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.