Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Freedom, Beauty, Truth and Love

It's almost the new year and with it brings the promise of new things. New adventures, new friends, new goals and new accomplishments. Every year my "resolution" is to live fabulously. Each year, the definition of fabulous changes as I change...and this year is no exception.

This year I find I'm feeling quite Bohemian...

meadowsweet

To take the world as one finds it, the bad with the good, making the best of the present moment — to laugh at Fortune alike whether she be generous or unkind — to spend freely when one has money, and to hope gaily when one has none — to fleet the time carelessly, living for love and art — this is the temper and spirit of the modern Bohemian in his outward and visible aspect. It is a light and graceful philosophy, but it is the Gospel of the Moment, this exoteric phase of the Bohemian religion; and if, in some noble natures, it rises to a bold simplicity and naturalness, it may also lend its butterfly precepts to some very pretty vices and lovable faults, for in Bohemia one may find almost every sin save that of Hypocrisy. ...

meadowsweet

What, then, is it that makes this mystical empire of Bohemia unique, and what is the charm of its mental fairyland? It is this: there are no roads in all Bohemia! One must choose and find one’s own path, be one’s own self, live one’s own life.

The Romance of the Commonplace
Gelett Burgess


meadowsweet

Here's wishing you Freedom, Beauty, Truth and Love in the new year.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Adventures in literature

My dear friends! Allow me to introduce my new friend and colleague Dr. John H. Watson.

my new kindle

Even though we've only just made each other's acquaintance, we should be old chums in no time. Just think of the number of scrapes we'll get into (and hopefully out of). Capital!

my new kindle

We've already visited a town called Forks and learned how to build cathedrals and met Vincent Van Gogh. In fact, he accompanied me on my date with Edward Cullen tonight. Did you know that I met Edward on a plane to Mexico exactly one year ago today. It was love at first sight and we've been inseparable ever since.

And now Watson, Edward and I are off to the Diogenes Club to reminisce about the past year. A lot has happened and a lot is left to come. Goodnight all.

*edit*...speaking of the Diogenes Club, this is most definitely the one I'd join:

"There are many men in London, you know, who, some from shyness, some from misanthropy, have no wish for the company of their fellows. Yet they are not averse to comfortable chairs and the latest periodicals. It is for the convenience of these that the Diogenes Club was started, and it now contains the most unsociable and unclubable men in town. No member is permitted to take the least notice of any other one. Save in the Stranger's Room, no talking is, under any circumstances, allowed, and three offences, if brought to the notice of the committee, render the talker liable to expulsion. My brother was one of the founders, and I have myself found it a very soothing atmosphere."

Modify Tradition blocks, update!

I made it through the family party on Saturday and spent all of Sunday sewing (to recuperate, you know). The party was fun and it was nice to see everyone. But I was mostly excited to get back to sewing (party planning/executing takes a lot of time away from sewing).

I thought it would be prudent to work on my Modify Tradition blocks:

modify tradition blocks

And I'm so happy I did because I really love how they're turning out! I was so excited once I finished these "test" blocks that I sewed diligently for hours and hours. I don't know how Vector could sleep through such excitement and frantic sewing!

Sleepy cat

I even have an idea for the back...do you remember these green and blue log cabins?

blue and green log cabins

I've been sashing them in white and I'm almost to the point where I can sew them together. I think it would make a great "back" for this quilt...since log cabins are traditional and the colors will match the "front" very well.

My goal is to finish all the blocks for the top before I leave town on Friday. That sounds like an easy goal but I'm going to be a little distracted starting tonight...but it's a secret for now...expect the first ghost when the bell tolls one. I mean, expect a post about the surprise later tonight.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Embroidered Flannel Scarf

s17

My idea for an embroidered flannel scarf was inspired by this gray flannel remnant. It practically begged me to use running stitches to hold the layers together. This is an easy project to take along on car trips or during movies on the couch since it's all sewn by hand. If you'd like to make your own super easy, super fun embroidered scarf, click below for the tutorial.

Friday, December 18, 2009

At the last minute

Why is it that every time I say "I'm not making anything for anyone!" I end up making something for someone at the very last minute?

Instead of finishing the tutorial last night, I made scarves for Ian's parents for a holiday gift. Ian is leaving for California on Sunday and I want to send them with him. And if his parents are reading my blog right now, just know: sorry I made you scarves...I couldn't think of anything better but Ian mentioned it's been a bit chilly in Sacramento lately...and Ian didn't think you'd like my other ideas.

Anyway, I was without my camera last night so I can't even share pictures of the scarves (they turned out well, I think). Tutorial and scarf pictures will be Monday at the latest, I promise!

So, instead of projects, I'll show you some pictures of my finished tree:

tree all lit up

My three favorite things about our tree this year are:

handmade tree bow

I bought the glittery snowflake ornaments at Target. They were super cheap and I LOVE them. And the little cardinal...cute, right? And then the bow...I've never made a big bow before...it was easy and fun and I think it looks alright.

And here are some bigger snowflakes and my tree skirt:

quilted tree skirt

We're pretty much set for our party tomorrow. I'm nervous anyway...I'm not much for parties or for seeing my family in one large group. And it's at my house so it's not like I can leave when I've absorbed all the "family fun" I can stand. But it will be fine. I mean, there will be food and wine so...you know.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Grey and Pink

Instead of feeling the holiday rush, I'm feeling the holiday lethargy. I've decided to skip handmade gifts this year. So, without the "omg, how will I ever get all this done in time?" fear, I'm feeling fairly blasé about everything, including projects that I should be excited to work on now that I have the time.

Last night I worked on my Modify Tradition quilt for a while before I found this piece of flannel and got distracted:

stitching

I stitched some rows by hand while watching Brokeback Mountain. It felt like the right thing to do with my evening. If my idea turns out well, I'll post a tutorial on Friday. I'm excited because it's been forever since I've done a tutorial. And I'm using pink embroidery floss! So, you know, that's exciting too. If you're me, anyway.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Finished Tree Skirt

I can't tell you how relieved I am that this tree skirt is finished:

quilted tree skirt front

We're hosting our family holiday party next Saturday and this and the tree are the only decorating I'm planning to do. But you know how I like to wait until the last minute...I fully expected to be working on this tree skirt up until the morning of the 19th.

I used Crazy Mom Quilts tutorial but modified it just a little. My blocks are each 8.5" unfinished and I made 22 instead of 15. Next time, I'd just make 15. These log cabins took forever!

It's reversible even though I'll probably never use this side because the front took way more work which makes me feel like it should always be on display:

tree skirt back

I ended up doing all machine binding and I can say without a doubt that I like the look of hand sewing much better. It was definitely faster, though...so if I'm in a crunch, I might try it again. But if I'm not, I'm going to stick with hand sewing.

The finished size is about 40"x40" which just fits under my larger-than-I-thought-it-would-be fake white tree. We're decorating with green and red ornaments (very original, I know). It was all part of the plan, though...I wanted to use this red/green fabric for the tree skirt so red/green ornaments only made sense:

quilted tree skirt

So, how about you? Are you making any holiday decorations this year? If so, feel free to link so we can all see!

Thursday, December 10, 2009

A Snow Day!

I got snowed in yesterday. After my car got stuck in the driveway three times (despite shoveling a path for the tires) and then got stuck in the street once, I called in to work to admit my defeat.

When I was a kid, a snow day used to be the very definition of fun. Now that I have to spend my snow days shoveling the driveway, it's not quite the same.

Two good things came out of my unexpected day off, though. First, I got about a million yards of fabric ironed and folded and put away. My back and arms were so tired from shoveling that this was about all I had the strength to do.

The second thing was that I was there when the mailman dropped off my Folksy Flannel!

folksy flannel

Can you believe how warm and cozy this looks? This flannel is so soft and the colors are fantastic! I got such a great deal thanks to Jen's hint about the sale at quilthome.com (sign up for their newsletter for secret deals!) After the 25% off and the free shipping, this flannel cost less per yard than regular quilting fabric. Now I don't feel bad for breaking my "no buying fabric for quilt backs" rule. It's like I'm saving money, right?

Tonight I'm going to Ian's house for a "pizza and The Office" date night and I'm super excited. I'm so sore from shoveling that I need a break from the temptations of the studio. That fabric, it calls to me! But my quilting muscles need a break. Plus, you know, I like to hang out with Ian...so it's a win/win!

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Return of the Ripple Blanket

J asked me the other day if I was still working on my ripple blanket. And can you believe that after all that obsession (and all that yarn store terror!) I'd totally forgotten about it?

ripple blanket

But now I'm excited to work on it again! I don't know when I'll have the time to pull it out of its box...maybe it can be one of my January projects? But, since I didn't want to have to wait until January to ripple stitch (and since I had to re-learn how to do the stitch anyway), I worked up some dishcloths for practice.

ripple dishcloth

I tried the original pattern the first time around and ended up with only two ripples...and you know that's just not enough for me. I decreased the number of stitches in each repeat to get more ripples per inch.

I'm making these for my mom because I already have so many beautiful dishcloths to use at my house. And I'm using up some miscellaneous yarn ends because they're fun and because my mom likes things a little crazy.

Are you guys crocheting or knitting any holiday gifts this year? This'll be it for me...I'm mostly making stuff out of fabric this time around.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Pre-Holiday Freakout!

I looked at the calendar last week and couldn't believe it was already December. And then I had a freakout over all the things I had to do before the holidays. I can't believe I do this every year. I always think the calm before the holiday storm will be, well, calm. But it never is.

The first things I crossed off my list were the remaining Modify Tradition tutorials and blocks. It feels good to be finished and I'm excited to turn my blocks into a quilt before the end of the year.

The next thing I wanted to finish was my tree skirt. I'm very close...I just need to finish the binding.

quilted tree skirt

I was planning to finish the binding by hand but now I think it might be fun to finish it all by machine. It'll give me some practice with the technique and if I don't like it, that's fine...it's just a silly tree skirt.

Also, since this is just a silly tree skirt, I'm trying a new quilting technique...loops:

quilted tree skirt

As you can see, I'm having a hard time adjusting from meander to loop. Check out the bottom right corner...that's supposed to be a loop but I did a meander.

Once I got a little more comfortable with the technique, it was really fun. It felt way more natural to make loops. Also, I forgot to put the feed dogs down again so perhaps it will be easier next time.

quilted tree skirt

It feels weird to post "in-progress" photos...the things I make are usually gifts and I can't share them until they've been gifted. But I really miss blogging and I want to update more. So I guess I have to make more things for myself so I can share them with you right away. Nice plan, right?

Friday, December 4, 2009

Folksy Flannel

Remember how I wasn't going to buy any new quilt fabric, not even for the backs? Well, I'm doing great so far. I'm about to order some Meadowsweet but that was already allowed on the list of rules I made for myself.

But you know what? I love backing my quilts in flannel. It makes them so soft and thick and warm. So, maybe, just maybe, if I happen to find some high quality, super beautiful flannel, I might buy it to back quilts instead of using my stash fabrics.

Oh...hey...what's this? It appears to be some sort of flannel fabric:



It's sort of...folksy.



Oh my...these would be perfect for quilt backs, don't you think? Almost too beautiful to be stuck on the back. Do you guys love this new Folksy Flannel or is it not really your thing? Do you like to back your quilts in flannel or not? This is important stuff to know!

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Wilderness

Ian and I took a nature walk this weekend. We saw snails:

snail shells, empty

And vines:

w6

And nests:

w10

And "a prettyish kind of a little wilderness":

w4

Just lovely.

Twilight Fest, 2009

Karrie and I took the day off of work to see New Moon on Friday:

new moon

And we got there early to beat the crowds...but there wasn't a crowd:

new moon 5

But we had lots of Edward themed goodies to keep us busy until the movie started:

new moon 2

And then we loved the movie so much that we bought tickets for the next showing:

new moon 3

And then it was dark and we had dinner and we saw the not quite so new moon on the horizon...it's not very impressive in the picture so you can check out my Team Edward shirt instead:

new moon 4

I promise I won't go on and on about the movie but I absolutely loved it! I went to see it again last night with my grandma and my mom. I'm thoroughly dazzled...*swoon*

Friday, November 13, 2009

Mystery mail!

I've been meaning to tell you about my mystery mail for two weeks now. First, Jen sent me these beautiful dishcloths:

dishcloths from Jennifer

The knit cloth must have taken forever and the crocheted cloth has a really neat pattern. I love them both and she even passed along the pattern for the crochet. I might even have time to try it out this weekend!

And then there was the scarf:

scarf from Jennifer

If the picture looks blurry it's because the yarn is so soft and fuzzy. It seriously feels like kittens or bunnies against your skin...but it's made of polyamide, no bunnies at all! I would have bet money it had angora in it. Anyway, Jen says it's Yarn Bee brand from Hobby Lobby..."Cameo" (color is Cerulean Agate #227).

Apparently, there's a Hobby Lobby on my way to the cabin. We might have to stop in on our way up for Thanksgiving. Poor Ian...but if he's good, he might get a fuzzy faux-bunny scarf for his troubles. I think everyone needs a scarf made out of this yarn. It is, in all honesty, the softest yarn I've ever felt. Thanks again, Jen! I love everything!

More log cabins.

I've been working on another "use it up" project...a tree skirt to go under my new, white holiday tree. My grandma wants to host the family party this year so I need to get the house spruced up...otherwise I'd skip the decorating entirely.

Since I'm no longer participating in the craft fair, I have all this holiday fabric to use up and I'm doing my best with these little log cabins:

tree skirt log cabin

I got the idea from the Crazy Mom Quilts tree skirt tutorial. My plan is to fill the entire top with log cabins instead of just a border. And the back will be pieces of coordinating fabrics so it's reversible.

I have just over a month to finish it...and I might even make stockings for our fake fireplace.

Have you already started your plans for the holiday season?

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Lost in Translation

I'm having a Lost in Translation sort of day. For unknown reasons, I feel a little empty, a little sad...but mostly I feel detached, floating, not able to express myself. Everything comes out...not quite right. It gets lost in translation.

I don't want to admit it but I think this mood has something to do with my quilting fabric. As in, I buy it but never use it. And it sits on my shelves looking a little empty, a little sad. It was all supposed to turn into beautiful quilts but the ideas have been lost in translation...now it just sits there, unable to express itself.

I'm curious to see just how many quilts I can make without buying any new fabric. I bet it's a depressingly (and excitingly) huge amount.

So, that's the plan...no buying new fabric until I make a significant dent in my stash. I hate doing this (and have actively resisted doing this in the past) because I like to support etsy sellers (and other small businesses) in these hard times. But I know I've done a ridiculous amount of supporting over the past year so I don't feel too bad.

As always, there are exceptions to the rule. I'm going to let myself buy:

1) some of the green and pink prints in Sandi Henderson's new Meadowsweet collection (late November, get here already!)

2) white or off-white fabric as necessary

3) any "must have or I'll regret it forever" fabrics that come out (still kicking myself for not buying some Lush paint by number deer fabric the moment it came out.)

4) a print that I love, love, love and use in just about every quilt (some of the ginger blossom prints for example) only if they're on a too good to pass up super sale, like, $4 a yard or something crazy like that.

That sounds like a lot of exceptions but I think it's still a valiant goal. Note that I didn't mention anything about fabric for the backs of quilts. Oh yes, that's the killer...I have to use stash fabric on the backs which, no matter how cool the back looks, feels wasteful to me. I know I'll have double-sided quilts but it still makes me cringe to see all that beautiful fabric on the back instead of the front. I mean, you can only see one side at a time! I'm going to spend a lot of time at the Quilt Backs flickr pool, I think.

The challenge has already begun. Since I've been working with blue and green for the Modify Tradition project, I've felt like working with more blues and greens. I'm now up to 15 log cabins:

blue and green log cabins

It felt really good raiding my scrap bin and it even felt good cutting into my stash to make longer strips for the larger blocks. And I made some more scraps as I went along (even though I tried to avoid this) so these fabrics will end up in another quilt someday. And I feel really good about that.

And I feel really good about my plan, although I know it's not much of a sacrifice. I'll show you a picture of my stash once I finish ironing and folding the huge "washed but still not ironed" pile. And I'm going to give away some of the prints I sort of like but don't really like...and I know that's probably a crappy giveaway but maybe someone will want it. So stay tuned!

Friday, November 6, 2009

A long week

Hey everyone! Our first tutorial is up at Modify Tradition.

nine patch

We're starting simple but we'll move to more challenging blocks as we go along.

Sorry I haven't been blogging lately. In just the last week my grandma was in the hospital (I rode in the ambulance!), my mom came into town, Ian was super sick (we had to cancel Halloween but we're having a make-up Halloween this weekend) and the furnace went out twice. I haven't had any time for sewing or picture taking or anything fun.

Everything is slowly returning to normal: grandma is out of the hospital, Ian is feeling better and they showed me how to fix the furnace if it goes out again. I have tonight and most of tomorrow all to myself and I'm so excited to do some sewing and picture taking (I got something in the mail that I can't wait to show you) and maybe I'll make scones (I bought everything but haven't had the time to bake). I can't wait to take some time to be creative. I'll post about mystery mail, my projects and other fun things soon, promise.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Modify Tradition

Okay everyone, it's time to reveal the Super Secret Project:

Modify Tradition

Jennifer and I have started a blog dedicated to traditional quilting. I'm not really interested in traditional quilting so you know there has to be a twist.

Our goal is to give traditional quilt blocks some modern appeal, to bring new life to these historical blocks.

We'll post tutorials and inspiration each week and you can quilt along with us if you like. At the end of a few weeks, we'll have enough blocks to create a quilt...a sampler quilt. I HATE sampler quilts, don't you? But if we do it right, our samplers will look fresh and modern and hopefully you'll agree.

This week we'll post tips on picking colors and fabric and the first tutorial goes up on Friday. There'll be something for everyone (even if you don't want to quilt along with us) so please stop by if you're at all interested. It should be a fun challenge!

Thursday, October 29, 2009

The Importance of Being Earnest

Guess what Ian and I saw last night:



I'd never seen an Oscar Wilde play before (not even a movie version) and I have to say, it was very entertaining! Sometimes I wish I were a gentleman so I could be a dandy. Like Algernon...or Chuck Bass.

I knew nothing about the play before it started which was actually quite nice...the surprise ending really was a surprise (although not hard to figure out). I found the plot and characters to be delightfully silly and the dialogue snappy and witty. The whole thing was such a wonderful satirical look at the Victorian upper class. And, you know, there were pretty dresses, although the late Victorian leg-o-mutton sleeve generally isn't my favorite.

I wonder what sort of man my Bunbury would be...and it's true, one should always eat muffins quite calmly. Read on for my favorite scene...

Friday, October 23, 2009

Mail day!

Look what I found in my mailbox yesterday:

s1

Delicious half yards of Kona solids from Pink Chalk Fabrics. I have no idea which color is which because I forgot to buy a color card but that's fine with me. I sort of like the freedom of not knowing. Maybe I won't feel that way in the future when I'm trying to match a color but for now, I'm just enjoying the view.

s2

I'm using a few in my secret project but the rest are just for fun. I'm mostly a prints sort of girl so introducing some solids into my quilting will be a challenge. But probably not much of a challenge with beautiful colors like these.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Hard at Work

I know it's been quiet around here but that's because I've been busy. Busy in the life sort of way but, most importantly, busy in the sewing sort of way!

I've been working on things to sell at the craft fair and I've also been working on a super secret project. And the good news is that you only have to wait a week and a half to find out what it is. I hope you'll like it...but you might not and that's ok. I won't be mad or anything (but I will secretly hope you'll change your mind after a while).

Just about the only thing I can show you right now is this half completed log cabin block:

green log cabin

Have I told you before how much I love log cabins? I just can't wait to add the next strip! And speaking of, check out the strip on the bottom...that fabric is new to my collection and part of my super secret project. It sort of feels like a stranger in my studio. I bought a lot of new fabrics lately and they all feel like strangers. Mixing this new friend with my old friends helped a little.

Do you feel this way too? That your new fabrics are strangers? You're not quite comfortable just calling them up to chat so you sort of leave them alone until you have a really good reason to pick up the phone? And what about the ones that are just too beautiful to approach? They sit on the shelves for a long time while I sneak glances at them from across the room, hoping that they don't notice me looking at them all the time.

So, yeah, that's about all I have for you and I'm sad about it but there will be more soon. Promise.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Before and After

As you probably know by now, most of the things I make are gifts for friends and family. I never seem to have time to sew anything for myself. And because I've never taken the time to make something for myself, I'm not even sure the stuff I make will look good once it's been washed a few times (with the exception of quilts...all mine have been fine so far).

Since Laura and I are planning to sell things at the craft fair in just over a month, I figured it was time to do some quality testing.

First up, a cloth napkin fresh out of the dryer:

fabric napkin

The cotton thread on the inside and outside shrank and pulled up the corners. I knew this would happen but I wasn't sure if it would recover after a good ironing.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Mystery mail

One time I knitted a dishcloth and it took me eight hours. So, you can imagine my delight when I opened a mystery package the other day and found these inside:

knitted dishcloths from jane

Six knitted dishcloths from my friend J!

knitted dishcloths from jane

In one of my most favorite color combinations!

knitted dishcloths from jane

And all of them different!

knitted dishcloths from jane

I was shocked then and I'm still shocked now. But wait, that's not all! She also made me some gorgeous stationery:

bubble cards from jane

And at the bottom of the box I found a huge bag of her OMG delicious vegan oatmeal chocolate chip cookies. She posted the recipe here so check it out and make some for yourself. You won't regret it.

I think the best part about giving gifts to fellow crafters is knowing your gift is truly appreciated. Not everyone can understand just how much work goes into making something. And even if J can make a dishcloth in less than eight hours, I understand how much practice it took to get to that point. J makes it look easy but I know the road to perfection is hard indeed. Thanks J, your gifts are truly appreciated and well loved already.

Also, have you seen these gift labels yet? I just bought a box and I can't wait to stick them to my handmade holiday gifts. I think I'll get a lot of use out of the one that says: I made this, just so you know. So don't say anything mean about it. Awesome, right?

Monday, October 12, 2009

Snow again!

Care to take a walk with me?

Snow MN 10/12/09

Snow MN 10/12/09

Through the parking lot.

Snow MN 10/12/09

Past the park.

Snow MN 10/12/09

And into work.

Snow MN 10/12/09