Saturday, July 30, 2011


You know what I love about making gifts? You get to try new stuff. Stuff you would never otherwise attempt. And a deadline can be a good encouragement to make a decision and move on. I tend to grind to a halt if perfection gets in my gears. No so with Poppy's adorable doll quilt. Below is the back, which I actually made first. Those aren't polka dots in the upper right corner...they're raindrops! Love! Big thanks to my quilt model, Mr. Awesome ;o)

I whipped up this little envelope purse last week. Happy Birthday to my best friend! Yup, that's a hand-quilted "A" to hold to magnet in place. Magnet closures are so satisfying.

The perfect card holder for a note to my BFF. She's running the San Francisco Marathon tomorrow...amazing!

And a rear view...I followed this tutorial for the Scrappy Pouch on One Shabby Chic's blog. Super quick and easy.

My friend's mom is run/walking the half marathon. (Inspiring family, huh?) What better way to celebrate than with a mug rug for her post-race Gatorade and power bar? I saw this pentagonal mug rug over on Flickr and was inspired. My idea was to make an unfolding flower. Not sure if that happened, but I like the result nevertheless. I'm eager to try an improv pentagon again.

And the back. Seems like a good setting for a story about Anansi, the trickster spider.

When making something quickly (like the mug rug, which took about 3 hours), I have a lingering consideration: Is it done? Without time to really sit with a project, I often wonder if I'm sending it out into the world incomplete.

But perhaps the answer is ultimately unknowable. Where is the line between overworked and underdone? It's like taking bread from the oven-- very difficult to tell at first glance. I wonder if certainty will come with time.

What with all the inspiring and the gifting, I decided to do a little something for myself and give my scraps a better home than that hideous plastic bag they've been living in. Lo and behold, Salvation Army had gobs of these beautiful glass containers. I took ten off their hands for only $15!! Score! (The other two hold ribbons and elastics.) They pretty up the room and I can see what I've got...which is a lot more scrap-busting to do. And I'm not complaining :o)

Friday, July 29, 2011

Wow. If anyone read this blog, I'd feel bad about not posting for nearly a week. But I'm sure you'll understand, Mom :o)

My best friend is visiting from Boston, and she brought her penchant for crafting with her. What better time to initiate her into the dark side world of quilts? (I swear, she really wanted to. What hypnotic spiral?)

She has two baby showers coming up, so taggies were in order. (Tag blankets, or "taggies," are small blankets with ribbons sticking out of them that babies love to cuddle/chew on/drool all over.)

To the stash! Sight-seeing be damned! (But we did that too and it was fun.)

Introducing someone to quilting was really fun. It made me realize how much I love my tools and fabrics and (ahem) how skilled I have become.

Here are her creations (blogged with her permission, and quite lovely too, if I do say so m'self):

Ah, the joys of the nine-patch. We tried it wonky (tutorial here, though it gives a method for making multiple blocks, and since we made just one there was a lot of leftover fabric. There must be a better way, but I couldn't figure it out. Lazy brain!)

 And we tried it disappearing. The disappearing nine-patch has so many possibilities. We must have played around with four blocks for half an hour.
This black and white fabric is going to captivate baby.
Which brings me to the joys of crafting with a buddy (well, not really, but hey, let's talk about it). I completely love crafting in the company of a good friend. All of a sudden, things go faster and better. All those nagging questions get voiced as you go through the process, and having someone to hear and respond to them (as opposed to, say, the nearby bonsai tree I normally rely on) really helps me make decisions.

Then I learned that one of the babies-to-be has a 2-year-old sister named Poppy. When you become aware of a 2-year-old named Poppy, there is only one thing to do. You make her a bright orange doll quilt. (Like, bright, prison, traffic cone, retina burning orange. But I feel like Poppy can totally take it.) Eager to take over and dominate any crafting situation get in on the fun, I helped myself to starting the project.

In the spirit of Elizabeth over at Oh, Fransson! , and really all of Portlandia, we felt this was a good time to Put a Bird On It.

Then I built a little log cabin nest around it. First time trying liberated log cabins and I love love love them. More to come in the next post...

Sunday, July 24, 2011

More Honey Lemon Wheat Bread. It really was that good.

Though they appear a bit burnt, they're actually just perfectly done (if I do say so myself). And still hot from the oven, yum.

Every good loaf needs a little cozy pocket to be stowed in. I found a great tutorial here.

Super easy!

Same fabric as the kitchen curtains I made. Which I think came from my mom, who also used it in her kitchen curtains. So I'm basically a copy cat, but look at those sweet lil apples!
In other news...I pulled together some earthy tones for a giftie type project.
Someone's birthday is fast approaching, so I hunted up a tutorial that involved a walking foot...

(Sigh!) Walking foot, I love you! Where have you been all my life?

Monday, July 18, 2011


 My best friend is visiting next week (yay!) and she's vegan, so I wanted to practice some recipes she can enjoy. This Honey Lemon Whole Wheat loaf is animal-free (just used a little Smart Balance instead of butter).

Recipe from The Complete Book of Breads by Bernard Clayton Jr, aka the Bread Bible of my Childhood.

The only curious thing about this book is how often it calls for powered milk and warm water. Why, Bernard? Anyhoo, the Honey Lemon bread is delicious and makes crazy good toast.

It is, however, an immature loaf. Notice it sticking its tongue out at you here.

Meanwhile, we snarfed down the last batch of whole wheat chocolate chip cookies, so I had to make another now that we're addicted.

Don't they look precious all tucked into their tin foil sleeping bag?!

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Doubt, Ambiguity, and Chaos

So I've been working on this puzzle: how to get 3 or so giant yards of a solid mixed in with random fat quarters and other end bits from the stash. In a way that will continue to strike an aesthetic chord even once it's all been put together, giving me that satisfied feeling. In a way that will eternally evoke the calm, comfortable mood of spreading peacefully down into your bed in the muted light of summer afternoon for a refreshing nap. Because quilts never look better than in that moment, right?

Currently my puzzle is taking up the entire living room and most of my mental energy. The top of this quilt didn't get half this attention. Mr Awesome is starting to ask about its progress in a way that suggests he'd like to co-inhabit said living room sometime this decade. (And who could blame him?)

But it has to be just right. I place a bit of fabric, step back, pretend to do something else. Something seems to shift into place, and I move another piece. I realize I'm trying to do a deconstructed coin stack, but make it seem like a pretty casual effort. Oh, it's a hip, modern version of the quilt top? My my I never even noticed that! I just, you know, threw it all together, hahah! (sweat)

It's a long, slow process.

That ultimately doesn't matter.

As I place and ponder this morning, I have to laugh at myself a little. It's just a blanket. If it's big and warm, there are no right or wrong choices.

That being said, I'ma go do more placing and pondering.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Astor Manor Coin Stacks

So, I decided to whip up a simple, super quick quilt top. I wanted something mindless to piece so I could get to the hand-quilting already!! And what's easier than coin stacks from a pre-cut jelly roll??

That was 2 years ago.

The top was quick. Then it got shoved into a corner, thrown under a handful of Christmas crafts, buried beneath your various notions, and finally trapped behind the scraps that time forgot.

Segue to today. A bit sick of purple and gold (eek sacrilege!), I fished ol' Astor Manor (by 3 Sisters for Moda) out of obscurity and thought I'd whip up a backing for it. Yet...either it grew whilst languishing at the bottom of the heap, or...

This is the husband holding it up, while standing on a chair...

...making it my biggest quilt to date.


Yes, floral rose-tones and muslin scare me. I'll admit it.

How big, you ask? Not sure. I have this issue with measuring. (The issue is that I suck at it and avoid it whenever possible. Like when I want to piece a quilt back, I lay out the top all smooth-like on the floor, then lay the backing fabric right over it just to see if it fits. Then I sew it together and trim the excess.)
Meanwhile, I've begun conquering the paisley beast. I pieced up some end-bits.

And pulled some fabrics from the stash.

I was just on the point of getting the layout right when I had a sudden salsa attack and had to pause for a little tomatillo therapy. I have high hopes for maƱana!

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Nom Nom Nom

What's better...

...the dough...

 ...or the cookies?

Frankly, I would have no problem eating just the dough. Like, all the dough. But the husband assures me these are delish.
Meanwhile, they aren't winning any beauty contents. Not sure what happened to this lil overzealous spatula, perhaps?

Recipe can be found here. I tweaked it by using real butter (always!) instead of margarine (never!), and adding about 1/2 a cup of milk, give or take. Also, what the hell is pastry flour?

While I wasn't elbow-deep in dough demurely baking, today I worked on ye olde bro blocks.

 ...and purples...
 ...and more purples... (with freakin cute mom and baby fish eek!!)
 ...and more purples...
...and this isn't even the end, folks, but I'm going to spare you.

I'm enjoying the process of making this quilt. Part of what I love is how long it it seems like it's never going to end and even when you're on Phase 39 of the project, you're barely half-way there. How execution takes so much longer than the ideas to formulate. It's an exercise in patience.

Hmm, good ideas to ponder over a warm cookie...

Monday, July 11, 2011

Mr. Awesome

Let me just take a moment to brag about my husband, aka Mr Awesome. This layout was his idea, and wouldn't you know shows what he is constantly giving me: space. peace. time to breathe. I tend to get all bogged down in details and overwhelmed by the staggering energy required by my many schemes. Mr Awesome has a way of unraveling all that crazy with a simple word or look. Um oh yeah. I don't have to work so hard. Sometimes less is more. Open space is needed to showcase detail and design. This is the very thing I love about modern quilting, how open spaces give a fresh simplicity to a few well-crafted details, but I struggle to actually achieve it (at least in the first 10 incarnations of a project).

So, thanks, Mr Awesome. I love ya.