Tuesday, August 31, 2010

a time capsule in the closet

The year was 1996. It was summer. Brita was given free rein to paint her closet. This is what happened:

This closet is going to be repainted and outfitted with new shelving, but I just had to document what life was like for a 16 year old girl that year. A happy girl with good friends and clearly an inner artist just waiting to blossom! There's even glitter paint mixed in there, not sure how well that's going to cover! This space was crammed full of "my stuff", meaning supplies for knitting, sewing, cross stitch, paper making, soap making, dying, weaving, unfinished projects, gifts, batting, rubber tubing, upholstery fabric,chenille, clothing patterns since ~1971, etc., etc. A bunch of that stuff has been sorted out for donation and give-away, re-allocation to other storage areas, and a bit of garbage, too. The shelving in there was minimal, so a lot of things were piled on top of other things. As you probably know, this does not make for easy access to that thing on the bottom of the pile. Those become the forgotten things, which occasionally elicit something like this: "Oh, that's where that is! I knew I had that suction tubing in here somewhere! I was afraid I had thrown it out."

Two more blocks done for the Farmer's Wife--
Block # 4 and #9, respectively. I discovered that I had already done #4, but assembled it differently, so this one is done as the author intended. I am anticipating a lot of time to do handwork in my near future, as I will be taking a road trip to Colorado in a couple weeks. So I have been organizing and cutting pieces for more of these blocks to take along. Choosing the fabrics and cutting out the pieces is easily done while tuned into a movie or recorded book, so I am accumulating little baggies of pieces to be stitched at a later date. Maggie and I are putting together our plans for our Farmer's Wife class starting this fall at Bear Patch, we hope to have some other handwork groupies to lend us support!

At our employee meeting last Friday, we had a little sew-along to learn the zipper technique for this little bag--
It really makes it easy to get a great finished look, not so much that dorky-homemade-look! Pattern by Atkinson Designs. Good instructions. After you make your first one, you honestly can make one from start to finish in 30 minutes or less, and they are like potato chips--can't make just one! Isn't it great that I actually get to attend an employee meeting that includes sewing!

Missing Gracie this morning, she went to her proper place with Brita and Ben, after a month and a half vacation at her country house. I know we will get visitation now and then, so I can give her a scratch and stare into her pretty eyes!

"The most important things in life aren't things." ---Anthony J. D'Angelo

Saturday, August 28, 2010

body art

I have never had a tatoo, but have sometimes pondered what I would put on my body if I ever decided to do so. I think it would be something like a band of stitches circling my arm with a needle pulling the thread. But I've been viewing some much more elaborate designs on this Flickr page and feel like these folks have taken it way beyond my thoughts! Gives me plenty more to consider--
What does/would your tatoo look like?

Friday, August 27, 2010


In a recent post I showed you the project I was making with all those triangles that needed trimming. I am using Martinique, designed by 3 Sisters for Moda. I have made it to the point of joining all the blocks together, and I just barely have room to lay it out on the floor. Would be nice to have a design wall, but haven't made that happen yet. In the meantime, this works, and I use my handy dandy digital camera to help me. This is my tip for you---use your camera in place of a design wall! This gives me the perspective to view the overall color and block placement in a way that escapes me when I am looking at block-by-block.
Right away I can see that I need to reposition those 2 light blocks on the left side for starters. And maybe a few other changes from there. We'll see. With my camera I can get instant viewing either on the little camera screen or my computer screen without having to print anything. It gets 2 skinny borders, rick rack and a wide border yet to come.

Next up-- a quilted Fire Escape by Terry Atkinson, made by Debbie E. from patriotic prints.
I experimented a little with lots of swirls and curlicues and think I like it. This closeup looks awful yellow, the larger picture is more true to the color. I've been noticing this happens with my new camera and I haven't figured out how to avoid that or what I need to change with lighting, settings, etc. Any clues out there?

Next to be quilted---

Also made some really tasty brownies yesterday so I have to share that with you! I first will introduce you to Natalie of the Olive Grove. I met her 2 weeks ago in Molly's backyard where she showed up with these yummy Orange Brownies. Her recipe using her olive oil from her store! So began my quest for Blood Orange Olive Oil, bittersweet chocolate and ground almonds. Which resulted in good things in the oven, which I highly recommend to you! And this leads to a good quote:

"I am not a glutton--I am an explorer of food." ---Erma Bombeck

So long for now, the brownies are calling!

Monday, August 23, 2010

brush with fame

I had a really different experience recently that I just have to tell you about. It's about the Keepsake Quilting catalog. I used to get this in the mail regularly. All you quilterly people out there probably are familiar with the name, it is kind of a staple among the quilt community. This company has a store in New Hampshire and has run a huge mail order business for a long time. So there was one of these new catalogs laying on a desk in the back room at the store, not sure why, but I was asked a question about something that a customer had seen in the catalog. So I was leafing through the booklet, and stopped in my tracks on page 44.
Appearing on that page is a quilt designed by Stacy West (Buttermilk Basin) that I quilted for her! And my quilting even shows up in the picture! It was just a little thrill for me, personally, to see something that I had worked on in the pages of this catalog. Just had to share my excitement with you! You can sorta' see my quilting design in the picture on the website, but the print picture in the catalog is much better. So that's my claim to fame!

Thursday, August 19, 2010

in the works

Martinique by 3 Sisters for Moda--gotta love it!

This is something that I have been working on for a couple months now, it is beautiful fabric and will be a sample for Bear Patch. Would be good to get it done while there is still a good amount of the fabric in the store! But I have not been focused on it so it feels frustrating to be so unfinished. I have actually completed 19 blocks and it needs 28 total plus 4 partial blocks and an applique flower block. I think I have all the half-square triangle blocks sewn now, but will have to double check the count to be sure. One problem I encountered was that all of these half-square triangles were in need of trimming down to size, not because I sewed incorrectly but because the cutting directions allowed for that. If I had been more diligent in reading the pattern prior to cutting, I would have converted over to using triangle paper instead. That gives me the exactly right size every time, and the job of removing the paper is, to me, less putzy than trimming everything. But the trimming did leave me a pretty little pile of quilters' confetti!

Monday, August 16, 2010

pledge to finish

Update on the August project for the Posse Pledge to Finish! Thisone is just about the oldest I think I have--it has been at the bottom of the pile for 39 years!
In 1972 I was living in Sweden and attending Alstromerskolan in the Hemteknisk line. That means something like Home Ec for people of my generation. I learned how to weave and this was one of the things that I brought back home with me. There are 3 placemat-sized woven pieces, sort of blue with a nice design worked into the sides. I think they are linen, but I'm not 100% sure. They had raw edges on 2 sides which I just needed to hem, so that is what I did last night. Now they can grace our table and remind me of the fun I had learning to make them!
And just so you know I haven't forgotten the July project, here's a picture to show that I have been working on it--
If you can look past the basting stitches and uneven corners, you can get a feel for what these hexagons are like. I decided to add some variety to the mix and bump it up to a bigger size, plus add some triangles and parallelograms in there, too. Still no master plan. Just picking it up and working on what suits my fancy at the moment. Also discovered that the Black Gold needles from Clover are perfect for this, they really make a big difference in the handwork, especially with these batiks I am using which have a higher thread count and tighter weave than some other fabrics.
I was pleasantly surprised by the ease of stitching with these needles compared to what I usually use. Sister Jan had told me they were good, but I had to feel it for myself to become a believer! Thanks, Jan!

Sunday, August 15, 2010

2 more oldies

Sharing a few more of the old-time quilts that I have hanging around here. I just had a thought about the way I amshowing these in contrast to the lives of the women who made them. This would be so strange to them, since some of them were not living at the time of the development of home computersand this world wide web stuff. My mother being the exception, and she is one of my readers and knows her way around the keyboard. In fact, we were just talking on the phone about getting her a new computer since hers is so slow that she sews while waiting for things to load! But for women of my grandmothers' era and great-grandmothers, do you think they would be pleased? Surprised? I bet they would wonder what all the fuss is about for these simple quilts that they made out of whatever was on hand. Like this crazy quilt, which I think came from my Grandma Herbert's home and was maybe made by her mom?
It is a mixture of fabrics, a few of them disintegrating.
Some unusual shapes and sizes thrown in the blocks, mostly wools but some other things including velvet. All outlined in a feather stitch by hand.

I think that my Grandma Irvine made this little doll quilt. The squares are about 1 1/2".
A simple pattern of repeating colors across the diagonal. But what really caught my eye was the
use of a couple other shades of a color when needed:
And the little orange square with a seam running across it to put together enough fabric for the size needed.
I think we worry way too much about matching colors perfectly and cutting perfectly and sewing perfectly. The imperfection of this doll quilt makes it no less loveable, and I'm sure it made not one whit of difference to the little girls and their dolls. I need to remember that.

We had such a fun BBQ at Molly's house last night, even more fun because we had some out-of-town family there, too. By a serendipitous turn of events, we got to see Jarry, Mary and Spencer (my brother, sister-in-law and nephew) in the city from the North Shore and northern Iowa. The cousins paused for a picture--
And Kevin, father of son-in-law, Ben, was visiting from Big Sur, so we got to share in his introduction to everything you ever wanted to know about Minnesota but were afraid to ask.
Even though we were smiling in this picture, the 3 of us on the left were covering up our sadness over being defeated by our offspring in a best out of 3 Backyard Tip Cup tournament! Yes, there was alcohol involved. Spencer expressed shock and awe over competing against his parents and aunt and uncle in such a special game! The competition was close, and I know the only way those younguns won was because we taught them everything we know! Ahh, the glory days of summer!

Thursday, August 12, 2010

more old stuff

Not sure I want to classify this one as an antique yet, since it was a wedding gift for us! That would put us on the list as endangered!
May 16, 1975. Entirely cross-stitched and hand quilted by my mom and grandma (Sally and Nora), at least that's who I remember making it. It has had some wear, the batting feels very thin and some of the embroidery floss has loosened in spots.
This picture of the border makes it look as though there has been some color bleeding, but I didn't see that when I was looking at it so maybe it's just an odd reflection. I think this was made from a kit purchased from the Lee Wards catalog. This shows the stitches more clearly:
The quilting is a cross-hatch design over the center and a scalloped wreath along the border. Very precious to us, it was used many years on our bed and now is safely stored.

Very happy to report that phase one of the craft closet cleanout has been accomplished, even though it took 2 fans blowing on me to keep my sanity intact! We have had a hot humid spell this week, and because this work was done on the upper floor of the house, even with the AC set lower than normal it doesn't cool up there as well. Making several trips to the basement (28 steps down and 28 steps up) to relocate some of my things wasn't nearly as dreadful as usual because it was nicely chilled down there!

My reward for sticking with the job was popcorn for supper at the local movie theater! There weren't a lot of compelling movies to choose from, but we settled on Salt, which turned out to be the female version of the Bourne movies.
The ending is perfectly set for a sequel, so we can expect more from Angelina Super Spy, I think. In fact, I would bet on it!


"Strength is the capacity to break a chocolate bar into four pieces with your bare hands - and then eat just one of the pieces." -------Judith Viorst

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

well aged

I have been unearthing many things with my closet excavation. Some things I had forgotten about, some things that need to go to a new home, some things I had been looking for. Like this good old gem of a quilt:
It was made by my Grandma Irvine for me, I think around the time of my HS graduation (1971). It is all hand-pieced and hand-quilted, and I did really appreciate it and it is very well used. I had it on my dorm bed in Brookings, and it hung on the wall in an apartment in Crystal. It was much brighter then. A few blocks are very tattered.

My Grandma Irvine, (Mormor in Swedish, denoting mother's mother) was a wonderful woman. I don't remember ever seeing her angry or upset. She kept butterscotch oatmeal cookies in a coffee can and she let us eat them for breakfast when we stayed overnight. She read stories to us from the Little Golden books, and I remember the 3 Little Kittens and Tuffy the Tugboat. She had one of those upside-down cloth dolls that you could flip from one doll to the other by reversing the skirt. She collected salt and pepper shakers, and my favorite was the little cup of coffee and pie on a plate, which I got to keep. She always did embroidery, quilting, crochet, etc., and let us learn how to make things with her. You can see another example of her handwork on my sister's blog. And root beer floats were the special treat when staying overnight! Her name was Nora, and the name lives on with my niece, Nora. She was a special grandma, I wish everyone could have a grandma like her, I think the world would be a better place!

On to quilt #2, which I do not know the history of. It is even more faded, looks like it is made of various shirtings with pink fabric in the pinwheels.
It, too, was entirely made by hand. There are even seams in some of the white blocks to put enough fabric together. I guess this must have been made by someone in my family, but we do not know the name nor time period. This should make me more diligent in putting labels on the backs of the quilts I make! I would love to know the story behind this, but even though I don't, it is still a treasure to me.

back in the saddle again

Cheers to new cameras and birthday money! My recent camera loss coincided with my birthday, so I was able to use my birthday gift money to fill the gap. So I shopped around, and found that I was pretty lucky to have had the little Canon that my kids picked out for me 2 years ago, and to make life simpler I decided to stick with that brand and just get an updated model. Plus I found a good one for a good price on clearance at OfficeMax when I was buying paper. So I am back in business this morning! New pictures for you!
This was a fabric souvenir from Fabrications in Healdsburg, CA.
Just a nice little whimsical print from Japan.
And this was my yarn souvenir from Balls & Skeins in Sebastopol.
A couple quilts have made it onto and off the quilt frame during my photo-impaired time period. One of them was lots of red and black and white flannel with a center like this:
This quilt belongs to Greg, son of my friend, Leisl. Greg is leaving in a few days to start at the University of Utah in Salt Lake City. Their team name is the Utes, taken from the Native American Ute tribe. I did a little readingabout the school, since the only Utah school I had known was BrighamYoung. Looks like a good place for Greg, I hope he is happy there. Interestingly, this is a campus that bans alcohol but allows guns!

On my quilt frame (to be finished today):
Your basic log cabin quilt, which never goes out of style. I'm stitching this spiral square pantogram, a repetitive pattern that I really like because it has a nice rhythm to it. Also on the schedule for today, work on cleaning out a closet full of lots of knitting and craft stuff. My goal is to empty it out, repaint (sorry Brita, the glitter and grafitti of HS has to go), and install proper shelving. Ideally, this would be done in the next 3 days so I can accomodate a special guest for the weekend. But unless a crew shows up on my doorstep in the next hour or so, that won't be happening! Oh well, we'll make the best of it!

Sunday, August 8, 2010


I really have to share a great new recipe with all of you! Debbie made this for lunch, she is great at scouring through her food magazines to find recipes to try.
Rosemary Chicken Salad Sandwiches from Cooking Light, but also in the files at myrecipes.com so I have included the link for you. This was a very tasty variation on the standard chicken salad, the key element for my taste buds was the smoked almonds. Try it!

Just a couple thoughts about recipe management and the world wide web-- I have used this site several times, and found it is a way to keep recipes that I like, or think I might like, in an accessible location. If you sign up with them (free) you can keep your own little file to refer back to. Saves me printing or copying things that get tossed towards my recipe shoebox and never seen again. Sometimes I don't feel that signing up for an account on a website is helpful if it results in getting unwanted email messages, so I keep it to a minimum. I can safely say that this is not a website that has been sending me any emails, so I feel OK about recommending it to you. Another site that I use for some recipes is Real Simple, but that is one that does send me out messages, some of which I requested, like the daily recipe or daily thought. Before Brita's wedding I was on the wedding tip list, but edited that out as soon as my need passed. But I do keep a recipe file on there, as well, so there is value in it for me to have an "account" (free) on the website.
Do you have any other recipe websites that are your favorites? Let me know!

Saturday, August 7, 2010

a stonehenge moment

I know it's been too long between posts when my own son calls and tells me to put up something new! I think I have been kind of out of sorts about blogging because I am without my camera yet. I have concluded it must have been stolen from the duffel bag that was checked, and that is my own fault. I have never left it in a checked bag before, and now I know why. It was a slip-up on my part, so time to move on--I'm shopping around for a new one! So the pictures here today are leftovers from San Francisco--

The wineries we visited all had such beautiful buildings and grounds. Makes me wish I could be a gardener there! I was amazed at this huge rhubarb plant in front of the Korbel Champagne-making place (not sure what to call it if it's not a winery? Champagnery?)
Bob has a grudge against rhubarb, I think he sabotages my plant at home so they never grow very well, and I think he had it on his mind to pull this one when no one was looking. I got him out of there fast!

We had a great dinner out at North Beach Italian Restaurant, and I discovered that their napkins have a buttonhole in one corner so they can be kept in place--what a nifty idea!

In the sculpture garden on top of the Museum of Modern Art, we observed this very large sheet of metal standing upright. Very tall and wide.
Then we noticed the shadow it cast--
barely there! The sun was in just the right spot to cast almost no shadow from this very large work of art. We thought it must be something like a Stonehenge effect and maybe kind of mysterious. This was just before we went to the movie "Inception" which was also kind of mysterious. I would be hard pressed to explain that movie to you, you will have to see it for yourself.

Are you familiar with the Stieg Larsson books? This is a trilogy with 2 main characters, based on mystery and mayhem, set in Sweden in present day (or nearly present, the author died in 2004 after completing the series).
It is best to read them in order, starting with The Dragon Tatoo, then Played with Fire, then Hornet's Nest. The movies for the first two are out, I'm not sure about the 3rd. I have finished reading/listening to the first 2, and waiting on the library to get me the 3rd. It's hard to wait, the ending of Played with Fire was a real cliff-hanger, so there is a lot to be straightened out for "The Girl", Lisbeth. It has been fun to read them and see the movie, which was in Swedish with English sub-titles. I was understanding more and more of the Swedish by the end of the movie, I might have to go a few times! The reader on the CD's did a very good job of pronouncing all the names of the Swedish towns, streets, people, etc., in an authentic way, at least to my ears!

A parting thought--
"If you wait to do everything until you're sure it's right, you'll probably never do much of anything." --Win Borden