i blue my quilt.

So…I want to tell you about a quilt transformation that I both love deeply and kinda sorta fret about.

Night and Day Log Cabin

Back in 2005—TEN years ago—I made this quilt with my mother. She came up for a visit and I showed her how to quilt. I was still in my conservative color stage (only blue and white…grey, if feeling randy) and so I decided to let her pick the fabrics. That yellow really made me twitchy. We cut strips and I sewed like a maniac to finish the top within the weekend.

smurf attack

We made a couple of tops that weekend, so it felt fine for me to choose to keep this one—the yellow grew on me. It quickly became the ubiquitous couch quilt, enduring coffee spills and the strife of real life. Laundering was always enough to perk it up, until this past weekend when a couple of stains pushed me over the edge.

Why not overdye the quilt with indigo to cover the stains? I dyed my own pineapple quilt this past winter; and I still need to show you that here. Though, I got the idea from these indigo dyed vintage quilts in NYC. You can see their current inventory too for a sense of the range of possible outcomes. [I have no affiliation with Shark Tooth.] The varied shades of blue come from multiple dips to darken, difference in how various fabrics (cotton, silk, synthetic, etc) take up the dye, original colors of the fabrics, etc.

smurf attack

I’ve written about the indigo dyeing process here before. For depth of color, one doesn’t leave stuff in the dyebath for longer time, but rather dips and oxidizes multiple times. I dipped and oxidized the quilt three times. It’s one thirsty quilt, absorbing lots of water in the dyebath and turning heavier and soggier every time. Supporting the weight to transfer to the rack each time was quite the workout! (My hands, arms, legs and feet are now very blue. And my kitchen eventually flooded with a deep blue river.)

smurf attack

I love the subtle variations in the blues; it’s mesmerizing. And the quilting stitches, done by a longarmer, must have been done with polyester thread because they didn’t take up the dye. The contrast is kinda nice now that the quilt is monochrome.

smurf attack

It’s like a whole new quilt. And I just fell in love with it all over again.


And about that fretting? Yeah, well, this process transforms the quilt into something new. We could debate about the company that does it to vintage quilts, but it’s not the same to choose to do it to one’s own quilt. Having now done one as soon as I made it and another one ten years later, I dunno.

Meh. I don’t feel like fretting.


some stuff to note.

Thanks for the kinds comments on That 70s Blanket. It was a simple knit that kept me occupied back in the the days of winter when I was sick. Glad to put that aside for a while. Whew.

Right now I’m transitioning back into the rigors of my full RealJob after spending a year away. It’s nice to be back but takes some adjusting. Particularly, I’ve been reticent to sew. Not quite burnout, but I definitely did it intensively for long sustained periods of time and, well, I don’t really miss it yet. Will get back down to bizness soon. Here’s a recent doodle. just so we have a photo today.


How about some linkage?

  • Come sew with me and Carolyn Friedlander in Maine next month. In small classes we’ll explore the design and tricks to piecing small things and using small piecing in mixed-size layouts to enhance the impact. It’ll be a fun hands-on time!
  • This person seems to have just noticed all the granny square blankets on sitcoms. It’s a weird observation because they seem hostile (?) about them? I dunno.
  • Was sad to read that Miriam Schapiro passed away. She was an interesting character in the development of what would become “feminist art” and used the repeated pattern forms of stitchery in her paintings and collages. She’s a new hero in my pantheon of folks to revere.
  • As usual, I have no affiliation but have to tell you about CW Pencil Enterprise. It’s a shop for new and vintage pencils and pencil paraphernalia. I haven’t purchased from them. It’s just that the site is pencil pr0n. SO MANY happy pencils and possibilities!

Have an excellent weekend!

That 70s Blanket: a quick tutorial

I don’t even know if that name makes sense for this blanket, but this reminds me of some of the yarn and popsicle stick craft stuff we did all the time back then. Made this one with scraps of wool and cotton from my bins and shared by friends. And in that communal spirit, I just used a simple bias square construction that has been around forever.

Okay if I babble through this? This is NOT a pattern. This is how folks used to share knitting ideas back in the day.

new blanket

1. Gather up a ton of yarn. Look up knitting terminology if you need translation.
2. CO 4 st.
3. sl1wyif, kfb, k to last st, ktb
4. Repeat step 3 until the side length is the final length desired.
5. For two ridges (four rows): sl1wyif, k to last st, ktb
6. sl1wyif, ssk, k to last st, ktb
7. Repeat step 6 until only 4 st remain.
8. Bind off.
9. If desired, add an applied i-cord.
10. Snuggle up.

That 70s Blanket

It’s a quite versatile way to design a blanket. I knit my squares for 52 ridges to the center diagonal before step 5, for an eventual total of 104 ridges per block. With my worsted weight yarn on US6 sticks at my personal gauge, that made approximately 16″ squares. There are lots of ways to lay out sixteen of these; I went with the one that resembled the 70s yarn craft mentioned above. And, of course, you can be less scrappy and improvisational about it. Plan your colors and knit with more similar striping in each block for a tailored result.

That 70s Blanket

The slipped stitch selvedge makes seaming a breeze. I use a crochet hook with yarn of the same weight as the pieces (worsted here) and use slip stitches (NOT crochet stitches) through the back loops only. This is a rough description not meant to be instructive. You can see how the back looks with flat, not raised, seaming.

That 70s Blanket

The front then has this clean abutment of blocks that I prefer.

Oh, and I weave in ends as I knit, not using a darning needle. It’s a technique similar to tacking down floats in colorwork. Again, I don’t want to get into details here. But I just wanted to mention this to indicate that weaving in ends is a non-issue. It is quick and easy and need never be a reason not to use loads of colors in a project. And then…theoretically I’ll clip off those ends after blocking. But my true confession is that, demonstrating my odd form of laziness, my most recent few blankets still have their ends. Let’s just say they add a layer of insulation? Yes, that’s why.


Where were we?

Oh, yes, and then an applied i-cord edging. On bigger sticks (size US10.5 here) I do a 5-stitch i-cord with a provisional cast on and kitchener at the end. To avoid curly corners, when you get to a corner do a couple of rows of i-cord WITHOUT attaching to the blanket and then resume as usual. It needs room to make the turn.

That 70s Blanket

Now, knitting applied i-cord makes me very twitchy. You’re knitting 5-stitch rows so it feels like it should be quick, but there’s a lot of transfer of stitches from stick to stick and it advances like a turtle on benzos. I kept getting up to see if the cookie fairy visited the kitchen (he didn’t) and taking long breaks for sanity. No, it doesn’t matter what’s on the teevee. The only redeeming quality of the i-cord edging is the smooth and sturdy finish to a blanket that took forever to knit too.

Shall we turn down the AC and snuggle up now?

That 70s Blanket

The Details

Materials: worsted weight yarn scraps
Techniques: improvisationally-knit bias squares
Finished size: about 64" square
Started: March 2015
Finished: July 2015

at Tallgrass Arts

…last weekend was super fun! The Park Forest folks at Tallgrass Arts are super sweet and very into art. It was lovely to meet the curator and other leaders in the organization after a year working with them from afar.

Members of the Chicago Modern Quilt Guild (CMQG) showed up in full force on Saturday for the artist talks and then took us out for lunch. We missed out on deep dish, but the pizza was still good. These are some wonderful quilters and I wish I lived close enough to become one of them. Thanks, friends!

The trip ended with flight cancellations due to a monster storm, but that’s the kind of delay one can understand…for safety. Although the Chicago trip was better than expected, it’s great to be back in the groove at home and plotting the next thing.

Here are some photos from the show. A couple of quilts in the shots are new. Will post them in usual style later on.

At Tallgrass Arts
— With CMQG members Emily and Holly

At Tallgrass Arts
— Giving artist talk; photo courtesy of Holly

At Tallgrass Arts

At Tallgrass Arts

At Tallgrass Arts

At Tallgrass Arts

At Tallgrass Arts
— With Alex on opening night

At Tallgrass Arts
— With Eileen, Donna, Sarah, Holly and Emily