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.