January 31, 2009

Straight, But Still Wrong

What happens when a seamstress sews an inaccurate line? S/he has to sew it again. Argh, no fun... The stitches on the right don't allow the binding to fold over enough for handstitching, so they'll have to be picked out.

I started this quilt in the 1990s. It is embroidered, pieced, appliqued, painted and rubber stamped. There are still three more large quilts to be bound, including our wedding quilt/guest book. I'm happy to be giving these project the attention they deserve.

January 30, 2009

Quilt for a Little Girl

This sweet quilt is laid out in an Irish Chain pattern in prints that a little girl might enjoy: paper dolls, vintage greetings, feminine toiletries labels, dolls and doll clothes. The pink quilting stitches are a floral design and the back is pale pink. The quilt measures 34" x 34" and will go onto Etsy this weekend.

Hmm, what's next? That doll I started is getting pushed further and further back as I find other projects to complete. Feels good to clean house though!

January 28, 2009

Every Little Bit

Sewing is cutting up fabric and stitching it back together. A frugal seamstress saves scraps and makes use of the remnants. Almost every scrap can be fashioned into something. Even the skinniest piece can be woven into a project. For instance, pal Nancy knitted her scraps of quilting cotton.

After cutting the circular tree skirt from a square quilt, the corners were still useful. I cut 2" circles and am blanket stitching the edges. Pretty cute with buttons, right? They'll be strung together for a 12' garland. Unfortunately, there's only enough for 7'.

I still had the edges from the square quilt, because the back/batt were larger than the top. Two parts of a quilt sandwich remained: the flannel back and the batting. Shopping my stash, I dug out more holiday fabric to complete the 3 layers. Here's my rookie attempt at machine quilting. Pretty bad, but with practice, it can be better. Part of the problem was using red thread on red fabric -- I couldn't see where I was going! Gotta work on that...

I am nearly done binding the edge of a little girl's quilt, 34" x 34".

January 27, 2009

Samuel's Beethoven

My cousin Cheryl wrote to me about her son's awesome cloth doll. Samuel learned to sew with this project. He was assigned a school project to make a puppet for a biography book report for 3rd grade. Of course, he chose a musical person for his report, since he loves music so much. He used an inkjet printer to print the face on muslin. Then using felt and more muslin, he freezer- paper-sewed the body together. Then he added a felt jacket (which required two quick seams, and two buttons), and a red scarf. Beethoven is topped with a grey yarn wig from Laur's yarn collection (thanks Laur!). We just read the Wikipedia on Beethoven, and he was indeed a conductor, so Samuel is going to make a stick for his hand.

He did such a great job!!!!! For perspective, this is Cheryl's adult-sized violin. Of course, Samuel's violin is smaller, and he is the beautiful child in the front/center. Cheryl is my kindred spirit. She is a needlewoman and a darn good one at that. Her quilts are beautiful. She is adept at dyeing fabric, something I won't touch, esp after the Rit Dye shower scene in Private Benjamin.

After I-don't-know-how-many-years, this 34" Christmas tree skirt is finished. Yippee, something to add to inventory! While working on it, I discovered a new holiday recording by one of my favorite musicians, the cellist Yo-Yo Ma. There is enough non-winter music on it to listen year-round.

January 26, 2009

Gung Hay Fat Choy

Here's wishing you prosperity in many forms and good fortune in monstrous quantities!

January 24, 2009

Alternative Circle

After cutting the circular tree skirt from a square quilt, the corners remain and I don't like to waste. From this I cut nearly 50 layered circles. I gathered red and gold floss and blanket stitched the edges. Now this is my kind of sewing! I like the rhythm and repetition of simple embroidery and now have another textured circle to go with the yo-yos. To me, very cute!

Brother-in-law Kuanza came home from Shanghai for Chinese New Year and brought gifts. This is one of them, a roll of tea which, when opened, are packed like small cakes meant for a teapot. I can't wait to try!

January 23, 2009

Yo Yo-ing Again

I admit I don't enjoy making yo-yos. Thing is, I adore the way they turn out: round, textured, colorful, happy and playful. Clover has a clever gadget that simplifies the process, but the stitches go where Clover wants them to go, and I like stitches a little closer. This tree skirt will be bound with double-faced bias (it took Nancy and I forever to choose the right blue). It will be on the inside and the opening. Yo-yos will be on the outer edge. It's almost a shame they'll be covered with presents!

As you see, the doll is temporarily on hold. We have house guests coming from Singapore in a month and I want to get the Christmas tree skirt off the bannister and into inventory. It's been hanging there for months. It's sort of refreshing to work on Christmas items in January, right after MLK and just before Chinese New Year.

January 22, 2009

11 Months Early

...or one month too late! These winter hat and scarf sets for wine bottles will be for sale during holiday shows. Next project is a quilted Christmas tree skirt which has been on hold for several years. Nancy will know exactly which one I'm referring to! Maybe the edges will have felt stars or yo-yos instead of standard double-faced bias binding.

I got an email notice about a new sewing magazine. Can a seamstress ever have enough sewing magazines?! No sirreee, esp when it's SF-based! The premier issue is a free download. It contains an article about my beloved Britex Fabrics on Geary Boulevard in SF. Before we moved to SD, Britex was pretty much the only store where I bought textiles and the reason for three huge containers of gorgeous woolen yardage still in my closet.

January 21, 2009

It's Making Me Cranky

It took a bit of fussing at first, so if you buy a "knitting mill", pay close attention to the instructions. The trick is getting the latch hook tongues to open and close when they are supposed to. Tightly wound yarn is most suitable (it says), but if you are persistent (stubborn) like me, then the loose stuff can still work. Go very slowly at first, then crank carefully as you watch the wheel turn. It's fun and fast!

It is just me, or does the future seem bright? I think a lot of people feel as I do. It's a new day and we have a charismatic president who seems very sensible. His messages give me hope, but I have to be careful not to have expectations. Let's get to work.

January 20, 2009

Oh Happy Day

To my best friend Loretta, I wish you a very HAPPY BIRTHDAY!! We've come a long way to arrive here on your 50th. I'm grateful for our friendship of 40+ years and wish you love, peace, and satisfaction in every area of your life.

More than any other day, I'm proud to be an American. Congratulations to Barack Obama, our 44th president. Nancy Wang, my friend and teacher, and her husband Robert Kikuchi-Yngojo, performed in DC as part of the festivities. They were also part of President Clinton's second inauguration. Boy, they get around!

These are the colors and textures I've gathered for the new doll. I feel happy looking at this grouping. Stay tuned!

January 19, 2009

I'm Not Sure Where...

...this doll is going, but you are welcome to follow along. After seeing a Jean Paul Gaultier dress worn by Madonna, I got out the cotton lanyards I saved from trash after my employer downsized. This doll won't be for sale, but I have three similar long-limbed bodies which will be.

Madonna's dress is now in a glass case on the ground floor elevator bank of the San Diego Hard Rock Hotel. She wore it in her video "Fever." The sleeves are knit like a sweater and the body is form-fitting net. The bra and panty are not part of the display.

January 18, 2009

Had To Try It

Knifty Knitter looms at Joann's and Michael's always catch my eye. They look like gigantic spool knitters and I thought my munchkins would enjoy them. I had to try it too. Niece Natty got bored with hers and I offered to finish it.

My yarn stash needed help. Reorganizing freed up space and now I can find yarn by type.

My goodness, babies grow fast! My cousin Cheryl's daughter Meridith is 8 months old. She is sitting on the quilt I made for her older brother Samuel, which he lovingly gave to his sister.

January 17, 2009

Sending Her Out Again

I call her The Blue Haired Old Lady, but she's not old at all. She can stand on her own now, but this means I'll be returning her -- Marcia, she'll be coming home soon!

January 16, 2009

Doll Stands

I love an overlay of colored tissue paper!

January 15, 2009

Laziness Breeds Inventiveness

I'm not really a knitter, except when I'm knitting, and making tiny red/white scarves on a spool got old. This gadget promises to crank them out so I can be done with it! Reviews say it's a bit fussy, making color changes out of the question for me. I'll share when it arrives from Lacis.

One of my dolls came back to roost temporarily. It's nice to see an old friend! Her new "mom" returned her so she could be put on a stand. After she leaves (again), I'll have Empty Nest Syndrome.

Decoupage is messy and gooey, so I prefer making a whole bunch of doll stands because I'll need them soon enough. I tore up a $1 French novel (the bookseller's shelf is on the sidewalk!) into bits/pieces and pasted them randomly. I like torn edges, but you can be sure only non-valuable books get this abuse.

Three done; seven more to paste.

My sister and her S.O. Scott sent me these beaded ornaments! They graced a Christmas tree in Scott's floral business and, even though we zoomed through for a quick visit, these caught my eye. Wow, they have spectacular goods at Ah Sam. All that creativity going on there; yikes, makes me crazy.

January 13, 2009


I love going into Needlenook of La Jolla. The plethora of thread colors and textures is out of this world! Too bad my poor photography doesn't do the threads justice... Thanks to my cousin Jodie, I had a shopping spree. Jo, you were with me the entire time I was choosing goodies. I know you'll be on my mind again when I work with my new threads too.

In the store, Pat, one of the friendly ladies who works there, got my attention. During my last visit more than a month ago, she and I shared stories. This time Pat said she had something for me. When she brought out a book in a slipcover, my eyebrows went up. When I read the author's name, my jaw dropped and I nearly shrieked. You know how I love old books, right? So does Pat. This is Pearl S. Buck's translation of a 14th century Chinese story, illustrated by a Mexican painter who, like Buck, fell in love with China. The book is from 1948 with pages that now have that lovely time-worn yellow patina. Tucked inside were two newsletters from the Heritage Club, one of which describes their special printing of this book with the color illustrations. Ooh, I feel so blessed by Pat for the surprise present and by Jodie for letting me go nuts in one of my favorite stores. What a lovely day!

January 12, 2009

Tiny Hats Pattern

Based on this pattern sent by Janey, I revised it to fit a wine bottle:

With white yarn, cast on 22 stitches
Row 1, purl
Row 2, knit
Row 3, purl
Change to red yarn
Row 4, purl
Row 5, knit
Row 6, purl
Row 7, knit
Row 8, purl
Row 9, knit
Row 10, purl
Row 11, knit 2 together; 11 stitches remaining
Row 12, purl
Row 13, knit 2 together (1 stitch will remain – knit it); 6 stitches remaining
Row 14, purl 2 together; 3 stitches remaining
Cut yarn and pull tail through 3 stitches
Sew seam invisibly
Hide tails
Sew pompom on top or make attach a tassel and cut short as in my example

January 11, 2009

I Can't Count

I was so happy to finish 24 hats, until I recounted and found only 23. Faux pompoms were made by fashioning tassels and cutting them super-short.

January 10, 2009

More of the Same

... so I won't post a picture, but I will when the hats have little white toppers!

If you have any interest in the role of the Medici family during the Italian Renaissance, I highly recommend the 4-part PBS series "Empires, The Medici." Tien and I were amazed at the sheer number of famous names who thrived during this period, and they were all in Florence. I wish we saw this series before going to Italy last year.

January 9, 2009

So You'll Know I'm Not Dead

Honestly, that's the only reason I post daily with a picture that looks like yesterday's (see past several posts -- all the same!). 24 hats are knitted and the ones shown here have sewn back seams. Oh, there are still more to seam, plus little white pompom tops too. How tiresome, right?!

We watched Indiana Jones & the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull. Cate Blanchett is one of my favorite actresses and I loved seeing Karen Allen with Harrison Ford again -- very cute!

January 8, 2009

They All Look the Same

Like the Energizer Bunny, I keep going and going, and I only have three more to knit!

January 7, 2009

Tiny Hats

Right now I'm feeling relaxed about production for future shows. Ah, what a relief not to give myself deadlines! It's a bit weird, however, to continue working with Christmas-y colors in January, so I keep saying to myself, "It's okay, keep it up," because I've almost reached my goal of 24 pieces.

Those books in the background... those are some of the handwritten journals I've kept for the past 30 years.

January 6, 2009

Lingering Cold

Bloggers who go on and on about health issues aren't my cup of tea, so I won't be whining here!

I forgot to mention: during THIS party, my gift was a Secret Keeper doll. Cousin Brenda recognized it immediately and snapped it up (it wasn't wrapped), but not before my Uncle/her dad, grabbed it by the hair and tossed it aside! Bren temporarily lost the doll to someone else, but she rolled a 7 or 11 and reclaimed it.

I used to hear that satin pillow cases kept one from having serious bed-hair upon waking, but I never believed it. After the first night at my sister's home during Christmas, my morning coiffure caused her a great deal of fright. She loaned me a satin pillow case and, whadya know, my hair didn't look so scary the next morning! I promptly bought two of my own.

This is my (and my sister's) new BFF. I am IN LOVE. The funny thing is I didn’t know I "needed" it until my sister and I went shopping. She’d been wanting an iPod and we were at the Apple store to buy it. She said, “Laur, check this out!” and we left the store, one for each of us. When we got home, Tien asked her a bunch of questions. I pulled mine out and said, “Here, play with mine!” Apple-lover that he is was happily-shocked that I bought it, and without consulting him first like I usually do. He has enjoyed setting up the techy stuff for me -- it feels like WE got a gift! Now I can’t put it down. I carry it from room to room. It has a TON of great apps (applications) and I don’t even use it for music, although my brother Russ gave me 6.6 gigs. I can check all my email accounts without typing in passwords FROM BED UNDERNEATH THE COVERS!! Oh, and don’t even get me started on the free games, plus all the books from Project Gutenberg that I can read on it. iPod Touch, I love u!

January 4, 2009

Under the Weather

Two of my closest friends remarked on my lack of recent posts. This cold has done me in! Despite feeling crappy, I managed to complete these. Knitting only requires movement of my fingers; not much happens above the wrists when I hold the right needle like a pencil. I met my initial goal of 12 hats in red and white. Not very Santa-ish, but I wonder if green and white hats will sell? I'll try 6 of them.

Tien and I watched Mongol, a Russian production on the early life of Genghis Khan. What a difficult life it seemed to be! If you love rich visuals like I do, this is a gorgeously-shot movie. The scenery is beautiful and so are the people. With bro-in-law Kuan(za) in Shanghai now, we have been talking about a trip to Mongolia in May. We watched with subtitles. Do you understand the Mongolian language?

I also watched Wives and Daughters, a four-part BBC mini-series. The BBC excels at these productions -- my sister and I adore period books and movies. The movie was made from a book by Elizabeth Gaskell, a contemporary of Jane Austen.

Now you know how I spend my sick days.

January 1, 2009

Happy 2009!

Yup, it's going to be a happy one, I say, no matter what! That's my story and I'm stickin' to it. As for resolutions, those rarely stick, so I'm not making any.

I am, however, making more Santa hats for wine bottles. Once I get to 12, or maybe 24 (lofty goals), I'll start on matching scarves. These will be for Fall inventory. Since I'm in the mood, I'd better keep knitting. These images are also for Kat whom I saw at the bank today. I wanted to teach her to knit since she expressed an interest, but she's moving out-of-state in two weeks. Keep in touch, Kat! (Hey Momma, imagine that, ME teaching someone to knit!)

These stars were crochet'd in October. They will embellish chemo caps. The pattern is here.

Here's wishing you everything your heart desires in 2009. Happy New Year!