Thursday 31 January 2019

Our Wedding

 Chad and were married in June 2017 and since I haven't really done a proper personal introduction on this blog, I thought it might be nice to at least start the hellos with you all by sharing our wedding day. We were so very lucky to have two family/friend photographers at our wedding. They gave us the best wedding gifts we could ask for and I felt that their work could not go un-showcased. These photos were taken by Chad's very talented cousin, Jaymee Martin. She doesn't regularly do wedding photography, so we felt so blessed when we asked her at the very last minute (the rehearsal dinner) if she wouldn't mind helping with family photos. Luckily, she happened to bring her camera with her for the weekend. 

We were married at the Riverstone Retreat Centre in Durham, ON. About an hour and 45 minutes outside of Kitchener-Waterloo. This place is definitely a best kept secret. It's affordable, rentable for a whole weekend, out in the countryside, but also not so desperately far away from a city centre. The family who owns and operates this venue were so lovely and eager to make sure the day was perfect. You can also rent the two homes on the property to accommodate several guests that may be traveling from exceptional distances. We did this especially for family coming from out of province.

We were married in a stone labyrinth surrounded by rows of trees that parted down the centre to allow for a natural aisle. Chairs were set up in a semi circle around the centre of the labyrinth. There was a small pergola that my mom draped antiqued lace around and lined the trees of the aisle with containers holding babies breath. Besides that, we left the rest natural and the venue really spoke for itself. Amidst all the rain the week prior and the week following, it felt like this one day the sky cleared and the birds came out just for us. We were both pretty nervous. 

We were also so very lucky to be wed by a couple whose been good friends with Chad for 10+ years. We asked that they both marry us, with one being our legal officiant and the other doing a sermon that blew us away.

Nothing really prepares you for pouring your heart out to the person you love in front of all the family and friends that you love.

Another really special touch was having my aunt do my hair. She was absolutely meticulous, and I've been told (by her actually) that when remembering who to thank during your speeches, you shouldn't really thank your hairdresser. But I was so in love with all the time, effort, and energy that she spent with me to add all those special touches, that I absolutely gushed over her during my speech.

And I don't mean to say that we were at all nervous to marry each other. I felt that it was 1000% the right decision and didn't get cold feet for a second, and Chad echoed the same sentiment. Just before we were announced husband and wife, I let Chad know that I would be taking his last name. This came as a surprise to him after months of me denying that I would ever dethrone my maiden name, just to throw him off. We didn't do wedding gifts to each other, so I thought this might be a nice sentiment for the last minute.

And honestly, I couldn't be luckier in the world if I tried to have the family that I do. I can't really describe in a single post how much effort they and Chad's family put in to making this day as absolutely perfect as it was. The tiny details and little gestures made this day so much more than Chad and I could have ever imagined it would turn out. 

I regularly catch myself wanting to get married all over again. There are definitely a few things I would change (like hiring more people to take on tasks), but otherwise everything was perfect beyond anything I had imagined. 

- Katie

Sunday 27 January 2019

Road Trip: Part 2 - Alaska

                                                                                                                Top of the World Highway, AK
     We left Dawson City, Yukon and headed off across the Yukon River to the top of the world highway. So fondly named this way because you climb so high into the mountains of this region that you quite literally feel like you're on top of the world. I now have no questions about what heaven looks like.

This stretch of road was 127 km of unpaved, bumpy gravel with lots of stunning views and the possibility to see Caribou. It was pretty clouded in when we drove through so we missed out on the Caribou, but we definitely stopped several times to take in the views. 

     Seriously though, such a beautiful stretch of road between Canada and the U.S.  Also, that little green dot on the road ahead in the above photo....that's U.S. customs/border. That's it. And yes, there are border guards working there....they do 2-3 month stays at a cabin on site.

U.S. Border, Top of the World Highway, AK

     We then headed south through sleepy little Alaska towns like Chicken (definitely stop here if you's just funny). Chad seriously thought Chicken was going to be a cute little town with some sort of main street. It's quite literally a single souvenir shop with the only flushable toilet in town. We also passed through/camped in Tok, Alaska, which is a good spot to stock up or head back into the Yukon if you're looking for a shorter road trip.

     From here we travelled straight south to Valdez, AK.

Valdez, AK

      Known as the waterfall capital of Alaska, Valdez boasts some stunning views and is predominantly a commercial fishing port. We stayed at this cute little RV Park called Bayside RV Park. It put us within walking distance of the marina where you can go and charter a fishing trip or watch folks coming in with their catch at the end of the day.

Worthington Glacier, Valdez, AK

    On our way into Valdez, we stopped at the Worthington glacier that boasts two beautiful hikes up to either the toe of the glacier or a ridge hike to look over the glacier from above. We just hiked up to the toe with Eli. 

From Valdez, we took a bright and early ferry to Whittier, AK.

 Ferry from Valdez to Whittier in Prince William Sound, AK

     We didn't stop in Whittier (just drove through - it's super tiny), but the history is crazy. After the Aleutian Islands were attacked by the Japanese in WWII the U.S. army wanted a secret military installation in a relatively inaccessible and ice-free port. Whittier made sense since the 3,500 foot peaks surrounding it brought in a ton of cloud cover hiding it for most of the year. The army then had to blast out the Anton Anderson Memorial Tunnel through solid granite. This tunnel is super long. It gives you a good sense of the span a mountain can truly cover. Oh yeah, its also single lane and has railroad tracks running through. The wait can be long and it's definitely got a dodgy feel to it, but still so cool.

     Whittier and its tunnel are not super well documented in travel guides for the area, but friends of ours recommended it.

Anton Anderson Memorial Tunnel, Whittier, AK

     We then drove north on the Seward highway towards Anchorage, Alaska. The Seward highway was stunning and we could have spent 2 weeks stopping and hiking all the great trails just off this highway into the Chugach mountains. We were running slightly tighter timelines for this stretch of the trip. Our focus is never usually big cities on road trips so we treated Anchorage more as a recharging spot.

     We had met a lovely couple on our drive up the Cassiar highway who showed interest in our homemade camper. They invited us to stay at their home in Anchorage when we were passing through. It was a nice reprieve to have a proper hot shower, laundry, and some good home cooked meals. It's not likely that we will see them again, but I will absolutely never forget them for their hospitality. One of the beauties to road tripping is the people you meet.

     We did spend a day though checking out the city and found a great downtown cafe, stopped at a good butcher shop, and spent a couple hours at a very cool aviation muesum. I learned so much about Alaska's experiences in WWII and the history of bush planes in Alaska. Did you know that the driveable area of Alaska relative to the size of the state is actually the size of a postage stamp (driveable area) on an 8 1/2 x 11 piece of paper (state of Alaska)?! Crazy.

Alaska Aviation Museum, Anchorage, AK

     We said our goodbyes to our lovely hosts and headed north towards Fairbanks stopping in TalkeetnaDenali National Park, and at the Alaska County Fair.

     If I'm being honest, Denali was a bit of a let down. There is some serious hype around this national park and yes, it is beautiful. However, it reminded me of other national parks that are overly hyped up and a small village or town ends up developing at the base of some beautiful mountain or iconic natural site. Kind of like Banff or Whistler. Such beautiful places and the villages/towns are pretty neat in the sense that you can eat, shop, and stay in such a pristine natural landscape. So if that's your thing then maybe you'll totally love Denali. However, the little village near Denali is like a small shopping area with some lodges right off the highway. The road into Denali is only accessible by a bus that takes you into and out of the park and I believe there is a fee for this bus, but I could be wrong.

     We did find some pretty spectacular hikes a little ways up or down the highway from Denali and they are relatively well marked. So if you're doing Alaska on a shoe string like we were, there are other options. You just have to look for them.

 Hike near Denali National Park, AK

    If you ever get the chance to go to any State Fair, I highly suggest that you do. We have fall fairs in the areas of Canada I've lived in, but nothing matching the size or caliber of the Alaska State Fair. It was incredible! The submission and ribbon selection covered every handmade and hobbiest craft you could possibly imagine. It was intense. We sat through a pig race and bet some quarters at a rat race table with a live mouse. I feel like I was in some all-american movie or something. It was surreal.

Alaska State Fair, near Anchorage, AK
      From here we continued on north to Fairbanks. Fairbanks, Alaska was a little underwhelming. Maybe it was the time of year we were there (late August) with evening and morning temperatures dipping below 0 degrees Celsius already and lots of rain. It's definitely a city and a good place to fuel up, but tourism may not be their highest priority. There was a cute little heritage village called Pioneer Park that showcases some of Fairbanks history with a few cute shops to grab a hot drink or a souvenir. The Wedgewood Wildlife Santuary and the Creamer's Field Migratory Waterfowl Refuge are both great to check out in a single day trip if you're looking for an easy, and family friendly walk.

     I got the impression that Fairbanks is your place if you're chartering a plane or taking on some great northern outdoor adventure that may require an outfitters or guide. The city itself wasn't super impressive, but by no means I place I would have wanted to brush past.

North Pole, AK

     We made a very brief stop in North Pole, Alaska just south of Fairbanks and I will never forget it. Maybe its my obsessive love for Christmas, but this was a major highlight for me. It's where we were able to get Eli's Christmas picture with August. We stopped at a huge Christmas store that sold literally every Christmas thing you can imagine.

     We spent the night at the Chena River State Recreation Area and headed out the next morning across scenic Alaska and back into the Yukon.

   After spending some time back in the Yukon, we were planning on heading south back into northern BC and towards the Rockies, but when we passed the signs for Skagway, AK and figured out that it was only a 1 1/2 hour trip to get there, we had to detour and add another night to the trip.

Highway to Skagway, AK

     We've been to Skagway before, but on an Alaskan cruise, so it was really neat to drive into the town since we had already been there by sea. And this drive was easily the most beautiful of the entire trip. In Skagway, you can also hop on the White Pass train which takes you through the deep valley that links Skagway to the Yukon where the road comes in to Skagway. It was spectacular.

     We loved Alaska with only a few regrets, but mostly being that we really just wish we had more time. We may come back when Eli is older to do some venturing further a field and getting into some National Parks that were either relatively inaccessible or just not an easy trip in with a baby. Our main focus though was just having a long and fun camping trip with some light hikes and lots of sightseeing. I highly recommend Alaska as a vacation spot, but definitely as a road trip. The state is just far too big to spend it in one area and then walk away saying you've 'seen' Alaska.



Friday 25 January 2019

Road Trip: Part 1 - The Yukon and Northeastern BC

Liard Hot Springs, Northern BC

    Hey folks. After having our son Eli in March 2018 we decided to plan our first family road trip. We chose the Yukon, Alaska, and northeastern BC. Mostly because we live in northern BC making it relatively cheap for us to see this northern part of Canada and the U.S. with a baby. We spent 5 weeks on the road covering the Yukon, Alaska, and northeastern BC. It was one of the best trips we have ever taken. Here's where we went, and how we did it in a 2 part series (because this would be way too long a post to cover all of it at once). I will also cover a top 10 list later on the blog for best things to see in the Yukon, Alaska, and Northern BC, as well as a post on road tripping with babies so stay tuned.

How We Did It

Kinaskan Lake Campground, Northern BC

     Chad put in some serious hours in the months just after Eli was born to build us a beautiful little truck camper. It is definitely LITTLE. It has benches along the sides of the walls with a storage area above the roof of the truck. Chad built a small foldable table that opens up to fit in the open floor space between the benches along the walls if we wanted to eat inside in rain. This table also folds up and sits on a ledge attached to each of the benches to close the gap over the floor space and creates a a flat platform across the camper width for us to fold out two tri-fold mattresses for a bed. This left enough space along the edge for a wooden frame that Chad built for the spot for Eli's bed. This wooden frame sat around 3 or 4 blankets that we stacked to act as a little mattress for Eli. In the corner Chad installed 2 electrical outlets and a thermostat to hook up to electric at RV sites so we could run a small heater and charge kindles or phones. We stored our food and cooking bins under the bed, and clothing and personal effects in the over head storage. We had a couple hooks set up by the door at the end of the trailer for coats, towels, and anything that needed to be hung to dry. Chad also installed a C-channel along the back end of the camper and wrapped the edge of a tarp around a dowel and then slid it through the C-channel to make an easy awning. I made some window covers and a cover for the roof vent to  black out the light at night time since daylight would often last until 11pm. Chad also insulated the camper super well so it was ideal for travelling with a baby. We rarely needed our heater as our body heat was enough to warm up the camper.

     We then planned out the entire trip around camping and RV sites. We aimed originally to travel 3-4 hours a day, which left lots of time to explore. We also spent several days in some places that we wanted to spend more time in. 

Where We Went

Map of our drive starting in Kitimat, BC (southern most coastal tip of blue line on map)

     We started out heading north up the Cassiar highway in northwestern BC. We stayed at Meziadin Lake, Kinaskan Lake, and Boya Lake campsites through northwestern BC. We stopped for lunch and a look around at small towns along this highway such as Dease Lake and Jade City. We also passed through some pretty intense burn areas from years ago where you can see the burnt up forest for miles in all directions.

      We very quickly figured out a camp set up and take down routine that allowed us to unpack or pack up in 20 minutes. This was key as it allowed us lots of time to really enjoy our late afternoon and evenings at the campsite we stopped at for the night. We mostly stayed at provincial park sites that usually came with a fee, but BC is also full of free rec sites that provide slightly fewer camping amenities, but still provide the basics (i.e. bathroom stalls, fire pits, cleared sites, and picnic tables).

Watson Lake, YT

     Our first stop in the Yukon was Watson Lake. A small southern Yukon community that provides the first real grocery store, gas station, accommodations, and restaurants upon entering the Yukon. The last stop with similar amenities was Dease Lake (4 hours away) along the Cassiar highway. Watson Lake is also the renowned home of the Sign Post Forest. Basically, a small park full of sign posts covered with signs from all over the world. People passing through get a chance to leave their mark on this little patch of the beautiful Yukon Territory. So be sure to bring your sign if you're heading this way.

Main Street, Dawson City, Yukon

     We then headed straight up through the Yukon to Dawson City, skipping past Whitehorse and all the small towns along the way. I know that seems like we blew through the territory, but I don't regret not stopping everywhere and we spent time in Whitehorse later on. The time in Dawson City was definitely worth it. 

     The main street and side streets throughout this little town were full of kitschy little shops to pick up a souvenir or some beautiful gold jewellery. It is after all renowned for its gold rush history. The buildings are historic, most of the streets are still dirt with boardwalks maintained as the primary sidewalks throughout town. We took an evening walking tour (highly recommend) which got us into some of the more restored buildings. The hiking and community trails also lead to some pretty spectacular views.

     We spent our first night at a cheap campsite across the Yukon River. There is a very accessible ferry that runs for no charge to get you back and forth. Also, the camping in the Yukon is great. It's super affordable at $12 a site (for territorially run sites) and comes with free firewood in addition to the other basic amenities (bathroom stalls, fire pits, cleared camp sites, and picnic tables). We planned our trip to be there for their Discovery Days weekend, which celebrates the gold rush era. We stayed the rest of our trip at the Goldrush Campground and RV Park, making it more affordable while still offering a lot of services (i.e. showers, laundry, electricity, etc).

Dawson City, YT

     After spending some time in Alaska (see Part 2 of the trip series), we came back into the Yukon through Snag Junction and headed south towards Kluane National Park.

     We really wanted to spend some time in and around Kluane National Park and passed through Haines Junction, Yukon on our way there. This was another good spot to fuel up and get some food. We headed south towards Haines, AK and camped at a campsite just outside of Kluane. There are several off the highway on the East side of Kluane. We spent a day hiking out to St. Elias Lake (so gorgeous) and took in some of the beautiful mountain and lake views that Kluane has to offer. This was pretty easy day hike. Chad carried Eli the whole way and we sat and had lunch at the lake.

St. Elias Lake Trail, Haines Junction, YT

    We then headed over to Whitehorse for a couple day stay at the Hi Country RV Park, and to check out what Whitehorse has to offer. A very cool city with some very cool spots to eat, drink, and shop. However, like some of the other cities we visited, we found Whitehorse to be underwhelming. In hindsight, if we could've spent a few more days in the area we could've checked out some more of the amazing hikes around the city. I strongly recommend planning enough time around cities so that you can explore beyond the sidewalks of the downtown core. Whitehorse also boasts some pretty incredible museums and easy outdoor activities such as hot springs.

*Disclaimer*: I may have mentioned it earlier on, but Chad and I are not city people. We LOVE the outdoors and a chunk of all of our holidays are planned around how we are going to spend time out in the natural environment. We are always keen to see the next city we might be visiting, but find ourselves bored with the downtown vibes usually within a day.

     We checked out the S.S. Klondike and spent a day walking around the Yukon Wildlife Preserve taking in the beautiful animals native to the area. Definitely allow yourself at least a half day if you're headed to the preserve and expect a long walk on an easy, flat dirt road. There was lots of beautiful picnic spots in the preserve so a picnic lunch would be ideal here.

 Yukon Wildlife Preserve, Whitehorse, YT

     We also took in a short day hike out to Miles Canyon near to town. Super easy half day hike along a small canyon leading into the city. Be aware though that there is a set of stairs to get down into the canyon from the parking lot. Afterwards we checked out the fisheries in the area (Chad's priority everywhere we go) and checked out some of the shopping and food in Whitehorse. Both of which were pretty eclectic and delicious.

Miles Canyon, Whitehorse, YT

After a 1 day detour down to Skagway, AK (it was just so close, we couldn't resist), we then headed south past Watson Lake and down into northeastern BC. We spent a night at the Liard Hot Springs. I highly recommend that you do not miss this if you're passing through. Even if you can give it just a couple hours. Do it. It is a natural hot springs that the BC parks have maintained and turned into this beautiful little steamy forest mecca for you to bath in. We hung out in the lower pool as it was cool enough for us to bring Eli in for a little dip. It was pretty cold outside and raining, but we were still all so warm in the water.

Liard Hot Springs, BC

     Uggh, I was so sad to leave. But we continued on south through the Northern BC rockies passing through beautiful spots like Muncho Lake, and stopping for the night just south of Stone Mountain Provincial Park. The drive between the Liard Hot Springs and Stone Mountain is breathtaking. And if you're going to see wildlife in BC, you are sure to see the bison and elk off this stretch of highway.

 Stone Mountain Provincial Park, Fort Nelson, BC

     We wanted to stay at the provincial park campground, but when we got there around 3pm on September 2nd it was already -2 degrees celsius so we headed about a half hour down the valley towards a lower altitude since we figured we would need a plug-in for heat.

 Stone Mountain Provincial Park, Fort Nelson, BC

Baba Canyon Trail, Muncho Lake area, Northeastern BC
    Despite the cold, Eli was a trooper and we got in a few hikes in the area. We also saw quite a bit of wildlife between Liard Hot Springs and Stone Mountain Provincial Park (i.e. bison, caribou, mountain goats, and big horned sheep). We left the sleepy little RV park at the Tetsa River and continued on south. We stopped in to visit with some friends in Fort St. John for a night, but otherwise headed back west across BC to our home in Kitimat. We've done this drive a number of times and were pretty ready to be home after 5 weeks on the road.

Stay tuned for a few more upcoming posts on our road trip travels, especially about road trips with babies where I cover some of the pros and cons to this form of travel, as well as what were essential for getting us through this trip.

Please comment below if you've visited the Yukon or northern BC and what places you liked the best.



Tuesday 15 January 2019

Dear Eli

Dear Eli, please never grow up.

We were hanging out together the other day in the rocker in your nursery. You'd just woken up (a little too soon) from your nap completely inconsolable. I picked you up and brought you over to the rocker, nestled you in and shhhed you while stroking your head until you calmed and fell back to sleep. With your stomach against my stomach and your head against my chest I listened to your soft little snores. Your head tilted just enough so I could stare at your handsome little face. Your mouth open slightly and your eye lids twitching as you sunk down into sleep. I felt this overwhelming hope that you will never grow up. That you'll stay exactly as you are in this moment forever. I can't imagine the day when you won't need me to fall asleep against when you're upset, or when I go to pick you up and you actually push me away and try to get down (luckily we aren't there yet). I can't imagine the day when you eventually meet someone that you choose to talk to about all the good and bad things in your life that you previously came to me and your dad about. I know it'll come, but for right now if you could just promise to stay exactly as you are.

Knowing that this cannot be forever, I soak it up. Although this isn't a daily routine, when it does happen I count my lucky stars. I breathe in the smell of your little head and focus on the way your weight feels against me. Your father wishes so badly that you would do this for him. Alas, the cuddles are only for mama and, although it sounds selfish, I couldn't be happier about it. Don't worry though, you do enjoy your father's company more than mine when he's home.

Although it is so easy to do, I try not to look to the future beyond what is necessary. I don't want to miss a second of my time with you at this age. I love that you are now figuring out how to scoot your way across the kitchen floor to land at my feet and play with the buckles on my slippers while I prep, bake, or do dishes. My heart immediately melts when I feel you below me grabbing at my legs and head butting me with your mouth open to give kisses. Nothing in my life has ever made me feel so content, at ease, and as though everything is as it should be. With your sibling on the way, I do need to admit that I am just a little sad about our short time together with you in this stage of your life. I know though that a new baby will launch us into and new and equally exciting stage of life and that we will find space in our growing hearts for that little person.

Despite my intense hope that you'll never grow up, I am continuously surprised by how much I love each of your developmental stages more than the last. I thought the 3 month mark was definitely my favourite, but no then the 4th or 5th or 6th, etc. month marks were definitely definitely my favourite. I swear that right now you are the best you'll ever be and we can just go ahead and freeze time. But I've had that feeling all along. When you first smiled the whole world stopped. It stopped again when you played in your swing, the jolly jumper, when you sat up, when you started babbling, eating solid food, and started scooting. In a way the whole world has stopped or it keeps turning without me really noticing. Which has been both such a treasure and totally terrifying. I'm afraid I'll wake up one day and you'll be a teenager. All the sweetness you are now will I'm sure will still be there along with a few other personality traits... And knowing that this fear is absolutely a reality makes me cling to those rocking chair moments all the more. Seeing though how each month the little ways you reach out for me or smile at your father or react when we play with you helps me to know that as time clicks by, you will grow more love in my heart than I knew could exist, you will show me more of life then I've ever seen before, and you will teach me more about being a parent and loving a child then can ever be articulated in text.

Dear Eli, please never grow up.

- Katie

Sunday 13 January 2019

'Hexie' Crib Quilt: Part 1

Hey folks. Thought I'd share a little (actually kind of big) project that I've been working on. I haven't formally announced it yet, mostly because I'm just not on top of these things, but we are expecting a second little person joining our family in June! I made this hexagon crib quilt for Eli before he was born, and thought I'd make another for this new little one.

* Disclaimer: The quilt top for this crib quilt is entirely HAND SEWN. Its definitely a tedious project, but also something you can do in front of the t.v., and is relatively mindless. Please don't get intimidated, its easy! *

I've set this post up in two parts. Part 1(this post) is just how to make the quilt top. Part 2 (when I get there) will cover how to put the quilt together. This project uses English Paper Piecing (EPP) as the main technique. If your new to the EPP world then maybe do some google searches or check out the book All Points Patchwork. Its pretty modern and full of amazing EPP projects, both large and small.

What you'll Need:
* Sharp scissors
* Fabric in various patterns/designs of your choice (I picked up the Amalfi Charm Pack by Rifle Paper Co for Cotton + Steel and used a variety of matching solids from my local fabric store).
* Thread (any colour for basting, matching colours to your fabric for sewing the quilt top together).
* Hand sewing needle(s).
* Good quality card stock to punch out your hexagon shapes.
* Ideally a fiskars hexagon punch (I think I used a 1.5 inch punch) - you can also use a template or pre-cut inserts.

Step 1: Punch out/cut a bunch of your hexagon templates on the card stock.

Step 2: Cut out a piece of fabric to cover your template completely. Make sure you cut a big enough piece. It will only get frustrating when sewing the fabric to the paper if you try to save fabric as you go.

Step 3: Fold the first edge of your fabric over your hexagon template and hold it in place.

Step 4: Fold the next edge of your fabric over your paper template and over top of your first fold. It doesn't matter if you fold your edges in a left or right direction as long as they consistently overlap.

Step 5: Start adding basting stitches (sorry the photo is a little blurry). Make a simple knot in your thread and use a colour that will contrast against your fabric so when you later go to cut these stitches out you can see them easily. Push your needle with your thread through the overlapping layers of fabric and through your paper template essentially binding the three together.

Note: A basting stitch is simply meant  to temporarily hold something together, and meant to be cut out once you put in more secure stitching later on.

Step 6: Continue folding down edges of your fabric overlapping as you go and sew your fabric down to your template only in the corners using a running stitch (where you push the needle up through a layer in one corner and then down through another layer in the next corner) repeating until all corners of your fabric have been sewn down. Knot your thread off once you made it all the way around. It doesn't have to be an unbreakable knot since you'll be cutting your basting stitches off later. Remember you still want to be able to easily get this thread out once your hexies are sewn together.

Step 7: After binge watching a couple shows on Netflix while putting basting stitches in your hexies you should have a whole bunch. Don't be afraid, but you want to aim for 265 hexies. It honestly goes so fast when you get into a rhythm. Remember, this is my second crib quilt and I absolutely finished the last one before Eli was born. I'm 5 months pregnant right now and I will for sure have this crib quilt done as well, while taking care of Eli full time. This is not a hard project. I promise. After Eli goes to bed around 7pm I'm usually up until 9:30pm and I get anywhere from 25 - 35 hexies done.

Step 8: Once you get all your hexies done up, with their paper templates facing the floor, lay out your hexies in a desired pattern or design. Try different layouts to get an idea of how you want your crib quilt to end up looking. I laid mine out in a random pattern as well as in an ombre-ish pattern to see what I'd like better. I went for the ombre option (second photo). Remember to take a picture of your layout, since your not likely going to leave your hexies laid out on the floor for the forseeable future until you're done sewing all the hexagons together.

Step 9: Take two hexies and place them together with their right sides facing each other so you can see their paper templates on the outside.

Step 10: Line up the edges and corners of your hexies and, using a slip stitch, sew your two hexies together along the edge. Try to avoid catching the basting stitch while sewing the two hexies together, otherwise it'll be more difficult cutting the basting stitch out later. Also, try not to sew through your paper template as these will come out as well once the quilt top is all sewn together (nobody wants a quilt with paper in it!).

Note: a slip stitch is sewing two pieces of fabric together moving from one side to the other and having your next stitch go through the same side and same direction as your last, but just a little ahead of your last stitch. You may also want to use matching thread to fabric if your worried about seeing the thread in the finished product. I do a very tight slip stitch and keep it right along the edge of my two pieces of fabric so I don't see it in the finished product.

Note: you also don't have to slip stitch this tightly and you can see that I totally caught my basting stitch. When I go to cut that basting stitch out I'm clearly going to have a task and a half trying to get it out of my slip stitches. This is why you should probably try to avoid this. You can do that by placing your basting stitches not right on the edge of your hexies when sewing your fabric to your templates. I'm just sometimes lazy and didn't fix the problem as I saw it forming. Future Katie's problem.

Step 11: Open your hexies back up to reveal the right sides. As you can see, my slip stitch thread is not visible on the right side, but I will still be able to easily cut away my visible basting stitches.

In a little while I'll post how to bring the whole quilt together with batting, backing, binding, and quilting in part 2. Until then, you and I have a lot of english paper piecing to do. And if you're working on other EPP projects please share them in the comments. I love to see what other folks are working on.

- Katie

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