Monday, December 31, 2012

A Warm and Cozy Send Off for 2012

Are you out there in Time Square this year watching the glowing ball drop?  Are you going to ring in the new year with a million friends at a big party?

If you are, enjoy a bit of the wild rumpus for me too.  I'm here in my warm and tiny home with my warm and tiny kids celebrating in a much more quiet fashion.

It's nice to look back on 2012 and think of all the things that happened.  So many incredible moments.  

As much as I love excitement, my favorite times over the last year have been spent with my family, often at the dinner table.  We often like to ask each other to share the best and worst part of our day.

The worst part of this year was the pace at which it flew by.  I guess I'm starting to sound like an old person here, but it's true that time passes too quickly for my taste.  My little small kids are already not so small.  The 7 yr old is starting to wonder how much longer it will take to become taller than me.  I'm thinking, not that long.

The best part of 2012 for me was the family vacation to Japan.  Sometimes it's not easy for me to find a clear winning part of the year, but this year it was pretty easy to pick.

Here's hoping that your New Year's Eve is cozy and that 2013 brings you peace.

Sunday, December 30, 2012


When we have more than a handful of guests over for dinner, it's handy to have some place cards to let folks know where their spot at the table is.

This year for Christmas, our 7 yr old son cut out snowflakes and I wrote names of the guests on there in my funky writing.  People liked it, and we have fun making them.

Maybe next year we'll up our game and make them in the shape of Star Wars figures.   That would be too cool for skool.

We are still eating left-overs and enjoying playing with our new toys.  My favorite Christmas gift is a new drop spindle that is super light, allowing me to make lace weight yarn.  It was a real surprise to receive it since it's almost impossible to get.  My DH was pretty clever this year.

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Merry Christmas 2012

Christmas this year was good and full of family and friends, as it should be.  

Our little one was a bit under the weather, but he has come back full force with enough energy to play with all the toys he got and also with those that came for his brother.  

He was up coughing on Christmas Eve, and was very worried that because his cold was keeping him awake, that Santa would not come to our house.

I assured him that Santa is very VERY fast, and that there was no way our house would be skipped by the jolly old elf.  He of course did come and visit us and the happy smiles and shouts of, "I always wanted that!" were music to our ears.

I'm already starting to think about 2013, and what it will hold for our family.  I hope that it will allow for a bit of creative time for me in between all regular life things.


Friday, December 21, 2012

Christmas Calm 2012

Just before Christmas comes, when all the wrapping is done, all the Christmas quilts have their binding already sewn on, and all the food is in the frig just waiting to be put in the oven..... you can capture a glimpse of the Christmas Calm.

In my house....we are not quite there yet.

Some years, our Christmas Calm last for about 30 seconds.  Other years it might be as long as 24 hrs.  

I've got a little (ahem) wrapping still to do, and a teenie bit of shopping still pending.

I'm here hoping that my own Christmas Calm is longer than 30 seconds, and that yours is at least more than a whole day.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Holidays at Home

Some travel for the holidays, and some stay at home.

As much as we miss the family that doesn't live in town, we opt to stay right here, curled up in our own tiny house. 

I wouldn't say that we are totally prepared for the holiday yet, but we're getting there. 

I know some of you are still wondering if I'll ever finish hand quilting the baby quilt.  I am unfortunately still wondering the same thing. 

Other activities have jumped in the way of my creative time lately, but I won't see the baby girl until after Christmas.  I'm clinging to a small glimmer of hope that I'll have some time next week to put the final touches on it.

If you're busy addressing Christmas cards, like I am, you're not alone in the world.

In 2005 we Americans sent 1.9 billion Christmas cards.  Not sure how many will be sent this year, but let's just say that I'm doing my part.

Monday, December 17, 2012

Guess What I've Been Up To Lately

Does the photo give you a clue of what I've been up to for fun lately? 

Some of you may be thinking - is she going to audition for Stomp?  

Perhaps you're wondering if I'm considering becoming a waste management specialist?

Those of you who have played around with ceramics may recognize this as a firing technique called Raku

We basically put a few small clay pieces that we had previously thrown on a wheel, and took them up to 1800 degrees F inside of an hour.

When the ceramics got super hot, our instructor took them out and put them in these trash cans full of newspaper in order to expose them to carbon and darken them in color.  

There was fire, smoke, glowing hot ceramics...when I showed the below video to our 7yr old, he asked if he could come and take the class too.

More photos of the finished pieces later.  Once they cooled off, they looked quite pretty.  Dark, almost black in color, with rainbows all over.  Pretty cool...or maybe I should say pretty hot.

If you live in the California Bay Area, had have an urge to throw some clay around, Higher Fire is the place to be.  Awesome studio, super friendly students, good dirty fun.

Friday, December 14, 2012

It's in the air...don't miss it!

The holiday season is in the air these days, but the spirit is not limited to joy and cheer.  It comes with a little extra traffic, some rushing around on top and I've noticed a few extra tailgaters in my rearview.

Well, time to slow down and enjoy the rest of 2012.  Drive carefully, give people some space out there if you wouldn't mind.  Better to get where you're going than to rush too much.

The little plant in the photo here is an air plant.  All it really wants is some light and a sprinkle of water now and then.  Simple life!  There are many different kinds of these little guys.  I browse for them over at Flora Grubb.  Proof positive that plain air is almost enough to thrive on.

I want to someday make a quilt for my bathroom that will match the purple walls.  When we first moved in, I asked my husband to paint the walls this lavender color.

The movers told him, "Wow, sorry about the bathroom wall color!"

He said, "Not as sorry as I am.  I just painted them that color for my wife last week!"

For those of you who have 'normal' colored bathroom walls, you can probably make a tiny wall quilt in whatever colors you choose.  For me, I'm going to have to eventually get creative.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Baby Quilt Label Conumdrum

The sweet dreams I had before Thanksgiving of finishing the baby quilt for my niece didn't exactly play out as planned.

Things got busy, as they usually do, and I only finally finished the quilting part of the project a few days ago.

One thing I always try to do for baby quilts is ink in the baby's name, birthday, weight, and other interesting info about the little bundle of joy.

For this quilt, it is a simple 9-patch, so finding a little place to tuck in the letters was more than a small challenge.

I went back and forth and was thinking of putting a little applique butterfly or a bug on there with the name.  I eventually started flipping through Baltimore Album books and found a traditional geometric looking Victorian paper-cut block.

Elly's Beloved Baltimore Album Quilts is the book I ended up using for the pattern.  There will be plenty of space to write inside of the cutouts.

The fun part will be inking directly on the quilt with permanent ink.  No pressure.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Quilt Museum photos

Finally Flickr uploaded all my photos from the current exhibit at the San Jose Quilt and Textile Museum.

It was a bit of a slow process, much slower than usual.  Anyhow, enjoy the slide show, or just click around in the photo stream.

Oh, and if you are looking for something fun to do this holiday season, I just saw the San Francisco Ballet's Nutcracker production.  It was pretty awesome.  Sitting next to our 4 yr old was priceless.

Ok, and if you don't live here but love dance, check out this this video on the making of new photography book, Dancers Among Us, by Jordan Matter.  It captures dancers in awesome poses and everyday life situations.

Friday, December 7, 2012

Look Who's Turning 35! San Jose Quilt Museum Celebrates in Style

If I threw a rock from south my back yard, I could not quite hit the San Jose Museum of Quilts and Textiles, but if I had a really nice paper airplane there would be hope.

They are celebrating their 35th birthday and have a pretty cool collection of quilts up on the walls right now.

Many of the quilts are antiques, some are more modern.  If you like old quilts, this show is for you.  

My favorite part about this show is that because it is made up of pieces from their permanent collection, you can take as many photos as you like.  It's really nice.

I took a few more photos, will post them for you to see.  

If you live in San Jose, California, I'd call this one not to be missed.

Friday, November 30, 2012

2012 Holiday Gift Guide for Quilters, Knitters, and Spinners

Not sure what to get your quilting friend for Christmas?

Looking for a link to give your DH a not-so-subtle hint? 

Here's the first annual Quilt Otaku 2012 Holiday Gift Guide for Quilters, Knitters and Spinners!


For the space constrained - I have a tiny house and a tiny space for my quilting.  In the interest of keeping it 'small' - how about a gift that doesn't take up any space?

Q1)  Creative Bug:  This is on the top of my list for Santa.  With videos from Alabama Chanin, and Christine Schmidt from Yellow Owl Workshop, you couldn't go wrong with a gift subscription to the awesome classes here.

Q2)  Calligraphy Class:  I Still Love Calligraphy has a class that would help you ink on quilts in style.  Your labels would probably never be the same.  You may even find yourself inking all over your quilt tops and fabric.  I haven't taken this class...but you know I kinda want to! 

Q3) Tote Bag:  I have a couple of tote bags that I like, but the one available at The General Store in San Francisco is the cleanest looking large one that I've seen in a while.  You could fit a pretty big hand quilting project in there.  For sure a baby quilt.  Made locally.

And for the tool junkies -

Q4)  Pin Cushions:  I find it hard to believe that Foxtail Creek Studio can keep pincushions in stock because they are so well made and so affordable.  This is my top pick for cheap thrill, and they look like hours of time have gone into their creation.

Q5)  Scissors:  Sajou makes so many beautiful pairs and you can find them all at Bagsmith.  You can pick up a super tiny pair for around $50, or a fancy pair that has been on my 'someday' list for ages in the shape of a horse and cart for $180. 


K1)  Learn to Knit:  Purl Soho just came out with a really cute learn to knit kit.  Even an older child could really get into using this cool kit.

K2)  Lace Yarn:  I have used a lot of lace yarn in my knitting life and nothing is nicer that the Reliquary II from A Verb for Keeping Warm.  It's merino and silk, and for under $40 you've got almost 900 yds of pure joy to whip into just about anything.

K3)  Needles:  Chiaogoo Interchangable knitting needles set has gotten rave reviews out there.  Pointy and coming in a very impressive variety of sizes.  If you're looking for a set of needles - look no further.

K4)  Sock  Yarn:  Willing to get up on Saturday morning in order to purchase yarn balls on Etsy?  If you're as crazy for striped socks as I am, you'll love knitting with this yarn.  It's an addiction really.  Maybe you should stay away from Twisted Limone.

K5)  Sock Needles:  If you knit socks, you need to check out Blue Sky double pointed needles.  They are my favorites.


S1)  Spindle:  Who isn't after another drop spindle?  Bosworth spindles are both beautiful and start at $55.

S2)  Fiber:  Local bay area dyer Pigeonroof Studios has some very cool color combo's for spinners who like a little variety in their yarn.

S3)  Wraps Per Inch:  Knowing how thick your yarn is turning out is really important.  I like the card that comes with this Wraps Per Inch tool from Nancy's Knit Knacks.  It tells you WPI info for various yarn weights.

S4)  Fiber Basket:  When you spin a bunch of fiber, it's hand to have a bag that can hold it but won't snag it.  Baskets made out of cotton cord by Doug Johnston are perfect.  Order quick for holiday arrival.

If that list doesn't keep Santa busy, I don't know what will!

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Falling into Winter and Getting Tagged

Saying goodbye to fall is bittersweet for me.  I will miss the leaves changing colors and the crisp weather when you can get away with going out without a coat.

We still have some fall-ish colors on certain trees, but its starting to look like the holidays already with folks putting lights up.

Recently, Cynthia over at A Quilter By Night blog tagged me with a little me-me Q & A.  I'm not creative enough to tag other folks, but check out her post and see the links of bloggers she tagged.  They are all quite cool.

I have probably answered most of the questions already, some of them recently, so I'll answer a couple of them here:

  1. What was the first quilt you ever made?
    I made a flying geese quilt, and it turned out in this very odd non-rectangle shape.  I didn't want to lose any of my hard work though, and refused to cut any of it off.  It's still on my bed right now, with one corner that hangs down a little longer.
  2. What is your favorite city?
    I cannot pick just one, but I love Kyoto, San Francisco, and Austin.  Don't make me pick!
  3. Do you have a favorite museum?
    SFMOMA and the de Young are up there for me.
  4. What is one of your favorite easy dinners to make?
    Roasted Chicken w/ Carrots - a quilting friend turned me on to this one...yummy!
  5. How would you describe your quilting style in three words?
    Japanese Hand-quilting-with-lots-of Applique

Monday, November 26, 2012

Pearls on the Red Sea: Birthday Shawl

My mom's birthday hovers either on or around Thanksgiving. 

This year I wanted to fancy it up a bit for her, so I knit a beaded shawl from this book called Luxury Yarn One Skein Wonders.

The pattern didn't call for beads, but I couldn't resist trying my hand at working with them, so I put a few (million) on there.  I named the project Pearls on the Red Sea since the beads look like tiny pearls.

It turns out that my mom loved the gift and was really surprised that I actually finished it.  Not as surprised as I am!  I was wondering for the last 9 months if I would ever finish this project. 

Truth be told, I've been doing a lot of hand quilting instead lately.

Anyhow, it was a pretty simple lace project, so I would recommend it.  Add some beads to the mix if you would like to drive yourself crazy, stab your finger with the world's smallest crochet hook, and risk never finishing it in your lifetime.

Link to more info in Ravelry

The lovely and beautiful model shown here is my dear sweet little sister.

I know, she looks like an actual model.  She always kinda has.

 (Thanks for the free modeling services, Sis!...HBD Mom!)

Friday, November 23, 2012

My Friend the Quilt Artist: Carol Current

I have had the pleasure of knowing quilt artist Carol Current for more than ten years, and it is a treat to enjoy not only her friendship but the visual feast of the quilts she designs.
Ages ago I started quilting because my mom is a quilter.  It's always interesting to learn how other people started and what inspired the spark.

For Carol, she started sewing when she was little by making clothes for her dolls with a neighbor friend.  

As adults Carol and her sewing childhood friend luckily found themselves at an art quilt show on campus at Boston University in 1987.

Carol was amazed by the quilts there, but the most memorable were a crab quilt by Ruth McDowell (photos of some of her quilts can be seen around), a piece by Judith Larzelere, and a quilt titled "Unwinding the MBA" by Caryl Bryer Fallert. 

She basically took up quilting then and never looked back.

I don't have a copy of  "The Quilters:  Women and Domestic Art, an Oral History," but it comes recommended by Carol so it's on my short list to check out and perhaps on my list for Santa too!

Carol designed the small quilt above as a gift for a good friend.  I was trying to steal it from her before it got to her friend (who I'm sure is a lovely person, and deserves it very much), but you can't blame me for trying.  It's an amazing piece, stunning in person.

The design was inspired by a fireplace screen and she used a lot of Japanese fabric and embroidery in the creation of the quilt. 

I cannot restrain myself from putting a second detailed photo in:

Thanks Carol for sharing your quilt with the readers, and your story of quilted inspiration.

If others would like to share your story of why you started quilting, I'd love to hear about it.

Friday, November 9, 2012

Finishing Quilts: The End Game

Hand quilting is a relaxing process that should be savored and generally calming to the person doing it.

When the needle and thread are in my hand, I am relaxed and always having a good time.

I'm sure we usually move forward with the quilting process in the same general order, but here are some of my thoughts about what happens along the way:

1)  Your Quilt Top is Complete:  At this point you need to have a little party for yourself and your quilt.  Many quilters ship their top off to be quilted now.  I can see how that simplifies life, and I have had long arm quilters do work for me, but these days I love hand quilting too much to delegate it.

2)  Baste it:  Yes, it's time to put those 3 layers together.  I like this process for one reason only.  My DH usually helps me!  It's always some late night quality fun time together.

3)  Hand Quilting:  This is by far, my favorite part of the process.  I like it much more than designing the quilt and piecing the top.

I put a lot of thought and effort into planning the quilting design.  I often quilt a message into the quilt using the quilting stitches themselves.  I try to put the person's initials in there with quilting if I know the quilt is for a specific person.  

I can hand quilt a queen sized quilt in 30 days flat, but that involves heavy work on weekend days, and also heavy work every night (at times until 1am).  I haven't tried to pull that off in a while, but it's good to know how long it takes to quilt a quilt.

4)  Trim up the quilt and bind it:  I enjoy squaring up the quilt, and putting the binding on is not all that bad.  I don't really enjoy making the binding, but I do enjoy the 2nd part of hand stitching the binding down on the back of the quilt.

5)  Make a label:  For goodness sake, all quilts need labels.  If you are out there making quilts with no labels, you are doing a dis-service for your quilt!  They are much more valuable with labels, and they are so much more personal this way.  I do a lot of planning when creating the label.  I either do calligraphy on them, or applique, or both.  Put your name, where you live, when you made the quilt, who it was for, a poem...get creative!

6)  Take it off to the quilt show:  Ok, not a required step, but wouldn't your friends want to see it hanging up in all it's glory?  Think about it.  Share it with the world.  Who cares about the judges.  Let the people photograph it and be inspired!!!

Anybody out there think I'll finish my niece's quilt in the next week?  I am pretty close....I would love to have it done for her sooner rather than later.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

On a Finishing Jag: Clara Dress

When the weather starts to feel a little bit colder, and fall starts to roll in, I sometimes get the urge to go nuts and finish up a bunch of projects.

It seems that old familiar feeling is back because I'm knocking them off one by one.

The first thing to be completed was the Clara Dress above.  I knit it out of a ball of sock yarn, and it didn't even take the entire ball.  It was a really fun knit, very easy and fast.

The color of the yarn is a gray/lavender/pinky color.  Same color as my security blanket when I was a kid!  More details on Ravelry.

I also finished a secret project for a secret person, so more about that later.  It was wondering if I would ever finish it, but I did and it turned out even nicer than I was expecting.

Next up is the 9 patch quilt for my niece.  I only had borders to quilt and binding and label to make and put on.  The quilt itself is quite small, and taking me around 2-3 hours per side to quilt the border.  

2 of the sides are done already, so I'm on a roll.  With any luck, the momentum will keep on flowing.

And in the mail, arrived the cutest pair of scissors on earth from my favorite Kathie.  I'll be playing around with them on my applique projects that I have in flight in order to put through their paces.  Stay tuned for a full report on Karen Kay Buckley's "perfect scissors".

Thursday, November 1, 2012

In the Spooky Darkness

Halloween is the day where every girl is a princess and every boy is a super hero in my town.

I was amazed to learn that a Snow White costume does not prevent one from riding a scooter to school, nor does a Cinderella costume prevent one from riding a bike to class either.  An impressive bunch of athletic princesses were out in force.

I have never walked the kids around door to door to trick-or-treat before.  That has been historically the honor of my DH.

Staying home means "oooh-ing" and "aaaaahhh-ing" over kids costumes as the come to the door, so I never felt I was missing any of the fun.

However, my DH was a little under the weather this year, so it was me walking them around the neighborhood.

Oh the treat of it all!  At times it was wall to wall kids on the sidewalk, running past each other, trying to get to the next door first, elbow to elbow.

Some of the houses were so well decorated (including laser light show, spooky self-opening front door, smoke machines...) our kids were terrified!

I remember feeling like that when I was a kid too.  What fun.

I also realized that I still get to see tons of kids in costume running around our there.  

Should warn my DH that his reign of being the tick-or-treat lead may have come to an end?

Hope that you had a spooky one too.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Japanese Quilting Piece by Piece: Yoko Saito in English

It is unusual that I am this excited about a book.  I have been waiting for this one in my heart for perhaps more than 10 years. 

Was it worth the wait?  What do you think.

What:  "Japanese Quilting Piece by Piece"

By:  Yoko Saito (my favorite!)

ISBN:  978-1-59668-858-2 published by Interweave press. 

Juicy Details:  This book consists of 29 projects.  Methods used are mostly hand piecing and hand applique although you could at times find a machine handy for some of the bag construction.

I have not seen this book published in Japanese, rather it seems like a collection of 'greatest hits' from some of her Japanese publications.  I like the selection that was chosen.

Many are bags, some are small wall quilts.  There is also an apron, and some smaller items like sewing kits and thread holders.

On the back cover there is mention that she has an exhibit called the Yoko Saito Quilt Exhibition at the Matsuya department store in Ginza.  AAAhhh!!!  How did I not visit this when I was in Tokyo recently!!!   This is on my short list for next time.

It would take a long time to start at the beginning of this book and make all the projects in it.  I am thinking a couple of the bags would be a good place to start. 

Fold out patterns are monster huge.  Some of the designs need to be enlarged by 200%.

How to get it:  I just ordered it online

Ok, end of my book report.  I'll leave you with this:  It's Yoko Saito, it's in English, it's beautiful, inspirational, and your collection of quilt books probably won't be complete without it.

In other news:

I picked up some vintage Libbey Frosted Gold Leaf Glasses on Etsy:  cheap thrill, makes you feel either like you're in the Mad Men TV show, or that you're a kid again if you're old like me.

I've also had enough of my ear buds getting tangled up.  If I can muster the energy, I may knit some eye cord around them as show on Wonderfully Awkward.

Thinking of knitting some supertiny vampire bat toys.  Gosh only a couple more days before Halloween.

Blocking a knit dress for my tiny-niece.  Photos of it as soon as it's dry!  You'll have to let me know if it came out as cute as the one made by Posey Gets Cozy.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Quilting in the Corn Maze

Are you scared of getting lost in a corn maze?

Why is corn so darn scary?  Could it be all those horror movies that I never watch?  Did you know that people have even called 911 from the inside of a corn maze? 

If I had enough snacks with me, and an hand applique project, or some knitting....I would probably be happy to live on and on in a corn maze - well, at least until I ran out of thread.

Last weekend we visited the corn maze at Uesugi Farms near Gilroy.

We had some fun running around in there with all the kids, and were at times lost, but I didn't exactly have time to catch up on my hand stitching.

They had a pumpkin blaster there, where huge cannons shoot small pumpkins out into a field that has targets.  They go 90 miles per hour and make a considerable splat.  It's a little boy's (husband's?) dream come true.

If there is one kernel of advise I have for you, take a map, a friend with a good sense of direction or for goodness sake a quilting project if you plan to take up permanent residence in a corn maze.

Happy Autumn!

(apologies for the corny post, it had to be done...thanks for letting me bend your ear)

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Falling in love with Orange

I know the color orange isn't on everybody's short list of favorite colors.  This fall, I cannot seem to take my eye off it. 

From bed sheets, to glass pumpkins, or tiny pumpkins to a simple bowl of tangerines (do they really fight off cold bugs?)...there seems to be orange everywhere I look.

Even America's pastime is looking nice and orange this year.

I've never been compelled to make a fall themed quilt, but I have found myself thinking about them this year.

There are many beautiful Halloween Baltimore album quilts out there.  I also admire this little basket quilt that Jan from Be Mused blog has been working on.  Very simple and sweet. 

If there is a fall quilt that you have made, or you have ideas for one in your heart someday, send me a link to a photo. 

I'm in an orange mood.

Oh, and if you noticed the quilt in the background of the photo guessed it - that is the antique quilt top that I adopted at PIQF recently.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

PIQF 2012: Another good quilt show

Pacific International Quilt Festival, or "PIQF," is one of the larger quilt shows in the US, and I'm lucky enough to live almost next door to it.  

This year, there were many incredible quilts, but of course I had my favorites.

I cannot walk by an album quilt without snapping a photo of it.  There seemed to be more of them this year than in other years.

A quilter who I met there last year, Laura, had her Dear Jane quilt in the show, and it was stunning.  She used only two fabrics in the entire quilt.  Such discipline.  Such a beautiful result.

I did not know many people personally who had their quilts hung up, but there were the usual famous folks like Mary Mashuda and Nancy Brown.

There were some interesting vendors there, but I only really picked up a couple of small things.  Ok, a very affordable antique quilt top also found its way home with me.  Nothing that I couldn't fit into my purse though.  More on the interesting goodies soon.

Meanwhile, sit back, relax, get a cup of coffee (you might need it) and enjoy the vast amount of photos I took for you and posted on flickr.  Note there are a couple of hundred of them so skip around as you see fit.

I photographed the quilt first, then the ribbon and information on the quilt.  I didn't always photograph the information sheet...mostly I did that when there was an award or when I was really enjoying the quilt and wanted to make a note of the story behind it and the quilter.

PIQF 2012:  Slide show and flickr set (490 photos)

I was especially inspired by the work of: 

Cheiko Baba (Traditional Japanese village quilt)
Rita Verroca (Baltimore Album quilt shown above) and
Yoshiko Katagira (featured quilt artist from Japan - insane fish quilt).

And if you just want some beautiful photos to watch while you eat your lunch, you can get a lot of inspiration from the historic photos of this show.  

Below are links to all the photos I shot and posted over the last 7 years. 

If you look at them all, you have either been reading my blog for waaaay too long, or you are my mom, who faithfully looks all my photos every single year.

PIQF 2011

PIQF 2010

PIQF 2009

PIQF 2008

PIQF 2007

PIQF 2006

PIQF 2005

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Quilting Scissors: the good, the bad, and the dangerously sharp

I have been known to be enamored with a pair of scissors or two...or maybe more like 20 as you can see from the army of snipping soldiers shown here.

Having too many pairs has never even crossed my mind, but losing my favorite ones is an obvious concern.  I mark each and every pair with either a key-chain, a small strip of fabric with my name on it, or even a skinny bit of hand dyed felted wool (see odd looking 'tag' on the left side).

This helps me make it home with my own pair and fends off my family from accidentally using them for non-quilting purposes.  You-know-what has no fury like a quilter's scorn if her quilting scissors have been used on...paper (horrors!!!).

So here's the line up:

1)  Gingher: you cannot beat their 5" version for general quilting use.  I adore these for cutting out applique pieces, and cutting out tricky shapes.  They seem to be less than $20 on Amazon right now.  I think I paid close to twice that.   This is bar none my favorite pair.  Nuf said.

I have larger versions that are good for cutting through more layers, but the 5" version is the bee's knees.

2)  Clover:  Their 7 3/4" scissors are insane, and really 'get it done' if you are looking to cut out fabric that you will be hand piecing.  They cut easily through many layers and are my top pick for 'scissor monster' - really in a class of their own.
(avail at Jinny Beyer's site)

Smaller versions are also nice, but I don't like them as much as the Gingher's for applique and tight work.

3)  Sajou:  Only a French company could create scissors this beautiful.  They are the "Chanel" of the cutting world and my pick for most beautiful.  They come in small sizes and are very precise.  Great for applique, and small ones are generally useful to keep around for cutting threads here and there.  Of course...there is always a cost for beauty, and you'll probably notice these are not for those minding their pennies.

Available at Bagsmith and also PurlSoho

If you have a brand that you're loyal to, let me know what it is and why you love it so.

Oh, and in case you noticed the awesome cup I'm keeping them in, why yes...I did throw that by hand in my recent ceramics class. 

And finally - are you reeeeeeaaaaaaaaady?!!  PIQF starts tomorrow!  If you're there on Saturday, maybe you'll bump into me.

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Storing tools for sewing and knitting

Once in a while I stumble across the work of an artist that makes me fall in love.

When I saw the ceramics that Karin Eriksson made in collaboration with Camilla Engman through Manos Ceramics, I found a stunning way to keep better track of some important tools of mine. 

When I am in the mood to quilt or knit I don't want to wonder where my favorite tools are. Some of the smaller ones like finger cots, short sock needles and darning needles used to roam all over my house with free reign to live in various project bags.

Not so much anymore.

The containers from Manos are a beautiful way to store some of my more frequently used tools.

Manos ships internationally with very good turnaround time and careful packing for safe arrival.  Since a trip to visit their shop in Stockholm isn't on my radar in the near future, goodies in the mail will have to do for now.

Do you have a special, beautiful way to store your tools?  I'd love to hear your secrets.

Sunday, September 30, 2012

The Teenie Tiny Woman and knitting the Clara Dress

I was playing around with my kids this afternoon, reading through the quite book that my mom made for me when I was little.

In the back sleeve of it, there was a copy of The Teenie Tiny Woman illustrated by Margot Zemach.  

I can remember being scared out of my wits as a kid reading this book.  The sound of the ghost asking for his bone mom whispering it at first...then louder...

My kids were glued to the book as I read it, so they must have been spooked too.  It's such an awesome and kind of hilarious book at the end.  If you grew up in the 70's you might even remember your mom reading this to you....."TAKE THE BONE!".  Nuf said.

Speaking of teenie tiny people -

My sister's little girl is already a year old, but still quite teenie herself.  This fact leads to my uncontrollable urge to knit for her.

Tiny people of course make it MUCH easier to create something for them to wear.  I can actually probably knit this little girl an entire dress in the time it would take for me to knit one sock for my husband. 

My only goal is to make this little object before she grows out of it.  The down side of working with children is that they are always on the move, and just because you didn't finish their garment, doesn't mean they aren't growing like weeds all the while.

I cast on the Clara Dress, so we're off to the races.  It's me vs. the sprouting princess.  Game on.

A version of it knit by Posie Gets Cozy is here.  Not sure if mine will be this pretty, but I hope so.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Put your feet up and Quilt!

Raise your hand if you've been relaxing a lot this weekend.

You can count me out on that one.  We've been on the go as a family, but having fun all the same.

I will finally sit down for some quality time with my seam ripper tonight as I decided to re-do the border of the modern house quilt. 

The old border I have on there is so beautiful.  I love the rich dark chocolate fabric.  It is just too dark for these blocks though, and is a bit too busy.  Rather than framing the blocks like I thought it would, it detracts from the overall look of the quilt.

You, me, and the seam ripper makes three.  How cozy is that.  Ick.  Moving forward all the same sometimes takes some backwards movement as well.

For fun:

Love this modern Kobenstyle casserole dish by Jens Quistgaard: new at the Moma store.

I have a similar one that I got used in yellow, and I'm using it to store thread of all things.

Digital wallpaper to die for (in case you're ready for a change):  wow

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Becoming a Soccer Mom

I never thought I would become a 'soccer mom' but it's starting to feel like I am one.  Ok, I am one.  The above photo is from our 7 yr old's recent practice.  If you squint, you can see a tiny team of avid soccer players running across the field in the distance.

Although soccer is a huge passion for our son, signing up for a team has meant less family time, more running around town, and some adjustments.

Pressing on, and enjoying the kids play their hearts out.  Do folks out there quilt during soccer practice?  I'm thinking...applique, right?

Quilt wise:

Liberty of London Scrap Challenge: anybody can afford a couple of square inches of Liberty, but hard to decide what to do with those teenie pieces.  Some great ideas here.

PIQF (huge quilt show in San Jose, CA): less than one month away.  Time to charge up your camera battery. To answer you questions - No, I don't have a quilt in the show this year, but thinking next year will be my year.  Yes, I will be taking lots of photos for your viewing pleasure.

Other wise:

Camera tatoos:  Love photography like I do?  Want a tattoo of your fav vintage camera?  Lack the interest to commit to a permanent tattoo?  Photojojo has the coolest temp tattoos I've ever seen.

Artwork of Jes Hunt: out of the UK - I can imagine now cute a collection of her little Hinterfolk would be...

Are any of you fabric genius types out there good at screen printing?  I'm so curious to learn about it.  Thoughts on where to start?

Monday, September 17, 2012

Liberty of London Napkins

Liberty of London fabric has become a life-long passion of mine.  Collecting it, quilting with it, getting to touch it on a daily basis.  It's all so soft and delicious.  Like the cashmere of cotton fabrics.

We were running low on cloth napkins, and I had an extra yard of this Liberty of London vintage aircraft fabric.

A sin to create napkins out of it?  Perhaps.

Although, eating breakfast with such softness and it really a crime?

These napkins were made from 18" square fabric.  A nice size for a napkin I think.  Maybe the perfect size.

Does your Liberty of London fabric have a higher calling than mine?

Let me know, but while you're at it...pass the ketchup please.

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Madelinetosh Beanie

I started and finished a new knit beanie for our 7 yr old this week.

It was fun to be able to have a tiny project to take around with me to piano, soccer practice and the like.

Madelinetosh makes yarns in beautiful colors, although I will confess I'm easily confused by their web site.  The yarn I used for this project is "Tosh DK" which is a 4 ply. 

When you check out Tosh DK on their site, it looks like it's a single ply, so not sure what's going on there.  Probably somebody out there can explain this to me.

Anyhow, the colorway is Antler, and it was a simple cast on of 88 stitches, knit in the round with size 6 needles.  I did a little 4x4 rib to create a flat band, and the rest is history.

I discovered that I can knit this yarn without looking at it, so I was pretty pleased to look down and realize a hat had been magically created.   

I am also wondering what to use as a backing for my modern house quilt.  I may go with a solid color, but would prefer to find the perfect print.  Will keep thinking on this topic.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Living to see 700

In most cases, you have to be a vampire, or Yoda himself in order to live more than 700 years.

I probably won't live that long personally (unfortunately), but my blog has finally lived to be 700 posts long since its birth almost 6 years ago.

With both kids celebrating birthdays this week and family here to help us get happy, it is fun but also busy times.

More news soon on the sewing and knitting that went along with it all.

For now, I'd like to thank my readers (that's YOU!) for reading along.

If this is your first time vising my blog, welcome to my own personal creative fantasy island.

If this is your 700th time reading my blog, please insert a deep respectful bow here from me to you.  Stay tuned for a little something special I'm planning.

If you are my DH and you have now proof-read 700 posts for me, I probably owe you a nice dinner

Sunflowers above were growing amazingly in my quilting friend Laurel's garden.  I had not seen them in this shade of yellow before.

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Playing with Fire: A visit to Higher Fire ceramic studio

With little ones being the usual priority in our lives, taking some time to have a 'date day' with my DH is something I'm not sure I've done before.

We decided to have some good and dirty (literally!) fun at the local ceramics studio in San Jose, CA:  Higher Fire.

They offer classes where you and a friend (you can even take your kid!) can go for 2 hours of private instruction on how to throw pottery on a wheel, and how to play with making dishes using flat sheets of clay.

Of course I'm a big sucker for learning something new while getting to play with my hands.  

Our private instructor was so patient with us, and made sure we created some successful pieces to take home with us.  We could not have had more fun.  

I think we will wait a couple of weeks before the pieces are done being fired.  It's hard for me to not want to sign up for more classes there.  

Their next round of classes start next week.  I'll have to keep you posted on how weak I become.  It is so close to where we live...the temptation is so great...aaaahhhh!

I will hopefully use one of the pieces that we made to store my scissor collection (ahem, if it's big enough), and hopefully the other one will work for my knitting needles.

We also had lunch at The Table, a new fancy eatery not far away, in Willow Glen.  It was overall yummy, but the hard cider by Hogan was insane (so unique, so fragrant), as was the chocolate pudding-ish dessert we ordered: pot de crème au chocolate.

Oh and p.s. -   We didn't re-watch famous film Ghost, but gosh, after over 20 years, maybe it's about time to see it again!

If you're too young to remember this movie, you're either one of my baby-young friends named Kathleen or Susan, or lucky enough to have slept through 1990.