Friday, December 31, 2010

Thank-you!

Dear Reader,

You make my day.  You being here, hanging out, posting your thoughts and playing along has added this new dimension of fun-ness to my everyday that makes me so very, gushingly thankful!

Where was I a year ago?  No blog. No Flickr. Not even a quilt in sight.

My goodness... things have changed! 

Sewing 2010
Sewing 2010

Quilting 2010
Quilting 2010

2010 has been incredible. Your blogs, your comments, your books and your friendships have been instrumental in making it so.  Thank-you, thank-you, thank-you!

Love & Blessings,

Rachel

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Announcing..... Blogger's Pillow Party!

I'm so glad to finally spill the beans!  Blogger's Pillow Party was inspired by rampant creativity running wild and taking hold in the shape of fabulous throw pillows of all kinds.  Have you seen them across blogland?  From the uber-popular Pillow Talk Swap to recent posts by some of my favorite bloggers, we're all getting inspired to spruce up our nests. 

For the first six months of 2011, I'll be hosting Blogger's Pillow Party each month at Stitched in Color.  I'll be making at least one pillow each month and practicing different skills like the invisible zipper, piping, crocheted covers, etc.  But, it wouldn't be a party all by myself, so you'll have to join in, ok?  Go the main Blogger's Pillow Party page to see how to play along. Each month I'll choose 9 pillows from our Flickr pool to showcase on my blog. Soon we'll be blog-hopping through bloggy pillow land for inspiration all around.

And there's prizes - oh yes!  But not random prizes.  Nope, we have very special, honorable judges in fact to dole those babies out.  Each month our judge will choose her most favoritist pillow of all.  The winner will receive 1.  fabric (that's what we all want, of course) and 2.  the honor of the judge's affections - a post including a picture of the winning pillow on the judge's blog, with a link to the winner's blog.  Woohoo!

And, oh-my-goodness, do you know who's judging for January?!?!  Anna of Noodlehead, purveyor of the very fine Noodlehead gathered clutch tutorial, which landed at the very tippy top of my sewing "dream" list.  

So, please don't delay in dreaming up your most wonderful pillow creation.  We can't wait to see it become a reality.  A link to the party can be found up top in my main menu.  And at the main page you'll find the rules, our schedule of judges and a button for your blog, if desired.

Come join us at, Blogger's Pillow Party!

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Teensy Tiny Patchwork

Ok, I'm ready to show you some teensy tiny patchwork!

Mossy Greens & Sky Blues

I've been cutting this stack of mossy greens and sky blues...

a stream of Tiny Patchwork

into 1 1/2 inch strips. Then sewing those strips into stacks of six. And cutting those stacks to make a loooooooong row of pieced strips.

all these pretty seams

The finished squares are 1" square. And, oh my goodness, can you believe these pressed open seams? When is the back of patchwork that pretty?

Tiny Patchwork work-in-progress

The piecing is done, which means it's time to wrangle a long length of linen to make up the rest of this shower curtain.

Fabrics include 4 shot cottons, Hop Dot in Olive, Henna Garden in Leaf, Herringbone from Modern Meadow, Valori Wells' Nest Berries, and a couple of Freebird Ovals - all prints happily sourced from my fabric stash.  Hurray for stashing!

**********************************
also, I promised Brandon that I'd ask you for a vacation recommendation...  Our 10th anniversary is this March and we're trying to plan a long weekend stay somewhere nearbye (South Carolina, Georgia or North Carolina).  I totally hate planning these things.  Ugggh.  I mean, I don't know where I want to go (besides New York)!  So, if you happen to know of a nice bed & breakfast or cool hotel in a town with something nice to do (and preferably, a modern fabric shop!), please do let me know.  Unfortunately, he already ruled out Atlanta (which has fabric shops!), because it's too metro.  So, something a little bit more romantic?  I DON'T KNOW!

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Color Spin Crochet

So yesterday I stormed the yarn store for Cascade 220.  To my glee everything in the store was 25% off.  Seriously.  So, naturally, I amassed a huge pile of yarn.  The ladies started asking me if I needed any help.  I wondered what kind...  I'm sure they wondered what I would do with all these random colors. 

my colors in Cascade 220

Random, yes?  I hope not too much so, but I think a bit of a color spin with lights, darks, complimentary squares and contrasting squares will be much of what gives the blanket it's charm.  But, to be honest, I am nervous about this.  It's funny because I always feel confident about combining fabrics.  The yarn is a stretch for me, it seems.  I'll definitely want to add a pumpkin orange, light yellow and many more skeins of Natural, but it's a very good start!

Unfortunately the store was NOT winding any balls because of space constraints caused by the sale.  "Just bring them back another day."  And you know that is SO easy to do with working part-time, keeping house and mothering 2 little ones.  I'll just spend an extra hour in the car to run my balls in for winding.  That's great.

DIY winding in action!

My very kind and patient husband saved me!  I pointed him to an Instructables (a DIY blog that he enjoys) for making a yarn swift and ball winder.  As I had hoped, he improved upon the design and got rather involved in the process.  As in, I actually wound all of one ball. Score! 

homemade ball winder

homemade yarn swift

There was a drill involved and a clamp for attaching our wire hanger "swift" to the table.  A broken tinker toy stick seemed practically made for holding yarn, what with the slit at the end of the stick and all.  But, I won't bore you with the details.  He did it and I rejoiced!  My balls may not be pretty, but they are so functional - just pull from the center!

we're ready!

A very happy mama stitched up two sunburst squares last night.  I switched to a G hook.  I like the slightly smaller stitches from the G hook over the H hook I had been using.  See the difference in size from my test sunburst (on the right - it never received it's last round) and my new one?  I like.

testing 1,2,3

Now I hearbye promise to continue sewing (there is patchwork strewn across the table as we speak).  I will crochet only exactly as much as desired.  I have permission to set aside this project for a time (perhaps a long time), but do swear never to abandon it.  And that is my statement.

Monday, December 27, 2010

in my dreams.

In my dreams, I could make anything and everything in 2011.  Shall we have a list?

{1} a Noodlehead gathered clutch.  No, TWO Noodlehead clutches.  What is the point in making just one?

Christmas gifts
by Ragged Owl

{2} a quilty duvet cover for our master bedroom.  One that I adore and my husband tolerates (these are dreams, not miracles).

{3} a mini flag banner to spice up our kitchen.

{4} millions of pillow covers for my throw pillow forms.  MuuahahahaHA!

sinking.into.new
by Anna Maria Horner

{5} new pillows for my mommy's couch (I promised, sides this list is looking pretty selfish).

{6} bike buckets for both of my kiddos.  Oooh, maybe for Easter?

bikebucketpic
by Noodlehead

{7} a dress.  Yes, I am most definitely dreaming.

{8} a gorgeous, colorful, not-at-all needed crocheted blanket, like this.  Which I've already begun, so yay that.



{9} little jars in jackets.

{10} pet urchin rocks for all my friends.

little urchin crochet covered sea stone tutorial at purl bee
by Resurrection Fern


What?  No quillts?

Nope. In my dreams, that list is surely endless.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

SNOW!

Snow in December is really a miracle in South Carolina. Our little miracle arrived on Christmas night!

Outside my window

Today we stayed home, just us. What a cozy day! I was raised in the California foothills, where it never snows, so I still find watching the snow fall outside my window absolutely mesmerizing.

Snowmen

Pompei the Incredibly Patient

Of course, the children had a rip-roaring good time. Even the kitties did.

Gifty Goodness

Meanwhile, I played with some gifty goodness. I'm looking forward to squaring up my bee blocks with a square. That's got to be faster!  And Martha's book is one I've had on my wishlist after borrowing it from the library on more than one occasion.  Did you find any crafty treats under your tree?

Remember how I said that I doubted I'd receive any wished-for yarn?  I was WRONG (which was awesome in this case)!

a new Beginning

Brandon surprised me with a few skeins of Cascade 220.  I plan to build up a lovely assortment of colors so that I can make a sunburst blanket and/or pillow.  I think it's smart to start with a pillow, you know, for a finish that'll cheer me on.  I got started last night with this tutorial.  Just need to run to the yarn store tomorrow to buy the natural yarn that will finish out the square (and a ton more colors!).  I haven't crocheted in so long, but the stitches came back to my hands, almost without my mind participating.  Kind of like riding a bike, really.

Oh, by the way, for all of you who buy "nice" yarn that comes as a twisted skein like Cascade...   Do you actually roll your skeins by hand into a ball?  I mean, that took FOREVER.  Now I realize that knitting/crochet is not a quick craft, and that's totally not the point, but I didn't enjoy the ball-making process, in part because I didn't know if it was necessary/right/normal.  I've always used cheap yarn that comes ready to use - just pull from the center.  I imagine that the relaxed, unballed skein is better for long-term yarn storage and that's why the fancy yarns come this way?  What do you recommend?  I'm wanting to try to use the skeins without balling them and just kind of hope I don't tangle them.  That's crazy, right?  Help!

Ok, off to do some tiny patchwork.  Have a good night!

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Scrappy Potential

I browsed my Flickr favorites today in search of projects with itty, bitty scrappy potential.  What da ya think?

Scrappy Potential

If I was real ambitious I would make a quilt, pillow or other such large surface with itty bitty tiny squares.  Oooh, I do like that idea!  The opportunity for pattern is pretty enticing.  I particularly like the quilt up there, but a "postage stamp" solid scrap mini quilt would also be lovely.  Dare I?

Christina's patchwork bunny ornament has that same captivating look (tutorial here).  Not quite a scrap buster, but it would put a dint in my scrap jars.

I think that a ticker tape quilt, like Penny's, would be the quickest, most thorough scrap buster.  Raw edges = fast.  And, I like that you could work it up block by block as time goes by, and that it uses random sizes. 

And then there's this mini flag bunting.  I've been wanting to make it for my kitchen for ages.  Granted I'll have to be a bit picky about sizes and prints.  My kitchen is not so eclectic that just anything would go. Hm.  Well, using some scraps is better than none.

So, what is your vote for my bottled rainbow?

Bottled Rainbows

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Busy Bee

What do you do when you don't know what to do next?  Bee blocks, of course.

Teal Log Cabin for do. Good Stitches

Teal Log Cabin for do. Good Stitches


This is a pair of log cabin blocks for my friend Anna of The Joy Cottage, who is quilting for the Faith circle of do. good Stitches this December.  These were made strictly from scraps.  For me, that makes a project take so much longer than it should, but I really feel super-accomplished when I use up my scraps.

To be honest, my scraps kinda haunt me.  They're sitting around whispering "she better use us".  "if she doesn't, she's so wasteful."  "oh, yes, sooooo wasteful."  "and look at all that new yardage. tsk, tsk, tsk."

Even though I pull from my scraps pretty darn often, I still feel like they are multiplying faster than I can ever use them.  Does anyone have a clever solution?  I mean, other than the heartless, "toss them!" concept.

Colorplay blocks for do. Good Stitches

This set of blocks was designed by Melanie of Texas Freckles for the Love circle of do. Good Stitches.  I have no idea how Melanie will arrange all her fun blocks, but this arrangement made me happy!  If you like these blocks, Melanie posted a Color Play tutorial.

Fun Fabrics for Rag Baby Quilt

So, I started cutting squares for that baby rag quilt I'm making.  And, I forced myself to drag the kids to Hancocks to get Minkee early this morning. And, wouldn't you know it - they were OUT of the color I needed.  So, scratch that.  This project will have to wait.  Let's try to get started again, shall we?

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Here we go a Stashing

a Stashing

A new stash of goodies has arrived from my sponsor, Sew Fresh Fabrics.  I always imbibe in helpings of Kona cotton, but here are some fun prints as well.  From left to right:  White, Paprika, Sanctuary Glass Tiles in Sherbert, and Ta Dots in Mustard, Candy and Bubblegum.  I can never seem to get enough polka dots.  They're so great for bindings and coordinate in patchwork like nothing else.  So, here's to stocking dots!  We need them, folks.  Next up I'd like to find some simple stripes!

a Stashing

I'm so glad that Sew Fresh Fabrics has also stocked these brilliant orbs from High Society.  The last solid there at the right is Kona berry.  It's a really lovely shade, don't you think?

a Gifting

My friend Chrissy sent me these soft, pretty prints from her newly opened fabric shop.  This is Houndstooth by Freespirit and two Weekends prints by Erin McMorris.  I love the three together.  I wonder what they'll become?

Speaking of that, I've been auditioning fabrics for a Minkee rag quilt I'm making for a pregnant friend.  I've never worked with Minkee before, but it seems like it'll be an easy project.  I can't quite decide though, what project to start next - the rag quilt, a much-need shower curtain or a baby quilt for my best friend from Handmade Beginnings.  Hm, hmm, hmm.

Aria at painting

My indecisiveness may be due to the feeling that Christmas is right around the corner.  Kind of distracting.  Oh, and perhaps the fact that my little ones have been spread out over my sewing our kitchen table is somewhat to blame. 

Liam and glue.

As if I could turn that face away.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Blessings

finished!

Finished!!! by the Faith Circle of do. Good Stitches.  Our baby quilt is off this week to bring sunshine to the life of a new young mother in need.

the colors of Sunrise

All the colors of sunrise and birds singing sweetly... may the precious baby girl, still yet to be born, see many such rosy mornings!

happy binding

And, by your miracle, the binding was sewn on with nary a gap in the stitching.  Thank-you, thank-you for telling me to press the fold before pinning!

thanks, friends!

I am so thankful, so blessed and so proud when I stop to consider what we have done with do. Good Stitches in 5 short months.  I am thankful for each of you who have joined in to give of your time and fabric to do this work.  We have grown from the first circle that launched in August to a new total of five sewing circles.  With each circle making one quilt per month for charities, that's a lot of people we will be blessing in 2011!

And, really, there will be so many more!  Our wait list is loaded, so I need to gear up to launch yet another circle.  If you're interested in joining in, now's the time!  I always especially need modern quilters to plan and finish our projects (as well as participate in making blocks).  Read about how our virtual charity bee works and visit our Flickr page to fill out the New Member's Form, if you'd like to join.

Oh, and an extra special thanks to my sponsor, Sew Fresh Fabrics, for donating the backing for our lovely little baby quilt.  It's available here by Valori Wells.  


May you be blessed and be a blessing in 2011!

Saturday, December 18, 2010

a Movie for you.

So silly.  So clever, so odd and so silly.  I'm talking about Artois the Goat, a rather sweet movie my husband and I absolutely cracked up to last night.  And, it's available free from Hulu.  So, if you enjoy the slightly absurd, hilariously real side of independent films give Artois the Goat a try while you wrap (or make) presents tonight.  I think you'll thank me later.

Disclosure:  this film may be best suited to radical homemakers.  Um, we drink raw milk.

Friday, December 17, 2010

JOY.

This is the story of Joy. 

the story of JOY

In November I really, really wanted to make some Thanksgiving decor.  A runner, a pillow, it didn't really matter.  I just wanted to make something, you know?  Real bad (I'll blame that on Angela).  But, tragically, I didn't because I spent my time making Christmas gifts so that I wouldn't be stressed in December...

So come December I had my heart set on making something for Christmas.  Thank-goodness we didn't have all the hardware required for those pesky living room curtains on the big, important "must do" list.  Phew!




My pillow of Joy was inspired by this "Lovely Little Forest Quilt" and tutorial from the Purl Bee. I followed the easy tutorial for making the trees, which was just delightful, I tell you.  Those little trees are so cute, so tiny.  Oh my gosh, how perfect would they be as a Christmas card?!?!

Ahem, I enjoyed making the trees.

But, as much as I admire this wall quilt, I'll admit that it's a wee bit too subtle for my house.  A leettle too reserved.  As I happily grew my little forest of trees, I racked my brain for the right touch of something that would make this pillow stitched in Color.  

Joy Pillow w/Reverse Applique

Pinked patches of fabric and reverse applique nestled in amongst the trees quite nicely.  And, as fate would have it, the patches are from 3 of Anna Maria Horner's colorful collections:  Garden Party, Good Folks and Innocent Crush.  How nice.  The hand-stitching flew by all too fast.  And, suddenly it was time to sew the zipper, the invisible zipper....

So, of course, I procrastinated. 

After all, what is the point of a finished pillow cover if one doesn't have a pillow form?  Well folks, the pillow forms arrived early this week.  So, last night, it. was. time.

twisted.  just plain twisted.

Enter invisible zipper tutorial from Sew Katie Did.  I'd like to say that my zipper was installed with absolute joy, but you know that would be a lie, right?  In fact, my mind got a little twisted when it came to stitching the zipper on the second side, and so...

how not to sew a zipper

By this point I was not happy. But, hey, joy is not about "happiness".  Joy is despite the circumstances.  So, I persevered.  And, you know what?

Conquer the zipper

I conquered the invisible zipper.

If you've been following my adventures in stitches, you may remember that I did sew an invisible zipper before at Skirting Couture with the truly fantabulous Anna Maria Horner and her assistant Alexis.  But, well... Alexis held my hand the whole time.  4 months later, I felt like a newbie (but a brave newbie, since the FMQ had gone so well earlier this week).  And, yes, there was fear.

Lovely Little Forest Pillow

So, my genius plan is to sew invisible zippers regularly throughout 2011 in order to free myself from the fear of the invisible zipper.  And, guess what, you can to!  In fact, I'm cooking up a grand idea.  A grand pillow-making idea.

To be continued....

ice cream was warranted

P.S.  and the joy warranted ice cream.
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