Gardening by Day; Quilting by Night

After a long, especially cold and lingering winter, spring is finally fully here in midcoast Maine. Those first days of warm sun, cool (not frigid and biting) breeze, and sprouting green are precious days. I didn’t know it my first year here, but I know it now. The blackflies won’t be long.

Spring Magnolia

The past few days have been supurb: sunny, warm-even borderline hot, and too early for blackflies. Needless to say, I have been spending every daylight moment out in the garden, playing in the yard, or admiring the flowers with my kids. I know that once the blackflies arrive, we we hide indoors or only go out with long pants and a full head & arms bug net. The blackflies will subside, but for a good solid month, they are a wicked scourge. Swarming clouds of annoying and biting bitties. When my husband and I decided to move from New Jersey back to his home state of Maine, no one had told me about the blackflies. Some days I joke that if someone had told me about the blackflies, I never would have moved here… but I know I’m joking. I love it here in rural Maine.

Days spent in the garden makes for a tired momma, but I can’t help but sew once the sun sets and the kids are asleep.  I’m making slow progress on my Star Crazy quilt, and I like it more and more as blocks get added.


Before beginning this quilt, I was thinking of adding grays into the low volume sides, to have some of the light stars be grey instead of just low volume. I think now I’ve decided to keep grays out of it, and just stick with the black and white stars.

Star Crazy progress

Star Crazy progress

These blocks are a combination of my favorite colors, AND of fabrics from some of my favorite designers and fabric lines. Seeing Botanics next to Wee Wander next to Architextures, framed by Perfectly Perched and Zen Chic makes me tremendously happy!


While my sewing progress has been slowed by this gorgeous weather, I feel like I am spending my days the right way. Family, garden, and those first days of spring are SO refreshing and key to a joyous life.

Here are a few more shots of spring from around my homestead, for those of you who find inspiration as I do, from nature.

Happy rows of garlic in our garden.
onion seedlings
Yesterday I planted about 120 onion seedlings that I had started indoors in early March. I inadvertently planted them in more of a chevron pattern than straight rows! Quilting meets gardening.
Hopeful that these little onion seedlings get big and strong and heavy beneath the surface.

IMG_1125 Tulip Splendor

Fiddleheads coming up in the woods behind our house. Nature is so gorgeous!
A large patch of our lawn is covered in these flowers every spring. Picnics galore!

Happy spring!

Since it’s Wednesday, I’m linking up to Work in Progress Wednesday over at Freshly Pieced.

WIP Wednesday

Summer Knitting and a New Toy

IMG_1008Spring is officially here in midcoast Maine, which means summer won’t be far behind. I typically do most of my knitting during the colder months, since the gardens call my name during every waking moment of the warmer seasons.

I’m still working on the Panem Katniss Cowl that I’m knitting as a barter for Night Quilter logo design, but I’ve completed the Julian Vest for my son. Normally, I would probably complete my current works in progress without picking up a new project until fall, but I think this year I may try some summer knitting. I have some skeins of linen blend yarn destashed by my knitting cousin, and I received a gorgeous new knitting toy for my birthday that makes me eager to cast-on a new project.


Holly DeGroot from Bijou Lovely recently designed some adorable heart-shaped, engraved wood knitting and stitching tools, and my mother-in-law bought the knitting gauge for me for my birthday. (Thanks, Johanna!) Anyone who knows me knows that I spot hearts everywhere, and I knew that I just had to have a heart to help me sort out the knitting needles at the bottom of my knitting basket.

IMG_0997Now all I need to do is choose a quick summer project or two. I’m not sure I’d wear knitwear during the hot summer months, but a few projects on Ravelry caught my eye.

leafycloth5_medium2Maybe some Leafy Washcloths by Megan Goodacre? I’m not sure I’d be able to let them out and about in my house, though, since my kids would surely turn them brown with mud in no time. They are super adorable, though!

cozy_coaster-0225-2_medium2Or maybe some Cozy Linen Coasters by Anne B. Weil. I think I’m leaning toward these, since I know we will definitely use them. In fact, perhaps I’ll knit up both the leaves and the cozy coasters and use the leaves as coasters, too.

Linen_Stitch_Bag_medium2I also might try the Little Linen Stitch Bag by Cindy Walker. Thus far, I’ve mostly knit hats, cowls, and baby sweaters, so I’m eager to try something new.

Do you knit during the summer months? What’s your go-to hot weather knit?




Work in Progress: Lupine Paper Piecing Pattern

Now that I’ve got my printer figured out, I’m back to testing my new Lupine Paper Piecing Pattern. It’s a 10″ block with lots of small bits, but no complicated joining points. I’m excited to test this out and finalize the pattern, since I really think it will be a beautiful block, truly representative of lupine. Lupine grows all over Maine, and during early June you can see it sprawling gorgeously alongside highways and roads, as well as in fields and gardens. I’m working on a Downeast Paper Piecing Series, and this lupine is an essential piece!

Gorgeous lupine
Gorgeous lupine

When designing paper piecing patterns, I always battle with the balance of visual accuracy and simplicity. I want the finished pattern to look unmistakably like lupine, but I also want it to be simple enough that people will want to create it. With the lupine design, I knew I definitely wanted to get the heart-like flower petals into the pattern.

Hearts in the heart of a lupine flower.
Hearts in the heart of a lupine flower.

The recognizable radiating leaves also had to make an appearance, albeit simplified.


I’m really happy with how my pattern turned out! I think it looks like lupine, leaves room for lots of color play in the flower, and is fairly simply pieced despite the many small bits. There are a few tricky angles, but using the printer paper foundation paper piecing method, I focus on being generous when cutting my fabric bits and haven’t had trouble yet.


I’m not overly wild about my fabric choices this time around; they seemed like they melded and contrasted well when I looked at the stacks of fabric, but once paper pieced, I’m not sure it’s enough contrast for my liking.


Mental note: when choosing fabrics for Lupine Paper Piecing Pattern, go bold!


I’ve only completed one small section of the Lupine so far, but I will be sure to post my progress as it comes along. I’m hoping to have this pattern posted in my Craftsy Pattern Store within the next couple of weeks, just in time for lupine season here in Maine.

This pattern came about when a search for a paper pieced lupine pattern turned up nothing. There are many paper pieced flower patterns, but I could not find lupine! The only solution was to design it myself.

What’s your favorite flower? Would you take the time to paper piece it into a pillow, table runner, etc.?

Since it’s Wednesday, I’m linking up with
Work in Progress Wednesday at Freshly Pieced.

WIP Wednesday


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Supernova Friendship Block Swap: I’m In!

Last week, Stephanie from The Late Night Quilter announced the Supernova Friendship Block Swap, and I was immediately hooked. (Yes, you read that right–The Late Night Quilter meets The Night Quilter: we lead parallel lives more than half a country apart, unbeknownst to either of us before a few weeks ago when I saw her name in a comment on a blog we both follow and sent her a hello!)

supernova friendship block swap blog-button-200x200-back-font-finalSo back to the Supernova Friendship Block Swap! It took me an entire day of deliberating to decide that I definitely was going to join in on the fun for this unique project. It will be my first ever swap and first ever official quilt along, as well as a great opportunity to better get to know a fellow quilter/blogger. But do I really need another project? With the design and testing of four paper piecing patterns, my newly started Star Crazy quilt, a slow-moving baby quilt, as well as other various sewing projects all in progress, on top of being a full time mom and wife trying to get my garden in before the blackflies hit!, I was really debating if I would be taking on too much by committing to this swap. I decided that this Supernova Friendship Block Swap is spread out enough that the sewing part is definitely doable without time-limit stress, and the added letter writing and friendship-building part is right in line with what I’d like to do more of: connect with other quilters. So yes, I’m doing it!

Click on the picture above to find out all about the swap from Stephanie’s blog. The jist is that you pair up with another blogger-quilter acquaintance or friend and each month, you create two identical blocks–one for you and one that you send to your partner. After five months, you have enough blocks for the entire quilt, plus one extra for the back or a smaller quilt. Here’s a summary, and the part that really hooked me:

Here’s the idea: To learn more about each other and deepen our friendship, each time we send our surprise package with a new block in it to our partner, we’ll also include a letter with few details about ourselves.

In my previous life, before having children and before email, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, etc. made it so easy to converse daily, I was quite a letter writer. I am eager for this chance to get back into the fading art of letter writing.  I’m also excited to get to know another quilter along the way. More on that–I’m partnering with Laura from Adventures of a Quilting Diva. I don’t know Laura well, but she has been designing blocks for a Spool Along, with which I have been sort of trying to keep up (I’m quite far behind!). It will be fun to get to know her more, and to see this project come together–a melding of styles and personalities in one of my favorite modes of expression: quilting.

2014-05-04 12.11.05Off to finalize our color palette plan! Here’s what we are thinking so far: Jewel tones with a light grey background and some black & white prints mixed in. Sounds like just my style, doesn’t it?

2014-05-04 13.29.42It’s not too late for you to join in the fun! Just grab a partner and leave a message on The Late Night Quilter’s blog post here. The deadline to send your first block to your partner is June 15, but other than that there’s a rolling admission for anyone who would like to join. Even if you don’t have a partner in mind, Stephanie can help match you up with someone. Do let me know if you decide to join–I’m looking forward to reading all of the blog posts and tweets about the #supernovaswap and the growing friendships that emerge!

Any tips for my first quilt-along block swap?


Dusting off the Old Canon

Up until this point, all of the photographs on my blog have been taken with my iPhone camera. *hangs head* Yes, even the ones in the post Beauteous, Bountiful, Botanical Blue! There, I admitted it. It’s time, though, for me to dust off my old Canon Rebel XT and start taking REAL camera photos.

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I am a very aesthetically-driven person, and fabulous photos are what first draw me into a blog, and then ensure that I stick around to follow future posts. Even great content, without clear or aesthetically composed photos, is less desirable to me than a blog with lots of eye candy and occasional tidbits of helpful wisdom. When a blog has BOTH fabulous photos and consistently helpful or interesting content, I’m an immediate fan and follower.

I’m trying to use my blog as a way to show the world what I am creating, and without great photographs to let my readers see the depth of beauty I see, that won’t happen. I think I take decent photos with my phone, and to honest, it has been a challenge to re-learn how to use my Canon to take great indoor photos. It’s a work in progress. Outside with perfect natural light it’s a cinch, but inside my fairly dark craft cave-loft, taking clear photographs is a lot more challenging. But I plan to try.

Tripod clamped to the back of a chair. This picture was obviously taken with my phone!
Tripod clamped to the back of a chair. This picture was obviously taken with my phone!

I bought a new camera battery charger and a clamp-on tripod for my Canon, hoping those tools will help. Next up is to figure out how to improve the lighting. Any suggestions, short of finding a different room in which to photograph?

Here are some comparison shots to see the difference between my iphone photos and Canon with tripod photos (without editing and with some editing in Picassa):

My current quilt-in-progress

iPhone photo
iPhone photo

Canon photograph with no editing

Canon photo with no editing

Canon photograph with editing
Canon photo with editing

My cutting table

iPhone photo
iPhone photo
Canon photo without editing
Canon photo with no editing
Canon photo with editing
Canon photo with editing

So what do you think? Which photos are your favorite?

If you are a craft blogger, how do you take the perfect photos?  I need some tips!

My Modern Fabric Designer All-Star Quilt

April is nearing its end, which means I’ve been shop hopping every chance I get. On Saturday, I went on a whirlwind 10 hour trip up the coast of Maine from Freeport to Nobleboro, visiting six shops before calling it a day. I will be introducing you to all of the shops I’ve visited in the next few weeks, but will spread them out a bit.

With all of this shop hopping going on the past few weeks, I’ve been really itching to start a new project. More specifically, a new quilt. I’ve been quite drawn to low volume, black and white, and grey tone fabrics lately, and have developed a fairly decent stash of them, at least for a beginner like me. I have decided it’s time to pull them out and get them into a quilt. During my epic shop hop along the Maine coast on Saturday, I bought the fabric needed to supplement my stash and I got started cutting last night. I’m so excited about this quilt!

IMG_0621 IMG_0634This quilt will contain fabric from many of my all-time favorite designers, and seeing all of these gems together makes me very, very happy. Little glimpses of Carolyn Friedlander’s Botanics & Architextures, Lotta Jansdotter’s Sylvia, Denyse Schmidt’s Chicopee, Anna Maria Horner’s True ColorsSarah Jane’s Wee Wander, Laurie Wisbrun’s Perfectly Perched, Lori Mason’s Koyoto Garden, Brigitte Heitland’s Zen Chic, Violet Craft’s Madrona Road, Beth Studley’s Henna, and more. I need some Alison Glass and Tula Pink in there… who am I missing? In my eyes, it’s the all-stars of the modern fabric design world all in one.

I don’t know about you, but I’m counting down the minutes until my kids go to bed and I can sew!

Do you like to make quilts out of primarily one fabric line (plus coordinates or solids), or do you mix and match?


Maine Quilt Shop Hop 2014: Waterville-Augusta area shops

Last week, in my most epic shop hopping day to date, my kids and I visited four quilt shops! The shops were in a cluster in or near Waterville and Augusta, about a 75 minute drive from us. It amazingly went fairly smoothly, although I learned that a quilt shop is really not the place for a toddler. Here’s the rundown:

Yardgoods Center Waterville, Maine

2014-04-18 09.37.56Reviews for this shop talk about the wide selection of just about everything related to quilting, sewing, and even knitting.  This indeed is a large shop, with lots of everything. It has more of a warehouse/department store feel with lots of rows of fabric, rolls of batting at the ends of rows, patterns and books on top of the rows, and rooms in the back, side, downstairs, and next door.  The fabric seems to be mostly traditional quilting fabric, with a wide selection of novelty themed fabric. Are you looking for horse fabric? or space-themed fabric? Maybe baby’s rocking horse fabric? food fabric? This is the shop for you. I saw four different popcorn fabrics alone.

Yardgoods Center has a wide variety of themed fabric.
Yardgoods Center has a wide variety of themed fabric.

Maddie loved this shop, since she was able to find dinosaur fabric with which she plans to make a birthday blanket for her friend Noah.

Maddie with her prize.
Maddie with her prize.

The large, full store layout made it less than ideal for an “I want to walk!” toddler. Within five minutes, Max had escaped and climbed INTO the window display. I found him five seconds later with a packaged rotary cutter in one hand and a spool of thread in the other. Straight into the carrier he went, to ride squirming and complaining on my back for the rest of the time in the shop. Here’s a look around, albeit blurry:

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Themed fabric galore!
Themed fabric galore!
The lowest level was filled with large rolls of batting and rows of upholstery fabric.
The lowest level was filled with large rolls of batting and rows of upholstery fabric.
Thread, buttons, notions galore.
Thread, buttons, notions galore.
Gorgeous yarn!

Yardgoods Center at a Glance

Location? Located in Waterville in a large shopping center. The shop was fairly easy to find with gps and has a large parking lot.

Sells? Traditional quilting fabric, themed fabric, upholstery fabric, batting and other quilting, upholstery, and other sewing needs, sewing machines, notions, buttons, books and patterns, yarn and knitting supplies, books, and patterns, and more!

Modern or Traditional?  Traditional with a few modern quilting books.

Swag? 5″ charm square of Shop Hop Theme fabric, and coupons for both during the Shop Hop and afterward.

Kid friendly? Not really. This is a very large shop with many rows down which a toddler will bolt. I’m finding that a quilt shop is not the greatest location for a 2 year old 🙂 Older children who also enjoy sewing may like all of the themed fabric.

Cozy Cottage Fabrics-Alterations & Tailoring Augusta, Maine

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2014-04-18 10.53.44Cozy Cottage Fabrics is a cute shop right in downtown Augusta. They specialize in Maine Woods fabric, decor, patterns, etc. but also have a selection of batiks and tone on tone fabrics as well as other traditional quilting fabrics. While we were there, they were promoting the yo-yo quilt patterns by local designer Marcia Layton. This is a small shop with very friendly shopkeepers who were eager to talk all things Maine. They also offer long arm services as well as tailoring and alterations.

Max’s mischief of choice in this shop was to run to the door and stand right in front of the laser bell that set off a loud, high-pitched chime when someone walks in, or in his case, a constant high-pitched chime since he just stood right in front of it.  After wrangling him back into my arms the third time, a smiling fellow shopper turned to me and incredulously but kindly asked, “You find time to quilt?!” I honestly don’t blame her surprise with the way Max makes mischief in quilt shops.

Here’s a look around the shop:

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Promoting the yo-yo quilt patterns by local designer Marcia Layton.
Promoting the yo-yo quilt patterns by local designer Marcia Layton.
Maine woods decor and patterns.
Maine woods decor and patterns.
A detail look at the way the yo-yos are incorporated into larger quilts.
A detail look at the way the yo-yos are incorporated into larger quilts.

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Cozy Cottage Fabrics at a Glance

Location? Located right in downtown Augusta, this shop was quite easy to find. Free street parking is available right out front. We had lunch at a lovely cafe right down the street after our visit here, too.

Sells? Traditional quilting fabric and notions, specializing in Maine Woods fabrics and patterns.  Cozy Cottage Fabrics also sells patterns, books, Maine woods decor, offers long arm services, and tailoring and alterations.

Modern or traditional? Traditional.

Swag? 5″ charm square of Shop Hop Theme fabric.

Kid friendly? They were certainly friendly to kids, and it’s a small store so it was fairly easy to keep track of my toddler and four-year-old. Max was able to be down on the ground, although I had to collect him from in front of the entry bell to save the hearing of all the shopkeepers and shoppers.

Mystic Maine Quilts Chelsea, Maine

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2014-04-18 12.27.04Mystic Maine Quilts is a big, bright, spacious shop with a wide selection of fabrics, Janome sewing machines, notions, finished quilts, books and patterns, and they offer custom quilt making services. They have an extensive selection of tone on tone and blender fabrics, as well as batiks. In talking with the shop owners, they, too, haven’t found a market for modern fabrics. In the back room at Mystic Maine Quilts lives a gorgeous long arm machine. They offer long arm lessons, and then rent out the machine at an hourly rate to facilitate completion of the project. The women with whom I spoke were very kind and helpful in answering all of my questions.

Max was an angel at this shop; he was asleep in the carrier the entire time. Maddie, on the other hand, was ready for a playground so our visit was short. Here’s a quick look around:

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Luscious fabric colors!
Luscious fabric colors!

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Mystic Maine Quilts at a Glance

Location? This shop is located on River Road, in Chelsea. It should be noted that it is NOT located on River Street, which is located on the other side of town. You can trust me on that, since my gps brought me to River Street first. On River Road, Mystic Maine Quilts is a well-marked shop with a large parking lot. As long as you keep your eyes peeled, it’s easy to spot as you’re driving.

Sells? Traditional quilting fabric, Janome sewing machines, notions, finished quilts, books and patterns, and they offer custom quilt making services. Mystic Maine Quilts also offers long arm training and rental.

Modern or traditional? Traditional.

Swag? 5″ charm square of Shop Hop Theme fabric, and a choice of an additional gift from a basket on the table (included measuring tapes, seam rippers, buttons, and seam gauges); I chose a seam gauge!

Kid friendly? This shop is spacious and organized in a way that I think would be suitable for roaming toddlers (of course always under a watchful eye). Since Max was asleep on me during my visit, I didn’t get to test it out.

Whippersnappers Hallowell, Maine

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We got lots of running out before we went into the shop. I should have known with this kid, though, that there would be trouble inside!
We got lots of running out before we went into the shop. Even still, I should have known with this kid that there would be trouble inside!

2014-04-18 13.18.55Even beyond the name, Whippersnappers was my favorite quilt shop of the day. The shop is adorable, with gorgeous exposed brick walls and a good selection of modern and traditional fabrics. Whippersnappers sells fabric, books and patterns, notions, quilting tools, buttons, and offers long arm services. The women in the shop were very friendly, despite the unhappy toddler strapped to my back. In the front of the shop, there is a long arm quilting machine that was quilting away as we shopped around it.

Here’s a look around the shop:

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In addition to the welcoming atmosphere in the shop, the location is superb. I had never been to Hallowell before, but I would definitely go back! It is such an adorable little town.

Whippersnappers at a Glance

Location? Whippersnappers is located right in downtown Hallowell, about 10 minutes from Augusta. The town is adorable, with many shops and cafes. There is street parking available in front of the shop.

Sells?  Both modern and traditional fabrics, books and patterns, notions, quilting tools, buttons, and offers long arm services.

Modern or traditional? Both! This shop has a good mix of both modern and traditional fabrics.

Swag? 5″ charm square of Shop Hop Theme fabric, free fat quarter, and a seam ripper.

Kid friendly? No. This is a small shop without much open space. Especially with the long arm machine running right in the front of the shop, I would not let my toddler free in this shop. Babysitter, next time!

My children especially liked the candy shop across and down the street from Whippersnappers. They spotted the bubbles floating down the street, so we had to investigate. This may be the most clever marketing strategy ever: put a bubble machine right in front of your candy store. Good thing neither of my kids are old enough to read well yet, and they were so distracted by the bubbles they didn’t look in the window.

Best marketing strategy ever: Set up a bubble machine right in front of your candy store.
Best marketing strategy ever: Set up a bubble machine right in front of your candy store.

We played with bubbles for about 20 minutes and then departed FINALLY to a playground. What a full day!

Playing with Color Palettes

I have been having so much fun with the Palette Builder 2.1 on Play Crafts. Having just finished and gifted my biggest work in progress quilt, I’m looking to start a new one (of course!). I’ve not yet created a quilt focused on a particular color palette, but I’m thinking it may be time to try one!

Check out some of the palettes the Play Crafts Palette Builder 2.1 has created from my photographs:

photo 2 (8)-palette

Can you tell I have spring on the mind?  I love the earthy violets that came up on this palette (above). I also couldn’t resist making palettes out of some of the rich, vivid blue photographs from my knitting progress photo shoot.

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The busy bee photo didn’t result in as blue-heavy a palette as I would have guessed, but I still like it. I might add a bit of yellow in to represent the bee.

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I also love that the palette builder will give you the names of the Kona cottons that match your palette! Talk about making it easy on us quilters!

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While visiting New Jersey, I caught up with some old friends. My friend Sara was showing me pictures of her Kitty Cat (I will be honored that she named her cat Kitty, which is also my name), and this picture of hers just screamed to be made into a color palette:

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I was serious when I said I’ve been having a ton of fun! Here are some of the palettes I’ve been making from some of my old photographs:

Splash of summer!


I made quite a few palettes for the coast of Maine. For the first one, the palette builder originally chose colors Kona Mushroom and Charcoal to represent the blues, but since I think the blues of the gorgeous mussel shells should dominate more as blue, I moved the color dots around until they landed on Kona Steel and Nautical. This is a great feature of the palette builder; you can tweak your palette until you love it. I really like the resulting palette.






I love all of the coastal palettes, but I was really itching to see a bit of color. I love the effect the kayak has on this color palette:


Which palette is your favorite?


The Making of an Easter Tradition

maddie tea leaves cardiLast year in the wee hours of the night on Good Friday, I wove in the ends of my first-ever knitted sweater, an almost-frogged Tea Leaves Cardigan for my daughter Maddie. It had taken me a year and a half to knit, with an ah-bugger-I-think-she’s-outgrown-it-before-I-finished-it break mid-way. This year, in those same wee hours, I wove in the last ends of a sweater vest for my son (the pattern is the Julian Vest by Raya Budrevich). I think I’m creating an Easter tradition: barely finish a knitted item for a beloved family member with the intention that they wear it on Easter.

Since I completed my son’s sweater the night before he was meant to wear it, I didn’t have time to block it. Honestly, I have never blocked a knitted item before, so perhaps I could have had time? Either way, I didn’t have time to learn how to block it and then block it, so I had to improvise.

Improvisational sweater blocking: smash with a stack of books overnight.
Improvisational sweater blocking: smash with a stack of books overnight.
As flattened as this sweater looks under this stack, the method did not actually work all that well.
As flattened as this sweater looks under this stack, the method did not actually work all that well.

While spending a night under a stack of books helped a little bit, I don’t think it was nearly as effective as actual blocking would have been; the shoulder straps still rolled.  Rolling and last minute finishing aside, the sweater was the perfect Easter sweater, and Max seemed happy to wear it. Maddie’s sweater from last year still fit, too, which is an added bonus!

Max modeling his newly finished Julian Vest.


I made a few alterations to the pattern, since I knit the Julian Vest in size 4 and my son is currently wearing a 3T.  Once the vest is split for front and back, I knit the back until it was 15 1/2″ from cast on edge (pattern says to knit until 20″ from cast on edge) and I knit the front straps until they were 16″ from cast on edge (pattern again says to knit until 20″).


For how trimly the sweater fits, knitting to 20″ length may make it suitable for a VERY skinny, long-torso-ed 4 year old, but it would have been a dress on Max. I think my sizing changes resulted in a good fit, although next time I probably would leave out one row of the “V” pattern in the front, and lengthen the shoulders a bit more. I would have added a few more stitches to the cast-on, too, since my son still has quite a bit of his pudgy baby belly since he’s not yet two years old.

Despite some less-than-pleased comments on the pattern on Ravelry, I really enjoyed knitting this sweater and think that the pattern was well written and easy to execute. I would definitely recommend measuring your child as you knit to make sure that the chosen size will fit well.

Blurry sweatered kids playing before Easter brunch.
Blurry sweatered kids playing before Easter brunch.

I’m pleased that both of my children enjoy wearing their hand-knits, even if they refuse to cooperate for a photo. I told my husband that next year, I will finish a sweater vest for him on the eve of Easter to continue with my tradition. I probably should start now, huh?


Maine Quilt Shop Hop 2014: Bangor Day

2014-04-17 10.55.42This morning, my friend Emily and I decided to tackle two more local quilt shops with our rambunctious two-year old sons. Little did we know, today was to be one of the most rambunctious days yet! Neither of the boys wanted to have anything to do with the quilt shops, so we did not get to look around and chat nearly as much as we would have liked to. I also apologize in advance for the somewhat blurry photos. Much of the time, I was wearing my son on my back in the Ergo, which does not contribute well to a steady arm. Both shops were gorgeous and filled with beautiful traditional fabrics with lots of blenders and tone on tone fabrics, so I’m sure to return. Perhaps I will bring a camera and try to do some retakes.  For now, here’s my hop summary:

The Cotton Cupboard Quilt Shop  Bangor, Maine


This shop is by far the largest, most thoroughly stocked shop I’ve visited to date. It is HUGE! And has everything!! The Cotton Cupboard Quilt Shop has a large selection of Bernina sewing machines, notions galore, cutting mats of all shapes and sizes–even the rotating mats!, buttons, an extensive variety of books and patterns, kits, and they have a Block of the Month Club and offer classes. And their fabric! Cotton Cupboard has a huge stock of traditional quilting fabric, MANY gorgeous arrays of blenders and tone on tone fabrics, nature-print fabrics (think stones, grass, leaves, etc), a selection of children’s fabric, the entire Downton Abbey fabric line by Andover Fabrics (swoon!), and more. The one thing they don’t have is modern fabric. In talking to Evelyn, she said they’ve tried stocking modern fabric in the past but not enough folks were buying it to make it worth stocking.

Here’s a look around the shop:

Emily and the boys getting ready to browse.


Button station!


Downton Abbey fabric line by Andover Fabrics


This shop even had Art Quilt Boards, which I had never seen before. These would make great quick gifts, or even fabric projects for kids.

The Cotton Cupboard Quilt Shop at a Glance

Location? The Cotton Cupboard Quilt Shop is located right on Broadway in the Judson Heights Center (next to The Growing Place). While it’s not in the center of downtown, it is on a road full of shopping centers and other hot spots. For the ice cream lovers, it’s just a skip, hop, and a jump away from Giffords; that alone makes it worth the trek out Broadway to visit the quilt shop and get some ice cream! There is a parking lot with ample free parking, and the store is easy to find.

Sells? A large selection of traditional quilting fabric, notions, Bernina sewing machines, books and patterns, and offers classes and workshops. They are a Bernina dealer, with classes specifically tailored to learning to use your Bernina machine.

Modern or traditional? Traditional, since apparently the modern quilting world hasn’t made its way up to Bangor yet!

Swag? 5″ charm square of Shop Hop Theme fabric, free fat quarter, coupon, and a fun sized candy treat.

Kid friendly? Not really. This store is so large, it’s hard to keep an eye on your kids, at least when they are toddlers. Evelyn said they try to be kid friendly, and are open to kids in the shop, but she worries mostly about all the sharp objects. I agree; I worried that with the ubiquitous sewing machines and aisles and aisles of fabric that Max would bolt (pun intended! hah) and find his way to something he shouldn’t before I could catch him.

Choppin’ Cotton Bangor, Maine


Choppin’ Cotton is an adorable quilt shop right in a lovely home. Since my son was especially squirmy in this shop, I didn’t get a chance to ask whose home it is. They sell a wide range of traditional quilting cottons, notions and quilting tools, patterns and books–including some modern quilting books!–and they offer workshops as well. I loved the ambiance of the shop, even if it wasn’t especially toddler friendly. I am eager to go back someday sans kids so that I can truly browse.

Here’s a look around the adorable shop:

Walk right in through the front porch and into the main hall. Admire the crystal chandelier.
Walk right in through the front porch and into the main hall. Admire the crystal chandelier.
Some of their books, including some Modern Quilting options!
Some of their books, including some Modern Quilting options!
Colorful blenders... beautiful!
Colorful batiks and blenders… beautiful!
The cutting table is right in front of the mantle and fireplace!
The cutting table is right in front of the mantle and fireplace!
Colorful zippers
Colorful zippers

2014-04-17 11.42.42The shop sported a homey quilting decor with many signs that made me smile, mostly related to never having too much fabric. “Your husband called; he said buy whatever you want.” “To quilt or not to quilt: What a silly question!” and similar signs. While looking around, I often would pause on a sign and have a good chuckle. I also appreciated the reminder behind the check out counter: “I have a difficult time remembering my Grandchildren’s name, so please remind me of yours.” Being in a home with the kitchen behind a curtain just beyond the entry, next to a staircase leading up to living quarters, paired with the homey signs and decor and friendly conversation made this shop especially relaxed and welcoming. I’m looking forward to going back the next time I have a free moment in Bangor.

Choppin’ Cotton at a Glance

Location? Located on High Street, right off of Hammond Street, Choppin’ Cotton is walkable from downtown Bangor as long as you aren’t afraid of a good hill. Since it’s in an actual home, it’s on a residential street with street parking. I did not notice whether there is additional parking, but there were plenty of free street parking spots.

Sells? Traditional quilting fabric, notions, books and patterns. According to their website, they specialize in Alto’s QuiltCut2 quilting tool systems.

Modern or traditional? Traditional, but with Modern Quilting books available.

Swag? 5″ charm square of Shop Hop Theme fabric, a Tooltron Fine Sewing Brush, and a fun size candy snack.

Kid friendly? No. Because the shop is in a house, there is less open space, and multiple rooms into and out of which kids can run and dart to find trouble. Eloise was very friendly and understanding about our fussing kids, but I still felt that tell-tale rush of blood that triggers the fight-or-flight reaction when Max was especially fussy.


In writing these, especially on an wildly rambunctious day like today, I realize that bringing a toddler into a quilt shop is rarely a great idea. Sometimes, though, it is the only option.  Having a “safe” corner with a pouf and a box of books and toys really makes or breaks a successful fabric shopping trip on those days.  So who’s going to be the genius who opens a quilt shop with an attached playroom or ball pit?! That would be heaven!

You can follow my quilt shop hopping real-time by following @nightquilter on Twitter #maineshophop2014


I grab a needle and thread once the kids are in bed