Tuesday, December 31, 2013

See Ya Later 2013

Is it cheating if I try to sneak one more blog post under the wire this year?

2013 has been a full year for me.  Full of amazing moments, and some challenges too.  I guess you could say that about most years.

The times spent with family were of course my favorites.

Some people pick a theme for the coming new year.

My 8 yr old picked "Europe" as his theme word.  I told him that sounded expensive.

My 4 yr old picked "Movie_Theater" as his theme.  That sounds more like my budget.

My husband picked "Get_A_Babysitter" as his theme word.  That sounds good by me. 

My theme is still rolling around in my brain, and I reserve the right to think about it for at least another day, but it will probably relate to setting priorities, finishing what's important, and getting an incredible amount of creative work complete in the coming year.

Above, you're enjoying a photo of a twig that I wrapped with yarn and hung pom poms off of, made with my new Clover pom pom maker - which by the way is very very cool.

The paper stars were a gift from my friend Pamela, a super talented textile designer.  She's hosting a tea towel give away right now on her blog Paint Me Bright that you need to enter.  It is so incredible.  Wouldn't a new tea towel calendar be the best way to ring in 2014?  Of course it would.  

Happy New Year to you all out there.  Thank you for reading my blog, thank you for all your comments, and for the inspiration I get from read your blogs.  I wish you the best for the coming year.

Saturday, December 28, 2013

Holiday Wishes

The Christmas season is usually a busy one for us, and this year has been no exception. 

Most of the rest of the year is spent running around for other reasons, but these days we have been working on getting gifts wrapped, food cooked, and doing deeds that lead to making people smile.  It's a good cause and one that puts me in a good mood.  Even with all the busy...it is hands down my favorite time.

The kids enjoyed their gifts and are still playing with them even days later, which is a good sign.  The books were a big hit this year with our older one who has grown into being quite the bookworm.

Speaking of bookworms, I was excited to get a new cookbook called The Daily Soup.  It came recommended on this podcast I like, called Knit Knit Cafe, from podcaster Abby - super awesome to listen to, BTW.  I'm really looking forward to playing around with the new recipes.  I'll be reporting back on all the best ones. 

As for the creative work, I'm sewing away on my skirt still but it is progressing inch by inch.  I'm not sure how else these sorts of extremely detailed projects progress.  Don't they say that all journeys begin with a single step or something like that?  Is that supposed to make you feel like it's OK that it's taking F O R E V E R ?  Well...I'm patient, but still...progress is shall we say, on the slow side.

So are you picking a theme for 2014?  I'm thinking about it.  I usually try to...gosh, not a lot of time left to do that.  Ok, will hunker down and decide soon. 

Maybe it will have something to do with Instant gratification, since my little sister recently got me playing around with Instagram.  It's fun and low hanging fruit to share some quick images.

Hope that all of you had an awesome holiday and that the coming year will be even more creative than 2013 was for you.

Saturday, December 21, 2013

The Holiday Skirt that Wasn't & The Great Search for the Perfect 2014 Calendar

Before I turned my eye to the final push of Christmas cards and gift wrapping, I had lofty ideas of finishing my Alabama Chanin DYI kit skirt before the holiday party.

Well...it's looking like I may wear it next year instead.  Maybe I'll have to host a summer BBQ or something when it is finally done. 

It's not that sewing it is a chore or anything, it is just slow going because I think the pattern I picked out, called Facets, has mostly very small pieces with only a handful of larger cut outs.  I'm enjoying it and plugging along at it, and will probably not drink red wine while wearing it if you know what I mean.  I am also really glad that I decided NOT to put beads on this project.  That might have killed my chances of ever finishing it.

In past years I have had more cycles for play time.  I used them to create a custom Quilt Otaku Calendar.  It was really a labor of love and took me several hours to create.  This year, I'm behind the 8-ball so to speak and looking to order a calendar made by some other creative genius.

Design Milk hosted a modern calendar round up which I really liked.  The Risograph calendar by Jp King from Paper Pusher is a leading contender for me, but I haven't bought it yet.  I'm open to other ideas if people have them.  What calendar are you using in 2014?

Is it too much to also get the daily Polaroid calendar?  A new Polaroid photo each day...it's called the Poladarium 2014.  They even have a call for entries into the 2015 version.  Hm...I wonder if any of my favorite images will make the cut for that.  Cross your fingers.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

It's almost time!

It's almost time for St. Nick to turn up.  Until his arrival, our gifts for family and friends are all wrapped up and en route to the right spots.

Here's hope they all get to the right spots.

I used white gel ink pens and brown craft paper along with silver sparkle baker's twine to pull it off.  Oh yes, and some colored pencils too.

The package that my son is holding up is for our uncle who's birthday is on Christmas, so we never forget to send an extra gift for him.

This year I'm asking for Santa to bring some anti-cough vibes to our household.  Everybody has a cough and the horrible air quality due to the Big Sur fire is certainly not helping.  Send a cough-free thought our way here.

Monday, December 16, 2013

Christmastime is here

Holiday prep is in full swing around here.

Lots of wrapping, this year with mostly hand-decorated paper.  Kids have had a blast helping out with that.  A couple got decorated with some stamps from Yellow Owl Workshops

It's been fun to wrap a bit here and there and to have help, rather than trying to do a big push and wrap it all late in the game, as per our usual.

We're listening to Diana Krall's Christmas songs while our hands are busy working.

Yarn Whisperer interview on Wisconsin public radio was something that I ran into recently and really Enjoyed.  Clara Parks recently wrote a book about her life in knitting and yarn, after her life in tech, in Silicon Valley.  I kinda want to read the book after listening to this cool interview.  Maybe I'll put it on my son's kindle when he's not looking.

This is my favorite time of the year, and I'm enjoying it.  Hope you are too!

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Mochimochiland Contest Winner (me!) & Empty Spools

I have luck in some things, but I've never been one to win a lot of contests.

That changed a little bit today when Anna Hrachovec from the famous MochiMochiland knitting books and blog selected one of my photos for Honorable Mention in the annual photo contest.  Check out the other winners here.  For more about my photos of the teenie turtles (knit on something like size 00 needles, if I recall...) check out some of my past posts on knit mochimochi turtles.

Thanks very much Anna for hosting the contest and for making me blush by selecting me from so many entries for this cool honor.  Perhaps it's time for me to knit a mochimochi Yeti.

I finally watched this really campy movie last night called The Perfect Game about a Mexican Little League team who had such a cool real life story that they made it into a movie.  Although it was a bit low budget, the movie itself was heart warming and I enjoyed seeing it.  While watching I worked a bit on my Alabama Chanin DIY skirt, and in the end found myself with an empty spool.  I'm wondering how many more spools to go before it's done!  Maybe another 4 or 5?  Stay tuned.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Alabama Chanin Skirt Kit: Hand Applique

It's one thing to hand applique a 4" x 6" piece of jersey as a drink cup coaster.  It's quite another to undertake making an entire garment, like for example a skirt.

After playing around with lots of small 'coaster' projects to learn what time investment goes into the various methods of working with jersey, I have finally jumped off the diving board into the deep end.  The good news is that the water is warm.

We have a holiday party coming up with the weekly quilting & knitting group in less than 2 weeks, so my thinking is that I probably will not finish the skirt in time to wear it to that but I'm having fun working on it and the construction is done.  Applique is a joy, and Alabama Chanin finished garments are to die for.

Right now, my excitement about sewing this skirt far exceeds the amount of time I have at my disposal to play with it.  Still though, pressing on....


Thursday, December 5, 2013

Oops I Did it Again: Handsewn Book

Handmade books have crept into my heart lately so I made one for my mom's birthday gift.

The cover is hand marbled paper that I purchased.  Someday I would love to try to make some myself.  I think all I need a this point is two seconds to rub together.  Interesting how difficult that is to find sometimes.

I hope she gets some use out of it.  I did some calligraphy for her on the inside cover to personalize it and attached some Japanese index label stickers by Midori to the back inside cover using a couple pieces of washi tape.  The sticker tabs can be use to divide up sections of the book for different topics.

When I was in Kinokuniya recently I picked up a book that of course is in Japanese so I cannot even read you the title.  it is an adorable 'stick figure' -ish style that looks super Japanese.  It's pretty cute.  I'm not quite able to draw everything  but some things are so simple that even a kid could replicate them.  Picture of the book cover here.

On other fronts, we are starting to attend Christmas Tree lighting ceremonies, holiday school band concerts, and think about where our own decorations are hiding in storage.

And the other night I unfortunately watched the first disk of Game of Thrones.  Oh my goodness, too intense for me...off to remove the rest of the disks from my queue, pronto!  Who has a stomach to watch such things!?  Wowza, not me.  Do you guys watch this?

Sunday, December 1, 2013

'Tis The Season

With Thanksgiving behind us here in the US our thoughts are starting to turn to the Christmas Holidays.

The kids and I made an Advent calendar together today 'Just In Time' to open the first installment on December first.

It was a lot of fun, I'll have to take a decent photo of it for you.

Over the Thanksgiving holiday we ended up visiting Southern California with a brief stop through Los Angeles.

The Last Bookstore is located in downtown LA and is a HUGE shop where you can get almost any book you could imagine, used, for a great price.  The kids went crazy in the children's section, grabbing up handfuls and handfuls of books, begging me to buy out half of the store.  I bought them a copy of A Light in the Attic which they have fallen in love with.  It makes them really laugh.

The shop itself is a beautiful space, I highly recommend a visit if you have the chance.

On the 2nd floor, there is a small but very interesting yarn shop called Gather.  I was smitten by their boxes of tiny 'mystery yarn' balls for $5.  You could make a lot of striped socks for next to nothing.  They also had sock yarn by a British company called The Uncommon Thread.  I picked up a skein of their Lush Twist in a cream colorway called Manuscript.  Very pretty, will have to finally knit myself some socks from it.

I also did some sewing on the trip.  I'm working on an Alabama Chanin style 'coaster' - meaning a very small piece of fabric that you may use to put your coffee cup on.  It has a ton of bead work on it and has been quite slow going.  Sewing with beads has proven to be fun but it is far from a speedy undertaking.  I want to eventually use this technique on a larger project but it will likely be limited to the lower couple inches of a skirt or the lower sleeves of a bolero or something.  Photos of it soon for you.

And in other news, Jay recently left me a comment to a link where you can get EVEN MORE Yoko Saito books in English (thanks Jay!), so check out this shop called Willow Lane Quilting Company - it looks quite cool.

Monday, November 25, 2013

Hand Quilting: Beads and more Yoko Saito...in English!

Natalie Chanin's hand applique work often includes beads.

I have tried using them here and there on small projects, but I have it in my mind to try and make a larger garment with them all over it.  Either a tank top or a skirt probably.  I have ordered some of the beads from her site and starting to play around with them a bit.

One of the tricks is finding a needle small enough to get them on there but also with a large enough eye to get the thick button craft thread through it.  A delicate balance for sure.

Jennifer from See How We Sew blog recently alerted me to a give away she hosted some time back for Yoko Saito's new book.  It's quite rare to run into a publication by her in English, so I'm excited to get a copy of it.  it's called House Warming Patchwork.  Looks like you can already order it online.

Not sure I can wait for Santa to get my own copy of it!  ;)

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Weekend fun: Polaroid

I took this photo around this time of year back in 2010 when my dad was visiting us and we took a trip to the California Academy of Sciences.  They have a Living Roof covered with all sorts of grasses.  Below the air vent windows you see here they have an indoor rain forest complete with butterflies that will on occasion land on you.

I got the wild hair to dig out some of my Polaroid Manipulation photos after downloading and watching the Timezero move about the end of film production and the last year of Polaroid. The movie also shows the hope of the future of the film and the 14 people who started the Impossible project to try and save it all...which of course they did.

Awesome movie, so easy to download for less than the cost of a pizza.  Highly recommend it.

There are lots of Polaroid manipulations out there, a process of using old Timezero film, heating up the developed image with either a blow dryer, or a heating pad, and smooshing the inks around with sculpting tools.  I went out of my way to create them for many years.  I keep saying I should do something with them all.  This movie inspired me to show them to the kids.  They really loved that.

I did too.

Hope your weekend has been as swell as mine.  I got some knitting done too on  the side of the soccer field. 

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Hand Stitching

I've been playing around with another little swatch of fabric using hand stitching and Alabama Chanin jersey fabric.

Looks like they will have a sale on the web site on black friday.  Not sure what else I need, maybe I should look.  I think my knitting friend Sharon may be getting more into sewing.  She's making one of these small projects too.

Two colors of button craft thread on light fabrics gives it a little interest.  I think a larger piece like a table runner would be fun to do.  The light, white on white look, makes me think of snow.  I can see a little mini winter scene set up on here.  Mini lego houses and all.  

We are starting to look forward to Thanksgiving already.  Is it too soon to be doing that?  I hope not. 

I'm also still working on the hex quilt, but small amounts of time devoted to it here and there is making for progress at a snail's pace.  I'm still happy with the results so far.

In other news, I'm reading the twitter feed called "Today in 1963" which is pretty cool, a project by NPR Kat Chow.  Amazing what you can fit into 140 characters.  Today was an eventful albeit sad day with the anniversary of President Kennedy's assassination.

On a happier note, I'll be visiting the SF Heath store sometime this weekend to see what's brewing on their annual sale.

Monday, November 18, 2013

Time for Knitwear

Our older son had a soccer play off series this weekend and the little one was sporting a little congestion.  My solution to this was to pull out all the knitwear I could find for him.

This included a beanie out of Madelintosh in a yummy copper color, a scarf that I knit ages ago that is too short for me, and a Little Oak Cardi  - pattern by Alana Dakos

The socks are cheating, just from SmartWool.

Still though, this was one very wooly 5yr old.  It was early and cold, so was a lot more cooperative about it than usual.

I have been knitting up a storm today and made some progress on a gift for somebody special.  More about that in a couple weeks.

Hope you're all out there keeping warm too.

And by the way, have any of you tried making custom photo moleskin books?  I think they would be cool for holiday gifts, but I'm interested in a recommendation....anybody?

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Ceramics Love

In case you are looking for something to do on Saturday, there is an incredible ceramics show and sale in Palo Alto, California. 

Hosted by Orchard Valley Ceramics guild, Art in Clay Sale 2013.

It's a great way to pick up some affordable and unusually beautiful pieces. 

I'll be there before you will though, so good luck getting the best ones.  ;)

Monday, November 11, 2013

Hexagon Progress: hand piecing

You've seen this quilt before, but it was a layout photo with pieces put next to each other, not sewn together.

The latest photo is a view of how the pieces look like sewn together.  Still using Oakshott fabrics.  I am not sure if their hand-made fabrics will continue to be available.  It looks like they may be cutting over to a machine-made process to create their colourshott fabrics.

The quilt is still quite small, but it's the start of something interesting.  

I'm having fun taking the project around with me - working on it mostly during soccer games, piano lessons, and tennis practice.

Some of the parents look at me like I'm a little crazy for sewing on the go, and others of them come over and ask me what I'm making.

Without a lot of time to do creative work in the evenings a take-along project is probably the only thing to get any of my attention these days.  

If you have a solution to finding more time in the day I'd love to hear it.  I'm probably not the only one on planet Earth that would embrace a 25 hour day.

Friday, November 8, 2013

Knitting with a friend

I ran into this old photo that my sister took two years ago of me knitting a sock while holding her darling baby.  

Quite moments are generally few and far between for me but this photo proves that they do in fact occur. 

This baby now talks to me on the phone, and chases after the big kids, keeping up with them very well.

It's magical to watch them grow, but all the same - they were so very cute as babies.

Here's hoping we all find a quite moment or two this week.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

More Chalkboard Fun: How to track your weekend schedule

Weekends have been starting to get away from me a bit with both boys in a lot of soccer & tennis along with other fun things on our plate.

In my last trip to PaperSource I found an affordable/small chalkboard and a pack of chalkboard pens called Bistro Chalk Markers.

The pens only come off when you use water.

When you combine that with regular white chalk (my favorite is Sargent Art dustless chalk), it gives you a constant area and something that you can easily wipe away. 

During the week I can glance over to remind myself what's coming up on the weekend and it gives us all something to look forward to.

I also ran into this cool tutorial on how to make files that look like chalkboards through photoshop on Foolishfire.  Cute tutorial. 

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Handmade Books: Listmaker's List of Lists

In my last post about bookbinding, I did some calligraphy on the outside cover.

I took another stab at it, pun intended, and sewed up another coptic style book based on what I learned in Jody Alexander's bookbinding class on Creativebug.

This time instead of using plain paper from the art store, I used paper from PaperSource.  I like this better than the first try and would like to make some more of these.

I'm using this book to make my to-do lists for all sorts of things.  It makes me feel better to make lists of things when it gets really busy and it seems like there is not enough time in the day to get it all done.  I found a poem about list making by Shel Silverstein that was pretty funny.  

I couldn't help but decorate it a little bit, so below is what the inside cover looks like.  I call it the Listmaker's List of Lists.  What a mouthful.

The gradient paper was made on my own personal printer from a file freely available for download at Mr. Printables.  Sweet colors.

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Calligraphy Tutorial: Chalkboard Lettering

I have been getting fancy with addressing letters and put together a simple tutorial on how to make your calligraphy look like hand written chalk board letters.  

This technique can also be applied to fabric, but use Pigma Pens for permanent letters of quilt cotton.  Lots of sizes are available.  I like .05 size a lot.

Here are a few simple steps.  If you try it, let me know how it went for you.

1)  Write out the letters using handwriting on a dark piece of paper.

I used dark navy blue paper that I got from PaperSource and a white pen that I also got from there.  The specific pen I used is the uni-ball signo broad pigment ink in UM-153, white.  It is easy to control and did not cost a lot.

Some of the letters had some curly starts and stops.  Those are not very hard to make, but it's good to practice on a scratch piece of paper

2)  Put a second line to the right of your letters only when your pen stroke is going down.  Don't do this if you pen is moving up towards the top of the paper.  See the example of the letter H below.  In the second photo, you can see a lot of letters with the 2nd lines added.

3)  Fill in ink between the lines.  Use light small strokes of the pen.  Go slowly, don't rush or you'll end up with extra ink on there and it will get messy

4)  At this point you can drop it in the mail and the person will eventually get it. 

I conducted a test and addressed a letter with non-fancy writing and another with fancy writing.  The one with fancy writing took an extra 3 days to get there.  I think it may have been because the automatic postal system could not recognize the address and a person may have had to read it in order for it to get to the right postal delivery person.  Just an interesting data point for you.

5)  Making it look like a chalk board for digital use:  If you want your photo to take on that chalk board look, just snap a picture of it on your phone and put it in black and white.  On iPhone, you can go into your photos, choose 'edit' then choose 'tonal' filter.  You can also try the 'mono' filter to see which one you like better.

6)  Putting text on top such as the "Easy Calligraphy Tutoral" text above:  If this is something you also want to add for a blog post or for a Pinterest tutoral pin, you can download an app called "Over".  It looks like this app is made for iOS.

Good luck!

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Embroidery with Kiriki Press

My order came in from Kiriki Press and instead of putting maps in the side pocket of my car door I now have an embroidery hoop floating around in there.

That is a sign as to how much I love these tiny projects.

They are bite sized and not hard to complete.  Even a beginner like me can have a pretty great time.  I ended up with 3 of them because you bounced into free shipping after you get more than 2.

I started with the Sloth since I think it's likely my kids will fight over the bear I decided to save him for last. 

The owl that I made back in the beginning of the month went together quickly.  I'm distracted with Halloween right now so progress is at a different pace.

Looking forward to a spooky evening later this week.

To get ready for it we carved some pumpkins this weekend.  More on that and my visit to The Makery in Los Altos in an upcoming post.

Sunday, October 27, 2013

PIQF 2013: Favorites and Loot

PIQF was a cool show this year and it's almost impossible to pick a favorite.

That said...in case you didn't have time to get through all the photos I posted, here is my short list of really memorable and inspirational quilts - stand outs that caught my eye:

Octopus Garden by Carolyn Winfield

Anne's Quilt by Samantha Ricks - Hawaiian blocks

Wayside Strawberries by Nicole Pullman - hand applique, patterns by Jeanna Kimball - my favorite
My Mom's Jane by Carrie Britten - traditional Dear Jane quilt, beautifully executed, stunning reproduction of the original 1863 quilt

All in The Family by Nancy S. Brown - when Nancy puts a quilt into a show it is always hand applique, and usually the most interesting quilt in the whole show.  This was no exception.

Kingyo (Goldfish) by Naomi Yamamoto - incredible fish, I took tons of detailed photos

Moonbeam by Fumiko Matsuu - beautiful collection of indigo fabrics, super Japanese look

Life by Yoshiko Katagiri - beautiful spiral quilt with an amazing collection of Japanese floral fabrics

Let's Go Party! by Keiko Ike - beautiful machine work, won the best in country award from Japan

In terms of vendors, I had fun looking around and did pick up a thing or two, but not a lot of shopping for me this year.

My most exciting find was marbled fabric.  There is a fabric artist out of Oregon named Marjorie Lee Bevis who makes marbled fabrics by hand.  I picked up a couple of pieces and hope to make them into book cloth for some book covers.  They are unique, no two are alike.  I found them affordable for hand made fabric. 

The other thing I got excited about was the Seam Fix thread eraser.  You are supposed to be able to rip out a seam and use the tip of this plastic bee-hive shaped wand to collect the loose threads so they don't get re-sewn in the wrong place.

Given I have done my fair share of ripping things out, I'm interested to test this.  More news after I give it a try.  Looks like fun though.  Using the tool that is, not ripping out seams.

Sunday, October 20, 2013

PIQF 2013: Pacific International Quilt Festival

PIQF (Pacific International Quilt Festival) 2013 has come and gone but not without the notice of myself and hundreds of other happy onlookers.

I took a lot of photos, not of all the quilts, but of the ones that really caught my eye and some that stood out as being really notable.  I was a bit more rushed this year than in other years.  It's soccer season with the kids after all.

When you look through the photo stream for the most part the photo of the quilt is first, and the name of the quilter and details of the quilt come after that with photo of ribbons awarded as well if they got one.

I did a small bit of shopping.  More on that and links to my personal top 10 favorites in an upcoming post.  

For now, enjoy PIQF 2013.

Oh yes, and if you're looking for eye candy from other years, you can find hundreds if not thousands of photos from the last nine years of this event in my PIQF Through The Years flickr collection.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Quilt Fabric: Organization by Color & Collecting

Collections.  Collections of collections.

I think most people probably have them.  People collect all manner of things from PEZ dispencers to tea cups, from Bundt cake pans to scissors, and in some cases even cameras (ahem, DH) .  You can probably collect just about anything.

If you're like me, collecting either virtually or actually is as satisfying as seeing all your shoes lined up under the bed.
Above is a photo of my Oakshott Cotton 5" squares before they became hexagons.  It's a collection for sure and I will confess to having really enjoyed organizing it. 

Our son was home sick recently so I gave him my button collection and told him to arrange it for fun.  He got really into it and the photo below is what he created.
Do you collect something?  I'd love to hear what it is.

Do you actively avoid collecting?  I'd love to hear how and why.

Some beautiful things I bumped into lately:

A video of somebody making a hand bound book - lovely

A video of sea life made out of jewels - sparkles, cool

A recipe for Chinese style Tomato Eggs - yum

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

English Paper Piecing On the Go & PIQF 2013

Before we get into the sewing, let me remind you that PIQF, HUGE quilt show in San Jose California, is taking place starting on Thursday and running through this weekend.  If you are near, it is certainly worth a visit as the quilts are many in number and each has its own beauty.

If you are not close by, don't worry, I'll take a lot of photos for you!

Now on to the stitches....

Basting the small fabric pieces to paper templates may be seen as a chore to some people but I find it relaxing and enjoyable.

Once all the pieces were sewn with giant stitches to the hex papers I fussed a little bit with color placement and starting creating stacks of rows to be sewn together.

A few post it notes stuck on the top of a row and a zip lock bag holding about 3 rows in one place was my solution to packing this project on the go.

I have worked on it on the soccer field and in the car.  Progress is slow since I'm a bit short on time these days, but progress is progress and it's looking pretty cool.

All the fabrics are Oakshott cottons and a real joy to work with.

Friday, October 11, 2013

Sewing Garments - Not

Am I interested in making more cotton jersey garments?  Yes.

Do I plan to sew them in an elegant non-messy fashion?  Yes.

Am I beneath trying to fix a hole in my son's jersey PJ's if he begs me to?  No.

Did I fix said hole while he was still wearing said PJ's?  Maybe.

It seemed like a good idea at the time.

He's only 5 and really wasn't in the mood to take them off.

Wow, my stitches are messy!

Disclaimer:  No children were harmed in the fixing of these PJ's.  

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Hand Sewn Bookbinding & Calligraphy

Making beautiful lettering has been a passion of mine for a while.

Writing on fabric, paper, wedding invitations (cannot find a photo of them all for you, sigh), post-it notes, chalk boards, and anything that holds still for too long is something that I picked up about 15 yrs ago when I was learning Copperplate Calligraphy for Baltimore Album quilts. 

Wandering around CreativeBug, I ran into some super cool classes on bookbinding by Jody Alexander.

I made the above book after taking her online class on Coptic Bookbinding.

The cover is just a simple art paper in light blue that I decorated with calligraphy after the book was all finished. 

I'm using this as a notebook for some of my creative thoughts and classes I've been taking. 

One of the other classes she has covers how to make a book cloth out of fabric.  My next version will hopefully be covered with Liberty of London fabric, with any luck. 

It's been a real adventure for me in learning about paper and glues, including how to make glue from methyl cellulose power.  Hint: dumping some powder in cold water is hardly the place to start.  Can you say sticky icky goop?  Oh yes you can, it's almost Halloween after all.

I have thoughts about making some of these for give-aways since I'm addicted to making them.  You get to sew paper!  It's almost as much fun as sewing fabric.

Monday, October 7, 2013

Kiriki Plushie Owl

I've never been one to delve into the rabbit hole of embroidery.

When I saw the awesome creations of Kiriki Press there was no way to avoid trying it.

Not only are the fabrics hand made through a screen printing process, but even they very box they come in is hand made/screen printed.

It's adorable from soup to nuts.

I made this owl as a gift for my husband to honor our 10th anniversary.  The time has flown by (pun intended).

Making the stitches was not hard at all and the instructions were great.  I'm not very skilled at this, but all the same I'm happy with the result and would like to try to make a couple more.

Saturday, October 5, 2013

Got Yarn?

Here's a cheesecake shot of my plied yarn. 

It turned out to be 250 yds, so I'll probably make some Easy Handspun Mitts out of them.

That is if I ever put my quilting needle down. 

Friday, October 4, 2013

Golding Spindle & Indigo Targhee Wool

Just a quick post to wish you a happy Friday.  

I finally finished spinning the singles from the naturally dyed indigo wool (Targhee breed).

I'm in love with this wool.  I wonder if my yard is big enough for a Targhee sheep.

Fiber was dyed by A Verb For Keeping Warm, by hand in Oakland, California.

Ring Spindle by Golding.

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Home Plate Is Where the Heart Is

It's no secret that I like baseball.

Our family was lucky enough to attend the last game of the year last weekend with the SF Giants.

I did a little knitting on the way home, but outside of that was too glued to the game to do much else while it was going on.

I have always wanted to run across home plate of a major league ball field and I finally got my chance. 

Above is a photo of my dream coming true, me running across home plate.  It felt pretty good.  My kids had of course run much faster than me since I was taking a bunch of photos along the way.

We had dinner at Gotts in San Francisco.  Yummy, affordable, and acceptable to eat there with kids.  Not an easy combo to find in any big city. 

Did not have time to visit my favorite Peapod fabrics, but another trip will certainly be in order in the not so distant future.

On to topics of incredible things I've run across lately:

1)  Check out the work of Chalk Artist Dana Tanamachi.  She lives and works in New York and designs art for chalk boards in shops, companies, restaurants.  The fonts she uses are beautiful. 

They make me think about the ink on fabric that I do...I wonder if I shouldn't expand some of the fonts that I use.  Check out her time lapse videos, they are just incredible.

2)  Briar top by Megan Nielsen - goodness I would also like to make this shirt.  I had probably better make the other shirt patters I already own first.

3)  Soto Softies:  These stuffed sewn toys by Maritza Soto are soooo cute.  Some bats are in my not so distant future.  If your kids need some bats too, you only need to click a couple of times and have $7 at your disposal.  Ok, you'll probably do some sewing too, but that's the fun part.  I cannot wait to make a bat.  Seriously.  Cannot wait.

4)  Kiriki stuffed toys:  These adorable kits to make embroidered dolls are to die for.  I got the horned owl kit on my visit to The Workroom and started making it.  The fabric is screen printed by hand.  The design is modern and adorable.  I am only sad that I don't own them all.  We may have to work on fixing that.

Monday, September 30, 2013

English Paper Piecing & Oakshott Cotton Fabrics

I have yet to find a good way to reduce my list of creative projects so I say, "Go fly a kite," to the list and embark on something small, portable, and too fun to resist.

When we made the baby quilt recently, I had a lot of the 2" hexagon papers hanging around asking me to let them come out and play again.  The paper templates were from the Paper Pieces company. 

2" size means one of the hex sides is 2 inches in length.  This is a little confusing.  The piece actually measures 3.5" or 4" across depending on if you measure it flat side to flat side, or point to point.

By taking an Oakshott cotton 5" charm pack (fabric created BY HAND, on looms!!), it worked well with the 2" paper size with very little excess fabric to cut off.

I may look at PIQF to see if the Pinwheels booth has another pack or two of these so I can expand the size of the quilt.  In its current state (around 100 pieces), I think the finished size would be too small to even cover your lap.

PIQF is a very nice quilt show, if you are in California in October...you won't want to miss it.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Creative Queue

Do you have a creative queue of some sort?

I have a long running list of projects that I want to work on, with a priority/interest order that shifts with my mood, time, and my ability to concentrate.

I find this queue of creative endeavors to be unfortunately mostly managed on post-it notes stuck to my phone, my desk, and at times (dark times) my pants.

Do you have tips on how to manage your creative projects, how to list them all down, how to organize, prioritize, and keep them all in your thoughts to someday be at last completed?

If you have good ideas on how to do this, pleeeeeease, pretty please share them with me.  I'm all ears.

Until that happy day, here are a few things I'm kicking around...not really in priority order yet (I need help, obviously!).

  • Wrist Warmers (above) out of Lollipop Yarn, colorway Life Is Beautiful
  • Basket Quilt: applique handles down, baste it and quilt it (small, so will go quickly!)
  • Owl embroidery project from kiriki - starting it as soon as my new embroidery hoop arrives, apologies in advance to the owl, your destiny is probably to become a pincushion!
  • Sweater for my 8 yr old
  • Socks for my mom 
  • Wedding Signature Quilt: for goodness sake it's been almost 10 years, this awesome quilt deserves better
  • Birthday Signature Blocks: you have seen me working on these for ages, time to pre-applique down all the numbers for my kids and nieces

    That's the short list, I swear!

Monday, September 23, 2013

Taupe Baby Quilt: More Photos

By popular demand....I'm adding a few more of my fav in progress photos of the baby quilt. 

Our little group of ladies had a huge blast working on it.


piecing in progress

quilting in progress
 Blocking in progress


label close up
done and all ready for the new bundle of joy

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Baby Quilt: Japanese Taupe Fabrics & English Paper Piecing

Oh how I have wanted to share some photos of the secret baby quilt project with you!

This quilt was started by our small quilt group much earlier this year for one of our members, So Sue, to celebrate the arrival of her new baby daughter.

I have photographed this quilt so many many times.  I want to go through some of the favorite photos and share perhaps more of them with you.

We finally gave the quilt to the bouncing baby, and I think she likes it.  Her mommy really does, so that's a good sign.

The majority of the quilt was hand pieced using the English Paper Piecing method, since we were using hexagons.  Small hearts fit well in the border, and those were done with hand applique.

More photos soon.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

A Guide To Quilting and Knitting in Toronto Canada: The Amazing, The Very Nice, and The Elusive

After spending a couple of brief hours exploring the city of Toronto last weekend, I fell in love with the city.

It's one of those places that I have been to several times, but never really got to experience.  I'm sure you can imagine there is a difference between these two things.

My exploration time was very limited, but I learned a lot and can provide some thoughts on what to put on your short list should you find yourself in the beautiful city of Toronto.

1.  The Amazing: A clear stand out

The Workroom:

It's not easy to pick a favorite, and I'm very biased to my own personal taste, but if you can only visit one shop in Toronto it has to be The Workroom.

The shop was teaming with busy quilters taking a double wedding ring class.  I was impressed off the bat with such a difficult quilt pattern and so many eager quilters getting down to business.

They have a policy that they will cut any fabric in the shop in a fat quarter for you (including Liberty of London!) so I picked up a couple of fat quarters.  Their Liberty selection is not huge, but the bolts they do have are beautiful.  They have a really nice selection of Japanese Daiwabo taupe fabrics which are not generally easy to find.  Although I have a zillion taupe fabrics already I had to get just a couple more small pieces.

The collection of mini scissors is also to die for.  They are tiny,  friendly for air travel, and come in all different styles.  Just adorable. 

I have long wanted to get my hands on some sparkle floss from Japan, and could not find it when I was there on my last trip.  Not to worry, The Workroom carries it!!

They have an impressive collection of Canadian-made items including patters by Victory Patterns and Wiksten, and a hand screen printed stuffed animal/embroidery kits by kiriki.

The only bad part about The Workroom was having to leave it!  I am already wondering when my next trip will be.  Some additional photos below.  Please do not miss this incredible, beautiful, and friendly shop!

Note the top image is a photo of the vast fat quarter collection they have for you to choose from. 

I met the lovely Workroom owner, Karyn.  I'm on the left, she's on the right.
A view of the bolts of fabric.

Liberty of London fabrics on the left

One the the book shelf areas - Japanese quilting and embroidery books, Daiwabo fabrics

2.  The Very Nice:  Other shops you won't want to miss

The Knit Cafe:

The Knit Cafe was certainly the most friendly of the knitting shops had the pleasure of visiting.  Some locals were there knitting away and the yarn selection was stellar.

They had more Madelintosh yarn than I have ever seen in one place.  My LYS sells out of it almost immediately upon arrival.  I was standing in front of it all wishing I had more space in my bag.

I ended up purchasing a sock yarn ball from a local dyer, Hand Maiden in a green colorway called Casbah.

I met Kristin who is very passionate about yarn and celebrating her 10th year as the owner of The Knit Cafe.  I'm on the right, Kristin is on the left.

Lettuce Knit:Another nice stop was knitting shop Lettuce Knit

I would rate their weekend parking situation as almost impossible; however, their yarn selection excellent.  There were more Canadian brands here than I had ever seen.  The shop itself is not huge, but it very full and well organized.

I picked up some beautiful hand made ceramic buttons and a ball of self stripe yarn by Canadian dyer Rain City Knits in a blue and orange colorway.

3.  The Elusive:  If you can get into these places, you're slicker than I am

Finery Hand KnittingI was interested in this shop after reading about it on Yelp, but I wandered around the mall that it was supposed to be in and I never did find it.  A lot of the signs were in Chinese so I was a little hard pressed to figure it out.  Bummer, it might have been cool

Americo Original
It would have been fun to visit this shop too, but although they were supposed to be open on Saturdays, they were closed with a sign that said they would not be in that day.  I had to drown my sorrow by walking into a bead shop two doors to the right of it called Bling Bling.  That was actually a cool find.  Sorry Americo...I missed you.