Sunday, July 29, 2012

Mission Statement

I went on a road trip with my daughter for a few days.  She just got a new teaching position about 21/2 hours from here in the city of Salinas.  This is near the Monterey coast, just a bit inland, and the home of author John Steinbeck.  I helped her set up her classroom, we went shopping and did a little sightseeing.  The cool ocean air was a relief,  since our Sacramento valley is a frying pan between now and the end of September.  Old town Salinas was full of great shops and places to eat.
Here is Steinbeck house, now a gift shop and museum.  Salinas has a great mixture of Victorian style houses as well as Mexican adobes with red tiled roofs.

A few miles from town was the San Juan Bautista Mission.  So much of California's history is tied to the Missions, and they are always fun to visit.  Each one is different, but they all share beautiful gardens, cool dark interiors decorated with statues and artwork of Saints, and colorful stencils on white plaster walls.
 Our Lady of Guadalupe.
Here is the front altar.
The Baptismal font.
The gardens were full of olive trees, palm trees, roses, butterfly bush, hollyhocks and crepe myrtle.  I wish my yard looked like this.

The San Andreas earthquake fault runs right along this area, and there was a sign on the Mission wall stating that the building was not retrofitted, so you are basically entering at your own risk.  I crossed my fingers and said a prayer before I went in.
Father Junipero Serra led the way for the missions to be built in California.  The path that links all the missions is called the El Camino Real,  
See that tree to the right of the statue.  That is a pepper tree.  They get full of pretty clusters of red berries that the birds love to eat.  Remind me to plant one in my yard. 
A view of the fertile Salinas Valley from on top of the hill where the Mission is located.

I came home and dug through my books looking for John Steinbeck novels.  I found The Red Pony and think I will start it this week.
 It was nice to get back to my sewing room and pick up my yarn, as I was starting to have withdrawals.  I added a few more squares to the sampler I am making for the wise craft crochet along.

Thank you to Missy at Edith Florence, for the wonderful blog award!  Go on over and say hi, she is quite the friendly sort, and has a lovely blog too! I'm going to be glued to the television this week, watching the Olympics, and catching up on my crochet.  Have a great week!

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Floral runner and napkins

Here I go again with another table runner.  I know.  What's with all these pot holders and table runners?  I seem to be stuck in the kitchen.  I guess these kinds of projects are fast and fun, so they appeal to me after finishing a quilt.  Especially since I also started a lace weight scarf with an  F hook, and I need to take a break from it every once in a while so my eyes can uncross.  But that's another post.

 I wanted to practice some free motion quilting on something small, before tackling the three big unfinished quilts hanging in the closet.

After struggling with my sewing machine, ( I'm talking the last 3 years people!) I finally was able to produce decent free motion quilting without thread tension problems.  The ladies at my local quilt shop were very helpful, and it appears there was a tiny little secret about the way my machine is threaded, which makes all the difference.  Of course the secret is not included in the owners manual.  Who knew?
Anyway, now I can try something besides straight lines with my walking foot and have a little more fun!
I didn't use a pattern for the table runner, just added strips at each end of the floral piece.  I love the animal print used for the binding and the ties on the napkins.  I'm not a big fan of animal prints, but I think a little touch of it can be interesting.  The napkins were made with buffet style eating, or picnics in mind.  It's basically a napkin with a pocket and ties. I just started with an 11 inch square of material and went from there.  I'd like to have more of these for Thanksgiving, but I would need to make like 20 of them.  Not sure if I want to go there.
The utensils are placed in the pocket and wrapped up like a burrito, and makes it easy to carry or pack up in a picnic basket.
And that's it.  I'm tired.  I just got home from a concert with my mom.   We went to see a one man performance of Franc D'Ambrosio.  I saw him play the Phantom years ago when Phantom of the Opera came to San Francisco.  He also played in the movie Godfather III as Al Pacino's opera singing son, and sang the title song for the movie.  It was a great show, and he sang a lot of Broadway favorites from shows like "Chicago, Brigadoon, and "Les Miserables", and of course Phantom of the Opera.  I'm going to bed tonight with some great music in my head, and a smile on my face.

I'm also linking up to Tuesday at the Table!

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

The incredible lightness of being... low volume

What a fun time I had making this quilt.  My sewing room was upside down for weeks with light and neutral fabric strips.  It was a happy mess.  So it usually goes when you're making something new and different.
I used a 60" throw size of wool batting and backed it with some Anna Maria Horner voile I found on sale.  The log cabin blocks were machine quilted kind of randomly, sometimes in the ditch, sometimes down the middle of the strips, puffing up instantly because of the batting.
A few of the log cabin centers were fussy cut and others just pieced.  I never really measured the centers or the strips, so the fabric pieces are anywhere from about 1.5 to 3 inches wide.  All the blocks were trimmed up to 9 inches square.

Instead of adding a binding, I wrapped the excess voile backing around to the front of the quilt, creating  a soft, silky border. 
There is a good tutorial on how to do this binding method here, although I like to leave a little batting in the binding to keep it from being too flat.
I have a lot of strips left over, so you may see a few other things popping up in these soft colors.  I don't feel like I'm done with this yet.  For a look at some other low volume quilts, go see Kristen and Amanda.  A pattern for the strip pieced low volume quilt like Amanda's can be found in her new book she wrote with Cheryl Arkison, called Sunday Morning Quilts.
While I'm at it, I might as well throw in a random book review.
This is the first of three books about Josephine Bonaparte, written as though you were reading her diary.  This is hands down some of my most favorite kind of reading.  Did you know Josephine used to smile with her mouth closed or behind a fan because her teeth were bad?  She created beautiful gardens, and she was thrown into an early menopause because of her imprisonment in the Bastille, rendering her unable to bear children after that?  July 14th was Bastille day (and my wedding anniversary) so it made me think of these books.
After the quilt came out of the dryer, I test drove it with a nap.  Toe polish color is Peruby Ruby by OPI, in case you just couldn't make it through the day without that important information.

I'd like to say Hello!! to my new followers.  Thank you to everyone for stopping by and leaving all those kind comments.  I may start responding to the no-reply bloggers in the comment section, but you will have to check back for that.  Also, the info  I received on thyroid medication  from some of you was very helpful and I appreciate you sharing it with me.
Okay one more picture.....

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Almost there...

The low-volume quilt is almost done.  Just need to pin and quilt. 

And cut more strips for the binding
It seems as though I made this quilt in between naps. For the last month I have been struggling with fatigue and have barely made it through the day without laying down.  So this week my doctor adjusted my thyroid medication.  But now I'm getting too much, because my hands are shaking as I write this post.  Anyone else have thyroid issues out there?  I'd love to hear from you.  I took a radioactive pill 2 years ago because I was hyperthyroid (had lumps on my thyroid which were basically taking over and screwing everything up).  The pill killed off the lumps and my thyroid, and now I am trying to find a balance with the medication.   I don't know which is worse, feeling exhausted and cranky, or hyper and shaky.  Must. distract. myself.

So I pulled out some fabric for my next quilt.
I have been stashing these little tiny flowery prints, and I'm thinking a simple patchwork  quilt (get it done quick), or some English paper piecing (will take me for-ev-er).
Fabric love.  Best medication ever.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Disappearing Shawl

The Dory shawl is finished, blocked, photographed, blogged, and has left the building.
Both my Mom and daughter were over swimming today, so I got my daughter to model for the camera.
My mother just loved it.  She ooohed and aaahed and fussed and asked about making one for herself, so I let her have it.  The shawl I mean. 

Made with Berocco Pure Pima and a US J hook.  This was a fast make, just sc and ch 3's for 35 rows.  I would recommend adding the border edging, because it didn't look like much without it.
 It's a keeper.  Unless you have a Mom.  A mom who likes shawls.  Blue ones.  Jeez.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

I didn't see it coming......

I made a bag.  It wasn't in the lineup.  It hadn't even entered my mind until about 5 minutes before I started making it.  I was tidying up my sewing room, minding my own business.  The quilt I have been working on has left the work table buried under piles of neutral fabrics, and I haven't been able to find my favorite scissors for three days.  It was time to regroup and reorganize.
 I was looking through putting away some crochet books, and I found a picture of a simple tote bag.  What? Make a new bag?  Then I glanced over at my quilt blocks. Hmmmm.  Maybe add one of those?  I had it all planned out in my head faster than  you could say "Youshouldbeworkingonyourquilt!"
I always wanted to combine some quilting with crochet.
I made a 12"x24" rectangle out of charcoal gray chunky yarn and half double crochet stitch,  folded it in half and whip stitched the sides together.  Then I sewed a quilted log cabin block to the front, but left the top of it open, so it became a pocket.   I lined the bag with some Emperor's Garden fabric and added binding around the top.  I even got to use my new handy dandy Wonder Clips!
Kind of a slap dash affair, but it was a nice distraction.  And I found my scissors!
I will now return to my regularly scheduled quilting.  I think.