Quilt Top and a Nephew

First the most exciting news! My nephew was born a few days ago and mother and baby are doing fine. He’s so precious and I can’t wait to actually hold him in a few weeks when we’re back up in Canada. All I want to do now is make him teeny little hats and sweaters.

In other news, I’ve finished the quilt top!

I am IN LOVE with the black outlining the squares. I really think it makes the blocks pop. I swung by the store yesterday and picked up some batting and backing for the quilt and hope to get it basted today so I can start the quilting this week. My current plan is to just stitch in the ditch.

It turns out that my little sewing machine actually CAN do free motion quilting. It’s not the smoothest process and I don’t have the right foot for it but I can do it so I probably won’t have to upgrade for a while (which is good since I probably couldn’t save up that much money for over a year anyway). Though I’m considering maybe making project bags to sell through Etsy to try to make a little extra money.

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Research

I’ve been doing a metric shit-ton of sewing lately. My practice quilt is coming along and I’m getting more consistent with my seam allowances and all that jazz. It’s become clear that I definitely need more practice with my cutting but that will come with time as well.

No pictures today – but it’s really coming along. I finished all the 9-patches and laid out them out so I could determine how I want to stitch them together. Also, I decided to go with black sashing so I tested that out and it looks RAD.

However, since I’ve been doing more sewing, I’ve noticed a few issues with my machine (poor Harold). A lot of times, when starting to sew, the thread underneath gets all rat nest-y. It seems if I hold on to the top thread & bobbin thread when I start my stitches that mostly takes care of it but it’s pretty annoying nonetheless. Harold is a great starter machine and can do the entry-level tasks well but as I get closer to the actual quilting part, I know there are going to be issues.

For example: there is very little room in the throat for large projects. I’m excited to quilt my own projects and there likely won’t be room on that side. I’d also like to try free-motion quilting and I just don’t have that option with this machine.

So I’ve been doing some research on upgrading my machine!

Y’all – fancy sewing machines are EXPENSIVE. The ones that have the features I’m looking for are bare minimum, $800. I think. It’s almost impossible to find prices which is super annoying. I get that dealers want to keep it close to the vest so they can do what they need to do but I ALSO NEED TO KNOW WHAT TO BUDGET. It’s definitely going to be a while before I have the money to invest in that. But I thought I would share with you guys some of my finds in case you’re also in the market!

 

Husqvarna Viking Jade 20

Pros:

  • Price – This one just started getting sold at Joann’s along with dealers – in fact Joann’s currently has it on sale for $599.99 with it regularly priced at $799.99
  • Throat Space – Nearly 8″ of space to the right of the needle
  • Speed control – Sometimes I feel like I go too fast when I’m sewing so it’d be great to set a max speed while I’m still learning
  • Looks – I think it’s a real pretty machine. Probably the least important but there you have it.
  • Top loading bobbin

Cons:

  • No auto thread cutter
  • FMQ Presser Foot is separate
  • Extension table separate

Baby Lock Jazz

Pros:

  • Throat Space – 12″ OF THROAT SPACE!
  • Top loading bobbin
  • Automatic bobbin winder
  • FMQ foot & 1/4″ foot are included

Cons:

  • Only 28 stitches
  • No auto thread cutter
  • Price – Around $1,300

 

Janome 1600P-QC

Pros:

  • Throat size – 9″ throat size
  • Speed control
  • Auto thread cutter

Cons:

  • Price – MSRP of $1,499
  • Not a ton of accessories included

Juki TL-2010Q

Pros:

  • Throat Space – 8.5″ of throat space
  • Extension table included
  • Speed control
  • Auto thread cutter including being able to cut using the foot pedal
  • FQM feet included
  • Even feed foot included
  • Metal parts – no worries about computer issues

Cons:

  • Price – List price appears to be $1699 but can go as low as $999
  • Per some reviews, it can be hard to thread
  • Fewest bells & whistles

All of these can be found at my local sewing shop so when I get to the point of really wanting to invest, I will probably go test drive them. If anyone has any of these machines or tried them out and wants to weigh-in, I’d greatly appreciate it!

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Blocks!

Still not a lot of knitting around here – it’s been too hot. I have been working on some quilt blocks though! Still the simple 9-patch. I think I’m going to need about 12 to make a blanket. And I’ve got some fabric for sashing. But here’s what I’ve got!

And my favorite…I call it “Disco Rabbit”

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9-Patch

As I mentioned last time, I have been playing around with some fat quarters I’ve had for several years. Turns out, one fat quarter makes a BUNCH of 4 1/2 inch unfinished squares! it took a while to get everything cut out and then I was stuck with how I actually wanted to put the pieces together.

Turns out I do not trust myself when it comes to putting stuff together. I don’t have enough blocks to stick to a real pattern (like, alternating the same pattern in different blocks). I ended up fussy cutting one of the fat quarters so the animals would end up being featured so I thought that would be fun to have as the center square of the 9-patch. I then played around until I found a configuration I liked.

These were my two favorites:

Option 1

Option 2

And I ended up going with…

 

OPTION 1! Here it is all pieced up!

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A Different Kind of Stitch

Haven’t had much knitting mojo lately – mostly b/c it’s been hot…but I HAVE been getting the urge to sew. I bought a bunch of clothing patterns (who knows if that will ever happen) and I decided to give quilting another shot.

Here’s what I did last night!

Cut up some quilting fat quarters I’ve had kicking around for several years. I’m hoping to do some 9 patches with them!

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Results!

I will fully admit to not being the best gardener. I live in an apartment and our community garden plot is up a steep hill – so often I’ll forget to go up to water or frankly, not feel like getting garden clothes on and going up there. When I do get up there – I don’t feel like weeding. I’m out of shape, getting on the ground is hard and a killer on my knees. I pull as many weeds as I can stomach and then just kind of go “good enough”. Even with all that – look at what I found yesterday!

My very first cherry tomato of the season! There was also a snap pea that was ready but I ate it before I thought to grab a pic. The tomato was DELICIOUS.

I think the kale is ready as well, I’m going to harvest some tonight for our stir fry dinner.

Friday & Saturday my husband and I went to the coast to celebrate my upcoming birthday. It was gorgeous – the temps hovered around 60, the sun was out and there was a great breeze. I had a blast hanging out with my husband, watching the waves and just enjoying having NO obligations for a few days.

View from our room

Down on the sand

Look at this cool rock!

Sunset from the room

I could spend every day on the beach!

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Not Knitting

In the time of Not Knitting, I did do some stuff:

Cooked – To save money and stop eating junk, I’ve been cooking more. Previously, the more I looked at recipes and Pinterest, the more paralyzed I became about cooking wrong. Then I found the YouTube channel Brothers Green Eats and it totally flipped a switch. They are very laid back about, well, everything it seems. They give guidelines instead of rules. This has allowed me to chill out in the kitchen and experiment more…with delicious results. For example:

Planted – Fun fact: my interest in being self-sufficient is directly proportional to how scary I see the world. This has lead me down a homesteading rabbit hole. There’s something nice about the idea of knowing where your food came from and how it was treated. There’s something even nicer about not giving my money to the very corporations that are destroying the planet and screwing over everyone. While I may not be able to buy several acres and build a house out of trees on my own land, I can make use of the community garden plot provided to me by my apartment complex. And buy some books on how to can and how to have a more sustainable household along with reading blogs homesteading/gardening.

Researched – My husband and I have started thinking about maybe someday buying a house. I’ve been doing research about what is available in our area, price points, and wish lists. We’re nowhere near ready but it’s been fun looking into it. We’re going to take a class locally for first time home buyers as well so we can possible qualify for some grants!

Budgeted – This kind of goes hand in hand with everything on the list. Finances have kind of taken a back seat the last year or so, especially in the last six months. We’re working to get those things tightened back up, get our savings rebuilt, get out of debt and start working towards financial independence. A cool thing this month is we managed to not take ANYTHING out of our savings account, only put funds in! I call that a pretty big win. If you need a good budgeting tool, I highly recommend You Need a Budget – it costs a little bit but has been instrumental in helping my finances (this is NOT an affiliate link, I get nothing for recommending them – I’m just a fan).

Coming up – I’ve already started knitting again. There are some sewing projects I’d like to get started (practice napkins, a baby blanket for the future nephew, an apron, project bags and taking in some pants). The big one though, is keeping up on the blog. I’m not going to promise any posting schedule or anything right now, but I do enjoy it and would like to get into the habit.

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Two Rows

If you’re like me, you haven’t really been able to do much of anything the last six months other than obsessively scroll through twitter and the news. Just stare at a screen, scared and angry. At turns worried and embarrassed.

You may be feeling like it’s really hard to find joy anywhere, when it feels like the country is falling apart. When you realize how broken the country really is and that you were willfully ignorant for a long time. That the world can no longer trust us. And you’re so angry at the so-called leaders who are supposed to be looking out for the masses are only looking out for themselves and corporations.

Turns out, if you’re like me, you lay on the couch a lot and watch old tv shows in order to cope. You re-read books that you know have happy endings. Occasionally you go on long tirades to your significant other, venting your anger and eventually crying on their shoulder because you’re so scared. When you’re me, you think a lot about doing something creative but just can’t muster up the energy. You dabble in new hobbies, feel that adrenaline rush of learning something new and then, end up not caring a few weeks later.

You overspend, overeat and undersleep.

You wonder if this is just how it is now.

And yet, you see that people with your values haven’t given up. There are marches, petitions, town halls and court rulings. There are pussy hats, the ACLU and sanctuary cities that won’t back down. There are people punching Nazis, shouting down supremacists, and heroes on trains who stood up and unfortunately, pay a price for it.

But you also see joy is still out there. There are still great podcasts to listen to. New blogs to discover. Youtube series to watch. Walks in the sunshine. Farmer’s Markets. Friends who come a-visiting. If you’re me, you might learn how to cook more than 3 meals. Discover you actually do like peppers and onions! You plant a few plants in your apartment’s community garden and discover the snap pea seeds you shoved in the ground actually sprouted. Maybe you make Rice Krispies treats for the first time in years. Find out that you’re going to be an aunt to a baby boy.

Maybe, just maybe, you knit two rows on a project that has been languishing. Even if it’s 9:30pm and you spent 45 minutes looking for the needles. You sit in bed and feel the softness of the Malabrigo slid between your fingers, hear the soft clink of the needles, and quietly count your knits and purls and you think Ohhhh, that’s right…this is what calm feels like.

You decide that no one, especially that man, will steal your joy.

V Scarf by TinyAnt – knit with Malabrigo Rios in
Fresco y Seco

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