Carlee at Ladybird Ln. was my very first blog-friend. So I was beyond excited to exchange Valentines with her in the Valentine Exchange!
I received her gift early on, which just made me even more excited about the exchange. The best part was that I knew she had my gift well underway when I mentioned in one of our emails, I needed to get organized with my meal planning! Apparently, we were on the same wavelength there – I had NO idea that’s what she was already working on, but this is an incredibly useful gift.
Take a look at my big “Little Black Book”:
Awesome, right? She included a few go-to recipes from her own kitchen to get me started, too! If you want to read more about it, you can take a look at her post today over at Ladybird Ln.
She also made these adorable treat hangers – one for everyone in my family!
Meanwhile, I had something I was really excited about in the works for her as well: a rag quilt. This will actually be the first time she sees any part of it, because this project turned out to be a HUGE FAIL! Lesson learned: do NOT try something new as a gift, on a deadline.
I set aside about 8 hours to make this little lap quilt. I have been wanting to try one, and when Carlee mentioned her favorite time of the day was winding down in the evening, sometimes with a good book, I thought a quilt would be perfect.
I do my crafting (as you know) an hour at a time. After a week of planning just the right look, and raiding my stash to see what I had and what I needed, I had ten days before I *had* to ship it out to her. Plenty of time, right? Wrong! This bugger took me almost twice as long as I had planned, so I ended up down to the wire, which is really unlike me.
With the color combination I procured from all my other Valentine projects this year, I found I only needed some flannel for the batting. AT the fabric store, I decided on a red flannel for the batting, since the cool thing about rag quilts is that every layer shows and whatever I used on the inside would show in the fringes. After cutting all my squares – which, of course took three times as long as a normal quilt top, because there are three layers – I got to work. The piecing did go quickly. Then all I had was the last step – snipping along the seams – which took another couple hours. Invest in rag quilt snippers if you undertake this project. Trust me. :)
Then, finally, finally, this baby was ready for the wash, to fray those seams and finish the overall look. I washed it up and went to put it in the dryer – only to discover that it had turned terribly, terribly pink. The red flannel batting I had chosen on a whim bled all over my hard work.
I do not have a photo of this. I was too busy hyperventilating to grab the camera.
You see – even though I had pre-washed, I had no way of knowing, because it was in a load by itself. It came out just as red as when it went in, and I’ve never had a quilt bleed on me before, so this was a shock I could have done without. But, I thought, maybe if I wash it again, it will wash back out.
Nervous this time, I peeked in the washer, just to be sure, and was met with this sight:
Oh no. No no no no no no no.
And then with a bit of squealing and a conspicuous absence of spin-cyle… my washing machine DIED. Out of spite, I actually think.
So on the night before I needed to ship my heartfelt gift, what I had was a wet, pink quilt and a useless washing machine. I stashed it in the bathtub, where it continued to bleed red like a crafty crime-scene. But with no time left to mourn, I took a deep breath, and surveyed my bins and shelves for something else I could make for Carlee on short notice, that would convey my sincere appreciation of our friendship.
I could make her a necklace. I could, in fact, use the exact design I sent my other Valentine, Elaine. It felt like cheating, but I was desperate and there are no craft stores open at midnight. My choice was either to use what I had, or to send it late. So I focused on how I could make it different, and I stamped her this message:
A friend is a blessing.
And I realize that’s a pretty crappy photo. But there’s a definite shortage of natural lighting for photographs in my kitchen at night.
I also added a little chocolate and a handmade card, and packaged up my gift to send in the morning. I was feeling a little bad about my original idea falling through, so I consoled myself with some (OK, all) of the chocolate Carlee sent me. (It helped a little.) But I decided that because we are friends, she would probably understand.
So there’s the saga of the nightmare quilt. I did get a new washer out of it, and after about 8 washings (and 8 repaired seams, it seems I clipped a little too close in a few places and ended up with some pretty big holes) later, I still ended up with a rather unfortunate-looking result. Had it all been a uniform pink, maybe it could have been salvaged – but the white squares turned out awfully spotty and dingy-looking. I didn’t take a photo of the backside, but the white flannel absorbed the bleed mostly along the X’s. It’s far from my best work. Boo.
I still hope you had a wonderful Valentine’s Day, Carlee, and I’m glad your package arrived in time, at least!!