Sunday, March 15, 2015

Apron Alternative

Back in the fall of 2013, I sent out an announcement to family that I would be making them each an apron for Christmas, and requesting color and theme ideas, so I could personalize everything.

"My kitchen is red & pink"

Well, one of the honored elders of the family said, "No thanks" to my apron proposal.  No thanks?!  Did they not realize how very much they would covet everyone else's apron once they saw the amazing, personalized, lovingly hand-created vision?  Obviously not.

Oregon Duck fan: yellow & green

I was not to be deterred by a "No thank you".  I put on my thinking cap, trying to come up with another fabric item that could be decorated with the same recipe theme.  And, lo and behold, the quilting blog-o-sphere provided.  A tutorial from A Spoonful of Sugar for a gathered round basket got me started.  Even better that there are directions for 3 different sizes, so I could make some nested baskets.

First little problem: interpreting the fusible wadding needed to go between the layers of fabric.  (Maybe I'm dense, but I interpreted it as fusible interfacing, rather than fusible batting.  A quick Google search straightened me out.)

Second little problem: size and scale.  I knew I needed my fabric basket to be much bigger than the ones shown in the tutorial, as my screen-printed recipe measures 9" in the longer dimension.  So I had to super-size...

Canned goods for sense of scale

When I tried to keep the proportions the same as the tutorial, the sides would not stand up.  They flopped over most unattractively.  I ended up cutting my circle smaller, so the sides ended up about 3" tall.  Worked great!

[Math note: for a 9" circular base and 3" height of sides, you need to cut a 15" circle (9+3+3).  The contrast edging strip needs to be 9*pi (approx 28 1/4") long, not including joining seam allowance.]

Obviously, this lovely, recipe-enhanced fabric basket was not delivered for Christmas 2013.  Or even Christmas 2014.  Just gifted it this week, at a large family dinner (where most of the other guests had received an apron from me).

Here are the lucky recipients--our family's elders.

So happy to have a big, boisterous get-together with the whole family.  Before my upcoming move away from Oregon.  Miss you guys already!

Saturday, March 14, 2015

We interrupt the crochet interruption...

Shunted aside already? But I just started... Knit!

Went with my lovely sister and two of her very passionate knitting friends to the Rose City Yarn Crawl--like a (quilt) Shop Hop, but for the fiber-obsessed.  Fifteen shops on this route, all in the greater Portland area.

I stood firm: no need for yarn, thank you.  My plate is full (more than full, actually).  My stash overfloweth, and I recently culled my yarn supplies down to a very minute amount--an amount I might actually be able to use up on reality-based projects.  (You know, projects you can see yourself finishing.  For reals.)

Fabriholic? Poseur with the yarn enthusiasts

I succumbed.
Saw a cute pattern from ArgentGal Designs, and I was a lost cause.

(New stash: Cascade Yarns Superwash Paints in Rainbow Sherbert [discontinued, I believe]; Euro Yarns Orion, a fantasy in gold and sequins; Plymouth Yarns Encore Mega in color 0692)

Ended up buying two patterns, getting a free cowl pattern, and adding to my yarn stash.  Although I showed restraint.  All purchased yarns have a known pattern to nestle themselves next to.

Arrived home from the Yarn Crawl and got my knit on.


Gotta love a super bulky yarn--size 15 needles, a few romantic comedies on the dvr, a few YouTube videos on the knitting increase stitches I didn't know how to do (LIL? LIR? how many different kinds of increases are there?)

Impetuous! neck ruff from ArgentGal Designs

Couldn't quite get it to stand up like the photo on the pattern showed, but it's a cute design.

I chose the Encore Mega yarn because of its indefinable color--is is mustard? is it chartreuse?  I held up the skein in several different light sources in the store before purchasing it.  I am nothing if not unique, and a seeker of the eternally odd.

Gonna make this pattern again as a gift.  Next time I want to incorporate some of the wacky Orion novelty gold in the rows towards the ends.

Thanks, sis!

Help me out, fellow stitchers: Is there a website equivalent to Ravelry for quilters?  How about an online site for garment sewists?  I thought maybe Pattern Review (for garment sewists) might be kinda similar to Ravelry, but I don't think it's as universally used, and I don't see a place to keep track of your fabric or notions stash, just your patterns.  And I know of no unifying web community for quilters--are we just too diverse to all line up in one corner of the Interwebs?  The folks on the yarn crawl seemed to all be big Ravelry users...

Molli Sparkles

Linking up with the always-fabulous Molli Sparkles for Sunday stash.  I am going to have to give an accounting of all my 2015 acquisitions soon, since one of my goals was to use up a (cough) significant (sputter) amount (ahem) of my stash this year.  Oh dear; day of reckoning ahead...

Finally, for your viewing pleasure: yarn bombing, flamingo-style.  This photo taken at Wool 'N Wares Yarn Shop, the site of a festive flocking in honor of yarn crawl weekend.

Monday, March 2, 2015

On a Magic Carpet Ride

And we're off!

Off on a new project, leaving plans for finishing old projects cast aside along the way.  I am helpless to resist, I tell ya.

Anyone out there recognize this fabric from the 1970's?  It was a sheet.  In fact, the very sheet that was on my brother's bed when he was in junior high/high school.  (Don't ask why I have it.  Some questions are better left un-asked.)

This is what happens when you take a full-size sheet and rip it into 1" strips, knot them together securely, and roll them into a ball.  A rather heavy, dense ball.

And then, you take your size Q crochet hook, and begin a single crochet adventure, making the turns up as you go along, hoping that you end up with something more rectangular and less oval.  And you start to appreciate the colors, now that they are reassembling themselves randomly.

Don't know how far the sheet will take me, but I have a coordinating solid sheet as backup (outer edges of rugs look better with a darker border, I have found).  I will keep going until I either run out of fabric strips, or decide that it is "big enough".

Should I happen to finish this magic carpet ride anytime in the near future, I have a backup rag rug all planned out--using strips from t-shirts.

Got a lot of t-shirt pickings, and random perusal of blogs on the internet found a tutorial for a knit rug.

Oh yeah, not gonna let any grass grow in between my toes.  Or whatever...

Monday, February 16, 2015

Inspire your Heart with Art

I have been seeking inspiration--things that uplift my heart.  It's been a heavy couple of weeks, so I'm looking to lighten my spirits.

Connie's Twisting Heart Valentine (tutorial available)

Found out about Inspire Your Heart with Art Day--January 31--I'm a little late to the party.  Nevertheless, I will plunge ahead and feature some art and artists that inspire me.

1) Mary Engelbreit

Whimsy; cheerful colors and graphic geometric patterns; positive, uplifting sayings.  What's not to love?

2) Shanna Trumbly
Trumbly is a local visual artist in Oregon.  I have long admired her work, especially one where the queen is eying the beet.  (It was hanging in the winery where we had our wedding.)

And my dear Sweetie just got me a Trumbly print for Valentine's day.  *swoon*

3) Patience Brewster
Patience is a one-artist company producing small-batch whimsical art; I love her images, but I especially love that her art often adorns useful things (I am not much of a nick-knack  person).  So, although her Christmas ornaments are the most popular part of her business, I am drawn to her tea towels, and purses, and even furniture.

 Embroidered tea towel (above) and clutch purse (below).  Yeah, that's my kind of art--the daily delightful kind.

4) Yarn bombers everywhere

 This image from Knits for Life.  Installed in San Francisco Ferry Plaza in 2014.  I do so love public art--of all different kinds.

5) My own humble artistry

Okay, so technically I didn't make this tissue cover/couch; but I have made several others.  I have to credit one of my fabulous Sewing Sisters with this version, which was done to adorn our wedding.

Saturday, February 14, 2015

Sunday stash: memorial

Went with my nieces to some of Mom's quilting haunts in Albuquerque.  And I didn't restrain myself (or berate myself) for collecting even more things for my stash.

Shop #1: Southwest Decoratives/Kokopelli Quilting Company
I bought a mere touch of fabric--after drooling over many, many possibilities.  And all of the fabrics came from the sale area!

The blue stripe was just a remnant, bought because blue was Mom's favorite color.  It is from the Stonehenge Starry Night 2 collection by Deborah Edwards of Northcott Studios.  Surprise! I take it out of the plastic remnant bag and discover silver metallic in them stripes.  Good one, Mom; a little glitter never hurt anyone.

The turquoise geometric print is Maze from Michael Miller fabrics.  It will help finish my wordy wallhanging (a 2011 WIP--ouch).  And the ever-so-blendable dark chocolate is Simpatico by Maywood Studio.  I bought it in preparation for a java-themed quilt I am lazily designing.  Doesn't it seem like a good choice for something coffee-like?

Shop #2Quilt Works

Never been in this store before, but it is cute and I like their aesthetic.  I was inspired by the many shop samples, so I went straight toward the books and patterns.

 First purchase, the book Felt Toys for Little Ones, by Jessica Peck.  I am a sucker for kids stuff; I just can't help it.  My favorite designs from the book at this moment are the sugar cookies, the lemon curd tart and the bakery box.  Ohhh, what a crazy old woman I am!  (At least there are no calories in these treats.)

The shop offers a class titled Forever in Blue Jeans: make a cathedral window quilt out of recycled denim jeans.  Cathedral window is on my quilting bucket list, and this one just reached out and grabbed me.  SOLD.  I couldn't get the multi-size version of the pattern without taking the class, but the store sold me the Spring 2014 issue of Fons & Porter's Easy Quilts magazine that held the original pattern.  Mine, all mine.

Final purchase: Love pattern #674 by Country Threads.  This purchase was heavily influenced by both the almost-Valentine's-Day vibe, and the 3 different shop samples of this pattern that were on display (1930's prints, solid brights, and red Asian prints).  Reminds me of the LOVE postage stamps from the 1970's.

As I was purchasing the pattern, the cashier mentioned that the Country Threads Quilt Shop and Pattern Company had recently gone out of business, but that their entire stock of this particular pattern had been procured by Quilt Works.  (So if you want your own copy of this pattern, you can buy it here.)

In honor of Valentine's Day and in celebration of my recent acquisitions, I went ahead and sewed up a bit of LOVE from my scrap bin.  Yay!

Molli Sparkles

Linking up with the oh-so-lovely Molli Sparkles over at Sunday Stash.  What fun new things has everyone else drawn into their sewing world this week?

Friday, February 13, 2015

Rockin' the quilt back

Just dropped Technicolor Sky off at the long-arm quilter.  Woot.  Definitely my fastest quilt finish to date: started in October and finished the top in November. 

Needed to piece fabrics for the back, as I was determined to make every part of this from my stash.

So, in typical me fashion, I studied up on quilt backs...

My second-ever Craftsy class, taught by the wonderful Elizabeth Hartman of Oh, Fransson!
A well-thought-out back

Pretty good result, I believe.  I employed work-arounds in using the large-scale floral fabric, as it was mostly pre-cut pieces from a 1990's romper pattern.  I had lots of appropriately-colored batik fabric (the on-point squares from the quilt front), but I didn't particularly want to use it; I can still be stingy when dipping into my stash, don't you know.


Gallery of other pieced backings (always run short of fabric, it seems)

Blue baby quilt.  Another project where I was determined to use up all of a long-stashed fabric (the teal zebra).

Backing of queen-sized stack-n-whack.  It makes a very nice alternative side.

Tuesday, January 27, 2015


Off-topic post.

I am putting this out because I need to do it for me; if you want to read along, I welcome that.

My mother was killed this week.  She was a pedestrian, hit by an automobile.  She did not suffer.  Those of us left behind took up the suffering; but we are also remembering and honoring her, and laughing at some of those memories.

First ever quilt blocks, 2010
My mother taught me to sew.  And to knit.  And to crochet.  (Somewhat tricky for a right-handed parent to teach to a left-handed child.)  These hobbies have become my comfort, my introverted way of recharging my batteries and expressing my creativity.  I am blessed to have a hobby that brings me such joy, but I am doubly blessed that now I can remember Mom whenever I am stitching.

I taught my mother how to quilt.  I dragged her to a quilting retreat a few years ago, just as a way for the two of us to spend time together.  She was tentative, slightly allergic to strangers, and definitely out of her comfort zone, but by the end of the weekend, she was talking about returning the following year.

Chicken pincushion, 2010 retreat

Card trick block, w/quilting buddy Dwynn, 2011
Mom was a brainy woman, a scientist; she had an insatiable curiosity about geology and other workings of the earth, the planets, the weather, local plant life.

Mom was also a free-spirited thinker, which I always marvel at, given the time period (1950's) in which she grew to adulthood.  * I grew up without believing in Santa, the Easter Bunny, or the Tooth Fairy--all because my mom didn't believe in lying to children.  (Don't worry, grandma still spoiled us kids.) 
9-patch blocks, 2011
* She taught me to leave out "under God" from the Pledge of Allegiance: it had been inserted without her permission during the rabid anti-communism era.  * She gave me a broad religious viewpoint: although we had strong faith in our church, we were not so full of knowledge of the inner workings of the Divine to assume that there were no other passages to Enlightenment.  * She exposed our family to wheat germ and brewer's yeast and eating for health--way back in the early 1970's.

Mom was always my biggest cheerleader.  So proud of me (of all her children, and grandchildren), and not at all bashful about bragging on us.

with Skipper: Columbia Gorge (Oregon side), 2013

So much more I could say... But I close with a phrase that both makes me think of Mom, and makes me smile.

Etsy shop: itswritteninvinyl

What have you learned from your mother?  What gifts did she bestow on your life?

Memorial website: forever missed