a Thread: Garnets and Gold Quilt

From a distance it doesn’t look that different than before, because the prints disguise the quilting. Here’s a look at the back where you can get a better view.

There's a Thread: Garnets and Gold Quilt Back

I did a back and forth wiggle on the red/pink/yellow strips, and a loopy ribbon candy pattern through the diamonds. I love the texture this gave. The bright colors and ripply texture remind me of party streamers.

A shot of the whole quilt:

There's A Thread: Garnets and Gold Quilt

I need a design/photo wall for these photographing big quilts!  Last week I floated the idea with Jason of getting rid of the couch in our living room and installing a giant design wall like this one. Of course, we couldn’t actually sit in there anymore, but that space has been operating as a weird hybrid of my sewing space and his office for some time now. This would just be the next natural step in that evolution, really.

In case you don’t remember my posts from last year (ha!), I made a paper-piecing template for my version of this quilt; the original is in the book Little Bits Quilting Bee. The points look really excellent using this method, if I do say so myself. :)

There's A Thread: Garnets and Gold Quilt

I quilted this at Sue Fox’s long arm studio in Berkeley, where I have been spending a lot of time lately. I’ve been hard at work quilting the Irish Chain quilt I mentioned last week. This involved a days-long delay during which Sue had to reassure me, “You did not break the machine.” Yep, the machine malfunctioned in a scary, potentially-never-fixable-loooking kind of way while I was working. But all has been fixed and I should have some exciting machine quilting to show you soon!

Meanwhile, Garnets and Gold has gone to live with Liz, my guru in all things dyeing/textiles/color as well as one of the sweetest, most wonderful people I know. Love ya Liz!

It Doesn’t Look Epic, But It Is

Just a single in-progress photo today. I’m super-excited about this one, which is going to be a crib-sized Irish Chain quilt. Believe it or not, it’s almost done, I just need to add some solid blocks and a border.

Irish Chain quilt blocks

I have completely fallen in love with Judi Madsen‘s book Quilting Wide Open Spaces, and this Irish Chain I’m making is a scaled-down version of one of the quilts in the book. The thing I really love about this book is that she walks you through, step-by-step, how she would quilt each quilt. It really demystifies the complex quilting she does. I mean, check out this photo. This is the quilting for the quilt I’m making, and Judi Madsen has me convinced that I can do it! We shall see….