Wednesday, November 26, 2008

My birthday cake


My birthday cake, originally uploaded by stitchingpink.

I celebrated my birthday recently and had the pleasure of making my own chocolate cake. For the cake and frosting I used a recipe from Birthday Cakes. Yum! Lucy was very concerned that I wasn't having a party for my birthday so she "invited" a few friends over for pizza, cake and dress-up. She had every intention of helping me make the cake but those dress-up clothes were just too tempting!

So, I'm a year-older and I hope that makes me a year-wiser. The last few years have certainly presented my family and me with a number of challenges that I think we have trudged through with only a few scrapes remaining. I'm grateful to all my friends and family for their support and love and hope that I can reciprocate when the time comes.

Happy Belated Birthday to Me!

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Going shawl crazy


Koigu shawlette, originally uploaded by stitchingpink.

I'm way into shawls these days. Not really sure why. I think I was missing my knitting, particularly all the Koigu I have stashed away! I just grabbed a few skeins that were already wound (probably for some other UFO), cast on and started knitting. I might give this one to my mother for Christmas but I'm sure that she won't mind if I wear it until then....

I have a WIP using Ella Rae Lace Merino. This yarn is lovely and very indulgent. Though I have to admit that I'm anxious to finish it so that I can get back into that Koigu stash.

Happy Knitting!

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Is it too late for a Halloween Picture?


Neptune and mermaid, originally uploaded by stitchingpink.

Lucy went as the Little Mermaid. I made her costume out of some blue pique I found in my stash. The pattern is a mix of one of the new patterns from Portabello Pixie and a Simplicity mermaid pattern. It worked out well but I think it's the wig that made the costume! Mitch decided to go as Neptune. Lucy had lots of fun pulling off his beard!

Recently I've become obsessed with Angry Little Girls. Hilarious and a bit dark - what does that say about me? ha ha!

Sunday, November 09, 2008

Weekender Bag Class


Weekender Bag Class, originally uploaded by stitchingpink.

Here are the pics from my class. I think that everyone did really well and I loved their fabric choices.

Weekender Bag Class

Weekender Bag Class

I love how Laurel centered a bird on her side pocket panel!

Weekender Bag Class

All these bags almost inspires me to make another one....

Saturday, November 08, 2008

Weekender Bag's first outing

What an amazing week in American History! I couldn't start this post without acknowledging our country's progress!

My Weekender Bag went on its first trip a few weeks ago. We visited my brother in Atlanta and I also took a class at the SAGA convention. We had a lovely time and I think the Bag enjoyed getting some fresh air. As a safeguard, I sprayed the bag with Scotchguard.

Weekender Bag waiting for our bags

Weekender Bag arrives in Atlanta

Weekender Bag taking a ride on MARTA

The bag is now safely back at the shop - I was a bit stressed carrying it around with me plus I want to teach my class one more time. I'll post those photos tomorrow.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Flirty Skirt and Halloween Skirt

While Lucy and I were in Atlanta, she performed for us on my brother's balcony. Yes, that is a flirty skirt covering the Halloween play-skirt I made for her. The skirt turned out a bit fuller and longer than I expected but Lucy clearly didn't mind. And yes, she is dancing with a dreidel in her hand. I believe she was pretending that it was a microphone.

Still working on her mermaid costume. Ugh. My mother looked at it today and I could see that she was trying to say something nice about it, particularly that it looked like an actual mermaid for a preschooler. sigh. I mean, it's a costume for a 4 year old and it's not store bought so it's going to be fine, right??

I would love to spend the day sewing tomorrow but I also have to pull together Lucy's birthday party on Saturday. Fortunately we are doing it at a local bird preserve so I don't have to plan entertainment. However, Lucy is expecting me to make mini cupcakes for the party as well as mini cut-out cookies for her class on Friday. Sometimes I wonder why I can't be one of those women who just buys stuff from a regular store? I mean, does anyone even notice the extra effort it takes? Well, that's a silly questions because I notice and I think that Lucy notices too. And, I enjoy doing it...most of the time.

First game of the World Series on tv - gotta run. GO PHILLIES!!

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Shadow Work Initital


Shadow Work Initial, originally uploaded by stitchingpink.

This is one of the things that I learned - Shadow Work. This particular design is from a new book called Old Fashioned Baby. The designs are adorable. Her other patterns are equally lovely. Plus, at the SAGA market, she had the most fabulous collection of vintage buttons and lace. Oh my!!

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Stitching Away

This last week I went to visit my brother and his wife in their new city - Atlanta. While there, I had the opportunity to take a class as part of the Smocking Arts Guild of America Convention. My class was with Wendy Schoen - I learned shadow work embroidery and gold work. The class was challenging but I really enjoyed myself and was surprised to find how much I enjoyed delicate stitch work. I will post pics of my projects this week and also provide more details on the convention in general.

I also took my Weekender Bag on its first trip! I took pictures of it on its outing as well and will post those over the coming days. It really is a very functional bag and quite comfortable on my shoulders though, if I do another one, I think that I will make the straps a bit wider and perhaps padded as well.

Happy Stitching!

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

The Delights of Fall


Apple Pie after shot, originally uploaded by stitchingpink.

I love fall, absolutely love it! When I was growing up in Oklahoma, fall always meant the end of the summer heat - we could finally sit outside comfortably and enjoy the breeze coming off the plains. Plus, there's nothing as great as shopping for back-to-school. I still look forward to each fall fashion with all its tweeds, jewel tones and cozy sweaters. And, unlike winter, during fall one can enjoy the crisp air without bundling up in a coat and multiple other warm accessories.

Plus, the fall harvest. Now that I live in NJ, I have the opportunity to buy locally grown produce. Lucy and I go to our CSA each week and pick up our share of veggies and fruit. We look forward to each week, wondering what goodies await us at the farm stand. Last week we were delighted to find squash, pumpkins,, swiss chard, peppers, lettuce, beets, radicchio and more! And the tomatoes - we've been getting them for about 6 weeks and they have been sweet and juicy. Below is my latest collection of sauce tomatoes ready to be blanched and frozen for winter stew.

sauce tomatoes from the farm

In the last week, Lucy and I made two pies, a batch of applesauce and apple muffins. I bought Winesaps and Macouns at the Trenton Farmer's Market. The Winesaps were great in the pies and the Macouns were crisp and sweet treats. I"m hoping to get the Terhune Orchards to pick apples with Lucy tomorrow. As a child in Oklahoma I could never have imagined the opportunity to pick my own apples!

Apple pie before

And finally, a bit unrelated, here's a picture of my Tupperware pastry rolling mat. As young children and teenagers, my brother and I rolled out hundreds of batches of cookies and pastry on this mat. My mom gave it to me when I moved into my first apartment in Philadelphia more than a decade ago. To see Lucy's little hands working at this mat reminded me of my own childhood and the simple joys of cooking with my mother.

Tupperware rolling mat

Get outside and breath in the cool, crisp air. Enjoy.

Monday, October 06, 2008

Matryoshka Doll skirt


Matryoshka Doll skirt, originally uploaded by stitchingpink.

I've been busy with lots and lots of sewing projects, mostly skirts for Lucy. This one turned out really cute - I put a lace trim on the bottom instead of hemming it. I just cut two large rectangles, sewed the seams, inserted elastic and voila. A new fun winter skirt. I'm hoping to make lots more of these. Check out this site over at Oliver and S for another simple pattern.

Matryoshka Doll Skirt

I also finished a holiday tag kit for the shop and am teaching a class on those in November. I promise pics of them soon.

Now, it's on to the Halloween - Lucy wants to be a mermaid. I hope I can get it made and finished before the local parade on the 30th!

Thursday, September 18, 2008

I'm still here

I have a lot to write and I promise to get to it asap. I haven't had much time with work and getting Lucy back to school though I have managed to read "Little Women" (love that cover!!) in the last month and think that I will dive back into it again. What a lovely and kind book. Just what I needed these days. I also started reading "Gilead" by Marilynne Robinson which is an equally lovely book. Over the past two months I have faced a number of challenges that have required a lot of my spirit; both of these books seem to be filling me back up again.

I know, sappy. But that's where I am these days. More about stitching books/magazines that I'm reading in the next week.

And, btw, I did join Ravelry thought I haven't done much with it. Hopefully I can get to that too....

Friday, July 25, 2008

Lucy's First Quilt


Lucy's first quilt, originally uploaded by stitchingpink.

I found this picture today while I was browsing through pictures of Lucy as a baby. The quilt was being displayed at the annual Pennington Quiltworks Quilt Hanging. It was the first quilt I made from start to finish - I did all the piecing and quilting by machine. Making this quilt was one of my favorite things about being pregnant. I would spend the last part of my pregnancy sitting at the machine, day-dreaming of Lucy. I finished it just in time, a few days shy of her birth! Lucy still has the quilt on her bed and although I've made her others, this is the one she prefers.

The quilt is a simple 9 patch set on-point. I had actually found the floral focal fabric a few years before I had Lucy and held onto it for just the right moment. The other fabrics are a collection of Aunt Grace.

Looking at Lucy here, it's hard to remember that she was every little. I believe that she was around 10 months at the time of this picture. Look at how happy she is in this picture! She still smiles for the camera and has that same love of life!

I miss doing patchwork - perhaps this is a sign that I need to start piecing again....

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Summer Fun


Sam Skates, originally uploaded by stitchingpink.

Wow! I can hardly believe it's almost August! I've been busy with work at CHOP and sewing when I can. I made Lucy a nightgown that she loves loves loves - she wants me to make "hundreds of them" for her. That request is a bit more than I can do but two or three more are in the works.

Plus, I bought quite a bit of yardage of Anna Maria Horner's new home dec fabric with the intention of making curtains for my sewing room. For now, I've tacked it in place just to see how it looks (love it) until I can get a bit more time. Ha Ha.

The little girl skating is called "Sam Skates" and is from the Wee Wonderfuls site. Her designs are just delightful. I want to do all of them! Her latest, the picnic fairy, is so cute. I feel a paypal purchase coming on.

Speaking of, I just sold a bunch of yarn on ebay and with my "winnings" I bought two Japanese sewing books. I can hardly wait to get them -they should arrive by Friday! The simplicity of the designs is inspiring. Maybe after the nightgowns and curtains I can get to them!

And, as far as classes at the shop, I have three scheduled. Flirty Skirts is August 6th, On a Whim (the circles quit I blogged about here) is October 8th and The Weekender Bag is October 12th and 26th. I also hope to put together a class on English paper piecing (Grandmother's Flower Garden) and appliqued t-shirts. More on those to come.

Keep cool!

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Sewing for Lucy....

Front of green Denyse Schmidt outfit

I made another outfit from this pattern for Lucy using the green colorway of Denyse Schmidt's previous collection. I loved making the entire outfit, the top especially because it presented the challenge of understitching, something I rarely do but always gives great results. The whole outfit is just really cute. Well, Lucy put it on this morning for about five minutes before she announced that it was too small on the top and that she didn't like shorts - she wants skirts that "spin around." Devastation. As much as I tried to convince her otherwise, she wasn't going for it.

So, this afternoon I bribed her to try it on for me so that I could take some pictures. The bribe: she doesn't have to wear it again. Clearly, the only way to successfully sew for Lucy is to involve her from the outset. I talked to my mom about this recent development. She said that I never complained about her sewing (it's true, I loved everything she ever made me) but I was always very involved in the process from picking the patterns, fabric and buttons. Lesson learned.

Here are the pics. Again, she wasn't up for posing so most of these are taken on the go. As you can see, Lucy is a climber too.

Lucy in the tree

Back of Denyse Schmidt green outfit

Front of outfit in a tree

On a separate note, I just came across another great blog knittinginpink Everything is lovely on the site - this blogger loves socks and has so many great pictures of her creations. Plus, anyone who uses pink in their blog description is going to be a favorite of mine! Check out her site if you have a chance.

Lucy wants to take off her outfit. Oh well, maybe I'll just hang it in my sewing room for inspiration and as a reminder of what not to sew! Ha ha!

Friday, July 04, 2008

My Friend Mandy and Jenny patterns

Mandy and Jenny were my very favorite dolls. I had a doll box filled with clothes and accessories that I would pack up and bring with me on overnight trips to my grandmother's house. Grandma was kind enough to make me outfits for the dolls and my mother contributed as well. I saved the dolls and clothes with the hope that someday I would have my own little girl who would enjoy the dolls as much as I did.

That day has come. I recently gave Lucy both of the dolls as well as the box filled with clothes. I wish that Grandma could have seen Lucy dressing Mandy in the clothes that she made - I know that she would have been delighted to see the joy in another generation.

My mother found her collection of patterns for Mandy and Jenny. This one is my favorite - the drawings are so sweet and sooo 70's! It's hard to believe that those groovy fashions are coming back into style! My plan this fall is to make Lucy and the dolls coordinating outfits. Hopefully I can make that happen!

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Getting it together

One of my goals for 2008 is to finally pull our house together. We've lived here for 4 years and the upstairs still isn't painted (except Lucy's room, of course), the carpet hasn't been replaced, and the light fixtures are in a desperate need of an update! We inherited so many fabulous pieces from our families; I really think that they deserve to be in a house that's a bit more coordinated! I will post updates as we progress.

My current focus is lighting. For the kitchen, I found the most perfect light fixture ever here. I really want the pink fixture but the orange would probably be more sensible. Our kitchen table is a 1970's orange with pink vinyl seats. The pink vinyl is going to be replaced this summer with a darker pink, almost rose vinyl but the table will still be the original orange. Other fixtures to be hung include a vintage chandelier in Lucy's room, another vintage chandelier over the dining room table and a 1970's glass ball fixture in the stairwell. I also ordered a bunch of fixtures from Restoration Hardware (on sale) for the bathrooms and to replace the builder "quality" fixtures in the ceilings.

I'm planning to consult with a really cool designer from Black-Eyed Susan. I think she'll help me pull all these pieces together. Yes, I could probably do it myself but sometimes it just helps to have an outsider's perspective.

And finally, the sewing room. We took the extra bed out - now the space is all mine. I'm excited and overwhelmed by the prospect. I know it will be great for me and Lucy to have a room to create in and for me to have cutting space as well as sewing space. For now, I'm really enjoying using my grandmother's table (pictured above). Next week I'm going to take the actual machine in to be repaired so that I can actually use it too! Plus, with the extra space, I may get another small table just for Dorothy's Featherweight.

I'm off to Jo-Ann's to buy a fold-away cutting table! Yeah! Maybe I should get a dress form too...

Bye. Happy Sewing!

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Inspriation/stuff board


Inspriation/stuff board, originally uploaded by stitchingpink.

This is a picture of the board in my room. It's no so much as a design space as much as it is a collection of stuff that either means something to me or inspires me or both. If you go to my flickr page, you can scan over most of the items for a description.

I've been busy making some very very cute fabric gift tags for the shop's annual Christmas party. Really fun machine applique. I will post pics when they're finished.

I'm also busy trying to pull our house together. A while back we received a lot of family heirlooms, furniture, light fixtures, etc - sadly a lot of it has either been put in the garage for shoved in a corner. Now that I have a bit more time I want to get stuff hung, recovered, repainted and so on so that we can enjoy them. More on that as I get projects completed.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Flirty Skirts

Over the last few months I have spent a large chunk of time each day sitting on a Septa train commuting to and from Phildelphia. Usually I read and listen to music. Sometimes I dream about sewing and knitting projects (a lot of the time actually.) These skirts were one of those dreams. I first saw the pattern here and then found a more refined version in the Summer 2008 issue of Quilts and More. I loved the simplicity of the pattern plus I could cut all pieces using a rotary cutter.

The first one I made was so simple that I immediately cut out fabric for the next one. Plus the blue and red one was a bit small for Lucy.

Flirty Skirts from Quilts and More

The second one I did out of Amy Butler's latest fabric collection.

Flirty Skirts from Quilts and More

And then I was having so much fun I just made this skirt with tiers of gathered fabric. Actually this one fits Lucy the best.

Amy Butler skirt for Lucy

Also, as I went along I changed a few things. For starters, I used french seams to join side seams. I also added a bit more fabric to allow for a 1/2 inch seam allowance. Since I don't have a serger (yet, hint, hint...) I finished the gather edges by doing the following: I sewed the 1/2 inch seam. Then I sewed another seam about 1/8 inch to the right of the first one. Then I trimmed the seam to 1/4 inch. Then I zig-zagged the edge. A lot of work but I think it will hold up better in the wash. Plus, I grew up with a mother who was always turning clothes inside out to check the finishing. She said that the true sign of a well made garment was in the finished details - the stuff no one could see. So, as much as I try to be quick and easy about things, I still hear her voice as I'm finishing a project. sigh.

I plan to teach this project as a class because I think it's a simple project for a new sewer and the resulting product is just very very cute. Also, once you learn the basics, you can improvise and make your own version.

Finally, thanks so much to Sew Mama Sew for posting the circles quilt on their Featured Creativity blog entry! I hope that those of you who are visiting for the first time will come back often. I promise to update with more frequency now that I have more time. I also plan to post a tutorital for making the circles.

Off to the quilt store.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Finished at last!


Circles Quilt, originally uploaded by stitchingpink.

Here it is. The circles quilt from Valori Wells' book "Simple Start, Stunning Finish." I never thought I would actually get it finished with my schedule of travleing back and forth to Philly for the last 3 months! I backed it in corduroy as well - yellow with blocks of pink, green and turquoise. I'll get a pic of that the next time I'm at the shop; since I made it as a shop sample/kit, it will be there for a while. Karen of Poppycourt Quilting did the machine quilting for me and put the bias binding on as well - I just handstitched the binding to the back of the quilt. Lucy likes it so hopefully the kits will sell quickly so that we can have it on her bed this fall.

I'm well. It's been an adjustment to working but the part-time schedule is going to be fabulous. Children's Hospital of Philadelphia is an amazing place - I'm happy to be a part of the care that they provide to families.

As for sewing, I'm doing a lot of it - skirts, baby blankets, bibs, etc. I will post of those later this week.

Speaking of, Lucy is asleep so I'm going to run upstairs, put a Gilmore Girls DVD in, and get stitching....

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Eleanor

My grandmother, Eleanor, passed away last week on April 21st. It's very hard for me to accept that I lost both of my grandmothers in less than 6 months. I know that I wrote about Dorothy last year. Below is what I read at Grandma's funeral:

One of my earliest childhood memories involved making Jell-O with Grandma in the kitchen. We were stirring the electric colored sugar crystals in the water when the phone rang. Grandma went to answer the phone in the bedroom hallway and came back with the good news – I was a big sister. My mother had given birth to my baby brother Harper. I remember the excitement in her eyes and voice. We talked about it briefly and then went back to stirring the Jell-O, pouring it in the pan and waiting for it to set.

Most of my memories of grandma are like this. Simple yet significant. Not that she was a simple woman. She was a devoted sister, loving mother, doting grandmother, and compassionate friend. When you spent time with her, you always felt that she was present, listening, responding and laughing. She was an amazing storyteller, sharing experiences from her life as a child on the family farm in Southern Virginia, her time in the city as working girl in Richmond, and her travels with her husband and children through towns and states in post-war America. Along the way I can imagine that she easily made friends with neighbors and was loved by many.

Time spent with grandma was always very busy. Looking back I can see now that she was teaching us but it seemed so much fun that we never even noticed. On visits to neighbors, like Mrs. Beaman, we learned manners, patience and charity. Working in the garden, we learned to care for our surroundings and how to enjoy the smell of fresh air. In the kitchen while making biscuits, fried chicken and Jell-O we learned to measure, count, read and follow directions. While playing cards we learned analytical skills and the value of quiet, self-entertainment. And finally, when we knit, crocheted and sewed we found satisfaction in our ability to create something functional and beautiful out of scraps of string and thread.

All the while, we told stories, laughing until we cried. Or, in fact, I think we told stories and tried to act funny until we incited her laughter and her eyes lit up with delight. Her laugh was so full of joy and love that hearing it made us feel heard and appreciated. She would always talk about how bright, sweet and funny her children and grandchildren were even if their actions seemed a bit on the devilish side!

When I teach knitting and sewing classes, I am often asked how I learned needle arts. I tell of how on rainy days, grandma would hand us needles and yarn and with great patience she would teach us to make a bookmark or a cap for a baby doll. Of course, I know now that she was just trying to get us to sit still for a while so that she could rest! My very favorite story of creating with grandma is when she decided that we would sew her an outfit over the weekend. She took Harper and me to Hancock’s over on 23rd. There we picked out the patterns, fabric and notions needed to make her a skirt and shirt. We spent the weekend cutting, pinning and sewing. She sat patiently with us as we guided the fabric under the needle of her machine. Harper was the most diligent, being sure not to make a mistake. By the end of the weekend, grandma had a new skirt and shirt. And she wore them both with great pride to work the next day and told us how impressed all her co-workers were with our handiwork. That weekend was such a gift for me. I only hope that I will be able to have the level of creativity and patience with my own child and future grandchildren.

In so many ways, for me, Grandma was the quintessential grandmother. I tell her stories with great pride. My hope is that as a family we will continue to honor her spirit through creativity, laughter and love. In doing that, she will be missed but never forgotten.

Friday, April 11, 2008

Sad News

My step-grandfather, Dorothy's husband, passed away yesterday - on their wedding anniversary. It has been just 5 months since Dorothy's passing. John has been in intense mourning since her death and so we believe that he died of a broken heart.

John was an incredibly kind and generous man. He was the only grandfather that I knew and although we were not blood-related, he treated me as his own and always made me feel loved. He adored Lucy and in turn, she showered him with adoration in the form of songs, dances, and hugs. I am so grateful that Lucy was able to know him and be loved by him.

Sadly, I don't think we will be able to make it to his funeral. Between the airline cancellations and my training schedule, I can't figure out how to get there by Tuesday. Lucy will want to visit the grave and so later this spring or summer we will make a trip out to Oklahoma.

I hope that John and Dorothy have reunited with their loved ones, wherever they are. Here on earth, we will miss them.

Thursday, April 03, 2008

Fabric in Philly

The other day on my way out of Philly, I decided to stop by Loop on South Street mainly because I had heard a rumor that there was a new sewing store, Spool, next door. I was able to get a perfect parking spot right in front of both shops, put a few quarters in the meter and quietly browse both of these lovely, modern, and colorful stores. I made no purchases during this quick visit though I was quite tempted. I am focused on finishing a top-down sweater for Lucy and then getting to work on some summer outfits for her after I finish that circle quilt for the shop....

Anyway, back to the stores. Loop is a crisp store with shots of color and just the right amount of yarn. I love the lighting, seating, and yarn displays. I promised myself that I would go back next week after my paycheck to pick up a couple of pattern books - more on those in the future.

Spool is equally lovely. It is bright with fabric displayed at eye level. There are a few samples - mostly clothes made from Westminster/Free Sprit fabric (Amy Butler, Denyse Schmidt, Kaffe Fasset) and quilt tops - almost all Kaffe Fasset. The shop also has a sewing "studio" in the back with machines for rent at $5/hour. One of the best parts of my visit though was meeting the designer of Betsy Ross Patterns. I have been eyeing her patterns for a while now, particularly the Hip Tie Blouse. She had a sample made up in Kaffe's shot cotton - very very cute. Aimee has a great sense of style and is very aware of the needs of today's young sewers. I hope to make one of her patterns soon!

For now, sewing will have to wait. My new job is taking most of my energy and with that, I am off to sleep.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

New Amy Butler!

Yesterday I had to do a bit of business at the shop regarding the Weekender Bag Class so I thought I'd just run in for a few minutes. Much to my delight the new Amy Butler Midwest Modern collection had arrived and was on the floor. It is stunning. The color palate is crisp, fresh and citrusy. It makes me want to put a straw in it and take a long sip. Amazing. This collection is different from her others in it's scale, motifs and hues.

I'm sure that I need some of this loveliness but I'm just not sure how much....

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Lucy's race outfit


Lucy's race outfit, originally uploaded by stitchingpink.

Last week, Mitch, Lucy and I participated in the Virginia Beach Shamrock Fest. I jogged/walked the 8K, Mitch ran the half-marathon and Lucy ran the children's marathon (26.2 yards). I was just happy that I finished my race without passing out! I will spare you pics of me at the finish line - believe me, you don't want to see them!

I made Lucy this little shirt using Lite-Steam-a-Seam and then going around the edges with a zig zag stitching. She also has green sweatpants with hearts appliqued on the knees. She looked very cute and had a wonderful time at the races. She cheered Mitch and me on with great gusto and for us, seeing her face at the finish line made all of our work well worth it.

Happy Easter!

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Dorothy's Chairs


Dorothy's Chairs, originally uploaded by stitchingpink.

Here's a picture of two of the chairs of Dorothy's. I loved these chairs as a kid and spent countless hours spinning them around, rocking back and forth and then when I got older, I would just recline in a chair and read a book. I believe that the chairs may have been designed by Milo Baughman for Thayer Coggin though I'm not totally sure. The cube was also Dorothy's.

I'm so happy to have all three of these pieces. Dorothy had lots of parties so I remember her guests relaxing in these with bridge mix and martinis. Imagine Esquivel in the background or some Henry Mancini to complete the memory.

As soon as I rearrance my sewing room/extra bedroom, I promise a picture of my other grandmother's sewing machine and table. I can't wait to plug it in and hear it sew again....

Friday, March 21, 2008

Hi hi, hi ho it's off to work I go...

I know that it's been a really long time since I've posted anything here. I always have the best of intentions but by the end of the day I'm just too tired to write anything creative or attempt to be witty. I have actually completed a few projects and started even a few more. I promise pictures soon but my computer is still having issues with uploading pics and I'm not in the habit of working with Mitchell's computer.

On Tuesday the things from Oklahoma City arrived, that is, my grandmothers' belongings plus a few other random pieces of furniture and childhood toys. It's weird to sit in Dorothy's very cool club chairs or work at my grandmother's sewing table but it also feels very comforting. It really is like having Dorothy and Eleanor in my home. The only problem is that all of Dorothy's furniture smells like her house - she always wore just a tad too much perfume. It's a bit eerie to smell my deceased grandmother in my house but I'm sure that in time, the scent will diminish and then I will long to smell it again.

The other reason that I haven't written is that I am indeed headed back to work as a nurse-midwife. I've accepted at position at the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia as part of the Fetal Diagnosis and Treatment Center, more specifically, as a midwife in the Special Delivery Unit. The first two months will be intense with training 5 days/week. After that I'll work part-time so of course I hope to continue working at the quilt store a couple times a month and also have more time to sew, knit, etc with Lucy in a longer day at school. I know I'm being wishful but a girl can dream....

I've been cooking up a storm the last couple of days and have two more days in the kitchen before I start. Plus I'm busy with laundry, reorganizing the house and finishing quilting projects. A friend of mine said I was "work-nesting." I like that.

More nesting tomorrow and hopefully some pics for here too.

Thursday, March 06, 2008

And another thing

I have been meaning to get on the blog for a while - every spare moment seems to be spent sewing the circles quilt, entertaining Lucy, or organizing my house! My grandmothers' belongings are arriving next week including Dorothy's dining room set and swivel club chair and my maternal grandmother's (Eleanor) sewing table with her 1940's Singer inside. Needless to say, I have a lot of work to provide the room for these beloved belongings. Also, I fear for the delivery men - I could be in tears as they unload my family treasures. I hope they come prepared. Ha ha

I forgot to share another tip about the Amy Butler Weekender Bag. Two of my students used an old cutting mat for the inside of the false bottom rather than use template plastic. This produced a much more firm bottom and provided additional structure to the bag. Great idea!

And, have you seen Ginger Blossom? I absolutely LOVE it. Maybe just a few yards of it will do - I have to make room for the new Amy Butler too.

Back to the sewing machine. I watched the entire Project Runway 2008 season yesterday and I'm feeling inspired.

Monday, February 25, 2008

Weekender Bag Class

Yesterday, at Pennington Quiltworks, I taught the second class of a two class session series on the Weekender Bag. Almost everyone completed the bag exterior or at least was able to sew one side on. I was very impressed with everyone's accomplishments - some of the students were beginners and tackled the project with great enthusiasm. One student, Gail, sewed the project on her Singer Featherweight which has inspired me to unpack Dorothy's and get stitching!

Weekender Bag Class

Weekender Bag Class

One mother/daughter team even went on-line and found this tutorial for making a zippered pocket in the lining! Their results were impressive:
Weekender Bag inside zipper Pocket

I made a few changes to the pattern for the purposes of the class. First, in the pattern, it is recommended that you cross the cording over on itself at the bottom of the bag for finishing. The problem is that it creates a lot of bulk at the bottom of the bag and makes it very difficult to sew in the final steps of assembling the exterior. Instead, I had the students finish the cording using a method similar to one used in applying continuous binding. I'm not great at written instructions but you can find more details about this method in Amy Butler's Sophia Carry-All pattern.

Also, taking another tip from the Sophia Carry-All, I had the students machine sew the interior lining of the bag to the exterior in the seam allowances. It creates a much more sturdy attachment of the lining and actually enhances the overall interior shape of the bag. Pics of that are below:

Weekender Bag Lining

Weekender Bag Lining insertion

And finally, here are a couple of pics of the bags made by the students. Most of the class made the kit which is like my sample. Three picked out their own fabrics and did a great job! Sorry Joanne that I didn't get a picture of yours!

Janice's Weekender Bag

Barbara's Weekender Bag

Thanks to Gail, Barbara, Judith, Robin, Stefanie, Linda, Janice and Joanne for making my first class a success. I look forward to teaching my next Weekender Bag class in March - you have set a very high bar for them!

And, when I got home, this is what I found:

Helping Daddy

Mitch and Lucy hard at work hanging bathroom accessories, pictures, etc. Lucy told me to go away, that she was helping Daddy. I happily retreated to my sewing room to organize fabric/projects....

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Monday, February 18, 2008

So much to do

Today Lucy didn't have school so I was ready to entertain. The day actually went pretty well. We made whole wheat millet bread using the Tassajara Bread Book, one of my very favorite books of all time! My first batch of bread was made using the book and since then I have never been dissapointed with the results. Each recipe makes two loaves which seems like a lot but it never lasts more than a few days. His method requires four risings including one where you make a sponge. The resulting bread is dense but not heavy - excellent sandwich bread. Great as toast in the morning. In fact, I never really had satisfying toast until I started making my own bread - with homemade jam it's just heavenly.
Whole wheat Millet Bread


I made a quick peasant style soup/stew to go with the bread: I added whatever vegetables I had in the fridge or on the counter to simple homemade chicken stock that was thickened with flour and butter. Lucy actually ate it which made me very happy and really, it was pretty tasty.

Quick Peasantish Meal

Today, Lucy and I also participated in the Great Backyard Bird Count. The birds were only able to hold Lucy's attention for 30 minutes so that's all we did but it was still fun. After we were finished, we logged into the site to report our data. I'm already looking forward to next year. I know, I've become a geek about birds!

I'm working on this quilt for the shop and though it seemed like it would be easy, I'm finding it to be a bit of a chore. The pattern comes from Valori Wells latest book, Simple Start - Stunning Finish. All this machine applique is overwhelming for me. My circles don't seem to be true circles and well, they just don't look perfect. I'm hoping it will come out ok after it's quilted. I have to get with it in order to get this to the quilter by the end of the month which is in 10 days! Argh!

Circles quilt

My favorite projects of late are the Stitchettes from Wee Wonderfuls. They are sooo much fun to stitch and produce extremely gratifying results. Lucy picks out the colors for each of them (with a little guidance from me, of course) and then I stitch them up for her. I'm not sure what I am going to do with them - maybe display in embroidery hoops? I just ordered the Quilting Bee Stitchettes and can hardly wait to get started on them!!

Toe Tapping Stitchette

Anna Angles Stitchette

Saturday, February 16, 2008

blogging...

There are so many fabulous blogs out there - sometimes I wonder what my goals are for this one. In fact, I've been thinking about that a lot and here's what I've realized: this blog is for me but not just me, Marisa, but me, the world I've created for myself. It's a way for me to document what is going on in my creative life as well as my life with Lucy. I have a space where I can "bookmark" favorite things such as other blogs, websites, books, etc. And it's a way for me to keep others in my life updated on stuff. Does that make sense? It sounds kind of self-centered which I guess it is and well, blogging is kind of a self-centered activity. I'm assuming that others would want to read what I write and see my pictures - how much more self-centered can one be?

That said, I'm far from the only one doing this. I come across new blogs everyday. Many crafters are also professionals so the blogs act as a way to get their ideas out there and also to increase their visibility in the craft world. Many others are just like me, someone who loves what they do and wants to talk about it. We can't all be angry chicken, allsorts, or wee wonderfuls. Those women are amazing and their talents are unbelievabley inspiring!

All in all, I enjoy having this blog. It's like my own personal treehouse. I come here to gather my thoughts and check-in with others who are into the same things that I'm into. I probably won't ever do this sewing/knitting/embroidery stuff as a profession and that's ok. I enjoy the process of those hobbies just like I enjoy the process of this blog.

Lucy is stirring so I have to wrap it up. I promise not to blog about blogging again. Being overly deep and philosphical is not really my thing (those who know me, don't laugh!) much less writing about it. I'll just stick to what I know!

Have a great weekend!

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Happy Valentine's Day

Fresh snow

It finally snowed here this week - unfortunately it didn't last long because it started to rain by midnight but it was still nice to get Lucy all bundled up and go out for a walk in the snow. She loves to walk around in the snow, sticking her tongue out to catch a snowflake. We went around to the back of our house to refill our birdfeeders where we made snow mountains and stood watching the snow collect on the trees.

Playing in the snow


We hung up our birdfeeders in January and since them I have become quite enchanted with our local birdlife. Each morning as I make my tea, I look out the window to see what birds are visiting us. Watching them swoop down to the feeders provides me with a lot of enjoyment. Some birds like our large feeders, others prefer the suet while others prefer to peck around under the feeders for the seeds that fall to the ground. We have nuthatches, chickadees, morning doves, woodpeckers and tufted titmouses (my favorite). The other day a large bluejay appeared - wow was he ever intimidating. The other birds scattered with his arrival and I was totally mesmerized by his appearance. I've seen a cardinal in the tree but he's never come to the feeder.

When Lucy and I arrived in the back, the birds scattered. Slowly, over time, they started to come back to the trees. They were watching us to determine if it was ok to return to the feeders. Eventually they would swoop down to a feeder, grab a nut or seed and go back to the tree. I'm sure if we had stayed there for a while longer, the birds would have become more comfortable with our presence but Lucy was ready to do something new so we walked back around to the front of the house. I peaked around the corner after we were gone and found that the birds had reclaimed their feeders and were happily eating away.

As far as my sewing, it's been difficult to get much done in the last week. Lucy has been sick with croop so she's up most of the night and then exhausted during the day. The Weekender Bag class is going well -I'm very impressed by what the students have been able to accomplish. I will be sure to post pics of their finished projects after the next class in a couple of weeks.

Have a lovely Valentine's Day!