Wednesday, December 30, 2009

More Handmade Gifts

Here is something else I made for gifts this Christmas. I sewed each of my young nieces a skirt and knitted a (somewhat) matching scarf (which isn't real practical for the one in Florida, but oh well). I only took this one picture above as I sent out the other one before taking a picture. The other one had a really cute snowman fabric.

On Christmas Eve, I sewed together two pieces of leopard fabrics (one a Minke, the other was something else), did a few "quilting" lines and made a blanket for Anna. The fabric was pretty slippery and I did a very poor job on it, but I wanted her to have her own warm blanket. Here is she under it in the aftermath of unwrapping gifts.

I also knitted a scarf for my friend in Ireland, my step-nephew who likes the Steelers, my yoga teacher and my Nia teacher. This was more hand making than I have ever done at Christmas and probably will ever do. It makes me a little stressed trying to finish in time to mail stuff.

There was a discussion about handmade gifts on the Quiltart list. Someone had found a blog written by a lady in which she pointed out mostly the bad aspects of receiving a handmade gift, such as a crocheted toilet paper cover from Auntie Gertrude, for example. She did have some good points. Sorry I don't have a link to the original post for you.

When I make something for somebody, I hope they see that it was because I wanted to take the time to make something special for them. I don't mind if they don't like it, if they pass it on. In my opinion, once you give something to someone, they can do whatever they like with it. I do hope that they appreciate my effort, though.

Most of the things I made this year were pretty functional.

Monday, December 28, 2009

Lights, Camera . . .

We finally took action to go see the lights at the Idaho Botanical Gardens the night before last. It was beautiful as usual. We only stayed around an hour as the temperature was about 20 degrees.

The best way to take pictures is to turn the flash off and have a tripod. I just had my pocket camera and tried to find rocks, fences, etc. to rest it on while taking the pictures. Here are a few of mine. Frank took some with his camera and the gorilla pod (which can bend and attach to things) but I haven't looked at his yet.

Saturday, December 26, 2009


Hope you all had a relaxing holiday yesterday. We did. While Frank and Anna were engrossed in the new electronics, I was reading a book and eating chocolate by the fire. Only thing that would have made it perfect would have been a little more white stuff outside (but then I would have been out playing in it and not reading).

Now it is safe for me to show you some of the gifts I made this year. The biggest was a quilt for my nephew, Ben (9 years old), who is big into baseball and any sport. My sister-in-law sent me some of his old baseball shirts from various teams and some Marlins fabric. I found some nice baseball fabric and some coordinating solids at Jo-Ann's. Below is how it turned out.

I didn't put batting in between but, instead, used a flannel sheet. The quilting lines are stitched in the ditch. I also outlined the letters, numbers and motifs on the shirts with free motion quilting. Not that you can really tell, but to give it some more stabilization.

Apparently, it was a big hit with him. I guess when the neighbors asked what he got for Christmas, he ran in the house and got the quilt to show them (not the new bike he received). Awesome!

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Puzzling Days (or Daze)

We have already been in relax mode here for several days. Anna has been ill and we have been taking it easy. The cold weather keeps us indoors and it is the perfect time for building a fire and doing puzzles.

Many puzzle boxes have been pulled out, completed and put away again. We work through them quickly. Except for the puzzle below. It is one that I found at the thrift store and thought Anna would like it because of all the big cats. You did know she likes cats, didn't you?

The edges do have that funky shape and those are holes, too. The pieces were all cut in the craziest shapes and some of the middle pieces had straight edges. So we were never exactly sure if we had an edge piece or something else. We declared this the hardest puzzle we have ever done (even harder than the double sided puzzle that claimed to be the world's most difficult). The colors in several of the cats were very similar so we weren't exactly sure which they would go to. But we finished it, and all the pieces were there. That's always a worry with a thrift store puzzle.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Years ago I took a class with Melody Crust, who wrote the book shown below. It's all about the quilting line. In class we received a clear sheet with which to audition quilting lines on, using a dry erase marker.

Sometimes I don't have the quilting lines exactly figured out ahead of time. For the piece I'm working on now, that was the case. I pulled out the sheet and started drawing some ideas. I pinned the sheet directly over the piece. You have to be careful to draw only on the sheet. Also, you have to be careful when erasing so as not to go over the edge and have the black dust rub onto the fabric.

(I have no idea what the sheet is made of - vinyl? I also do not know where you can get one.)

Here are some of the results below. I have made a decision and hopefully will start the quilting today.

Friday, December 18, 2009

The Jolly Man

Some people know that I have a Santa collection. Every year the man in red comes in many different versions at our house. Sometimes he gets tired of his red suit, or it needs to be washed, and he wears a different color.

I like to try to find a santa when we go on foreign vacations. But since we usually go in the summer, I have not been very successful. I have a Delft santa in blue from Holland. The one below came from Russia, via my in-laws.

We also have a paper mache one from Germany (also via the in-laws. Aren't they great?) Of course we had to have Santa in a rocket for Frank. Just for Anna, there is a santa holding cats.

The jolly fellow is very active and likes to go canoeing, skiing, ice skating and drive a car. I own quite of few by David Frykman, who created the one below.

But one of my favorites, and the very first one of my collection (at the time, I didn't even know I would have a collection), is this guy below. My sister made him for me in middle school. He took an extended vacation for several years and we couldn't locate him. But I was so happy when he resurfaced and was able to bring him to my own home.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Back to the Drawing Board . . .

or I should say design wall. Yea! A couple of days ago I was able to start pulling out fabrics to start on a new piece.

It doesn't look like much here, but this was just to get an idea for colors. I have it almost completely pieced and then I have to figure out how to do the quilting. It's nice to get back to work on some art.

Monday, December 14, 2009


It's hard to tell but there really was a lot of pink in this sunset.

The Twelve by Twelve group has just finished their latest challenge of making quilts using pink. I have not been very good about playing along with them for some time. But I think pink would have been a real challenge for me as well. You can see how they handled it by clicking on their name.

There is nothing wrong with pink (except for some of the associations that go with it). It is just not a color I gravitate toward. If I do use it, I prefer the dusty rose colors as opposed to the bright bubblegum pinks.

Friday, December 11, 2009

I'm Still Here

This time is really busy for me finishing up presents, wrapping, packing and shipping. I've mailed five boxes already and one more to finish up today. Then, I can finish putting up our decorations that have been laying around the house for a week (and maybe get back to working on some art?).

The single digit weather here has been making it a little less encouraging for me to go to my exercise classes at the Y. But I have gone, with just the slightest worry that my car might freeze while I'm there and won't start when I come out. So far, so good, though.

Tonight I am hoping we can stay home, relax, build a fire and decorate the tree.

Monday, December 7, 2009

It's Beginning to Look a lot Like . . .

. . winter! And Christmas, too. Yesterday we went out and got our fresh tree. Oh, it smells so, so lovely in our house. We managed to wrestle with some lights and weed out two strands that would not work, even after we replaced all the bulbs and the fuses. I think we will start transitioning to LED lights.

I've pulled out all the Christmas items but most of it is just in disarray right now. No ornaments on the tree yet and presents to finish making, wrapping, packing and shipping. Who knows when order will come?

This morning we awoke to the beautiful scene above. Usually I can stay inside and enjoy the view and not worry about driving in it. As Anna was getting ready for school (yes, they still had school even though Anna wanted me to check on the internet to make sure), I was checking my calendar for my weekly activities and realized that I had signed up to start a basic pilates class at the Y this morning, at 8 a.m.

It's days like this that make me love my car even more. The Suzuki Sidekick has 4 wheel drive and handles very well in the snow, which is great for our slanty driveway and steep neighborhood hills. If it does happen to slip and slide, it never goes very far because it is so light weight (comparatively, for a small SUV).

I had no problem getting to class, but one lady came in the middle of it because it took her an hour and twenty minutes to get there, due to slow traffic.

The picture below is obviously one of our artificial trees with the candy cane project the kids did at Anna's party. I'll have to buy some lights for this tree.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Holiday Craft Party

Anna's holiday craft party was today. Four of her friends were able to come over to make some crafts and eat some brownies. I added chopped up candy cane Kisses to the brownies and the icing. They are very good.

I'm not sure a lot of crafting got completed, but the girls had fun and that was really the whole point.

Friday, December 4, 2009


I know, I know. Less is more and I really do believe that. But sometimes I just can't help myself! When I should have been home finishing up the gift quilt, I was out shopping today. I had to go out to get something for tonight and while I'm out, I like to do as much as I can. That included some shopping.

I had to stop (really I did) by the quilt store while I was out and about because I was looking for a fabric. Of course, they didn't really have what I was looking for. But they had a lot of what I was not looking for.

I couldn't resist. I purchased the two fabrics above. The one on the right is by Basicgrey called "figgy pudding" made for Moda. I really like the combination of colors. Normally, I don't care for pastels but the light blue in this really makes it lovely with the olive greens and just a few dots of taupe-y brown (I know you can't really see that in the photo).

The other fabric is from a different line but I thought it went nicely with the "figgy pudding". I think the lady that cut the fabric for me was surprised by how nicely they went together. Now, I do have a plan for this, albeit one that is probably far in the future. I thought it would make a lovely table runner(s) for our dining room for the winter (oh, I don't necessarily mean this winter). And some place mats, too, if there is enough fabric. I bought the last of it.

No, I really do not need more on my to-do list. But I think there is a primal urge in me to make things. That's why the list is never-ending.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Winding Up and Down

The year is starting to wind down. How did it come to be Dec. 2nd already? The holiday season is just starting to wind up. I haven't hauled out the decorations yet, but we are planning a holiday craft party for Anna and her friends this Saturday. I'm sure some of the holiday cheer will start coming out of storage this weekend.

I'm also trying to wind down the homemade gifts. I already have two boxes mailed but have a functional quilt to finish and mail. Although the season is usually filled with creativity around here, not much artwork gets made during this time.

If you are curious about the picture above, it is a birch tree photo that I was playing around with in Photoshop (many moons ago).

Monday, November 30, 2009

Celebration Park

We had another beautiful day on Sunday. We decided to get out and about again. First we went to Celebration Park on the Snake River. There you can see some very old petroglyphs on the rocks. We haven't been there for quite a while and Frank thought there were more drawings before (some have probably been chiseled off and taken away illegally). It was wonderful being outside.

Then we did our wine tastings at several Idaho wineries in that general area.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Getting Out

After having a leisurely Thanksgiving and a gloomy, rainy day after, we were all ready to get out of the house on our nice sunny Saturday. We put on our coats and hiking shoes and headed for the hills, the foothills that is.

The ground was quite muddy from the rain before and the temperatures in the 40's. But the air was wonderful. An hour and a half walk had us all revived.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving

I am thankful that my husband and daughter, who recently had the flu, are both better now.

I am thankful that my in-laws are here so that I could still go to my yoga and Nia classes while hubby and daughter were ill.

I am thankful we have a nice, warm house.

I am thankful for my hands to create and make many presents and lots of art.

I am thankful for all of you who take a minute or two out of your day to read my blog. Hope you all have a wonderful day!

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Cuttin' Up

As I have cut up the last two big quilts I have made and reworked them (into something better, I think), I have to take a moment to figure out what I have learned.

Here's what I have learned:

1) How to attach two quilted pieces together with two different methods.

2) I need to spend more time with the completed piece, "processing it", before finishing up the edges and sewing on a sleeve.

3) I would rather take the chance cutting into something to make it better than have it sit in a closet and bug me.

4) Even if I ruined it and came up with nothing, I could always use the fabric to make a tote bag or something.

5) The computer is a handy tool for working on composition, even if it is only to print out pictures that can be cut up and pasted back together.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Yellowstone Impression 2

This is the second piece that came from the original work I cut up. This went together a little differently than the one before. The cut pieces were zig-zag stitched together and I had pieces to put together horizontally as well as vertically. Then I added some strips, that were left over from the original piecing, which were fused on and then zig-zag stitched as well. Once again, it is quite different than the first original piece.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Yellowstone Impression Do-over

The saga of the Yellowstone Impression quilt continues. Let's review! First, I made this piece below.

Then, after it was completed and I had already sewn the facing and sleeve on, I decided it wasn't quite working for me. So I played on the computer and got this image below, which I could not possibly make in reality. But it showed me I needed to do something else.

And now, I have cut up the original piece and have made it into two completely different pieces. The first one is below and I am happy with it. The original idea is much more abstracted here.

The four horizontal sections are where it is joined together. (Someday I'll show you how I did that.) The yellow/peach strips were hand appliqued on since I could not piece it in.

I am finishing up the second piece which used up the leftover pieces and is also quite different.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

The Holidays are Coming

Yes, the holidays are coming. Thanksgiving will be here before you know it. More specifically, I am talking about Christmas. I am already feeling the self-imposed stress. How can that be? Well, somehow it is ending up that I will be making many of the gifts this year. I don't know how that happened. It certainly sounded o.k. many months ago. But the clock it now ticking a whole lot faster, it seems.

Part of the problem is that I like to try to have everything packed up and mailed by Thanksgiving or, at least, right after Thanksgiving (since pretty much all our family presents have to be shipped somewhere). That way I can enjoy the rest of the season without too much stress. I don't think I will be making that deadline this year. But hopefully, it will be very soon after that. Here is something I am working on, but I can't tell you any more than that!

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Weekend Fun

I didn't get much accomplished this weekend, but we did have some fun. On Friday, I got a new "toy", which is pictured above. It is a yarn winder and it makes those nice shapes you see behind it. The flat bottom keeps the yarn from rolling around and the yarn comes out the middle which makes it very nice to work with while knitting (or crocheting if that's what you do). Anna and I had fun winding up much of our yarn.

Saturday was a pretty nice day. Anna wanted to go shopping for clothes, but I didn't feel like it. Instead we scootered down to the elementary school, met Anna's friend there and hit tennis balls against the wall (I did more than the girls). We got a drink from the Roosevelt market and scooted home as the clouds were coming in and it was getting colder.

On Sunday, Anna and I went to see the Idaho Dance Theatre (the local modern dance company at BSU). For the last few years I have gotten season passes for me and Anna. It was the first performance for this season.

Frank was busy working on the garage. So he did get something accomplished but didn't have as much fun as we did.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

New Impression

Well, I was putting the image of Yellowstone Impressions in Publisher to print out several copies I could cut up and paste in my sketchbook, like I did with Indian Summer. Then, I started moving the multiple images around and came up with this. I like it better. Unfortunately, making this would require making three more quilts the same as the first and cut them and sewing them together. It would be enormous! So the computer application here doesn't really translate into real life, because I will not be doing that. I don't think I have enough fabric.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009


Yellowstone Impression
63-1/2" h x 37" w

This is a piece I just finished. Sorry the photos aren't great. It is pretty big for me. I don't like working big because it is so much harder to do the quilting on my regular home sewing machine.

I had an impression of some trees when we were driving through Yellowstone. There was a stand of dead pines that were either burnt or diseased, but sprinkled throughout were some Aspens with their bright yellow leaves. I do not have a picture of it. It is just in my head and I drew a very abstract sketch of what came to mind at the time. This is the result.

It might need to be cut up and rearranged. I'm not sure. I'm thinking of doing a smaller variation of this as I have some more ideas. What is your impression?

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Post Halloween

Here are our pumpkins for this year. Frank did the fish in the fishbowl pumpkin.

I did a simple pumpkin since we were carving on Halloweeen. The design might have been influenced by how I was feeling. Anna did cats, what a surprise.

Anna's costume by day: grumpy pirate.

By night: ferocious pirate cat!

Frank wins the Halloween award for making a handmade sword in about five minutes. It's probably still wet in the photo.