ADOPT Quilt No. 04

Quilt No. 04 in the ADOPT Collection has been done for quite a while, but I have been unsure about listing it for sale. You see, the day after I finished this quilt my husband and I had dinner with a reconnected friend and his wife. D and I were part of the same outdoor guiding program at college in California. It was pure coincidence that we both happened to land in St. Louis, and even more coincidence that we happened to run into each other at a coffee shop years after each of had moved here. My husband and I enjoyed a lovely dinner at their home. We met their two dogs, enjoyed a long catch-up conversation, and saw the room that they were preparing for their soon-to-be baby. D’s wife, J, showed us the bedding set she had already picked out: charming, gray and white, with bits of green.

And as I clipped a few loose threads on Quilt No. 04 and put it in for a final wash, I thought of them. I thought about how much D taught me about enjoying and teaching in the outdoors. I thought about the excitement they shared about the coming baby. And I thought of J, holding that bedding set and lighting up as she looked at its colors.

ADOPT Quilt No. 04 front

The center of this quilt is a cheerful citron green, surrounded by the white and gray arms of all my ADOPT Collection quilts.

Each quilt I have made in this collection makes me fall more in love with this tiny black and white gingham border. I do a bias binding on my quilts so that they can stand up to frequent machine washing – hi, I want my quilts to be used, messes and all. (Those interested in the reasons for straight-grain vs. bias binding might enjoy this article.) A bias binding also has the advantage turning the gingham pattern to the diagonal, making a nice running line of diamonds along the edge of the quilt.

ADOPT Quilt No. 04 label

I used a yarn-dyed charcoal color for the linen-cotton backing this time. The citron green on the center front felt like just the right amount of color and the neutral charcoal backing lets it shine. Yarn-dyed fabric is made by weaving together threads that are already dyed (rather than dyeing the fabric after it is created). This allows for two different colored threads to be used in weaving the fabric – in this case, white threads in one direction and an almost black thread in the other. The resulting fabric has a beautiful depth of color. It has an almost denim look but still keeps the softness and lightness of a light linen-cotton blend.

ADOPT Quilt No. 04 backing

And so for a while, I was torn. Part of me wanted to give this quilt directly to D and J, and then make a new component for the collection. Another part of me wanted to keep it as part of the collection and then create a similar one for them later on.

I’ve finally decided on the latter. Quilt No. 04 is now listed in the HIPPworks shop.

And to my US friends – have a peaceful Memorial Day!

Paducah? Yeahducah!

This was this the first year that I got to celebrate Mother’s Day as a recipient. My only expectation for the day was to spend time together as a family. I was fine with that being at home in St. Louis. But after a lot of fence-sitting, I finally agreed to let my husband plan a weekend trip out of town. And he pulled it off like the rockstar that he is.

My Mother’s Day weekend was flawless. I felt cherished, which is all anyone wants to feel, but especially a mother on her first Mother’s Day.

We went to Paducah, Kentucky. Yes, Paducah. I know, it’s not exactly on the national radar as a travel destination, but it has been on our radar for the past year or so. Paducah runs ads on the local PBS station so our standing Sunday night date (watching “Masterpiece” on the sofa with a bottle of wine and a late grown-up dinner…aka, something other than Cheerios) inevitably ends with “we should really go to Paducah someday”.

Making weekend travel plans based on ads on the local PBS station. That’s how we roll.

PBS ads aside, Paducah also has something that no other place in the U.S. can claim: The National Quilt Museum. I know, right? How could I NOT go.

We went directly from work on Friday, picked up Miss M at daycare, and headed east on the 64. Miss M brought her just-finished school art project with her. She was pleased as punch to pose with it in the car.

Mother's Day gift 2014

I think Miss M was more excited about the trip than I was. We timed our departure to parallel her regular schedule: dinner about an hour into the drive, followed by what we hoped would be two hours of sleep and an easy transfer to the hotel.

Instead we were treated to three hours of this:

Miss M: Where we goin’?
Daddy: We’re going to Paducah for Mother’s Day.
Miss M: I goin’ to Ducah!
Mommy: It’s called Paducah. Say Pa-du-cah.
Miss M: YEAHducah!

My Facebook friends might recognize this as a variation of an exchange Miss M and I had recently regarding a doctor’s visit (Dr. Ryan? It’s Dr. Narayan. Say NAH-ray-an. No Mommy, Dr. YEAHrayan!). Heaven help us, this kid is already recycling her own jokes.

 

Moving forward

The Irvin S. Cobb Bridge over the Ohio River from Paducah, KY to Brookport, IL from my first, spectacular, Mother's Day weekend.

The Irvin S. Cobb Bridge over the Ohio River from Paducah, KY to Brookport, IL from my first, spectacular, Mother’s Day weekend.

As hinted at briefly in a previous post, my work life took a turn earlier this year. My job, the organization I work for, and the jobs of some of my colleagues, are funded by a particular grant. When that grant ends, so does my job. If new grants are obtained in time then my job can continue, albeit in some altered form that fits the requirements of the new grants. But if new grants are not obtained, then the future becomes uncertain. In February, I learned that there would be a gap in the grant funds, and my job would either be altered or uncertain once September ends.

I am telling you this not to complain – because, really, there is no reason for complaint here. I feel fortunate to have a  job at all, fortunate that it is a job I enjoy, fortunate that I had 7+ months warning. I am also fortunate that my boss and others on the team are working their butts off to write new grants to fill, or at least shorten, the gap.

Rather, I am telling you this so that you have a sense of where my brain has been these past few months. I have avoided thinking about it too much. Sewing helps: complex, hands-on activity loosens the knots in my brain. And now I am at the point where avoidance no longer makes sense. I WANT to think about it now. So that I can take an active role in moving forward.

ADOPT collection Quilt No. 03

Thanks so much to K from thirdstoyies.com for featuring my quilts on her blog – you can see the post here. Her blog has been a constant source of inspiration since I stumbled upon it via Young House Love over two years ago. Readers of my old blog (hi, Mom) may recall that I posted about her blog in the past. She writes from the heart – about her home, family, emotions, food, goals – pretty much everything. We have never met in person, but I have literally laughed and cried with her just by reading her blog. And her house – omigawd, the house – will make you drool. I particularly liked reading about her ombre powder room, plans for an addition, and how a stair hall was turned into a celebration of childhood. And if you’re here because of K’s post – welcome!


The day that we first met our daughter was warm and sunny. It was after a usual workday but the sun still shone for hours after first meeting her. I remember being struck by how small she was, how enormous her two Afro puffs seemed in comparison, how beautiful her face was (and still is), and, most of all, how absolutely cheerful she was. She has been our sunshine ever since.

I attempted to bring a little bit of that sunshine to Quilt No. 03. The quilt’s front is centered on a sunny orange surrounded by the white and gray arms that define the ADOPT collection. That center is the exact color of the tangerines that my brother and I picked from our backyard tree in California when we were kids.

HIPPworks handmade modern quilt tangerine orange gray white kona essex linen

The backing is a sizzling orange. My sewing room has white walls and a skylight. I left this quilt backing-side-up one night. When I returned the next morning, the walls were glowing like a soft sunset from the light reflecting off the fabric. It was gorgeous.

HIPPworks ADOPT handmad modern quilts carrot orange essex linen

As with Quilt No. 02, I pre-washed the backing fabric to check for color transfer. No dye migrated to other fabrics in the wash, so I felt comfortable sewing it with the light-colored front. Now that it’s done, I’ll wash it again to get a delicious crinkly quilty texture.

Quilt No. 03 is finished, bound, labeled, and now listed for sale at my little shop. Thank you for visiting!

HIPPworks handmade modern quilts label kona essex linen

ADOPT collection Quilt No. 02

Thanks, friends, for the positive response to the opening of HIPPworks. It is a bit terrifying to put myself out there. But it is also something that I needed to do for the sake of my own happiness. Anna from Door Sixteen has described this as “Look at me, don’t look at me!” syndrome. So please, do look – at my blog, at my quilts, at my photos, at me. But don’t be surprised if I turn away shyly and start talking about the weather….


Quilt No. 02 in the ADOPT collection is done and listed for sale! Check it out and please tell anyone you know who might be remotely interested. It is described as “perfect as a baby quilt, playmat, stroller blanket, or wall hanging”, but realistically anything smaller than 40″ x 32″ can be covered by it for snuggly protection. Your cat? Yup, that’ll work. Your lap? Uh huh. An uncomfortable bench seat at Busch Stadium? Oh yeah. It’s machine washable and handmade – this quilt is meant to be USED.

HIPPworks handmade modern quilt kona cotton snow iron grey cypress

Quilt No. 02 from the ADOPT collection

This quilt has a minty green center surrounded by the white and gray arms that define the ADOPT collection. The backing is a cheerful and saturated green in a linen/cotton blend. I played around with using other colors as the center – an acid yellow, a hot pink, a deep forest green – but as soon as pulled out this minty color, it was over. They were made for each other.

HIPPworks quilt modern handmade kona cotton linen kelly cypress

Detail of center front, backing, and binding

I worried a lot about that saturated green bleeding onto the rest of the quilt, so I washed and dried it before sewing. I am happy to report that the color did not transfer at all to the other fabrics washed with it, which were other backing fabrics in lighter tones and a pair of old jeans, so any dye transfer would have been noticed. As an additional measure, I washed the quilt again after it was finished. The result is a soft, crinkly quilt with white, gray, and mint colors that remain crisp and bright. (Whew!)

HIPPworks quilts handmade modern linen cotton

The saturated green backing

See that little square in the lower right corner of the backing? Funny thing about that. I drafted a label design and sent it off to Spoonflower for printing on a fat quarter. I selected the standard printing and shipping option before realizing it wouldn’t arrive before my deadline for getting Quilt No. 01 to the fundraising auction. I panicked for a hot second before I realized “Hey, I’m a crafter. I can just make my own label.” The Spoonflower labels still haven’t arrived (my fault for ordering them late) so the label here is hand-drawn onto white cotton using a black fabric marker. I turned under the edges and appliqued the label by hand after quilting and binding. I’m actually really pleased with how it turned out. It’s sort of a final handmade goodbye from me to the quilt.

HIPPworks handmade modern quilt label

Close up of the hand-drawn quilt label

And for you quilt nerds out there, here are the full specs:

  • Fabrics: Kona cotton solids by Robert Kaufman in Cypress (center), Snow (white arms), and Iron Grey (gray arms). Essex by Robert Kaufman in Kelly (backing). Small Gingham by Riley Blake Designs in Black (binding)
  • Batting: Warm & Natural Needled Cotton Batting by The Warm Company
  • Thread: Gutermann Sew-All in Nu-White
  • Methods: Pieced with my sewing machine and all seams were pressed open. Quilted by machine with straight lines spaced 2.5″ apart. Bias binding attached to the front by machine and sewn to the back by hand.

Thanks for stopping by to look at the new quilt! Have a great rest of your weekend.

HIPPworks!

The HIPPworks shop is happening, people!

The HIPPworks shop is happening, people!

My day job, in general, is pretty terrific. It is interesting, purposeful, challenging, and I am fortunate to have good people by my side. But one thing I don’t get to do in my day job is use my hands for creativity. For me, there is a fundamental difference between intellectual creativity and physical creativity. I get intellectual creativity in abundance at my day job – solving problems, writing papers, building relationships, analyzing data. I get to be intellectually creative 40+ hours a week, and the time and priority of that is well-defined. But physical creativity has always had to be shoehorned into the already overflowing category of Non-Work Time. There is never enough Non-Work Time and the other things that fill it end up feeling higher priority than creativity. So after many months of thinking, dreaming, and overcoming fears, I am finally reserving a space in my life for being creative.

You guys, I am super delighted to announce my new little shop: HIPPworks!

There will be small collections of handmade quilts for sale. I’m intrigued by the idea of developing a concept for a collection, then getting to play with different colors and fabrics within that concept to make each quilt unique. Talk about scratching a creative itch!

I’ve already gotten started with my first collection of quilts: ADOPT.

HIPPworks ADOPT collection Quilt 01 handmade modern

Quilt no. 01 from the ADOPT collection

The ADOPT collection is inspired by the adoption of our daughter, Micah. She has added a bright center to our lives, and our arms can’t help but wrap around her and hold her tight.

This collection is a riff on the traditional log cabin quilt block, with arms of iron gray and snowy white wrapped tightly around a bright center of color. I chose to do the backing with a single piece of of a durable linen-cotton blend to add a bit of texture and also unify the colors from the front. The black and white gingham binding is just for fun! It livens up the solids and makes a defined border. Each quilt will have a different colors for the center and backing, but the design, the white/gray arms, and the gingham binding are the common links in this collection.

Quilt 01 is done and displayed in the HIPPworks shop…but it is already gone! To kick off this new venture, I have donated it to a fundraiser auction for the scholarship program at a local child care center. Quilt 02 is done and will be listed on the shop as soon as I can get good photos, and Quilt 03 is almost finished. I’ll add a blog post when each one is ready to go! I have plans and supplies for 10 total quilts in the ADOPT collection so stay tuned for more fun.

It is exciting to have a creative outlet. It is exciting to have a goal and work toward making it happen. And it is exciting to share it with you. Thanks, friends!