Tuesday, April 29, 2014

A Week in Review

Noro Taiyo Sock Yarn

east lake village

spring garden
canonization mass

happy mail

palos verdes

Hitchhiker scarf

·        Last year, when I started knitting socks, I was buying all the yarn that I loved. I bought this Noro Taiyo sock yarn, planning to make socks out of it. After reading about the yarn I found that the high cotton content does not lend itself well to socks that wear well.
·        Meanwhile, with swim season approaching, I have started walking to try to get back in shape. Multiple injuries and aches and pains always make it too easy to be a slug. I like to say I exercise seasonally, and my winter "exercise" is sewing. I might get a lot of projects completed but my waistline and arse do not benefit from all this productivity. I really have no excuse not to walk. We live in a lovely community and the views can be pretty refreshing. Our man-made lake is one of them. The heat has arrived this week, so after the near hurricane force winds die down, I should be jumping in the pool, soon.
·        The garden is sprouting and I have even spotted a few "babies" on the squash and tomato plants. The roses and rhubarb are competing for the "Pretty in Pink" award.
·        Another exciting thing that happened over the weekend was the canonization of Popes John XXIII and John Paul II. Not to slight John the XXIII, but our church is named after the Polish pope and has a huge Polish community, so we celebrated in grand style. 24 hours of non-stop celebrating. There were masses, parties, meals and live streaming of the canonization mass. I am always proud to be Polish, but this was a special weekend for sure.
·        In the happy mail category, the every lovely Trina sent me a sweet treat, "just because". You should pop over to her blog to see the great quilt she made for her uncle out of upcycled men's shirts.
·        The weekend ended with a trip to our friend's house in Redondo Beach. We took a drive to Palos Verdes to go whale watching and enjoyed a great afternoon and dinner with friends, dining al fresco.
·        Remember that yarn? I'm making a Hitchhiker scarf and the yarn is perfect for this project. This is a super easy project and another great one for working on at baseball games and watching TV. 

What have you been up to this past week?

Monday, April 28, 2014

Handmade Birthday Club, April Edition

I had a great time making a birthday gift for my friend, Courtney. I feel a certain kinship with Courtney. She likes gardening, I like gardening; she has a Bernina, I have a Bernina; she's raising all boys, I raised all boys; she likes aqua, I like aqua...you get the picture here, right?

I started with some aqua fabric scraps and some Essex Yarn Dyed linen in Flax. I decided to make a sewing machine cover for her main gift and then to add a few more things after it was finished. 

quilted sewing machine cover
Making the sewing machine cover was a quick and easy project. It was just really a simple mini quilt with some ties sewn into the binding. 
Recently, Alex Veronelli of Aurifil fame, sent me some linen threads to try.  I have to say they were lovely to sew with and gave the project the look  I was hoping to achieve by matchstick quilting this project. I not only used 4 colors of the Aurifil linen thread, but also used Aurifil 50 wt., Aurifil 12 wt. wool and a Coats and Clark Outdoor Poly weight thread. The quilting took a bit longer but gave this sewing machine cover a beautiful texture.

aurifil thread

Lined and bound with a print from Flea Market fancy. I used the same fabric for the ties, too.
sewing machine cover

matchstick quilting
For an additional little gift I made an alphabet block "C" into a very large pot holder. I used two layers of Ultra Brite and two layers of batting to make sure heat would not transfer through it and burn anyone.
alphabet block c
I rounded out the gift with some garden seeds, kleenex, sticky tabs, a note pad, some mini sharpies and my favorite Ritter milk chocolate covered biscuit.
alphabet block, sewing machine cover

I've already heard from Courtney and she loved everything, so that put a smile on my face.

Friday, April 25, 2014

Chasing the Challenge

I rather like my title this week for the Pack Patch Mini QAL Challenge.
Chase is such an innovative thinker and she challenged us to first choose fabrics and colors that represent the year we were born. I vividly remember my parent's kitchenette set. It was pink and black formica with vinyl chairs. I remember thinking we were so fashionable. I guess my love of fabric, fashion and color started way back then. I know all you who love the mid-century modern era know exactly what this dinette set might have looked like.

Born in the 1950"s
The second challenge was to think about what era you wish you were born and choose fabrics accordingly. I chose the 1930's, not because I wanted to live through the depression, but because I wanted to be grown up enough to wear the fashions of the 1940's and 1950's. I love the full skirts and sleek suits.

 And my feet would love those practical loafers and bobbie sox.

Wish I was born in the 1930's

Monday, April 21, 2014

Quilt Lemonade

The quilting community is a very generous group of people of which I am proud to be a part. Sometimes I think I will look for any excuse to sew something, especially if it is a quick and easy project for a child.
Last month, at Sew South Retreat, Valerie spoke about her favorite charity. It's called Lemonade International. You can read all about it here. It helps the poorest of the poor in Guatemala, those living in extreme poverty who are vulnerable to the outside influences that surround a dangerous community.
Val asked anyone who wants to help to make a quilt for a child who is living in the safe house that Lemonade International runs. 
I started a quilt that is at the top of my list to be basted and quilted. I have one quilt ahead of it and then it will be next on my list to finish. It's a really cute pixelated heart that I am sure a little girl is going to love.

Today I am sharing about the project my friend, Trina, has started. She is collecting Polaroid blocks and then will sash them and sew them all together into at least one quilt for a boy and one for a girl. I needed a small project to work on. Yesterday, I made 19 blocks (one didn't make it into the photo shoot) in just a short sewing session after Easter brunch was over.If you haven't made these blocks, there is a quick tutorial on Capiltola Quilter's blog.

Polaroid Quilt Blocks

Polaroid Quilt Blocks
I realized my stash is not very fussy cut friendly, but I did manage to find some cute child friendly fabrics to cut the 2.5" squares necessary to make these blocks.
Polaroid Quilt Blocks

Polaroid Quilt Blocks
I don't know which is my favorite block...the toaster, the bee
Polaroid Quilt Blocks

Polaroid Quilt Blocks
or maybe the camper van. No matter what, Trina will have a good start on her quilts.
Polaroid Quilt Blocks
If you would like to help there is a discussion started on the Sew South Flickr site. You can see it here.
Or you can contact me and I will get you in touch with Trina. Either way, it's a great way to help and super fast and easy.

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Pack Patch Mini Quilt Along

I have resisted joining any quilt alongs with all the confusion of the construction going on in my house, but Chase's easy and thought provoking post had me intrigued.
What could be easier than 2 mini 12 patch blocks a week? ANd they are all made using fabric from my scrap bins. Each week she posts a theme for the two blocks.

The first week's themes were (copied from Chase's Flickr post)
1) My True Colors:
We likely use similar colors often in our sewing projects, quilts, anything that grab our eye! But this theme is not for grab "my eye" kind! Can you use two colors that express who you really are in person?
I chose these two fabrics for the prints as well as their colors. I like to think I am a happy person and the pink and aqua do make me feel happy.
True Colors

2) My Favorite Colors:
What are two of your favorite colors? Or colors that you seem use frequently? Colors that your friends, quilt friends, sewing friends see you in? 
For my favorite colors I had to go with Aqua and mustard. I am so drawn to this mustard color and this print is a perfect example of one of my favorite fabrics, too.I have used the aqua print from Bonnie and Camille's Marmalade line numerous times in various projects.

Favorite Colors
The second week's themes are also copied from the Flickr post:
1) April Shower:
Gosh, Is it really April? We woke up with icy road and 2” snow on the ground early this week. I love how we live in different part of the Earth; northern sphere, southern sphere or close to the equator. We experience the season differently. Some of you might be in t-shirts all year long, some of you might be starting winter season, and some of you might just start the spring season. Can you use two colors and tell us a little bit about the place you are in the month of April? 
This one was really fun. April Showers don't happen very often in Southern California, but April definitely means it's garden planting time for me. I chose brown for dirt and green for the tiny plants that will emerge from the seeds and young seedlings planted.

April Showers
2) Brings May Flowers: 
After typical April Shower, maybe for some of you. What would you predict the month of May would look like? Can you use One WARM (red, yellow, orange) color and one COLD (green, blue, purple) color to make to your prediction? You may vary the hues. Such as using pink (Red+ white), using brown (orange +black). Aqua, Teal, for COLD color, etc. BUT! Try to use different prints for you quilt along blocks! You’ll be surprised when you finish your blocks. 
It's all about the hydrangeas that we have potted and growing on our patio. I work very hard to get the pink blooms to turn a beautiful blue/periwinkle color by using Aluminum Sulfate to fertilize them. Fingers crossed it works this year, too.

Bring May Flowers

There you have my first two weeks of the Pack Patch Mini QAL. It's a fun and easy project. I can't wait to see what Chase has in store for us. Her creativity and unique use of tiny piecing always fascinates me.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Readying the Garden

Each year we plant a vegetable garden, mostly tomatoes, squash, beans and herbs. This last weekend we began readying the raised beds and planting some of the vegetables.

home gardening

Some things come back on their own. This is the third year for the rhubarb and it's doing well. I'm looking forward to making strawberry rhubarb jam and a deliciously sweet rhubarb coffee cake
It's the second year for this artichoke plant and we have already been eating artichokes for weeks. I cleaned out all the dead leaves and debri that had collected under the plant making it look kind of whimpy, now. But it's super healthy and has few bugs, which is a plus.
artichoke plant
Artichokes are just so pretty, aren't they?
We didn't do much with the raised beds in the winter or early spring so there was a lot of weeding and nutrient replacement needing to be done. My man power and I ran out of steam, so this job will be continued over the next week.
raised garden beds
Did I tell you we have our own Mojito garden? The limes grow like crazy ...
bearrs lime
and so does the mint. They are a nice refreshing drink to whip up in the afternoon after a hot day working in the garden.

This is one of my favorite garden tools. This garden wagon was a gift several years ago and I love that it is all rusty and still works great for hauling things from the car to the backyard.
garden wagon
We went to our favorite nursery, Roger's Garden in Corona del Mar, and bought all the starter plants.
I usually have a contest with #2 son to see who can grow the biggest tomato. This year, Paul went to the nursery with me and we spoke with David, a wealth of knowledge about tomato gardening. He said to try Big Zac...it's supposed to produce a fruit 4-6 pounds. Look out Michael, dad has a plan. He also saw a tomato called German Johnson...need I say more? He bought it just for the name. Boys never grow up! The Big Johnson tomato will be the talk of the garden when all the boys are here.
I usually buy all heirloom tomato plants, but this year we took David's advice and bought the ones he recommended.

I transfered the herb garden to another raised bed because this one has become so full of roots. It will take a while to clean it out and replant it with something else.
pitch fork
While cleaning out the old we found a baby cauliflower. Guess what I am having for lunch today?
Our first hydrangea has bloomed and I can't wait for these huge blooms to fill the patio with color.
pink hydrangeas
That's my garden prep story...I was covered in dirt and smelled like chives, even after a shower. It's a good feeling to get down and dirty and to know that we are growing our own food.
gardening shoes

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Clam Bake

We celebrated Evan's birthday this week with dinner at Mozza Pizzeria in Newport Beach.  I had an ulterior motive...I wanted to do a photo session at the beach with my clam shell quilt as well as celebrate our dear son's 34th birthday.

The future Mr and Mrs Evan Stanley
While Evan, Lauren and Mr. Romance walked onto the pier, I snapped the seagull and pelican enjoying the sunshine.
seagull and pelican

They were so careful to gently lower the quilt over the railing as I shouted directions from the shore. The wind was blowing quite a bit so I didn't get the shots I had hoped for but I think I still got some really good photos of the quilt.
quilt on a pier
Trying to get the quilt without the tourists was a difficult task, especially because it is Spring Break and the beach was quite crowded.
denyse schmidt fabric clam shell quilt
I like that even from afar you can see the beautiful job Natalia Bonner did quilting this beauty.
clam shell quilt
I made it very clear to Paul that the quilt has a direction and the points of the clam shells should be pointing downward when he was holding it. Too bad I didn't pay attention when he was shooting me holding the quilt. The grimace on my face is because 
1. The sun was very bright.
2. The quilt is very heavy.
denyse schmidt fabric clam shell quilt

This might be my favorite shot of the quilt which I am now calling Clam Bake.
denyse schmidt fabric clam shell quilt
The quilt is so large and heavy. It was a bear to manuever when binding it. It was also quite stiff from being densely quilted and I was worried it would not be very cuddly. It would not fit in my machine at home,  I had to take it to the Laundro-Mat. I was so glad when I pulled it out of the dryer and it had softened just like my friends assured me it would.  And now that it has been in the sand at the beach I will have to wash it again.

Miele washer

denyse schmidt fabric clam shell quilt

I just had to try editing this photo with the Waterlogue app. I think all the colors look so pretty as a water color piece of art.
waterlogue app

About This Quilt:
I have always been a fan of Martha Stewart and her talents. I watched her network morning show regularly until her show went to a cable channel. I don't know if she still has a show on TV or not. But anyway...that is where I first heard of Denyse Schmidt and fell in love with her quilt designs and fabrics. Fast forward to about 3 years ago when I became a major fabric collector/hoarder and I started buying different lines of Denyse's fabrics. I have used bits and pieces of them in different projects but for the most part I was saving them for something special.
When I first met Latifah she was sewing the binding on her Neon and Neutral Clam Shell quilt and I was instantly smitten and knew I had to make a clam shell quilt of my own. Latifah has a free pattern on Craftsy using templates and also a YouTube video to show you how to sew the curves. These things are all very helpful. I only used the templates for the top row and chose to just square up my quilt after piecing all the rows instead of using her templates for the sides and bottom rows. I was a confident curve sewist before I started this quilt but her idea to sew every other clam shell in a row and then go back and fill in the blanks really makes sewing these rows a breeze.
This last Christmas I received the clam die for the Accuquilt and my plan was launched. I cut almost 400 clam shells from nearly 150 different Denyse Schmidt fabrics. I did not use them all in this quilt, so there is still another clam shell project in my future. There is Katie Jump Rope, Flea Market Fancy, Shelburne Falls, Chicopee, Florence, and lots of DS Quilts fabric from Joann's in this quilt.
It took me about a month to piece it and then I pondered the backing. I knew I wanted either a flannel or corduroy and when the Paisley corduroy from Chicopee went on sale on Fabric.com I snatched up 10 yards.
I really wanted it to be quilted by someone I knew would put a lot of thought into the quilt design and Natalia Bonner was the perfect person to ask. She used five different free motion quilt designs, filling each clam shell and trying not to have two of the same designs next to each other. She did a fabulous job and I am so glad I asked her to quilt this one for me.
The binding is also a DS Quilts fabric from Joann's. I really like the orange with all the other fabrics and think it frames it perfectly.
This quilt will live on our bed. Now I need to make some pillow cases to compliment it.
Quilt Stats:
Name: Clam Bake
Fabrics: a range of Denyse Schmidt fabrics
Backing: Chicopee Paisley Corduroy
Binding: DS Quilts Orange Circles
Pieced with Aurifil 50 wt. thread
Batting: Quilter's Dream Poly Batting
Quilted by: Natalia Bonner
Size: 99" x 98"
As a side note, this quilt weighs 9 pounds! This quilt has been "Over-Instagrammed" and has made several appearances on my blog but I have to say, it is my favorite quilt that I have ever made...to date, and I am so glad it is finished.