I’ve always been a brick-and-mortar shop sort of person, if given the option. This is especially true for me when it comes to shopping for things like yarn and fabric.

Out West, I’ve been doing my best to find local crafty shops. Obviously, different stores are different, but I’ve had some successes and difficulties finding places with a similar ‘feel’ and stock as the shops back east.

This is, I think, especially true for quilting fabric. There are lots of great options, and the options that do exist are huge, and have a grand selection in terms of sheer quantity of fabric and notions and machines. This is great on a lot of fronts – when I was ready to upgrade my machine, I was able to find the one I wanted in store, and one of the shops near me has an excellent selection of flannel for pyjamas, which is pretty important. But these stores and I, we definitely disagree when it comes to taste in printed quilting cottons.

Granted, I was a little spoiled, living so close to amazing shops like Needlework and The Workroom, but the stores out here are just – different. A lot of the fancy ‘modern’ fabric lines and designers I’ve grown fond of just aren’t stocked out here.

Which isn’t to say that there aren’t options, by any means. But the prints available tend to run towards a certain aesthetic that’s either quite traditional (lots of floral reproductions and batiks) or quite – novelty-ish. Possibly arranged by theme (Star Wars, boats, cowboys, space). But nothing quite gets me like the food fabric. Oh my god, the food fabric. You’ve seen it – that bolt that’s printed with photorealistic illustrations of potatoes, or beer cans, or halved avocados. There is so much of this, and it’s definitely not my jam.

HHFFSBS

I was lamenting this on Twitter last weekend with Austen, who also had a fairly recent move from the big city to the land of novelty fabric, and she suggested an alternative. Rather than fight the novelty food fabrics, we should embrace them, with a swap. The Horrible Hyperrealistic Food Fabric Stowe Bag Swap.

We chatted back and forth for a bit, and set out some ground rules:

1) Each swap participant must sew one Stowe bag, in the small size.

2) Each bag needs to use at least two different food fabrics. Artist’s choice as to whether these two fabrics depict foods that are palatable together, either visually or gustatorially.

3) Bags go in the mail by Feb 15th.

I’ve already picked out my Foods Of Choice, and I kind of can’t wait to turn them into something ridiculous.

Would you like to play, too? Does your local quilt shop also have an Aisle Of Horrible Hyperrealistic Food Fabric? (Or do we perhaps share the same local quilt shop?) We’d love it if you joined us. If you’re planning to swap with people you know and like (?), feel free to post on social media with the hashtag #HHFFSBS.


Steam off the river

So it’s been a while: it’s the middle of January, and the last time I posted was Augustish. I could talk a lot about why I didn’t post (the end of the year was busy, I guess?), but I don’t know how useful that would be. It’s been a while, is all.

One of the things I learned from not blogging for so long, though, was that I miss it. I didn’t think it was that important to me to have photos of all of my projects, or to have my Ravelry page up to date, but as it turns out: it is. I’ve noticed a change in how I feel about creating, and how I feel about what I’ve made, when I don’t have a visual record to go back to. There’s something really satisfying about it – as a made thing in and of itself, I guess – and I find it helps me a lot when life gets busy.

When things are hectic, or when I’m travelling too much to have time for some of my less portable work like spinning and sewing, one of my instinctive thoughts is that I’m not making enough. Sometimes this is true, sometimes this isn’t. But having that record to go back to, being able to remind myself that yes, I made that thing and that after things settle down, I’ll have space to make more things, is actually really helpful.

So one of my goals in 2016 is to start afresh, to get back to my camera and sharing what I make. Let’s skip the year-in-review post. 2015 was big – in a lot of really great ways, but also in a lot of ways that were a lot of work. I’m looking forward to using 2016 to get my feet back under me and renew some habits that got interrupted over the past few months.

So.

I made a quilt top.

Cheerios quilt top

Cheerios quilt top

This is Cheerio from Thimble Blossoms. I started it around Christmas time, after being inspired by Nettie’s beautiful version at A Quilt Is Nice. I didn’t set out to copy her quilt, per se, but I really liked her take on it – lots of brights and lots of contrast. It made me take a look at that pattern in a new way, and appreciate how I could use it to make a quilt that suited me.

I’ve been keeping my eyes open for a quilt pattern that’s a bit more complicated than my usual (read: not another Donuts quilt), but straightforward enough that the block construction is still intuitive to me. This pattern ticked all the right boxes, and was also a great opportunity to make a dent in my fat quarter stash.

I had to buy fabric for the background – I don’t stash large quantities of neutrals unless I’ve got a clear plan for them – but all of the other fabrics in the quilt are from stash. It’s mostly Natural History fabrics (I got a fat quarter set for my birthday last year), with a few simlarly-themed fabrics mixed in. I decided to add in some “rules” for colour mixing, which helped me keep things cohesive. I split everything into “light” and “dark” piles by value, and tried to use “light” fabrics for the cheerio sides and “dark” fabrics for the squares. I also made an effort not to repeat any fabric pairings, so that each block is unique.

Cheerios quilt top

I’m planning to quilt this myself, which is kind of an exciting plan. (This is made possible by the fact that I did two things this summer: bought a new sewing machine, and learned to use the walking foot and machine quilt.) I’m a bit nervous, as this is the biggest quilt top I’ve ever made at 66″ by 77″, but I think I can manage it.

So: hello, 2016. I’ve been making things. I’m excited to share them with you this year.


Cardinia

One of the knitting projects that has been consuming most of my time since moving has been this wrap, and I’m very excited to be able to share it. This project also has the distinction of being the first knit that I started and finished in our new city.

(Which is also why I get to take photos next to a river, because we have one of those right by our new apartment!)

I made this as a gift for my future mother-in-law, who did a stupendous amount of work in helping us pack for our move, and then generously offered to help us unpack, as well. She didn’t ask for anything in return, but it was such a huge help that I couldn’t not do anything for her. She’s also one of those people who’s almost always too cold, so I knew that a shawl or a wrap would be a good choice.

Cardinia

The pattern is Cardinia, which I first saw knitted up as a sample at my old LYS. I chose it both because it’s a nice, basic knit that doesn’t require a lot of thought, and because it’s constructed in an interesting way.

The shawl is knit from edged to edge, rather than point to point, which means there aren’t that many rows, but each one is LONG. It also uses a deceptively large quantity of yarn, which I didn’t totally realize until I was in the middle of knitting it. Early on in the grey section, I actually said, “Oh, this isn’t using much yarn, maybe I can use the leftovers to make another for myself.”

Ha.

The finished shawl is nearly three full skeins of sock yarn. Because you cast on 280+ stitches at the beginning, it looks like you’ve started knitting the full width of the shawl, but the increases go up to a 300-400 st width by the widest part, and yarn starts to disappear pretty quickly.

It makes a big, cuddly, generously-sized wrap, though, which I think will make it a really wearable gift.

Cardinia

Cardinia

I was a little constrained in what was available to me (I’m still learning about the yarn shops here in Calgary!) so the only way to get the colours I wanted was to knit this in three different bases, with different fiber content, from three different dyers. I must admit, this gave me a bit of an eye twitch. You can sort of tell, but I think only as a knitter – the grey and brown sections have cashmere content, and the pink is a merino/silk blend, so the pink feels a bit rougher by comparison, but it’s not bad.

Cardinia

Cardinia

If I had to knit this again (and I might, I’m a sucker for yarnovers on stockinette), I think I’d leave one marker in the center for the stockinette portion, to help me keep track of the center again for the middle lace portion. Otherwise, I think this pattern is a total winner, and I’m really pleased with the finished product – I almost like it too much to give away!


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