Is Starshower the new Honey Cowl? Only time will tell (but it looks good).

Summer Spread

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Dear Ann,
Hiya! Can’t believe we’ll see each other this weekend. To those in the Indianapolis area, come say hi on Saturday afternoon at Mass. Ave. Knit Shop, 3 p.m., bring your knitting. We’re in town for TNNA (which spell-check always wants to change to TUNA). So yeah, a mega yarn-crawl is what we’re talking about. It is a blessing that all sales are strictly to the trade. But a girl can whine for samples, can’t she?
It’s been a busy, somewhat melancholy time here at Casa Bigbonegal. We’re packing up the whole apartment so that we can move to another apartment for 6 months so that we can get it Fixed Up. We are on a mission to restore ‘circa 1929′ atmosphere to a place that at one point was ‘updated’ to ‘circa 1979′. (We’re not just talking track lights. Track lights are a given. We’re talking PLASTIC track lights. Corian in the living room? Right here, people. We’ve got a ‘distressed’ chandelier that–I kid you not–I spotted the twin of, in a Mexican restaurant in California. A chain restaurant. I wept into my margarita.)
For me and the stash, moving out would be challenging enough. But the apartment we’re moving to is a world-class challenge all by itself. It is the home of my late mother-in-law, who lived in it for over 50 years, collecting beautiful things with an eclectic eye that was astonishing for her times, or for any times. There is no realization of mortality that is quite as striking as the feeling that dawns as you carefully sort through another woman’s belongings. ‘Oh this is cute!’ ‘Oh this is funny” ‘Oh, how pretty!’ –This is what you say to yourself all day long, as you try to figure out where it all should go. You think about your own cute, funny, pretty possessions, and how you’d like the chance to edit them yourself before you say goodbye.
If you want a precise count of how many florist’s containers you will amass if you save every one you get, for 50 years, call me and I’ll give you the current numbers (caveat: count is, as yet, incomplete). I’m begging you Ann–recycle those florist’s containers NOW. Move that straight to the top of your to-do list. It has gotten to the point that when anybody holds up an item and asks, ‘What is this?’, I say ‘Florist’s container.’
Speaking of Cute, Funny, Pretty Things
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I finished my quilt top. This is my template-free, restrained-taste-free version of Denyse Schmidt’s fabulous What a Bunch of Squares. I think if I was ordered to make the same quilt over and over, and it was this one, I could live with that. I’ve been researching handquilting and machine quilting services, and our quilting readers have been so helpful.
But in the past few days I’ve had Yet Another Idea. In Gwen Marston’s wonderful little book Liberated String Quilts, she mentions the concept of the Summer Spread. The Summer Spread is a quilt top that has a backing but no batting. The 2 layers are stabilized by light quilting, by hand or machine, or tying.
This idea appeals to me because (a) I can do it myself, for free, and not wait for the thing to come back from being Sent Out; and (b) the theme of this quilt is summer. Many of the fabrics are Heather Ross Munki Munki prints with aquatic, summery childhood themes (the backing fabric is Pool Party). A light spread solves the problem of bed-sized quilts being so heavy that you have to wrestle with them every time you make the bed (which, you know, could almost be a DAILY thing if you’re serious about it) . Anyhoo, I’m still thinking. I don’t want to ruin my pretty green top, but I don’t want to treat it like it’s the be-all and end-all of quilts, either. It’s my First Quilt. I want to get it on a bed, and move on.
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For the knitters, here is the current status of the knitted version of What a Bunch of Squares. The knitted version is every bit as much fun to make as the fabric version. Apply the same attitude of just playing with materials to get the effect you want. Simple, satisfying, portable knitting.
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Here’s a treat: home-bleached denim swatches, fresh from Belinda’s kitchen. They are silky-soft, thanks to the healing properties of the waters of East London. I am eager to rip and re-knit the yarn, but the question is, into WHAT?
When it comes to splashing Clorox around in the sink, Belinda has no rivals. I would back her against all comers. But for dyeing with real indigo using traditional Japanese methods, take a look at Rowland and Chinami Ricketts. (Yes, I did almost lose my mind looking at this stuff. Thanks to Kansas City reader/pal Tracy for passing it on.) And they’re in Tennessee! Go visit, willya? Take them a casserole!
Happy weekend everybody,
Love, Kay

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51 Comments

51 Comments

  1. What is this “making the bed” of which you speak?

  2. Your quilt is beyond fabulous. It would look cool if you tied it with orange embroidery floss. You could also stitch in the ditch around the outside of the big white square and the inside of the little colored square(s) block. This will make a funky pattern on the back.
    Feel free to disregard this advice as I am sure you have a much more fabulous idea in mind and also because I have made one full size quilt. I took that to my best friend’s mother and had her and their granny quilt it. It was a little like a sweatshop but they were none the wise so it was all good.

  3. Oh, I think the spread is a brilliant idea! That quilt top looks so summery already ~ why weight it down with the batting?
    In my MDK news, I completed a pair of attached miters, saving them for an outer set since I dove in before checking the instructions and forgot that extra starter row on the first square. I’m going to need more yarn, but perhaps not before Labor Day, since I’ve taken the Summer of Stash pledge ~ Have fun in Indy! XXO

  4. KAY!
    I LOVE your first quilt,,,it seems as if you made this in record time tho I have only been following this blog for 2 weeks( since I bought THE book)
    I also love the fact that you are knitting What A Bunch of Squares,,,,it will be very interesting to seen sewn up as it looks as if there are squares outside of sqaures (which there are)
    I looked at this and its seems to me that its sewn or knit in almost the opposite way the Log Cabin quilt is?
    I had to think about that one a bit,,
    anyway,,since I am waiting on 2 rather *large* orders to do my Mason Dixon mitered blanket,,,,I am finishing up fathers day socks for DH and,,,,
    gotta finish them ~ even IF the boxes arrive today,,
    you did a great job with your quilt!
    blessings to all,,,,
    Pamela

  5. Making the bed… I believe I’ve heard this phrase before… what does it mean again?
    I’m so impressed that you have a finished quilt top! I made a quilt top a few years ago that took me forever to finish. Haven’t attached it to anything yet though. This summer quilt idea sounds like it might be the answer!

  6. The quilt top is delicious. You have a great eye for graphics, Kay. And, I love the idea of no batting. Those colors beg to be kept light. I can’t imagine turning it into a stiff, heavy thing.

  7. fricking gorgeous.
    suggestions:
    1. use a thin white flannel sheet to separate the top and backing.
    2. there are REALLY light quilt batts that will do the job and not require serious quilting. quilter’s dream cotton comes in a really thin version, i believe. there’s probably better stuff available since i was fanatically quilting in the mid-’90s. joann fabrics is your friend.
    either will allow you to casual-quilt or tie the thing and get it done and bound. (for me, the best part was always sewing down the binding to the back. i always love that.)
    see you soon!

  8. Yeah yeah yeah – I meant to tell you about the no batting option! Somebody beat me to it. I did that with a very fun “corner chimney” top – that’s what they call the patchwork version of the mitred square – which I wish I could show you but it’s in storage in CA. I was also going to suggests tying with bright colored embroidery floss, as Susan says above. Especially for the white sashing between your blocks (is it white? it looks white in pitchers) – you could get something fun going in there with bright orange or green ties.
    Definitely the best way to make a top into a bed cover right quick. Because you’ve gotta start the next one!

  9. Both quilts are stunning! Bravo Kay! Love them. And I do the same thing in AZ. My mom has made me a bunch of quilts. I haul out my summer quilt in April and throw it on my bed with only a bottom sheet. Come fall, i’ll haul out the heavier winter quilt with more batting.

  10. so pretty.
    Here’s why I’m All For making this a no-batting summer spread (I’m falling in love with my words this morning, don’t mind me, but “no-batting summer spread” sounds a bit… like either a baseball term or a special salad dressing, doesn’t it?): You will already have batting for the next quilt, meaning your second quilt is totally a given. No stopping you now!

  11. Another idea is to use flannel as a middle layer instead of batting. It gives a summer spread a bit more body without the weight.

  12. Your quilt is so inspiring. A friend just brought the book “Quilts of Gee’s Bend” to our last knitting group. I hit the floor with awe, picked myself up and then ran home and ordered the book from the MFA Boston. Must learn to quilt…must learn to quilt…
    Oh, wait. First I have to learn to sew I think :-)

  13. The quilt looks great! Have a great trip – I’m going home to de-florist container my house! ;)

  14. Waaaa!!
    I had no idea you two were visiting Indianapolis, city of my birth, and visiting so soon. I cannot possibly make it Saturday. This makes me gnash my teeth and post whiny comments!!!
    Waaaa!!

  15. Both blankets are looking wonderful – why not hang Belinda’s swatches on a tree a la Rowland Chinami Ricketts?

  16. Yet Another Idea(tm). Wouldn’t that be a great name for your next book?

  17. Woooo! Love the quilt. And look, my little denim bits, all alone (as if!) in the US of A. Ahhh.

  18. We have a patchwork “summer spread” made by my husband’s Texas grandmother (long dead, but her work lives on). It’s one of the most loved items in our house, partly because it’s so practical down here in the South where all you need 9 months of the year is a light coverlet.

  19. Love the quilt… we will definitely talk about it tomorrow when I will finally get to meet you at Susan’s Mass Ave Knit Shop! It is also Knit in Public Day… see you there!

  20. I agree with Amy and Jan about the flannel or light batt in between the layers. It will add a little body and, b/c your top has so much white, it will keep the backing color from showing thru the top (and we all know that stuff showing thru the summer top is not a good thing!). And when you need to send your next quilt out for qulting, there’s a woman named Mary in Newburgh who does fast, fabulous work in the quilt studio attached to her house. I was going to send my son Matt (nephew and co-Afghanistan vet of the famous Jenny on pg 129) to see you in Indy this weekend, but he is in the middle of his 2 wk Nat’l Guard summer training and unless his unit parachutes into the parking lot and sends in scouts to recon the stash and calls it a mission, I don’t think the powers that be would consider letting him visit a yarn shop in the middle of a training exercise. Alas! If it weren’t for the 32hr round trip and the fact that I was in IN over Mother’s Day weekend for Matt’s grad from Wabash College, I might have driven out myself. Keep saying to yourselves- Denver, Colorado Springs, high altitude knitting…… PS- I taught my kids to “make the bed” by pulling the covers up tight under their (individual) chins and then carefully sliding out the side. Only my oldest and youngest daughters have the “Christopher Lowell-esque” gene and they actually style their made beds with pillows and artfully placed stuffed animals. :)

  21. Wait! My son has a summer bedspread! We call it an empty duvet cover, however.
    On a related note, my beloved grandmother made quilts until her arthritis got the better of her, and she never “quilted” a single one of ‘em–she just tied them here and there. Which is exactly what I plan to do if I ever find time to quilt. It’s all about the tops for me.

  22. Hey, I bet I could make a guess at how many florist containers you’d get! LOL
    If you want to know how many paycheck slips or bank statements you can amass if you collect them for 50 years – or how long it takes to shred them all, I can tell you that too!
    My grandmother was the same way as your MIL, and when she died a few years ago, I helped my mother clean out her house, we’d live in the house for months at a time. When it was all over we added the time up – turns out we’d lived there for a total of 6 months. She did have some really amazing stuff there, but not usually out in the open. The most interesting things were tucked away, like in the back of the kitchen cupboard behind all the empty margarine containers and mason jars.
    Good luck on the sorting/trashing/ebaying/keeping (or rather deciding what to keep). I hope it all goes quickly! It is a very odd feeling to go through a loved ones stuff after they’re gone, and sometimes very sentimental or bittersweet.
    BTW – LOVELY quilt!! Makes me want to go dig out the rotary cutter right now!

  23. You know I love it ! A king sized version would look stunning on my bed… ;-]
    Hope you find some interesting treasures in amongst the florists containers.
    x

  24. I agree with those who have suggested a flannel sheet as “batting”. An advantage of a woven piece of fabric over actual batting is that it will hold its shape. Batting needs to be fastened every inches. (By “fastned” I mean quilted or tied…)
    A flannel sheet will be ok with farther-apart ties, and will, I bet, wash better.
    I LOVE all your greens. Very cool and summery.
    Nice job.

  25. goodness, miss kay,….you have an abundance of energy! ah….youth!

  26. 50 years of Easter Lily wrap – that foil stuff that comes on Easter lilies? I think it’s a law. 50 years worth is a pretty hefty stack, maybe 18 inches. My grandmother moved into that house during the depression.

  27. Tying, tying, tying and while were on the subject, tying. xo, c. (which rhymes with t which is the first letter of the word tying)

  28. Hey, speaking of denim, what ever happened to the Barbara Walker Learn-to-Knit in Denim? I’m working on mine, but got bored on the mosaics and skipped ahead a bit.

  29. Hey, speaking of denim, what ever happened to the Barbara Walker Learn-to-Knit in Denim? I’m working on mine, but got bored on the mosaics and skipped ahead a bit.

  30. As was already cleverly suggested above, you could make it into a duvet cover for a little seasonal versatility.
    I’d go with quilting, though, with or without batting. It has a hand that is unrivaled by any other texture. An alternative to tying your quilt could be marking it and sewing little machine-stitched squares (a theme, ya know) where you would have tied it. Less bumpy–I always manage to lean my elbow on an embroidery floss knot when relaxing atop my completed tied quilt. Ouch.
    Say, has anyone ever asked you the $64,000 question: how do you get all of this stuff done? Are you sure you haven’t cloned yourself?

  31. What a lovely log cabin blanket you’re knitting! Im in some kind of mitred mania, knitting one mitred square after another. Can’t get enough of that stuff. :)

  32. Good luck with the de-florist containering. We are in the same process at my grandparents house, only the house has been in the family for 5 generations (yes, 5) and it has taken us up to a year to de-Aunt Jemima bottle it in our case. In a quilt related note, I did find a beautiful 100+ year old quilt at the house. Your quilt could become an heirloom! Think about that…

  33. The quilt top is astonishingly beautiful. The colors are inspiring! I vote for the very thin cotton batting, it sounds perfect for summer.

  34. Love the quilt progress, love the bleached squares, and can’t believe we headed home from TNNA tonight and will miss your book signing tomorrow. AAACCCKKK!

  35. You quilt top is beautiful and the knitted version is coming along nicely too! Can’t wait see what it looks like once it’s finished.

  36. Oh what great fabrics! I just love em’!
    You might just get me quilting again!!!

  37. SENT OUT?!
    Falling on the floor weeping…..
    Ok, I’m back. I’ve never done a no-batting quilt, but I’m betting it would be great. Or flannel, or Quilter’s Dream Cotton. And here’s the Rolls Royce of batting: Wool. I adore wool batting for bed quilts. I never would have thought it if I hadn’t heard it from people I respected, but they were right: cool in the summer, warm in the winter, light as a feather. And easy to quilt through. It’s really wonderful!

  38. Did I just read that someone here is doing a B Walkers Learn to Knit quilt in denim?
    I have ALWAYS want to do one of those~
    If you read this ,,.can you kindly let me know how much of each color you bought?
    I didnt think I would do all the squaures ,,.but I really am going to try and do some mosaic pieces for learning purposes,, and a different look.
    Just LOOK at this picture of denim yarn,,,,,,
    its BLEACHED,,,What an idea!!!
    This gives me more color to work with,,,,,AWESOME!!!!!!
    ( you all probably know about this but I am new to this book and blog )
    Last but not least,,,I really * wish* I could have driven the 4 hours to see you all yesterday ,,but we had a family wedding and I wanted my family to continue to speak to me,, so I had to miss out on the fun~
    blessings to all,,
    Pamela

  39. Dare I suggest to Belinda – custom denim washing? I see that very special, magical indigo dyeing site offers custom indigo dyeing at $100 per pound of fiber – I would say that very specially, softly washed denim would command at least as much . . . like sending your denim to a spa!! I mean, pets get spas now, so why not our beloved denim???

  40. It was nice seeing you guys at TNNA- and thanks for the book!! I already had a copy (of course)but a signed one is so much specialer.

  41. HELP!! I need a “Free” pattern available on the net or fm one of the Mason Dixon knitter’s/bloggers. It needs to be stockinette stitch. I have got some alpaca and need a pattern. Any help would be appreciated. I looked on the net and cannot find one.. Thanks

  42. I can’t decide which I like better, the sewn quilt or the knitted quilt! Back in Singapore during my childhood days, my mother sewed scrap patchwork blankets for us and used flannel as backing with no tying or quilting. There was no shifting (between the patchwork top and the backing), and they are perfect for the warm climate.

  43. Aha! Pamela, you are being drawn to the Dark Side of knitting that many refuse to contemplate, the bleaching (look back in the archives for much more evidence of the Dark Side)! Hurrah! Kay, look, we’ve converted another one! Honestly, it’s such good fun. It really is almost impossible to ruin things – I say almost as I’m sure you can, but even trying really really hard I’ve never ‘ruined’ anything. ‘Altered’, yes, but it’s a mindset, you know. And custom washing, what a great idea Cheryl-in-Philly. Send all your denim to Kay and me and we’ll do the things to it other people don’t dare too!

  44. First off, like has already been mentioned, where *do* you find the time to do all of this sewing/knitting? The progress you make is purely Amazonian.
    Second, I have had my eye on the Barbara Walker Learn to Knit afghan for a couple of months now. Doing one in Denim?!? Brilliant idea!! Someone set up a KAL, please? I am fairly new to knitting, how would you compensate for the shrinkage? Or would you?

  45. I love the flannel sheet idea, not that I’ll ever quilt. It would solve the problem in my house of the husband who is never cold and couldn’t stand my down comforter so we use layers of cotton blankets with a thin quilt on top, he uses one layer and I use 5!
    As for the denim, mmm, bleached baby knit jeans would be lovely, or an all denim blankie.

  46. The summer quilt is the best! My Second blanket as a child was this patchwork with a green backing, wasted out purple edging, and tyed. At three I took it from a pre-school and would not give it up. (Mom payed them for it) I loved it so much, and I could never go to a sleep-over without it. Blanky was used evey night until the end of middle school when it turned into two pieces of green fabric. They have retried into my pillow case. But by that time I had a flanel sheet that is Blanky the Third. Now I’m in college and seaching for the forth. I’m going to make myself a summer spread. Hope you pick a finish you love. -Carlynn

  47. Your comments about florists’ containers made me laugh at work (not to be encouraged…I work in a library, for pete’s sake!). I was hospitalized twice in a period of 4 months (that’s not the funny part), and amassed TONS of those big (heavy) florists’ vases…then moved twice in a period of 2 years…most of those vases hit the trash before we finished packing for the 2nd move. Who needs ‘em?!

  48. I’ve been moving from a 880 sq ft house to a 24′ travel trailer (by way of a goat barn where I have things stored.) Managed to destash the yarn a bit, but there was still the fiber stash and the fabric stash. I’d recommend http://www.metagrrrl.com/discardia/ which is a good motivator for getting rid of junk.

  49. I’ve made dozens of quilts and have only quilted a few of them. I do love the look of q quilted quilt but realize that they never seem to get done if I start.
    I’ve come up with a solution that has worked well for those that have been quilted. I tie the quilt and finish it then when I am sitting on the couch and feeling like it, I quilt as I want to. I made a quilt for my best friend and sent it to Seattle where she has slowly quilted it into shape. I made myself a quilt with origami paper-inspired fabrics and slowly quilted it with gold thread along the patterns of the different fabrics.
    I love a thing cotton batting. It is light enough to use year-round (I just toss my down comforter under the quilt) and makes the piles of quilts I accumulate take up less space. I try to tie every 6 inches or so, or where it seems obvious. In your spread that might be where the squares meet. You don’t have to do the embroidery floss knot thing if you are worried about comfort– the point is to secure the quilt, not make little tufts. I’ve used embroidery motifs such as simple stars or flowers that are reinforced in the center. They can be the beginning of eventual quilting.
    Good luck with your finishing. It reminds me that I have a Gee’s Bend-inspired quilt made from Salvation Army shirts to finish before a friend’s one-year anniversary. And it’s soon…

  50. I am a lurker and I heard a little about your quilt while it was in the making.I have a question….did you sew it by hand or by machine up to this point??? The reason for the question is this…you have a potential heirloom in your hands….and if you patiently quilt it by hand it will be true to the craft and eventually worth more as an antique. If you sewed it on the machine then the value is not the same to begin with so finish it however you want.(many machine quilters will argue this point,but an authentic quilter would agree) I have been a quilter since 1975….and I cringed when I read that you could tie it with orange embroidery floss(appologies to the one who suggested this) would you knit a fine sweater or shawl with clothesline?? or craft jute?? no. You would use the finest yarns and do the best job to be true to the pattern….and if it was an antique pattern…….you would probably hunt all over nyc looking for a yarn that would approximate the origional. To a quilter, who pieces ahd quilts by hand what you have suggested would be pure sacralige! Now I will get down off my soap box and tell you it’s very pretty. It looks to be well made, and if you back it and don’t quilt it… as my grandmother says……it is a coverlet not a quilt!! (don’t hate me…..I take your knitting advice as I am a novice knitter….this just happens to be MY area of expertise!!) You could quilt it in a hoop when you are taking a break from a dificult knitting project, doing little bits at a time, you would be amazed at how quickly it can be done by hand and the results are unparalled,much like the difference between hand knitting and those home knitting machines!And it is very toasty warm under a quilt in the fall and winter!!!

  51. oh my goodness — i don’t even know what to say! i wish i could have your gorgeous WIPs just strewn all over my apartment. some finished quilts/afghans might be good for covering up the mess, though.