Saturday, May 31, 2008

Katie Jump Rope Quilt Top

My internet connection is bad since we had a very blustery storm come through yesterday. It was chilly and March-like before the high winds and then warm, sunny and June-like afterward.
Quilt detail

I'm determined to share this today! Here's a detail of one of the quilt tops I finished in the last couple weeks. I was really gratified to see that the same fabric collection was on the cover of the latest Summer '08 issue of "Quilts and More"
Quilts and More Magazine

My husband knows just the right thing to say. Immediately he noted, "I like yours better." Have I told you how supportive he is? I think they used the little striped fabric more effectively than I did. I'm in a phase where I'm trying to just get sewing and not mull over everything so much so these ecclectic scrappy quilts are good for my mood right now.


We probably won't use this on a bed in our house. I see it as retro-summery and perfect for using on our shady hammock. I wish it didn't cost so much to get batting and backing fabric and have the quilting out-sourced. I really want to use this blanket right away!

Here's a peek at my next project. The pattern is "Wild Thing" from the March/April '07 issue of Quiltmaker. I'm going to make 2 quilts with this pattern, one for my daughter and one for my mom who is redecorating her bedroom nook.


Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Just the Staycation We Needed

We did a "staycation" for Memorial Day Weekend. We always do this because everywhere on this kickoff-to-summer weekend is crowded. We always wish we'd planned a camping trip, but the campsites we favor are booked really early. My husband was really happy that the lawnmower was broken so he could delay his only weekend chore.

Destructive tornadoes struck uncomfortably close to my cousin and his family out in rural Iowa. Thankfully they are okay, but the storm was frightening for them.

This was the weekend scene at our house:
Memorial Day Staycation

Memorial Day Staycation

Happy Summer!

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Fabric ABC's

Time to get back to crafting and away from hometown gossip and 70's pop culture.

I saw this at Lily's blog and thought it was fun. Here's the ABC's of Me and some of the fabrics I got during our recent Mother's Day trip to Shipshewana, Indiana. Yes, we stayed at a water park hotel overlooking the Amish/Mennonite farm countryside (it was a smaller waterpark hotel at least..). We are not Amish... They make the best pies!

Charm Squares Pack

Accent: Midwestern and mildly Chicagoan. Chicagoans speak like Dennis Franz from NYPD Blue or those guys from the SNL "Da Bears" sketch in the 90's.

Breakfast or no breakfast: Yes! Always with coffee. My favorite is cold pizza with coffee. I love cereal, but I don't start my day off with milk or I will be quite uncomfortable very quickly.

Chore I don’t care for: Laundry and being responsible for a constant stream of meals. Never ending meals... on and on with the "What is there to eat?" all the time... I like to cook, just not constantly.

Dog or Cat: Pet Free! We had a cat who urinated inappropriately and was aggressive with the kids in her old age. Is was sad to lose her.Vintage reproduction 1/2 yard cuts

Essential Electronics: Hmm... clock radio? Obviously I like the computer and my computerized sewing machine.

Favorite Cologne: Yech.. no cologne please! Makes my throat close up. I like natural clean floral scents like lavender.

Gold or Silver: Thanks! I'll take either!

Handbag I carry most often: I hate carrying a handbag. I get cheap ones, or I try to use a handmade one I find online. Once I had an expensive Dooney and Burke bag. I still have it, but I don't like to carry things with chic brand names on them.

New Fabric

Insomnia: I love late nights and I think if I can't sleep, it's like bonus free time. I can have this attitude because I don't have a job.

Job Title: Slacker housewife. Frustrated former teacher.

Kids: Son 11, daughter almost 8.

Living Arrangements: 3 bedroom suburban home built in a newer subdivision. We have all those cheapish builder details like faux wood trim and hollow core doors.

Jelly Roll of fabric

Most Admirable Trait: I know how to make things and teach myself new skills by reading directions. I can go for a very long time without buying anything new, or spending money so I am very thrifty.

Naughtiest Childhood Behavior: I was a nice, quiet girl, but the mess in my room was epic.

Overnight hospital stays: When I gave birth both times, we stayed overnight in the hospital.

Phobias: I'm not too fearful. I have the attitude that bad things don't really happen and when they do, I think, "Aren't we lucky that wasn't worse?" (I think I get this optimistic attitude from my Dad.) I used to get panic attacks in gym class. Because I was so paralyzed in gym, in the 9th grade they put me in a special gym class with the mentally and physically handicapped kids. They took me out pretty quick, but still.. I really hate sports and I would prefer to watch your softball or volleyball game than participate.

Reproduction fabric 2 inch strip set

Quote: Son, if you really want something in this life, you have to work for it. Now quiet! They're about to announce the lottery numbers. - Homer Simpson

Reason to smile: It's a great life!

Siblings: My brother and I are very close in age and had/have many of the same friends. We were in all the same activities together in high school and he was my roommate for a semester in college after he transferred to my university. I wish he and his family lived closer to us. He is really funny and extroverted (I'm introverted). He is hilariously competitive with me when we play card games. I never remember what trump is and I always forget that it is my turn.

Time I wake up: At 7:25am, I stagger downstairs to get my daughter's snack into her backpack. My husband does the kids' breakfast and I do the snack and school papers.

Moda fabric roll

Unusual Talent or Skill: Hmm... I have no trouble assembling Ikea furniture.

Vegetable I Refuse to Eat: Squash! I like zucchini, but sweet butternut squash makes me want to gag.

Worst Habit: I keep such a low key schedule that I sometimes forget important things. I also hate making telephone calls and making arrangements for things. Thank goodness I'm already married because planning a wedding would make me crazy. At age 23 when I got married, I had no clue..

X-rays: Normal.

Yummy Stuff: My favorite pie is buttermilk pie, bratwurst, Thai food, pizza, country fried steak and potatoes, Toblerone or Lindt chocolate, Mom's chicken and dumplings, mother-in-law's roasts, apple pancake, potato pancakes with sour cream and applesauce. Anything my friends cook at our annual cabin weekend.. Now I'm hungry.

Zoo Animal I Like Most: Monkeys and giraffes

I tag any bloggers looking for inspiration!

Friday, May 23, 2008

Dynamite Magazine

Another relic form the 1970's and 80's is Dynamite magazine. I wish I still had my old issues. School aged kids would order their subscription to this magazine through the Scholastic Book Club. The book club is still active at schools, but the magazine is gone.

My favorite feature was "Bummers" which always began: "Don't you hate it when..." THIS SITE has a copy of Bummers. Click on the image on the lower left to see a readable image.

I wish I could find a great magazine like this one for my daughter. I really don't want to order a magazine for her that has regular features about style, make up, and shopping.

That's Jimmy JJ Walker from the TV show "Good Times" It was one of my favorite TV shows. My very own husband has no nostalgia for the television and media I liked from the 70's. He's crazy!

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Dishcloth Swap

I stayed up really late the last 2 nights. The first night was because I couldn't tear myself away from watching Knocked Up, even though I've already seen it. Last night I stayed up sewing my Katie Jump Rope quilt. This morning my husband got both kids off to school and I slept until 10:00! Lucky Me! The down side is that I have to force myself to get back to a normal sleeping schedule because I am a night person and it is really easy for me to keep vampire hours.

I'm finished with my dishcloth swap on Craftster. My partner, ashestoashes, sent me a gorgeous set of blue and green washcloths for my kitchen. Aren't they nice?
Dishcloth Swap
Here's a closeup of her beautiful knitting:
Green and Blue Dishcloths

I like knitting and knitting is the craft that got me hooked up to all the online crafting community in the first place. When I was teaching myself about 2.5 years ago, I went online to find some tutorials and simple patterns. I found all the forums and knitting was only the beginning of the inspiration I found online. It turns out, that I don't have the soul of a knitter, I prefer crochet and other needlework. Nothing is really quite like a knit dishcloth, however. I like crochet for the scrubbies and for potholders, but for the actual cloths, the suppleness of knitting is better.

Here's what I made for her. Her bathroom is blue, tan, and brown so I used those colors for this set of towels in the ballband pattern.
Knitting this pattern is surprisingly easy. I memorized it really quickly and now I want to make many more of them. The little scrubbies are crochet. I made a few for us to test drive to see if cotton scrubbers are actually useful or better as decoration. My daughter likes them in the bath.

Today I hope to get my quilt top done. I have to clear out the messy areas because our cleaning service is coming tomorrow. Our house is neat after they do their thing for about one evening and then the stuff migrates back out again. We really need just one more good work area in our house and some better storage.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Flowers in Shop Update

Pile of new flower pins
I love having an Etsy shop and It's taking much less time for me to photograph and list items than it did at first. The thing is that they recommend that you try to list things regularly, hopefully everyday to keep your shop visible in searches. I find that I can only really do it in fits and spurts and then my listing goes quiet for awhile. I just can't make crafting for the shop my full time activity.

Don't worry! I'm always ready to ship as soon as an order comes in! It's just the crafting that I can't fully maintain at a constant level.

pink red and aqua crochet flowerpink and brown crochet flower
blue and brown crochet flowerpink blue and brown crochet flower
pink, yellow, and green crochet flowerGreen, yellow and pink crochet flower

These are the flowers pins I listed for today, even though in most of the world, it is the off season for wool items. I have several more to list tomorrow too, but I am at least going to try to spread it out over a couple of days. I used my recently dyed wool yarn to make these. I want to keep my shop more fully stocked with offerings. That will be my summer goal!

Friday, May 16, 2008

Dyed Yarn

Yarn stored away
This is my yarn stash of the hand dyed wool I use for my crochet flowers. I use a simple but messy process with Kool-aid packets, food coloring droplets, vinegar, and the microwave. Later on I use bleach to get the mess of stray color off the white counter top.

All my hand dyed wool yarn
Isn't it yummy? I want to work on getting some very light pastels and lavender. Lavender is very hard to do and I haven't achieved it yet.

Pink is a little tricky. It wants to come out really bright like the one in the center. You have to add a little bit of watered down blue to get it toned down.
Pink and Rose Wool Yarn

Brown is red and green mixed together with a little bit of blue too. I just wing it without a recipe. That large ball was too reddish, so I overdyed it yesterday and got a better shade. I haven't perfected orange, but it helps to use a little bit of blue to tone it down or it looks really like neon. That orange is my Chicago Bears orange. Red is really easy.
Red, Orange, and Brown Wool Yarn

These make me feel happy. Green is easy. The yellow on the right is very very bright, I use a bit of pink to get a warmer color.
Green and Yellow Wool Yarn

The turquoise is the easiest. (Would you call that cyan?) It's just the regular Kool-aid for blue or the regular blue food coloring droplets. Blue doesn't soak in as easily so it needs to cook longer. I use grape flavored Kool-Aid packets with blue and red food coloring to get the dark blue. The grape flavor is really dark, so it is trickier. I love the way the dark blue has all the rosy mottled effect.
Blue wool yarn

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Back to the Art Institute of Chicago

I tried to see the Edward Hopper and Winslow Homer exhibition at the Art Institute of Chicago, but when I went with my mom, it was WAY too crowded. Alas... now it is gone... Mom saw it three times and I guess it was hugely popular, probably because people really like to see realism in paintings. I don't happen to care that much about realism in art, I like all the periods... It was disappointing to miss this popular show, but we didn't count on the crowds!

We took the time to go through the modern section of the museum and looked at a couple of our favorite periods. Last time we went, we saw the impressionists, so we skipped them this time. I only took a couple of photos. I love the fauvists. This fauve painting is by Vasily Kandinsky:
Art Institute of Chicago

My favorite is Matisse. I think he liked fabric patterns just like me:
Art Institute of Chicago

This playful one is Paul Klee:
Art Institute of Chicago

This one interested us. It's by Marc Chagall whose work is full of exuberant storytelling. This one is called Birth, but I don't think it was a happy day for this family:
Art Institute of Chicago

Finally, these two beauties are by Pierre Bonnard. You must make a trip to Chicago to see these paintings in person. My photos don't capture their beautiful, intense, deep color.
Art Institute of ChicagoArt Institute of Chicago

My mom always tells the story of her first year of teaching second grade back in the early sixties and she had a lovely modern art poster up in her classroom. I think she said it was by Kandinsky... Anyway, she enjoyed the painting for awhile until it suddenly occurred to her that it was a big painting of a naked woman. No one ever said anything to her about it and she quietly took it down. Whoops!

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Perler Bead Projects

My camera has pictures trapped inside it that I have to deal with, so that has slowed down my blogging. I have a delicious pile of newly dyed yarn soaking in my sink right now. It's to make up some new wool crochet flowers for my Etsy shop. Wool flowers will be better sellers for me in the fall, but it turns out that in Australia, they are just now getting ready for winter, so several of my flowers have sold down under!

I went into my project archive at Flickr. Have you all ever played around with Perler Beads? We also call them melty beads at my house. Another brand is Hama Beads. They are really fun and easy. Here I was going to do the whole Simpson family, but I didn't have enough blue to do Marge's hair and the pixelized images I had of the Simpson kids weren't as good as this one. My son uses this as a coaster next to his bed.
Perler Homer Simpson

I made these goofy video game coasters as a silly gift for a friend. I think he was a bit baffled by them, but they were only for a laugh.

My very first swap on Craftster was a perler bead swap and I made this Chococat for my partner:
She also liked lotus flowers so I designed this little container with perler beads. The lid is attached and opens and closes.
PerlerBox Open about a year later she wrote to me and said she was engaged and kept her ring in the box for safekeeping at night,.

I made an elephant to spiff up a notepad. These beads shrink up when you iron them, so if you plan to try this, make it larger than you think you need for the notepad.
Finally, they always have little holes in them from the beads, so I used that to make a little patch for a pouch.
PerlerTurtle Bag

We used these beads as a party activity at my daughter's birthday a few years ago. Be careful with the hot iron around enthusiastic little children! Don't ask me how I know this.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

2008 Chicago Quilt Show

It's already been about a month since the International Quilt Show in Chicago. I took a lot of pictures. You can see them all in my Flickr account HERE. Unfortunately, too many of then are blurry.. I also have a photoset for the 2007 show last year HERE.

2008 Chicago Quilt Show
This one is Whispering Pines by Frieda Anderson

2008 Chicago Quilt Show
Bride's Bouquet by Maya Chaimovich. The soft colors were very refreshing in this gorgeous quilt. It was one of my favorites.

2008 Chicago Quilt Show
Color Every Star by Betty Opp. This is from a pattern called Lucky Stars by Atkinson designs, I've stitched up this pattern too, but my quilt is not at all this spectacular.

2008 Chicago Quilt Show
Dust Storm By Paramjeet Bawa. Cant' you feel the swirling winds?

2008 Chicago Quilt Show
Kiwi and Fuchsia Meet for Mojitos! By Raewyn Haywood Khosla Kathy York, Francis Holliday Alford, Connie Hudson, Leslie Jenison, and Sherri Lipman McCauley. This one is a great collaboration by a group of quilters. I love the bright pink and green and the funky patterns.

The weekend after this show is another huge one in Paducah. One day I'm going to that one too. I guess it takes over the whole town and is one of the all time best.

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Meg and Rich

****UPDATE**** All the networking worked! They adopted a beautiful baby born July 8, 2008. I took out the phone number and other personal information on this post****

These are my close friends, Meg and Rich, who have been seeking an open adoption. This successful couple have a very strong, warm, and loving marriage. They have come to the stage in this process where you network with everyone you know to find a connection with a birth mother. It came to me that my blog has a wider reach than my personal life, so I asked them if I could mention it here. A connection can really come from anywhere, so if this "speaks" to you or anyone in your extended personal network in any way, please contact the toll free number they've set up below.

We admire your courage to consider adoption for your baby. We are MEG and RICH...
****UPDATE**** All the networking worked! They adopted a beautiful baby born July 8, 2008.

Tuesday, May 6, 2008


My article about Japanese craft books is up at Craft Critique. Go ahead and check it out and leave a comment about Japanese books if you also have some experience with them.

Monday, May 5, 2008


Some cuteness for a Monday morning. This one is Korean:

Here's a very cute one on potty training from Japan (thanks, Cutesypoo!):

As long as I'm putting up YouTube videos, Here's one from my childhood. Morgan Freeman acting a little stoned and dressed up like Jimi Hendrix with Rita Moreno on The Electric Company. Easy Reader definitely has the hots for Carmelita:

And Stevie Wonder performing an extended version of "Superstition" on Sesame Street:

And this church hymn one is funny. We are switching back to our old denomination as soon as the school year is over. We prefer traditional formality at church and I also like hymn singing with the organ.

This song is so catchy. It knocks Stevie Wonder right out of my brain. And since I did that one, here is another one with "translations" by the same guy. These aren't new, so maybe you've seen them before. For the record, I love Bollywood!

Friday, May 2, 2008

Jumprope Quilt

Kaatie Jumprope Quilt layout

It's going to be fun and scrappy and a little bit retro. I love it! I think I said something about working in more subtle colorways for a change, but what can I do? I am drawn to high contrast playfulness.... If I was into garment sewing, I can say that Free Spirit fabrics would be excellent choices. This cotton is very soft and light.

After all that talk about procrastination the other day... I finished writing my Craft Critique article yesterday and it is several days early. When I get started on something I often do not quit until it is finished.

Next weekend is Mother's Day and mom and I talked our husbands into taking us to the Amish country in Indiana. It is a fabric and antique shopper's dream. I'm so excited! More fabric! I feel like I can justify purchasing some because I have actually been making quilts lately. The guys and the kids will probably watch sports, read books and swim at the waterpark/swimming pool.

We're going to see Iron Man now! I'll tell you how it is. (EDIT: It was very good, although far fetched as comic book movies usually are. It was really not a family movie, but we weren't the only family in the theater. My daughter thought it was good but she really didn't understand it. My husband and son give it two thumbs up.)

National Scrapbooking Day...

... is tomorrow. To celebrate, I'll be sewing...

Scrapping still holds very little allure for me, but I did buy my daughter a big keepsake notebook for all the bits and bobs she wants to keep.

Thursday, May 1, 2008

New Quilt WIP

Katie Jumprope quilt WIP

I bought the whole collection of Katie Jump Rope prints from Denyse Schmidt for Free Spirit. I had mostly fat quarters and a few 1/2 yard cuts and some other prints that match well. I cut and cut and cut yesterday and I have more than 200 -6 inch squares and about the same amount of 3 1/4 inch stirps (not pictured) to do 4 patch units. I tried to calculate this all out to get a queen size, but then I just decided to cut everything and work it out later. Maybe I'll even get 2 quilts out of all this!

I'm doing a pattern from the March/April '05 issue of Quiltmaker Magazine called "Carmen's Block". I'm hoping for a scrappy look. I adapted the pattern so that my pieces are larger than the ones in the pattern. I was to showcase the fabrics a little bit more with larger blocks. We'll see how it all looks laid out!

I want very badly to work on this today, but I have to get all my thoughts about Japanese Craft Books in order for my first article in Craft Critique. I'm a terrible procrastinator about assignments... One wise graduate school professor told me not to worry about this kind of work style, because it seems to work for me. I am much more productive when I can amp up my stress levels by procrastinating (of course, I'm always planning everything all along in my head). My dad and I have the same sort of low-key temperment, but my mom and brother are the type who get going on new assignments right away and are on-the-ball about making plans and schedules. Teaching was a great job for me because you really work very independently and you have to set your own personal goals. I don't think that procrastinating means that a person is a low achiever at all. I always earned top grades in school and I was quite successful as a classroom teacher. In the end it all gets done!

How about you? What work style do you use for deadlines? Do you like schedules, or do you think scheduling your life just makes it more stressful? I'm curious about other people's styles..