Friday, May 31, 2013

Spoon : Thread : Scissors (hint - in hand quilting, nobody misses the rock or the paper)

I've been doing a fair bit of hand quilting lately.

Seeing the three layers of the quilt come together and the texture of the stitches turns a plain old quilt top into something quite beautiful.

Not everybody enjoys the basting process, but I use Jeanna Kimball's basting needles (longs in size 4) and an old spoon in order to bounce the basting needle back through to the top of the quilt.

Basting a quilt is relatively quick and having it all set for the quilting part is when the real excitement begins, so I do strangely enjoy the basting part.

I don't always use a blue temporary marker to mark the quilting lines, but sometimes it's useful depending on how dark your fabrics are.  One key is to keep heat (read: your iron!) away from the quilt top after you have marked it to avoid creating permanent marks that won't come out.

YLI's hand quilting thread is probably some of the easiest to use.  I find that it doesn't get knots in it easily and it threads up through a small needle eye without much of a fight.

This hand quilting thread comes in 1000 yd spools, 100% cotton, lots of different colors available too.  You can see it in the photo above in the brown color.

I prefer a raised edge thimble for extra leverage.  

Wide Bow scissors by Merchant and Mills are quickly becoming my go-to scissors.  That's quite a compliment, considering the number of pairs I own.

Oh, and a huge thank you to Jan of Be Mused blog (who you already follow, if you are as lovely as I know you are).  The mystery quilter mentioned in my last post is
Yoko Sekita. The super traditional Japanese quilts are so amazing.

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Patchwork Tsushin #172

I have a subscription to both of the popular Japanese quilting magazines (Quilts Japan and Patchwork Quilt Tsushin).

Some issues inspire me more than others.  When there is a holiday issue, or one that is devoted to a theme that I'm not super into (Patchwork Tsushin #173, ahem...redwork), I can get a little less than excited to thumb through the pages.

When an issue like Patchwork Quilt Tsushin #172 comes along, I know that I will spend some serious cycles soaking up the inspiration.

On page 15 of this issue there is a quilt made out of a matrix of 392 different girls dressed in traditional kimonos.  It's not only just an awesome collection of traditional Japanese fabrics, it's an amazing showcase of some serious needle skills.

On page 12 there is a quilt made up of circular 'ball' motifs from traditional Japanese floral fabrics.  Stunning!  

Page 13 has a bag made up of cherry blossoms on hexagons, again, using the Japanese floral fabrics.

Page 28 has the most adorable bag made with a cross stitch kitty on it and some Japanese Ikat fabric.  

What really killed me though in this issue were the photos on pages 46 through 51.  They are the most detailed scenes of Japanese villages, alley ways, and homes.  Oh how I want to learn to read Japanese so I can just find out who the creates these quilts.  

Have you see this issue yet?  If you know who is making the quilts on pages 46-51, I'll email you a gold star!

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

When in Austin, as the Texans do!

If you have read my blog for a while like a lot of you have, you probably well know that I'm a serious California girl.  I love living in the golden state, and the bay area weather really agrees with my system.

When I do leave home, I end up in Austin, Texas from time to time.  My goodness I get such a kick out of visiting there.

On my last trip, I took the advice of my good quilting friend Carol and had dinner at the Eastside Cafe.  They grow most of their own herbs and a lot of their veggies on the property in a garden right next to the restaurant.  Things are so super fresh.  The servers are warm and kind and the inside has different rooms because it used to be a house.

I was also wandering around South Congress looking for a couple of things in an antique shop called Uncommon Objects.  I found way more than I thought I would, so that was really fun.  The ultimate treasure was a vintage rosary for my son's first communion.  They have a funny movie of some of the interesting things in their shop.

The most fortunate thing that happened to me was walking past a jewelry shop called Limbo.  I love very simple affordable little earrings and necklaces.  I got a pair of earrings and may have to try to order online.  The shop in person is super modern and amazing. 

I did manage to avoid something that Texans call "Fire Ants."

I was like, "Gee, what's a fire ant?"

My friend laughed and said they have been known to kill baby cows.

I'm thinking it's a good thing that I didn't make intimate acquaintance with any of them.

I guess I've finally learned to appreciate good old California style ants. 

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Reverse Applique: What's Black and White and Red all over?

The conventional answer to that one is The Newspaper, but I'm not sure anybody really reads that anymore these days.  A bit of a shame really, but too easy to get news on your tablet I think.

Although my initial efforts at reverse applique on jersey fabric (ala Alabama Chanin) are far from perfect, they are moving along, and IMHO looking rather cool.

This one is white on top, black as the 2nd layer with some pinkish red paint.

I made a front and a back and hope to turn it into a bag eventually once I get more than 2 seconds to rub together.

To those of you who have been hanging out recently at Quilt Market, it all sounds very exciting this year.  I'm looking forward to seeing all the season's new fabrics for us quilters to play with.

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Little Oak Cardigan: Road Test & Preschooler Extortion Practices

Towards the end of the school year our local public elementary school hosts an amazing art show.

It is combined with an open house event where you can enter your child's classroom and visit with the teacher.

This year the event did not disappoint. 

The children sometimes adopt the theme of a famous artist's work for their own original painting.

This year was not only a feast for the eyes, but included a small dosage of preschooler extortion as well.

I finished knitting the Little Oak sweater, and of course my 4 yr old still refuses to willingly put it on. 

He is very interested in increasing has saving account though, so for 2 dimes and 1 nickel, the sweater was donned and some photos were finally taken.  

Giving in to your pre-schooler's extortion tactics: questionable parenting technique
Getting photos of him wearing your knitwear:  priceless

Monday, May 6, 2013

Reverse Applique: Alabama Chanin Project

I have been working on a mini-table runner using reverse applique and methods invented by Natalie Chanin.

The project itself has been a joy to create and it is a secret (perhaps not so secret now) gift for a friend who hand carried home some serious goodies for me from a recent trip to Japan.

She may at times read my blog, but truth be told, I cannot contain myself from sharing this little photo of the project, and hopefully my friend will love it.  I think it is turning out quite pretty.

It's not quite done yet, but it isn't that far off either.

In other news, I am still working hard on a super top secret quilt project that is just perfect if I may say so myself.

And finally finished is the sweater for my 4 yr old.  I need to put buttons on it still, but it is adorable and he is willing to try it on for $.25 per session.

He even modeled it for my friend the other day and ended up with $.50 total.  Smart kid.

Are you ready for Mother's Day?  Maybe you are wondering where the perfect place is to take your special mother.  How about packing a picnic and heading towards a Peony Garden.  That sounds like a good idea to me!