Archives for May 2013

We’re Tying the Knot!

Friends, I’ve been sitting on some wonderful news for the last week. I’ve been debating how much I wanted to share here, but then I decided it’d be silly not to tell you something so important about my life and just post about, say, the socks I started knitting on this trip. The real news is: we got engaged!

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We had a wonderful weekend, completely dreamy and romantic. These photos are from Roederer Estate, where Jason proposed and we had a wine and champagne tasting and a basket lunch afterwards.

130525-122606 130525-122445130525-131054I’m sorry; that was a pretty cheesy photo of the ring, wasn’t it? (Yep, literally.) Unfortunately all the arty close-ups I tried to take just made my hand look weird and alien.

Our trip started with my absolute favorite lunch in the whole world.

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My documentation of the weekend started to slide a bit after that; too busy enjoying myself! I did get some pretty nature shots as we walked around Mendocino working up an appetite for Wild Fish, which you absolutely must try if you’re ever in the area. Perfectly cooked seafood in a teeny-tiny one-room restaurant with two quirky British hosts and a view of the sun setting over the Pacific ocean.

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And, my favorite view. I love you, sweetheart!

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I anticipate having some more news to tell you in the coming months. (Hint: we’re not going to be a long-distance couple much longer.) But I promise not to subject you to too much wedding talk! Our regularly scheduled craft blogging will resume next week. :)

Finished! Sunday Morning Quilt

I finished up the binding on my low volume quilt this week. Here it is relaxing in the garden…

Sunday Morning Quit

… and on my bed!

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I’m so excited to have finished my first bed size quilt. The pattern is the Sunday Morning Quilt from the book Sunday Morning Quilts by Amanda Jean Nyberg and Cheryl Arkison. The book is filled with patterns for using up your fabric scraps. Since I haven’t been quilting long enough to have that many scraps, I made my own, focusing on aqua, pink, yellow, and neutrals. I also incorporated the polka dot and stripe fabrics I made for my series about choosing colors for Spoonflower. They blended right in. The back is gray linen, and I quilted it with a sort of swirly flower pattern.

Sunday Morning Quilt

Jason and I are loading up the car tomorrow morning for a drive up the coast to Anderson Valley, which is apparently like Napa and Sonoma’s more easygoing little sibling. I can’t wait! Among our wonderful plans is to stop at my favorite roadside eatery and kick off the start of summer with some grilled oysters. I imagine there will also be lots and lots of wine. I hope those of you in the U.S. have a lovely Memorial Day weekend!

City Sampler Blocks 1-4

About a month ago I mentioned my plans to make the City Sampler Quilt by Tula Pink. This past weekend I finally got cracking.

City Sampler Blocks 1-4

I knew I wanted to incorporate some hand dyed fabrics into this quilt. Each of these blocks contains at least one fabric I dyed myself. It would be nice if I could keep that up, but I also don’t want to give myself too many rules. I’ve been keeping the prints pretty simple, including a lot of Edges by Laura Gunn, which is a really beautiful collection of fabrics that have a hand painted look.

I said I was only going to do half of these blocks, but they actually come together pretty quickly, so maybe I’ll be brave and go for the full 100. They lend themselves pretty well to chain piecing and sometimes even strip piecing. Block number 2 can be done almost entirely using strip piecing, for example.

strip piecing

Sorry for the fuzzy late-night iPhone photos, but you get the idea: sew to a new strip, then square up. Especially good for people like me who are not always the most accurate when sewing.

I thought I would be linking up with the sew-along at Sew Sweetness today, but apparently today’s topic is “selecting fabrics.” Since this quilt just seems to cry out for lots of different scraps, it never even occurred to me to select them all beforehand. Oh well, I guess I’m ahead of the game; yay!

The Verdict: Paper Piecing is Not That Hard!

I was craving a simple project this week. Then the thought also entered my head that I wanted to learn paper piecing. Surprisingly, these two objectives turned out not to contradict each other. I made my first paper piecing project AND… it wasn’t that hard.

zakka pin cushion

This is the “Prettified Pincushion” from the book Patchwork, Please!: Colorful Zakka Projects to Stitch and Give by Ayumi Takahashi. I have to admit I have a bit of a crush on Ayumi and her blog, Pink Penguin. She makes the cutest things and has an amazing knack for putting fabrics together.

This project was a great intro to paper piecing. It took me a couple hours, but I’m sure if you had any experience with paper piecing you could put one together in no time. The best part was that I also found this helpful video by Crafty Gemini that shows, step by step, how to paper piece a block that is nearly identical to the one used for this project.

If you’ve never paper pieced before, here’s the basic gist. You use a paper template and put a block together one seam at a time by sewing through the paper along the lines. This is so satisfying! If you enjoyed coloring within the lines as a child (yep, guilty) you’re going to love this.

paper piecing

The really cool thing about this is that you don’t have to be precise in cutting out your fabric. The whole point of doing that in regular patchwork is so that your 1/4 inch seam line, relative to where you cut, is also accurate. But here you don’t have to worry about cutting or getting that perfect 1/4 inch seam. You just have to follow along the lines. Now, the one downside is that lining up the fabrics on the back of the paper can be a little tricky. You need to do this so that the fabric you’re attaching covers the region it’s supposed to after you open up the seam. Here’s an example of what I mean.

paper piecing

This is the very first step, which attaches the first and second pieces of fabric. The first piece of fabric (my striped one) goes face down, with the second piece of fabric face up, so that the right sides are facing each other as usual. In the second photo I flipped everything over. The gray piece of fabric, which is now face down, is going to cover the upper left corner of the template after I open up that seam. So when I was lining that up with the template, I had to guesstimate how far up the fabric would go once I opened it up. After a few unsuccessful tries, I started cutting my fabric scraps bigger than was called for in the pattern. Then it was smooth sailing!

I’m so glad I got over my fear of paper piecing. Now I feel more confident about diving into some of the other cute projects in Ayumi’s book.  Here’s a photo from her website of a quilt I’d love to tackle someday.

Children's Book Quilt

Children’s books! Love it!

Linking up today with Finish It Up Friday.

In Search of Lost (Crafting) Time

Happy Monday! I’ve been traveling this past weekend and away from my craft room. But I’ve been reading a fascinating book, called Homeward Bound: Why Women Are Embracing the New Domesticity, by Emily Matchar. I thought I’d share some thoughts inspired by the book.

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homeward_bound_rev3I expect most of us, when asked why we DIY, would give answers that reflect our personal choices. It’s fun. It’s a creative outlet. It’s so darn cozy to sit by the fire in your handknit sweater, maybe while enjoying home brewed beer. But why, at this point in history, have these arguments become compelling to so many women in particular?  Why has being “a maker” become suddenly cool?

In Homeward Bound: Why Women Are Embracing the New Domesticity, Emily Matchar approaches this question from a number of angles. Her “New Domesticity” refers not just to crafts, but to other areas in which people have embraced a DIY ethos, such as urban homesteading, home-based business, and homeschooling. In many of these cases, her argument goes, people’s individual choices are in fact a reaction to a growing sense that community-level solutions have failed. We’re “heading back home,” where we can be in control.

While this makes sense to me, I take a slightly different view. I think many of us who introduce a DIY element into our lives do it because we long for a different experience of time.

It’s certainly not a new argument to say that we’re much busier today than in previous generations. Whether or not this is actually true (see, for example, Matchar’s long list of duties of the average Victorian housewife), it feels true. As someone with a demanding career, I’ve certainly been guilty of what poet David Whyte calls “velocity as an answer to complexity.”  However, he says,

“The trouble with velocity as an answer to complexity is that after a while, you cannot perceive anything or anyone that isn’t traveling at the same speed as you are…. And things that move according to a slower wave form actually seem to become enemies to you, and enemies to your way of life, and you get quite disturbed by people who are easy with themselves and easy with life, and aren’t charging around like you do.”

I think many of us fall into this trap. We don’t want to charge around, we don’t want to be the person who gets angry when other people don’t conform to our schedules, but sometimes it feels like we have no other choice. Paradoxically, adding a craft project to our list of tasks can actually work against this tendency. It’s a deliberate slowing down.

And with this slowing down can come a new way of relating to people. We lose that sense that other people are the enemy. The craft world is incredibly social and supportive. We need this. I’m reminded of a lovely scene in Roko Belic’s movie Happy, in which a group of Okinawan women talk about how they support each other. Look at the appreciation on these women’s faces as one of them gets up and begins to dance.

Oogimison Village, Okinawa - Japan

from Happy, The Director’s Journal

The village of Oogimison in Okinawa, if you haven’t heard this story, is famous for having the highest proportion of people over 100 living there than anywhere else in the world. Belic’s movie is about the relatively simple things that make us happy, with some evidence that these are also the things that lead to longevity. Although a more expansive sense of time isn’t mentioned explicitly, it’s clear that many of these things simply cannot happen when we’re feeling too anxious to slow down. (Incidentally, there’s a scene of the women doing some crafting a bit later in the movie.)

What do you think? Does crafting slow things down for you? Give you a way to connect with other people? What other reasons do you have for making things?