It all started with an afghan. I was eight, I believe, and it took about a year of sporadic knitting but I ended up with an enormous purple/blue/green mohair blanket that I cherish to this day. Since then, I have developed into a devoted quilter and knitter. I have a passion for color and a passion for patchwork patterns- which may explain why half the time my knitting ends up looking a suspicious amount like a quilt. For my senior art history thesis, I am writing about the 1971 Whitney Exhibition and art/studio quilt movement, splitting my time between academia (I’m a good student, I swear, despite hours spend patchworking and purling) and, well, the more creative side of life. Some recent projects:
Super-warm fingerless gloves made from Brown Sheep. I just went crazy with the coloring.
A crazy patchwork cardigan. I’ll admit it’s a little out there, but I love it. Made from a combination of Cascade and Rowan chunky wool, still awaiting buttons.
Spending pretty much all day reading and writing about quilts- from nineteenth century anonymous quilt makers to Nancy Crow and Michael James- has definitely given me a lot to think about. Turns out, I’m a little old fashioned and can’t imagine making a quilt that wasn’t intended to be used. At the same time, I have the deepest admiration for the work of so-called art/studio quilters (a term that I realize causes some contention) and their brilliantly unconventional designs. I’ve been trying to get in some experimentation, to find out exactly how I fit in relation to the ever-expanding quilting world, past and present.
My latest project is the “Lucky Penny Quilt,” which I started just a few weeks ago. Thanks to a disastrous computer crash that left me stressed and in need of a lot of soothing quilt making time (suddenly my sewing machine seemed like such superior technology compared to my IBM) it’s come along pretty quickly. It all started with the very simple idea of wanting to make something original which, it turns out, is not nearly as easy as it sounds, especially given the fact that I’ve been looking at quilts nonstop for the past few months. So I looked elsewhere for inspiration and settled on my obsessive lucky money habit. I owe it to my Dad, and therefore this quilt goes to him.
Basically, I have no shame when it comes to picking up lucky money- outside nice restaurants, in the middle of the crosswalk, even in front of homeless people (yes, I’ll admit that’s a real low point). And somehow the phrase just entered my head one day, “Lucky Penny Quilt.” At first I imagined a basic patchwork pattern with pennies somehow adhered to the surface. But any lucky penny fiend knows that finding just one is actually better than a whole slew of change scattered across the ground- then it just feels like someone dropped their wallet. I decided to work of the image of that one lucky coin sitting on the sidewalk- and even took some pictures of coins before picking them up which is the only thing more embarrassing than, well, picking them up. I went from there, and this is what I came up with:
It took me a while to settle on how I was going to actually incorporate the penny. The thought of super glue on a quilt was too unpleasant, as was drilling a whole through a lucky penny (who knows what kind of karmic retribution that would bring). So it’s actually in the center of that circular motif, snuggled in between the batting and front, secured with some quilting stitches. Now I just have to finish up the boarders and hide it away until Christmas.
For the record, this was also my first time working with curved seams which was certainly a challenge (and don’t look too close, it didn’t work out perfectly)… still, I’d say it turned out acceptably and was great practice for next time.
And yet, I’ve also been craving the more improvisational quilting style. I’m the first to admit that my technique is far from perfect and lends itself a little better to the wilder side of quilt making:
And I try not to neglect the back:
I made this quilt a couple summers ago from whatever random scrap of leftover fabric I could get my hands on- including old pajama pants and t-shirts. I’ve been trying to imagine what a lucky penny quilt with a more freewheeling approach would look like and I certainly have some ideas for my next project… stay tuned for that.
Meanwhile, I’ve also been knitting a multi-color scarf with lollipop-like tassels. Made from Classic Elite’s Lush, which is as delicious to knit with as it sounds. It’s not a quick knit, for sure- I’m always amazed by the diameter of your verge neck and how long a scarf needs to be to comfortably wrap around it!- but it’s pretty basic knit/purl so it goes by quickly. The lollipops are a really simple icord and I think I saw them in a Nicky Epstein book at some point.
However, as the colder weather approaches (I’m actually not complaining, there’s something very refreshing about this time of year) I’ve been wearing my giant entrelac scarves nonstop. I made them both last winter and they are without a doubt amongst my favorite knits:
They’re essentially apattern from “Scarf Style” with my own crazy color concoctions and a couple extra feet in length. Quite simply, they’re like wearable blankets and even though they take… basically forever to make. I think I simply have to make another one- I’m thinking blue and orange if I can harness the self-discipline to stick to only two colors- to get me through another Boston winter.
As for the non-crafty side of my life, if there’s anything I love as much as settling in to an evening of quilting or knitting, it’s an evening of good food. I’m not joking. I even made a felted hedgehog and hamburger for my favorite Harvard Square eatery and won free food for a year
Yes, I eat there pretty much every single day and truly maintain that B.Good has the most delicious burgers/sweet potato fries/veggies/shakes/you name it on the planet. But tonight I’m taking it up a notch and heading to L’Espalier at its new location with my Dad, boyfriend and their business colleague (a weird conglomeration, I know, don’t ask…) Something tells me this particular culinary experience won’t be a disappointment.