Learn how to crawl: the New York City Yarn CrawlΒ is on through Sunday, September 25.

Throw Momma Off the Sofa

Dear Ann,
When I started my version of Denyse Schmidt’s What a Bunch of Squares quilt back in the summer of 2006, I had the modest goal of finishing it by the summer of 2007, so I could put in on the air bed in the new guest room and people who slept there would be going, “DUDE! Did you see that there is a handmade quilt with MATCHING KNITTED TWIN QUILT on the airbed in the guest room?” (I know, that was a lame fantasy, even for me. Trying to be honest here. Sorry.)
As one who has slept on the airbed in 2007, you already know that I did not meet the goal. Overnight guests for 2007 were downgraded to catalog quilts. It was not my fault. Once I had pieced the immense thing, I really had not a clue how to finish it. I needed to learn so much, from making the quilt sandwich, to smoothing it out with 20,000 smoothing movements on hands and knees, to deciding whether to pin-baste or regular-baste, to figuring out how to quilt something so enormous by hand or machine or perhaps with the assistance of fairies. FInally, I learned something really useful: you can send it out, like a jumbo bale of dry cleaning, and if you send it out to the right person, it comes back beautifully machine-quilted (in an overall “square snail” motif), trimmed and ready to sew on the binding.
Once Thanksgiving was over, I basically spent 3 days on the sofa, sewing the binding to the back of the quilt by hand, in hundreds of teeny blind stitches. It seemed like a good idea at the time.
Quilter’s Tip: Personal grooming wastes time. You could be stitching!
Quilter’s Tip: No need to change your t-shirt, as this newby quilter did on Day 3; you are not leaving the house until it’s done.
Once I had machine stitched the binding on (day 1), it really only took me about 12 hours, spread over 2 days, to sew it down. It was satisfying work, to do something so neatly and methodically. So 18th century.
On Sunday, I was racing against the setting sun, so that I could run outside in my “lounge pants” (read: PAJAMAS) and take pictures.
Ma Ingalls would be proud of me. It is a binding for the ages.
Finally the quilted and knitted versions are united.
(Details: The knitted blanket is blogged about encyclopedically here. The quilt is a template-free adaptation of Denyse Schmidt’s What a Bunch of Squares design in this book. The main fabrics are prints that Heather Ross designed for Munki Munki, in particular Pool Party, Farmer’s Market, one depicting kids and fish swimming in the ocean, and a later Heather Ross print for Free Spirit depicting fireflies. I loved Pool Party so much that I bought 5 yards of it before I even owned a sewing machine. When I ran out of plain white fabric, I cut up a sheet. Good times!)
Square Mail
Over the holiday weekend, the squares poured in. The building’s mailroom has upgraded me to “gets her own bin” status. I’m still cataloguing them–pictures soon! Thanks to everyone who has knitted and mailed them. I will start laying them out for real this coming weekend. My sofa-sitting skills are strong for the sew-up. Plant me on upholstery, and I shall not be moved.




  1. That quilt is so perfect and beautiful I am really speechless.
    I love it.

  2. Bravo. Excellent job! Hee haw re: the tee-shirt, the pajamas. So true.

  3. This quilt is really fabulous, you have the right to be proud! Was it machine quilted? If so, do you know the name of the pattern used? I have a quilt that square pattern would be perfect on but my local quilt shop doesn’t recognize your pattern.

  4. This quilt is really fabulous, you have the right to be proud! Was it machine quilted? If so, do you know the name of the pattern used? I have a quilt that square pattern would be perfect on but my local quilt shop doesn’t recognize your pattern.

  5. This quilt is really fabulous, you have the right to be proud! Was it machine quilted? If so, do you know the name of the pattern used? I have a quilt that square pattern would be perfect on but my local quilt shop doesn’t recognize your pattern.

  6. Kay, do you think you’ll have “enough” squares (whatever that means) by November 30? Or should we all cast on and knit just one more? My small odd batch goes out tomorrow. At least it shows that the socks I’ve made range widely around the color families!

  7. Kay, you did a fantastic job! I’ve made quilts for 17 years, they are a lot of work. You got great results to have just started, so be very proud! My first one was a real bomb, first problem, I used pillow stuffing instead of batting, it was down hill from there! We never could use it! Great job! What’s next? Wendy

  8. magical! mind blowing! heart warming! ….how do you possibly squeeze quilting into the holiday weekend????? i’m still washing heaps of dishes!

  9. “…poured in.” I love that. Can’t wait. I sent six… raining (in a good way) on your parade.
    The quilt and blanket are beautiful… stunning.

  10. The quilt is GORGEOUS! I love it!
    I plan to mail my square this week…what is the address?

  11. Wow, I’m totally impressed, since I barely sew buttons!!!! Happy Thanksgiving to all.

  12. The quilt is so beautiful. I love the stripe I see on the right-hand side of it. Very creative. My square should be arriving in your bin any time now. Trust you’re keeping track of where they’re all coming from – how far afield the squares have travelled. Happy sewing.

  13. Hello Kay!
    It’s just lovely!
    Say…er…would the nice people who do the quilting part for you also do the binding, if you wanted? Is that even possible?

  14. It almost [!] makes me want to quilt. Really, I would. If I had the space, time and energy and if I thought, for just one second, that I could make a quilt as beautiful as yours.

  15. Oh, that is a winner in the quilting world, fer shur! It’s just beautimous. Also, I too love that Pool Party fabric. If it’s the one I’m thinking of, in that quilt you gave me? I have frequently been known to pet that square.

  16. Love that line you threw in. Brilliant free-style program+masterful compulsories+sticks the landing=perfect 10.

  17. By far, my favorite quilt pattern ever! Thanks for the pictures & knit pattern (every time I see cream cotton, I think of your squares).

  18. kay the quilt is stunning. i want to leaen, but now is not the time. knitting lying down is hard enough.
    thank you so much for the suggestion to make a log cabin blanket. its the perfect mindless knitting, especially since i took up residence in the hospital.
    all is good, i am still pregnant, and moving steadily past 30 weeks.

  19. That is absolutely BEE-youtiful! I love it. Love It.

  20. I think that’s a wonderful fantasy! And now it is reality!!!! It looks beautiful.

  21. What a beautiful quilt! And I love how its knitted quilt kin looks beside it (why did the song “We Go Together” from Grease just pop into my head? The oddest things happen sometimes.) πŸ™‚
    Oh, and by the way, a small package left the Pacific Northwest today en route to NY. It’s truly amazing to me what a little blocking can do… I can now actually call these creations squares!

  22. Yay! You did a terrific job! I love the colors against the white background. Those long-arm quilters do us a service, as we just don’t have the equipment (or several farms’ worth of hand-stitching friends and a quilt frame, either) to do the quilting at home. If you have found a machine quilter whose creativity matches your own, stick with her, no matter how long her waiting list and if not, ask to see examples of someone’s work before you go with them.

  23. I am uncharacteristically speechless.
    WOW is all I can utter.

  24. A quilt and its matching KNITTED twin!! Oh.My.God. These are deliciously, wonderful and splediferously beautiful pieces of creative art (not to mention one of the coolest ideas ever!).
    Thank you, thank you.
    And may I say a word to Amy (a few comments above): Many blessings to you and yours.

  25. I unnerstand that the quilted and the knitted are disparate species, but if cunningly left to their own devices, might they not breed???
    Just hoping….

  26. Kay, that is one gorgeous quilt and blankie set.

  27. Yes, I feel qualified (as an 18th century reenactor) to say that Ma Ingalls WOULD be proud of your quilt! Also…my funny little squares are leaving here tomorrow; you should have them before the 30th for sure!

  28. I am intrigued by quilting, but have been stymied by the idea of the sandwich thing. What a revelation to discover that someone else will do that part!
    Your quilt is so beautiful!

  29. It is absolutely beautiful and very inspiring!

  30. What a lucky airbed! Beautiful work – love the colours.

  31. That is SOME QUILT! Fabulous!!

  32. Stunning stunning stunning!

  33. Stunning stunning stunning!

  34. Kay, that is a work of rare beauty. I am sure that guest dialog will be much more hushed, amazed, and breathless than you have imagined here πŸ™‚

  35. *Gasp* It’s gorgeous, I would love to be able to make something like this. I’m getting a sewing machine for Christmas, would it be too ambitious to make a quilt my first project??

  36. Gorgeous quilt! Totally worth the extended production process. What are a few extra months in a quilt’s lifetime, after all?

  37. OH – KAY!!! That’s sooooo nice! What a great job you did…
    And I know Oliver’s blanket will be just a gorgeous (or will it be two blankets?). My package should be there, surely by today as it was mailed Tuesday…

  38. Kay, I love it! I too am a fan of Denyse Schmidt and bought her book earlier this year based on what you had said about it. I’ve also been torn between hand quilting myself and “sending it off” Yikes!

  39. Love that quilt, I am reinspired to start on mine which has been sitting on the sidelines for all of 07!

  40. I love sewing on a binding. To me it was always the most satisying part of the whole quilt.

  41. I love your quilt! The stripe along one side is a nice accent, and it looks like the back is as lovely as the front, from what I can see. πŸ™‚

  42. I love your quilt! The stripe along one side is a nice accent, and it looks like the back is as lovely as the front, from what I can see. πŸ™‚

  43. PS: sorry about the double-posting of my comment. My browser seems to be acting up.

  44. Oooh! I like the quilt a lot. I wonder if I can send out my quilt (that my mom made and is horribly well loved) to be rebound, because the edges have gotten special.

  45. It’s so good. I can’t imagine doing the first one as a giant all-hand-quilting, either. Not that you wouldn’t have done a fantastic job, but, you know… I was glad to start my first “real hand quilting” on a doll-sized quilt. And the binding! Oy! I thought after the hand-quilting, I was about done, but the binding! It is an ass-kicker. By which I mean, it kicks your ass to the couch, right?
    Did I say how good it is? It is so good. And the new crafting serenity prayer can be “Grant us the boldness to undertake new projects, the sanity to seek help when we need it, and the wisdom to know that the do-everything-perfectly-the-first-timers are a Martha Stewart Myth.”
    It is so good!

  46. They are both so amazing. Your talents are endless! Not only do you make beautiful things, you make it enjoyable to read about the making of them ~ and other thangs.


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