Saturday, March 30, 2013

Amsterdam quilt top completed!

I'm a happy camper. Tuesday evening I finished the top to "Amsterdam" our picnic quilt, and I think it's looking fantastic!

I trimmed.

And sashed.

And here it is! It went together really quickly once I had all the sashing pieces cut to size.

I'm trying to decide how to quilt it; I have a few ideas I'm considering. I want to try some free motion quilting, but will have to practice on a bit of scrap fabric first. Wish me luck!

Friday, March 29, 2013

In the Lap(top) of Luxury

I'm thankful that Dave grew up with an avid quilter for a mom because this makes him more prone to being enthusiastic about my crafty endeavors than perhaps the usual bear. A couple weeks ago he came to me with a request for a laptop cover just like mine for his new laptop. He hooked up his computer to the Apple TV and we browsed through online fabric shops on our TV! How awesome is that. To make sure he would really like the final product, I drew him a sketch of what I was thinking (which was an easy sell, it looks a lot like our TimBuk2 bags) and let him pick out fabrics. 

I will admit, I was the one who picked out the orange bicycle flannel. It will line the pouch thus providing a soft place for his computer to live. Plus given Dave's enthusiasm for bicycles and alternative transportation, I feel it is appropriate. It's a bit cutesy, so it is ONLY going inside the pouch, we agreed. 

Behind the pile of strips you can see my approach to making just about anything -- sketch it out and plan ahead. Especially when I'm modifying a pattern, I like to draw things out and add up measurements and seam allowances just to make sure that I won't end up too short in the end. That said, even the most perfect planning can sometimes go awry but at least this gives me the confidence to start and know I'm cutting close to correctly. For this I'm modifying a pattern I've made before from the One Yard Wonders book to include a pieced outside. 

Here's the final cover piece all done in the lovely evening light of my sewing room. I assembled it quilt-as-you-go style on a piece of batting without the flannel on the back first. This let me do some dense straight line quilting in the middle panel and I was able to attach the blue and black strips without worrying about bunching up the back. To fix the flannel piece on, I top-stitched the folded edges of the blue and black strips with some bright orange thread. 

To make the pouch this gets folded and sewn up on two sides then bound. Rather than using bias tape as the pattern calls for, I just used some leftover strips from the blue pearl bracelet print on the front to bind it, treating it like a quilt at the corner. You'll notice a couple of extra stitching lines there at the bottom of this picture. I think Dave was generous when he measured the circumference of the laptop, so it ended up being a bit loose when I slipped it in. It would have been a better idea to fit it before putting the binding on, but silly me. It's ok, this extra flap will just add to the padding.... right? 

Here we get to the "even the most perfect planning" bit. It was just a smidge short. I trimmed the piece about 1/4" at the edges before sewing it closed because I cut it a 1/2" larger than the pattern called for, maybe I shouldn't have done that. Sigh. That's ok, I just cut my binding piece for the top wider than I was going to and went with it. It turned out just fine, I can't even really tell that the binding doesn't have batting in the layers because of the extra layers of fabric folded back on itself. Whew, dodged that problem. 

The flap is faced with the blue fabric I used for the inner binding strips and flips nicely over the top so as to not hide any of the design. Dr. Dave is quite happy with it, and so am I! I used heavier fabric on mine, so this one isn't quite as "solid" but it will definitely keep the scratches away. And it's super hip, in (our) humble opinions. I actually wasn't quite convinced about the black and white fabric when he picked it out, but I'm a convert. It's pretty darn cool. And, ever the materials scientist, my darling husband thinks the yellow print looks like atoms in a 3D crystalline lattice. Whatever makes him happy! (Secretly, I might actually agree with him....) 

Linking up to Finish it up Friday!

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Eye candy

I've been on a "fabric diet" for some time now. We all know what happens after diets.... in my defense, Dave started it ;o) he wanted a laptop cover and to pick out the fabrics himself. Also, if I'm honest it was a little bit of stress-relief in the midst of interviews. So a-shopping we went. First stop: Stash Modern Fabric

We picked out some yardage for Dave's laptop cover.

Because I love these collections (Lily Belle and Floressence, both Art Gallery) I got the feature florals. They are just fat quarters, so I'll work them in with some other fabrics I have. I keep thinking of making pillowcases. I really just am loving those two Lily Belle florals on the left. What great colors!

These prints came because I wanted to see what I'd get in a Random Fat Quarter pack... and to put myself over the limit for free shipping. This is the peril of online shopping, adding shipping costs. But why not get something for that money spent instead? So I figured random FQs are better than shipping. I really like the orange print, and the text and dots are useful. The jury is out on the floral. But that's what the random was all about, taking my chances. 

Then, of course Hancock's of Paducah had free shipping so I popped over to see what was going on with their sale fabrics just to see. Of course I bought stuff (I'm weak and was on a roll), but on average paid only $6 a yard!

I got some beautiful blues (lots of Amy Butler, yeah!) including navy, which I've been wanting, and a nice true blue print. Despite all the blues I have, navy and actual "blue" were not among them.

These greens make me happy. The bright ones are destined for a baby quilt, and I really just liked the green mum print and the mannequins on aqua. I might even have enough of the mums to make a top for myself, I think it was a 2 yard minimum since it was like $3 a yard. 

I needed 'neutrals', and the cameos were too good to pass up. Considering some of the other fabrics and that black and white one, I feel an ikat project coming on... 

These are some prints just for fun. (The 1st and 3rd prints are actually from the Stash Modern Fabric purchase, not Hancock's) The Paris map print is super cute, and I imagine the ric rac stripes will serve as some cool binding down the road. 

The upshot of all this fabric coming in is that I cleaned up my cabinet! That's it for fabric for a long while unless I need solids to finish something. Nowhere else to put it! I got a bunch of Kona white last weekend at Joann's that should hold me over through the next couple of quilts. I have an idea for a wholecloth quilt, but I'm not buying the fabric for that unless I see solids on great sale or until I finish up the quilt I just pulled fabrics for. Now to get sewing!

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Because I {felt} like it

I'm playing with felt again. This project will be a combination of a few different things that have been kicking around in my head: 1) felt flowers 2) embroidery and 3) fabric in a hoop.

When I first started crafting in earnest last year, I started out with small hand-work projects. I made a few needlebooks for myself and as gifts by playing around with felt flowers and a bit of embroidery. I really liked how they turned out, and have always intended on making more, perhaps to sell, but haven't really sat down to do so. Since then, things have snowballed into quilts and other machine-sewn projects (as well as knitting... always knitting) and I haven't revisited my felt stash. How time flies!

I'm making myself a wall hanging to put over the towel bar in my bathroom. Hopefully this will end up being a collection of hangings, but I'm at least starting somewhere. I picked a few scraps that match the general aesthetic, and am now auditioning flowers and color options for leaves. The leaves are the hardest, it turns out. I don't have many options for green and I don't really want to use "bright" green, so that double leaf is going to have to go. I like the combination of the oranges with the denim. I'm going to try to work in a few more colors through the embroidery, which I haven't thought up yet. I'll likely just stitch on the fly and see what turns out. It worked that way with the needlebooks. 

I'm going to take this relatively slow and steady, stopping every so often to contemplate what to add and what to leave out. I'm not yet sure how dense I want to make the felt component. Likely not much more than I have here, but I'm sleeping on it. 

Linking up to WIP Wednesday at Freshly Pieced

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

(Puttin') on the fritz

My sewing machine certainly has seen a lot of action this last year. Compared to years past when it has come out only occasionally,we've been through a lot together the last 12 months including my first quilt, a couple of wedding quilts, birthday gifts, holiday gifts, and "gasp" even pajamas. I've got lots of projects planned for this next year. I love this machine. It's my happy place.

What I don't love is how the bobbin winder has been on the fritz lately. Usually I can wind my bobbins by popping them on this post, pushing it to the side, and cranking down on the foot pedal. 30 seconds later I'm done. Lately when I shift this over and start the foot pedal I get maybe two or three turns around, my needle is still moving up and down instead of staying still, and I get an error code and beeping which stops the whole party. This happened maybe once before but fixed itself mysteriously. What had been an intermittent problem has now become standard, I'm afraid. I've thoroughly cleaned out the bobbin case, though it makes no sense that the two would be at all connected. The wisdom of internet troubleshooting has failed me.

See the irritated bird behind the bobbin winder? Yeah. I thought I had it fixed last week working on my tulip pillow when I realized on the decorative tulip stitch setting I could wind my bobbin just fine. Alas this last weekend proved that theory incorrect. Beeping on any decorative stitch, including tulip #32.  Something is up (I think it's a mechanical problem, not a computer issue) and I can't open up the machine to see what it is. And winding bobbins by hand is getting old. 

So Sunday Dave bought me this. By bought me this I mean I went out and picked it up while on a tangential mission to buy batting at Joann's. But really I only got it because when I was first having this problem and we were out shopping, he saw this and asked me why didn't I have one. Truth is, I never really understood the need for it. But now I have a need. Getting around my problem may not be the intended purpose, nor do I want to ignore this and stop trying to fix the issue, but really right now I just want to sew. I've got birthdays and babies to sew for! The needle stops for no glitch! (Those of you who have read back in time may realize that my nieces birthdays are in April. Auntie needs her machine to work.)

I haven't tried it out yet, but it looks promising. And it folds up all nicely into this little bobbin winding spaceship. What a helpful little spaceship.

Monday, March 25, 2013

Knits on planes

The simplicity of that phrase belies the fact that it can be interpreted in two ways: knits as a noun or an adjective. "Knits on planes" sounds like a sensational movie title while "knits on planes" as a descriptive phrase is more of a line item in the notes from a psychiatric interview. As in: "subject displays compulsive crafty behavior... knits on planes." Both are apt descriptions of the essence of this post. I was in fact knitting on planes, and my knits were on planes. Three little words, so much meaning. I digress.

I purchased this yarn at my lovely LYS Nine Rubies Knitting near the beginning of the year, and I was good and waited until I finished the baby quilt and sweater for my friend Anna before digging into it and casting on my intended project. Newton was not quite as disciplined, you can see the pink ball above looks a little raggedy -- it was wrapped around the kitchen chairs several times one morning and needed to be rewound a bit. Silly kitten. The yarn is Baah! by La Jolla and I must say I am really loving it. The strands are tightly twisted with satisfying regularity and the colors are saturated. 

This month I've been traveling a lot. I usually take my Kindle to read books and my iPad with patterns and some yarn to be able to knit but I was in the middle neither of a book nor a knitting project. So I started my new project a couple days before I flew out and worked on it this month on 4 cross country flights from the West Coast to East. Phew! That's a lot of knitting hours. I'm probably about halfway done.

The pattern is Color Affection by Veera Valimaki and is a lovely asymmetrical garter stitch shawl whose stripes lend themselves well to any number of striking color combinations. Mine is feeling a little bit "Miami" right now with the bright pink. But really I couldn't resist a color named "Flamingo Pink" given my love of the gangly pink birds. We'll see what happens when I add in the blue! I do like each of these colors separately, and I think they'll look neat together. Dave had to talk me out of getting a bright green instead of the blue. Not sure what his issue was, but he sure did make a face when I held up the three hanks together. I was thinking "tulips" he was thinking "yikes!" This shawl, much like the title of this post, has some hidden complexity despite the apparent simplicity of garter stitch stripes. It has short rows! This will be my first time working this technique, but really it doesn't seem all that complicated. It does end up having quite the visual impact on the finished product, though. I'm looking forward to starting those in a couple more rows and seeing how they work. 

I love knitting while traveling. While on a layover at O'Hare, a woman next to me struck up a conversation about the colors I chose. She was quite friendly, and as it turns out her husband was also searching for faculty jobs and they were returning from an interview, too! The three of us had a great time chatting about the trials and tribulations, but also the excitement. And as another hilarious example of the smallness of the world, the husband had met my best friend from college while working at Stanford for a short period of time -- in the same lab. See? Never would have talked to them if I didn't have my yarn to say a visual "hello". They even watched my things while I walked down the terminal to go buy a Shamrock shake from McDonald's. Way to go, yarn, way to go. 

My sister-in-law gifted me this fabulous project tote for the holidays this year along with yarn markers and row counters. The part that is folded back has pockets for needles and hooks, and it rolls over to snap shut around the yarn compartment to form a little log with a handle on the top for easy carrying. Love it. My yarn cakes fit in perfectly and it is really convenient to just leave them in there while I stitch away. They don't get tangled up from rolling around like they might in just a regular tote bag (speaking from experience...). As an added bonus it fits perfectly into my carry on bag that ends up under the seat in front of me, so no digging around before stowing my luggage in the overhead bins. And strangers can see the colors you're working with and talk to you about them. And enable you to purchase milkshakes. Thank you, Li!

Now that I'm back home I'm working more with fabric and sewing, but in the late hours of the evening I still sit down for a few more rows on this. I really would like to wear it this Spring!

Sunday, March 24, 2013


Through the magic of pre-scheduling posts, there hasn't been much of a break here lately, but behind the scenes I've been out of town on interviews. Since I got back Tuesday night, I've been itching to do something crafty. The thing is, I'm still pretty tuckered and out of whack from the travel to and from the East Coast, so I haven't done anything because I'm pretty sure I'd make silly mistakes. Thursday night I got brave.

I joined a couple online quilting bees that start in April. One is "Get Your Hex On" that is all about enthusiasm for hexagons in blocks and the second is "Bee Sew Modern" where anything is fair game. I've had a great time with the do.Good Stitches circle I'm in and that definitely encouraged me to seek out more bees. I am looking forward to dreaming up a couple of designs of my own as well as getting to know some new people.

Our queen bee for the hexagon bee was ahead of the curve and I received my packet of fabric and templates in the mail a week ago. Irene did such a great job with her instructions and marking up the templates for the design she chose that I decided it would be no problem to sit and baste the pieces tonight. Well, two hours later I found myself completely done with the whole block! It felt good to zone out with some music on and just stitch. I needed that!

This pretty flower is going to be part of a flower ball just like this quilt here. It is quite a unique look! Kind of like someone took a quilt and wrapped it around a sphere then took a picture. It certainly made piecing this section really interesting since the hexagons were all differently stretched.

I'm glad to have had this little project to get me going again -- I've been having fun this weekend getting lots more sewing done!

Thursday, March 21, 2013


Some things we make are pretty, some are stunning, others are surprising, and some are just downright useful. Looking back on the past year of recording my thoughts and projects, I've seen a little bit of all of these in my work. This little project is pretty much as downright useful as it comes. With a touch of surprising thrown in for good measure.

Dave wanted a streamlined wallet to carry around in his pocket when he goes into the clean room at work, just enough to hold a few credit card-sized items. I have a leather one of these somewhere that I got years ago when I graduated from college (wow, is the 10 year reunion really coming up???) and figured I could try making him one of those.

I browsed around the web sure there was a tutorial for making exactly what I was thinking up, but to no avail. I did end up reading a few things here and there to get an idea of how to construct to pockets properly, even a tea bag holder (!), but in the end of course I just ended up doing my own thing anyhow. All of the reading was of course great to get a feel for how to get started, though.

I pulled out some manly looking scraps, gray and white prints that Dave has expressed a like for in the past, and set to trimming, pressing, and seaming. I threw in a dash of bright orange for a little bit of color. The pockets and lining are quilting weight, and the main print for the back and main piece of the front bit is a home dec-ish weight.

I started out with one pocket too many, but it was an easy fix to go back and rip it out and trim everything up again. The front piece was constructed separately from the back piece and everything was attached together with an edge stitch around three sides, of course leaving the top open for insertion of money.

Pretty pleased with how this one turned out, I may be making some for Father's Day.....

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Tulip crazed

It seems fitting to celebrate one year since the start of this space with a few of my favorite flowers.

Shortly after I cleaned up the card table and filed away my scraps from the tulip pillow top I just finished, this is what I found myself in the midst of: 

More tulips! These are modified from the Meadow Pillow I made for my mom last August during the handstitched class I took. In that pillow, the tulips were steam-a-seam'd on as a single layer of fabric. I chose to modify this time to give the flower more dimension and try another applique technique I learned on that project.

Each front piece is backed with muslin and turned in side out to form a slightly puffy, wonderfully dimensional flower shape. I wasn't sure the points would cooperate well with this idea, but they turned out just fine. 

I left off the extra piece to this one because this Floressence print is too pretty to cover up. I actually had another plan entirely for this pillow, one including many shades of pink, green, and neutrals for the flowers. But this little scrap took over and made me change the whole look. 

I'm liking where it's going. I've got a bit of handstitching to do on this one, now. Fun times ahead!

Linking up to Work in Progress Wednesday at Freshly Pieced

Monday, March 18, 2013

Pinwheels in the Park, finished!

Anna's beautiful baby boy was born at the very beginning of March. I'm super thrilled for her and am very excited to be able to send her this quilt that she and I decided on late last year. I finished the top in January and it has been sitting around in the meantime waiting for me to baste and quilt it. In a big flurry of productivity, I managed to baste, quilt, and bind it one evening last week.












All of the fabrics but one (the lighter blue print) are Denyse Schmidt prints, which Anna should appreciate since she is a quilter! One is Hope Valley and the rest are from the DS Quilts Collection at Joann's. I believe the background is Kona celery, but don't quote me. The backing is a really cuddly soft flannel dot print that I could wrap up in like every day. I can still remember standing in the enormously long line at the cutting counter with all these bolts of fabric. I was so excited to find the DS fabrics I wasn't going to pass them up! I think the colors work beautifully together for this quilt. They are a departure from my usual bold colors, but I really love the unusual muted shades she came up with for this collection.

I started out trying to quilt dense lines in each pinwheel blade, which would have looked super cool but all the turning in my machine with the tiny throat just wasn't going to work, and there was NO way I was going to bury 1001 threads. I picked out stitches and wondered what to do next. After checking out the decorative stitches on my machine I settled on this cute wavy pattern and decided to space six lines in alternating red-yellow-blue colors 2" apart, centered on each row. This way it looks a bit like the wind is whipping through the pinwheels, and the back looks pretty interesting.

I ditched my usual scrappy binding approach for a single 200-inch stretch of the Kona solid. I did use different colors for the bobbin and top thread, though, so the back has gray zigzags and the front has blue. I love the zigzag binding application. It only took me an hour from start to finish to put it on, and it turns out so sturdy I'm sure it will last through anything, even a toddler dragging it around the house! Note: to give myself some extra wiggle room because of the thicker flannel backing, I made my binding 2.75" wide instead of the normal 2.5"; it was good that I did.

The quilt finishes at just about 42" x 56", so pretty much a crib sized quilt. It's big enough to wrap a little one up in, or cover a lap, and certainly should be plenty big to throw in a stroller or take along as a play mat.

This quilt along with the little knitted cardigan will be packed up and sent to Switzerland in short order. So pleased with this finish. Welcome to the world, little one!

*In lieu of a Friday post I'm sharing this at Finish It Up Friday today at crazy mom quilts.

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Liebster Lovin'

A few weeks ago I was the lucky recipient of not one, but two Liebster Awards from Audrey at Hot Pink Quilts and Kelsey and Amanda from Everyday Fray. The Liebster Award is passed along to recognize someone for a space you enjoy visiting, so thanks ladies! This blog has been a fun way for me to keep track of my comings and goings at the card table, so I'm tickled that there's a few someones that read and enjoy my work and writing. 

There are some rules to go along with the award, more like activities really than rules:

1.  Post 11 random things about yourself.
2.  Answer the 11 questions given by the nominator.
3.  Create 11 new questions for those you nominate.
4.  Choose 11 new blogs (less than 200 followers or blogging for less than 6 months) and link to them in your post. 

I will answer both sets of 11 questions (long post ahead) but will not double up to 22 for the rest, though I am honored to have twice the love coming my way. Also, I will do them out of order to give out recognition first. 

One of the really fun things about blogging is being a part of a community of like-minded people. I enjoy reading other blogs a lot; they are great sources of inspiration, motivation, and just plain pretty things. Some of my favorite little corners of the internet to visit are: 

1. Farah @ Handmade by FarahLin
2. Rebecca @ nook.
3. Kathy @ Kayak Quilting
4. Megan @ City Stitches
5. Marit @ sy, elsk, lev
6. Stephanie @ A bag full of Crochet
7. Muriel @ Hopfaldera

I know I didn't hit 11, but my heart is in the right place... I'm passing the love on. Please take this as a compliment and feel no obligation to complete the (somewhat chain-lettery) "rules"! It would be fun to learn some things, but I know sometimes folks just don't do this type of thing. 

Here are my questions:

1. What is your favorite thing about the area where you live? 
2. Of all the projects you have made and kept, which are you most fond of?
3. Of all the projects you have made and gifted or sold, which was the hardest to part with?
4. What is the next (crafting) skill you want to learn?
5. If you could visit anywhere in the world where would it be?
6. Are there any particular fabric designers/yarn manufacturers whose collections you consistently like?
7. What is the farthest away from home you've ever been (a la Samwise Gamgee from The Shire)?
8. What is your favorite dish to cook for yourself?
9. What music do you put on when you want to relax?
10. What are a few of your most-loved color combinations?
11. If you could make anything and time/skill/money was no object, what would that dream project be?

And here are my answers to some questions.

Audrey's Questions:

1. Is there a book or movie that has changed your life or greatly impacted you? What is it? 

I've read and loved many books, but the first one that comes to mind is Cry, the Beloved Country. I read it near the end of high school, and it was the first time I remember being really struck by a book and also understanding what being "struck" by something really meant. It's a beautiful story.

2. What is your favoritest color? 

It depends on the day it seems, but most days I am a big fan of green.

3. What is the best job you've ever had? 

I volunteered at a stable - teaching kids (and adults) confidence and leadership through riding, being around and learning about horses and horse people was the best. I miss it, but it wasn't ever going to be a practical job to have.

4. Do you have a new year's resolution or word of the year for 2013? 

Never got around to making any resolutions.

5. What is your favorite thing you've ever made with your hands?

I have a brioche stitch cowl I made this last year. It was one of my first projects with "nice" yarn, and I love it. I wear it every chance I get. 

6. Where is the coolest place you've ever visited? 

I have been so lucky to have been to many great places in the world so it's hard to choose. I'm a big fan of European history so I guess if I had to choose I would say so far it's been Paris.

7. How many WIPs do you have? (Be honest.)

2 quilting projects, 5 knit/crochet projects, 1 pillow cover, and a couple of cross stitching projects. And I have some paper flowers I started a long time ago but haven't finished yet. I've been working my way through my WIPs before starting anything new this year so the list has dwindled. How many projects do I have kicking around my head? That's another story altogether. Lots.

8. What is the hardest crafty thing you've ever done? 

I had this quilling kit of 12 different types of flower bouquets in pots that are displayed in a shadow box frame. There were all sorts of little teeny pieces, lots of glue, and plenty of toothpicks involved. It was a lesson in patience, precision, and perseverance.

9. Did you conquer it? 
You bet I did, and it's hanging up on the wall.

10. What is the hardest non-crafty thing you've ever done? 

My PhD.

11. Did you conquer it?  

I'll let you know in a few months!

Amanda and Kelsey's Questions:

1. What style of fabric do you tend to gravitate most towards, and are they often fabric lines from the same designer?
I tend to like the big, bold focus prints of collections. It's a curse really as they aren't so much "blenders".... since I started really looking at designer fabrics I do tend to like most Art Gallery collections. I adore Indie, Lilly Belle, and Floressence in particular.

2. What was the first quilting blog that you remember stumbling upon?
Maureen's blog Maureen Cracknell Handmade is the first one I can remember coming across a little over a year ago. I was looking for information on how to make pillow covers and came across her quilted striped pillow cover tutorial. I still follow her blog and always enjoy seeing what she's up to.

3. Have you ever kept a quilt for yourself or are they always gifts?
I have kept two quilts so far and given away quite a few. It's really the smaller projects that I have a harder time keeping for myself. 

4. What is the most sentimental quilt project you've ever worked on?
My most recently started one - a picnic quilt for Dave and me in colors we remember most from our life in Amsterdam. There's all sorts of little symbolisms wrapped up in it, both intentional and things I've noticed along the way.

5. Are there any colours that seem to find their way into every project you make?
Darned if I don't end up using a lot of aquas and greens.

6. Do you have any other crafty talents besides quilting?
Plenty! Quilting is actually a new talent... other sewing, crochet, knitting, cross stitching, painting, drawing, jewelry making, I've got a whole cabinet full of supplies for a myriad of crafty pursuits.

7. Reading or watching TV/movies?
Lately lots of TV but that's actually because I like reading so much I get sucked in until I can't function until I'm done with the book. No good at a time like this when I really have to try to focus my efforts at work. If you've never read Neil Gaiman, read something by him. 

8. Where will you spend your next vacation?
After graduation my family and I will be taking day trips around the Bay Area so hopefully Monterey, Santa Cruz, Napa, and San Francisco are in my future. 

9. What is one skill you wish you had?
I wish I could play the piano. Like really play, Lizst or Bartok, y'know?

10. What is the best and worst gifts you have ever received?
So hard... so I pass :) 

11. Camping or luxury hotel?
This is a hilarious question for me because it highlights something that has really changed about me. A few years ago I would have gone camping. Now I'm finding that luxury hotel much more appealing.... 

11 Random Things:

1. I have come back to riding horses after a 9 year hiatus. The horse I currently ride the most often is half Clydesdale. I don't go every day anymore like I used to just after college, but the barn where I ride is less than a mile away from the building where I work! That is just an amazing fact I never get tired of. 

2. I've played the clarinet for more than 20 years (wow... time gets away) and thought about doing a music major going into college.

3. Instead I was a science major and am now almost done with my PhD in Materials Science & Engineering.

4. When I get really stressed out, I clean and organize. My husband can always count on a clean house in the week leading up to a conference or big deadline. 

5. I played handbells in an auditioned group for a few years. It is definitely a super fun instrument to play. I would describe it as being part of a human piano.

6. I painted cameo silhouettes of Sherlock Holmes and Irene Adler on our living room wall.

7. We lived in Amsterdam for a few months, and we both would love to live abroad again sometime in our lives.

8. I used to be one of those people driving down the street in a New Beetle. I had that car for 13 years.

9. One of my favorite musicians is Sting. My brother is a fantastic person and once got me tickets to go see him in Grant Park. 

10. There was a mild, but quite noticeable, earthquake while we were eating dinner at our favorite restaurant in San Francisco the day my husband proposed. 

11. I'm a die hard Cubs fan, just like my mom. The year before I moved to California was the year they clinched the playoffs in a double header with Mark Prior and Matt Clemens pitching. In a crazy twist of fate (i.e. the game I was supposed to go to got rained out the day before, Mom's friend had tickets to the next day) I was sitting behind home plate. That year I made myself scorecards and kept score for every single post season game they were in.

Wow that was a long post. Thanks again to Audrey, Amanda, and Kelsey for the recognition!

Friday, March 15, 2013

Arrival of Spring

Well, I did it. 

From start to finish, this pillow top was a relaxing project and a lesson in (ordered) improvisation and following my whims. In retrospect I may have used too much color, but considering I'm itching for spring to be here and enjoying every field of wildflowers I come across, I think I could be forgiven for making a somewhat "loud" pillow. 

I did keep it simple for the back, using one of my favorite damask prints in one of my favorite colors. Well, simple is relative isn't it. The binding was put on just like a quilt, zig zagging to the back to finish. 

For the quilting I chose to densely quilt lines in each section around the center block. I still just love that purple garden print, especially combined with the Ta-Dot fabric at the bottom. I used gray thread for something a bit different than white. I considered using different colors in different sections, but there are limits on color, even for me. 

I used a decorative tulip stitch on my machine to add some interest and a touch (more) of whimsy. The blue linen borders were a perfect spot to place a couple of stripes, and the tulips also feature on the edges of the back flaps. It's a cute touch that I can appreciate, even if it's subtle. From far away the blue borders look a little like lace, kind of cool!

Of course, this pillow won't be out year-round, just to herald the Arrival of Spring. It has found a place to reside on the chair in our bedroom and gives me a nice bright smile when I wake up in the morning.

Linking up to Finish it up Friday at crazy mom quilts with this colorful finish!