Spring Blooms

For Easter weekend, our family congregated at my sister’s home in San Antonio, Texas. It is a three-hour monotonous drive between Houston and San Antonio on Interstate 10. As I was traveling alone, I decided to make the trip a bit more interesting. I took a detour north on State Highway 71 headed to La Grange, Texas – population just under 5,000 and home of the Texas Quilt Museum.

There were three exhibits on display that were particularly impressive. The first, “Modern Quilt Guild at the Texas Quilt Museum” showcased the guild’s first juried quilt show. Photography is not allowed inside the museum but you can see photos at the Modern Quilt Guild’s blog. Here is one sample.

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Source: MQG Blog

Also on display were the Magna Carta Quilts from the UK. There are a total of eight quilts. According to the Magna Carta Quilt website:

…four Medieval Quilts will tell the story of the Magna Carta in a graphic novel style… The story starts with the death of Richard the Lionheart, which lead to the ascension of his brother John to the throne of England, runs through the events leading up to the sealing of the Magna Carta at Runnymede… The Magna Carta was the first document ever imposed upon a King of England…by a group of his subjects, the feudal barons, in an attempt to limit his powers by law and protect their rights. The four Legacy Quilts…will be the shields of the 25 feudal barons who drew up the terms of the Magna Carta…

The detail of these quilts was mind-boggling. The figures depicted all had singular expressions, carried different items in their hands and wore varied medieval clothing according to their rank.

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Medieval Quilt IV (Source: Magna Carta Quilt)

The third exhibit of note was called “Wild Fabrications” sponsored by the Studio Art Quilt Associates (SAQA). You can view the entire exhibit online at the SAQA website in a slide show format. I highly recommend viewing it in full screen mode. My favorite was the polar bear.

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Now You See Him by Cat Larrea (Source: SAQA)

Wild Fabrications celebrates a world of animals both real and fantastical. The theme not only lends itself particularly to bold colors and whimsical imagery, but also to beautiful realism, and humor that can be ebullient or dark.

On the exterior side wall of the building that houses The Quilt Museum is this stunning mural that depicts traditional 19th century quilts.

Quilt Museum Exterior

The mural serves as a backdrop to Grandmother’s Flower Garden.

Many quilt makers…are also gardeners, and many quilt patterns were inspired by flowers, plants, trees, and nature in general. We named the garden for a beloved Depression-era quilt pattern, “Grandmother’s Flower Garden.”

Grandmother's Flower Garden 1

Grandmother's Flower Garden 2

Grandmother's Flower Garden 3

And if that isn’t enough to tempt you to visit, next door to The Quilt Museum is a fabric and YARN store called The Quilted Skein.

The Quilted Skein

There were four rooms of fabrics in all colors and patterns. And WALLS OF YARN.

The Quilted Skein - Yarn Wall

The staff was busily climbing ladders to hang up beautiful new quilt displays. They were having a good time making sure no one toppled off ladders and took time to assist me as I perused the yarn and picked out some fabric squares.

The Quilted Skein - Sock Yarn

It was time to get back on I-10 and continue my trip to San Antonio. From La Grange, I took a leisurely drive on Farm to Market Road 609. The countryside was littered with bluebonnets and indian paintbrushes – picture-perfect scenery.

Bluebonnets on FM 609

Indian Paintbrushes on FM 609

Back on I-10, I made another stop in Seguin, Texas, the pecan capital of the world – so-called because of the large production of pecans in the area. Seguin has a quaint downtown historic district listed in the National Register of Historic Places. My destination was You’re So Crafty, a crafts store for making pottery, painting, beadwork, knitting and spinning. One could spend weeks here and not run out of crafty things to do.

You're So Crafty - Spinning Tools

This display was full of yarn spun from locally produced fibers. These skeins are from Windmill Crest Farms, a small alpaca farm of about 50 animals located in Seguin.

You're So Crafty Local Yarn

Content with the day’s discoveries, it was time to make the rest of the trip to my sister’s house. Both my brothers from back home and my mom and aunt were there, plus some neighbors. Between all of us, there were 25+ kids and adults hitting piñatas and cracking cascarones on each others’ heads – brightly colored confetti everywhere! After the meal, the older kids (teens and college students) gathered at the dining room table for a fierce game of Monopoly. As my siblings and I sat outside, we reminisced about how once upon a time, it was us running around the yard and competing at board games. Now we sat around comparing what medications and maladies we had in common. We had good laughs and good food surrounded by family. It was a glorious weekend full of spring blooms.

On-the-Go Project Bag (and a Giveaway!)

Giveaway message

When carrying my knitting around, I like to keep it in nice project bags. I used to drop works in progress (WIPs) into ziplock bags and throw them into my purse or tote bag. It was handy but not very attractive. I have a couple of large bags that I’ve acquired through the years that are my standbys. Those are better suited for large WIPs; one of them is currently holding a blanket that will ultimately fit a double-sized bed. Another is a tote bag with a witty phrase. For small projects – like socks – I use this little silk bag.

Silk Project Bag 1

The bag is 8.5″ tall, 8″ wide and about 2″ deep (21.5 cm x 20 cm x 5 cm). It fits the necessary yarn, needles, notions, and patterns for socks, hand warmers, a hat or other small projects.

Silk Project Bag 2

It is fully lined and cinches closed. And it’s pretty. It’s meant to be a nice evening bag but I repurposed it for knitting.

Silk Project Bag 3

I happen to have a couple of these in flowery peach and light blue colors so I thought I would have a giveaway in celebration of spring. I will randomly select one recipient for the silk bag (and perhaps a few other surprises) on or around the Spring Equinox.

The following actions will enter you into the drawing. Multiple entries are encouraged!

  • Follow Agujas blog (if you are already a follower, you are already entered!)
  • Reblog this post or blog about this giveaway with a link back to Agujas
  • Follow Agujas on Twitter
  • Like Agujas on Facebook
  • Follow Agujas on Tumblr
  • Like this post
  • Comment on this post

Thank you for reading Agujas and enjoy the spring weather!

Crazy for Knitted Socks

Shortly after the holidays, I bound off a couple of pairs of knitted socks. Who thought making socks would be so exciting? For the first set, I used the popular Monkey Sock pattern by Cookie A. I understand why so many knitters use this sock pattern. It is easy and produces a sock with interesting undulations.

Monkey Socks - After Blocking

For the yarn, I used the skein I bought at Seaport Yarn in New York City. I really loved the purples and blues mingled together. When I was done, they badly needed some blocking.

Monkey Socks w. Aussie Sock by Oasis Yarn

I looked all over the web for a pair of sock blockers and found several good candidates, but frankly, didn’t want to spend the money. So I made my own! After perusing several “how-to” articles, I settled on How to Make Your Own Sock Blockers. The instructions were clearly laid out and the materials easy to find – placemats from the dollar store!

Sock Blocker Template

After cutting them to size, I used a hole puncher and some leftover yarn to tie a loop so I could hang them up to air dry. The tops of the blockers are a bit topsy-turvy but they did the trick.

Monkey Socks - Blocking

The pattern is more visible after blocking.

Monkey Socks - Folded

For the next pair, I wanted to use a self-striping yarn. This bright red, yellow and black yarn is from the Yarn Barn, which I posted about recently.

Heritage Prints by Cascade Yarns from Yarn Barn

Heritage Prints - Ball of Yarn

I wanted a simple stockinette stitch pattern to showcase the self-striping yarn and found Susan B. Anderson’s sock pattern.

Stockinette Socks in Progress

They are a perfect fit!

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There’s a third pair of socks that I need to finish and another pair on the needles. I have gone sock raving mad!

GIANT Knit Cat

Always on the lookout for knitted and unique, we discovered this GIANT adorable knit cat. Her official name is Splash the Cat, but we call her Gatita (little kitten). Gatita is three feet tall and 100% lovable. She is so fun to hug and curl up with for a nap. And how can one resist the cute ballet outfit?

Splash the Cat 3

Gatita came to us from blabla which is owned by two women entrepreneurs. Blabla has a flagship store in Atlanta but I found Gatita online. Gatita comes in several sizes – a 12-inch mini, 18-inch regular, and giant 3-foot version. Her friends include Harmony (a mermaid), Pierre (a floppy eared rabbit), and Socks (the fox), among others. Blabla also carries knit blankets, knit finger puppets, knit rattles and pretty cotton sheets. The dolls are knitted and handmade by women in Peru in 100% of the softest cotton.

Splash the Cat 2

This is Giant Wooly, the sweetest sheep.

giantdoll2

(Source)

While researching for this post, I discovered another small business with a similar product. Cuddle + Kind also sells fair trade dolls handcrafted in Peru. This small business run by a family in Ontario pitched their concept on Indiegogo and raised over $445,000 USD to launch their venture. Part of Cuddle + Kind’s value proposition is that they donate 10 meals per doll sold to feed children in need.

(Source)

I’ve always wanted to climb to Machu Picchu. Perhaps a knitting discovery trip to Peru is in my future?

Splash the Cat 1

A Yarn Barn…Only in Texas

Where else would one find a barn full of yarn but in Texas? In actuality, the Yarn Barn is housed in a sweet cottage with a porch and old wooden floors. You walk through the various rooms realizing that this was someone’s home once upon a time. It is a quaint cottage full of beautiful yarn.

Yarn Barn 1

Yarn Barn 2

Today’s Yarn Barn is under new ownership. When I lived in San Antonio, the old Yarn Barn was my LYS. I remember when they were closing – their lease was up and they would have to find a new location – so the owners decided to retire. I was so worried that the Yarn Barn would cease to exist! But not to worry. Enid came to the rescue and kept its doors open.

Yarn Barn 3

Yarn Barn 4

The new Yarn Barn has a wonderful selection of yarns in all fibers and colors.

Yarn Barn 5

The Yarn Barn also caters to needlework beyond knitting and crocheting and has an extensive selection of canvasses and threads for needlepoint, cross stitch kits and some weaving supplies.

Yarn Barn 6

Yarn Barn 7

The Yarn Barn is located at 1615 McCullough Avenue in San Antonio, Texas. Parking is a challenge, especially if you park out front, but they do have overflow parking across the street. The location is a bit off the beaten path – not much retail around it – but accessible from IH35 and the McAllister Freeway (U.S. 281).