My first improvised quilt design

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I am so happy that little Andie looks quite content with her new quilt. I’m sure this little nugget will have PLENTY of quilts and other crafty items to surround her, what with Alice and Susan and me on the scene.

But, I have to say, I’m particularly proud of this one, since I pretty much came up with the idea and design on my own. I have seen some other quilts that have the baby’s name appliqued across them, so I wanted to try that. I found the solid gray and yellow at a little quilt shop in Sulphur Springs, and I’ve been chomping at the bit to do some large spaces of solid fabric. I thought the yellow and gray would be a great color scheme, since little Andie has received so much pink it’s like she owns stock in Pepto Bismol! Let’s try something non-traditional, right?

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Thankfully, when Betsy was visiting over Labor Day weekend, I was able to enlist her bubble-letter making skills to help with the design. We worked on a little math, to figure out how big we wanted the finished product, and what that meant size-wise for each large solid piece. While I worked on cutting out the yellow and gray, Bets drew the letters on paper patterns and then cut out the flowered fabric.

We were able to complete the top in one day. If we had it to do over again, there’s definitely a few things I would do differently. We did not put the flowered fabric on fusible before she cut them out. That would have helped, but we kind of just gripped it and ripped it as far as tackling this project. She did an awesome job with the letters, but I can see how it would have been easier for her if the fabric had some oomph to it before cutting them out.

I continue to struggle with cutting out large pieces of fabric that are bigger than my cutting mat and rulers. I’m trying the tricks that mom has showed me, but it’s hard. I guess I need more practice at that. When I first started sewing I was pretty nervous about trying new things, but I’m getting to the point where I’m taking more of a “let’s just do it and see what happens” philosophy.

A trip to KC for work allowed me some time on mom’s longarm machine to quilt this top and my hashtag quilt (which I will post about later).

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I used one of the template boards to quilt the large spaces with the spiral square-diamond shapes, then just a bit of free motion quilting in the gray space around her name. We did most of the quilting on this at about 1:30 in the morning!

I hope you like it!

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Tried Another New Restaurant – The Hive at 21C

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You may remember from an earlier post that Adam made a goal to try two new restaurants each month this year. We tend to find a place we like and then go there a million times. Yeah, creatures of habit, I guess.

Last night we decided to try the Hive at the new 21C Museum Hotel on the Bentonville Town Square. This wasn’t my first time at the 21C – I’ve been to the lobby galleries a couple times with friends, and had drinks at their bar a couple weeks ago.

I was quite impressed with the place after meeting a friend for drinks – it was a Saturday night, and the place was packed with a variety of trendy-seeming 20-30somethings. I tried the Arkansawyer cocktail, a gin, lavender and lemon concoction that was good enough to make me say “I’ll have another.”

We went for an early dinner last night because we wanted to make a 7 p.m. movie. (Betsy and Mitzi will tell you that we eat at 5 p.m., movie or not…) When we got there, there was one other table of two, and the hostess sat us RIGHT NEXT TO THAT TABLE. I mean, it was so close to them it was like we asked for a table for four, and it was just awkward enough that those two ladies and Adam and I struck up a bit of a conversation over our dinners. I mean, we had to. We were four people, seated way too close, in a giant, open, quiet room. I know this is not a one-time occurrence because our friends who ate there last week said the same thing.

I got the same Arkansawyer (creature of habit, remember?), and we ordered the pimento cheese starter, which was damn good and totally reminded me of my Grandma Sax because her house was the only place I ever ate that stuff. We also were served some warm rolls with sorghum butter (delicious). If I were to do it over again, we’d skip the appetizer since they brought the rolls.

Adam ordered the steak, with garlicky kale and potatoes and artichokes. He would give the food five stars. His steak was pretty damn red, just like he likes it, and he said it was melt-in-your-mouth good.

I got the poached chicken, with rice grits and peas and carrots. The rice grits were really good, and something I’ve never had before. The chicken was just OK – nothing special, I thought.

The service was great – our server was really nice and seemed knowledgeable, and there were lots of runners and water-fillers so we didn’t have to wait long for anything. The restaurant really did start to fill up as we were eating, so it’s good to see that people are checking out the new place.

For the appetizer, my drink and two meals, it was $70 (before tip) The food was good, but certainly not THAT good. I suppose you’re paying for the experience, which wasn’t all that spectacular, and hotel food is always a little pricey.

Sidenote: The two ladies we were seated super close to were on my left. To my right, a party of four (two adult men, a woman and a THREE YEAR OLD) were seated just after us. I had to stop myself from busting out laughing when I overheard the server say “Well, we don’t really HAVE a kids’s menu…” Yeah, not a kid place. Maybe that’s why said three-year-old expressed her displeasure by scribbling with a crayon on the white chairback, to which her parents promptly rewarded her by letting her watch a Diego movie at the table.

Awesome.

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New Group, New Inspiring Challenges

I’ve now attended two meetings of the fledgling Modern Quilt Guild of NWA – and I’m already trying new techniques that I may not have chosen for myself.

The challenge from our first meeting was an “ugly fabric” block challenge. We all started with the same 10-inch piece of ugly fabric – when I say “ugly” I mean, yes, it was. It was a black-grey fabric, with weird words and phrases on it. Mine said things like “evolution” and “river of continuous birth.” Not sure what that even means! We just had to make a block that would finish to 12 inches, and use at least half of the given fabric. Other than that, the only other instruction was to try a block or technique we had not used before.

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So, this was my finished product. I started with a log cabin block for inspiration, and then just improvised piecing the rest of it. I chose to use solid white and solid orange fabrics, pulling in the modern movement’s love of solids.

We all got to share our blocks at the second meeting, and it was interesting to see how different our blocks turned out even though we all started from the same basic place.

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I love how some colors and elements repeated in various blocks.

My next challenge is to do something with hexagons and English paper piecing. I’ve never attempted this before, as I’m not a huge fan of hand sewing. I’ll at least give it a shot and see what I can come up with.

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I happened to have this little pack of Puttin’ on the Ritz by Moda fabric, and it’s just about the right size for these hexies. What do you guys think?

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Friday Night Snapshot

Finally Adam has a Friday night gig at Acoustic Mud and the weather is NOT horrendous. Must be a good omen. Might also be the reason the house is packed tonight compared to other nights.

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I’ve got myself a tall two-top, a Butter Rum flavored latte, a knitting project and my iPad. What else can a girl ask for when hanging out at the coffee shop?

There’s a couple playing Phase 10 at one of the tables. Makes me miss our Phase-10-for-money shenanigans with the twin and Mr. K. I wonder, can you play Phase 10 with just two people? Doesn’t seem it would be as fun. Must not be; they just left!

Anyone who’s been to Bella Vista or knows anything about it knows that it’s kind of a gray-haired place (though it is getting younger these days), so I’m pleasantly surprised to see a table of high school students hanging out here, yukking it up. I’m sure the shop would be more pleasantly surprised if they actually bought something, but at least they are livening up the joint.

I don’t know about you, but I’m happy I’m staring the weekend in the face. I’m ready for a lazy Sunday, and tomorrow I’ll be hitting up a fabric sale at a quilt shop in town, as well as running a few other errands. I’m in dire need of a car wash, and I think the weather might cooperate and be warm enough for that. It’s also been too long since I’ve sat at the sewing machine, so I’m hoping that the trip to the quilt shop will spark some inspiration for a project or two tomorrow. I don’t think I’ve sewed at all since Betsy was here over winter break. Yeah, like I said, too long.

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My two boys (and a tale of two knitting projects)

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I’ve been working on a sweater for Adam since just after Christmas. I was able to pick up some nice yarn for 50 percent off, so I got $90 worth of yarn for less than $50, and I got all rarin’ to go on the top-down, raglan sleeve pullover. I was so rarin’ to go that I highlighted the wrong numbers on the pattern repeats, and I knit like eight extra increase rows. DAMMIT.

I started to rip it back, and I’m thinking it might just have to be completely restarted.

As you can imagine, this is quite frustrating. To alleviate that frustration, Adam said “Why don’t you knit me a hat to wear to my gig Saturday night to take your mind off the sweater problems?”

Um, OK. He and I both knew the hat would only take a few hours, so it sounded like a good plan.

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Luckily, I had some random Lamb’s Pride Bulky in the yarn closet, and the colors weren’t too girly for a guy’s hat. I cast on, we watched “Hugo” and I got most of the hat done Friday night. Woke up early Saturday, watched “Gosford Park” and knocked out the hat.

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I have to hand it to him – I’m sure that a hat made from 85 percent wool/15 percent merino is HOT, and he wore it all night while hosting open mic night. Looks pretty good, eh?

I don’t think he’ll be wearing the finished sweater while playing a gig, but hopefully he’ll be wearing it sometime this winter/spring. I might need some encouragement, readers…

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Friday Night Restaurant Adventure #1 – Theo’s

One of Adam’s goals for 2013 is to try two new restaurants each month. When we first moved to Arkansas, we said we would not repeat restaurants until we found a bunch of new places.

Well, we found a couple places we really like, and of course, settled into a routine of going to the same places. We don’t eat out that much, maybe once or twice a week. There isn’t much in the way of dining establishments within 15 minutes of our house up in the hills. We’ve got a Mexican place pretty close, which we are lucky is really good, and other than that, we have to drive down into Bentonville or Rogers to eat out. I’m not complaining – I think we are saving money because we eat at home so much more often.

Though both of us wanted sushi Friday night (it’s one of the places where we are becoming regulars), we decided to try out Theo’s in the Pinnacle Hills area. They have a happy hour from 5-7 p.m., which fits right in with our blue-plate special early dinner eating habits that Mitzi and Betsy like to tease us about.

The was a decent selection of small plates for $5 each. We chose the mini burgers, hummus and pita, and bacon bleu cheese dip with homemade kettle chips. Those three plates were more than enough for the two of us, and we brought home hummus and pita leftovers. I also tried a Moscow Mule mixed drink for $5. Ginger beer, lime and vodka over ice that was very Sonic-esque.

We just happened to see Theo’s as we were driving through what we assumed was mostly a professional office area with a few shops thrown in (it’s kind of similar to Mission Farms, but with fewer restaurants). The place definitely had a cool vibe, and there were many parties of girls night out happy hours going on. It felt a little more trendy than most of what we’ve seen so far down here.

I would say the only knock on the place is that it took quite a while to get greeted, served waters and given menus. It wasn’t until the manager noticed us sitting there with no water and no menus that our server finally came over and said “I got it.” I imagine we’ll go there again, especially when friends come down for a visit.

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Long time no blog

Wow – so this blog hasn’t been updated since April 30, 2012 – that’s a long time. It’s also about the time that major changes were afoot in the Chittum household. That would have been a good time to be writing and using the blog, eh? Job changes and moving out of state certainly would have added interest to the usual run-of-the mill yarn and fabric updates.

Here it is, the start of another year. We made it past the fated Dec. 21, 2012, and we’re all still here. So, in an effort to keep myself writing a little more often, and keep better track of knitting and sewing projects, I now resurrect “Unraveling the Stash.” Continue reading

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Looks good enough to eat? – Lasagna Quilt

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I’m still here – it’s been a crazy couple of weeks around the Chittum household. Job changes (longer, explanatory blog post to come on that one), yearbook final deadlines, newspaper deadlines, convention travels, you name it.

In the midst of that, some shady business with my sewing machine started. I think it needs to be re-threaded. So, I’ve sewn at mom’s a couple of times lately (finishing the sudoku quilt and my nine-patch).

But, before my machine pooped out, I finished this little baby quilt, based on the Lasagna quilt pattern. If you are looking for a quick and easy-to-finish project, this one’s for you! This was super fast, and really fun. I used scraps from my stash, cut into four-inch wide strips of varying lengths. I’m really happy with how it turned out, and I’ll probably be making another one soon.

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Yet another use for math in quilting

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My project for this weekend is this Sudoku quilt kit by Moda Fabrics. Mom picked up a couple of the kits, and she thought it would be a good, fairly quick and easy project for me. She was right. I picked up the materials from her on Saturday morning, and I finished it Sunday night! I was quite industrious this weekend, and that’s even with some hanging out and shopping thrown in, so I wasn’t sewing from sun up to sun down.

Mom did help me as I got close to the end. On Sunday, I had to re-load my bobbin, and re-thread my machine. I think I must have re-threaded incorrectly (confession time), because it kept shooting craps on me. So, I packed up everything and took it over to the ‘rents house, so I could use one of her machines. I just wanted to get it done, and I was getting frustrated having to take every other piece out and pull out tangled thread. That takes a lot of damn time.

She and I make a good team. She helped me with some cutting and pinning, and I kept sewing. It’s amazing how much faster it goes when you have a sidekick!

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That picture shows my numbered stacks, ready to be put in the Sudoku grid. The pattern comes with a Sudoku puzzle, which you must complete before you sew. Then, you match up your squares
to their numbers in the puzzle.

I’m not a fan of Sudoku (I like word puzzles, not math), so I had my dad do the puzzle. It must have been an easy one, because it literally took him about three minutes to complete.

I’ve ordered just a little bit more fabric so I can do an outer border on the quilt to make it just a little bigger. It’s about 43 inches square right now. We’ll use it for a throw on the couch, and I think it should be a little bigger. The fabric kit is Central Park by Kate Spain, with really fun prints. I should have the border fabric soon, so maybe I’ll finish it next week when I get back from convention.

Speaking of convention, the sewing will most definitely be on hold this week, as I can’t take the machine on a plane…So, I’ll be working on the socks for Hubs. Excellent plane knitting project.

Thanks to KC Blogger Meetup for linking up to me today – Welcome, new friends!

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It’s done – the scrappy baby quilt to donate!

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As promised, here are the absolutely, positively finished baby quilt pics. Quilting Yoda (aka Mom) worked hard to get this little thing finished so I can take it to my first official guild meeting tonight. I really like the yellow fabric she picked for the binding, and I LOVE the polka dot fabric for backing – great for a little one.

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I picked it up from her last night, brought it home and threw it in the washer and dryer. It’s amazing the difference that makes. It really added dimension and definition to the texture of the quilt.

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Can’t wait to share it during show and tell tonight. So, that’s my second finished quilt. One was given to a co-worker for their new baby last year, and now this one!

ETA: I think this quilt fits under the “Scrap Attack” category, a quilt-along happening on Stitched in Color, even though I didn’t see it until today. So, I was quilting along without knowing it, I think!

I can’t figure out how to put the button on this post…

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