Friday, January 28, 2011

How Pinteresting

Have you heard of Pinterest yet? I'm just discovering it so there is a lot I don't know. Basically it is a virtual bulletin board where you can "hang" things you have found from one place or another so you don't lose track of them. You create your own categories and start pinning. Pictures, tutorials, anything you want to keep track of.

Here is a screenshot of my board.

If you enlarge the screenshot, you see the "pin it" icon on the toolbar. So far, getting the icon up there was the hardest thing for me--one of those click and drag things, so when you see something you like you just hit the "pin it" icon on your toolbar. Easy peasy. Except apparently it doesn't like Internet Explorer so much. When I opened up Firefox as my browser, I could drag it up there lickety split. Now when I'm poking around trying to find things to pin, I make sure I'm in Firefox, hit the icon, it asks what board it should go to, and voila!

This is my link. I still don't have much on it. And I'll just warn you ahead of time. Like going from one blog link to another, or one Flickr photostream to another, you can go from one pin to another, see what everyone else is interested in, and repin it to your own board.

Here is the Pinterest "about" page. Right now they are still in the beta stage so you need to request to join, but that only took a day or two, and then I was up and running.

So spend some time this weekend with something Pinteresting...

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

WIP Wednesday

In the last week I have gone from this:
to this:
to some of these:

and finally to this:

I decided on two slightly different shades of solid brown for the spools, especially important where the spools were touching and going in the same direction. Should maybe have gone a little lighter with the brown, but I worked with what I had in my stash because (a) it was already in my stash and (b) I didn't have the time to order something different.

My next dilemma will be the borders. I need to use the challenge fabric somewhere, so the obvious choice will be in the border.

I'm thinking about separating the main part of the quilt from the border with a 1" border of brown and white stripes. Thoughts?

Then on to quilting. I want to big stitch using perle cotton. Still thinking exactly what kind of quilting. Any thoughts or recommendations would be greatly appreciated.

Oh, one more thing: I was thinking of putting the challenge fabric border only on the top and two sides. On the bottom I would put a border of Kona snow and applique a needle and then big stitch some thread. Dumb idea? Too busy? Just a thought...

Check out what everyone else is working on here and here.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Weekend Recap...and a sneak peek

Did you all have a good weekend? Lots of diverse things going on here...

Charlotte and I went to a "snowman party" at our local children's bookstore, Petunia's Place. We listened to books about snowmen (my favorite--highly recommended), played games, sang songs, decorated marshmallow crispy treat shaped like a snowman...Such a fabulous bookstore. Not such a good picture...

Speaking of books, somehow I landed on this set of flickr photos, Book of Art. Isn't this fabulous? I definitely want one of these:
Mark did a lot of cooking yesterday--getting ready for Super Bowl. Yum.

And I'm not sure quite how this happened. I made a seemingly innocent comment to Aaron about reading his running magazine, and the next thing I knew, an app for this program was on my iPhone and I had a new set of running shoes.

Here's a sneak peek. Isn't this pretty?

A pile of orange selvages turned into this. I'm thinking of doing a tutorial on how to make selvage spool blocks. Any interest?

Friday, January 21, 2011

An Award? Me? ...and we have a winner

I wish I could read blogs for a living. There. I said it. There is so much amazing creativity and inspiration out there. Although I must admit that sometimes reading  blogs tends to bog me down. Instead of taking that inspiration and doing something with it, I find much of my available time has been used up.

I read a lot of the same blogs written by the "big girls" that I'm sure many of you do as well. But there are a multitude of lesser-known gems out there. Those are my favorites. Those writers are people who have become my friends.

One of them is Andrea, from Millions of Thoughts. She is funny and witty, an awesome quilter, and my friend. She loves solid fabrics and knows how to use them to their great potential.

The other day I received an email link from her, telling me that she had chosen me to receive the Liebster Blog award. It is "awarded" to crafty blogs with 300 followers or less who are quietly going about doing their own thing and possibly not getting the exposure that some of the larger blogs are.

This is my first blog award. There are a lot of choices out there, and to be chosen by Andrea was both amazing and humbling.

It is an award meant to be passed on. These are listed in no particular order, but I  hope you will take some time to check out the blogs of these incredibly talented women:

quiltish: quiltish is one of the first blogs I started reading on a regular basis. Allisa is the classy and talented creator of many wonderful items that she sells in her etsy shop. Most of all, I highly recommend that you check out her Business Bits series. I have gained an enormous amount of information from this series which is very well written.

Wishes, true and kind:   Like Allisa, Joan lives in the Portland, Oregon, area. Which is probably one of the many reasons I love reading their blogs. I'm a Pacific Northwest girl at heart and I'm hoping one of these days to pop up there and meet them both in person. Joan makes absolutely stunning quilts. You will love all the eye candy in her blog, and enjoy her writing too.

Little Scraps of Happiness: Jen is a Navy wife, whose husband is often gone for long periods of time, and the mother of two small girls. That alone makes me admire her more than I can say. Her quilting is beautiful. I really like reading her blog and she always takes the time to comment.

I'm adding my good friend, Terri, as well, although I'm certain she has a readership larger than 300. (It's so hard to tell with Wordpress and Typepad people...).  She has an amazing eye for color, makes gorgeous quilts and bags (I already have one, and this one is on its way), and is a gifted photographer. So after you check out her blog, be sure to check out her shop!

And one more, who I am sure also has a readership higher than 300. If I could choose one writing style to emulate, it would be Monica of Quilt While You're Ahead (also one of my all-time favorite blog names). Along with quilting, you will see gorgeous pictures of food, knitting, English countryside. It's a highly recommended blog read.

The winner of the polka dot scrap giveaway is dooddles, who said:

"Donating fabric to a worthy cause is never a bad thing. Also, I can't tell you how many times I have picked up fabric at Goodwill and was excited about it. Coming from someone on a VERY tight budget, this has always been a welcome treasure. I need to add pinks to my stash. :o) BTW... polka dots are my fave print! Thanks for the chance. "

So, dooddles, I'll be contacting you soon.
By the way, dooddles has a blog called fabric.addict.
Not that any of us would have a clue what that is all about...

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Workshop in Progress (WIP)

One of my favorite quilt retreats, Quilting in the Pines, is coming up next month. Each year we get 1/2 yard of a "challenge" fabric to make a quilt. When we arrive, the quilts are hung around the room and then everyone gets a chance to vote on their favorite, with the grand prize being a $100 gift certificate to our local quilt shop.

It's a "blind" contest so it's always a lot of fun to try to figure out which quilt your friends have made.

Here is this year's "challenge" fabric, Larkspur Meadow by Alexander Henry.

Even before I received the fabric, I had an idea in my head so I was just hoping the fabric would cooperate. Whew. Totally perfect for my idea.

Yesterday I sketched out my plans. Don't worry. The friends I'm attending with aren't faithful readers (and I should probably talk to them about that...) so I'm not giving any secrets away.

The challenge fabric will probably be used as a border. My plan for the body of the quilt is to make spool blocks in different sizes. Each square is 2" so the quilt without the borders will be 30" by 30". This was my first sketch, but the placement of the largest spool, down in the right-hand corner, was kind of bothering me. It seemed to draw the eye right down to that corner.

So I moved it around and put it more in the middle.

What do you think? Does that make for better visual flow?

I have two different values of "woodgrain" fabric, a medium tan and a darker brown. Originally I had thought of making spools light and some dark,  but then I thought with all the different colors of "thread," that might be too chaotic. Any thoughts on that? Should the spools all be the same "wood"?

Any "threads" of thought you may have will be greatly appreciated. Cheryl at Naptime Quilter started up Workshop in Progress again so I'll be linking up there for some further feedback.

There is still time to give me your thoughts on fabric donation and enter the polka dot giveaway here.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Tuesday Thoughts...and a giveaway

I have been organizing: my linen closet, the cookbooks above my cooktop that are never used,  fabric (more about that later--and a small giveaway), and my pictures.  Am I the only one who just downloads pictures to my harddrive and they stay in random folders for months at a time? And then when you need to find a certain picture, you have no clue as to its location? I'm hoping to do better in that regard this year.

In the meantime, here are some pictures I came across (and they are now nicely categorized so I'll be able to find them again if I need to...)

Mark was at a jobsite in the mountains last week, not too far from our rental cabins at Huntington Lake. Coming back to Fresno (which is below the fog bank), he took these. Yes, while driving.

And remember. He was in the mountains, not at the ocean. This is what it looks like when you are above the valley fog bank.

This is what the fog looks like ahead of you...

And next to you...

Amazing pictures, don't you think? 

Sometimes when Charlotte has my iPhone, she takes pictures. I have found many pictures on my phone that make me ask, "What is this??"

I get a lot of pictures like this (gotta love Crayola marking pens...):

or this (she likes to play with fabric from a basket in the family room):

But every once in a while, I also get these gems. Pictures of her brother, Levi. Priceless.

Two random pictures snapped at Borders this morning:

Seen in the parking lot. All silver. Interesting to me on a grey day.

I still get a bit giddy when I see my pincushions on the cover of a magazine. In a major bookstore. The one in the middle.With the turquoise header. Feel free to click on the picture to enlarge. (hehe)

Then I moved on to organizing fabric. Again. Yes, once again seemingly massive piles of fabric are on the way out the door. So here's my question. Do I donate yet again to my church quilting group? I think I may have overwhelmed them a bit last year with donations. Should it go to Salvation Army or Goodwill? Should I sell it? I actually had good luck with some fabric I listed before the holidays and there are some pieces that I will list on etsy, but what about the rest of it? If someone is looking to increase their stash of nearly any color, let me know. For the price of postage it could be yours.

Leave a comment and let me know your thoughts on fabric donation. I have 12 pieces (each  one is about 6 x 8 inches) of really cute polka dot fabric. I'll let the random number generator pick a winner on Thursday morning.

It is also highly likely that I'll add something else to the package. I'm feeling generous, so while you're giving me advice, what color would you most like to add to your stash if you are the winner?

Do tell.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

A slight change of plans...and a fabric marking tutorial

I was so excited when Corey of Little Miss Shabby decided to do a block of the month involving embroidery. I have embroidered a long time ago and it was time to dust off my skills.

Corey was using the Sunkissed line by Sweetwater, and I have to say that I had been anxiously awaiting this line for months. So it seemed obvious to me that I would do the block of the month using the same line.

But then the mail arrived: Central Park by Kate Spain and Hoopla by Moda. And the plans changed.

For some reason, the Hoopla line had some fabrics that read as "folk art" to me, and reminded me of the crewel embroidery I did in the '70s. I also knew it needed something more substantial than a light background for the embroidery.
I had some Robert Kaufman "quilter's linen"  in chocolate and liked the look of it against all the bright colors of Hoopla, and it matched the stems perfectly.

I knew using a blue water soluble marker wasn't going to work on the dark brown so I went to my local quilt shop, and the owner and I did a little experimenting. This is what we finally decided on and it worked like a charm.

My store receipt says this is "interfacing, tracing cloth red dot." I think you can use it for patterns that have multiple sizes and you don't want to cut off the larger size lines because you are making the smaller size. So you can trace the pattern size you want onto this interfacing, using the red dots as registration markers.

Got that? Anyway, it's pretty cheap. A yard was $1.50 and obviously I have lots left over for the rest of the blocks.

I traced the pattern onto the interfacing with a Sharpie. Next time I will use a finer-point Sharpie as this bled, but in the long run that doesn't even matter.

The next dilemma was what to use for marking. Sew Line is a chalk marker and it comes with interchangeable lead. I got both the white chalk and the grey graphite. I think it comes in multiple colors as well. It is awesome. I just laid the interfacing on the fabric and traced again with the chalk marker. It went through the interfacing and onto the brown fabric and made an easy-to-see embroidery line to follow.

Corey is using all six strands of embroidery floss in her directions. I have never used all six strands before, but for Hoopla I really like the chunky look. When I try the Kate Spain Central Park version, I will probably try it with three strands and see how it looks.

By the time I got the majority of the embroidery done, some of the chalk lines were a little faint. But I just looked at the pattern, got my chalk marker and made them again, free hand. Easy peasy.

Next up will be the Central Park version. But for now, I'm loving the look of the bright colors on the dark background. Chirp, chirp.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Wednesday Abundance

This came in the mail yesterday. From my good friend, Terri. I knew it was on its way, because she had posted a picture of it on her blog. And yes, I may or may not have given her a bad time about somewhat "cruel and unusual punishment" of her posting a picture of it before it arrived on my doorstep, because I just wanted to reach out through my computer screen and grab it!

Here is what I can tell you. The real thing is even better. It is impeccably made. Words, or pictures, really do not do it justice. So if you are looking for a nice and roomy tote that is not only functional but gorgeous, contact Terri.
Just the perfect touch of bling:
She even included a little surprise for me.
Beautiful orangey goodness on the inside.
I had coffee with a friend last week and besides a bag of selvages, I got this cute pincushion. Teeny tiny hexies. In orange. On a polka dot background.

I also got a big packet of selvages from Anne of Film and Thread. Anne has given me countless hints on improving my photography. And in a complete bit of irony, I took a picture of the selvages, then "organized" my pictures on Monday, and now I can't find the picture! Obviously my system needs a bit more work...

Any Saffron Craig fans out there? I thought so...

About six weeks ago, Saffron and I decided to do a little trade. From me: a pincushion made out of her selvages.

From her: The one fabric I was missing from her purple and green Bird Tree line.

 But then she included these pieces from her Beetle Bug line!

I feel an abundance of friendship.

And because I can't resist. Yesterday Charlotte drew a picture of me. Don't I look happy? I'm particularly fond of those purple eyelashes.