Friday, August 29, 2008

Embroidered Fall Bird

My first Tea Towel Tour 4 embroidery is done! This chickadee is from a free pattern offered by Andrea Zuill, 'Badbird", at her blog. Get your copy HERE.

I put a batik binding on my towel in 2 contrasting fall colors. I used my one-inch clover bias tape maker for it. This time I made it into a double fold binding by ironing it in half again lengthwise and top stitching it. I like the way it looks with this method much better than the other way I've done it.

This is the last of my stash of blank flour sack tea towels and I haven't been totally happy with the weave of these although they are very soft. I found some very nice blank towels at Cost Plus World Market today. They were about $10 US for a set of 4. The weave reminds me of the incredibly nice texture of the Sublime Stitching towel we test drove in our first Tea Towel Tour. HERE is a link. Scroll down to the one called "OUR FAVORITE Tea Towel". It is $6 US, but it is a superior quality.

We are camping this weekend and the weather promises to be comfortable and dry. We haven't camped in about 2 summers so we are really looking forward to it, but I have no idea what our equipment looks like. For all I know, critters may have set up house in our tent bag that we stored in the garage last winter...

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Back To School

Hooray! The kids had to carry all their supplies to school on the first day. My daughter had too much to fit into her backpack. Her irritating school supply requirement was 60 sharpened #2 pencils. Only certain brands are allowed.
Emma First Day of School

My son was saying, "MOM! Stop! you are embarrassing me! You better not follow me to the bus stop!" I didn't. He couldn't figure out why paper towels were necessary for his school supplies. Budget cuts I guess.
Sam First Day of School

I guess this means I really have to get to all those things I've been planning on doing once they go to school all day. Uh... what were those things again? Tomorrow I'm going to an early showing of Hamlet 2 at the movie theater.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Japanese Embroidery Book

Last week my daughter and I had a day alone to do whatever we wanted and I think that maybe my attempts to shape my daughter's interests to reflect my own are working out great because she said, "Let's go to the Japanese Store!"

Sounds fun! We bought some yummy treats and browsed at the bookstore. I got 2 craft books and we got some fun origami paper that folds up into little snack shapes. Here is the latest book I have to share. It's an embroidery book, ISBN978-4-529-04536-0.

Japanese Embroidery Book

Little forest critters:
Japanese Embroidery Book

I didn't photograph the page that is labeled Aquarium. Here is the deep sea:
Japanese Embroidery Book

Zoo animals:
Japanese Embroidery Book

There are also several pages of adorableness like this:
Japanese Embroidery Book

I like these birds. Patterns in this book are mostly a bit more realistic. The motifs are all quite small. The taller owl here is just over 2 inches.
Japanese Embroidery Book

Bugs in cross-stitch. You'll also find cross-stitched animals and a page of Zodiac done in white thread on black aida.
Japanese Embroidery Book

Rectangel noted on my Flickr page for this photo, "It's strange to see the alphabet with animals that don't match the letters." I love these. Forget the kids. One day I might do "SUSIE"!
Japanese Embroidery Book

Next time I'm getting this second volume of "365 Design Collection for Kids" I love the first book in that series.
Japanese Embroidery Books

I'll see if I can find this volume on YesAsia to link you to it. I haven't shopped there for awhile since our local Japanese bookshop beefed up their offerings.

EDIT: Yeah.. I tried searching for it at YesAsia, but they changed their search engine and I can't figure out how to find something by ISBN and clicking willy-nilly on other embroidery books didn't reveal this title.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Cotton Time

Sarah hooks me up with this subscription every other month. This is Cotton Time issue 79. I think it is the July 2008 issue, but I can't read the Japanese...
Cotton Time Issue 79

Cotton Time Issue 79
Cotton Time Issue 79
This issue has lots of various bags. I like the one below that has a zipper along the side to give it an adjustable capacity.
Cotton Time Issue 79

These slippers made from the cuff of a man's shirt are great:
Cotton Time Issue 79

Here is a parrot pattern made from textured fabric.
Cotton Time Issue 79

Here are some ideas to use those cords you can knit with that little whats-it-called tool (seriously, what is that tool called?):

Cotton Time Issue 79

Here you can use little adorable fabric scraps to decorate simple cards:
Cotton Time Issue 79

It's only on this one page, but there are some simple ideas for embroidery on gingham commonly called "chicken scratch". I know my grandma gave me some clippings or an old booklet on chicken scratch, but I can't find it anywhere! Publishers take note! I will buy a new book on chicken scratch embroidery in a heartbeat!
Cotton Time Issue 79

This issue also has some simple clothing patterns and tips for how to make a child's hat from a pair of old jeans. Additionally, you can cut up a t-shirt and stitch it into a funky hat , bag, and shorts for the little one in your life. I should have photographed that page too, but I was distracted by the gingham on the page above,

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Summer Quilt Stack

We've had one of the nicest summers I can remember. We enjoyed quiet holiday weekends at home and 3 separate secluded cabin getaways. The temperatures in Chicago this summer were pleasant and mild. We even finally got bikes for all four of us! My husband and I have wanted bikes for at least all of the 17 years of our marriage, but every year there was some other large purchase that was more important or a pesky property tax bill to pay.

All good things must come to an end and we are all ready for school to start next week. I'm dusting off my embroidery hoop which hasn't seen the light of day since last spring. Back in the spring I actually had neck strain from obsessive embroidery and knitting, so it was good for me to take a rest from those crafts.

Summer 2008 Quilt projects

Having kids at home really gets in the way of my crafting mojo, so when the kids go back to school I'll be able to get some projects going that I've been dreaming about. It wasn't a totally craft free summer. Above is the stack of quilts I've worked on since spring. I finished the bottom three and the top two are ready for quilting. I'm thinking they'll probably go out to a quilting service since they are quite large and the only thing I like about the quilting step is that it gets a quilt that much closer to a usable blanket. I also did a baby quilt that has already gone on to its new home.

Also a word of advice.. never wait until the end of August to get your school supplies unless you prefer to use the most expensive matchy-matchy notebooks and folders. I won't go into the confounding details of how I know this....

Monday, August 18, 2008

Cabin Weekend '08

Sadly, the summer is waning. We just returned from our favorite annual summer weekend with old high school and childhood friends at a lakeside cabin in Wisconsin. We came home to the kid's teacher assignments for the next year so it's inevitable that school starts again really soon.
Boy, was it a fun time! We've been getting together this way since long before they invented water noodles. It was the first Cabin Weekend in many years that all 22 of us were able to come for most of the weekend. I'm not sure which was more delicious, Martin's Pie Night or John's Carne Asada Night. Lisa also throws together awesome dishes from whatever is left in the fridge.

Thanks, Rick! Can we come for a month next summer?

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Tea Towel Tour Round 4

Tea Towel Tour 010

Hooray! It's time for another round of our Tea Towel Tour! Signups are just starting. If your calendar is mostly free to turn around embroidery motifs in about a week (please don't be in the middle of a move or getting married in the next couple of months..) come join in! Sorry, active Craftsters only.... Edited to add: We've been filling up quickly! Our leader is holding open several international spots for embroiderers outside the USA. Don't miss out!

Here's a sampling of Tea Towel Tour stitching posted in our Flickr Group, Tea Towel Tours.
Tea Towel Tours
1. Aloha Baby, 2. Gnome Closeup, 3. doo_leroux's apron, 4. Gingy and the Evil Milk, 5. Tea Towel Tour 3 - Saffron for rectangel, 6. Cowgirl, 7. Puppy & Kitty Towel Extreme Close Up, 8. Tea Towel is Now Home

Fabric Crayons

I tested Crayola Fabric Crayons for Craft Critique. I found them to be very easy to use and more durable than I expected on natural fibers though synthetics are recommended. Check out my latest article HERE.

Hubby and I are addicted to Settlers of Catan: The Card Game and have missed most of the Olympics so far. I just watched a video clip of the Men's Swimming Relay where they beat France by about one hand length. WOW! Go USA!

Monday, August 11, 2008

Sailboats for Baby


Finished! This photo doesn't show quite how cute this baby quilt turned out. In real life it isn't wonky at all. I hope the recipient family likes and uses it. As I've said numerous times before, I am unable to do subtle color combinations. I favor high contrast, particularly in children's projects. Baby's daddy gave me this theme idea. I've known him since my early teens and we reacquainted after college via sailing at Lake Michigan. I suppose he and his wife have been married about 10 years now. Where does the time go?

This is a log cabin block, which is about as easy a block as they come. I wanted to do sailboats, but didn't have the time to make a more complex applique project like any of THESE. I couldn't even find novelty sailboat fabric until I shopped online. Then, I was just a couple inches short of the fabric to do the back in one nice piece so I fudged it. I don't think it's really all that noticeable. I'm totally intimidated by machine quilting, but I managed, and babies don't care about that sort of thing.

I was so relieved when I laundered it and the reds didn't run. They were in a discount fabric bundle of unknown origin. I noticed when I gathered up fabrics that I have a lot of little floral and leafy prints that don't go with a boyish sailboat theme. I'm going to keep this in mind when I collect for my fabric stash. This is another reason I don't like to craft things for men. I don't even have the right supplies!

Every baby quilt I've made I think that we should have a full size version to keep. This was no exception. My son wants to know when I'm making one of these for him.

RIP Isaac Hayes

Sadly, Chicago's own Bernie Mac passed away this weekend, but we were really bummed in our house about losing Isaac Hayes. Our family got hooked on Memphis soul music when we took a family weekend trip there a couple winters ago. My son wrote a report on Memphis Soul for his 5th grade music class and got an A+. He wanted to sample his favorite song, "Theme from Shaft" but decided it wasn't "school appropriate" ("Who is the black private dick who's a sex machine to all the chicks? Shaft!") Son declared Isaac Hayes' gold plated, fur lined, peacock blue stretch Cadillac on display at Stax Records, "the coolest car ever."(Daughter's reaction, "Mom? What does Superfly mean?")

Here's Sam and Dave performing Soul Man, written by Hayes when he was a studio musician at Stax. Son did sample this for his school report:

Seriously, everyone should take their kids to Memphis. We had a blast. We went to the Civil Rights Museum (excellent, but an emotional and difficult history to share with our children); toured 2 very famous recording studios: Stax and Sun records; visited the Smithsonian Rock and Soul museum; saw Elvis' digs at Graceland; experienced the birthplace of the Blues on Beale Street; ate at the delicious historic Fourway Restaurant where Dr. MLKing, Jr. had his last meal in Memphis (not a great neighborhood, but don't be nervous. The proprietors were friendly and the soul food was terrific.)

Another winter, we gotaway to Nashville and found it to be very bland. The economy is better in Nashville, so the city had far less seedy areas, but the country music just didn't have the same allure for us as the rock, blues and soul of Memphis. We like going to cities and seeing social and political history, but it was hard to find any of this in Nashville, except that one of our Presidental homes is there and that was a great tour.

Gadzooks, I ramble! My grammar gets worse and worse. I did find my camera and I finished that sailboat quilt. Stay tuned!

Friday, August 8, 2008

Amish Museum Quilts

Gah! Where is my camera?! I've been working on a baby quilt with really cute sailboat fabric. I ran into some complications, and I'd love to show you my progress, but my camera has gone into hiding somewhere.

Yesterday the kids and I did a field trip to Chicago. We stopped at a cupcake place that was very good, but I like to bake and those cupcakes weren't really any better than the ones I make except that they use real buttercream and I do powdered sugar with much less butter for my icing... We planned to go to the Field Museum of Natural History. Unfortunately, we were running so late after a couple side trips that we just walked Michigan Avenue instead. I was weak and let each child pick out something from a store. Daughter got a cute set of stuff from American Girl Place. Did you know that they have a new "Historical" doll from the 1970's? That's how they get you over there... I wasn't the only 40 something mom at the display saying, "I used to have that when I was a kid!" Son could not get out of American Girl Place fast enough so we went to the Lego store and he picked out a set of basic pieces and people. This was an excellent purchase because the kids have been playing Legos all day long with no arguing and no complaining about there being nothing to eat in the house.

I went back into my photo files and found some Amish/Mennonite quilts I meant to share. This first one was on display at the Denver Museum of Art. I love the colors here. I usually want to pair up my blues with yellows or orange, but this inspires me to try to tone down my color choices.
Amish Quilt

This one was on display at a little museum in Shipshewana, Indiana. The museum explained all the history and theology of the Anabaptists and how the Amish and Mennonites are different. I won't go into it (martyrs are very important), but it was a very good little museum. Here again is the tame color palate, but that sparkle of red and pink are perfectly placed. This one is my favorite:
Amish/Mennonite Quilt

Lastly, this quilt was also on display at the same little museum. It pulsates with color. I've seen patterns for this sort of star (is it the Lone Star?) and it doesn't look that difficult, but those diamond shapes and their perfect points intimidate me:
Amish/Mennonite Quilt

Now.. where could that camera possibly be?

Sunday, August 3, 2008

Ebert and Siskel Nostalgia

I miss Siskel and Ebert. (Do people outside the USA even recognize these two?) As a Chicagoan, I watched their show all the way back to their local PBS days when they were saving the aisle seats and "Spot the Wonder Dog" would make appearances. I'm pretty sure back then they didn't even use their thumbs, they just gave films a yes or a no recommendation. I get my love for film and movies from my mom. When my brother and I were kids, we were not allowed to speak or make any kind of noise when the show was on. Of course my brother and I also hung on their every word (I did anyway) and loved the show best when they disagreed and started making personal cracks at each other. Witness the hilarious controversy about the merits of 1993 films "Cop-and-a-Half" and "Carnosaur".

It always used to seem to me that Roger Ebert had more fun at the movies. (He liked "Ferris Beuler's Day Off" while Siskel thought it was irritating.) My husband and I both actually also sort of liked Cop-and-a-Half. 1993 was during our pre-children 5-6 films-a-week phase.

Gene Siskel passed away in 1999 and Roger Ebert suffers from various medical difficulties that leave him unable to speak. The show "At the Movies with Ebert and Roeper" has been dropped by their distributer. I'm not nearly so fond of the chemistry between Roeper and Ebert, but I do like Michael Phillips and I hope the show will live on in new incarnations.

Mr. Ebert still reviews prolifically and has an enjoyable blog. He posted nostalgia about the end of "At the Movies" and his days with Gene Siskel. He put up these fantastic out-takes from their show showing how they both held the other in utter contempt but also loved and respected each other:

Once in the mid-1990's my husband and I were driving on the highway outside Chicago going toward Indiana and we passed Roger Ebert. He was driving a cool looking older Land Rover and he was unmistakable because the license plate was Illinois "Thumbs Up". My stomach actually did flips and I wanted to roll down the window and say something, but thought better of it. He was driving at the appropriate speed in the center lane, in case you were wondering. We were in a hurry to drive back to our home in Michigan and passed him on the left.

I've never spotted Oprah here, but once I saw her make-up guy shopping at my local Target. My stomach didn't do any flipping over him, but I chuckled. Another time my mother-in-law was looking at the same elaborate floral greeting cards as indy-rocker Liz Phair.