22 September 2015

Not Quite Twins

The twins announced new sons. Esca was born before my goal of finishing a quilt for each of the grandchildren of my siblings by Christmas. Joel will be born in just a few days.

First I finished a quilt top I thought might be good for a boy or a girl; we didn't know yet Joel isn't going to be a girl.

When we learned Joel's name and expected birth date, suddenly the quilt top looked a little too feminine to me. So I made another one in similar style, this one in shades of blue.

My plan was to machine quilt dinosaur motifs into the big 10-inch blocks and dinosaur footprints into the sashing. That would match the scheme of Joel's room when he arrives.

When it came time to quilt Joel's Baby Blues, I chickened out of drawing with my sewing machine again. Just no confidence in my free-motion quilting yet. The blanket is colors of the sea, so I thought I could machine quilt Storm at Sea motifs into the blocks. Then, just to be different and because wonky seems to be such an in thing right now, I decided to make the lines random and, well, wonky.

Joel's Baby Blues

I like the way it turned out, and I hope Joel will, too, when he gets older, but if I ever try to do Storm at Sea quilting again, I'm going to draw perfectly straight lines to see if I like that better. I may do that on the pastel quilt top I made first. As soon as my sewing machine is repaired, if it can be repaired, or as soon as I can save up for another one if mine can't be fixed... But that's another blog post for another day.

Finishing Joel's quilt made me realize I couldn't present it without a "twin" quilt for the earlier-born Esca. It wouldn't be very fair or nice if one twin mom got a quilt from me and the other didn't, even if the second quilt arrived for Christmas. I decided I needed to finish another quilt... super fast... before I could send off Joel's quilt.

Tiny Twins Many Moons Ago

I looked through my list of WIP quilts to see if anything might be appropriate for a tiny little boy who is growing fast. WIP number 3, Square Robin, seemed fun for a little tyke. And it would be easy to finish fast if I put my mind to it.

Square Robin began as an online international robin swap, with two groups divided into square robins and round robins. I signed up for my very first swap and bought my first hand-dyed fat quarter packet (and an addiction was born) to participate. I and four others in our to-be-assigned group would each make one row, then send our row and fabrics off to the next participant. Each of the group members, hailing from four countries and all over the United States, would make a row for five different quilts. At the end, each of us in the row robin would have a five-row quilt with five different personalities at the end of five or six months. I opted for the international group because I thought the cost of mailing would be worth having a quilt with techniques from other countries as well as my own.

I bought my very first cutting board, my very first quilt ruler and my very first rotary cutter. I waited on pins and needles for the groups to be announced.

When the groups were posted, I searched the entire list, more than once, including the round robins. My name was nowhere to be found. I was beyond heartbroken.

I wrote the moderator and asked if there had been a mistake or if one group had not yet been posted.

The moderator apologized over and over and over again. She had inadvertently left my name off the list. She promised I could participate in the next one, which would be in six or seven months.

I decided not to wait, but to start my own round robin, or, well, my Square Robin. The plan was to add a new round every six months or every year, and each round would reflect my growth as a quilter. I made a 23-inch by 23-inch rail fence square using every color in my fat quarter packet, and then I put the quilt center away.

Six months later, I was dating the man of my dreams, The Lizard, and there was no time for or thoughts of quilting, other than a quilt for him for his birthday, which finally was finished about four years later. Seven months after we began dating, I was forced to undergo emergency back surgery to remove a dime-sized bone chip that had become embedded in my sciatic nerve. I didn't sew much for a very long time. Sewing hurt too much. Sitting hurt too much.

During the summer of 2013, I joined a quarterly quilting WIP challenge on Ravelry because I had too many unfinished quilts on our quilt rack. I finished half another round on my square that year and then didn't touch it again until now.

If I had worked on this quilt the year after I started it, the next round would have been mariner's compass-themed because that's where I invested my limited quilting time that year. I still have yet to perfect the skill, so I don't mind so much that a mariner's compass or portions thereof don't appear in this quilt.

If I had worked on this quilt the following year, the next round would have been applique. I could do that without sitting upright, and I could even do it with my legs propped up.

If I had worked on this quilt the year after that, the next round would have been log cabin. I love the look and the versatility of log cabin inspiration, and the technique is rampant in my WIPs. Right now, I think I'll never get tired of log cabin variations.

When I imagine what the quilt might have looked like had I finished it four years after I started it, I'm really glad I was delayed. I'm not so sure I would like how it might have turned out...

When I began working on Square Robin again in 2013, I seriously considered doing applique for the next round because the center is so busy. I decided to do uneven borders with a multi-color hand-dye so the quilt will be rectangle instead of square.

My fascination in 2013 was French braid, and the greens in my stash jumped out at me when I decided braids would be the perfect next round for the quilt. My quilting taste has changed dramatically since I began this quilt. My current fetish is off-center and unbalanced. When I was trying to decide what to do next, every idea I thought of incorporated some asymmetrical aspect. I planned to do one more strip of French braid for one side of the quilt, then another solid border all the way around.

I still didn't have a plan when I pulled this WIP out for Esca, but I would need to finish the French braid before I could do anything else. So that's what I did the first night.

Back when I first started this quilt, I was so in love with the hand-dyes, I didn't want to wait to work with them again after I made the quilt center. I cut a two-inch strip from each fabric, and I put together two different rainbows, just because. One strip I cut a bunch of two-inch strips from and made a cute little table runner that went to a very dear friend with rheumatoid arthritis undergoing her first knee replacement.

The remainder of that rainbow strip and the second one have been untouched all these years. I loved them too much to cut into them. Although I try to keep them out of direct sunlight, I love how beautiful they look when the sun comes through them.

It was time to pull them out and use at least part of them. I searched my hand-dyes to see if I had enough of the purple and blue combo I'd inserted prior to the French braid, and no such luck. But there was another purple that was close enough to almost match. I decided to use it.

I cut strips of the rainbow strips and inserted filler from my stash as needed to form two more asymmetrical borders, and voila! The quilt top was big enough for a baby!

I'd cut up an old but clean blue sheet for the back of Joel's quilt, and there was almost enough remaining for the back of Esca's quilt. Why not incorporate twin backing to the back of these sons of twin mothers quilts? I filled in the gap in the blue sheet on the back of Esca's quilt with more rainbow strip.

Both quilts were sent to my sister-in-law so she can present them in person to the twins for their little boys of a new generation. The twins' mom informed me Esca's mom LOVES rainbows, and green is her favorite color. I'm not sure I could have planned Esca's quilt better!


  1. Awesome, you always get them done. Even if one took 4 years for the lizard haha ouch to the bone chip, stupid nerve crap is no fun at all.

    1. Until the sewing machine breaks down, Pat... aw, well, I guess I needed a break anyway. You're right, nerve crap is no fun. Wish I could have my old back back, but that isn't going to happen, so I'll just make the best of it.

  2. Especially love the rainbow one, just perfect.

    1. Thank you, Wonky! I just love playing with batiks! Never get tired of it!

  3. Lovely quilts and a great backstory :)

    1. Thank you, Celtic Thistle! Thank you for reading!

  4. Oh what beautiful quilts for gorgeous babies, and what a backstory!!

    1. Thank you, Carie! And thank you for stopping by!

  5. Wow, they both turned out absolutely great!

    I love the photo of the runner with the downtown Denver view in the background. At first glance it looks like a sort of "Giant Alien Quilt Flies Over Denver" shot. :D

    1. Well, didn't you know that's Aladdin's magic carpet, Sue??? ;) Thank you!


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