Category Archives: Quilting, Other Textile Pursuits

Domino Effect

yellow roses by Lisa Allen 2011This past week I completed an item that’s been hanging around my to-do list for a year: write a query letter for my memoir manuscript. After twelve months of procrastination I even surprised myself at how quickly the first draft came together. With feedback and suggestions from a circle of writerly friends incorporated, the final draft was good to go within a couple of days. But the unexpected bonus has been the jolt of energy that showed up on my doorstep once I crossed the long-suffering task off my list. I had no idea the drag on momentum that was caused by the ‘should do that’ message that had been running like a ticker tape through my mind. Every time I noticed the manuscript and copy of Thinking Like Your Editor  on top of the filing cabinet, there was that voice incurring a fresh rush of guilt and shame.

But once I had that first draft out of my head and on paper, I became unstoppable: picking fresh bouquets from the garden, snapping photos, cleaning the fridge (not very glam, I know, but the sparkly results are such a reward).  In fact, I felt I’d earned some additional blog browsing time. Here are some of my favorite virtual stops this past week:

  • the Purl Bee blog - visually delicious with fun, colorful fiber/fabric projects for all skill levels
  • Author Mary Johnson’s site - her book “An Unquenchable Thirst” is due out in August. In a prior life chapter, Mary was a nun and worked with Mother Theresa!
  •  An article about curating one’s interests online confirmed my interest in Pinterest and Etsy treasuries – even if it has to go on my backlist.
  • One of my daily favorites is from the Brooklyn-based Swiss designer, SwissMiss. She’s always got her eye out for innovative design; guaranteed her blog feed will make you smile.
  • Out of anyone in our knitting group, “Cora Brown” easily takes the title as Most Meticulous Crafter. This scarf had me swooning and wanting to make one of my own.
  • And last but not least, my pal over at My Fantastic Life has been entertaining me with photos and posts as she tackles a 30-day blogging challenge.

Spring has Sprung

Easter collageMy friend Beth has a flair for interior decorating. Her seasonal vignettes inspire me. The table always looks beautiful, set with lovely treasures and surprise goody bags for young and old.

My contribution for this year’s Easter gathering was a variation on Kalyn’s Kitchen’s Chinese Napa Cabbage Asian Salad.  I skipped the cilantro and Sriracho sauce; because the sugar snap peas at the grocery looked dead tired, I substituted with finely diced green pepper. And to lighten up the dressing, I used 0% fat plain yogurt in lieu of most of the mayo. I am proud to report that the pink peeps in my treat bag failed to tempt me and that the number of jelly beans consumed barely reached the double digits. Phew!

The Spring Runner Sew-along voting continues until 3:00 p.m. PST Monday (4/25) over on Stumbles and Stitches. I am so appreciative to all of you who have voted. If you haven’t yet logged in on your favorite Spring Table Runner (and of course, I hope it’s mine!), there’s still time. The ballot box is  beneath the banner, near the center of the page. Thank you!

Excited Contestant Needs *Your* Vote!

My submission qualified (hip-hip-hooray!) and now the voting has begun over on Stumbles and Stitches for the fan favorite Spring Zig Zag Table Runner. The sew-along was inspired by the table runner in Rashida Coleman-Hale‘s book  I Love Patchwork.

It would be very cool to rack up a few votes, even if I don’t win (a copy of I Love Patchwork and some fabric from Rashida’s new product line!).  I hope you don’t mind that I’ve asked for your help.

In advance, thank you! <3

The beauty of a deadline

I am tickled pink — I managed to complete my ZigZag Table Runner within the allotted timeframe for the sew-along over at StumblesandStitches. Several mornings over the past week, with the deadline looming near, I fit in a few minutes at the cutting table before the demands of the day could take hold, just like I used to when I sewed my own blouses, pants, and jackets. (That’s eons ago, when I lived in the city and worked as a typesetter. ) What a joyous feeling to admire each day’s progress, confident I might meet the April 19th deadline.

I made it within the deadline!

To be honest, I was kind of shocked at the intense color explosion created with the combination of the Susan Sargent bird print with the polka dots and green Indonesian batik. Too much? I’m still not sure, but do like the splash and zing it all makes on the dining room table. As you can see, Corabelle wanted ‘in’ on the project, too.

Spring afternoon and a zigzag runner.

Spring Runner Sew-Along

Getting ready for the Spring Runner Sew-Along

Ever heard of zakka?! (Don’t feel badly — I hadn’t either.) As Rashida Coleman-Hale explains in I Heart Patchwork, it is a Japanese term, meaning “miscellaneous goods. … now understood as an aesthetic and design style, mainly focused on household items.”

One of the charming projects in her book is the Zigzag Table Runner. The ladies over at Stumbles and Stitches are hosting a Spring Runner Sew-along, with guidelines based on Rashida’s table runner. Isn’t the project badge pretty?

Spring Runner Sew-Along Button

They’ve set up a flickr group for images of completed runners. So even if you don’t want to join in, you can admire the pretty pics.

In the spirit of “patchwork” and pulling from the scrap bag, my spring runner will feature a Susan Sargent print that’s been waiting (and waiting) for the right project. I had already seized on a couple of polka dot remnants before noticing that Susan’s fabric has a few of its own! Perfect! The parrot green piece is left over from this quilt, which marks a particular place in my National Geographic-style lifeline, and is appropriately titled: The Amazonian Quilt.

If you love to sew and haven’t yet discovered Rashida’s book, take a look. It’s got lots of fun and pretty ideas for the home. … I’m off to press my scraps and start cutting!

More Mitered Knitting

Spring knitting. I love it when I realize that different parts of my life match!

Matching the season!

New project
I’ve been thinking about doing a post dedicated to the blogs I follow on a regular basis. But until I get around to organizing all of those web links,
Happiness is ...
I have to tell you about Susan, a crafter out on the west coast. She seems to do it all, and she’s a young mom, too. Wow. One of her areas of expertise is quilting and she’s got a new book that just came out. Susan loves the log cabin pattern and has infused this American classic with new life. Her projects have such a zesty, youthful tone and modern application. Apparently she travels in the circle of the crafty elite, too, because Kay Gardiner of Mason-Dixon Knitting did a review of her book. And then Kay designed a Knitted Crosses Blanket pattern inspired by the book’s Modern Crosses quilt.
New Project Collage
It was love at first sight. I downloaded the pattern within minutes and raced to my local yarn store for a few balls of Noro Silk Garden. One of the things I most love about this pattern is that it is easy to remember. And it’s totally portable. And perhaps top on my personal list: no body measurements required!

Proceeds from the pattern sales are going to MercyCorps for its Japan relief efforts. That feels nice, too. To think it’s possible to “knit for Japan.” I like that. You can purchase a copy of the pattern on Ravelry or on the Mason-Dixon Knitting site.

I’m having a blast with these squares. As long as I can keep Corabelle’s paws out of the knitting tote, we’ll have a blanket before too long.

Cat Knitting

Here’s my furry companion and her own pink yarn.

Kaleidoscope, part I

I haven’t been napping. Honest. It’s just that ever since last September, week after week my time has been dominated by class planning. Teaching new courses will do that, apparently.

The lack of personal creative exercise has felt like a slow suffocation of my spirit, but I finally grabbed control of the situation and started stitching again. The photographs are just cell phone caliber, but enough to document here-and-there.

Here are three new phone cozies in process. My self-imposed rules for these are:

  • give new life to remnants from my (extensive) stash
  • this is not a race — enjoy the slow stitching and do lots of it
  • embellish to my heart’s content
  • think of the three-dimensional end-piece as my canvas
  • and most importantly, have fun

 

My inner artist was faltering, hesitating and full of self-doubt, and then links to this artist landed in my ebox. (I follow at least half-a-dozen or more artsy/designerly blogs, daily postings of links and images from inspirational sightings around the internet. Truthfully, looking at everyone else’s beautiful creations has left me feeling like I’ve been drooling over pastries in bakery windows while restricting my calorie intake.) Elsita’s backstory and how she tells it absolutely charmed me. But it’s her miniature books-as-art that had me swooning with admiration. Something kicked into gear and my inertia was (thankfully) interrupted.

Meanwhile, I am seriously revisiting an old idea: a weekly schedule that addresses all of my various endeavors and obligations. Always in pursuit of balance. I’ll let you know how it goes.

I’m going cozy!

I'm goin' cozy!

I finally got around to quilting some cute Japanese doll fabric and cutting out four more phone/camera cozies. The happy meter on my inner creative spirit went through the roof as I tied the final knot on the frog closure! Particularly satisfying is that all of the materials are coming from my stash. Love that.

Wishing you a bit of heel-clicking creativity today, too.

How I found my way to slow crafting

slow crafting for high-tech device

It was Sunday night and I was itching to make something. I’d reached the point in the sweater when I will have to put the whole thing on a temporary thread and try the yoke of the sweater on, but that was more of a task and not appealing. The thought of sitting at the sewing machine didn’t interest me either. My fingers wanted to be in on the party, doing something, and besides, the sofa felt too good to leave. A few days prior, on an artist date to my local book store, I had discovered and couldn’t leave without the latest issues of Mary Jane’s Farm and Pieceworks magazines. The featured theme in the Sept./Oct. issue of Pieceworks is needlework in literature. With a reference to Miss Marple on the cover, I had to have my own personal copy! Pondering the photos and skimming the articles in both pubs got my wheels turning on the intersection of handmade (really handmade) and the pervasive presence of technology in my life.

What you don’t know is that I am a purist at heart. For example, it took years for me to accept the convenience factor of the food processor. I insisted on blending and chopping by hand. I prefer to use a hand-pushed rotary mower for the lawn, and you won’t find a microwave in our house.

How ironic that the lightbulb inspiration on Sunday night was a padded case for my (brand new!) cell phone/camera gadget. I had been perfectly happy with my vintage model, and had no notion of upgrading for a fancier model. But when the old one simply refused to turn on last week, my hubby just had to rescue his missus and see that she was outfitted with the latest and greatest (aka, most complicated) model. Forgive me – I’m exaggerating. It may not be the latest and most complicated, but it is certainly sophisticated and offers a multitude of capabilities other than making a phone call.

Starting with some leftover quilting from a pocketbook I made a few years back, and a roughly sketched pattern on a piece of lined notebook paper, the gadget case began to take shape. I started stitching. By hand. I suppose you could say there’s a meditational state of mind that kicks in. I found my zen. The vintage kimono scraps that have been hanging around, waiting for the right project, are just the right size for the liner. And I just love that the entire phone cozy is stitched without aid of an electronic device. I guess you could say that this project was my way of “leaving the grid,” even if it was for only two hours. And it was such a satisfying experience,  I made another one the next morning. This one has a frog closure instead of snaps. It’s safe to say, I see more slow crafting in my future. How ’bout you? Do you like to hop off the grid every once in a while? What does that look like?

From paper to fabric – it works!

First Spoonflower delivery

Since the package arrived on my doorstep last Friday afternoon, I’ve been fawning over my first Spoonflower fabric fat quarters like they’re my new babies and I just can’t get enough of them! The process from drawings, to digital scans (thank you, HP all-in-one), to real fabric, was remarkably easy and oh-so-gratifying. As I held these two pieces in my hand for the first time, I realized that there is something that occurs when one takes a flat design from paper to mutable fabric. I don’t know how to describe it, but for me it was a new dimension to the overall design process. And it is only after experiencing it for myself that I am better able to appreciate a challenge presented to the contestants on a recent Project Runway episode. It was obvious that as exciting as the opportunity to create their own fabric designs was, most of the designers did not complete a garment with their fabric that earned a thumbs-up from the judges.

No plans for my little fabric swatches yet – I’m still in the infatuation stage. Although I wouldn’t be surprised if I found a place for both of the designs in my upcoming Mod Mood Quilt, even though they are not solid-colored fabrics, like those used in Sherry Lynn Wood’s quilt. … Wishing you a creative week! 

P.S. I think I’ll have to send Spoonflower a Valentine this year!