Saturday, December 31, 2011

Ring it in...hello 2012!

2011 was a good year and in many ways I'll be missing it.

For the holiday we did a little travel to see family which was really fun, but we saw old friends too and had quite a busy time.

For Christmas my DH gave me a new drop spindle from Golding Fiber Tools which I knew would be pretty.  It is crazy or maybe just a leap of faith to purchase a spindle without trying it but people say that these spindles are very nice.

I was thinking gee, they are beautiful, and I'm sure they spin well, so why not try one.

Well, let me tell you...they are certainly worth all the fuss people make over them.  I am not sure my other spindles will be getting much love from here on out.  Sorry!!  This Golding is my new best friend for spinning.

I did not end up finishing the sewing project I was working on for the kids before the holiday but I DID finish it just in time for our road trip.  More on that next time with some photos.
I was looking through my posts from last January to see if I was crazy enough to make any resolutions.  I may have been smart enough not to do that.  Whew.  No guilt.  That was smart. 

If I were to resolve to do anything differently this year, I think it will be to try and enjoy the ride.  Things seem too busy these days.  Time seems to be rushing past at a faster pace now that the kids are getting a little bigger.

Okok and I'll confess that in the deep dark recesses, I have a personal hankering to buy a little more Japanese fabric...I'm thinking it would be fun to pick it out myself in Yuzawaya.  We'll see if I pull that off.

Happy New Year!

Saturday, December 24, 2011

The stockings are hung...but I'm still sewing...



Are you still trying to finish up those Christmas gifts you decided it was a good idea to make? 

I'm sure you are smarter than that.

Really, who on Earth would still be sewing on Christmas Eve Day??!!

Only the crazy people.  OK so count me crazy.  The last minute is sometimes the only minute that I have.  Who knows if I'll finish or not, and I actually don't mind if I don't make it.

In the end, the kids will have a cool hand made gift - eventually.

Hope your holiday plans are cooking up beautifully.  I'm still here with my needle and thread...and loving every moment of it.

The above patchwork ornament was made for my sister's new baby who is celebrating her first Christmas this year.  She's like a living doll.

Merry Christmas!! 

-Marisa


Thursday, December 15, 2011

Little Elf Under My Tree

I took a few photos of my little one playing with the Thomas train under our tree.  He loves to operate it even though sometimes it comes off the tracks and he needs a little help to get it going again.

This time of year we try to cut over to some Christmas themed kids books during evening story book time.  Even though Velveteen Rabbit was first published in 1922, it starts off with the rabbit's arrival in a Christmas stocking, so I like to re-read it.  So timeless.  My older one just loves it.  

I'm about to start to play with my patchwork ornaments.  Most of the shopping is done now, and the time for resting with family feels like it's getting nearer.   I'm looking forward to not having to wake up early, and to have little boys bouncing around in my lap.

Busy times for my friends these days:

My friend Sharon of Knits are for Kids is off spinning up a very colorful storm.  Check out her latest hand spun yarn here, and her flickr stream here for some beautiful photos.

My friend Susan of So Sue has been off taking in the sunshine in Hawaii, but managed to tear herself away from the beach to review some local quilt shops for you here. She's also been doing some beautiful paper piecing (adorable).


On my to-do list for an eventual trip to Southern California is to stop in at Down Home Country Antiques as Dawn of Collector With A Needle mentions.  You know I'm a sucker for an antique quilt.


When I was reading this post at Quilting with the Past, I got interested in making some knit ornaments from the "55 Christmas Balls to Knit" book.  I have some yarn imported from Norway that would be perfect for these.


Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Going In Circles

We just had our end of the year party for my knitting/quilting group.

It was a blast.  There is always an exciting white elephant exchange where beautiful and coveted items are lovingly exchanged and stolen and re-stolen among friends.

We had a nice warm dinner, and some naughty but nice ice cream and key lime cookies for dessert.  

Even some charming husbands joined us, so it was a nice way to basically wrap up our creative year.

I ended up spinning some yarn for the exchange, and it went to a very good home.  That's me at my Matchless wheel above, spinning around and around and around

Photo by my beautiful and talented photographer-sister.

I'm always curious to see what people do with my yarn.  I'm still learning about how it will turn out as a garment.

It feels like Christmas is only around a week away.  Oh right...it basically is!  I'm ready to spend some serious time with the kids.  That's what I'm asking Santa for. 

Did you ask for anything special this year?

Monday, December 5, 2011

It's begining to look a lot like...well, you know


Our household spent the greater part of the weekend decorating for Christmas.

- Lights on outside of house: Check!

- Christmas tree:  Check!

- Stockings hung by chimney with care: Check!

It's full steam ahead towards the holiday season, my favorite time of the year.

We had our monthly gathering of my small quilt group last weekend and I took a photo of the beautiful ornaments that my friend Carol made (above).

She has been making these for friends since the 1970's or so I believe.  She's promised to teach me how to make them, so I'm very excited about that.  I secretly wonder if you could use very thin handspun yarn instead of DMC floss...but maybe I should walk before I fly here.

Anyhow, thank you Carol for the beautiful ornament (she gave me the red one shown here, and I have a couple others from past years) and for allowing me to photograph these beautiful creations.

I love to make patchwork ball ornaments, but have been a bit behind in making them for the kids every year.  Didn't manage to make any last year...wondering if I'll end up having a few spare cycles this year to come  up with a few.  They take me around 3-4 hrs each, but they are hand pieced and quite relaxing to sew up and even more fun to stuff.  Time to break them out methinks. 

Hope that the spirit of the season is bringing some extra happiness your way.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Holiday gift for quilters: 2012 Quilt Calendar



It isn't always easy to get the quilter who has everything a perfect holiday gift.

I've found that a new calendar is always appreciated and a beautiful one can be the perfect addition to your creative space.

This year I have a special treat for you:  two versions of the calendar!  Quilts and Yarn.

It's a labor of love to put these together since it takes me a lot of time and thought, but flip through and check out the photos if you have a chance.

The quilt calendar is light and airy looking, similar look to the photos I shoot for my blog.  The yarn calendar has a darker pallet in color and is more dramatic. 

To see all the photos included in every month, click the button below, click the title, and then click "Preview".  Enjoy!

 -----------------------------------------------

Quilts




 -----------------------------------------------

 Yarn



Sunday, November 27, 2011

Thanksgiving - thank goodness

This Thanksgiving was like a lot of others that we've had:  lots of food, lots of family...which adds up to a lot of love and relaxation time.  Thank goodness for all the yummy food and for grandparents watching kids while parents (me) take a nap.  Ah...I do love Thanksgiving.

We are lucky to have the chance to spend some time with our extended family this week and to enjoy being away from the usual routine.

My son found my dad's typewriter and typed a little note in the above photo.  The typewriter was a novelty to him.  It was kinda magical putting one letter at a time on the paper.  Funny how it doesn't seem so antique to me.  Ok, I'm old now.

I did a little bit of knitting during quite moments which was fun.  I'm off to the races, starting a hand quilting project as soon.  More on that next time. 

If you haven't watched the Marcel the Shell video yet, you must, but if you live on this planet, I'm sure you already have.

My kids are starting to make their lists of gifts they want to send to Santa already.  A spy kit seems very popular with the 6 yr old. 

The haven't asked me for a necklace made out of Barbie doll body parts yet, which is I think a good sign, since they are boys. 

I think the holiday season is officially upon us.  Yeah!

Saturday, November 19, 2011

1st Grade Humor

My son says, "Mommy, what's your name?"

I say:  "Mommy"

He asks, "What's this body part?" (pointing to his nose)

I say: "Nose"

Him:  "What's in my hands?" (holds up both hands making a little cup of air)

Me: "Nothing"

Get it?  Mommy knows nothing!

Ok, try that on your friends if you need to lighten up the mood.  Isn't first grade the best?

Our weekend is basically house chores and the quiet before Thanksgiving. 

For my eyes:  Looking at all the finished modern house blocks in taupe fabrics makes we want to finish up the rest of them.  I think they all go together pretty well.

For my ears:  I've been listening to a couple of podcasts and some music
  • Knitmore Girls episode 136: I wrote in and asked a question about plying spinning fiber and they answered my question on the show.  How cool is that?! 
  • Spin Doctor eipsode 26:  half way through this episode, but it talks a lot about using dye on fiber and is pretty interesting.  Very informative interview with Deb Menz.
  • The Gotan Project:  a band that makes tango music, I'm enjoying their Revancha Del Tango album. 
For my taste:  Orenchi Raman is the hottest new noodle house in silicon valley.  Always too long of a wait to get in.  We are trying to try it by storming the place before it opens.  I'll let you know if it's worth the bother.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

How to keep your kids in line


My friend Marianne made a couple of mochi mochi knit toys for my boys and they have become really attached to them.

They begged me to get the book and knit every last creation that it has patterns for.

I got a copy of  it, Teeny -Tiny Mochi Mochi by Anna Hrachovec.  Some of the creations are easier to make than others, but I started with the volcano.

It was one of the easier ones.  The kids have a queue of other toys they want, and even my husband claimed the little dino I made, so you know they are actually pretty darn cute.

They are only about an inch or so tall and they go together pretty fast if you don't mess them up and end up knitting them twice (like I did).  More info on my ravelry projects page.

My kids will stand on their heads for more of these.  I think I may have finally figured out how to get them to behave.  Well, at least for as long as I can keep making these little mochi's.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Japanese quilting fabrics: more is more



This block above is the 8th block in the series of California Bay Area modern homes that I'm working on.  

The house itself is located in Berkeley, CA and is known as the Fish House by locals but is actually the Tsui House.  It looks like it would be more at home under the sea than on a relatively normal street.  I used taupe fabrics that sort of looked like the ocean to me.

In other news, I was looking at Deborah Kemball's applique recently.  Have you seet it yet?  It's so detailed and beautiful.

Sometimes I really look forward to the weekend because I have something special going on.  This Sunday, my friend Sharon and I are taking a sweater making class by this famous designer named Ysolda Teague.

It's up at Verb of course, and although I don't really knit sweaters, it will be fun to meet her and to learn something that is really new to me.  And to relax for a bit of course.

Hope you have a chill weekend planned too.  Or unplanned for that matter.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Quilt Borders



Lately I've been thinking a lot about the modern house hand applique blocks I've been making this year.

Even though the house blocks are not all complete, my mind wanders to thoughts of designing borders.

For a quilt like this, only a spectacular border will do.

When I was getting coffee this weekend, I stopped into where I usually get coffee, and they also have the most beautiful flowers. 

This time I could not leave without picking up a couple of stems of amazing Protea.  I think Sierra Azul nursery in Watsonville might carry the plants themselves.

I am not sure if I have the guts to try to grow them, although I would love to try someday (anybody brave enough to have tried this out there?).

Not sure if the entire border will be made up of these little beauties, but thinking about using them somehow in the design.

Top 5 of my weekend:

1)  Finished a pair of socks for my son - only took a single 100g ball of yarn, superwash merino, by A Verb for Keeping Warm in Magic Bean colorway.  Used size 2 needles and 36 stitches.  Easy Peasy.  Okok, I still had to look up kitchener stitch video to finish the toe, but I'm not really a knitter...remember?!  I fake it.


2)  Made carrot ginger soup:  Saute half an onion, add tons of cut up carrots, 1 box of chicken broth, a splash of white wine, and grate in some ginger.  Best soup ever. 

3)  Felted wool Christmas ornaments:  Looks like fun to make these, but not sure I could bring myself to use glue.  Think I would probably sew the flowers together instead.  Very cool tutorial here at Betz White blog.

4)  Dreaming of visiting Napa again someday (sans kids).  Would love to stay at Napa Farmhouse Inn, owned and run by my favorite coffee shop owner:   Napa Farmhouse Inn 1277 St. Helena Hwy South, St. Helena CA 94574,  707-968-5441 - Someday!

5)  Turning the clocks back for Fall - when else can you get an extra hour in the day?!  That should happen every weekend in my opinion. 

Your weekend top 5?  Go!

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Yarn Balls: less work than having a pet goldfish



I end up with small amounts of yarn after I finish up a project.  

My friend Susan got me hooked on making little yarn balls with them by winding the yarn around my thumb.  It is strangely enjoyable.  If a yarn ball sits around too long I get the urge to wind it into one of these.  It's an addiction really.  I may soon need a 12 step program.

Anyhow, if you are a fellow detail freak and have some yarn on hand, there's a couple you tube videos that show you how.  The one that is similar to what I did is located here (but there are lots of them out there).

My sister sent me flowers recently and the 'fish bowl' looking vase has become my table center piece.  No cleaning of the tank required.

Life is getting in the way of my quilting a bit this week but will hopefully carve out some time to enjoy some this weekend when I'm not busy eating a Bavarian Breakfast at Esther's Germany Bakery (check it out if you're in the bay area).

Sunday, October 30, 2011

600th Post: Here's to a handmade halloween costume


It's a bit crazy that I have had 600 blog posts.

I should figure out some big post party or a giveaway or something.  I think I said that on my 500th, and am still living in guilt of not taking any action there.  Oops, oh well...too busy to let it fester much!

The above photo is my little one in his handmade Halloween costume.  He's ready to rock this holiday.  He kinda looks like he's casting a spell on the neighborhood.  Count me in as one of the smitten.

When I made the costume, I basically got a ton of purple felt, laid the kid down on the fabric, and started cutting it out around him.  I sorta remember making my DH help cut out the stars and moons very late at night.

I think he would have prefered to be Iron Man or some branded character (sigh, the media) but after a lot of 'testing out' of the costume, I think he's finally embracing it.

We have a nut-free Halloween due to diet restrictions, so we got our candy from Peanut-Free Planet.  It's an awesome place to get treats if you have little ones that don't do nuts.

What are you going to be this year?  Have a safe one!

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Taupes, Taupes, Taupes



The nice folks over at One World Fabrics sent me a little gift of fabric recently and I wanted to share a quick photo with you.

Their bite sized taupe fabric packs are very high quality and I have already been enjoying using them in a quilt block.

There are general two types of fabrics that they carry:  one is the 'print' taupe fabrics that are similar in concept to American printed quilt fabric.  They are not double sided, but they are beautiful and have those muted tones that I love working with.  The other type is the yarn dyed which are woven and more or less the same on both sides.  These are my true love.  So many beautiful browns....sigh...just awesome.  I made an entire quilt out of these with my sister once and I'm using them also for the birthday blocks for my younger son.

If you have been working with taupe fabrics, I think you'll enjoy what One World has to offer.  When I need a quick online fix I will end up heading there to see what there latest packs have in store.

I also have another finished modern quilt block (in taupes), but will save that for the next post.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

PIQF 2011: Market Goodies - Oakshott fabric

At PIQF this year I did not manage to visit all the shopping booths, but of course I had fun anyhow.


I never skip the Pinwheels booth.  It's brimming over with beautiful Japanese taupe fabrics.  By the time I got there, fabric was going fast and serious Japanese fabric addicts were snapping up the good stuff as quickly as they could.  I bought what I could get my hands on.  I think it was a mistake not going there first thing in the morning.


The above fabrics are from an English company called Oakshott from their Lyon line and as far as I can tell, these fabrics are not carried by any other shop in the US besides Pinwheels.  I wish I could pick them up at my local quilt shop, but alas...I get them each year at PIQF.


You probably need to see them in person to appreciate their true beauty.  In case you missed a look at the quilt top I made with them some time back...check out this post.


Other Daiwabo taupes were also there for the blissful taupe-a-holics and I'm using a couple of them in my next house BOM.  


Places I also enjoyed:
  • YLI thread:  They had some new metalic + silk threads.  I have never seen these before so I got some to try.  They also had their hand quilting thread in a 2 ply, instead of 3 ply...so thinner.  We'll see if it holds up to my hand quilting strength requirements!

  • Cindy's Antique Quilts:  If you collect quilts, this booth is a do not miss booth.  Her quilts are all in really nice shape and prices are basically market value.  There was a yellow lone star quilt here that I almost bought but I didn't want to have to eat ramen noodles for 2 weeks over it.

  • Reets Rags to Stitches:  I like to play around with felted wool, especially hand dyed.  She had some cool colors and I picked up a few pieces.  I use these in the birthday crowns I make for my kids, and also in other kid projects.  The fun colors really scream 'kids!' to me.

  • Morgan Quality Products:  I picked up hand quilting stencils here.  They have some very nice ones.  If you love to hand quilt, you will love their selection.  Lots of Amish looking designs which are my favorites.  I also ended up trying their soap stone quilt top marking pencil.  I haven't tried it yet, but am thinking of doing a test run soon to see if it really comes out.  I picked up a pack on their Bohin needles (from France!) to try some applique.  I found them too flexible for my needs so I'm going back to my Jeana Kimball ones.
Lastly, there was a flier to advertise the upcoming East Bay Heritage Quilters guild show - Voices in Cloth, so I've marked that on my calendar:  March 17-18, 2012.  I hear it's worth seeing.  I'm looking forward to checking out the special exhibit by the African American Quilt Guild of Oakland.


Saturday, October 15, 2011

PIQF 2011: Pacific International Quilt Festival - wanna attend?


If you wish you could attend PIQF 2011 in person you have two options:

a)  Take a red eye to San Jose, California, as there is still time left: the show continues through tomorrow (Sunday).

b)  Save yourself the travel headache and hunker down with a nice cup of tea to view my latest photos....links below.

The show was pretty neat, and I really enjoyed going with my friends Marianne and Susan.  We saw all the quilts and most of the vendor booths. 

Overall, not a lot of hand work in the show, but that is the norm these days I think.  Some of the hand work we did see was awesome, and some of the machine work was also very beautiful.

The photo above is from an entry from Germany, called Annual Rings by quilt maker Petra Niermann.  Looks so Amish, but more modern with the rectangles.  I loved this quilt.

For your viewing pleasure:

Flickr set of photos here, slide show directly accessible here.  Just under 350 photos for you this year, so set aside a few minutes so you can enjoy them.

My favorite quilt in the whole show may have been a hand quilted beauty seen here.  Quilt maker Myrl Lehman-Tapungot.  No ribbon, boo!

If you have a favorite from the slide show, let me know which one it is.

A couple of highlights: 

There were also some beautiful Dear Jane quilts in the show which I included in my photos.  I met some 'Janiacs' who had not only finished one Dear Jane quilt, but had completed a 2nd one.  That's dedication for you.  They were super fun and one of the gals was the aunt of a quilt maker who had her completed Dear Jane on display here (also no ribbon - ??? Judges - what is going on?)?

I also ran into Annie Smith of Quilting Stash quilting podcast.  It was so fun to see her.  If you listen to her podcast already, you know it's one of the better ones out there.

Joe Cunningham was spotted there as well (he doesn't know me) but I did a double take when I ran into him. 

I'll cover more about the vendors in my next post.  There were some good ones and I picked up some interesting new things.

If the slide show of this year isn't enough for you, I have a lot of historic photos of PIQF through the years:

PIQF Photo Collection: 

1350 photos from the last 7 years of the show, organized by year, 2005 - 2011.

If that doesn't keep you entertained, I don't know what will.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Japanese Crafting: Home Made Notebook with Washi Tape

I did a search recently for Japanese Crafting blogs and it is a shame that there are not more of them out there since Japanese Crafting is so unique and beautiful.

In an effort to make something Japanese and Crafty...I created this little notebook with washi tape.

Washi Tape is basically the cutest thing since sliced bread.  Why would anybody ever use boring old scotch tape again, I'll never know, but I digress.

The basic construction of the book itself was inspired by this post on Angry Chicken blog that shows you how to make some simple board books to keep notes in.

I covered the top cover with washi tape, left some room to write a title on there, and decorated the back with more crazy calligraphy.  More photos on Flickr.

Ages ago I did a little calligraphy tutorial, so if you're bent on making one of these, you can read about it here.


I made some of these books for my applique quilting 'students' (read 'friends') for them to use as a mechanism to track the fabrics in their quilt.  More on that in another post.

Ok, so who went to PIQF today?  Are you out there?!  I'm going tomorrow....hopefully you left some fabric for me to buy!  Only a few photos have turned up online so far.


Sunday, October 9, 2011

Langston - a sweater for a pinkalicious girl, and a big event

I finished knitting a size 2 sweater for my sister's older girl recently.

The pattern is called "Langston" by Teresa Cole.  I found the pattern pretty easy and it did not consume a lot of yarn so it was a good use for a relatively small amount of handspun.

More info on it with more photos on my ravelry page.  I am tempted to knit another one of these it was so fun.

The yarn itself came from naturally dyed 50% silk 50% merino by A Verb for Keeping Warm in this super yummy pink colorway.  I forget exactly what the colorway is called, I'll find the tag it came with eventually - hopefully!

Having some silk mixed in with the fiber content really takes the 'itchy' element out of the mix for little ones.  I am sure that my niece will love it, and if she doesn't maybe my sister will make her wear it anyhow.

In other news, my son (with a little help from daddy) decided to ride his bike without the training wheels.  I was such an awesome sight to behold.  I was so proud of his new skill.  I called all of my family to let them know of the big event.

I was reading Ann's blog - Notes from the Quilt Lab -  and she did a post on an antique hot pad from around the 1850's.  I am so amazed that something like this could survive that long and loved seeing it.  Check out her post here

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Paper Piecing: new class


Just a quick post to mention that I decided to teach a paper piecing class up in Oakland at A Verb for Keeping Warm.

Paper piecing is something that I have loved for ages.  I'm really addicted to the 'for free' perfection of it.

We'll be making a hot pad that you can use as a holiday gift. 

If you cannot join us because you are not local to the bay area, feel free to give me links to your blog posts about paper piecing you have done.  I love to see what else is going on out there.

One quick question for you - has anybody seen the Richard Scarry fabric in local quilt shops?  I'm looking to get my hands on some (at PIQF maybe?).

Monday, October 3, 2011

Indigo Quilt Fabrics and PIQF 2011


I have spent what feels like a lifetime collecting Japanese Indigo fabrics.  

There was a quilt shop a long time ago when I lived in LA that carried a lot of these sorts of fabrics because there was a Japanese owner and she had a passion for them.

These days, my new indigo fabrics come from here and there.  I don't have a great source of them actually. 

I used some in the above quilt block for a baby quilt.  You can see the half square triangles that I made if you squint and look really hard.  Can you see them?  I can almost see them.

I am looking forward to PIQF though, maybe there will be some good indigo's there. 

PIQF - AKA Pacific International Quilt Festival 2011 is taking place in about 2 weeks here in San Jose.

I'll be taking the day off to run around the show with my quilting friend to take photos and see what the booths have to offer.

Of course I'll post all the photos up for you, but you may want to attend in person if you can figure out how to get there.  It's worth the trip.

Anybody else out there planning to go?

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Baby shower block and Thangles



I get so much satisfaction from taking place in a group made quilt.  Some of my Verb friends are working on a little quilt for a new baby, so I got the opportunity to participate and make a block.

I decided to get SUPER fancy and use Thangles to put some half square triangles into the block. 

And wow, did I get fancy.  Maybe TOO fancy.  Ok, definitely too fancy.

Thangles are pretty cool - they are paper foundation base that you sew fabric to that helps you make half square triangles without wasting fabric.  I have used them before on several projects and find them to be pretty handy. 

They've been around for a long time and they come in different sizes so you can work them into whatever you are doing.  I used 3/4" finished size.

The fabrics I choose to use for the thangles are awesome and beautiful (and Japanese of course), and even look pretty good together until you attach them to each other and eat up seam allowance.

Once you actually sew them into the block, the fabrics need to be significantly different from each other, and also relatively un-busy in pattern.

I'll have to show the final block, but it turned out that my fabrics were too busy to really stand out. 

Live and learn. 

Monday, September 26, 2011

Liesl by CoCo Knits: a sweater just in time for fall, and a lesson on what not to say to a woman


I finally finished knitting a sweater for myself, just in time for autumn.

The pattern is by Julie Weisenberger of Coco Knits and is called Liesl.

I used natural dyed sock yarn (super wash Merino) in the Octavia colorway by Verb.

Knitting this sweater was EXTREMELY enjoyable.  Even as somebody who doesn't really know how to knit, it was a piece of cake and I loved every last stitch of it. 

This is the first full sized knit garment I have made for an adult.

When the top of the tank was finally sewn together, I modeled it for my sons and said, "What do you think of this new sweater that I knit?"

The three year old looked up at me with his beautiful blue eyes and said:

 "Oh Mommy I really like it...you look like you have a baby in your belly!"

Alrightythen. 

I'm trying to be objective here (maybe I knit it, so I'm biased?)  I don't think it makes me look any bigger than I am.  Judge for yourself on my project page on ravelry if you dare to see the full photo.  Pls note that I AM NOT pregnant.

We did proceed to have that conversation that stems on the central concept that you should not imply that a woman might be pregnant unless you see an actual dangling head sticking out.

Sigh...I hope he learns a thing or two about women along the way, if only for the sake of my wanting grandchildren in another 30 years.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Handmade Tooth Fairy Pillow


It's rare that I have a true 'sewing emergency' but we had two this week.  

The first one happened when I realized my son was out of clean school uniform shorts which caused me to quickly convert a pair of his old pants from last year.  It's still roasting hot here.

The second one came yesterday morning when he said, "Mommy, my front tooth hurts, and it wiggles!"  Oh my goodness, I haven't made him a tooth fairy pillow yet and the big event is coming soon!!

I have been waiting for this happy day since the moment I became a parent.  I was so filled with maternal pride the day his first baby tooth made it through his gummy smile. 

I am even more thrilled now that he is on the verge of a visit from the tooth fairy.

You could of course buy a tooth fairy pillow, but I have been looking forward to making one for so long that it was a real treat to actually sit down and sew it together. 

There's a pocket for the tooth, and the first initial of his first name on the pocket.  I used embroidery floss to give the little tooth a face.  All the fabrics are hand dyed felted wool.  The handle on top is PurlSoho's Linen Ribbon (a dream to work with, really).

We have been reading a couple of books in anticipation of this happy day:

The Tooth Book by Theo Lesieg - a real classic, even reminds you not to bite your dentist.

My Milk Toof by Inhae Lee - our overall favorite book right now.  Just hilarious, well done, awesome photos, entertaining for both kids and adults.  I must have in your children's library.

One final word of wisdom that will make my dad smile, and you groan:  (apologies and advance)

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Harvest Season


This year our harvest has been bountiful.

I'm not a huge fan of store-bought tomatoes, but I can eat the home grown version like they are going out of style. 

My sons do all the work in the garden so each and every fruit that comes out of there is like a little trophy proving that they did something right and that their hard work and dedication is putting dinner on the table in a delicious way. 

We usually grow heirloom tomatoes, but didn't have the time to start my favorite variety (Marianna's Peace) from seed this year.  We ended up with an interesting collection of various kinds though and they all worked out quite well.

I've been working on another class sample for a paper piecing class, so keeping busy with my sewing machine in the evenings.  It looks really cute so far.  Paper piecing is one of my favorite methods of quilting.  No guess work, no oops - my points don't match, just 100% perfect every time. 

Heaven on earth for this little control freak!

Speaking of paper piecing, I am itching to do a few blocks from this now out of print book by Shirley Liby called "Paper Pieced Sea and Shore".  Have you seen her books? 

It seems like they were all published some time ago (mid 1990's), but I really want to get my hands on all of them.  If you have some of these little gems taking up shelf space in your quilt studio and you're looking to find them a good home...look no more!  I'll adopt them!

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Quilted Ornaments


On Sunday, November 20th, I'll be teaching a class on making patchwork ball ornaments at A Verb for Keeping Warm.

I just finished this adorable little class sample and couldn't wait to share a photo of it for you. 

For those of you who live in Northern California, I would love to meet you in class.  These make the cutest little gifts and you can whip them up in no time.  I'm also going to discuss inking on fabric techniques in class too, so that will be an added bonus.

Enrollment is now open!

Hope that your weekend has allowed you some time for sewing.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Japanese Taupe Fabric: where to get it

Above is a photo of my son's 3 yr old signature quilt block with well wishes from family and friends.  The '3' is appliqued down and the fabric is Daiwabo yarn dyed.  It's got a thick weave but I didn't have a super hard time working with it.

It's not easy to get Japanese Taupe fabric if you are marooned here in the US (or other countries, for that matter) as opposed to those lucky ones that actually live in Japan.

The  quilt shop that I teach at has a small but growing collection of Japanese taupes which is great, but if you don't live in Oakland, California....there is a fresh option out there online.

One World Fabrics is the new kid on the block with some very interesting Japanese taupe fabrics - both prints and yarn dyed. 

You can see their entire collection here - lots to choose from.  The owner, Steven, also has an interesting blog with a focus on Japanese quilting.

Steven is kind enough to read my blog, and has created a coupon code for readers of Quilt Otaku.  If you are like me, and cannot resist picking up just a couple more pieces of taupe fabric (or a boat load of them!) you can use the coupon code "otaku15" to get 15% off your first order between now and Dec 31, 2011.

If that isn't a green light to start holiday shopping for yourself, I don't know what is.

I haven't ordered yet, but I am thinking I may need to pick up a few things...I'm a HUGE sucker for the yarn dyed fabrics - especially love this one - and they really are hard to get your hands on.  One World's prices for these sorts of fabrics are also below what I've usually seen, so that is nice too.

Thanks for your cool offer Steven, and best of luck launching your new taupe-a-licious shop!

Monday, September 12, 2011

Birthday Quilt Block

The kid birthday extravaganza has finally drawn to a close.

I for one will miss this time of the year.  As soon as it's over I feel a small twinge of relief as the prep and execution is complete but there is a big swell of sadness as it really is my most favorite couple days of the year.

We had a gathering for some of the boy's school friends at the ice rink, and even some tiny 2-yr-olds got out there and scooted around on the ice.  It was magical.  My older son decided he can now skate without leaning on the 5 gallon buckets or clinging on the side of the wall.  I was so proud.

All four grandparents were present and accounted for which was the icing on the cake of the entire event.

I made birthday signature blocks for them and will be adding them to the collection of blocks.  On their 16th birthday I'll turn them all into a quilt to enjoy the history of all the celebrations of the past.  I like to use a black size 05 pigma pen for the inking, and I iron on some freezer paper to the back for added stability.

The kids to came to the party were sent home with handmade goodie bags.  I was so rushed to get everything together I didn't get a good photo of all 20+ of them together, but I will have to show them to you anyhow in a future post.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Birthday Signature Quilt - more blocks

Getting ready for more birthdays around here.  My sons' back to back parties are just around the corner.  I'm digging up their birthday signature blocks, prep'ing new ones, and gearing up for some serious boy party fun.

Let the cupcakes roll!

I decided to made handmade goodie bag pouches to put the little party favors in.  Crazy?  Perhaps.  I did finish them all up tonight, so I'm feeling quite pleased. 

Quilt blocks from past years are out on my bed in the photo.  The set on the left of obviously the older one's blocks.  I used hand dyed fabrics from Primrose Gradations (a company that unfortunately doesn't exist anymore) for the applique numbers.  For the blocks on the right, I'm using Daiwabo Japanese yarn dyed fabrics.

Monday, September 5, 2011

Long weekend R&R


This 3 day weekend was really restful and more or less spent with my boys.

A couple of weeks back we had silhouette artist Karl Johnson create cut-outs of our boys, and I'm really happy with the results.  It was fun to have them done in person and the cut outs do look like them.

This weekend I did a small bit of quilting, a bunch of spinning (which I will need to elaborate on in my next post) and a LOT of eating. 

I try not to put a bunch of food photos up on my blog because when I'm surfing out there looking for cool crafty inspiration the last thing on earth I want to do is get hungry.  I may have to share my recipe for ratatouille with you.  We have so many veggies coming out of the garden right now, it was an awesome way to eat them up and only makes a single dirty pot.  Interested? 

Hope your weekend was awesome.

Oh and if you haven't smelled the flowers above yet, they are Chocolate Cosmos and yes they really do smell like chocolate!

Friday, September 2, 2011

The F Word


Yesterday afternoon my son came home from first grade and said, "Mommy, there are some naughty kids in my school that say bad words.  They even say the F-word!".

I, of course, was shocked since after all this is only first grade.  In my mind I am already wondering if I need to transfer him from public school to to a Christian school or become the room volunteer mom or someting in order to figure out what is going on.  You know I'm always up for a little PANIC!!!

I took a deep breath and asked, "Honey, what is the F-word anyhow?  Can you tell me what it is that we are talking about here?"

He was reluctant to share it with me because it is "soooo baaaaad" but he eventually said in a very quiet voice:  "Fart!"

I did not burst out laughing because in our house we say 'fluff' instead of that other ugly word.

Whew, bullet dodged, at least for now.

The photo above is my little man, complete with Mommy Baby Monster dolls that I made to match his PJ's.  They are his #1 favorite stuffed animal right now (score one for me!).

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Recovering right along

Well, my fingers have finally recovered from posting such a GIANT blog post last time about all my Yoko Saito books. Thanks to those of you who actually made it through and appreciated it...you are hard core!

I managed to finish my first full sized adult knitted garment recently - it's the Liesl pattern by Coco Knits. It was very mindless, even for me, a pretty much non-knitter. I have to figure out how to seam it and then get on to blocking so I can impress my knitting friends by showing them that I actually knit something (finally!). Maybe I'll model it for you sometime soon. Perhaps I would freak you out by appearing on my own blog ala Martha Stewart.

I have also been working on some applique signature blocks for my up-coming son's birthdays. I even slipped in a block for my sister's girl since my sister is on the busy side these days with her new baby. Something tells me I may end up doing them for her even when she doesn't have a new baby, but I will confess I enjoy it so it's all good.

Last week we lost the father of a dear family friend, so I'm posting a photo of some flowers above in his honor to cheer up those who have had a very sad week. The green flowers are called 'green trick'. I found them to be quite unusual and really pretty. My kids said they think they look like grass. Here's to recovering right along as best we can.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

New classes, modern house quilt blocks, and A Yoko A Day: Yoko Saito Quilt books - day 9 - final (陽子斉藤)


Well, for those of you who guessed that I couldn't last that long doing a post every single day...you were right. I am WAY too busy for that sort of thing. What was I ever thinking?!

Ok so enough with the Yoko A Day, I'm done, I'm throwing in the towel. It was fun while it lasted, but jeez I just cannot do a post every day.

At the end of this post I'm including info on all the other books Yoko Saito has ever written, that I know of, that I own. There is one more out there that I don't own yet, but...I have the feeling that ugly little situation may not continue for long. If you know of the existance a book by Yoko Saito that I haven't listed in a recent post, pls do let me know so I can look into that.

In other news, I am teaching a few new classes up at A Verb For Keeping Warm. (yeah!) The first one is a machine quilt-along this coming Sunday, where folks can join and work on their in-progress projects. I am also booked for teaching some introduction to quilting classes in October. Join us if you live locally, it will be good fun.

We will be working on more applique this Sunday at Verb in the modern house applique class too. I'm using Japanese Taupe fabrics in the block this month again, as you can tell in the block above.

On to the final info about Yoko Saito Books: (if you seriously read the rest of this, I give you a gold star)
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Yoko Saito: 9th book review


Title: (unfortunately, your guess is better than mine on this one, could not figure it out although there is some more info here...I'll bet that Julie knows!!)
ISBN: 978-4-14-031126-4

Summary: Items are made out of triangle and square pieces. Projects in this book are not super complex, and there is not a lot of applique. That said, this is probably the best of all her books in terms of showing you methods used for hand piecing, and tools used. Photos are great so you can really understand what is going on (even w/ zero understanding of Japanese - trust me on this, I should know).
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Yoko Saito: 10th book review


Title: From American Patchwork Bed Quilts to Bags
ISBN: 4-14-031079-0

Summary: Small bags, and bed quilts, as the title says, but also backpacks. My favorite project is the bed quilt on p.43 called Farmer's Bowknot which is a signature quilt. Nice photos of how to make applique grapes on p.59.

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Yoko Saito: 11th book review



Title: Free Patterns (I think?)
ISBN: 4-579-11080-3

Summary: You know I love applique, and this book is really full of it. If applique is not your cup of tea, feel free to skip this one. For me, the photos are amazing, the projects are stunning, and I could see myself easily making each and every last one of them. Bags, small quilts, sewing box on p.22 is amazing, this is probably the most beautiful of all her books. Usage of french knots, just amazing.
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Yoko Saito: 12th book review


Title: 138 Original Applique Designs by Yoko Saito
ISBN: 978-4-529-04331-1

Summary: This is the other book that she has written that I would give 'MUST HAVE' status to, and it is in my top 5 list of favorite quilt books. These tiny block patters include botanicals, halloween, more robots, a portrait of Mozart (wow), another alphabet (yeah!), and a myriad of other adorable blocks. This one is worth the bookshelf space.
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Yoko Saito: 13th book review



Title:Study Book for Taupe Color
ISBN:978-4-86322-130-7

Summary: This book is limited to bags with a mix of applique and pieced quilting in different projects. I believe there is some extensive discussion around which taupe colors go well with other ones, but since my Japanese reading skills are lacking, this is a slightly less valuable book to somebody like me. It's still beautiful though and some of the bag patterns could easily be turned into wall hangings or quilts.
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Yoko Saito: 14th book review



Title: Walking the Green Quilt (??Seriously? don't trust me on this title please!)
ISBN: 978-4-14-031160-8

Summary: This book is a compilation of blocks that were released monthly in a Japanese Woman's magazine put out by NHK. It is really a handy place to have them all together in this book. These patterns are all botinicals, applique, and pretty detailed. Not for the faint of heart!
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Yoko Saito: 15th book review


Title: 120 Original Embroidery Designs by Yoko Saito
ISBN: 978-4-529-04653-4

Summary: Ok ok, I know I said that there were only 2 'must have' books, but if I could squeeze a 3rd one it, this would be it. I am not a huge fan of embroidery but there is a god mix of applique in here too (and thank goodness, also another alphabet). If you love embroidery, this book is for you. If you don't, it might not be your favorite book, but where else can you find an embroidery pattern for an ant farm?!
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Yoko Saito: 16th book review


Title: Yoko Saito's Scandinavian Quilts
ISBN:978-4-14-031153-0

Summary: Quilt designs inspired by Scandinavia - need I say more? Bags and small household items mostly. Lots of applique.
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Yoko Saito: 17th book review


Title: Patchwork Lessons
ISBN: 4-579-10697-0

Summary: Small projects, bags, and even a larger sawtooth star quilt on p.73 that looks like it would be fun to make. lots of great photos of 'how to' quilting techniques.
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Yoko Saito: 18th book review


Title: Patchwork Lessons 2
ISBN: 4-579-10759-4

Summary: Of her Lesson(s) books, this is my favorite one. The photos are beautiful, and there are some very detailed projects. My favorites are the acorn pillow on p.55, and the insane pine burr feathered star on p.77.
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Yoko Saito: 19th book review


Title: Patchwork Lessons 3
ISBN: 978-4-579-10892-3

Summary: small projects, bags, some applique, lots of embroidery. Best project here is probably p.53 - applique whale bag.
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Yoko Saito: 20th book review


Title: Patchwork Lesson
ISBN: 978-579-11174-9

Summary: Mostly hand piecing with a small amount of applique. Good technique photos including working with zippers, cute laundry line applique on p.35.
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Ok, DONE!

Whump! Marisa thuds on the floor from exhaustion after finishing 20 book reports and breaking all records of her longest blog post ever (after 580 posts, you would think I might have learned some self control, apparently not).

The crowd cheers with a standing ovation for the most complete list of Yoko Saito books ever mentioned on the entire internet! I wonder if Yoko Saito herself remembers writing all these books.