Saturday, December 31, 2011

Out with the old

In with the new! Goodbye 2011 and hello 2012.

To ring in the new year, I managed to finish my Honey Cowl and I love it!

Already have a million and two ideas swirling around for projects in the coming year. And I promise they include more sewing, patchwork, and paper-piecing. Lately it's been really lovely to relax with a crochet or knitting project. I especially appreciate the portability - not as easy when you need cutting mat, rotary cutter, fabric, and sewing machine!

Thank you for coming here and sharing this space. I never imagined when I started this blog that it would result in so many wonderful new friendships. I appreciate that you take the time to stop by here and read about my creative pursuits as well as ramblings about my little family.

Wishing you a wonderful end to 2011 and a joyous beginning to 2012!

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Off the hook

And onto the needles!

After making three crochet blankets to give for Christmas, I was feeling the need to indulge myself. And because I am easily influenced by my friends, I followed Jen's lead and decided to tackle the Honey Cowl pattern. The yarn is by Madelinetosh in mineral, from local yarn store Happy Knits, and it is sublime to work with!

And this is how I plan to ring in the new year... slowing down, knitting quietly, being here. Now. Everything else will come crowding in soon enough. For now, I just want to be.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Comfort and Joy

We have been in full tilt holiday mode for awhile here. Though I must admit that there are a lot of things that didn't get done this year, I have also given myself permission to be okay with that. Rather than go crazy trying to make everything/cook everything/see everything, we've made/cooked/done what we can and tried to leave plenty of down time in our schedule so that neither we nor the kids get so stressed out and cranky that the celebration becomes a chore.

So far, it's been working like a charm!

I made homemade gingerbread playdough for the kids and some friends.

(FYI - we use these clear plastic desk blotters on our dining table for clay and/or messy crafts. They cover a pretty big area, can be moved with items on them to dry or be completed later, and are easy to wipe clean. These ones were about 5 bucks at IKEA.)

We've attended both kids' school Christmas parties. Here, Bailey is managing to both eat a peppermint cookie and flip everyone off at the same time. Charming.

Owen's class made and decorated little graham cracker houses. He came home with his belly full of all his "extra" candies, shirt covered in frosting, and a huge smile on his face.

And even though I haven't baked a single cookie, I did manage to make two batches of my baked caramel corn. This is one batch cooling in our kitchen because the first batch had already been given away.

It's a really good thing I only make this once a year because I have no self-control around it and will munch on it until I feel sick.

So, as the year draws to a close, I will be staying close to home and the ones I love. I hope that wherever you are and whatever you celebrate, you are able to surround yourself with love and joy and peace!

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Blinded by the Pink

Just finished up another blanket. This one is for my daughter. She picked out the yarn herself and though you can't tell from the photos, it is sparkley. Yes. A bright PINK sparkley blanket. Seriously - I thought I might get blinded by the sheer girliness of it all.

This one is mostly a straight granny stitch - just like a granny square only worked in rows instead of a square. That way you can make a rectangular blanket. The white border (also sparkley!) is a simple double crochet. And the edging is a scallop? shell? design. You can see that I'm really knowledgeable about crochet, huh?

This worked up really quickly, all things considered, which is good since my son has already chosen yarn for HIS blanket. Since they picked out the yarn and have watched me making them, the kids obviously know about these blankets. But I'm still waiting to actually give them until Christmas. It was important to me to let them see the amount of time and work that are put into creating homemade gifts.

Of course, Bailey had to "try it out" before I put it away. I think she approves!

Happy Crafting!

Tuesday, December 6, 2011


Parts of this post may offend. I do not mean for them to offend, but there you have it. Maybe it will help to know that I started my career in theater as a stagehand and carpenter before moving on to stage management. When working backstage or in a scene shop, I was often the only woman and I picked up some rather unladylike habits. Cussing like a sailor would be one of them.

I worked very hard on this quilt block.

Lots of teeny tiny piecing.

Completely and totally imperfect because I have never tried making these types of paper pieced letters before. They were HARD!

This picture isn't all that great but I wanted to share how all those seams need to play together on the back of the block.

This is for Chawne's "Give a F*ck" communal quilt project. You can read more about it on her awesome blog. Be careful - you will get sucked into her amazing crafting.

It turned out vaguely patriotic with all that red, white,and blue. Perhaps I've been watching a bit too much of the current debate cycle. Or maybe I was thinking about the economy. Or about the whole Occupy movement. Or about how we don't adequately fund our schools. Who knows? I like it. Like I said, it's not perfect, but neither am I. So we made a good pair.

Until I mailed it out and had to say goodbye.

Now I'm glad to have these pictures to share because I'm afraid the block has gone missing in the mail. It's been a week and has not yet been received. I'm prepared for the worst.

And I guess I need to make another block.


***UPDATE*** I am so so so happy to report that the block arrived safe and sound at its destination! Whew!

Sunday, December 4, 2011


We had a great weekend for the Jingle Bell Run/Walk for Arthritis! Owen performed handsomely in his duties as Junior Grand Marshal!

The day started at the World Trade Center in downtown Portland. The courtyard was beautifully decorated with these huge lighted snowflakes and there are tons of people in costumes and ugly holiday sweaters (for the ugly sweater contest, of course).

We were introduced and went up onstage and Owen spoke into the big microphone to say, "Thank you for helping to stomp out arthritis." Adorable.

But I'm getting ahead of myself...

Because the weather can be a bit, shall we say, unpredictable this time of year (i.e. two years ago we missed most of the event because of an ice storm that had us stranded until our driveway thawed), we decided to get a hotel room closer to downtown for the night before the run. Once the hotel found out that Owen was the Junior Grand Marshal, they went all Spirit of Christmas on us and upgraded our room, had a welcome sign for Owen in the lobby, gave him some awesome toys (Spiderman! dinosaurs!), and had the most insane chocolate cake waiting for us in the room.

We were stunned! There were even a few people at the hotel who were participating in the run.

So... Once we got to the run, Owen's team was honored to be the top fundraising team for 2011! Thank you so much to everyone who helped by making a donation to Owen or his team. We were astonished to raise over $6,000 for the Arthritis Foundation!

We all ran the 1k kids fun run, which just confirmed for me how woefully out of shape I am. After that, Owen got to blow the air horn to start the 5k runners. And he even got to give the medals to the top men and women finishers.

Even Santa couldn't miss the festivities so the kids got to get their picture taken with the big guy - though Bailey was infinitely more interested in the big basket of candy canes. I think she ended up with about 7 of them.

And this was what things looked like for the ride home. A thoroughly satisfying adventure.

Monday, November 28, 2011


Well, I made a blanket.

It's my very first one (so be kind).

But it's definitely not my last. I found the whole process thoroughly enjoyable!

I didn't use a pattern - it's just one big huge granny square bordered by some double crochet and a little scalloped edge.

And it's another Christmas gift. So I've completed two gifts and it's not even December yet! That has got to be a first for me.

I love how smooshy and cozy it is. Of course, the kids each want their own blankets now.

In the meantime, I'll leave you with this picture of Bailey. Yes, she has been sleeping with her pumpkin from the pumpkin patch (usually it's tucked in under the covers with her) and yes, she's kind of flipping the bird. Precious.

Have a good one!

Wednesday, November 23, 2011


Wishing a very Happy Thanksgiving to all the stateside folks. Well, really everyone. We can all take a moment for gratitude!

One thing we are incredibly grateful for is the amazing support shown to this little fella.

Cute shirt, huh? Sent to us from Lolly Polly Kids to celebrate Owen and his stint as Grand Marshal for the Jingle Bell Run/Walk.

We are deep into Thanksgiving preparations at our house. Pumpkin roasting for the homemade pumpkin pies, turkey defrosting, stuffing being all mixed up with onions, herbs, and celery. Good times. Our house is the gathering place for this holiday and it's great to stay home and fill the house with the delicious smells of the day.

In addition to being grateful for our family, friends, health, and home, I am so thankful that you all stop by to spend a little time in this space.

Let the celebration begin!

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Fractal quilt

Okay, so my husband and I were chilling out one evening after the kids were in bed. Time alone? No kids around? What's a couple to do?

Yeah, so we were watching a NOVA special on PBS about fractal geometry. No, seriously. We're weird like that.

Gary is kind of a math and science geek. Degrees in math, chemistry, the whole nine yards. Me? I took as little math as possible in school and although I got good at it, I used my proficiency to avoid math at the college level. You needed to get 60 points on one of the placement exams to pass out of taking any required math courses at my university, so I used every brain cell I had to score 61 points. But I digress....

So we're sitting there watching all these images of fractals and I'm thinking, "These would make totally cool quilts!" But I don't say anything out loud because I'm sure that my math geek husband will roll his eyes at me.

Then you know what he says to me? "Hey, these kind of look like quilts."


And there we were: the math geek and the quilt geek. A marriage made in heaven.

But out of all that came this:

For those of you who don't know what a fractal is (and I sure didn't until I watched the NOVA special), it's a geometric shape that can be split into smaller parts, and each of those parts is a reduced size copy of the whole.

Here's an example of a square within a square fractal that was the inspiration for this quilt:

You start out with one square-in-square (SIS), which is in turn made up of smaller SIS. Then those smaller SIS are made up of even smaller SIS. I had to stop there because I thought I might go insane piecing it any smaller. Now though, I kinda wish I had done it. Oh well....

Anyway, Gary picked out the colors and I got busy cutting and sewing. This was actually a pretty easy quilt to put together because I was able to chain piece everything.

Deciding how to quilt it took me awhile. I knew I wanted straight line quilting along the outside borders but I wasn't sure about what to do over the actual fractal image. I found a great fractal pattern but knew that it would be impossible for me to try to duplicate in on the quilt top. Finally, I settled on this simple diagonal line version. I like that it doesn't overwhelm the fractal design.

And the straight lines in the center of the quilt? Yeah, total PITA at the start because you have to turn the quilt so much, but it does look pretty cool now that it's done.

And the back:

Had to add that one orange square in there to complement the orange binding. I really like how the back turned out and I think the quilt will look fine however it lands on the sofa.

Here's a detail of the corners where the straight lines all intersect. It's one of my favorite parts about this quilt.

It's now washed and crinkled up and ready to be given to Gary for Christmas. YES! I finished a Christmas gift before Thanksgiving. High five!

Friday, November 18, 2011

On your mark....

Get set....


What could be better on a crisp Fall day?

Almost done binding the latest quilt. Can't wait to show you!

Monday, November 14, 2011

Weekend sewing

A little peek at how I spent part of my weekend.

I cannot WAIT to show this quilt once it's completed! It's a Christmas present for my hubby, the math and science geek.

A little snippet of the back.

And lots and LOTS of straight line quilting. I figure I'll need a couple more hours to finish the quilting and do the machine portion of attaching the binding.

And then I'll be able to focus on a couple of other things.

Sometimes, when I get in the groove on a project it's very hard for my brain to let it go. I obsess and obsess until I can finally get it done. Then it's like my brain breathes a big sigh of relief and makes room for other thoughts. Anyone else like that?

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Boxed corners

I was playing around the other day with a new-to-me way of doing boxed corners. Want to see?

I made this little fabric basket inspired by Ayumi's wonderful tutorial over at Pink Penguin.

Usually, boxed corners are made by pinching the sides and bottom together to form a corner and then stitching and trimming the resulting triangle so that the box or bag has a flat bottom and can stand on it's own.

Instead of using that method, which is worked from the wrong side of the box or bag, I boxed the corners on the outside.

Folding the corners up in this way makes for an interesting detail on the outside of the basket. I stitched the corners to the sides and then hid the stitches under a small button.

So, if you're looking for a new or different way to finish the bottoms of your fabric boxes or bags, give this method a try!

Wednesday, November 9, 2011


Slowly getting back to some sort of normal around here. With a kindergartner and a preschooler in the mix, I figure sniffles and colds are going to be a part of daily life more often than not.

To ease out of my non-crafting state, I finished up these cold weather pj pants for the kids.

Owen picked out all of his fabrics. Spiderman, Lightning McQueen, and Mater. No real surprises there.

Bailey got the cute girly flannel that was on sale over the summer. Yes, that's a lot of pj pants but I did add a cuff to three of them so they should last through next winter as well. I hope.

I have a feeling this is the last time I'll be able to get away with making jammie pants for them using only one yard of fabric.

More sewing planned for later this week. And crochet. Did I mention I'm making a blanket? Yep. I'm crocheting a blanket.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Asleep at the wheel

Not really, but I am a bit under the weather. Must have picked up a little bug or something. That and my sewing machine is in the shop getting a little look-over for a weird squeak and strange tension thingy. I'm real technical. Can you tell?

Meanwhile, I took the risk of waking Miss Bailey to get this picture.

She takes her princesses very seriously. Apparently they all needed to be just so as she tucked them in to bed. Can't imagine where she gets that from (cough).

Enjoy the extra hour this weekend! I'll be back soon with some more crafty goodness.

Monday, October 31, 2011

Happy Halloween!

My three favorite goofballs and I wish you a very Happy Halloween!

I made Bailey's costume. Her request: to be an orange princess. I think I got that one covered. In her big shimmery pouf of a dress, complete with sparkling tiara, she is one happy camper.

Owen had the skeleton shirt already and then we found the gloves in a $1 bin at the craft store. After purchasing some black sweatpants, I decided to make a stencil of the leg bones and just use some acrylic craft paint I already had to complete his costume. He LOVES it!

We've already been trick-or-treating at Daddy's office (an annual tradition) and are looking forward to heading out tonight for a little while. They've already collected their body weight in sugar so I know we're in for a crash later tonight and probably tomorrow, too. Thank goodness it's only once a year!

Friday, October 28, 2011


I am in constant amazement. Really.

Every. Single. Day.

Here's one of the current reasons:

A dry field trip to the farm and pumpkin patch with Miss B's preschool class. Good times! Huge difference from last year (when we did NOT wear our boots) and the fields were nothing but a big ole mud slick.

Another reason I'm feeling the love:

I recently grabbed up some sweet fabric from Ashley's destash and asked about any FMF scrap packs she might have. I'm trying to put together a small and simple quilt using some of the coveted fabric as a fundraiser for the Arthritis Foundation. She was so gracious and kind and she sent me these gorgeous pieces. I never cease to be amazed at the kindness within the sewing/quilting/crafting community.

And the crazy amazing cherry on top of everything?

I am now the grateful and awestruck owner of this amazing book.

After posting about my search for Patchwork Patterns 318, I was sent a few leads on getting a copy. None of them panned out. The book was either already sold or waaaaay out of my price range. I kept looking but must admit that my search became somewhat half-hearted.

About two months later, I got an email from Stephanie, who read my blog post and was about to list her copy on etsy. I was headed out to Camp JAM and asked if she could wait to list it until I got back from camp because if I could afford, I would take it!

Well, imagine my surprise when I returned from camp to find an email from Stephanie, telling me about her grandmother's lifelong love of sewing and how she'd had to stop when her arthritis became too painful. Stephanie wanted to give me this book. And I promptly burst into tears.

I mean, really? We hear all the time from so many places what a messed up world we live in. I'm telling you - this world is great! People are amazing! There is goodness all around.

So I sit here. Filled with gratitude for family and friends and strangers who have become special people in my life. Life is wonder-full.

And yes, I know I used the word "amazing" a lot in this post. What can I say? It is what it is.

Monday, October 24, 2011

A Snow Globe is Born

Thanks goodness for the PMQG all day sew this past weekend. I actually completed a quilt top and worked on my latest paper pieced block. A snow globe for Melinda!

Melinda is one of my new friends over in the Cocorico bee on flickr. Her theme was "Vintage Christmas". I remember collecting snow globes as a child. I just loved shaking them up and watching the sparkley snow fall down over the scene!

This block was lots of fun to work on, though in the interest of full disclosure I have to admit to spending a bit of quality time with my seam ripper. There are a couple of places that I wish I had done a little differently but overall, I think it turned out okay.

Here's a picture with a ruler in it to give you an idea of the scale. Tiny! Curved piecing still makes me very nervous, so I made the snow globe and will applique that onto the background fabric.

And that quilt top I finished? Hopefully, I can get that basted and quilted up in the next week or so. It all depends on the kids and schedules and life.

Speaking of which.... this past weekend the whole family went to the Jingle Bell Run/Walk kick-off party and it was a blast. We got to speak about our family's experience with Owen and his juvenile arthritis. And Owen even got up in front of about 350 people and told a joke. I'm so proud of him! If you'd like to help him reach his goal, just follow the link on the top right of the blog.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Cocorico ~ Krista's Block

November is Krista's month over in the Cocorico paper piecing bee on flickr. She chose "Hit the Slopes" as her theme because her whole family enjoys winter sports and skiing. One of her inspiration photos was a ski boot, so I tried to tackle that.

I really enjoyed designing this block and figuring out how to get that typical ski boot look with the leg portion leaning forward. I'm a little worried that the fabric choices have made the boot a little busier than I would have preferred, but Krista likes it and that's what's most important!

If you are interested in trying paper piecing or want a cute winter pattern to sew up, check out Kerry's very first PDF pattern for sale! Kerry's work is impeccable and I just know that the same amount of thought and care that she puts into her sewing has been put into this pattern. I just purchased mine and can't wait to stitch a few up. And she promises more patterns to come.

Looking forward to beginning a new quilt this weekend at our guild's all day sew. What are you working on?