Wednesday, December 19, 2012

… peace on earth, goodwill to men

Xmas tree in the dark

ever since i heard the lower lights sing "i heard the bells on christmas day" it's become one of my most favorite christmas songs. i usually like the more uptempo/secular ones, but there's something so quietly beautiful about the tune and the words are sad, but comforting. turns out, the carol is based on a poem by longfellow and the story behind the writing of it is especially poignant.

anyway, ever since last friday i can't get it out of my head. i feel sad, but i also feel hopeful. i suppose that's how we all eventually keep going in this often disappointing and tragic world we live in.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

… an actual walk around the block

pumpkin picking

ingrid, our little snowdrop, is growing up before our very eyes. she has been walking for months now, she gives us hugs and kisses, she can drink from a regular glass with essentially no help and use a fork by herself (mostly), and she talks all the time… most of it unintelligible, but some of it sweetly and surprisingly understandable. her new word of the moment is "walk?". with a question mark. she'll say "walk?" and go to the front door, grab our shoes and bring them to us, all the while demanding "walk? walk?" usually it just means she's tired of being inside and wants to go out, whether it be errands or going to the park or getting in the car to drive somewhere. yesterday, though, i decided to take her for a short walk. the sun was briefly out (it is decidedly fall and rainy here in seattle now, late summer is far far behind us), the sidewalk was mostly dry, and there were no better prospects at the moment.

i don't know why i haven't really done this before, but i've never really let her walk for long distances. i've just been in the habit of carrying her everywhere for so long. is that weird? well, yesterday i decided that it was so the two of us went for a walk together. we followed the same route as the one we used to walk last summer when ingrid was only a couple of months old. but this time she walked all by herself. she held my hand most of the way, except for the few occasions when she stumbled and seemed to think i was the one holding her back. then she would let go, get up, and run ahead gleefully until she turned and waited for me to take my hand again. she would stop every so often to look up at the sky and trees and exclaim, "whoa!" or stoop to pick up a couple of rocks and some dirt, or to say "woof" to a passing dog. she walked the whole way, even up the steep bit coming up from the park. we walked over some fallen mountain ash berries, that crunched satisfyingly underfoot like bubble wrap, and she turned back to walk over them again. she walked right back up to the front door of our house, with only a little assistance from me to help her up the steps.

why am i telling you this? because it made me so very, very happy. because i didn't take my camera with me, i have no photos, there was no one else with us there. just the two of us holding hands, walking out in the autumn sun, through the leaves, through our beautiful neighborhood. because i couldn't believe i had this tiny little daughter who was capable of doing so much on her own and i want to remember how it flooded me with happiness.

pumpkin picking

*photos are from our visit to the pumpkin patch the other week. she actually walked a lot there too, though those pumpkin vines sure had fun grabbing at her feet.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

… exes and plusses

x&+ quilt front

oh hey, look, i finished a quilt!

this is another one for do. good stitches. i fell in love with this quilt first when i saw the one pétra made and then i fell in double love with it when i saw the one that jessica was working on during our atlanta retreat. so i asked all my love circle members to send me blocks using this tutorial by badskirt. this was a completely scrappy quilt--there were no color restrictions or any other guidelines aside from using whatever scrap fabrics you had on hand. these blocks come together so fast and were so fun to piece that i think i made six before i realized that i probably didn't need to make so many.

x&+ quilt

i thought i had copied jessica's quilting exactly, but i'm realizing now she did double lines around each + and x and i apparently only had the patience to do single lines. which was still a lot of quilting. (jessica, i tip my hat to you. you have bigger quilting balls than i apparently do.)

and speaking of quilting, this is the first quilt i've done on my new machine (i finally got a janome 6600p… yay!) and i can't even begin to say how great it is to sew on a machine that really quilts. evenly. and smoothly. did i mention evenly? i actually looked forward to doing all this quilting. yay for new, functional sewing machines!

x&+ quilt

i added a border since the blocks alone weren't quite up to a good size and i used my most favorite fabric of the the moment, that dreamy robert kaufman essex yarn-dyed linen in black. and, while staring at the border and liking it but not quite loving it, i realized that my mind was extending those lines past the edges of the blocks, so why not pull some of them out to create that illusion. i am quite smitten with the effect.

after auditioning what felt like a bazillion fabrics i finally realized that i just wanted to keep a good thing going with the essex so i used it again for binding. i like it, too. it keeps the focus on all the fun x & + blocks, and it looks nice with the fabrics on the back.

x&+ quilt back

i'll be honest, for the back i wanted to use something i already had on hand, so i pulled a bunch of fabrics i had yardage of back from when i was doing ingrid's weekly photos. i made a simple four patch with some bright, graphic florals. this also make me happy. nothing fancy, no big deal.

the finished quilt measures 55 x 55 inches, a nice lap-sized quilt. it will be on its way to wrap them in love shortly. this is the fifth quilt i've made for do. good stitches and it's always hard to let them go, but it makes it easier knowing they will soon find themselves in the hands of a deserving child.

Friday, September 28, 2012

… giving

do. good stitches love circle swap

remember that swap where i received the most fabulous of pillows? well, i totally forgot to write about what i made and sent to my swap partner. or maybe i mind-blogged about it. oh yes, i'm sure i must have mind-blogged about it at least a dozen time.

but at least now it's safe to say that the package has been received so i can post about it here. anyhow… my swap partner turned out to be the fabulous miss jacey, who was my roommate when i went on the fabulous sewing retreat to atlanta in june (don't worry, i'll stop talking about it someday). i was so excited to make something for her that it almost paralyzed me with fear. i mean, how do you make something for someone so talented and cool without disappointing them? gah!

do. good stitches love circle swap

i settled on making a pillow, since she mentioned that might be something she'd like to get. her inspiration board has quite a bit of triangles and flying geese, so that's the direction i decided to go in. i used colors that seemed jacey-like in some of my favorite fabrics (from chicopee, field study, cameo, some lizzy house pearl bracelet, and few others from my stash) and made some happy and quick flying geese blocks using this terrific tutorial.what i'm saying is that once i stopped worrying and fretting so much it all came together.

you can also see that i did a little bit of hand quilting in coordinating colors amongst the grey geese. i wanted it to have a random feel, but looking at these pictures again i'm kind of wishing i quilted in all of the grey geese. and since i didn't plan the pillow terribly well, i had to put a little border on it in black kei honeycomb to bring it up to a standard size. i backed the pillow in my very favorite essex yarn-dyed linen in black and inserted an invisible zipper using katie's terrific tutorial (and remembering, vaguely, what she taught in the invisible zipper class i took from her a while back).

treat yo self!

but that's not all! because i think jacey is so darn cool, i made her a little embroidery to round out the package. i know she likes parks and rec (like any intelligent, cool, funny person should!) so i embroidered one of my favorite quotes from the show. that's right, treat yo self!

and, as you can see from the top photo, i threw in a few extra treats so jacey really could treat her self! there's some homemade granola and several bars of the tastiest chocolate from a seattle chocolate maker. oh, okay, and a skein of yummy manos del uruguay yarn since i know jacey is also a knitter.

i was so relieved to hear that jacey liked her package. i mean, i'm sure she would probably lie to me if she didn't like it, since she's pretty much one of the nicest people you will ever have the chance to meet. but, overall, i am happy to have been part of such a successful swap!

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

… late summer

it seems like everyone out there in blogland is totally on the autumn bandwagon. people are drinking pumpkin spice lattes and making wreaths with dried leaves and roasting squash and putting up halloween decorations. but seattle hasn't fully embraced fall yet. we usually have a nice indian summer here, with september being one of our loveliest months, and this year september went all out. many days in the 80s, nonstop sun, and one of our longest dry spells ever (something like 40-50 days with no rain… crazy!).

don't get me wrong, fall really is one of my favorite seasons and summer is, well, not my favorite. but i find myself holding onto these last few days of the season. the sun is bright, but the air has a bite in the mornings these days. everything smells burnt and sweet and delicious. in chinese medicine we talk about the five seasons of the year: fall, winter, spring, summer, and late summer. late summer is exemplified by sweetness, worry, earth, the color yellow, dampness, and fragrant smells. even though this is probably more specific to asia, i think it sounds just about right for the pacific northwest, too.

iced chai

to embrace this fleeting time between summer and fall, i've been brewing up endless bottles of this delicious chai concentrate. i'm looking forward to drinking it hot when the weather turns cooler, but for now i'm enjoying it over ice. (and, in a nod to autumn, i somehow bought a bag of pumpkin spice hershey kisses, which are absolutely disgusting but i just can't seem to stop eating them.)

wonky pinwheel blocks

i also whipped up some bee blocks for natalie. she made this great tutorial for wonky pinwheel blocks and the color palette she chose was absolutely gorgeous (warm and rich plums, fuchsias, reds, oranges, golds, yellows and brown… yum). kind of perfect for late summer, no?

finished x&+ quilt top

and, okay, this is not seasonally related, but here's a glimpse of the do. good stitches august quilt top i put together. i asked everyone to make x & + blocks using this tutorial in whatever scrappy fabrics they wanted. isn't this just amazing? i'm so excited to quilt this it's actually already basted and ready to hit the machine for some quilting.

i'm sure in a week or so you will find me bundled up in a big scarf and cradling a hot pumpkin-spiced something in my hands, admiring the changing leaves and picking out an array of gourds for the porch, but for now i'm pretty happy to be right here, enjoying this last bit of late, late summer.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

… duh, winning

wow, someone must be looking out for me, because i just got incredibly lucky. a few weeks ago i donated to the very worthy action kivu cause via alissa haight carlton. there were some terrific prizes for donating, and though i honestly donated because i wanted to give to a wonderful program, the prizes were at the back of my mind. so i was terrifically surprised when i won. and not once, but twice!


first i won this amazing bundle of goodies from elizabeth hartman. wow, right?! not only did she include a signed copy of her new book plus all the templates used for the patterns, but there was also an insane amount of solid fabric "scraps" in every color imaginable and it all came bundled in this adorable bag featuring one of the quilts from her book.


from her photo it looked like there was a modest handful of fabrics, but when the package came i couldn't believe just how much there was! i'm pretty sure i won't need to buy solids for a long, long time.


and these templates are just so cool. i can't wait to try them out.

so yeah, i feel super lucky.

but then i got luckier still. i got an email from heather of olive and ollie that i won pdfs of all four of her beautiful patterns. they are all so pretty, but the ohio supernova has really caught me eye. i love the simple, bold design, which is right up my alley these days.

so thanks to elizabeth and heather! they are both such generous ladies for contributing their work to a very worthy cause.

Monday, August 27, 2012

… my first swap

love circle swap pillow

we did a little exchange amongst the members of the love circle of do. good stitches and i just received the goods from my first swap ever. yay!

elizabeth stitched up this lovely pillow cover for me and i'm so tickled by it. it fits in perfectly in my new sewing room, with its pink walls and yellow shelves. when i opened the package my husband was looking over my shoulder and said, "wow, how did she know those are your favorite colors?" well, i did specify that i love pink, blue and yellow, but it is amazing how me this pillow is.

love circle swap package!

and she also sent along this adorable card and a whole bunch of 2-1/2" charms. who doesnt love charm squares? so sweet!

love circle swap pillow meets a friend

and it goes especially well with this pillow i made a couple of years ago. don't they look right at home together in my cozy sewing room chair?

and now [gulp] i should probably finish up what i'm making for the swap and mail it off by friday. eep!

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

… a modern quilt guild meet-up

i was so excited about last weekend's pacific northwest modern quilt guild meet-up (where the fine folks from portland and vancouver convened with us in seattle for three days of drinking, socializing, charity sewing, shop-hopping and general silliness), that i forgot my camera. all three days. but don't worry! i have some substandard instagram photos to share with you. wheeeee!

Modern cross quilts from Saturday's PNW meetup.

Stitch and flip quilt from Saturday's PNW meet-up. I spy @2ndavestudio!

Katie hard at work at Saturday's PNW meet-up

My haul from last weekend's meet-up

Ingrid getting busy at Drygoods Design

Metagramming with Happy Zombie

The Kristas!

but mostly it was awesome to meet old online friends and make new ones.

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

… a gift for my mom

ingrid isn't the only july baby in our family. my mom and i were both born this month, with our birthdays just six days apart. i've always liked having our birthdays so close. it means lots of good celebrations and sometimes fun vacations together. we went to new york in 1988 when i was a teenager to celebrate, a trip i will always remember and love. we saw starlight express and speed the plow, which starred madonna (see what happens when a teenager is allowed to pick the shows?). we saw the david hockney retrospective at the met, and since that trip he has always been one of my favorite artists. i'm sure i gave my mom some typical teenager grief (there may have been an incident where i was so mortified that she asked someone for directions i walked on the other side of the street for several blocks), but i adore my mom and i always will.

ipad case for mom

so i was thinking about the rousing games of words with friends i play with my mom now (and how she is one of my most formidable competitors) when deciding what to give her for her birthday. i thought her ipad could use a cozy new case, so i whipped one up using this tutorial from one shabby chick.

ipad case for mom

i used one of my favorite outside oslo prints and lined it with some gorgeously soft shot cotton. the tutorial was super easy to follow, and the case turned out super padded and cushy. i'm sure no harm will come to my mom's ipad when it's housed in this puppy.

ipad case for mom

happy birthday, mom! i know this is small thing and doesn't even come close to showing how much i love and admire you, but i hope you like it.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

… blocks and blocks and blocks

there are a few good things on my design wall right now.

x & + blocks

these three x & + blocks are making me insanely happy. i have jessica to blame for this. i just loved the quilt top she finished during our sewing retreat so much, i couldn't help but dive into making these blocks myself (using this tutorial). mine are way scrappy, meaning i just pulled whatever i had on hand from my scrap bins, not caring at all if the fabrics looked good together or matched. i maybe should have paid more attention to value, but nothing bothers me enough to change it. and rather than make this all by myself, i think i will make this the next project for the love circle of do. good stitches. so watch out, stitchers! this is what's coming your way next month!

converging corners

converging corners blocks

i also just finished up these two blocks for the july do. good stitches quilt. and i am seriously in love with them. deborah asked for blocks in reds, blues, and yellows with pops of grey, using this tutorial. the colors are great, and it's going to look so amazing when it's all put together. [swoon!]

half circles

and i finally managed to finish this block i started on the retreat. i am super happy with where this is going, though parts of it aren't exactly right. i plan on playing around with the design to see what will come of it. but for now it's going to become a pillow!

Thursday, July 12, 2012

… a treasure from the rotary auction

a fog engulfs bainbridge island

last, last saturday ingrid and i braved the fog that rolled across the sound to enfold bainbridge island to go to one of my favorite events of the year: the rotary auction. i'm sure i've blogged about this before. oh, look, see, here and here and here!


i usually come home with many treasures, but this time i came home with just one. that's okay though, because i love it. there were stacks and stacks of quilting books, but this one caught my eye. it is filled with page after page of gorgeous plates of quilts. i know i'm not the first person to point out how often what we call modern quilts have such traditional roots, but it really is true.

from treasury of american quilts by cyril i. nelson & carter houck

this quilt was made in 1889. i know, right?!

from treasury of american quilts by cyril i. nelson & carter houck

from treasury of american quilts by cyril i. nelson & carter houck

from treasury of american quilts by cyril i. nelson & carter houck

and don't these two amish quilts and this amazing early 19th century quilt from new england look like they could have been made today. solids are so modern. i mean traditional. i mean modern.

from treasury of american quilts by cyril i. nelson & carter houck

from treasury of american quilts by cyril i. nelson & carter houck

i like these triangle quilts, too. they've got the whole value/half square triangle thing going on.

from treasury of american quilts by cyril i. nelson & carter houck

and this puppy… yowza!

from treasury of american quilts by cyril i. nelson & carter houck

from treasury of american quilts by cyril i. nelson & carter houck

i love how these take the humble log cabin and make it into something exciting and fresh.

from treasury of american quilts by cyril i. nelson & carter houck

from treasury of american quilts by cyril i. nelson & carter houck

from treasury of american quilts by cyril i. nelson & carter houck

from treasury of american quilts by cyril i. nelson & carter houck

lately i have been smitten with lone star quilts. these terrific examples of lone star quilts (or rather, stars of bethlehem... i'm not sure i can tell the difference) are currently blowing my mind. good timing, because the seattle modern quilt guild is going to have a star quilt-a-long, so i think i'm going to tackle my own lone star. i am a little intimidated. and excited.

bainbridge island rotary auction

i can't end without showing you a few shots of the this year's rotary auction. it is madness, i tell you, madness! and what you see above represents maybe 2% of what's for sale.

bainbridge island rotary auction

there were a lot of balls for sale.

bainbridge island rotary auction

and, as tempting as it was, i did not take this treasure home with me. but i do hope jerry found a nice new place to live. or continue to be a dead head. ha. get it?