Scraps and Squares

It probably comes as no surprise that I’ve been patchworking with a vengeance this past week. It’s as if all these projects have been residing anxiously at my fingertips and I’ve suddenly been set free to realize them. First things first, I used up (almost all of) the leftover feed sack fabric from my giant patchwork pillow to make a messenger bag:

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By now it should be clear that there are few things that I don’tabsolutely love about patchwork. But certainly one of its greatest perks is projects like this; little afterthoughts born of the desire to not be wasteful that turn out to be some of the most useful and well-loved things that you’ve made. Honestly, I don’t have particularly high ambitions for this bag. I went into it as a light-hearted afternoon project to ease myself back into sewing after a week of withdrawal. But it turns out I absolutely love this bag. I’ve been using it nonstop. First of all, it’s my favorite colors. Secondly, it’s incredibly comfortable. I lined it with leftover flannel from my brother’s quilt and added a layer of quilt batting so it’s soft and cushiony on my shoulder.

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Clearly, patchwork never fails to surprise and delight. I even have a bit more leftover fabric which I think will go into my Essay Quilt. Speaking of which, progress has been made. I decided to go for the improvisational approach on this one, and to use only fabrics that I already own (which doesn’t exactly limit me given my abundant fabric stash). But I also decided I needed to apply a little method to the madness so I’ve been putting together squares that consist of a solid band down the middle and two complementary blocks on either side. I make them roughly the right size, iron them out and cut them down to 12.5 x 12.5 inch squares. And voila:005

A few that haven’t yet been trimmed:

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This turns out to be an extremely rewarding and pleasurable patchwork method. It’s that just-right combination of spontaneity and measurement. So far, I love how it looks… so much so that I imagine it’s going to be difficult to write on these lovely fabric squares! Nonetheless, that’s still the plan. I’m very intrigued by the notion of an Essay Quilt even if it does take a little willpower to put pen to fabric. Yet another thing I love about patchwork; there’s always something new to try.

Which brings me back to knitting. Yes, some of you may have noticed a slight absence of yarn in my past few entries. It’s not that I’ve abandoned knitting. In fact, I finished the back of my cardigan and I’m quite pleased with it so far:

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Still, my heart hasn’t really been in it. I certainly plan on finishing this  but a couple of days ago I realised I needed something to spice up my knitting life. So I had the rather uninspired idea of another entrelac scarf. Since I know I love them, I figured a familiar and guaranteed-to-be-rewarding project would put me back in the stockinette mood. I have more Cascade than most yarn stores carry on their shelves so I figured I’d grab a couple extra colors and make a very multi-colored scarf. Fortunately, the knitting forces that be were looking out for me as I stepped into Woolcott and Co. in Harvard Square. While the very obliging saleswoman wound up my yarn, I browsed through some pattern books and stumbled upon Vivian Hoxbro’s “Knit to be Square.”

 

This book is full of projects using the so-called ‘domino’ knitting technique. It’s somewhat like entrelac with lots of picking up stitches and working on one little square at a time. But it’s slightly different and- this was the real deal breaker for me- makes it easier to add even more color through stripes! To say that I was inspired would be an understatement. It was love at first sight- and at first stitch. This is a brilliant and beautiful method. I don’t tend to follow patterns, but sometimes it’s necessary when picking up a new technique so I’m vaguely following her “Candy Stole.” Here’s what I have so far:

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This deeply satisfies the patchwork and color fiend inside of me. My knitting life has been revitalized.

In the spirit of all these squares, I decided that this week’s mini quilt should be a simple homage to this lovely shape- and what a little reorientation can do for its appearance:

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Ironically, this is my first mini quilt that is overall shaped like a rectangle but the square is its building block. I used those lovely Japanese fabrics and went for a simple patchwork tilted to the side to give them a diamond-like look. I love a good challenge, but I somehow I’m always drawn back to the simple. It seems like the best designs are often the result of at least a little bit of basic structure. Avoiding the overly-fussy and complex is hardly limiting. As this past week of patchwork goes to show, the square- perhaps the most straightforward of shapes- offers immense possibility.

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Filed under accessories, knitting, quilting

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