Monday, December 1, 2014

The French General: EPP Hexagons, Rue Indienne, and Quilt Shopping in LA

If you like to sew and you are in the general (pun intended) neighborhood of Los Angeles, California, please consider a stop in at The French General as part of your to-do list.

After visiting there myself, I can hardly get the images of their delicious fabrics, colors, textures (think linen!) out of my mind.

I picked up some vintage linen at the shop and also some of the fabrics that they carry as part of the line that Moda produced for them.

Colors are muted, dare I say taupe-ish.  Or perhaps Taupalicious.  I'm inventing words here that blogger spell check will not approve of.  

They have beads and trims as well as fabrics.

When I was at PIQF I picked up a pack of Rue Indienne small fabric squares and 1" hexagon pieces from Paper Pieces as well as some glue to glue base to the paper.

I know, I's GLUE.  But it's washable and this is a small quilted piece, not a Baltimore Album so I'm taking a leap and trying the glue stick from Sewline.

Not sure how fast I'll be at putting this together, but not in much of a rush either.

P.S.  Have missed blogging but have been keeping busy with creative work...lots of catch up to do here.

Happy December!  That crept up a bit fast on me.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Pacitif International Quilt Festival 2014

Pacific International Quilt Festival is a quilt show that I like to attend every year.

It's a short drive from where I live, so dropping in for a few hours is low hanging fruit and a serious treat for the eyes.

This year was no exception.

I took lots of photos of quilts, ribbons won, and info sheets about the quilts and the people who made them.  The quilt above is called Celestial Splendor and was made by Rachel Wetzler of Illinois.  It was stunning in person, as were many other quilts but this was one of my favorites.

A highlight for me was meeting (In Person!!!)  Nancy Brown, amazing applique artist.  It was like meeting a rock star for me.  You can see some photos of me with her and the ladies who helped do the applique on the quilt that was in the show this year.  It was another one of my favorites and I took a lot of detailed photos of it.  There are San Francisco and animal themes in the block designs.

Here's a link to all the photos I took at Pacific International Quilt Festival 2014.

I didn't photograph all the quilts, only the ones that either won big awards or really inspired me.

Oh right and if you missed the previous nine years of the show (unlike me!) and want to see another oh say...four or five THOUSAND quilt photos from PIQF...well - look no further!!  Perhaps you should make yourself a cup (barrel?) of tea first.

PIQF 2013

PIQF 2012

PIQF 2011

PIQF 2010

PIQF 2009

PIQF 2008

PIQF 2007

PIQF 2006

PIQF 2005

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Indian Summer

It still feels like summer here in Northern California.

We still need sunblock on the kids if we go out for a while during the day.

It's been a busy time with lots of soccer games on the weekends and a little creative work for me on the sidelines.

I am knitting a sweater that I am frustrated with because when I was working on picking up some stitches the yarn broke and now I have to go back and fix it.  Let it be known that weak yarn is annoying.

Knitting is an adventure.  I'm still learning its secrets.

Quilting - well, you know where you stand with it for the most part.  With any luck your fabric is good quality and will not tear when you don't want it to.  You can usually trust your thread not to break unless you really mean to break it.

In the above photo you can see my one line a day book where I write something happy that happened during the day.  Today I'll be writing that my son got his brand new copy of the just released today Rick Riordan book The Blood of Olympus

I made the pom pom above from a tiny amount of handspun yarn.  It has sparkles in it which really isn't 'me' but it came for free with a spinning tool I bought so I spun it up for fun and it's decorating my book for now.

Hope your week is well and maybe a bit less hot and sweaty than our week here.

Monday, October 6, 2014

Hexagon Quilt: English Paper Piecing

These days I spend more time running around with the family and less time quilting so it's kinda big news when I finish a quilt top.

I was not trying to make a huge quilt with this hexagon project, more of a small wall hanging. 

Now that I see it all together, I sort of wish I had made it bigger.  It's rather cool.

I have been dragging it around with me, working on in her and there so it's a bit wrinkled in the photo, but still...the top is DONE!

That doesn't mean the quilt is done, of course.  My favorite part is still to come...the quilting part. 

Next I need to put some borders on it and baste it in prep for quilting. 

Not sure if it's small enough for me to quilt it on the go, but I do have a portable quilting hoop and a huge trunk.  Hm....let's see how that goes.

Now on to the borders.  Decisions, decisions.

I'll be using more Oakshott fabrics (same as the hex shapes) to give it a consistent look.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Fall Is Here - Really, It Is

They say that it's finally autumn.  I'm working on getting ready. 

Some time back my family got me a sweaters worth of purple yarn in colorway "Thistle" from Brooklyn Tweed.

A some knitters love this yarn, and others hate it with a passion (the controversy!).

I for one am on the fence.  It looks amazing.  It knits up well and felts like a champion for easy felted or "spit splice" joins from one yarn ball to the next.

There is a truck load of VM or "veg matter" in the yarn which is a little annoying when you knit with it.  This stuff is basically little pieces of hay.  I don't know if they just use lower quality wool, or wool where it was not skirted properly, but there is certainly something going on there that is irritating at best.

The yarn also breaks very easily which is something people in general don't like.  I have not broken the yarn yet (!!) when I wasn't trying to, so for me it's not an issue but I don't yank on it very hard either.

That said, the sweater will probably be very sharp looking.  The color is amazing and the knit fabric is beautiful  I'm knitting a Cookie A pattern called Chicane which is sort of a motorcycle jacket / sweater.  I'm a long ways away from finishing it, but there are lots of soccer games on the weekends so it's not out of the question to want to wear it sometime this season.

In stitching news, I have brought back my hexagon quilt made out of Oakshott fabrics because it is portable.  I didn't realize how close to being complete it is.  I am excited and thinking putting a fork in it is also in order.

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Playing around with Inkodye

Inkodye is a product that uses light sensitive ink to make an image on fabric.

I've seen some cool and creative uses of it lately and the colors of their dyes look very bright and cheery.

I got a starter kit to play around with the blue ink.  I haven't had a chance to try it yet, but I'm armed with some t-shirts and some (expensive) transparency film that can be sent through my printer.  

I'm not sure how archival this ink is but it looks like it would stay a long time.  I want to try it on some shirts and wash them a bunch to see if they fade a lot before I try it on a quilt.

It might be good to try on a small project like a bag or something too.

I'll keep you posted on how it all turns out.  It seems like a much easier alternative to screen printing.  It comes in less colors and costs more for the inks but requires way less equipment and clean up so it might be an interesting trade off.  Given you don't have to purchase all the screens, it is certainly cheaper to get started.

Now all I have to do is start. Stay tuned!


Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Don't Panic, It's Organic

If I see quilting cotton or cotton jersey that is organic, I like to use it.  It makes me feel like having it next to my skin will be a softer and more healthy experience.

When I see organic veggies in the market or when I used to eat them from a local CSA box, I feel like I'm avoiding chemicals but also getting food that just tastes better.  

Tomatoes are probably my favorite food, but only if home grown.  I'm not the only person on the planet who thinks tomatoes from the store taste more like card board than actual tomatoes.

Above are some of the tomatoes that came out of my garden this year.  When you slide them open, they have both yellow and red flesh inside.  Low on the acid and delicious.

I make salsa or cover them w/ a little oil and vinegar to put on toast.

The kids are not sure about them, even though they helped grow them.  I find that a little funny.  I often think that if I get them invested in the process that will magically make them want to eat the results.  Turns out that is not always the case.

Either way, more tomatoes for me. 

Monday, August 18, 2014

Birthday Quilt - girl version

I'm making a couple more signature blocks for some 6 year olds and a 9 year old who will celebrate their birthdays in September.

By the time you are nine, you don't really want a birthday party anymore.  I find that rather sobering.  This whole growing up thing is happening at lightening speed.

The girl version is out of Liberty of London fabric and it needs to go in the mail so I always try to do that one first.  They don't take long really.  With a bit of traffic and a sweet DH behind the wheel I can finish the stitching of one on the ride to San Francisco.

One down, two to go.

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Viewmaster - the good old fashioned toy

I realized how behind I am on mounting recent viewmaster film we have shot into paper mounts for the kids to use in their viewmasters

Let this blog post serve as a piece of string around my finger reminding me to take care of that in my ample spare time.

Above is a photo of my DH and my dad each playing with their 3D film cameras.  Does 3D + 3D = 6D somehow?  Perhaps not.

I really love this silly photo for some reason.

In other news I broke out the sewing machine this weekend and that was productive and fun.  I sewed up a simple table runner.  More on that soon.

I also am on to the 2nd sock of a pair I'm making for my mom who really appreciates what I make.  I get a kick out of making things for people who really love them.  Coincidence that she gets more stuff that other people?  Not hardly.

Thursday, July 31, 2014

When the going gets tough, the tough get ear warmers

I ran into this photo I took back in 2012.

It made me smile and I thought that it might do the same for you.

Apparently it seemed like a good use of my time to make leg warmers for my niece and matching ear warmers for this Ugly Doll.  

I get these creative urges sometimes and in hindsight I do at times wonder what possessed me.

Anyhow, I'm sure these things were appreciated at the time.

It will be cooling down soon enough (right?  please?) so quilting and knitting will seem like less of a sweat-inducing activity.  For now, I plan to cower somewhere that has A/C.  Sans ear warmers.

Stay cool people!

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Hand Stitching - Alabama Chanin Pattern

It's been forever since I have had the itch to write a blog post. 

This blog has for many years been my baby and my happy place.  

This summer has been a complicated one for me with my immediate family (DH and kids) doing very well, but a couple other family members were working through health challenges that kept me from hanging out here as much as I would have liked.

That aside, I have still been stitching away and I'm excited to share something that I actually finished with you.

In the Alabama Stitch Book by Natalie Chanin there is a pattern for a corset.  I cut out Nani Iro knit jersey some time back to make this but it was not easy for me to finish it.  Other projects kept making it higher in the priority list.  I finally sewed all the seams down and added an edge band (kinda like a binding) to the neck and arm openings.

I'm happy with how it turned out but it is maybe a little loose in spots (neckline/armpits).  I may try making another one in a slightly smaller size.  I've found their patterns in general run a little small so I have been going up a size so I don't feel like a human sausage.  

The edge treatment I put on is also a bit too thick.  Next time I'll make a thinner one.

The Nani Iro jersey I used is not easy to find.  SuperBuzzy (very cool online shop) has it - along with a big collection of other awesome Japanese fabrics.

They also have some cute jersey by Heather Ross that might be fun to play with especially for a kid/niece project.

Anyhow, just a quick post to let you know I haven't fallen off the deep end.  Hope your summer is moving along smoothly.  I have a London travel brain dump on my mind still, stay tuned for that soon.


Friday, June 13, 2014

Visiting the country below Neverland

We just got back from a week of running around London with the family.

Did we go there only to visit Liberty of London?  Of course not.  Well, kinda, but there were a lot of other things to see and do.

The kids had ideas of what they wanted to do and so did the adults.  We found a pretty good happy medium where many of our top places were visited.

I'll be doing an upcoming post on visiting London if you're a person who likes to make stuff, and another version on what to do or maybe not do if you are traveling with little kids.

For now, let me just say it was perhaps the trip of a lifetime.  Lots more to come.  Still downloading photos from various places, phones, cameras, etc.

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Japanese Silk Kimono Fabric

A dear friend of the family just returned from Nagano Japan and brought these silk fabrics home for me. 

They are 14" wide and were created for the sewing of kimono but I am very pleased to be their happy owner now!  

I have a small collection of these types of silks. The collection is small because they are very expensive. I used to get them at Kasuri Dye Works back when it was in business in Berkeley California about an hour from where I live. 

I'm hesitant to cut them but I should take the leap. 

Either way they are perfect and I really really love them. 

It has been extremely busy for our family this week. Superfun!  Will catch you up on it all very soon. 

Sunday, June 8, 2014

Somewhere Over the Rainbow Socks

I would say I'm over the moon with these socks but it's more like over the rainbow. 

It has not been super warm yet for me so I am still getting a chance to wear these at night. 

The baseball season ended just in time for me to finish them. I can knit plain socks without looking at my hands so it gives me something to do but I still see all the plays. I often wish I could sew without looking too. 

I'm playing around with another appliqué skirt these days. When I have a quarter of it done I will grab some photos for you. It is extremely simple compared to the last one I made. 

Hope your summer is off to a good start. There are many more topics I need to fill you in on soon. Happy fun exciting ones. Ones that will warm your creative hearts. Stay tuned. 

Sunday, June 1, 2014

Crazy Hair Day

Many mornings I ask the boys if today is crazy hair day.  That is because they don't like to brush their hair or maybe because they just can't remember to do it on normal school days.
The only day when actually want to brush their hair is when it is actual crazy hair day.

Does that make any sense?  

Actual crazy hair day is when you slap as much goop into your hair as you can and get it as high as you can manage.

They looked brilliant this year, as they always do and my DH was behind their extremely cool looks.

Things have been busy for us lately with small changes to stitch here and there.  My lofty goals of finishing a quilt top in May have come and gone as have many distracting moments.

It will be good when more time comes along for creative work.  Until then, and moment or two here and there will have to do.  It's the ebb and flow of things I guess.

I hope you are having a great weekend and that your creative juices are flowing more freely than mine are at this very moment.

The photo above is from our last beach vacation as a family.  I was remembering how much fun it was and wanted to share it with you.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Quilt Block Borders - Japanese Taupe Fabric

Around a hundred years ago Henry Ford said you could have one of his Model T cars in "Any color so long as it's black."

I may take his advise when it comes to putting borders on my modern house quilt blocks.  

They each have a lot of colors on them and I'm looking for a frame effect.

There will be an inventory process to look for black fabric pieces that are big enough to contribute to this project.  I love to collect lots of small cuts of different fabrics since most of my quilts have a scrap look to them.  I have too many interests in colors, shades, and patterns to make a quilt with only two fabrics.  I'm not sure I have the discipline to either. 

This strategy works well for applique, but is less than ideal when trying to find longer and or larger pieces for borders.

I'll keep you posted on how the hunt goes.I have a lot of black fabric somewhere.  

Either way it will likely be a slow process forward as life has been on the busy side these days.

Monday, May 19, 2014

Focus and lack there of

Creative work for me has its own ebb and flow.

There is always something going on, but things move between one focused project and several things getting worked on at the same time.

It seems the more crazy my non-creative life is, the less focus I devote to the creative side. 

Projects have been all over the map lately with none of them getting a lot of attention but lots of them getting a small amount.  I started reading 3 books at the same time if that tells you something about my frame of mind.  Isabel's Bed (long story) and Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? are the two that I like the most.

The only thing that got finished recently is the above rainbow sock and that is just because of the amount of baseball games we have had lately and a bit of weekend travel of my part.

In case you're wondering, it's self-striping yarn from British dyer Fab Funky Fibers that moves through 15 different rainbow colors and has a decent amount of cashmere for a very soft feel.  I don't usually knit socks for myself but I will confess I'm keeping these even if they are too crazy to wear out and about.

I hope to have a quiet summer with some rare relaxation in store for me.  I have lofty goals of finishing a big quilt before the PIQF entry form deadline.   They haven't posted the entry form yet, but the deadline is usually in the August time frame.  

Some people don't like to see their quilts hanging in the show and find it annoying to have an unknown person officially judge their quilt.  I take the judge comments with a grain of salt and use them to improve future projects as best I can.  The real reason I like to have my quilts in the show is to inspire other people and hope it leads them to their own new creative fork in the road for them.

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

It's hot - can we go to the beach please now?

It isn't often you see beautiful beach photos in black and white.  The resorts want to show you all the glorious colors of the sky and the water.  

About 2 years ago I was in a state of mind where I only wanted to load my film camera up with black and white film.  I thought it was too progressive to shoot in color.  I've of course gotten over that since, but this shot I took in Maui in 2012 made me want to go there again - too cool off, if nothing else - but it I also kinda want to load up another roll of black and white film sometime soon.

Photography aside, the reality is that I am not heading to Hawaii again any time soon, but I am trying to stay cool and doing my best to entertain myself in parallel.

I've been knitting socks because the take zero prep work and are portable enough for baseball games.  We have been really enjoying a lot of games this year with the boys.

I have a strong urge to finish up some quilting projects still brewing, but the urge to get a little sleep has been winning out over the quilting these days.  I hope when the school year wraps up that I find some cycles to play and maybe start hand quilting a big quilt top.  That would involve me putting all the blocks together on one of my many projects.  

I guess I'll challenge myself to get on the stick and finish a quilt top in May.  That may be too lofty a goal, but it's good to have a stretch goal, right?

Hope your creative work is going well.  If you're heading off to some exotic beach this summer you won't bump into me, but feel free to send me a post card!

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Plus Quilts

All the hipster mod quilt makers seem to have their own twist on a plus themed quilt these days.  

It isn't hard to find images of them and they are all pretty and look like a piece of cake to put together.  

I'm not sure I'm up for a serious challenge in my next sewing endeavor so maybe that is why I'm thinking of a tiny quilt for fun with this little theme. 

For now, it's just graph paper, but if I get more than 5 min to rub together, I'm interesting in trying one of these little creations.  

If you have a favorite one out there feel free to send me a link.  I'm on the hunt for more inspiration.

Sunday, May 4, 2014

Hello there summer

With warmer weather finally here and some end of the year school activities on the horizon, it seems that summer is either here or almost here.

The family is keeping me busy as usual but in the bleachers of baseball games I'm still making little creations.

The best news is that my argyle sock was indeed found.  It was in the laundry bin.  Don't ask me how or why it got there (it's still clean!) but I'm thrilled to have it back.  So thrilled that I got to work on knitting up the second one while we were at swimming and baseball this weekend.

I'm also sewing along on this sloth project by Kiriki Press that I got a while back.  I'm no embroidery expert but thankfully you don't really have to be to have a little fun with this project.  

My monthly weekend quilt group came over briefly and they were all working on super inspirational projects.  I almost absconded with my friend Carol's book called Teeny Tiny Menagerie which has tons of adorable embroidery patterns in it.  I already ordered a copy of it.  I will have to make some shelf space for it.  It's worth it.  

Hope that you are enjoying some warmer and longer days with more sunshine and some extra time in the garden - like we are.

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Shall the lost actually be found?

Name:  First Argyle Sock for my darling 8 yr old
Born: April 5th, 2014
Date Missing:  April 25th, 2014
Missing From: my messy office, but your guess is really as good as mine

Not to rip off the formatting from the side of a milk carton missing person's report or anything here, but I think it's time to put the word out.

I've always wondered if those missing people actually run away because of some horrible situation they are in or if they just found love in some other place.

Perhaps either of those could apply to the missing sock (can socks fall in love?), but I am at a serious cross roads here.  

Do I press forward and knit another one with hopes that the lost shall be found?  Do I dare knit 3 of these things?  (my DH has stated a prophecy that the first sock will literally fall from the sky and land on my head the moment I finish the 3rd one if I end up knitting it)

The best solution seems to be to taking a sewing break for the short term.  

Maybe I should put 'If Lost Please Return To' tags on my projects ala Paddington Bear.   

Either way, if you have seen my sock, feel free to give it back.   Now!

Monday, April 28, 2014

Color Inspiration: Getting to know Emily Green

It's not easy to wear a macaroni necklace out in public, but I have been known to do so if a particularly good one comes home from school.

I've wondered if a more adult version exists for some time and I think I finally found it.

Emily Green is an artist that makes her own clay bead necklaces out of Australia.  I treated myself to her 18 bead creation called Beatrice.  It's hardly a small ornament, but I don't think she's going for subtlety and when I wear it neither am I.  What caught my eye was the bright purple in the lower right side.  That is one of my favorite colors right now.

If I wanted to put the most perfect combination of colors together with the right amount of each I'm not sure I could do as well as Emily has here.

And if you cannot resist a somewhat 'ugly' green color (like me) you should see her version called Lola.  This one is probably better for summer, but Beatrice matched my newly minted handmade skirt better so the decision was pretty easy.

I'm thrilled to own my very first Emily Green creation and I'm planning to save up for another one.  

If you see me on the street wearing it, you may get a sore neck straining to get another look at it.  It's really that pretty.

Hope that you're finding your own small thrills to help your week along.

Friday, April 25, 2014

Catkin by Carina Spencer and the inside joke

For some reason our TV brings up a screen saver tied to my flickr stream.  

My DH probably thought I would like it and my guess is he set it up in order to be sweet.

As a result of that, when the TV goes into 'sleep' mode, it often times shows photos of my quilting and knitting.

For some very very odd reason, it always wants to bring up pictures of a scarf that I made out of crochet some time ago.  

That said, every once in a blue moon it shows a photo of one of the kids playing sports or something, but it shows the scarf so often that my family has taken to cheering and applauding when photos of the scarf come up.  Which, frankly, is quite often.  They dance around the room and cheer as if our team has just won the world series or something.

Because of this annoying little inside joke, I am hesitant to create a flickr set for the new shawl I just knit.  I took a boat load of photos of it (as usual) but am not sure if the TV will pick them up or if the boys will start an applause campaign for it if it starts showing up too often.

I'm taking a chance anyhow, so enjoy more photos of this shawl on flickr if you dare.  Or stop by my living room and watch my TV screen saver if you like.

Notes about the knitting over on Ravelry (public link, no need to login) if you're curious about yarn and such.  It knit it up quickly because I was bent on having one just like my friend Marianne's that I showed you previously.

How about a standing ovation for my shawl.  The    crowd    goes    wild!

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Bloom Where You Are Planted

It's been busy for me lately for many reasons, some good and some less than fun.

My blog is of course my happy place so I'm taking a breath to think over what we have had to celebrate lately, and in truth it's a lot.

Counting my blessings in several places:

In the Garden:

- Veggies from the back yard are honestly my favorite foods.  They are so fresh that they still flap around on your plate.  We went to our usual nursery to get baby plants (no time for seeds this year, boo).  In Cupertino you can enjoy just walking around Yamagami Nursery or you can fill an entire cart full of plants, dirt, and colorful ceramic pots like I did.  Stay tuned for garden progress.  These plants look tiny now, but believe me, it will be a jungle in another couple months.

- Sculptural plants from Flora Grubb are often best in containers because they don't need a lot of water and like good drainage.  I planted one in a pot that I personally threw when I was in that ceramics class way back when.  Even in the odd ugly little pot I made it looks quite good if I may say so myself.

On the table:

 - Better weather is here finally triggering more BBQ meals.  My DH is the grill master and it makes for a lot less kitchen duties for me.  Woo Hoo, if that's not a blessing I don't know what is.

- Gold Forks - yes it is odd to use silverware that is gold in color, and quite unpopular these days probably but we're doing it.  I got an incredible set (using the term 'set' loosely) off ebay for around $40.  They look great, work well, and it's a fun switch up from the normal set.  Cheap thrills, bring em on.

On the needles:
 -  I finished knitting something recently, but will have to photograph it for you.  It's pretty cool.  More on that soon!


Sunday, April 13, 2014

Argyle love

 I set out to knit a pair of argyle socks for my DH because after all he watched the boys while I took the class.

It turns out that these socks unfortunately fit our 8 yr old, and not my DH.  Oops.  Well, the boy is excited about them, even a little extra excited because he is getting them out from under the nose of his daddy.

I guess this means a second pair is in order.

The class I took was from Anne Berk, a wonderful teacher.  I would actually love to take another class with her.  She did a nice blog post about teaching our class where you can even see a photo of me and some girls from knit nite. 

I intend to buy her book when it becomes available.  It will probably be great.  Until then, I have about 3 more socks to make if not 5 if my younger boy chimes in.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Feeling Super

Recently one of my best friends knit a couple of one inch tall super hero characters for my boys.  I kinda wanted to steal them for myself, but they are very loved and take care of by the kids.

It made them feel super to get them and she did a super job of knitting them.  Well of course she did, she's a super knitter.

Anyhow, I'm finally feeling super myself after finishing my Alabama Chanin DIY skirt.  I work it around town last weekend and it was a lot of fun.

The girls a A Verb for Keeping Warm got a kick out of seeing it, as the all the employees at Heath Ceramics.  I felt like a rock star.

I hope to get back to Verb to their Alabama Chanin sew in event later this month.  It's on a week night so it will take some doing to actually end up there, but I hope to go.  If you're in the bay area, check it doesn't cost anything but you will want to register to hold a chair for yourself.

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Alabama Chanin DIY Skirt: final progress report

You may be sick of hearing about my Alabama Chanin DIY skirt and if you are I have some good news for you.  It's almost done!

This is probably my last progress report on it.  From here on out I have a few evenings left of cutting out pieces but the sewing is finally done.  

Maybe I'll wear it on Easter or something.  Or maybe I'll just wear it to the grocery store.  It's a stretch goal to wear it to my monthly weekend quilting group on Saturday, but I think I might actually make that happen if I get busy in the evenings.  We'll see.  I guess I should probably get some photos of me wearing the finished garment too.

Last weekend we made a lightening fast trip to Chicago to visit a relative on my husband's side of the family, a trip that was long overdue.  Chicago is one of those cities that I think you could explore forever and never be done with it.  I always leave wanting more. 

Details about all that coming up next time.  Hope your week is going well and that you're finding a little time here and there for creative work.

Monday, March 31, 2014

Happy Monday - Eww!

Sorry to gross you out. but I thought that you could use a little pick me up since it's Monday, after all.

Why is it cool to have blinking glowing teeth if you're 8 yrs old?  Does it mean that I'm old because I find this kind of disturbing?  I think I'm officially over the hill now.  

Anybody care to join me?!  Ewwww.... 

Friday, March 28, 2014

Fun-mail from The Workroom

Ever since I visited The Workroom in Toronto, I have been wanting to go back.

With no trips there on the immediate horizon, it seemed high time for it to come to me.

I didn't order a lot, just one piece of incredible Liberty of London fabric with jewels on it and a few colors of sparkle floss by Lecien.

It still made my day when this happy package arrived from Canada.  Would love to get back there someday soon.

Until then, I have some plans for this Liberty fabric.  Serious plans!

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Taking More Photos & Adventures on deck

Getting out there in the field with your camera isn't always easy.

If you love to shoot film, sending your film off for processing and having it scanned is just another step in the process.

We recently went to San Francisco with the family and took photos on the Golden Gate Bridge because our niece had sent us her Flat Stanley.

I want to get out and do some more shooting this spring and summer.  Not sure exactly where it will be yet, but we have some ideas.

Until then, more shooting around the neighborhood is probably in order and maybe even a little more photo taking around the house would do in a pinch.

 I do hope to get back to San Francisco sometime soon.  

Stopping in at a few favorite places would be nice, including:

Flora Grubb  - plants to die for
Heath Ceramics - always a good day when you can stop by here
Fluevog Shoes - some are too out there for me but many are calling my name

Taking a ferry to Sausalito for maybe some lunch at 
Farmshop...mmm, looks yummy, right?
Peapod Fabrics - it's been a while since I've stopped by here.  Awesome fabric, outrageously difficult parking 

Until then, I'll be on the sidelines of the baseball field taking pictures of those little monkeys you see above.

Monday, March 24, 2014

Spring has sprung: getting to know a stranger

Last year I bought a "Snowball Hydrangea" plant when I was shopping at Filoli.  Ever since I bought's been the plant that makes me go hmmm....

I waited all last summer for it to bloom and all it did was grow really huge and make a LOT of leaves.  No flowers.  At all.

At first I talked sweetly to the plant.  Whispering sweet nothings into its foliage with thoughts of making blooms.  When that didn't work things eventually escalated to me making nasty threats involving a shovel and the compost pile.  

Finally I decided that waiting may pay off, so I left it alone and forgot about it for the most part.

This weekend it decided to produce two very tiny blooms.  They are really quite adorable. 

I'm not exactly sure if the plant itself is an Annabelle Hydrangea or not, but I think that is the other name for this plant.  I'm glad that I didn't kill it after all.

In other news and wanderings, I discovered a very cool shop called Fringe Supply Company when I was in the Sincere Sheep booth at Stitches West.

They carry some interesting looking scissors in their tools section and have some buttons that are made from real horn and bone that are to die for. 

Hope your week is off to a good spring-y start.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

My Old Flame

I dug out my modern house blocks and started to think about putting another border on them.

I was so in love with this project and these blocks before that it is practically a crime that they have not been made into a quilt top.

How about some advise on setting the blocks here...

I like the fabric on the right and think it is a good allows the quilt to come together.  I think something is still missing though.  

Maybe a very thin dark 'frame' of maybe 1/2" black or almost black fabric around all the blocks first?  They sort of need something to frame them up.  

Ideas?  Help!  I'm crowd sourcing this one!

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Imitaion is the sincerest form of flattery

First let me say that I did not make this amazing shawl, but I did have the great pleasure of photographing not only it, but I also got to take photos of my beautiful friend Marianne, who actually did make it.

I was so inspired by it that I dragged her around looking for the exact same yarn so I could get pretty close to the version that she made.  We'll see if I ever finish it.  I'm not quite the knitter that she is.  The pattern is called Catkin.

Taking photos of your finished projects doesn't have to be all that tough.  There are a couple simple rules of thumb I use and they serve me pretty well:

  • Only use natural light: no photos at night, no photos using light bulbs or camera flash bulbs
  • Get up close: this usually involves putting your camera into macro mode, which often has a small flower icon on it.  I know, you may have to use your camera manual.  This is seriously not rocket science here.  Try it, you'll like it.
  • If it works, rock that light:  Meaning, find the best light that you have available to you and use it.  Use it, use it, and use it some more.  If you only have good light in one room of your house during a certain time of day, only use that spot to take your photos and do it when the time is right.
  • Have a photo party:  When the light is good, whip out several things and take photos of them in batches.  This will allow you to use them at 2am to do blog posts ;)

    Good luck and happy shooting!

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Let it Rain!

In some parts of North America, people are getting a little relief from the snow.

Here in the California Bay Area, we are finally getting some long overdue rain and we're all really excited about it.

Kids get to bring out super-hero themed umbrellas and I get a good excuse to stay in and do some extra sewing and knitting.

During the last storm my kids got the block village and build a pretty considerable tiny city up.  Including a section of London, a small railroad, and a forest full of trees and sheep of all things.  That would be a knitter's dream forest!

I actually don't mind a little stay at home catch up.  I also discovered that after several hours of culling away that my office does indeed have a floor that does not include boxes all over it.  I minor miracle really. 

The really big news this week is that Flat Stanley arrived at our house.  It was sent to us from my niece.  He is busy learning to drive, and also learning to knit.  I'll have to teach him how to quilt as well perhaps later tonight. 

In other random wanderings, I found Yumiko Higuchi's amazing site devoted to her embroidery.  It makes me want to run out and embroider everything.  I was never a huge fan of embroidery, it seemed very grannie to me before I saw Yoko Saito use it in conjunction with applique.  Now that I've seen how Yumiko uses it, I could understand getting really really into it.

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Nice to meet you: A Blog Post written by an in-progress Skirt

Hello.  Nice to meet you.

I am Marisa's DIY Skirt (in progress) and she asked me to write a guest blog post for her today about my life as a half finished skirt.

Let me start by saying that I am really thrilled that the entire back half of me has now been stitched and all the cut-outs are complete.  I'm feeling really confident when people admire me on that side.

The front of me, as you can see from the above, has been progressing slowly but surely.  There is still a long way to go.  One of the front quarter panels is almost done, and the other one is almost started.

Marisa does not neglect me, so please don't think I'm trying to throw her under the bus here when talking about my half completed state.  She puts new stitches on me each day although she's busy and at times only works on me for 15 minutes.  I'm still feeling the love, and I know that she will eventually complete me.  I'm not getting the feeling she will give up on me.  I am admittedly complicated...a project that cannot be rushed.

I hope that your long term complicated sewing projects find inspiration from this blog post and that you can also empower them to write in your own blogs.  It isn't every day that a Skirt gets to write a blog post.

Best wishes to you, and perhaps I'll come back and write again when I'm almost complete.  I'm really looking forward to getting out of the house.

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Stitches West 2014: Recap

Stitches West is a knitting convention in San Jose, California.

They have lots of vendors and tons of classes so for me it's a great chance to pick up some cool new yarn and take a class or two.

This year I took the argyle sock class with Anne Berk.  She was an awesome teacher and everybody in class learned a ton.  Class was especially fun because three of my best friends took it with me and we had a serious blast.

The above photo is of swatches that we all made in class.  Mine is the aqua colored one near the lower center.  

I'm looking forward to making some fun socks with what I learned.  I may even make some mitts for the kids.  That would be even faster to finish.  

Spring is coming though, so time to knit faster is here.

I got some yarn from this vendor Plucky Knitter.  They have their own yarn base that no other vendor uses, it is made strictly for them.  It gives you amazing stitch definition and I think that may be due to it having more twist in the yarn.  Either way, their yarn is hard to come across so the booth was wall to wall people.  I did work my way in though so plucky socks are on the horizon. 

I also got some Bugga! yarn and started in on a shawl called Catkin.  It may take me a zillion years to finish it.  Maybe more than a zillion.  I'm still very focused on my DIY Alabama Chanin skirt, so the knitting is happening a certain pace I guess.

Oh and I tripped over some stitch markers by Neese's Pieces that were made out of hand blown glass.  Very unusual and pretty.

Next year I hope I can take another class with my buddies.  I cannot remember when I've ever had so much fun.  See So Sue's blog post about it here, and check out my friend Sharon's blog Knits are for Kids too!