Tuesday, January 31, 2023

12 Years

Who would have guessed when I tentatively began blogging in 2011, that I'd still be at it 12 years later? Certainly not me.

I've often referred to the blog here as my creative home. Sure, other social media platforms have come and gone; but here is where I've shared about nearly every project I've made in those 12 years, where I've shared the random tutorial; and especially early on, shared about my love of the table. Honestly, I've yet to even think about leaving it behind.

Rather than share a bunch of quilts from over the years, I chose just one photo to include in today's post, taken last evening as I wrapped up working for the day on puzzling my Seattle MQG block of the month blocks together. They got me thinking that I never ever, back in 2011, would have ventured to make an improv quilt block. Definitely I wouldn't have even attempted puzzling differently-sized blocks together like I'm doing this week. I was insecure about choosing fabrics for any new project, and always sought out a friend's advice when doing so. I like that now it's all familiar, or at least a welcome challenge.

I also like that this photo reflects a work in progress. Just like A Quilter's Table. The beginnings of both are clear, with their purposes known. The ends, not so much. I still like the concept of it all being a journey of sorts. And I'm excited to just keep going, day by day.

Just for fun, I brought back the tabs along the top of the page showing ALL THE QUILTS I've made during my years of blogging. Usually I only share the most recent several years, but they're all there - at least for a bit. Just click on a tab and you can see that year's finished quilts. I was a bit shocked, as I realized how sparse some of those early blog posts were, especially when it came to a quilt finish.... very few details about fabrics or thread. Often no photo of the full completed quilt. Just interesting.

Times have changed, haven't they? So has the nature of A Quilter's Table, but the key element has always been you. Your interest and affirmation and friendship has made it what it is. You have made it a joy to share. Thank you for being here! It means so much.

Monday, January 30, 2023

Scrappy Sparkle Punch

Soooo.... after finally finishing my wonky stars quilt top, I hopped right to creating a pieced quilt back, and really enjoyed it! I'd found yardage of red and white stripes to use as the main fabric, and combined it with several holiday prints and a few of the leftover Christmas scraps

Remember, I'd used the Sparkle Punch pattern by Elizabeth Hartman for the scrappy improv stars, and the quilt top measured 60" x 72" - a generous lap-sized quilt.

With the #wonkystars a variety of colors, it made sense to coordinate quilting thread with the background, a mix of grays. Aurifil 50wt 2600 [Dove] seemed perfect as I quilted a simple grid. With the finished quilt blocks measuring 3" square, the quilting plan made for medium-density quilting. It felt like enough for this particular project, and I confess, I was able to quilt the whole thing in under three hours - pretty much a record. And also a relief, after the weeks that went into piecing. After that, several hours of hand-stitching the Kona Silver binding was the perfect reward.

I'm curious what you think about the use of various grays in the background. Due to the fact that I kept adding in more choices the further I got on the quilt, there are a lot more darker values of background in the bottom half of the quilt. Personally, I kind of like it, and think it 'grounds' it nicely. At any rate, I am pretty excited to have this one complete before month's end! AND all ready to use and enjoy during the next Christmas season.

Tuesday, January 24, 2023


The prompts in our Bee Sewcial improv bee are rarely a walk in the park. I usually find them challenging or very challenging. Stephanie/@spontaneousthreads' "Vision" for January was of the latter variety. Stephanie asked us to be inspired by the work of Hilma af Klint, a Swedish artist whose work was not shown publicly until 1986, twenty years after her death. "Bold, colorful, and untethered from any recognizable references to the physical world," her work was also done on a very large scale.

For a palette, we were to be inspired by the colors of some of her major works, with dominant light purples, orange and pale blues. We were also instructed to play with the loopy organic shapes with thin lines of white, cream, yellow and sometimes black. See the top photo in this article for a visual of Hilma's impressive work.

Circle-type shapes and loops are not my strong point, and I approached the elements of my block pretty leisurely. I referenced Hillary/@entropyalwayswins' tutorial for inset pieced seams, as well as my own tutorial for setting in a circle.

Stephanie specifically asked that the background not be pieced, so all of the elements are set in. She has approved of my interpretation; and as always, I'm anxious to see this Bee Sewcial collaboration evolve. My finished block measured 17.5" X 20.5", and I'll give it one more press before sending it on.

Friday, January 20, 2023

Wonky Star Progress

I promise I'm still a quilter! After all the handwork I've shared lately, I'm sure you were beginning to wonder. But slowly and surely, I've been working each day on the Sparkle Punch quilt I started in late December with all my Christmas Scraps.

Happily, I included nearly 75 unique prints! Not all are specifically holiday-themed, but they HAVE all been used in holiday projects over the years. It's been fun revisiting them and using the very last bits of many.

For the background, I used four Kona cotton solids - Silver, Lighthouse, Ash, and Overcast - plus an Essex yarn dyed in Steel. I'm sure the chaos of how I used those grays might be a bit much to some, but personally, I really love it. My only 'rule' was to make sure I used the Essex at least one time in each section.

I actually stared piecing the sections together before I finished the blocks, just to maximize the use of my design wall. The final two rows were actually laid out on the floor, but it worked.

And yesterday, I finally finished the quilt top. I gotta say, it was a struggle. But I kept at it, day by day, and I'm so glad I did. Coming up with a backing, basting, and quilting seem like an uphill battle from here; but I'm committed, and am going to try and stay focused. I know I'll be glad when this quilt is all ready to snuggle with when the holidays roll around again.

Tuesday, January 17, 2023

Zen with Jen

I didn't mean to. But as we were hopping in the car for a trip to the airport to pick up family yesterday, I grabbed my travel project bag, and threw in my hand-stitching supplies, and my Zen with Jen embroidery that I'd begun back in October.

I'd let a lot of hand-stitching supersede the Zen project - sashiko and Christmas ornaments and oven mitts - but after working on it just for 30 minutes on the road, I realized how close I was to finishing it. And so later that night, I did just that.

You may remember I started with a spool of variegated dark red perle cotton. And I stitched with that alone for quite a while. But as you can see, I added in some lighter reds, orange, and purple later in the process. I really enjoyed creating the mix.

The piece is square, but my hoop was not. So I chose to just stitch what I could easily reach within my hoop. If the need arises later for me to stitch out to the edge, I'll find a way to do that. For now, I don't have a further purpose for the 'finished' stitchery. Even Jen herself used hers more as a meditation/calming project than with any intention of a future use. So I'm good with that, and calling this project done for now. 

I confess I felt a little aimless not stitching a design per se. And the markings on the cloth were a little small and pale for my older eyes. But I did like the idea of stitching on fabric that wasn't necessarily designed for handwork. So all in all, it was a good exercise and I'm glad I did it. Now back to the tea towel.

Thursday, January 12, 2023

An Adventure in Sashiko

Well, I hopped on this project train at a time when I was swamped with other things, but when I saw it I really loved it, so there's that. I'd recently finished the 24 Days of Sashiko, when I saw the hostess, Kazue @sashiko.lab post about her upcoming Coffee Fukin Club. What I knew was that the stitching would be done on navy sashiko fabric with brown sashiko thread. Not sooo different from what I'd just finished except with authentic supplies rather than quilter's cotton and embroidery floss. And I wanted to try it. So knowing I'd get a late start, I went ahead and ordered a supply kit from Japan.

What I learned from Kazue is that a Coffee fukin is a Hanafukin  - a sashiko stitched kitchen cloth. A few years earlier, she made one for her husband and it’s been his favorite ever since. He always uses it when making coffee and that’s why she calls it a “coffee fukin.” It is woven with sashiko patterns on both(!) sides, which sounded really intriguing. 

So I finally got started stitching at the end of the year, and it began with some pretty routine base stitches. 

Once those were done, we began weaving on the back of the cloth with the blunt end of the needle. For being the back, it sure was beautiful! Basically, we were weaving with two different stitches. After I was done, I saw a stitch that was done incorrectly, but I left it since I couldn't find it next time I looked! Just proves this piece was handstitched, right?

So the weaving on the front side took a little longer, considering we were using four different weaving patterns. I definitely had to follow the chart to see what pattern to stitch next as I moved across the cloth, but each pattern became very familiar, which made it relaxing to stitch.

Though I wanted to note that there was a finicky part of this stitching, and it was hiding the thread ends. Near the edges, you could hide knots between the fabric layers, but in the middle, you needed to double-stitch on the back side. This became especially tricky when working on the front. It wasn't always easy to work your needle between layers without taking stitches where you didn't want them. Obviuosly it was manageable, but I always knew it would take a little extra time to finish with a length of thread and begin a new one.

Once the weaving was all done on both sides, threads got trimmed, and the perimemiter was stitched to secure the edges. Kazue gave us a good dozen different decorative stitch options, so I chose one that wasn't too time-consuming, but gave the piece a nice finish.

So ta da! I've made my first Hanafukin! 12" square, it has a wonderfully soft texture! I decided I'm going to use it more as a mat than a dish cloth. After I snapped the photo below, I placed it under all the coffee-making apparatus you see. If fits on top of the glass almost perfectly, and already, I'm enjoying seeing it there - beautiful but functional - as I make my morning coffee.

I'm pretty amazed that such simple stitching can create such beauty. I'm really glad I took advantage of the workshop Kazue offered, as I thoroughly enjoyed the stitching experience as well as creating this unique piece for use in our home.

Tuesday, January 10, 2023

A Rich Red Report

Remember last spring when I decided to purchase a good amount of Kona Rich Red and use it in each future project - for as long as that felt like a good idea - ? Well, there were several cases (gift, bee quilt, color-guided challenge) where that wasn't feasible. But I was still happy to see that since last May, I used it a little or a lot, in five quilt finishes.

Rich Red I


Let's Eat!

Italiano antico

Red Cross Meets Very Peri

When I refreshed my solid stash last week, I included another couple of yards of Rich Red, as I plan to continue with my personal challenge going forward into this year. Maybe not every quilt, of course, but I definitely hope to continue the focus. We'll see where it takes me.

Friday, January 6, 2023

2023 Tea Towel Calendar

A short post today just to mark the beginning of a new embroidery project I expect to be working on for much of the year - a tea towel calendar from Gingiber @gingiberI didn't even know tea towel calendars were a thing until I saw Jen @stitchalongwithjen post about her new sew along. 

Photo by Stacie Bloomfield; Used by permission.

I'm not joining the monthly subscription being offered, but my friend Sharon @redapplestitches will be working on her own tea towel project, so I expect we'll compare notes; and I'll be following along with Jen and other stitchers on Instagram.

Though I haven't begun stitching quite yet, I've backed the towel with a lightweight cotton fabric, and chosen a handful of perle cotton threads to get me started. I have a handwork project or two to finish first, and then I'll be starting in. I'm looking forward to this unique kind of sampler!

Thursday, January 5, 2023

Scrappy Christmas Wonky Stars

Before the new year even dawned, I'd started in on a new scrappy quilt project. As I was putting away scraps and such from this year's Christmas bag making, it dawned on me that maybe, just maybe, those scraps could turn into a Christmas quilt for us. Inspired by Katie Pedersen @sewkatiedid and Elizabeth Hartman @elizabethagh and their wonky star quilts, I decided to make a few blocks and see what I thought.

I definitely liked what I saw, and decided then and there to make a quilt. Bit by bit, the collection on the design wall has grown.

By now, I was thinking I'd make a queen-sized version of Elizabeth's Sparkle Punch quilt

That is.... until I realized I'd need to make over 250 wonky stars to make a quilt approximately 96" x 112" to fit our bed. Hmmm. Let's just say I'm continuing to make stars while mulling over layout options that aren't quite as star-intensive as the original Sparkle Punch, without losing that nested element that I really like. OR do I just make a lap-sized Sparkle Punch instead? So we'll see! Not quite sure where I'm headed now, but time will tell.

Tuesday, January 3, 2023

2022 Fabric Usage

Well, 2022 has drawn to a close, so let's see how I did working through my fabric stash. 

November brought in an unanticipated indulgence in the form of an Entwine bundle by Giuseppe Ribaudo, which I purchased at Quilt Festival. Plain and simple, a treat to myself, which I'm really looking forward to breaking into this year.

And then there was the 'necessary' purchase of some Kona Black and Pepper to finish my Quiltober quilt, and a few yards of Kona Petunia to make a pair of pillowcases for my grandgirls. Plus I was running really low on stashed Christmas giftbag fabric, so I included some odds and ends for those. That all made perfect sense, and I've already used up most of it for its intended purposes.

November Fabric Usage

Used up: 16.93 yards
Brought in: 14.0 yards 
Net: -2.93 yards

So in December, I grabbed a bit more Christmas giftbag fabric, which honestly, I've just begun to cut into, and a few yards of the new limited edition Kona Crush. I always purchase just a bit for my daughter Rachel @snippetsofsweetness and I so we can check it out.

December Fabric Usage

Used up: 11.45 yards
Brought in: 7.0 yards 
Net: -4.45 yards

Soooo.... here's what it all boils down to:

2022 Fabric Usage Totals
2022 Used up: 191.147 yards [vs. 199.47 yards in 2020 and 135.24 in 2021]

2022 Brought in: 99.75* yards [vs. 73.2 yards in 2020 and 88.25 yards in 2021]  - *I looked back to check - and yes, nearly 42 yards of fabric was generously gifted to me this year - between a retirement gift from my former coworkers + a destash from a friend. So my actually purchases were closer to 58 yards rather than 100.

2022 Net: -91.397 yards [vs. -126.27 yards in 2020 and -46.99 in 2021]

That all feels like a pretty good year. I think I'll just continue on with the record-keeping, maybe sharing about it less often? But it's good incentive, and I've enjoyed seeing how my stash has evolved.... definitely more solid choices than a year ago, and organized in a new way - solids and prints together by color. Scraps are still a wild mess, but I've already dug in and begun a new project with them. Now back to sewing!