Tuesday, April 30, 2013

::Voting:: Sweet Contrary

Good morning!  It's totally not fair that my "job" this morning was to look through your Sweet Contrary mosaics and choose finalists.  I mean, how fun is that?  (Don't worry, after lunch I'll do some real work.)  I've narrowed it down to 10 finalists, choosing mosaics that felt cohesive and inspiring.  I also made sure to have a good variety of color schemes.  Thanks for the lovely start to my day!

Enjoy perusing these lovely fabric mosaics from Lark Cottons!  I've presented them first at large size to help you find your very most favorite one, with the name of the artist under each mosaic.  Voting is below with smaller images for reference.  Vote now through midnight (eastern U.S. time) on Thursday, May 2nd.   The two winning mosaics with the most votes will be announced on Friday.

Good Luck Everyone!  

by ScrapsFromTheCuttingRoomFloor

by Factotum of Arts

by Fabric Mutt

by Annabelle Gardner

by Trio Stitch Studio

#1 by Red Red Red Completely Red

#2 by Red Red Red Completely Red

by Lia'sHandmades

by Free Range Knitter

by Uska

Monday, April 29, 2013

Homeschool Chronicles {That's a Wrap}

Homeschool  ChroniclesThe first day of summer vacation seems like just the time to wrap up our chronicles for the closing school year.  I'm so glad I started sharing about our journey here!  It's been helpful for practical record-keeping purposes and for sparking great conversations with readers who are curious about homeschooling.  Thanks for joining the conversation!


In my last homeschool post, I shared enthusiasm for a new math program we had begun, Singapore Math 2B.  The program's style really fits Aria and me to a "T".  It's not a lot of busy-work, with a nice run-along pace and interesting practical applications.  I couldn't be more proud of how well Aria has grown in her math skills! 

To keep her engaged (and slow her down a bit) I decided to buy an extra work/extra challenges book produced by Singapore called Intensive Practice 2B.  About mid-March I gave it to her as a "fun" extra thing to do, mostly self-paced.  (Because, tell her she has to do it and she'll drag her feet; tell her she "gets" to do it when she "wants to" and she'll grab a pencil).  Anyways, this book is definitely challenging.  It asks questions in new formats so she has to reach with what she knows to get to the answers.  Besides "intensive practice" for each unit, it also has extra challenging questions for each unit (she didn't try those), a long test and a section at the back with really challenging problems that even stump us parents sometimes.  Seriously.

these two....

We generally don't do tests in our homeschool.  Mostly, they're unnecessary.  I am well aware of what she understands, where she needs more work, etc.  But, I decided Aria ought to do the math test as record of all she's accomplished this year.  After I sold her on the idea, she countered that she would need a week to prepare for the test with the intensive review book and all weekend to take the test, so she'd have enough time to double check it.  OK....  I think we can accommodate such demands!  She got 91% out of sixty-something questions.  Congratulations, Aria!

Liam's Quality of Numbers

By the way, it seems Aria's enthusiasm for math is rubbing off on Liam.  On request, I prepared a Quality of Numbers unit for him this March, a traditional Waldorf math unit for early first grade.  The Quality of Numbers block is a brilliant way of experiencing the essence of each number 0-10, involving fairy tales that correspond with the numbers.  For each number, he also records a special page in his "good book" with the Arabic and Roman numerals, a shape that embodies the number, a representative dot pattern  and a sentence about the number, such as "Liam has ten fingers", that he composed.  Gosh, he loved it!


During our last month of school, the children worked to finish up their handwriting and phonics books.  Aria also plugged away at her favorite spelling program (Sequential Spelling 1) and Easy Grammar, a straightforward, minimalistic grammar workbook.  Speaking of grammar, at the beginning of the school year I was pumped to teach it for the first time.  I loved grammar as a kid.  Maybe I talked it up too much, because Aria was not a fan of the workbook.  She also studied grammar at her homeschool school (she goes Tues/Wed), so maybe it was just too much?

This spring we had lots more fun reading a series of books by Ruth Heller.  Each one introduces a part of speech and correct usage through playful poetry and colorful illustrations.  The language is beautiful, including many words likely to be unfamiliar to a 2nd grader.  Titles like Up, Up and Away and Merry-Go-Round were Aria's first choice, but our library had a total of 8 from the author.  I had Aria read them aloud to me, one each week, to practice her pronunciation and decoding skills.  She read the same book twice before I'd return it to the library, so I could see her improvement and she could get a little grammar review.  And guess what?  That's vocab for us too!  We've decided we prefer learning words in context, instead of through vocabulary programs.

Aria's painted ladies

Ok, but I was going to tell you about our nature study this April!  For Easter we gave the kids bug-hatching kits.  Yep, Aria got a kit for raising butterflies from caterpillars and Liam one for praying mantis.  Perfect time for an insect unit, right?  I checked out a bazillion books from the library on butterflies, praying mantis and stick insects, and we got to reading.  Lots of reading!  And then observing as our insect pets grow and molt and change.  So exciting!  Our favorite book, by far, was An Extraordinary Life, which is about the life and migration of monarch butterflies.  It's told from a butterfly's perspective, with beautiful artwork and lots and lots of details.  Great for kids 5-10, I'd guess.  (Links in this post are Amazon affiliate links.)

Insect study

On the last day of school, I asked them to write a summary about either butterflies or praying mantis to show what they have learned.   Liam narrated his sentences to me and then copied a few in his own hand.  While he and I were working together, Aria popped out of her room to ask if she could write her summary as a story in the first person.  "I'll still share the things I know, mom!"  Later on she came out to say she'd need more time because her story was going to be loooong.  While I was quilting this morning, she brought me the final copy.  If you were here, I'd totally have her read it to you, but...well.... this is one of those times when moms tend to overshare.  Let's just say it includes words like ""oooooh", "oh no!", and "yummy, yummy, yummy!" in addition to the science-y stuff.  Mission accomplished.

helpful Mr. Liam

And I guess that's how I feel overall.  Mission accomplished!  We had a great year.  No, we didn't do everything as planned.  We left out some things that weren't engaging us, adjusted our plans to keep things challenging and followed emerging interests.  That's what makes homeschooling incredible, my friends!  Not only is it the memories and time together and multitude of (sometimes exhausting) opportunities to teach them the important things about life; in a big way it's about being flexible in our education to best meet the needs and interests of these two unique people.  To make sure they're learning... yes.  But to make sure they LOVE to learn... that most of all!

I am so lucky to be here.

Friday, April 26, 2013

String Fever: Coins + Bits & Pieces

First, thanks for your helpfully reassuring comments about my very AQUA shelf.  I realize that if you ask a room full of people to weigh in on a paint color, you're bound to have a group of people give it the double thumbs up.  But still, I needed that.  And for those of you who honestly felt it was way, WAY to bright, well... thanks for not saying anything.  Hehe.

I have a few bits and pieces to share today, so let's start with the most important.  Have you heard about Quilts for Boston?  The Boston Modern Quilt Guild is collecting quilt blocks for folks directly affected by the bombing.  Get all the details here or join the Flickr group.

Quilts for Boston blocks

Since blocks can be any length, so long as they are 12.5" wide, I made these block segments to fill odd spaces between the other, more special blocks they'll receive.  I know from composing random sized block quilts, that little, plain-ish blocks can be just as useful as the more showy ones.  I hope this set will find it's place!

Today I also want to share some simple inspiration for Scrap Attack {String Fever}?  If you're just arriving, checkout the quilt-along and join us for a festival this May!

Since May is going to be here before we know it, you may be wondering if it's getting on the late side to start your string quilt.  Well, I say "No!"  Not too late, just be realistic.  How about a coin quilt?  Those are soooo easy and have such a simple beauty. 

Strip scraps (long, narrow pieces of fabric) if sewn together in stacks with even, tidy edges officially qualify as a "coin quilt".   Picture the fabrics as a tall stack of coins and you've got it.  Probably my favorite coin quilt and also one of my first Flickr fav's is this beauty by Nova of a cuppa and a catch up:

You can see how you could use this style to make a nice sized quilt out of a modest pile of strings.   I love how Nova quilted vertically to draw the eye up and down the long lines of this quilt.

Simply Stacked

Last summer I made this pair of coin quilts for a brother and sister.  My coin stacks are set to run across the width of the twin bed, with quilting running in that direction as well. I'm telling you, these are some of the easiest, fastest quilts I've made.  Such a great way to use scraps!  And, so classic too.

The Maisy Quilt

But coin quilts don't have to be tidy and traditional.  They can be wonky too!  I recently came across this work of art by Karyn of Make Something (and The Workroom).  The tall columns are pieced with tidy straight edges, but everything else is happily helter-skelter.  Doesn't that look like fun?  Love the way she used color to bring order in the midst of it all.  So well done!

Alrighty then, I hope that gives you something to run with if you're not off and running already!  As always, please feel welcome to share your String Fever work-in-progress at the Flickr group.  I'll be by to visit this weekend.

School's out for summer!

Now enjoy your weekend!  We're going to be eating strawberries and fruit salad and strawberry ice cream and green smoothies and more strawberries, no doubt.  School's out for summer!

Thursday, April 25, 2013

the Voiles

After such a speedy start at home re-decorating, my nothing-to-show-for-it pace as of late is driving me a little bonkers.   Hoping to turn that around this weekend, since I get to stay home and make things.  Yay!  This pile of pretties is definitely calling me...

Voiles by Anna Maria Horner

So part of the "lag" is that I'm not being a project monogamist (thanks, C, for the helpful terminology).  Instead I have my hand in quite a few pots.

Let's see, there's those pom poms I'm spinning up on some nights for that garland.  They look seriously unimpressive, so no pictures yet, but I'm still hoping.

in process...

There's the wall of photos (or lack thereof).... it still looks the same.

in process...

The big work-in-progress is the shelf I'm re-painting.  Heather and I did manage to get the first coat of color on yesterday.  It's really, really, really bright.  I might be cursed when it comes to choosing paint colors?  Seriously, I've said it before... never let me choose the paint.  But if Brandon chooses it will be black, so....  For now, it's living in my husband's wood shop (a.k.a. the garage), awaiting more layers.  More on that later.

Notice that none of those projects involve fabric?  That may be the problem.  Still, I think I need to finish at least one of them this weekend before allowing myself to cut into the fabulousness that is Anna Maria Horner voile...

Anna Maria voiles for curtains!

This pile is a collection of her voiles from Little Folks and Innocent Crush.  They are leftovers from other projects, cuts I bought before I learned Not to Mix Voile with Quilting Cotton, and ones I just bought lately to round out the colors.  You can find some of these voiles at Pink Chalk Fabrics, Lark Cottons and The Intrepid Thread.

See how nice they look with my chairs?  That's because they're going to be patchwork curtains for the dining room.  Eeeee!  How excited am I?  Just imagine.

Field Study voiles

I also picked up these two Field Study voiles from Fabricworm to add in.  The big saffron dots might help all those small floral prints not read too "Little House" and the aqua mind's eye print... well it's the same color as my shelf.  So, that's good???

We are experiencing color uncertainty.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Catching Up

Phuuuuf, I'm so not centered right now.  My brain is a whirlwind of ideas, projects, concerns.  I had another post in mind for today, but maybe what I need more is to put some thoughts on paper, or screen, or whatever.  Wanna come along for the ride?

*Backpacking... it was nice.  Not like, "When can we do this again, pulleeeeease!?!?" kind of nice, but I will do it again.  I can see why my husband is such a fan.  It was peaceful and simple (thanks to his good planning!).  And I enjoyed the physical challenge of the 6 mile hike on Saturday.

*I did not enjoy the challenge of navigating said hike and most of my backpacking experience with one good eye.  I lost one contact on Saturday morning, so there went my depth perception and the leaves on the trees.  Not the best way to enjoy nature.  Next time, extra contacts!

*Also, I thought I might be pregnant.  My otherwise clockwork self was 10 days late.  Confirmation of "not pregnant" has followed.  Ahem.  Thanks, God, for saving that gift for later.  But next time... can I be pregnant please?  Pulllleeeease?  It was a very slim chance, given our situation, but - hey - I believe in miracles!

*Let's see, back at the ranch this is our last week of homeschooling.  Yep, I run our year August through April, so this is it.  I always feel like I should be doing something clever to end the year out.  We'll settle for strawberry picking, again, I guess.  I really need to post a bit more about our homeschooling year and plans for next.  Noted.

*New iron?  Nope.  I was actually hoping to do a little iron Olympics here on the blog, but the iron companies don't seem to be interested.  Hmmmm?  At the moment I"m leaning towards buying my same old iron rather than trying anything new and more expensive.  But, still undecided.  And, hating my interim iron more and more each day.

*If you made it through all that long, windy text you are very special indeed.  Here, let me show you something on my table...

Crumb patchwork on my table

Yesterday I made this patchwork fabric from tiny fabric crumbs.  Thought it was going to be a journal cover, but turns out it wants to be a fabric basket.  Since we're in the business of making even crumby dreams come true..  Just kidding, I think it's a great idea too.  Will do.

*And now I have a date with miss Heather to prime our furniture project. Wish us luck.. and maybe a little color?  Will catch you up on the home decor progress tomorrow!

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

a little Vintage Tangerine

Vintage Tangerine covered journal

This morning I put the finishing touches on a little camper gift.  She has a soft spot for my Vintage Tangerine quilt, so I pulled fabric scraps from that project and did some brainstorming. 

a Camper gift!

I was very much inspired by this delightful Flickr favorite.  Back before Pinterest I often stockpiled ideas in my Flickr favorites, so these days I"m always bouncing back and forth between pin boards and Flickr to find things.  Anyone else doing that?

made for a composition book

Anyhoo, this project is all squared away - stitched, tagged and filled with a graph paper composition book, just awaiting a little inscription. It's a little Vintage Tangerine she can take home.

a little applique today

Should you like to make your own, I used folded ribbon for the stem and layers of raw edge applique secured with Steam-a-Seam Lite 2 for the leaves.  Raw edge applique is not as durable as other methods, but for an item that is likely to be rarely washed, it's nice and quick.  And, I always like how clean and simple it looks!  For more details on how to sew the journal cover itself, see my tutorial.

uh-oh, looks so at home...

Gee, look how well it matches this DIY decor book I've been enjoying...  Uh-oh, looks so at home.  Good thing I've already committed myself here!

Stashings from Pink Chalk!

If you're also a fan of the Vintage Tangerine color scheme, you can still buy my custom bundle at Sew Modern.  And, you might also be interested in these new stashings.  Quite without trying I bought practically the same mix of fabrics! What can I say, it's what I needed.

From top we have:  Glimma Kite in Mineral, Spot On in Ivory, 2wenty Thr3e Fox Trot in Pavement, Comma Swinging in Chalk, Comma Periods in Chalk and in Mustard, Sunshine Linen Stripe and Summersville Spring Bloomsbury in Aqua. 

Glimma is in stock at:  Marmalade, Fat Quarter Shop, Fresh Modern Fabric, Sew Modern, Lark Cottons, Mad About Patchwork, Intrepid Thread, Pink Chalk Fabrics, and Fabricworm.

Comma is in stock at:  Pink Chalk Fabrics, Intrepid Thread, Fabric Spot, Fabricworm, Lark Cottons, Fresh Modern Fabric, Fat Quarter Shop, and Sew Modern.

2wenty Thr3e is in stock at:  Fresh Modern Fabric, Sew Modern, Fabricworm, Intrepid Thread, Lark Cottons, Fat Quarter Shop, and Pink Chalk Fabrics.

Summerville Spring is in stock at Knotted Thread, Lark Cottons, Fabricworm, Pink Chalk Fabrics, and Sew Modern.

Monday, April 22, 2013

Sweet Contrary {a mosaic contest}

Slow down a minute, my friend, and ponder with me in color.

via Pinterest

Bare branches, beautiful blooms.  Whispers of sunshine followed by blankets of snow.  Warm balmy days, delicate smells and glorious new color all coming and going in an uncertain trail of days.  

via Pinterest

Spring is a season of contrasts. Mostly sweet, mostly charming.

Sweet Contrary {a mosaic contest}
drinks via Creature Comforts, little table, flowers, ribbons & trim

Today I am drawn to the contrast of warm and cool.  Tart raspberry pink, sweet strawberry red, or tangy apricot orange nestled so comfortably, somehow, amongst cold steel gray, shadowy teal or icy aqua blue.

Sweet Contrary {a mosaic contest
pink and aqua collage, Worn Hues from Design Seeds

Just as warm and cool fronts collide to make magic that shakes up our lives and turns plans on their heads, so these hot reds and pinks sing a sweet contrary note when paired with cool grays and blues.

Tangy Contrary too
orange and gray via Nova's board,  pillow via Nova's Board, Color Weave from Design Seeds, vine graphic

And then for those days that aren't so sweet, but quite a lot more spicy...  then orange or coral combine just as well with all our cool friends for a tangy contrary too!

I invite you to join us for a Fabric Mosaic contest sponsored by Lark Cottons.

Carefully craft your mosaic of 12 fabrics from among the offerings at Lark Cottons. Choose fabrics to express your interpretation of Sweet Contrary.  Your collection of fabrics can be pretty, tangy, dramatic, or even entirely understated.  Just make sure to include a contrast of warm red, pink or orange vs. cool colors like aqua, gray, teal or blue to a greater or lesser degree.

Once you have your fabrics, the free Mosaic Maker tool makes it a snap to create a mosaic by copy and pasting image url's from Lark Cottons.  To find url's, right click on the image you want to use, and then choose "copy image URL".  

To enter the contest, add your mosaic image to our collection here.  If it suits you, link to a blog post explaining your choices - that helps us spread the word about our contest.  But no blog post is required (you can put your image url in the url space).  Anyone can enter, anywhere in the world.

Add your mosaic by midnight April 29th.  You can make up to 2 mosaics!  On Tuesday the 30th, I'll open voting.   We'll have two winners!  The 2 Top Mosaics will earn a complete fat quarter set of their mosaic fabrics!!!  Plus, Lark Cottons will create a bundle like yours available for others to buy.  Winners announced May 3rd.  Enjoy!

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