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The Quilt Block Cookbook

Block by Freshly Pieced, from the Quilt Block Cookbook by Amy Gibson  I tend to love quilting books that not only provide gorgeous patterns, but also give readers the tools to get creative with those patterns and put their own spin on them. In fact, that was one of the goals Katie, Faith, and I had when we wrote our own book, Vintage Quilt Revival. So I knew Amy Gibson‘s newest book, The Quilt Block Cookbook, was going to be right up my alley.

The Quilt Block Cookbook by Amy Gibson

The Quilt Block Cookbook features 50(!) blocks, 7 sampler quilts made from those blocks, and a ton of design inspiration, all wrapped up in a beautiful package, so it’s a lot of bang for your buck. All of the block designs are mixed-and-matched from a variety of building-block units—a very cool concept that expands the possibilities far beyond even the 50 blocks that are in the book. And as usual with Amy’s books, the photography and styling is so gorgeous, that alone makes the book worth the price!

 

Quilt Block Cookbook by Amy Gibson

There are a lot of blocks in the book that I love, but for some reason I was especially drawn to this one, Windsong. But because I never like to do things exactly the way I’m supposed to, I decided to drop the corner units in favor of a more minimalist look. Thanks to Amy’s block-recipe concept, that was very easy to do! This really is a flexible book, and I love how my blocks turned out.

Block by Freshly Pieced, from the Quilt Block Cookbook by Amy Gibson

I ended up making six of these yesterday, so all of a sudden I’ve got pretty good start on a baby quilt! Now all I need is a girl baby to give it to. : ) Check out the Quilt Block Cookbook on Amazon!

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Lady of the Lake Blocks from Sister Sampler Quilts

Happy Monday! I hope all of you out East have managed to dig out a bit, but I hope in the meantime you got some good stay-in-and-sew time. : ) We didn’t get any snow at all (much to my kids’ disappointment), but I got in some quality time with my machine yesterday anyway. And the results of my afternoon’s work: These Lady of the Lake blocks, with which I am now totally obsessed.

Lady of the Lake is a classic block from the new book, Sister Sampler Quilts: 3 Modern Sampler Quilts with Paired Sister Blocks,
by AnneMarie Chaney of Gen X Quilters. I love the flexibility of a good sampler book—make one block, make them all, or mix-and-match to your heart’s content! Sampler books are always a good resource to add to your library, and give you a lot of bang for your buck. (If I do say so myself, having co-written one of my own!)
And AnneMarie’s book is even more flexible than most, offering up instructions for 24 blocks, each in two different sizes (9″ and 12″ finished). I made my Lady of the Lake blocks in the 9″ size. Check those cute little half-square triangles. : ) AnneMarie’s method of making the blocks in “sister pairs” makes things go quickly and efficiently.

 

Another feature that makes this book a great resource are the fun and creative layout ideas for each of the three samplers. This one, the Bonfire Sampler, is my favorite!
I found the instructions for the Lady of the Lake block to be straightforward and easy to follow. As usually happens when I try to make just one or two blocks, I’m now dying to make a bunch more of these. All out of this fabulous Blueberry Park fabric, like the first two!

You can find out more about Sister Sampler Quilts by visiting the website AnneMarie has set up for the book, www.sistersamplerquilts.com, or click here to purchase from Amazon. And go visit the other stops on the Sister Sampler Quilts Blog Tour, listed below!

Monday, January 18  
AnneMarie Chany / Gen X Quilters – Introduction
Sara Lawson / Sew Sweetness
Tuesday, January 19 
Leah Day / Free Motion Project
Brenda Ratliff / Just A Bit Frayed
Wednesday, January 20
Faith Jones / Fresh Lemons Quilts
Angela Pingel / Cut To Pieces
Thursday, January 21
Lynne Goldsworthy / Lily’s Quilts
Amy Friend / During Quiet Time
Friday, January 22
Christa Watson / Christa Quilts
Violet Craft
Monday, January 25
Lee Heinrich / Freshly Pieced
Melissa Corry / Happy Quilting
Tuesday, January 26
Karen Lewis / Karen Lewis Textiles
Wednesday, January 27
Sherri McConnell / A Quilting Life
Melissa Mortensen / Polka Dot Chair
Thursday, January 28
Heather Valentine / The Sewing Loft
Friday, January 29
Cindy Wiens / Live A Colorful Life
AnneMarie Chany / Gen X Quilters – Wrap Up
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“You Can Quilt!” A Book Review and A Blog Flashback

You know how dogs age 7 years for every one of our human years? I think there should be a formula like that for quilting/blogging years. Because once upon a time—in 2011—I participated in a quilt-along called The Skill Builder Sampler, with blogger Leila Gardunia. That was four years ago. Also, a lifetime ago. : ) Show of hands—who was hanging around my blog back then and remembers that? C’mon, I hope you guys are still out there!

Anyway, a lot has happened in four years. A whole lot. For one thing, I built my skills. Thanks in part to Leila’s quilt-along, and in part to the exhausting litany of other things I’ve done. I wrote a book and launched a line of patterns and taught classes and won a prize at QuiltCon and hosted a gajillion WIP Wednesdays and sewed and sewed and sewed.

But here’s the thing about building skills. You’re never done with that. Your skills are never all built and finished—they’re more like an eternal work-in-progress. To that end, Leila, along with co-author Marlene Oddie, have turned the Skill Builder Sampler into a book, called You Can Quilt! Building Skills for Beginners.

I mean, I thought I was a decent quilter four years ago. And then I pulled out those blocks from Leila’s quilt-along. (Yes, I still had them! And no, I had no trouble finding them in my studio! Organizational skills: Totally built!)

Ummm, yeah. The piecing, the crazy prints all thrown together—there are some areas for improvement (understatement alert). And as I looked at those blocks, my mind fast-forwarded another four years. I wasn’t done building my skills back then, and I’m still not done now, I know that much.

You Can Quilt! covers basically every quilting technique you could ask for in one book and 36(!) beautiful blocks. Paper-piecing, improv, inset seams, curves, applique—they’re all here in this book. Along with lots of helpful tips, step-by-step photos, and diagrams. It’s like a months-long, intensive quilting class in one handy volume. What better way to build your skills than block-by-block, with an amazing sampler to show for it at the end?

I know quilting can be intimidating sometimes, but you guys, you can’t learn how to do something without doing it. There will always be projects you’ll look back at four years later and say, “Wow, what was I thinking?” But it’s all part of the process, right? All you can do is build those skills one finished quilt at a time. And enjoy the results of that process. This book is all about that.

To celebrate my own process, I decided to take those nine orphan blocks I made four years ago and sew them into a quilt top. And I think the end result is pretty cool—the solid orange framing and Essex Linen background has the effect of chilling out the printy-ness of the blocks.

Want to win a free copy of You Can Quilt!, plus a bundle of the Prairie fabric line by Corey Yoder? (International readers have a chance to win an ebook.) You can enter over at Leila’s blog. And don’t forget to keep following along with the “You Can Quilt!” blog hop all this week! Thank you, Leila, for including me on the hop!

Nov. 16 – Lee at Freshly Pieced (- you are here!)
Nov. 17 – AnneMarie at Gen X Quilters
Nov. 18 – Leanne at She Can Quilt
Nov. 19 – Julie at That’s Sew Julie
Nov. 20 – Lyn guest-blogging at Flourishing Palms

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WIP Wednesday: Productivity!

I’ve had a busy week of teaching, finishing projects, and starting new ones!

The flying geese project that I started last week is done—you’ll be seeing more of this, plus complete project instructions, on Olfa’s website in a few weeks!

Next up: I’m starting to work on my next quilt-along! It’s a Greek key quilt, and you guys will not believe how fast and easy these blocks are. I always thought it would be a feather in my cap to design a quilt with ZERO seams that have to line up, and this one might be the closest I’ve ever come. So newbies take note, this will be a good one for you. : ) Let’s all do it together! The quilt-along will be starting on Bernina’s website in the near future—but I’ll give you plenty of advance notice here, so that you can get your fabric together and be ready to start it along with me.

Finally, I have something exciting to share with you: My friend Stephanie from Late Night Quilter is coming out with a Quilter’s Planner! This planner includes everything you need to organize your life and plan and track your sewing projects, plus it includes bonus block instructions and quilt patterns. Such a great idea, isn’t it?

 

Inside the spiral-bound planner, you’ll find monthly calendars, weekly calendars, sewing project planning pages, graph paper for quilt designs, a swatch-saver, free-motion quilting practice pages, beautiful and inspiring pull-out artwork, 52 original quilt block designs, AND 8 full quilt patterns, including one from me! (I’ll be blogging more about my pattern that’s included on another day.) All for only $35—an impressive value.

You can learn more about it and pre-order your Quilt Planner right here. I’ve already ordered mine! Be sure to watch Stephanie’s video about the planner at the top of the page—what she says really resonates with me, and I’m sure it will with you too!

Okay, so what are you working on this week? Let’s see it!

LINK-UP RULES:
1. Link up any blog post or Instagram photo from the past week that features an unfinished work-in-progress (WIP).
2. To link an Instagram photo, click the “Add Your Link” button below, then click on the Instagram icon at the bottom of the screen that pops up. You should then be able to select any of your recent Instagram photos. Where it says “Link,” use the URL of your Instagram feed (for example, my URL is www.instagram.com/freshlypieced). Please hashtag your IG post #wipwednesday.
3. If you are linking to a blog post, please link back here to my blog somewhere in your post.

4. Comment on at least a few of the other WIP Wednesday links, either IG or blog—commenting on the two or three links directly before yours works well to make sure everyone gets comments!

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Back-To-School Quilt

Welcome to my stop on the blog hop for Machine Quilting With Style by Christa Watson of Christa Quilts! My back-to-school inspired quilt is my version of the Static quilt from Christa’s book.

Would you believe I have never done a simple patchwork-square quilt? Honestly, I think they’re more intimidating than most people realize—not because of the sewing, but for design reasons! There’s an art to choosing just the right combination of colors and prints to pull it off. And then you have to get the random placement down—also not as easy as it looks. I admit I’ve started quilts like this a few times in my sewing career, only to abandon them when I decided something wasn’t quite right with the color palette or whatever.

So here’s Christa’s original Static quilt from Machine Quilting With Style—she nailed it, right? Love the colors and prints, and Christa’s method for constructing the quilt helps you get the randomness without sacrificing sewing efficiency. Bingo. I wanted to give patchwork squares another shot.
For my version, I chose a color palette and prints that just felt like September to me. : ) Apples and scissors and reds, blues, yellows, and yellow-greens. (Many of the prints I used are from Melody Miller’s Picnic collection for Cotton and Steel, along with lots of other odds and ends from other collections.) This quilt is perfect for my girls to wrap up in while they’re doing their prescribed 20 minutes of reading a day after school (one of my two is happy to blow way past the 20-minute mark when it comes to reading, while the other one …. well, we’re working on it!)
Mid-way through sewing the top together, I suddenly decided I needed to add some white around the edges. Usually I’m not a fan of borders (if you can even call these borders), but somehow I felt like these squares wanted breathing room. So I gave it to them.
Finally, the quilting! An important (and fun!) part of this book is that it focuses not just on the piecing designs, but exactly how to quilt each pattern in the book as well. Christa used soft wavy lines on the Static from the book, which of course I love (since that’s one of my go-to quilting designs myself!) But for this one, I got it in my head that I should try loopy line quilting. I’ve never done it before, but it reminds me of old-fashioned cursive writing, which went with the back-to-school theme of the quilt. There was a bit of a learning curve, but I love how it turned out and I think I’ll be trying loopy quilting again sometime!
Hope you like my version of Static—and please go check out Machine Quilting With Style right now! It’s an excellent book to add to your quilty library.

Finally, don’t forget to check out the rest of the stops on the blog hop to see more bloggers’ takes on the quilts from the book!

Plus there will be additional stops on the hop with extra content from these lovely peeps:

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On Quilting “For Keeps”

I have a big pile of quilts that my family uses every day. Sometimes, those quilts are folded in a neat stack next to the couch, but more often they can be found in a crumpled heap, or my kids are dragging them around the house giving their stuffed animals rides on them, or one is crammed underneath the ottoman, or one’s in the washing machine because somebody spilled on it. And I love that: In my opinion, all of the above are what quilts should do. I adore having that pile available for whatever purpose anybody wants them to serve, whether it’s staying warm on a chilly evening or building a fort for the American Girl dolls.

 

Know when the most recent of those quilts was made? 2012.

Because somewhere along the way, I started taking quilts to trunk shows. And sending them off to fabric companies. And sometimes getting them professionally quilted by superstars whose work are true masterpieces, so you certainly don’t want to drag that around on the floor. And people said things like, “That quilt was in a book! Take good care of it—it’s special!”

Don’t get me wrong, I love my job. Love it. I’m not apologizing for attempting to make money on my quilting, or implying that turning my hobby into a job has taken the passion out of it for me. I still love what I do and feel incredibly lucky to have this dream job, even after spending the last year working a little (okay, a lot) more than I might have liked and feeling plenty burned out after Quilt Market this spring. And I still put my heart and soul into everything I make, even my “working quilts.”

But. There’s just no substitute for making a quilt that you know is going to get loved to death by your family. No substitute for making a quilt that’s going to get super soft and crinkly from a hundred trips through the washing machine. A quilt to sit on while you watch fireworks or have doll tea parties. Isn’t that what makes a quilt truly special, not the fact that it was in a book? Whenever I’m making a quilt, my girls always come to oooh and ahhh over it, and invariably they ask, “Do we get to KEEP this one?” And by that they mean, “Do we get to have this one in the pile in the family room, instead of squirreling it away in a corner of your studio, only to be taken out for trunk shows?”

 

Enter Amy Gibson’s new book, For Keeps: Meaningful Patchwork for Everyday Living.
You probably know Amy from her Craftsy classes or her blog Stitchery Dickory Dock. Her gorgeous new book has reminded me of the importance of taking time out from things that are designed and made strictly for my business, in order to keep making special quilts for the most special people in my life. It’s a tough balance to strike of course, because there are only so many hours in the day, but it’s important, after all!

And what better place to start than that scrap quilt I’ve been itching to make for months?

I was initially thinking of an Irish Chain quilt, but as these little pairs of squares have started coming together, I’m now leaning toward a postage stamp quilt—a postage stamp quilt of 1″ squares, you guys! Just the kind of beautifully torturous project that you want to keep forever and ever and let your family use and abuse. : )
My goal is to use at least a small portion of every single print in my scrap bins. Every one of them! I’m sure some will get culled eventually, but it’s the working goal for now, anyway. I’ve divided my scraps roughly into 8 color families and my goal is to do two colors a week over the next four weeks. The reds are already done, as you can see. : ) Then I’ll lay them out into a big ol’ scrappy rainbow and spend the next decade or so sewing them all together. Good times.

 

While my particular “balance problem” might be unique to bloggers and pattern designers, I think in this day of Pinterest and beautiful photos online, we can all be tempted to get off track and make things for the wrong reasons. Or to believe that everything has to be absolutely perfect in order to be “good enough.” For Keeps hits the reset button on all of that. The projects range from classic quilts to playmats and pocket pillows that hold books—all written with Amy’s trademark sense of humor and illustrated with beautiful photography that reminds you that the simple things in life are often the best. : )

Amy has also created a For Keeps website with lots of fun extras, including a free quilt pattern, and you can even take the For Keeps pledge to sew for all the right reasons! As of this afternoon, 969 people have already taken Amy’s pledge! So I hope you’ll pick up For Keeps—and check back here for progress on my keeper scrap quilt!

 

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WIP Wednesday: Scrap-Happy

Happy Wednesday! Here’s what’s happening in my studio this week:

Lately I’ve been itching to make a something extra-crazy-scrappy, so I’ve started sorting through my scraps. I’m running out of room in the scrap bins, so I need to use up as many of these as possible! I had considered an Irish Chain, but now I’m thinking about something that will give more real estate to the scraps. Maybe just a simple postage stamp quilt? Hmmm.

Still working on the kaleidoscopes. Oh, yes. Still. : )

And I got my hands on this book
recently, so I’m excited to try my hand at some upholstery! Upholstery: A whole new use for fabric. I can’t believe I’ve waited this long to try it! In fact, my dining room chairs are in desperate need of a little attention, so a full review of this fun book will be forthcoming.

So who’s bringing us today’s WIP Wednesday? Yes, it’s Canton Village Quilt Works!

Jackie of Canton Village is thrilled to announce that her first book is coming out in September! “Splash of Color” is all about combining rainbow colors with black and white for some really eye-catching quilts. Splash of Color is available for pre-order right now.

GIVEAWAY: To celebrate, Canton Village is offering a $25 gift certificate! Thank you, Jackie!

To enter the giveaway, do any or all of the following (each one gets you one chance to win):
1. Comment on this post
2. Post a photo on Instagram with the hashtag #wipwednesday
3. Link up your own WIP Wednesday blog post or Instagram photo below

COUPON CODE: And you don’t have to wait for that gift certificate—Canton Village is also offering my readers 10% off any purchase! Use code 10freshpieced at checkout.

Okay, what are you working on? Let’s see it!

LINK-UP RULES:

1. Link up any blog post or Instagram photo from the past week that features an unfinished work-in-progress (WIP).
2. To link an Instagram photo, click the “Add Your Link” button below, then click on the Instagram icon at the bottom of the screen that pops up. You should then be able to select any of your recent Instagram photos. Where it says “Link,” use the URL of your Instagram feed (for example, my URL is www.instagram.com/freshlypieced). Please hashtag your IG post #wipwednesday.
3. If you are linking to a blog post, please link back here to my blog somewhere in your post.

4. Comment on at least a few of the other WIP Wednesday links, either IG or blog—commenting on the two or three links directly before yours works well to make sure everyone gets comments!

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My Block From Irish Chain Quilts


Hey everyone! Welcome to my stop on the blog hop for Melissa Corry‘s new book, Irish Chain Quilts!

I had no idea how versatile Irish Chain quilts were before Melissa’s book landed in my mailbox. I guess I thought there was just one way to make an Irish Chain. Thanks to Melissa’s creative interpretations in this book, I’m realizing that Irish Chains have huge design possibilities. And now I’m dying to make a scrappy Irish Chain of my own!

But before I do that, Melissa asked each of us to choose one block to make from her book. She’s going to put all of our blocks together into a big, scrappy charity quilt. So awesome!

I chose the String of Pearls quilt for my block. Everyone participating in the blog hop made their blocks in certain colors, and mine was blue.

This was a really fun, easy, quick block to make, so a scrap Irish Chain quilt should come together great. As you can see, I went pretty scrappy with mine. Can’t wait to see how Melissa’s charity
quilt turns out!

To see more blocks and quilt designs from Irish Chain Quilts, check out the other stops on the blog tour:

June 8th –   Happy Quilting – Blog Hop Intro
June 9th –   Moda Lissa – Lissa Alexander + Fat Quarter Shop – Jocelyn Ueng
June 10th –  Piece N Quilt – Natalia Bonner + In Color Order – Jeni Baker
June 11th –  Amy’s Creative Side – Amy Ellis + Sew Kind of Wonderful – Jenny Pedigo
June 12th –  Quilt Story – Megan Jimenez + Diary of a Quilter – Amy Smart
June 15th –  Freshly Pieced – Lee Heinrich + Christa Quilts – Christa Watson
June 16th –  Moda Cutting Table – Carrie Nelson + Little Miss Shabby – Corey Yoder
June 17th –  Fresh Lemons – Faith Jones + V and Co.  – Vanessa Christenson
June 18th –  A Quilting Life – Sherri McConnell + Stitch This! – Jenny Wilding Cardon
June 19th –  Happy Quilting – Wrap Up & Grand Prizes

 

And be sure to stop by Melissa’s blog, Happy Quilting. She’s doing a huge giveaway with copies of the book, plus many other goodies! Want to know where to buy Irish Chain Quilts? You can pick up a personalized, autographed copy from Melissa, or order from Amazon or Martingale.

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BBQ Grill Block from “The Paper-Pieced Home”

Welcome to my stop on “The Paper-Pieced Home” blog tour!

The Paper-Pieced Home
is a new book by the always-amazing Penny Layman of Sew Take a Hike. You guys might be aware by now that I’m kind of a fan of paper-piecing. : ) I’ve even been known to paper-piece half-square triangles and flying geese—that’s how much I love paper-piecing. So this was clearly a book for me.

The blocks in this book are ridiculously cute. Like, insanely so. And Penny’s book is so inspiring when it comes to ways to use these blocks. There are plenty of fun project ideas presented in the book, but I thought of about a dozen more of my own just flipping through the book for the first time. These blocks lend themselves so well to potholders, table runners, bags, placemats, pillows—you name it. Funny, I never realized my home was so lacking in paper-pieced décor until I got my copy of this book! : )

And while the patterns may look a little daunting at first, every time I do a “picture” pattern like this, I’m reminded of the fact that paper-piecing is paper-piecing—it truly doesn’t matter how big or small the seams are. It will turn out perfect, no matter what. Just one of the many things I love about this technique! I made the BBQ Grill block, and as usual, the block was much easier to sew than it looked beforehand.

Cute, right? It was a nice springtime project that makes summer feel a little closer for me. And the whole block took less than an hour to make. I just need to pick up some Insul-Bright so I can turn it into a potholder for my master-griller husband.

Here are some other things I love about this book:
• a CD with all of the paper-piecing patterns (no photocopying!)
• great paper-piecing hints and instructions
• a whole section devoted to choosing colors and prints (a fantastic addition to the book, since I think that’s one of the things Penny does so well)

The Paper-Pieced Home: Quilting a Household One Block at a Time
by Penny Layman
Interweave/F+W, $26.99

Want to see more? Visit the other stops on the “Paper-Pieced Home” blog tour! (Some have giveaways!)

3/16       McCall’s Quilting / Sewing Machine Block
3/17       Love of Quilting / Review
3/17       Sandi Sawa Hazlewood  of Crafty Planner / Watering Can Block
3/18       Quilty Pleasure (Quiltmaker blog) / Review
3/18       Imagine Gnats / Rotary Phone Block
3/20       Verykerryberry / Lion Block
3/21       Artisania / Cast-Iron Skillet Block
3/23       Where the Orchids Grow / Lamp Block
3/24       Katie Blakesley of Swim Bike Quilt / Layer Cake Block
3/24       House on Hill Road / Oven Mitt Block
3/24       Lee Heinrich of Freshly Pieced / BBQ Grill Block
3/26       Pink Penguin / Allie-Gator Block
3/26       A Happy Stitch / Giraffe Block
3/27       Bijou Lovely / Jar Block
3/27       Two Little Banshees / Saucepan Block
3/27       Charise Creates / Espresso Mug Block
3/30       Karen Lewis Textiles / Couch Block
3/31       Poppyprint / Clawfoot Tub Block
3/31       One Shabby Chick / Stack of Books Block
3/31       During Quiet Time / Sleeveless Dress Block
4/06       Pat Sloan The Voice of Quilting / Author Podcast Interview
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My Fire Whirl Quilt in Scraps, Inc.

Looking for a way to use up some scraps? Oh, you are? (How did I know that? LOL.) Well, I’ve got a book for you. : )
It’s called Scraps, Inc., and it’s a beautiful compilation packed with scrappy—and modern—quilts. I’m so thrilled to have a quilt of my own in this incredible volume.
My quilt is called Fire Whirl, and, well, it’s a maelstrom of half-square triangles, is what it is. But what better way to put those scraps to use than HSTs?
Also, I’ve got a super sneaky, Thangles-but-better way for you to make all those HSTs. This slick little method requires no squaring up. Let me repeat: Zero squaring up. Sound good? I hope you love this method as much as I do!

I really, really love this quilt. Scrap quilts are always on my to-do list, and there are several other quilts in this book that are calling my name, including these:

My Favorite Things by Amy Ellis

Overcast by April Rosenthal

Richmond by Sherri McConnell (and I admit I’m a little jealous that my quilt didn’t get to hang on that awesome aqua step ladder thingy!).

Discount: Lucky Spool is kindly offering all of you a discount on Scraps, Inc.! The book is currently on sale right here for 20% off, and you can get an additional 10% off using the code SCRAPS30. Check it out! And maybe pick up a few for Christmas gifts while you’re at it. : )