Cats have faces too quilt

Let me start at the beginning, I offered to make a bed quilt for my daughter… at least 2years ago.
She was about 5 years old at the time with a huge love of cats and all things red and knew what she wanted. So we did a little google image search for cat quilts and looked through some patterns and made a short list. From the short list the only one I could get a pattern for was one from Copy Cat Quilts.

I ordered the pattern, rescaled it to the size we thought we wanted. Got the red and white fabrics and set to work. After piecing about 5 of the 12×12″ blocks, with about 13different sized/shaped pieces per block, I had had enough and it went in the bag for months…
After a long time I finally pulled it back out and finished all the piecing and I had a quilt top! After I found some fabric for the border and got that sewn on I realised the quilt covered a double bed!
That’s a big quilt for a little primary school kid! But Em did want a quilt for life.

We took a trip to the fabric store to look for a backing fabric. I hunted online for a red fabric with either black or white paw prints all over, but never found one, so decided to give Em free choice at the store. She picked a red, black, grey and white swirl pattern. There was no swaying her and for a long time I really wasn’t sure about it, but it has grown on me over time.

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I needed to visit a friend with a huge table to layer the quilt and get it all pinned ready for quilting, so that delayed the project further.

With all the pins in place it was time to start! I had machine quilted a block to use as a matching pillow and to sample how to quilt it. The result was too dense for a bed quilt in my opinion. I asked around for suggestions and a friend on twitter said I should hand quilt it, something I had never done. She assured me it wouldn’t take much longer the machine quilting and would be worth it.
So I took the plunge, my first hand quilting.

Over a year later, okay I’ve only worked on it for a few days at a time then put it away for weeks on end, but it feels like a long old time. I’ve completed the outline quilting around each cat, and quilted tiny paw prints in the empty space down one side of the quilt.
I’d also designed and appliquéd 4 little mice into the big empty spaces, and machine quilted 26 circles with an extra layer of batting to look like balls of yarn. Then carefully trimmed back the batting so that they could be edge tuck appliquéd onto the quilt.

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So this week I decided I needed to crack on and hand quilt the remaining tiny paw prints, appliqué on the balls, add some hand quilting to the border, trim back the border and hand bind the quilt! It needed to be done!
Em hates a duvet, at 7years old she still can’t get used to sleeping under even a really light weight one. So every night she sleeps under a blanket I had for her, acrylic fleece on one side, cotton print on the other. But now she is just too big for the blanket and this quilt was supposed to replace these small blankets long ago!

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I’ve tried quite a few thimbles to save my poor fingers from the repeated abuse of driving a tiny sharp needle through several layers of fabric and batting. I’m happy with a metal quilting thimble, but it makes my finger sweat like mad and soon I have a soggy wrinkly finger!
My kind friend Donna has been enjoying some hand piecing lately and made herself a simple leather thimble, so she made me one too. It’s soft leather and works well, its my new favourite.
In the photo above you can see the fairly small and irregular stitches for the paw prints. This is about as good as my hand quilting gets on a quilt this thick.
But I don’t mind that it’s far from perfect, I’m sure the stitches will hold it together. (The bright blue paw print marks are made with washable fabric marker, I started off when a pencil which drove me nuts, but this pen works well on light fabric and washes out easily.)

So this is where I’m at. (The edge isn’t bound, just the backing folded over the edge to keep everything neat and stop the batting getting messy at the edge.)

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The white space on the right has already been filled with paw prints.

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The other side is partially marked up and I’ve just started the paw prints, so I have quite a bit if work to do still!

I added one of the trapunto/trapplique yarn balls to the quilt today, for a chance of stitching and to see how they look.

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I realised when I pulled this out, over a year after I made the balls, that I am 1 ball short. Which made me think it would be a good opportunity to hand stitch 1 as a label, with the quilt details on. So I will leave that 1 ball til last.
I like how they stand up slightly off the quilt surface.

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I remember when I was sitting embroidering faces on each block in the early days of this quilt, how I thought that would be the longest part of the process and cats need faces too, so they couldn’t be left off! How wrong I was, the quilting has gone on for ages, especially the paw prints. But I think it will be perfect, I couldn’t have done the law prints like this by machine and I think they add the lovely bit of whimsy to this quilt.

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More stitching to do… But for now, it is time for sleep.
Tomorrow, less blogging procrastinating, more quilting!

Silk with Priscilla Lowry

Our local WSD guild was lucky enough to have Priscilla Lowry to visit this weekend, all the way from New Zealand.
She came to do a few workshops and give a talk on silk history.
Sadly I had to miss the silk history talk, but other guild members said it was fascinating.
We had a morning workshop on spinning lofty silk yarns for knitting, all about trapping air between the silk fibres.
On Sunday we had a full day workshop on spinning all different silk fibres, from A1 Mulberry Silk brick right through, tussah brick, short silk fibres, muwatas (hankies and caps), degummed silk cocoons, cocoon strippings, throwsters, to tussah noil a.k.a. floor sweepings.

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A friend spinning mulberry silk cut with scissors into 1-2″ long pieces then spun from the fold with plenty of twist.
The resulting single has tufts of silk ends all along it’s length, well secured by the twist. Like a beautiful eyelash yarn, spun from silk.

Close photos of yarns to follow.

To almost everyone’s surprise these lesser silk products were pretty fun to spin! The variety of yarns we could produce was phenomenal.
Accompanying all these wonderful yarns and techniques were Priscilla’s stories of how the beauty of fibres from silk cocoons was discovered, how the secrets of processing silk were hidden, how silk is produced and farmed today and the differences in the fibres and how they are all processed.

Like with all these things we can believe we know a reasonable amount about subject, then we meet an expert and realise our knowledge is a drop in the ocean.
So there was lots to be learnt and I think we all had a fantastic weekend spinning wormspit a.k.a. Silk!

Equality Stripe Cardigan and Hat

New pattern release Equality Stripe Cardigan

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Equality Stripe Cardigan is knit top down from neck to cuff in one piece including button bands without seaming or picking up stitches for a button band!

Full photo tutorial for switching colours for the button band is included.

Sizes: Newborn, 3-6m, 6-12m, 12-18m, 18m-24m, 2-4yrs, 4-6yrs, 6-8yrs.
Yarn: Heavy fingering (4ply) or sport (5ply) weight yarn. Samples knitted in 6 colours of Katia Merino Baby.
£3.00

Matching Equality Stripe Hat
Sizes: Newborn, baby, toddler, child, adult and large adult.
£1.50

Or both patterns together as an ebook for £4.00

I am now part of the LYS In-Store Sales program. So participating yarn shops can sell my patterns directly to their customers in store. All the patterns that I have available for purchase through Ravelry are in the program.

These cute little unisex cardigans were inspired by a close friend of mine who was pregnant with non identical twins. She asked for ‘rainbow coloured knits’ rather than the traditional white or pastel baby colours often gifted to those who don’t know the gender of their baby before it arrives.
So I ordered some lovely soft yarn (Katia Merino Baby) in 6 rainbow colours and grey. The idea of the pattern took hold in my mind before the yarn even arrived.
After the first was off the needles it seemed only logical to make the cardigans ‘fraternal’ for these *fraternal twins. So I reversed the rainbow colour ordered and the second cardigan was soon complete.
*fraternal twins; meaning twin developed from two separately fertilized ova; dizygotic. (Developed from two eggs, each fertilized by separate sperm.)

With plenty of yarn to spare, these special babies deserved matching fraternal hats too!
So out of 6x 50g ball of yarn came 2 cardigans and 2 hats with significant yarn left over.

I released the hat pattern during the 2014 Sochi Olympics, to show support for LGBT difficulties in Russia. Donations were made to Stonewall during the Olympics in lieu of pattern fees.
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Now they are both patterns available to buy trough Ravelry or you can use the links above.

Of course you don’t have to knit them in rainbow colours, 6 random colours or just 2 or 3 colours will be just as fun.

The joy of releasing a pattern hasn’t got old for me yet and in between pattern releases I forget just how great it feels. So this time, like all the times before it, I was surprised by the smile on my face and the joy of knitters seeing and liking my work.
Seeing my pattern rise up through the Ravelry hot right now list is always a little thrill. Often one I am too busy to spot, but someone points out to me.

While you all enjoy this I am working on getting my next design tech edited and test knitted.
Happy knitting!