Monday, December 1, 2014

Frozen peas, Cyber Monday, and taming the stash monster.

Countdown to Christmas- e-pattern available on Craftsy
    Thankfully Thanksgiving is over, and the last of the turkey made into filling for turkey pot pie, where it will remain in the freezer until I can bear to look at it again. What makes it palatable is the addition of peas. Peas are not my favorite vegetable. Peas are those boring little green orbs that were among the only three vegetables you ate until reached adulthood and discovered the joys of vegetables from Asparagus to Zucchini. But peas serve a Very Important Purpose- they add a necessary je ne sais quois to chicken and turkey casseroles and pot pies. Without peas, the only color in an otherwise creamy bland beige sea is the orange of carrots, and we all know (or you would know, if you were paying attention!) that orange is my least favorite color. Peas provide a visual and gustatory counterpoint with almost no extra work. Just reach in the freezer, open the bag, and dump some in. Their pea-ness is enhanced by sleeping in the creamy gravy, and when you bite into one, it's like a tiny celebration.
     Stripping the Carcass Sunday Night is the official end of Pumpkin Spice season and the beginning of Gingerbread season- just a minor variation in proportions of ginger to cinnamon, but we'll be sipping a different flavored coffee or tea as we shop this Cyber Monday. Today is the last day of my long weekend sale- all my Craftsy e-patterns are 50% off. You can find them here. If you have a stash that is overwhelming you, the sale extends to the e-book version of my book Tidbits & Twiglets: Stash-busting Strategies for Creating Quilts from Five Easy Pieces.

Cover quilts from Tidbits & Twiglets

     My quilt guild, Ninigret Quilters, makes quilts for new Habitat for Humanity homeowners and their families. I've been playing around with Disappearing 9-Patch quilts for several years, and just made this one last week from donated fabrics. It still needs an outer border, but I don't have the perfect fabric in my stash. I have many yards of a fabric that might work, but I earmarked it for backings, and don't want to cut into it yet. After I cut the backings, if I have enough left, I'll decide then.  I cut up yards of fabric, including some scraps of scraps from my own stash, and have at least enough squares in coordinated colors for three more tops, plus boxes of assorted squares and strips, all for quilts that will be donated.  While going through my personal scrap stash, I've been putting together "kits" of coordinated fabrics for future scrap quilts; there may be a sequel to Tidbits and Twiglets in the future.


Wednesday, October 22, 2014

I'll take Theoretical Physics for $1200, Alex.

     After suffering from Jeopardy Deprivation for two days (no Jeopardy Monday night because of an -expletive deleted- football game, then last night it was pre-empted by a gubernatorial debate), I will be getting off the computer in a few minutes to plunk myself in front of the TV. This is when I get those nagging tasks out of the way; if it weren't for Jeopardy, my quilts would be eternally unbound, with dangling thread ends and embellishments of unwanted basting thread.
    Speaking of Jeopardy, check out this article and scroll down to see original host Art Fleming's sartorial splendor!
     So- now that we've got that out of the way, back to the rapidly approaching Craft-a-Thon.
I will be donating an e-pattern of the winner's choice:
Roundabout- multi-size pattern

Brianna's Pinwheels- multi-size pattern
Cakemix- 68" square

All of these e-patterns are available on Craftsy, or you can purchase a paper pattern from my web site.

      Christmas is rapidly approaching, and Beth Helfter of EvaPaige Quilt Designs has donated a copy of "Mod-ified Trees". I love this modern take on a traditional motif.


Sunday, October 19, 2014

One week to go. You can't win if you don't play...

...and unlike the lottery, it will cost you nothing to play.

     One week from tonight is the Craft-a-Thon. I personally can't wait, because I am sooooo bored with bad television, and I enjoy spending those couple of hours stitching as much as I hope you do.
    Why did I decide to offer prizes? Think of them as my birthday present to you. I just had a birthday. It was a Big One, and this is my way of celebrating.

Tonight I'm featuring TWO prizes:

     Next Sunday night one lucky winner will receive this Halloween Monster Flag & Bag pattern designed by Kristi Parker of Chicken Soup Designs. I've seen the actual flag on Kristi's pattern cover "in person", and it is beyond adorable. The "monster" is so cuddly and friendly!

    Another prize is a pattern by Barbara Douglas of Stone Cottage Quilts. Can this Gingerbread Cookie runner be any sweeter? It reminds me to start stockpiling ingredients for cookie baking season!


Thursday, October 16, 2014

Prizes. We have prizes. (or...What is a Craft-a-Thon, and why should I attend?)

Autumn in New England- my beautiful red maple

    Those of you who know me well,  know that there are no sports fans in this house. So, come Super Bowl Sunday, you know where you will NOT find us. Convinced I was not the only artist, crafter, sewist, stitcher, cake decorator, or what-have-you who wouldn't be watching the game, a couple of years ago I decided to create a Facebook event I called "The First Annual Superbowl Sunday Craft-a-Thon". I thought it would be fun for a bunch of us to spend Sunday evening working on our projects and sharing pictures of what we're making. It was so successful that I did another Craft-a-Thon that summer, and later a Second Annual Superbowl Sunday Craft-a-Thon".

     With the fall and winter holidays just around the corner, I decided it would be a good time for yet another one. This time I'm taking it to the next level. I decided to offer a couple of prizes- one or two of my patterns, and some lovely fabrics courtesy of Island Batik. "Hey", I thought, "If two or three prizes are good, wouldn't more prizes be better?" So I humbly asked shamelessly begged some of my small-business-owning buddies in the quilting world to donate a little prize and...every one of them agreed! They went above and beyond. As word got out, I had more people/companies offering to donate.
     So...we have prizes. Every day between now and October 26th I will feature one or more of the prizes, either on this blog and/or on Facebook. You must participate in the Craft-a-Thon to have a chance of winning. By "participate", I mean you must join us on Facebook that night.

     How do you win a prize? For being (just an example) the seventh person to log on, or the third to share a picture, or the first to mention you are in your get the idea. I'm going to have a list of silly and not-so-silly criteria that will NOT be announced beforehand, so everyone has an equal a shot as I can give you. You won't know until you win. Some of you will be picked at random by my in-house "Bingo caller".
"Kiss Me Quick" pattern by Judabelle Quilts
Today's featured prize is a pattern, courtesy of Judy Damon of Judabelle Quilts, titled "Kiss Me Quick!" This lovely pattern can be made from a jelly roll or 2 1/2" strips cut from your stash. Judy often includes a bonus project in her patterns, and "Hugs and Kisses Table Topper" is the bonus in this pattern.

     What does one work on at a Craft-a-Thon? Whatever you wish. You have permission (not that you should need it) to spend a couple of hours of your busy life working on whatever craft fuels your passion or feeds your soul.
  How about spending the time making something for others?

Make a simple quilt or afghan for Project Linus.

Cut fabric for a Quilt of Valor.

Knit a hat or scarf for Christmas at Sea.

Make some small kennel quilts for The Quilt Pattern Magazine's  Kennel Quilt Team.

Make a batch of cookies to bring to the gang at work Monday morning.

Going over the river and through the woods for Thanksgiving dinner? How about a table runner or apron for your hostess?

Get a head start on your fruitcakes.

Make a "Frozen" Halloween costume, so your daughter or granddaughter or niece can be Elsa for the evening, just like 40,000,000 other little girls!

See you Sunday, Oct. 26, 7:00 pm, EST (or whenever I get on Facebook- time is approximate, but you can start the party earlier without me). We'll keep going until.

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Falling into Fall

Wow! I just realized my last post was in March, and it is now October. What was I doing (besides NOT blogging)?
Other than the "real" job,  I did a trunk show...

taught a bunch of classes locally...

Pictured is Five Yard Dash; not a new pattern, but everyone who takes this class loves it. It only takes five 1-yard pieces of fabric and makes a 56" x 68" quilt- a great size for a big lap quilt for everyone on your gift list. It's awesome in batik.

vended at four quilt shows...

This was my booth at the New England Air Museum. The thought of actually flying in this 1949 Kaman helicopter prototype is seriously scarey!

designed a couple of new patterns, among them Living a Charmed Life...

and Locked Blocks...

and have two more vending events this year.

This weekend I will be at the 19th Annual Quilt and Needle Arts Show in East Haddam, CT, and October 25th I will be at the annual gathering of the Greater Hartford Quilt Guild.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Sixty Degrees of Separation. Or, How One Quilter is Saving the World from Arithmophobia (recipe included)

     As a certifiable math geek, it surprises me how the sight of numbers causes some people's eyes to glaze over. Take Sudoku, for instance. I have more fingers and toes than the number of times I've had someone watch me fill in the little squares and say "I'm not good with math." Um... replace the numerals 1 to 9 with nine colors, or nine vegetables, or nine Chippendale's dancers. You can do it.
    Somewhere early on in my quilting life I discovered the joys of working with sixty degree (equilateral) triangles and their little buddies-  diamonds, hexagons, and so on. I moved on, but they called me back. "It's your mission to save the world from math phobia," they said. "Show other quilters how to love us as much as you do."

    My new workshop, Sixty Degrees of Separation, is intended to do just that.  I only teach it on Friday the Thirteenth (just kidding).  And speaking of phobias- check out the fabrics I chose!

 I promised an occasional recipe, here is my awesome fruit dip recipe, which is especially fantabulous with strawberries. And it only has one, yes one, ingredient. Are you ready? Got your pencils handy?

One container Chobani pineapple Greek yogurt.

Recipe may be doubled or tripled as needed.

     I'll leave you with a few words from Neil...

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Stolen Moments

     Yes, I really did steal my students' scraps. I only pretended to brush them off the table and into the trash; in reality they wound up in my bag at the end of the evening. Student A (if you're reading this, you know who you are) saved all her cutaways except for tiny strips of selvages. Too bad, because I could have had lots of fun with her vibrant colors, but I admire her for so quickly becoming a scrap hoarder.
      I was able to glean slightly larger leftovers from Student B - not as bright and colorful, but as one never has enough neutrals, I'm not complaining.
     The little quilt pictured began as some unknown quilter's project. From what I can deduce from the scraps (taken from the trash the day after an open quilt day at a local shop), these were likely the leftovers at the end of each row- a variety of batiks sewn to a strip of black Kona cotton- as well as a longer strip of black that was probably extra binding. I trimmed all the chunks of fabric to an equal width, and used the binding strip for my outer border. It needed a little "oomph", so I hand appliqu├ęd little circles and partial circles (from a bag of little batik scraps I won at a guild meeting) randomly across the quilt. I then sandwiched and stitched it using the envelope method, turned it right side out, and added some hand quilting with metallic copper embroidery floss. I named it "Found Objects", and it has been in a quilt show and an exhibition of art quilts.

Found Objects