Thursday, November 29, 2007

Grab a Tissue!

Before I left for California, I hinted about a quilt I was making and showed a few in-progress photos. I had a story that it was for my girls' room. That was a big decoy. The quilt was for my sister Allison. Here is the story.

My grandmother quilted and gave each grandkid (8 of us) a bed quilt when we graduated from high school. I loved that tradition and decided to give each of my siblings a quilt when they graduated from college. I gave one to my brother in the early 90's. My sister attended college for a few years but she didn't graduate, and I didn't have the ceremony or the event to attach the quilt to. I always felt bad about it, and always wanted to make a special quilt just for her, but there wasn't an event to celebrate, and then I got busy with the kids and I haven't made a bed quilt for a few years.

For many years she lived about 5 hours away in Indiana and we would see each other often. She and I are very close. She worked at a fabric store and in her spare time made her fabulous hats.

Last year, she got the opportunity to move to Los Angeles and stay for awhile with my brother while pursuing a job that would be more fulfilling, and be in an area more condusive to marketing her hats. It was bittersweet for me, seeing her stretch her wings and work toward her dream, yet at the same time, move to a place where I wouldn't see her nearly as often.

She moved during the week of Thanksgiving, 2006. During this past year she has landed an awesome job and also gotten some great press for her hats. I am so proud of her!

This summer, I was paging through an old Rowan Patchwork Book, and I saw this quilt that I had earmarked years ago. Birds in the Air. I don't usually make bed quilts because of their title, but it really struck me as perfect. Now that she is in California, we have to be bird in the air, flying on a plane to see each other. Not to mention, how she is stretching her wings and making me proud! For her year anniversary in California, I would make her this quilt.

Fast forward to last week. I finished it with hours to spare before we left for California, packed it secretly in my carry on (I live with 4 people who can't keep a secret so nobody knew about it except my mom) and the rest is in pictures:

Early in the morning on Thanksgiving day, I set the package on the front porch and told everyone that I had a presentation to make in the front yard. I led her out the front door.
(She has the silly smile on her face because she is wondering what I am up to. She had no idea!)

I gave her a card which was all "I'm so proud of all you have accomplished this past year, etc., etc." She still had no idea! (I'm embarrassed at the weird computer paper and colored tape wrapping job, but I didn't take wrapping paper on the trip and it was difficult to smuggle it in, so I made do.)

She pulls out the quilt, but it is well disguised in a pillowcase. (It took up my entire carry-on, by the way. Knitting was sacrificed.)

She still has no idea what it is. She told me later that at this point, she thought it was a husband. (You know, those big pillows that you took to college to prop yourself up in bed.) She really had no idea.

I think she's starting to get the idea it's a quilt.

It is a quilt! And she loves it!

She starts taking a close look at the fabrics, and pointing out the ones she remembers from our yearly trips to Paducah.

Here comes the crying!
More discussion!
(I'm so happy!)
Must wrap up in the quilt. And start crying again!More hugging and more happy!

Later in the day, Allison and Kenny take the quilt in the backyard to get some full shots.
My brother is a ham.

Close ups.

In the bottom border I quilted the words: To my sister Allison - we will be birds in the air - Love Emily (photo pre-trimming the threads).

Pattern: Birds in the Air, Rowan Patchwork and Quilting Book #4.

Fabrics all from my stash, some new, some old. Cotton batting.

Machine pieced and machine quilted by me.

Size: approx, 85"x 95".

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Family Resemblance?

Hi Guys! Are you sick of seeing everyone's family seated around the dinner table? If so, shoot down to the bottom for knitting content. I've had the flu for a couple of days so it's taken me awhile to put together a coherent post of our trip to California.

If you'd like to share in our little family vacation, this is what we were up to:

We had a great time at Disneyland. I hadn't been since I was 10, and the kids and Dave had never been. That's me laughing uncontrollably in the teacups, I just couldn't stop laughing! It was a daytrip that I planned for us and Grandma, since my brother and sister were working and (supposedly) couldn't take additional time off during the week, but they caught the Disney fever and ended up taking Monday off to go with us! A good time was had by all.Then we got to go visit Aunt Allison at her place of work. She works for talented hat designer Louise Green, and we got to tour the whole showroom and factory. It was chock full of vintage trims, fabrics, yarn, and all sorts of interesting things that made me keep gasping. And the kids all behaved like ladies and gentlemen! Whew. That same day, the kids got their first view of the ocean.
Hey, what's that black and white thing there on the ground?
Here's the obligatory family portrait. That's my mom, my bro, me and my sister. Sophie showed up, as she usually does when the camera is involved.
The other kids were around somewhere, probably playing with the dogs.
Here's the entire crew that showed up for the meal. 13 people. I love Thanksgiving. Family, food, and giving thanks. Beautiful.
Ok, there is one small person who isn't in the shot above. Sophie was (thankfully) napping during the meal.

Five years ago, the last time we were in California for Thanksgiving, I spent the entire meal rocking an overwhelmed 1yo Molly in the back bedroom, missing entirely the adult conversation. So when Sophie showed signed of fussiness this year, I took her into a back bedroom and laid down with her. A 20 minute nap for me (which inevitably happens) and a 2 hour nap for her! Yay!

No worries, she showed up later, clad in a Hawaiian luau get-up hand crafted by Aunt Allison, and gave us a good show.

And that's what I did on my Thanksgiving vacation.

Oh yeah, there was one more thing. A big suprise thing. Something so big and fun it deserves it's own special post. Expect a big quilty post from me in the next few days.

Now, I've got to get my rear in gear and get the yarn finished for the shop update next week, figure out what to do with a bunch of 8 year old boys for a Bionicle theme party this Saturday (building their own bionicles, opening presents, eating a volcano cake, and running around yelling with their bionicles? Does that work? Do I need a game or a craft?) And then I'll be able to think about Christmas.

If you are thinking Christmas, and you have a special new one in your life, don't forget about my Baby Santa Hat pattern I published last year. You can get the free pattern here.

You have plenty of time to knit it, and revel in the baby cuteness. Enjoy!

Friday, November 16, 2007

And The Winner Is.....

Mariella! Who guessed EZ's Baby Suprise Jacket. Which was a pretty good guess, considering it is something I have never done before, and it could very easily be purple, and wool.

In case you missed the last post, nobody guessed correctly, mittens, so I picked randomly from everyone who participated. Congratulations Mariella! Come on down and claim your prize (in other words, send me your e-mail address so I can contact you and get your address to send the book to you.) (emily at emilyquilts dotcom).

Moving quilting news: I mentioned that I was re-doing the kid's rooms. They were supposed to be done by September but I'm still working on them--you know how that goes-- my new goal is Christmas. I am almost done with the girls' room but I decided they needed new quilts. This quilt is from Rowan Patchwork and Quilting #4, "Birds in the Air". I've wanted to make this for years. I think the last bed quilt I made was pre-kids!
I love this quilt! There are lots of newish quilting cottons plus some very old stuff from stash. I'm using some some of my (gasp!) too good to use fabric!

I need 2 twin quilts, similar but different. I think the other one I will do is from Glorious Patchwork, "Frothy Table Cover". It is the same, but big diamonds, without the "birds" in like the one above. (i.e. it will go together faster, hopefully preventing Second Quilt Syndrome). Sorry for the lack of photos, I will elaborate next week.

Which leads me to this week: Going to California!!! To visit Bro and Sis!!! (Not to mention a quick day-trip to visit Mickey and Minnie!) I am really excited about this trip--can you tell? My sister moved out there last year, so I don't get to see her as often as before, and I miss her like crazy. The last time we were out there with the kids was Thanksgiving 5 years ago. My brother throws a mean Thanksgiving, with lots of friends and a few random relatives, it is a really fun, eclectic group.

Speaking of the trip 5 years ago, I spent most of the 4 hour plane ride walking a crying baby up and down the aisle. Fingers crossed that this trip, with kids ages 7,6, and 3 will be a little smoother! Loads of activity book and snacks. Which brings me to:

Knitting projects. I am spending the day packing up my knitting. Trying to avoid Project Panic, since I already have three children on a plane panic and going away for a week panic, and is the yarn going to dye itself while I'm gone panic.

Ever since finishing Waves in the Square, I've been sorta ambivalent about my knitting. I really need a good sweater project to sink my teeth into, and I have 3 possibilities.
I know, you're squinting. Sorry. What we have in the photo, are, from left to right: Simple Knitted Bodice from Stitch Diva, using a very dark purple Silky Wool from stash. I had seen this pattern on the internet and never loved it until I saw it on Ravelry. I was not a fan of the fancy yarn they use at the neckline, but seeing it in a plain yarn made all the difference. Status: swatched and ready to cast on.
Next is Beryl from Chicknits. Love it! Love it enough to use the last of my treasured Black Cotton Ease. Status: ready to cast on.
Finally, it's Oblique from Knitty. Using navy Jo Sharp Silk Road Aran, frogged from another project that didn't work. I've cast on the sleeve-as-swatch, but I'm having trouble making decisions. There is a fold line for the cuff that I'm not loving. As long as you always fold up the cuff, it's fine, but if the cuff is ever pulled down straight, I think the fold line looks messy. I'm considering ripping and re-doing. Maybe just doing 3" of ribbing and eliminating the cuff?
Another issue is that the ribbing pulls in a LOT. Fine for the cuff, but not something I'd like at my hips. From the photo, it looks like she blocked the ribbing very stretched, because I don't see the sweater pulling in at all at the hips. I've never blocked ribbing severely. I either let the ribbing pull in, or I usually make the ribbing shorter so it doesn't pull as much, eliminate the ribbbing or change it to a different edge treatment that doesn't pull in. I'd love comments or suggestions. Knitting mavens, please weigh in.
Ok, one more thing. I don't have a new bag for Disney. I would like something big enough to hold stuff, but also close, and oh yeah--be stylish. I have the fabric and the pattern for this one sitting on the dining room table.

Is it too much to ask for it to sew itself up while I'm packing today?

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Mystery Project Revealed

Mittens! I can't believe nobody guessed it. Some of you came close. The entries were quite amusing! (Dog sweater! Cat bed! Seriously people, you cracked me up.)

Yes it is true, I've never made a mitten. They always intimidated me a little. Gusset, thumb, they seemed so....three dimensional.

So here we have our lovely model with a new hat and mitten set. The mittens are from the Ann Budd book, Knitters Handy Book of Patterns, and the hat is a made up pattern, but the flower on the hat is from the Tracey Ullman book Knit 2 Together.

The yarn is Twilley's Freedom Spirit, color 510 Sunset, and it took 2 balls for the whole shebang, but I have quite a bit left of the 2nd ball.

Since nobody guessed correctly, I will do a drawing from everyone who participated, and announce the winner tomorrow.

Tomorrow I'll have a progress report on my girls' quilts, and hopefully some new knitting projects. We're getting ready for a Thanksgiving trip, so I need to squeeze in making a new bag, too!

I'll leave you with a tempting still life: "Quilt Blocks on Sunny Table."

Friday, November 09, 2007

New Quilt Friday (Again!)

Remember the little colander quilt that I was working on when CLTV came to visit? (That I started quilting in April and then abandoned?)


I thought it might be a good idea to finish it up and send it off to the Pressing Matters II exhibit at the Greater Chicago Quilt Exhibition.

It's for sale at the show--$300. Speaking of the show--anybody going? I was toying with the idea of going this afternoon after school with 3 kids, but perhaps I am insane. I'm having second thoughts. All three kids have been to quilt shows, but never all three together, with me as their only wrangler.

I might just go on Sunday a few hours before the show closes, since I have to be there at closing to help take down the exhibit. Can't go Saturday, since I'm going on a knitting retreat. All day! Knitting! With other knitters! Adult knitters, who I know and like, where we will knit and talk about adult things. In fact, I doubt anyone will even mention Captain Underpants, Scooby Doo, or farting. Whoo hoo and a shout out to all my Fox Valley Knitting Guild pals!

CONTEST NEWS! I have really enjoyed your ideas about the mystery project. I'm not going to go so far as to say nobody has guessed it yet, but just let me say, keep those guesses coming. That's all I'm sayin.


Meanwhile, I have started a new project--a new bed quilt that I've wanted to do for a long time. Details to follow soon.

Have a great weekend. And don't forget to let me know if you are going to the quilt show, ok?

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Thank You

It's a really big week here, what with the Schaumburg Quilt Show starting tomorrow, lots of activity in the shop, finishing and starting a few (Big!) knitting projects.

I'm still in the middle of all of it, but I just wanted to stop in here with some gratitude. Thank you for all the sweet comments about the kids. Thank you to everyone who stopped by the shop in the last few days. Thank you for showing up here to read and comment. Thank you!!

I have lots to write about the above events but that will wait a day or so. If you have e-mailed me with a question, I am slowing getting back to everyone. (I will just answer the most FAQ of the week: yes, I will take special orders for the Magic Balls, please stay tuned for details.)
I've been up way too late the past few nights, but I have all the quilts packed up, and all the yarn packed up, and I have one last committment tonight (not involving fiber of any kind, just a dozen 6-8year olds--I'm mostly going to wing that one!) and afterwards, I'm going to relax with a new knitting project.

I'm excited; it's something I've never made before. Yes, an item I have never knit! Can you believe it? Me either. It's an item that has always sort of intimidated me. Can you guess what it is?

I'll give you a clue. It's wool.

Another clue. It's purple.

Hah! That's no help at all, considering just about everything I make is wool and purple.

Seriously, I'm up for a fun little contest. Guess what I am making, and you could win this:

I picked up this book at the thrift store recently. I always go to the book section first when the kids are with me--at 50 cents a book, it's the cheapest bribe around to buy myself more time! I saw this book, and even though I already have it --it's great--I had to get it to send it to a good home.

Leave a comment, guess the mystery object, and if there are more than one correct guesses I'll pick randomly.

I'll close with a photo of some recent thrift store sweaters. All ready for felting into yummy bags or winter crafting projects with the kids. (I heard that--and yes, I do need another bag.)

Sunday, November 04, 2007

Annual Pumpkin Hat Photoshoot or "Kids in Knits"

I'd procrastinated long enough. I've been watching the weather forecast, and our temperatures are supposed to take a nose dive tomorrow so today was it.

We had a try-on session of last year's handknits, an emergency trip to the store for camera batteries, and a half-hour search for a missing sneaker. Armed with 6 rolls of film, 2 cameras, 3 pumpkin hats, and a comb, we trekked off to the park for our annual photoshoot of the kids in pumkin hats. (Also known as "torture Mommy".)
That's the Molly sweater from Junior Knits that still fits! And the Windmill sweater from Miss Bea's Colours that has a happy new owner!
Tiger sweater from 2 years ago still fits!
Individually, they're fine, but put them all together and that's where the torture comes in. Trying to get 3 kids to look at the camera at the same time, smile, and keep their hands off of each other.
It's a toss up between the one above and the one below. That's the best I got.

The normal shenanagins ensued....

One of my models took off....

If you want to compare them to last year's version, see it here.

Of the 104 photos I took (on the digital camera--that doesn't include the 5 rolls of film) this is my favorite. I think it's because I've been feeling like he is growing up so much, and here I captured him looking "little".
Goodbye lovely fall weather! We are sure going to miss you.