What Are You Working On?

150 150 Kristin
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Dear Frances,

Sometimes I feel like I don’t use my time as well as I should–especially in the evening. My mornings are pretty set: coffee, workout, tidy up, and work. But I’ve got about three hours after dinner before I go to bed and sometimes I just…waste it.

I’ve been aware lately of how easy it is to go down that YouTube Shorts rabbit hole, only to emerge an hour later feeling slightly queasy. So, I’ve been trying to just go straight to my sewing space after dinner clean up. Okay, right after I get my pjs on (mandatory for me by 7:30 pm). And it turns out, that if you actually spend time sewing, knitting, stitching, etc., you can really get stuff done!

I’ve been on what can only be described as a cross stitch binge for the last 18 months. And while I still feel like it’s one of the easiest and most relaxing things to grab in the evening—I also feel like I’m ready to move onto something new. But, I am resolved to finish up this little Christmas stitch first. This project has been intense! There are a lot of full coverage areas that take a long time to stitch. But it really is darling. (It’s a free pattern you can download here.)

I’ve been working on this Great Granny Square quilt for a while now. I used a fat quarter bundle that I’d been hoarding for about ten years. And you know what, it turns out that I didn’t end up loving these fabrics together the way I thought I would! Oh well. It’s fine. I’m looking forward to getting it off to the longarmmer and having a finished quilt.

I was on such a high the other night when I finished the Great Granny Square quilt that I pulled out the fabric that I’d set aside for the second Cabin Valley quilt. I had a lot of fun making the first one and was very happy to give it away to a family member that was having a medical issue. I’ve always wanted to make myself one, and I got going on it last night and knocked out four blocks in no time. This pattern is so fun and comes together so quickly!

And then there’s knitting. How are you doing on your Elementary Wrap? I remember when we compared them in February at QuiltCon and you had me beat! I’m finally on my third ball of yarn and the winter of 2023 just might be the year that I finish this up. I find it amusing that I thought I’d have it done by October 2021 for a trip to the east coast! I may be the slowest knitter ever.

I’m also getting the urge to cast on a pair of socks, so I recently spent an evening with a friend, drinking wine and rolling a ball of sock yarn from a skein. It took forever! Now to dig out my long circular needles. I have become a magic loop convert for sock knitting. I never thought I’d give up my double-pointed needles, but here we are.

I always feel better when I’ve spent some time on a creative endeavor, actually producing something instead of just consuming. So why is it so hard to make myself start? It’s a mystery.

Tell (and show) me what you’re working on these days.


Dear Kristin,

Wow, you have a lot of projects going! As a project girl myself, I totally get it. While quilting has been my primary craft for many years now, I almost always have a knitting project on the side, and sometimes I pick up something new–two years ago it was printmaking (which I would like to get back to) and very briefly last fall, I took up cross stitching for the first time in nearly thirty years. More recently, I bought a book that Jane Brocket recommending about making rag rugs. As I go through Will’s massive collection of tee shirts, I’m setting aside the more colorful ones with the idea I’ll make some fun rugs out of them. I will not be making a tee shirt quilt, just because I can’t imagine I’d enjoy it.

The other day I was thinking about what my first craft was, if I don’t count making papier mache masks in first grade (which I don’t, although I remember it very clearly). I’d have to go with potholder weaving. Did you have one of those plastic looms? I remember how the potholders always contracted when you took them off the loom, making them fairly worthless. But being a process girl as well as a project girl, I don’t know that I cared all that much.

My mom taught me to crochet when I was ten or so. I think she was trying to lure me from a life of pyromania. There was a period when my favorite thing to do was light the long matches stored over the fire place in the family room. Wanting to avert disaster, my mom bought me a crochet hook and showed me how to make a chain and then how to make a granny square. Next, she taught me how to knit. I was given a kit that included size 10 knitting needles and blue yarn. I don’t recall what I made, but I’m sure it had a lot of holes in it.

What’s funny is that years later, when I was in my mid-20s and decided to take up knitting again, I remembered everything about how to cast on and how to make stitches. But to this day, I still can’t remember how to crochet! A few years ago, my mom gave me a plaid bag with her collection of knitting needles, cable hooks, gauge measurers and crotchet hooks, and from time to time I take out a crotchet hook and see if I can remember. Nope. I know I could watch a YouTube video and relearn it in five minutes, but I want to recall, not relearn. Why has my brain forgotten the easier thing?

Speaking of knitting and crocheting, I’ve just cast on a chemo cap for one of my mom’s dear friends, who has breast cancer. I bought the most beautiful skein of a blue cashmere blend, which is absolutely lovely to work with. We’re traveling to see my folks next week in Louisville, and I’ll be knitting chemo caps in the car. I’m also on the third skein of yarn for the Elementary wrap, which is so long now that I probably won’t bring that with me–it’s too hot right now to have it in my lap!

I recently bought a skein of sock yarn to make my editor her annual pair of socks. I still use DPNs to knit socks, and I probably always will, just because I hate trying new ways of doing things.

Finally, Jack’s quilt is almost done, but I haven’t been motivated to work on it much this summer. Some summers I do a lot of quilting, others not so much. Like you, I wonder why it can be hard to get back on the pony when it comes to crafting. I know that once I get stitching, I’ll enjoy adding the last bit of border to the modern Bear Claw I’m making for Jack, but right now I lack motivation to take that first step.

Readers, what’s on your design wall/needles/craft table right now? Let us know!


  • Robin Leftwich

    Kristin, I love the way you have your floss in a Christmas teacup while you work on your Christmas cross stitch!
    I’ve started knitting on the Elemental shawl again, in the color as Kristin! I’m about to start the 3rd skein. There is no way I’m going to use the fourth one. I think it takes so long because of the tiny needles and thin weight yarn. But I like it!

    I’ve gone down the rabbit hole of Quiltfolk Adventure Workshops. I’ve now finished 2 1/2 blocks of Hawaiian appliqué, which I adore doing, especially since it is handwork. I’ve also gotten way into various rows from the Row by Row xperience. To do the quilt contemplated by the group, you do 8 different rows, but I’ve done 9 or 10 so far and have about 8 more kits. It’s very satisfying, to be able to accomplish one every week or so, and there are different techniques in the rows.
    I’ve also pulled out the quilt from the Welsh Adventure Workshop to finish hand quilting. It’s about 1/3 done, and as soon as it cools of I’ll get back to it.
    And, a cFrench fairy tale cross stitch from a shop in Versailles.
    Retirement is great!

  • Frances in Wales

    I’ve had the same pieces of the same quilt on my design wall since the start of the year with me making absolutely no progress on it. Life is just in the way right now. I have been thinking recently that I really want to get back to it – especially since it’s an autumn themed quilt. Maybe actual autumn will spur me on…

    I’m not sure what my first craft was. Probably either sewing or binka cross stitch – I have memories of badly made dolls clothes and lots and lots of small decorative mats.

    • Mari

      Kristen, you should try Sashiko. It’s my newest craft and I’ve found ways to incorporate it into bags and coasters, etc. I’m working on a piece now that will probably become a bag.
      I am knitting a little sweater for a Susan Anderson knit bunny and I always have an EPP hexie flower quilt I’m always adding to.
      I love having multiple projets going at once. I’m always working on something while watching TV or in the car.

    • Lynn Schmidt

      Potholders for sure were the first craft for lots of us. Then came crochet, oh the baby blankets. I am working on the first of two quilts for Christmas gifts and reading in the evenings.

  • Patty

    I’ve got 2 smaller quilts underway right now after finishing up two that I spent a lot of time quilting. I’ve got a hand quilting project that is nice to sit on the back porch with weather permitting. My daughter is way into crochet and I am thinking about having her teach me the granny square. Once upon a time, I made two blankets crocheting so, like you Francis, it is a skill I once had. I also want to make a new bag. Not because I need one, just because I really like making bags!

  • Laurie

    I’m with you, Kristin! I feel so lazy after supper. We eat (usually watching the news) then we watch an Acorn TV show, currently Harry Wild bc Hinterland is so intense I need a break, then we go to bed. I have 4 quilts that need to be quilted, but I’m planning on renting a long arm machine at my local Joann’s and doing those. I just got a top done for my guild to quilt and give to a child aging out of foster care (my guild is doing 25 of them!). I’ve made 4 pair of pajama pants but have 20 more to do for Christmas. And I want to make another quilt for Christmas. And a table runner for the Iowa Quilt Museum. And, and, and…

    This has all been done since April, not this last week. 😉
    I’ve also been babysitting a couple grandkids ages 3 and just turned 1 and for some reason they don’t allow sewing..
    My 1st craft was crochet and I still have quite a bit of yarn, but haven’t gotten back to it lately.
    I’m retired, this should be easy!

  • Tracie

    I’m binding quilts: three tops have been in my closet for over a year and one’s a recent finish. I want to finish them so I can begin a new project. Last night I counted my WIPs — 11! Some are near completion, so I’ll be busy trying to pull off a lot of finishes this year. However, we are hosting a reunion of my husband’s siblings during September so time in my sewing room will be limited, although sorely needed since I’m an introvert. Happy stitching, friends!

  • Marsha H

    I think my first craft would have been sewing Barbie clothes which then led into sewing my own clothes all through high school and into my adult life. I also sewed a lot of my daughters clothes until they preferred store bought clothing. That’s when I started more home decor projects and finally, quilting. My mom and I did the crafts class at our Bible School for many years. We would sit together making plans and then work on our prototypes. I think of her often when I’m sewing or crafting. She was very inspirational when it came to sewing, crafts and other home projects. My sisters and I are very fortunate to have a mom that was always trying something new.
    This summer I did a Bonnie Hunter Bargello quilt out of shirtings-many that I had been saving from my hubby’s love of stripes and small plaids. I gave it to him the other day and he seemed quite pleased. I’m unsure what my next quilt project will be. For now I’ve made some bowl cozies and other small gift items.
    Still enjoying this weekly blog. Keep up the good work!

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