Friday, December 30, 2011

Quilt in Progress

Here is my Norwegian medieval quilt in progress.  I still have elements to work out.  Since the diamond blocks are at a 60 degree angle, they will not make a 45 degree angle, so I must figure out how the diamond sections are going to mesh with the cross pieces.  I still haven't decided the end corners yet either.

Originally, I have the blue block in the middle of the cross but it looks a bit out of place.  The blue block was going to be appliqued or pieced like a small, stained glass window to represent the window in the cathedral in Trondheim.

The diamonds represent shingles on a stave church roof.  I tried out random placing versus rows and thought the rows looked more roof-like.  Stave church roofs can have a number of levels, topped by a smaller roof.  Some roof timber ends have carved dragon-
like finials.  For the shingles, I chose fabrics that I thought might be recycled from finery.  I wanted to put in a wavy path encircling the quilt but I might just put a wide border with curly elements in it because the quilt's name originally was "All Roads Lead to Nidaros" as in the pilgrim's trail.  Still a ways to go to finish up the layout before I start piecing but when I look at it at random, I like it.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Merry Christmas!

I don't know where the time has gone this holiday season.  It seems that I am behind schedule on getting all of the things I want done around the house so I didn't decorate as much as usual.

This little miniature tree is my favorite Christmas decoration this year.  And, little birds seem to be making their way into the decorations.  I really love the little handmade felted birds I bought from  CraftCaptive  on ebay .  

Maybe next year I will get my cleaning/decorating/superwoman act together.  I've decided that I really would like a new house or at least a different one.  But, I doubt that I will do anything about it for awhile so I will have to make do.  In the meantime, I have a few sewing projects that I am obsessing about which is why I have not been able to focus on the tasks at hand.  Fabric is everywhere.  Books are scattered here and there.  Little scratchy drawings torture me.  My trainer wants me to exercise five days a week.  The weeds in the garden are out of control and my strawberry plants will be here soon so I will have to abandon my sewing projects until I get them squared away.  Plus, I need to clean my house before New Year's Eve.  I need more time, more daylight and more energy. 

So, here is wishing you and yours, wherever you are, a Merry Christmas and hoping for so much more(whatever more of you need in your life) in the New Year!

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

My Little Shifuku

My sister invited me to a tea at her church on Saturday.  We are supposed to bring a teapot and cup.  After looking through my cabinets, we decided on this cute little square teapot.  I didn't have a good way to transport it several towns away so I decided to make a shifuku for it.  A shifuku is a little drawstring pouch made specifically for this purpose and many times for a specific object as in my case.

I thought the square shape would be a perfect choice for a first time try.  I spent some time (a good part of the day) yesterday thinking about how I would make said shifuku and looking up examples on the Internet (few and a book on how to make them cost $40 plus, I didn't have time to wait for the book).  Then, it was onto what fabric.  I bought some Japanese print fabric at Joann's and then looked at my fabric closet to see what would make a nice contrast and chose this green, vintage cotton plaid scrap dissected from a thrift store man's shirt.  As I make reversible bags, I followed the way I make those except with a few variations.  Firstly, The sides aren't sewn up all the way but about the bottom third of the finished bag (it is about half way up the bag before the bottom is squared up).  The top two thirds open up, so they had to be hand sewn together.  I used a thick poly batting between the inside and outside fabrics.  (I don't know what they used in the photos I saw online but their filling seemed much denser and packed tighter plus, the shifuku should be made of old silk but I didn't want to use silk on my first try.)  I didn't like how the teapot sat in it with the poly batting, as it seemed bulky and not level, so I took it apart.  Then, I racked my brain for any kind of scrap I might have around to make a hard and level bottom.

I didn't really want to use card board, and traditionally, a Japanese paper called washi would be folded up and used.  I didn't have any spare washi laying around and even, if I did, no way!  Washi is way too beautiful to hide away in the bottom of a bag.  So, I found last year's monthly datebook with a hard plastic cover and cannabalized it.   I wrapped some flatter, cotton batting around it, sewed the sides up, trimmed the excess and inserted it in the bottom of the outside bag.  It looked like this.

Then, I stuffed the batting in moving it around squaring it to the corners of the outer bag, put in the liner bag, doing the same thing and pinned it all up making sure that the little teapot was nice and snug in the bag.  In the Japanese versions, I am sure that the bottoms aren't made this way but that a fabric covered square or round is attached to bottom.

Then, I had to make little loops to sew into the top and inserted a drawstring and voila!  Here it is, my little shifuku.  I want to get some ceramic beads for the ends of the drawstrings to finish it unless I can find something around the house (hmm, I'm guessing I can as I write this but I just have to figure out where I might have put said beads).  I also practiced mottainai which I do anyway but I didn't know the Japanese word for it.  I read about it in this unbelievable magazine I bought at the San Jose Kinokuniya bookstore called Kateigaho.  Since, it was dark after I finished, the photo is a little yellow.  I'll post some more photos tomorrow, if I have time.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

The Winter Garden

This is the first year I have had a winter garden.  I really should have planted it earlier, but like everything in the garden this year, I was late.  Part of my delay was in trying to figure out something to discourage the cats from using the planter boxes without spending too much money.  I decided to buy some short 2 foot t-posts (they were cheaper that bamboo sticks, figure that out) and some green plastic construction fencing.

I decided to plant some decorative kale (bought in Canoga Park at the Green Thumb Nursery on our trip home from LA) for some bright winter color.  They have a very friendly and nice staff!

Since I was rather late putting it in, I bought lettuce, broccoli, green onions and baby bok choy already started.  I did scatter some daikon, carrots and arugula seed here and there.

Oh, and those naughty chickens.  I have decided that they can roam around and try t keep the weed population down.  But, I have to keep my eye on them so they don't become gourmets on my garden or my  worm bin!  Or, worse, victims of the lurking cats.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Vespa Bag

For my friend's birthday (one that ends in a 0, her husband bought her a cute little black Vespa.  So, I made her a bag to go with it as her birthday present.  What do you think?  Stylish, no?

I liked it so much I made one for myself so we can be twinsies except that she is tall, thin and blonde and I am short, dark and, well, let's just leave it at that.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

The Jewels of Elizabeth Taylor

This weekend we made a quick trip down to Los Angeles to see the jewels of Elizabeth Taylor before they are auctioned off.  Not only was Elizabeth Taylor a beautiful woman, she was a very nice person.

This had to be one of my favorite pieces, an Art Deco brooch.

I also admired these bracelets made with old, perhaps Roman coins.

Here is the main reason we had to come.  La Peregrina.  A pearl once worn by Queen Mary I of England (Elizabeth I's older sister) who ruled England from 1552 to 1558.  You can read about it here.

All of these items and more will go on sale in December.  Some of it will be online in case anyone wants to pick up some bling or an Academy Award for their mantelpiece.  Our mom just loved jewelry and she would have loved to see Liz Taylor's jewelry but we hardly wear jewelry because we don't have anywhere to wear it.  While we were waiting around, we were chit chatting with another visitor and wondered who would be buying jewelry of this magnificence.  After all, where would someone wear it?  That time of Hollywood glamour is gone and most younger people aren't interested in it.  Christina Onassis's daughter sold off all of here mom's jewelry (to some criticism) because she isn't interested in wearing it.  All in all, we had just a wonderful time in Los Angeles and we were glad that we were able to see her jewels before they disappear from public viewing.

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Saturday, October 8, 2011

French Gardens baby quilt

My sister and I designed this quilt for our cousinette who is having a baby soon.  Our inspiration was the French gardens at Villandry.  Each cross represents a garden path.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Freeks and Geeks

This is the famous chicken  that lived for months without a head.  No really, someone wrote a book about it.  Just kidding.  This breed is a bearded buff laced Polish.  But, he (?) does look like his head is missing.

This guys tail feathers are missing.  He is an Araucana.

Eeee!  A naked neck chicken

It's enough to curl your feathers!  (Like these lovely Sebastopol geese).

Playing (with) Chickens

Oh, it's a good thing these two boys were in separate cages.  They were not too happy being in such close proximity to each other.

Here is a better look at this game bird.  All I call think of when I look at him is that he is descended from velociraptor.  He looks built for speed with those long legs.

And here is a beautiful Dominique rooster.  Ooh, la la.

This Silver Spangled Hamburg is also a very handsome bird.

I didn't note this fellas breed, but, I love his coloration.

And, I love the coloration on this proud and prim Welsh Harlequin duck as well (those of us with Welsh heritage have to stick together!).

Isn't he a pretty bird!

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

National Heirloom Exposition

They didn't just have lots of veggies at the National Heirloom Exposition, they had some handmade items for sale.  Here, a lovely pillow in stamped floursack or muslin fabric.  Quite adorable!  I should have easily been persuaded to buy some, but alas, the booth was un-manned or un-womanned.

Handmade quilts

The most lovely, lovely handpainted garden-themed dishes.

These are kind of Frieda Kahlo-ish, or someone.

I love this green plate!

Fortunately, none of these dishes were for sale at the show, or, I should be quite impoverished!  But, I am on the mailing list and only time will tell.

Monday, September 19, 2011

More squash, eek!

Here is a lovely bucolic scene from the National Heirloom Exposition.  Is bucolic the right word?  Hmm.  I grew these pumpkins a couple of years ago.  They have a vining habit so they vined my entire back yard.  Kinda like the zucchino rampicante this year.

The pumpkins went from lovely, deeply lobed pumpkins to increasing warty and crusty.

Then, they grew large and

somewhat freakish.   Note the people in the background for scale.  Apparently, after a certain time, the pumpkins must be moved to a pallet so they can be transported via a pallet jack.  Feeding the pumpkins so they wont' lose an ounce to see who will win the contest. 

Even without a scale, I'm guessing it was this guy below.  I think it even had a custom built pallet.  It reminded my of Jabba the Hut from the movie Star Wars.  I'm not sure it wasn't two pumpkins grown together from the seam.

God, I love squash!

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

National Heirloom Exposition

Yesterday, we attended the very first National Heirloom Exposition in Santa Rosa, California. The Exposition highlighted heirloom varieties of fruits, vegetables and animals.  And, some talented artists like the chef who carved this beautiful melon.

We saw lots and lots of squash.

In fact, we saw a mountain of squash!

Lots of beautiful heirloom tomatoes. No GMO's here!  The blue tomato is a new variety.  The others had interesting names like Berkeley tie-dye.

I think next year we will grow some of the yellow and green stripey tomatoes and purple peppers like on the bike below.  Just think of the beautiful salsa it will make!

Apparently, our cuckoo maran chickens are forming their own club.  Eggs are graded on their color as shown on the chart below.

More on the Exposition to come!

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

My Obsession

Okay, I tried to take a better photo of my adorable little zinnias.  They are the "Cut and Come Again" variety.  I love them for their beautiful shades of color.  I like to cut them when they haven't fully opened.  So you can still see the little, petals still partially formed.

I have a favorite style of vase that I try to find at thrift stores and yard sales because they are perfect for these small flowers.  But, sometimes when I am stripping the leaves, I yank the heads off or there isn't enough stem for this vase.  So, I found some smaller "vases".  I have a pressed glass toothpick holder for these really short zinnias.  It would make me sad to throw a flower away because it is length disadvantaged.


Then, I found some old, cut crystal glasses at the thrift store for 29 cents.  I paid a dollar for the cut, champagne glasses.  Yes, all these glasses are all different.  I am sure 60 years ago or so, they were part of a set now reduced to a single.  But, alone they make the most beautiful, mini vases for these mini flowers.  Wouldn't these be the most adorable individual arrangements at a dinner party?  You don't need many flowers to make the arrangement and it just takes a few small fronds of fern to back it.


This is a shot glass from San Diego with wild animals on it and the word Africa.  So, I put these hot orange and yellow zinnias in it.


I don't really like orange flowers.  But, I think I can live with these.

I like big zinnias, too!