Saturday, December 25, 2010

Merry Christmas

Our Christmas morning was awesome. Santa must have had us on his 'nice' list this year.

I knit the above socks from some yarn I made on my spindles, before my spinning wheel came into the picture. If you want to get into spinning, a spindle is an easy and fun first step.

Handspun yarn has a certain look to it that makes it more textural. I really prefer it over commercially created yarn.

My biggest surprise gift was a new Baltimore Album quilt pattern collection: Lady of Victory.

There is an apple wreath block in here that I really just must make. It's amazing.

We're expecting guests for dinner, and the turkey is in the oven. Not sure it gets better than this.

Well, ok, we could be expecting my parents and my sister's family for dinner (which we aren't), but that is the only thing that would make it better.

Merry Christmas to all of you out there. May the rest of your holiday season be filled with health and peace.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Visiting Santa

We went and visited Santa last night.

The boys whispered in his ear all the toys they have been dreaming of getting into their clutches.

When he first saw us, he called to each of us by our names!

It was very impressive.

When I looked closely in his eyes, I felt like I knew him from another life somewhere. Like I might have worked with him at some point in my career. It was a comforting feeling, as if he was an old friend.

Anyhow, I'm a believer, so we gave him his cookies and dropped off our letters to him.

I'm still wrapping gifts I the only procrastinator?

To those of you who are still getting're not alone!

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

The Christmas Calm

I can almost (but really not quite yet) feel the calm of Christmas coming.

It will be awesome to spend a few days away from the daily grind and with the family. Kids are so adorable right now, and in love with the idea that Santa is coming.

I am SO looking forward to putting a new-to-me antique quilt top into the quilt hoop. Once I'm actually on vacation I think that is the first item on my to do list.

Well, after all the gifts are wrapped.

Today my 5 year old asked me, "Mommy, what is your favorite thing of all?"

I told him it is our family, of course. And he agreed that family is also his #1 most favorite thing.

He then asked me what my 2nd most favorite thing is.

I answered that it is our friends and he agreed again that his 2nd most favorite thing is our friends.

He keep going though to my amazement and asked me what my 3rd favorite thing was.

I said that it is our planet Earth and he agreed that it is his 3rd favorite thing.

He then asked me, "Mommy, do you want to know my 4th favorite thing?"

I replied that I was very interested, and he answered with one word:

Okok, message received...we'll find a way to get back there again.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Is your stocking hung yet?

Well, our house is finally decorated and stockings are hung.

Ok, truthfully we hung them and the 2 yr old tried to yank them down, so we promptly un-hung them.

That's how it is in our house this year. Breakable ornaments on the top half of the tree only please.

We have most of the shopping done I think with a few final hold outs that we have yet to find the perfect item for, but I would say it's trending in the right direction.

For me, this holiday is going to be about pampering ourselves which translates to not material goodies or toys but...

More Sleep!

Yes, our holiday goal is to get 8 hrs of sleep a night. Who knows if we can pull it off over our break, but I think we would all be so much better off for it.

I have a couple of handmade projects I'm cooking up for the break too. Think anybody would notice if I pretended to cook the turkey and ordered a pre-cooked one instead so I would have more time for quilting?

Shhh don't tell!

What I'm loving lately:

1) Tanis' awesome star ornaments from Tanis Fiber Arts

2) Wool Felt mistletoe from Ohdeedoh, and not to mention her link to the minimalistic Muppet poster - I kinda need one of these...embarassing but true. I should really stop here, but have you also seen the Modern Gingerbread Houses - too much!

3) This lace fence as mentioned on Famille Summerville (I used to hate these kinds of fences, and now I want one - it looks like knitted lace to me!)

4) The sing-a-long iPad app that lets you sing Glee Karaoke songs - wow, do I really sound that bad?

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Japanese Taupe Quilts, Baltimore Albums, and Applique ideas

I decided to make a little quilted example piece for my hand quilting class, the above is the progress so far. Not sure if I will finish it before class or in class, but it is looking very pretty far.

I recently had a bit of an 'early Christmas shopping for self' moment on Amazon (sigh, I am addicted to books) but I must share with you what I have learned:

1) Japanese taupe Quilts by Susan Briscoe:

This book is really amazing. If you like Chuck Nohara's work, or have been interested in her small block quilts, this book is very similar and will not disappoint you. It includes 125 block patterns (nice) and they are all really beautiful. My only regret with this book is that it doesn't include a paper fold out pattern in the back with full size templates for all the blocks. Still, a very nice addition to your library and a 'must have' for those of us who work in Japanese taupe fabrics.
ISBN: 978-1-56836-378-3

2) Beloved Baltimore Album Quilts by Elly Sienkiewicz:

From somebody who is trying to get a copy of everything Elly has ever published, you know I had to have this book. Her album blocks are just incredible, not that I have to remind you of that. I did not get to see the Baltimore album quilts when they were in Houston (did you?) but having this book is a treat, and it includes patterns for some of the blocks used in those quilts. If you love applique, you need this book. Block patterns are very small as compared to her usual blocks. If you wanted to have a larger quilt, you could probably enlarge them and complete them pretty quickly.

3) The Ultimate Applique Guidebook by Annie Smith:

If you listen to Annie's podcast, you will know how enthusiastic she is about quilting, and how much she has to share with all of us. This book is really beautiful and instead of giving us block pattern after block pattern she encourages you to design your own blocks. There are tons of shapes in here that help you to go forth and make your own applique blocks. I LOVE this book (and not just because I'm such an Annie fan either). Here talented husband illustrated it for her, that is so sweet.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Getting ready for class

Next Sunday is I'm teaching Hand Quilting as well as Hand Applique at A Verb For Keeping Warm in the East Bay.

Thinking a little about the class and putting some notes in order so I don't forget to pass on any important nuggets or tidbits of info to the students.

It's a cold weekend anyhow, so a good one to catch up and spend time with friends and family.

If you're looking for some beautiful images, you could check out Alex's blog - Moonstitches.

She takes one photo a day during the month of December that features a number. It is a bit of a tour of Japan so if you're into Japanese culture, it might be of interest to you. Her photos are as amazing as ever.

My husband is putting the "Lawn Christmas Tree" up right now.

It's a tradition every year for all the residents in my neighborhood to put a small 'Charlie Brown' tiny tree out on their lawn and decorate it. 100% of the homes do it, and trees go up first Saturday in December. It makes the neighborhood look really joyful.

Do you have any holiday traditions that your corner of the world does?

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Top 10 holiday gifts for quilters and knitters - Happy Cyber Monday

Need a gift idea for your favorite quilter or knitter?

Looking for the top 10 gifts of the year?

How about picking up 10 copies of the Quilt Otaku 2011 wall calendar?!

Back again by popular demand. There is a preview of all the pages if you click the button below (click on the title, then click 'Preview').

Happy Holiday Season!

Support independent publishing: Buy this calendar on Lulu.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Giving Thanks - in my Catherine Wheel Scarf!

That's me above, in all of my Catherine Wheel scarf wearing glory.

If you have the urge to make one of these, please do, you'll love the relaxing process of these little crochet wheels.

If you're hungry for more images, I have new flickr sets:

Catherine Wheel scarf #1 - crazy colors, using Zauberball yarn

Catherine Wheel scarf #2 - sunset colors, using Joyland Melody yarn.

and by special request for Kathie - a flickr set from the Los Altos museum with some of the quilts there.

Here's what I'm thankful for this year:

  • My family, and their health - we have been so blessed, we are all our own strange beasts but we manage to work through our little challenges very well.

  • My darling husband - I'm serious when I say he went to FOUR yarn stores for me while he was on business in Norway. If this doesn't tell you how dedicated he is, I don't know what will!

  • My sons - for being as young as they are, they do try very hard not to kill each other when left to their own devices. Overall, they are amazing little people well on their way to gentlemanhood.

  • My new friends - last year I lost two people who were very dear to me, and this year I am gaining two new baby friends. One unfortunately doesn't replace the other, but they do find ways to help fill in the holes.

  • My passions - this has been a big year for me: learning to spin and dye protein fibers naturally, learning to knit lace (or trying to!) and keeping up with my quilting and blogging. All of it brings a lot of joy to my daily grind.

  • You - without the community of bloggers & online forums, I would feel like I'm the only person on earth who has more fabric than they can actually fit into their house. But, I not alone here...right?...anyone?? Truthfully, I do gain so much inspiration from you all - a huge thank you to those of you who take the time to share it with us who follow you.

    Hope you have as much to be as thankful as I do, I'm thrilled to have such a long list.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Los Altos History Museum: Holiday Bells and Whistles

Sometimes when it rains we visit the Los Altos History Museum because they have a really cool train layout that my sons love to operate.

Recently, we stopped by there, and got a nice surprise. Not only do they have a huge installation of Lionel toy trains that is super cool and appealing to little boys, but for me there were some beautiful quilts!

They are from all over the U.S. and although there are not more than about 10 or so of them, they are mostly antique quilts in Christmas red/green colors.

A nice unexpected treat. They will be up through the start of next year so check them out if you're in the area.

Oh, and have lunch at Esther's German Bakery first - that is worth the trip itself, and very close by.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Hand Quilting and Hand Applique Classes

It's been busy around here with my husband traveling lately but the boys are really behaving well for me.

Getting more laundry done and less quilting these days, but I do have some exciting news to share.

My favorite yarn and fiber shop A Verb for Keeping Warm has moved to a new location in Oakland, California and started to carry quilting supplies.

I'm lucky enough to be teaching some hand quilting and hand applique classes there in mid-December.

I am really looking forward to it. If you live in the area and want to brush up on your skills, feel free to join us. I think we are going to have a great time.

I'm covering hand work only which is perhaps a lost art, but not lost on really is my passion.


Saturday, November 13, 2010

Field Report From Oslo: Shopping for yarn in Norway

My darling husband is traveling for business and along the way (as a special treat for me) he agreed to do a guest blog post about craft shops he ran into.

Instead of spending time taking photos of the city, he visited several shops I wish I could have visited too.

Enjoy his post below - Thanks Honey for doing this, it is so kind of you.
- Marisa

Jamie's guest blog post:

This is the Quilt Otaku field agent reporting from Oslo, Norway.

Knitting is a popular pastime here, so I have been dispatched to see how easy it is to visit the local shops. It turns out it isn’t hard at all as long as you know the right word to search for.

If you happen to be at the CC Vest shopping center in Lysaker just three train stops west of Oslo Central Station, be sure to check out the Ariadne Garn shop. It is nestled snugly underneath the escalator on the bottom floor, and while it is the smallest shop that I visited it is full of colorful yarn and needles.

Just north of the Vigeland Sculpture Park and Oslo City Museum is the Tjorven Garn shop. They have a large selection of yarn of various kinds, from sport marino to eskimo. They also have a small selection of new and used books for sale hidden on the back side of their cutting table.

I hoped to visit Sofies Garn to the north of the Royal Palace, but when I went by they were closed and had a note posted that probably explained why... in Norwegian of course!

The largest shop by far was the Huslfliden which filled much of the bottom floor of the GlasMagasinet shopping center. They had the most floor space though their yarn collection was perhaps on par with Tjorven. They did have a spinning wheel on display, and while they were the only shop I visited with wool it was entirely Australian imports. Their book and pattern selection was the best, so if that is your goal then perhaps Husliden should be your first stop.

One final note: it seems custom in Norway to provide pattern magazines free of charge, but only along with the purchase of 2 or more balls of yarn. If you are traveling and hope to bring some patterns home, be sure to leave some space for yarn too.

Stay tuned for a field report from London in a few days.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Applique Baby Quilt: the big reveal

My dear friend Sharon is expecting a baby girl any day now, so the friends in our weekly knit nite club decided to make her a baby quilt.
Ok, well it wasn't quite like that.

I sorta tricked them into learning how to quilt and talked them into making it.

It was a really fun group project where we had some experienced quilters and some folks that were totally new to it and missing their crochet hooks often during the process.

In the end, all the blocks came out so nice and it looks like a unified whole quilt, which is amazing with so many hands working on it.

I wanted to show you pictures of this since I've been playing around with it for so long now, but it was a surprise gift so we all had to keep photos off our blogs.

More stories about the quilt on the next post. I have a bunch of photos of it. Hopefully I can get them up on a flickr set for you. The group worked really hard on it and it turned out just beautiful.

Now all we need is the baby.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Happy Halloween: Crochet Pumpkin

Our Halloween was really fun.

Kids enjoyed it even though I was too busy putting finishing touches on a baby quilt to even think about making costume this year.

My friend Dorothee was generous enough to teach me how to crochet a little pumpkin decoration so I made one and had a great time using some of my recently made handspun yarn.

The fiber was from my favorite Berkeley shop, A Verb for Keeping Warm, and was dyed by Pigeonroof Studios in colorway "Experimental Views". Who knew it would make such a cute pumpkin.

I threw on a fake green wig and ran around in a batman shirt. Did you get out and dress up this year?

Monday, October 25, 2010

Purl Soho in Orange County, and finally meeting MariRob

So much to catch up on!

When I was in Orange County several weeks ago, I stopped in at the Purl Soho warehouse since I was lucky enough to be there on a week day. (M-F only! Bummer.)

There were lots of friendly folks there to help you with fabric and yarn (danger, this place is so much fun!) but I didn't realize I would meet a fellow blogger.

It turned out that working there on that day was Mari of Marirob blog. Her blog is just beautiful - stunning photos, awesome crafts, and she's a guest blogger for Purl Soho's blog The Purl Bee from time to time as well.

She has the most beautiful baby girl that I think I've ever seen. This baby immediately captured my heart. I had a hard time tearing myself away from looking at how adorable she is in order to buy some fabric, but with Liberty of London fabrics at 40% off...I eventually got down to the business of shopping.

If you are ever in Orange County, California on a week day this place is a must stop. My favorite store in So. Cal.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Pacific International Quilt Festival 2010

Yesterday I did a fly-by of the amazing quilt show that happens every year, very close to where I live. I am so lucky to not have to travel to see it.

It's an international show with quilts from all over the globe, and booths of goodies from every corner of the USA.

I'll have much more to say when I have some spare time, but for now I am itching to share photos of the quilts that I love with you.

There were plenty more beautiful quilts that I didn't photograph just due to lack of time. This is really an amazing show though. Check it out in person if you ever have the time.

Pacific International Quilt Festival 2010: Slide show Flickr Set from Quilt Otaku

Enjoy and consider yourself warned, there are almost 300 photos.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

The Happiest Place on Earth

Our school district was out of school this week, so we took a road trip down to Southern California.

It was awesome.

We visited Legoland (which I HIGHLY recommend if you have kids under 10 yrs old). The above photo was taken there in the model version of Las Vegas, made totally out of Legos. Rides were really nice for little kids and lines were very very short, so good for those with short attention spans.

Our sons went to Disneyland, and I got away for the evening with my sweet husband.

Disneyland is usually known as the happiest place on Earth, but for me...the happiest place on Earth is actually the Purl Soho warehouse located in Tustin.

More on my visit there later, as I got some amazing new fabric and met (in person!) a pretty incredible blogger.

For now, time to rest a bit.

p.s. Anybody out there going to Pacific International Quilt Festival this weekend?

Monday, October 4, 2010

7 Years and Not a Single Itch

They say that after 7 years in a relationship, you start to get that '7 year itch' to do something else, see a new person, or even in some cases people end their marriage.

For us, it has now been 7 years, and there have been no itches or even thought of an itch.

It hardly seems like it has been that long, and if I live to be married to my husband for another 50 years it still won't be long enough for my taste.

He already has everything that he could possible need, so this year I decided to make him a little relaxation pillow out of wool.

Wool is the traditional gift for the 7th wedding anniversary, so I thought it was quite fitting.

Our 5 yr old helped me stuff it with cotton and I put some lime essential oil on there to refresh him when he smells it.

It looks very 'home made' but he loves it (and me) anyhow.

We had the extreme pleasure of having dinner w/ our boys and one of the girls who was a bridesmaid in the wedding. I wish that all of them were close enough to have dinner with us.

Thanks to my husband for not only taking such good care of me but for proof reading basically each and every of my blog posts (what a trooper!!!). xoxo

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Quilt Hoop - which one is best?

We still have hot weather here, so strawberry picking is a worthwhile activity. We plucked a couple buckets of them after the apple picking was done last weekend.

When it comes to hand quilting, I've found that size really does matter.

I have an embarrassing number of quilt hoops but for the most part I use my 18" floor hoop that I got from Hinterberg on a usual basis.

I also have their 22" hoop, but I find that it is a bit on the big side for me and I have trouble reaching the other side.

How big's your quilt hoop? Got a favorite one? Maybe I need just one more?

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Day Trips

Last weekend was packed with multiple day trips all in only 2 days.

We visited Berkeley to pick up my new matchless spinning wheel at A Verb for Keeping Warm. Kristine, the shop owner, was so lovely to go over all the bells and whistles on the wheel. I'm already spinning up a storm.

As much as going to 'quilt stores' (my sons call all stores that only I want to visit 'quilt stores') we needed a boy-friendly adventure too. That came in the form of a visit to the USS Pampanito.

This is a real military submarine that you can tour, walk through, and imagine that you got to sail on. It was pretty neat. I found out that if you're a 5 yr old boy or a 36 yr old man...the same 'cool' appeal applies.

We also visited the Heath store in the San Francisco Ferry Building. They have very minimalistic plates and other ceramics for the kitchen. Very nice stuff...their shop in the Ferry Building was a little small and I found myself slightly sorry that I didn't go to their factory in Sausalito. Next time.

Oh yeah, and we went apple and strawberry picking in Watsonville. It was so hot! We did grab some fruit and run though. Can you say strawberry applesauce?

One more link - check out my sister's baby's 2 yr old signature quilt block . It's really cute to see all the signatures on it. Her calligraphy is beautiful.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Spindle love

Just a quick post tonight, it's already getting late.

I finally went to Yarn Dogs yarn/fiber shop in Los Gatos, California last weekend. I picked up some fiber that is superfine merino (maybe 150's merino?) that was hand dyed by Carin Engen of

So pretty. This colorway is called Stone. I am not sure what to do with only 2 oz of it, but maybe I'll make a nose cozy.

Could this be the swan song for my little spindle? I will always love it...but I will also confess that I'm soon to get a new plaything for spinning.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Places to go

I started reading Pride and Prejudice since I love Jane Austen and wanted something to relax a bit.

We aren't traveling much lately because we have all been sick on and off, so staying close to home and reading is our fun for now.

My older boy made a list of places he wants to visit. He made it just before his 5th birthday. I thought it was a cute list, so I'll share it here with you:

- China
- England
- Germany
- Oakland Zoo
- Canada
- Asia
- Camping in Big Sur, California
- To the circus
- Gilroy Gardens amusement park
- Disneyland
- Andy Z concert
- Alaska
- Wisconsin
- Orange County
- County Fair
- Aircraft Show
- Ireland
- Midway Aircraft Carrier in San Diego, CA
- Antarctica

I used to have a similar list on the back of my door that I would check off now and then. Those days are long gone for me, but it's an impressive list my son has here. I hope he checks them all off eventually.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Daiwabo Fabrics

Here is the '2' birthday block. I'm using Daiwabo yarn woven fabrics for these blocks. Check out the 1 yr old version here.

The older boy's blocks have hand dye fabrics by Primrose Gradations, a company that no longer shows up at quilt shows I go to but looks like I can still get fabrics online.

The older versions of the previous year's blocks for 1 and 2 and 3 and 4 are of course in the collection waiting for assembly.

My son's favorite color is pink right now, at 5 years old, which is why I made his block with pinkish fabric (photo in my last post). I love that he doesn't realize that is typically a 'girl color' (why is that anyhow??) and he just digs it for the cool color it is.

Someday in the not so distant future, his friends may convince him that pink is not a 'manly' color. Until then, I love his innocence and his passion about opinions that he has uniquely formulated all by himself.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Turning 2. Turning 5. Turning 500.

This weekend my sons had their 1 day apart birthdays and it was a lot of fun. The little one turned 2 and the older one turned 5.

Grandparents visited and it was overall pretty relaxed as we already had the kid bounce house party a couple of weeks ago.

I made a cake for each of them (yes, that's 2 cakes people!). If you want to try a left-over slice, just say the word.

More toys than I can even say grace the floor of our living room. I am living in fear of The Great Clean Up event coming later tonight.

As my boys are growing up too quickly for my taste, this blog is getting older too.

This is my 500th post and my blog is 3.75 years old or so. Who knew I would have this much fun sharing my creative endeavors and life in general with you.

My warmest and sincerest THANK YOU to you for reading, for commenting, for stopping by, and for also sharing your creative inspiration with me.

Someday soon I'll have to make a belated 500th post party gift to give away, but I will confess I have too much on my plate a this very instant.

Here's to the next 500. Cheers!


Thursday, September 2, 2010

Riding herd

I've been riding herd on the upcoming birthday planning.

Our son's 1-day-apart birthdays are almost in hand, so preparations are well underway.

Presents have been mail ordered (no time for the mall!) and I even made a little video invite for the grandparents since they are flying in. We sorta already had their 'kid friend' party, so the real 'day of' is very relaxed this year.

Above is a photo of my very own birthday crown hat that I made based on the Creative Family book by Amanda Soule. They are fun to make and the family finally shamed me into making one for myself.

So much more going on...a new knitting book arrived in my hot little hands, an online shopping spree was had for Japanese Fabric at SuperBuzzy, and my crochet scarf was finally finished.

More on all of that soon, I promise.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Unwanted Guests: Buh-Bye

The last week has been just crazy for us.

We had our house fumigated so we ended up moving out for a while and taking a fair amount of our belongings with us.

I still have yet to unpack my suite case but at least we are not in a hotel anymore.

As an attempt to relax, I pulled out a really old project this week. It's a giant 1890's era nine patch quilt that I bought as a quilt top and basted together so I could quilt it by hand.

It's been a while since I have quilted through all 3 layers with my little thimble, and it reminded me that I do love doing it.

Hope your week is off to a better start. I was just happy when we located the coffee filters. More when the dust clears.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Finding the time

When you love to quilt, or knit, or spin, or bake...or whatever it is you do, there is always a way to find the time to do it.

Lately, I've been finding the time here and there, but not as much as I'd like to. I take a portable project in the car and work on it for maybe 15 min/day. Doesn't sound like much, but it keeps me feeling like I did something that I love that day.

I'm not getting any younger this week. In fact, quite the opposite. But as they say, it's better than the alternative.

Being able to claim I'm '30-something' won't last forever so for now I'm enjoying it.

Here's to the start of a new year for me. I'm hoping it's better than last year. If I could have just one wish for this next year it would be for the health and safety of my friends and family.

(insert blowing out of birthday candle sound here) FFFffffff!

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Kindergarten: one giant step for parent-kind

There are days in your life that certainly qualify as major milestones. Your wedding day, when you first get your drivers license, the day you give birth.

For me, today is one of those days: The first day of Kindergarten.

As we walked up to the brand new school with brand new teacher and brand new kids, my son held my hand and said, "I'm shy, Mommy".

We got to the door of his classroom together (still holding hands) and as soon as we got very close, he just ran right in and never looked back.

He's just that kind of kid, a real go-getter and a lover of life and new experiences. I have almost cried several times when talking to friends about our first baby going off to 'big kid' school. I am so proud, I just cannot say.

Above is a photo of the vintage Fisher Price toy that I got for his 5th birthday which is coming up soon. I had the same one when I was a kid. I hope he likes it.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Quilt Blogs with Beautiful Photos

Busy week for us, but the highlight so far was having my knitting group over to catch up and visit.

Some people look forward to their weekend time, but I look forward to 'knit nite; or quilting night as the case may be.

I worked a little bit on this scarf I have due to a general lack of energy to pull out the sewing machine. I'll get back to that soon.

Meanwhile, I ran around the house taking photos for you with my lensbaby on the camera. It's like a lens and a slinky at the same time, really fun to play.

You know I love to take photos, and maybe some of you remember the photo tutorial I wrote some time ago about how to take better blog pictures of your projects.

What are your favorite blogs with beautiful photos of either quilts or knitting? I'm looking for fresh new inspiration. Maybe you have some ideas for me.

Lately I've been lurking around on:

There are millions out there, but I'm over the moon when I find a blog that not only has beautiful projects, but beautiful light as well.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Batter Up: Baseball field birthday cake

Just a quick post since it's late.

I wanted you to know that with a lot of good ideas from my mom and sister, and some help from my husband in moving around giant sheet cakes, the 5th birthday party was really fun and our son loved his cake.

My sister told me to smash up some cookies for the 'dirt' of the infield, so I did that and it turned out looking really nice.

The kids that attended the party signed his birthday quilt block too. More about that next time.

Friday, August 6, 2010

I Heart Linen: Pincushion

Here's a quick photo for you of the pincushion I made from Rashida's book I Heart Patchwork. A really cute little book. Her version of the same thing is posted on flickr here. (Thanks sister for passing this link along!xo)

Working with linen is such a challenge for me, coming from only quilting with 100% cotton fabrics. Is there some trick to it that I'm missing? Whenever I use it, I feel like I'm working with jello. (click here to see my fav clip about jello, warning - there is sound)

We will be having an early 5 yr old birthday party this weekend and I'll be decorating a cake to look like a baseball diamond. This will be a great creative stretch goal for me to actually make it look like a real ball field. I wish that my sister or my friend Jennifer lived closer. I'm sure they would just do it for me.

Anyhow, here goes....wish me luck.

Saturday, July 31, 2010

Favorite Kid's books...ideas anyone?

I finally made something from the I Heart Patchwork book, but I need to photograph it in good light for you. It's the little flower pin cushion.

I'm preparing for the boys birthday parties, so looking around on Amazon. Think that perhaps I'll get a couple more Rubbabu ball toys for them. These things are simply awesome.

Also looking at some Caledecott winners. Picking just a couple of books is hard because they are all so beautiful. Do you have any favorites? It's hard to find something better than Flotsam.

The above is some Joyland Melody Superwash yarn I'm using on the Catherine Wheel scarf that is currently my portable project of choice. Mostly due to my fear of having my beloved quilting scissors taken away during air travel. Home sweet home, glad to be back!

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

My Tanktop = His Super-Cape

It turns out that if you are an almost 5 yr old boy, and take your mommy's favorite tanktop, and slip your arms through the arm holes such that the rest of it drapes off of your back, it acts just like a super hero cape.

If you run around the house like this yelling "I'm Batman!" for a while, during which time she is busy doing laundry, you will probably not even be caught for a good amount of time.

During that time, you might even create a bond with your mommy's favorite tanktop such that you develop a new sense of entitlement to said tanktop.

For now, I suppose it has a higher calling.

In spare moments I have been working on another Catherine Wheel scarf, and not doing a whole lot else. Although I am reading lots of quilt books and documenting some ideas for projects in my project journal.

Oh and every night I'm reading a book called "How I Became A Pirate" so I'm getting good at speaking 'pirate' too. Shiver me timbers!

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Making room

When we were in Barrington, Illinois, I bought some fabric from their Civil War section as well as some more shirtings. It's mostly destined for the wedding signature quilt (yes, I'm STILL thinking about that quilt).

The birthday season will be upon us soon enough for our boys, so we went through a lot of their current toys today.

Some will be donated, some passed along to other smaller kids, and others just organized so that all the parts are in one place. At least we have a little more space for the incoming toys.

I'm personally on a bit of a toy kick these days. I remember so clearly playing with all the old toys we had from Fisher Price when I was small. I am thinking of giving a few of those old sets to the boys for their birthdays.

I'm also obsessed with Plan Toys. Their City Station would cause me to play with it for days and days. Two of their modern racers found their way home with me this afternoon and were well loved all day long by two very competitive boys. I want to buy this 'green' dollhouse for my niece.

I'm sure there are toys from your childhood that you can almost still feel in your hands even now. What were your favorites?

Mrs. Beasley anyone?

Maybe I'm showing my age here...oops.

Monday, July 19, 2010

My head is spinning

After wanting a spinning wheel for quite some time, I decided to take the plunge and order a wheel.

We were up in Oakland at A Verb for Keeping Warm over the weekend, and I ended up picking up more fiber to spin into yarn. I just couldn't resist ordering a wheel since it makes it go so much faster, and I'm all about efficiency.

It takes at least a month to come in, so until then I'm plugging along on other projects. Still sewing, and using a drop spindle, and making a scarf of all things (yes, odd to make a scarf in the dead of summer).

We did visit the U.S.S. Hornet over the weekend as well as it was the real destination of our trip and the yarn shop was a side diversion. The kids loved it, but I think my husband loved it more. A cool spot, but a bit scary with an almost 2 yr old since lots of very steep stairs. Think we'll visit again after we're better at walking!

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Travel Tote - handmade!

Before our summer vacation, I designed and made the kids little activity bags that I named their Travel Totes.

I was expecting that they would sorta like them, but the response was overwhelming. They took them everywhere and refused to even go into a restaurant without them.

It was pretty cute. Not every time you make something for your kids do they really appreciate it and love it.

While I was making them, I wrote down directions and I'm of course toying with making a pattern for them. If there were only just a few more hours in the day...hope to get to it eventually.

There were pockets for their books and other little treasures and I filled it up with pretty much 100% imported Japanese goodies. I'll have to post more photos for you. They really did turn out pretty cool.

Also on the trip I visited a quilt shop in Cedarburg, Wisconsin called Material Matters. They had some Velcro so I picked it up and added it to the Travel Tote for added security of the goodies. It was a super cute shop and I loved their collection of wool fabrics.

Monday, July 12, 2010

A Touch of Amish quilt shop in Barrington Illinois

On our recent vacation, on the way back towards the Chicago airport, we were rushing to get to my favorite quilt shop - A Touch of Amish located in Barrington Illinois.

What better way to finish off a vacation than to take already overstuffed luggage and cram a few yards of fabric on in there too.

We were cursed with traffic on the way to this shop and I was sure that we would not actually get there before they closed at 4pm. (4pm is way too early for a quilt shop to close)

My husband was driving with purpose and we pulled up in front of the shop only 4 min before closing.

I ran in and the ladies working there did want to go home and all, but they were pretty tolerant of my late shopping anyhow.

I bought a bunch of civil war reproduction fabrics and headed on my way.

This is still my favorite quilt shop on the planet. If you are in the area, I would recommend a drop in. Perhaps if you get there very close to closing time, you'll spend slightly less money.

When I find a better quilt shop, I'll let you know. For now - this place is #1 on my list. Ok that is #1 on my American list. Yuzawaya is still #1 in Japan of course.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Chicagoland and Quilting

We just came back from a week in the Mid West.

With lots of family there, we would love to visit more often but going there once every few years unfortunately will have to do for now. It's not easy to travel that far with little kids but they did very well.

I have a lot to say about the trip, but for now I will just say that spending more time would probably lead to more money spent at quilt shops.

In my last frig post, Anna went for it and posted a photo of her frig too over at Rupert Girl blog. It says a lot about her passion for Italian things.

I also discovered that Round Cord Elastic by Stretchrite can be used as a launcher of sewn and stuffed items. Cool, a little danger. Just what the almost 5 yr old wants.

Friday, July 2, 2010

Open your kimono: What's on YOUR frig?

If the front of your frig isn't a commentary on your life, I don't know what is.

Some refrigerators are cute, some are ugly, and some just funny.

I dare you to take a photo of the front of your frig - right now, just DO IT, and post it on your blog. What does it say about you? What does my photo say about me?

Pretty much everything I think.

If you do it, let me know and I'll check it out, for sure!

Friday, June 25, 2010

Going Japanese? Start with your nail polish

When I was picking up soy sauce (after I picked up my latest copy of Quilts Japan) I could not resist getting the most immature sparkle nail polish I've ever seen at our local Japanese market.

It's by pa and it's amazing. I know that you can only get away with these sorts of nails if you are either an actual Japanese person or a 10 yr old American girl and I don't fit either of these descriptions. Oh well, life's too short - right?

This weekend we have some big plans - berry picking! I can almost feel a pie coming on. Can you make something similar to gooseberry fool by using either olallieberries or blackberries? Hm...maybe we'll give it a shot.

And yes, if you're wondering, I'm still making star blocks! An oddly, still enjoying it all. Have a great weekend.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Daddy Dearest

Some dads don't mind helping out with the children.

Some dads actually enjoy it.

Then there's the dad of our boys - he pretty much lives for it.

For Father's Day this year we went to Point Reyes National Seashore which was so beautiful. We took a small hike to the beach and the baby got a real kick out of his hiking backpack.

After getting half way back up the hill I was wishing that I would fit into that thing.

I did knit a little in the car on the way there, so fun to get a little something creative done.

Here's to all the dad's out there.

For my husband who is the ultimate father to our children, and for my dad who was always there for me as a kid and still is for that matter.

Check out my sister's blog for some really funny-cute photos of her with our dad.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

I'm still at it here.

I'm still at it with my reproduction signature quilt. Lots more work ahead but I got some squares started last night during our knit night which is progress so I'll take it.

We found out that our friend in the group, Sharon, who I mentioned in my last post, is having a baby girl. Oh...finally! A baby girl will be around. What a blessing to our little circle off friends and the universe in general (especially if she's half as smart as her mommy).

Life has been so busy lately that I will confess that my creative endeavors are not progressing at a very fast pace. I'm going to chalk it off to the ebb and flow of things.

Because it's been a little on the busy side, I will break a couple of blog traditions here for you. I never post more than one picture, and rarely any of myself. Well, here goes. Just keeping it light. Sorry, it's a little corny.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Found it!

Just a quick note to let you know I cleaned off my desk, and yes - there is still a desk under all that clutter. Good to know.

Also a recommendation that you check out my friend Sharon's newly completed shawl - WOW-Beautiful. She's an actual knitter, I have learned so much from her.

In case you are planning on going to Pacific International Quilt Festival in Santa Clara, takes place in October and the class schedule just came out yesterday. I'm thinking I'll sign up for the Hawaiian quilting class. It's very short, and I have wanted to make a Hawaiian quilt for a long time.

I also wanted to volunteer to assist Deb Roberts in quilt appraisal this year, but she already has several folks wanting to assist her so unclear if I will end up doing that or not. Well, I'll keep my fingers crossed I guess. Still trying to further my education in quilt appraisals.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Shirtings make me tick

I could write a sonnet about shirting fabrics.

I collect them, I use them in my quilts, and I am always hesitant to use one of them up 100% just in case I need a small piece for a charm quilt or something.

Probably that's a crazy idea, but I only ever use 90% of any of my shirtings leaving at least a 6 inch wide piece left in my collection. Maybe my niece will make a quilt out of them someday long after I'm gone.

My signature quilt is coming along. Of all the star blocks I need to complete the quilt I am exactly 74.8% done with those, but hey - who's counting?!

For some cool photos of a baby quilt - check out on Mariruru blog by Mai. She hand quilted it and it's pretty darn adorable.

Temptation is making me think about creating a toddler quilt for my little one since he's getting too long/tall for a baby quilt and could really use something a bit larger.

(insert wrist slap here)

Stay focused! Finish the signature quilt!!! Sigh...........ok.

ps, it looks like Kathie loves shirtings too.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

2001 Nouveaux Modeles de Patchwork by Chuck Nohara

The Sarah Johnson quilt requires 172 'star' blocks such as the above and I just made just over 100 of them so far.

That puts me at the 60% mark. Time to turn on the gas pretty soon and bust the rest of these out.

I didn't to much quilting this weekend since we were on the go and had basically a kid birthday party on each of the weekend days.

My mom was visiting us last week and she gave me her recent copy of Quilt Mania Magazine. This is such a cool magazine - Originally published in French, translated to English but with a clear focus on Japanese style quilting.

There was an ad for this book: 2001 Nouveaux Modeles de Patchwork by Chuck Nohara in the issue I was reading. You can even look through it for a few pages if you check out the link.

This is a reprint of Chuck Nohara's book that she published ages ago that includes her new twist on 2001 traditional quilt blocks.

Looks like Quilt Mania sells the book and ships anywhere, so I have the feeling my copy might just arrive this week. My husband ordered it for me when he realized how excited I was about it. Really, I almost fainted when I learned it was reprinted.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Getting Out of Jail

This weekend was a holiday weekend in the U.S. but I'm not sure it was as relaxing as we were planning it to be.

Our little one decided to perform what shall hence forth be known as "The Great Escape" from his crib. The older one never figured out how to get out of his crib on his own. This baby is so clever.

This prompted us to convert his crib to a toddler bed, so he can come and go as he pleases now which presents it's own new fun and games in our house.

I did get some quilting done of my wedding signature quilt. Just cutting out all the pieces takes a little while, but working with all the pretty fabrics sure is fun. I have finished blocks to share with you as well next time.

Janet from Quilts A Lot blog gets my award for cutest blog post that I found this weekend. Her crochet flowers are adorable. I want to make some.

I also had a near-life-altering experience after reading a quilting magazine my mom gave me. I know - it's a cliff hanger....until next time!

Thursday, May 27, 2010

J.U.I.C.E. and Thoughts on Finishing

The younger boy has a little cold again so we are doing what we can to get fluids into him. He was drinking a sippy cup and my husband asked what was in it. In order to not get the older one all excited about the potential for him to drink juice instead of milk at dinner I spelled it out, "J.U.I.C.E." instead of saying the word.

The older kid yelled out, "Hey! I can spell! You just spelled 'juice'!"

Ugh, perhaps we will need a new secret language. Our days of getting away with private conversation just ended. Gee that was soon.

I managed to finish a shawl (ravelry link) made from handspun yarn. It is very satisfying to have a project completed. I'm on the verge of thinking I'll try to finish my signature quilt in time for a quilt show in October. That would be a big push, but I'm so eager to have more finished projects.

Wish me luck!

Oh, and if you are on ravelry and want to find little old me, my username is 'Quiltotaku'.

Why is there not a version of ravelry for quilters? That would be the bee's knees.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

I'm alive....and other good news (like the Happy Mother's Day Poop)

Not sure I have ever been away from my blog for this long before.

Over the last two weeks I pick up the most forceful flu bug I can remember running into. It gave me a really hard time, but I'm on top of it now with a lot of help from my doctor.

Creatively I've been sort of in a sleep state since that energy is the first to go when I don't have my health. I did a bit of spinning before I got sick so you can check that out above on my drop spindle.

The good news is that the rest of the family has already had this thing and weather is starting to warm up a bit, so it's looking more and more like perhaps Spring is going to finally be here.

I have been lusting after this book called Basket from Cloth, by Yoko Saito. Una shows off her copy here as well as some awesome quilting she has been up to.

I've also been loving the colors Jan is working with over at Be Mused.

Oh and finally, even though I was super sick on Mother's Day I still got the best present in the world. Our 20 month old decided on his own that he wanted to poop in the potty like our older kid - and he actually did it! Not that the days of diapers are quite over yet, but I can see a glimmer of hope now.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Spring has sprung....and what I learned from sleep talkers

There is always a weekend in spring in which our family plants the garden.

We have the obligatory heirloom tomato plants and this year we are expanding to also add some pepper plants. Not just any pepper plants - no, we are planting Padron Peppers. 90% of them are mild, but watch out for the last 10%. It's an exciting game of Russian Roulette when you eat them.

Hm, I wonder how that will go over with the kids...

Anyhow, the other night I was tucking in our baby (still a baby! not 2 yet!!) and he was saying actual words in is sleep. This is the first time I have heard him say English words while he was dreaming. Before this, he was just talking in baby talk.

So adorable to see how his brain develops, and makes me feel honored to teach him about language and communication.

I think he was dreaming of toys from what I can gather.

I've also been spending my weekends learning how to dye fiber for making yarn. It's been really fun and interesting but I have 1 more class in the series before it's over. We'll see if I can successfully make anything out of it.