February 27, 2009

Hi, Remember Me?

I have not forgotten about you, my darling sewing room. Although your door remains closed at the moment, soon I will be back in the saddle. In another couple of days, one of my two part time office jobs will end after 10.5 years. There are just a few more things to do there. See you soon!

February 25, 2009


Our guests, Ning and Tat and their two children, have left and a few years will likely pass before we see each other again. I'm putting the sewing room back together and my clock seems to be missing. Eventually it will turn up again. There is a Murphy bed behind the white cabinet doors on the left side.

Here is my sewing room, before and after, although the descriptions are interchangeable. The only image I won't share is "during" because I don't want to offend anyone with the mess!

February 22, 2009

Blanket Stitching

The garland is coming along well. At first, it seemed there were a lot of circles to blanket-stitch, but once I banished that thought and began to appreciate just stitching, before I knew it there were only a few left: 18 to go!

This is my friend Shiao Ning. Ning is married to Tien's best friend, Tat Heng (friends since grade school), and she's a corporate lawyer in Singapore. My first trip to Singapore in 2000 was for their wedding.

Ning's son T-Rey had such fun running after seagulls. The seagulls were attracted to the pizza and gyros we brought for our picnic. I cracked up watching T-Ray chase them into flight.

February 21, 2009

Munchkins from Singapore

Tat and Ning have two children. T-Yan is nearly age 5 and the pronunciation of her name ("tien") is causing a lot of confusion in our household! She's a bossy first-born with an excellent vocabulary. She colored a wooden flower, then we gave it a coat of sparkles afterwards. T-Yan and I are getting to know each other and she has taken to calling me "Auntie Lauren" and "Madam," the latter because this is how she addresses her teachers. She is quite a pistol!

Her brother T-Rey ("tee-rey") is 2 years old. Can you believe the eyelashes on this child?! The children inherited long lashes from their beautiful mother.

February 19, 2009

Play It Again

I would post another progress picture, but I'm afraid it would appear all too similar to yesterday's. Blanket stitching on quilted circles continues. About one-third are done. I wish I were finished because sewing a button onto each cirle will be fun.

Tat Heng and his wife Shiao Ning will be visiting from Singapore. Tat is Tien's best friend from elementary school. They'll have their two children with them (ages 5 and 2) whom we've never met. Little do the kids know I've got tee shirts to paint and wooden cutouts for coloring, but no dolls to play with! Stay tuned for more art work. They'll be here from Thursday through Tuesday, so posts will be sparse. I'll miss you.

February 18, 2009

Standing at the Barre

In ballet, we recognize this as First Position. In our house, it's Tien showing his new rug in action.

With the rug complete, I'm back to working on these.

February 16, 2009

No Art, Just Crafts

My buddy Anita had these handmade rugs in her house which are thick and comfortable to stand on while at the sink. She told me how simple they were to crochet. A few years ago I made three for our house, one for my Mom and another for Mum-in-Law. Now, this one is for Tien.

Made from four strands of Red Heart yarn and a gigantic crochet hook, these acrylic rugs wash/dry nicely and stay in place with a rubber grip. Starting with 40 chains, I worked row after row of single crochet stitch for about three hours and it is nearly complete. Just need to do a few more rows, then finish the entire outside edge with a final row of single crochet. Hmm, might be really cute with a shell stitch edge (if it weren't for a man).

February 15, 2009

Sewing Room Wall

I was inspired by Danny Mansmith to hang my dolls on an imaginary line. My sewing room RARELY looks this spare; lots of junk on the other side. I was reminiscing about the days when my sewing space was in a shared room, with one table, a small storage for fabrics and a boby cart. Now that I have an entire room, there's space for more textiles that I don't have time to stitch, ARGH!

With leftover flannel I made little quilts for my two nieces, Natalie and Megan. Free form quilting is still not my best subject, but I like the way the flowers came out. The rest, ick.

February 14, 2009

Will You Be Mine?

The creativity gene runs strong in my family. In fact, it flows on both sides, paternal and maternal. A clear example is the artist who created this retro Valentine in 2005, my maternal cousin James Wong. He and I didn't see each other for many years after our teens, and then he went away to school at Art Center in Pasadena. When we got together again in the mid-1990s, I found my younger cousin had not only become an accomplished artist, but he'd matured into a fine man and become a hilariously funny storyteller. He recently sent me a link to his website and I was blown away by his talent. Here, have a look.

For you, my heart... Happy Valentine's Day.

Rest in peace, dear Tara. You sure were a sweet dog. We will miss you very much.

February 13, 2009

Can You Die From Not Sewing?

We are having house guests next week and my sewing room will be converted to the guest room. That means I must put away my tables, machines, beads, boxes of textiles and projects, inspiring doodads/trinkets/dolls and HIDE THEM! (Two of those house guests are ages 2 and 5.) This all leads me to ask, will I break out with hives/zits? Develop mid-life asthma? Have to double-up on meds? We shall see! If only we had a dedicated guest room... Maybe in my next life. (whining)

I don't know if I'll be able to take it, so I've gathered three hand-stitching projects: quilt binding, a yo-yo garland and blanket stitches on quilt circles. Masami might remember the fabrics in this quilt -- she brought them from Osaka for me a zillion years ago. One of the fabrics, red with gold, is a 30 year old Marimekko print.

I'm POSSESSED by Coraline and I haven't even seen the movie yet. This video shows "conceptual knitter" Althea Crome creating costumes. Makes me want to try knitting thread.

Althea Crome

February 12, 2009


Coraline is a recently released stop-action movie. Anna Maria Horner mentioned the film on her blog, and all it took was for AMH to write about "up close views of a doll being cut, stitched, stuffed" to make me look further. Sew I rushed out to buy the book which is meant for Ages 8 and up, but what the heck -- I'm 49 and still playing with dolls. More here!

Lasik update: At my 9 month check up, tests revealed 20/20 vision. The doc showed, through temporary glasses, how much more clear my vision could be and offered to fine tune the corrective surgery -- OMG, I could read license plates in the parking lot across the street. Everything was CRISP. However, the surgery would additionally decrease my near-vision (which I need for sewing), so I decided against it. My only wish is to see TV images with crystal-clarity, so I'll get a mild prescription for glasses.

February 11, 2009

Kaleidoscope Quilt

My 66" x 66" quilt is done! 100% cotton, reproduction 1930s fabrics, 80/20 cotton/poly batting... The quilt needs to be washed and dried, photographed in proper light, then posted on Etsy this weekend.

Before the quilt was finished, Coppélia used it for a nap.

At the office my boss asked, "Do you know anyone who sews? If you do, I sure would like to know. I have a bag full of clothes with missing buttons, small tears, stuff like that..." Shocked at his genuine unknowingness, I stared and said, "DO I KNOW ANYONE WHO SEWS??" Once we got past that, he explained he didn't connect my art to sewing (or I'm a fish). So I offered and, of course, will be paid for my stitching.

February 10, 2009


Pretty soon I'll share another finished quilt! Lest you think I can churn out new work within just a few days, I pieced this Kaleidoscope quilt in 2003. Ellen Patton machine quilted it in 2006. Since then, it has been in a pile of unfinished work, AND I'M THRILLED TO SAY THERE'S ONLY ONE MORE TO DO AFTER THIS!

It took four to five hours to cut fabric into bias strips, stitch them together, then press and sew to the edge. The quilt will be for sale.

My favorite hand-sewing trick bears repeating: pull thread through beeswax, put thread into paper bag, iron bag on low setting to melt wax, wind thread onto empty spool. The wax strengthens the thread, keeps it from twisting and it sews wonderfully. The amount of thread needed for hand-stitching is 1.5 times the four edges.

February 9, 2009

2003 Wedding Quilt

"Just Married" was attached to the back of our car. "囍" was posted so guests could find our home where the ceremony was held, and 5" blocks were signed by everyone who celebrated our wedding with us. Quilt is 46" x 65".

Once a quilt is entirely finished and washed, my favorite part is pulling it out of the dryer to see all the "crunchies" that occur from batting shrinkage. I like 80/20% cotton/poly batting.

This is how Magellan helps when a quilt is laid out for photography.

February 8, 2009

My Paternal Grandparents

I've written about Grandma before, about her tiny, even, handsewn stitches... This picture was taken by her son, my Dad, before I was born. How wonderful to see Grandma in action! If you look closely, you can see basting stitches on the right.

This is my elegant Grandfather. Dad took this photo too -- he still recalls the day, asking his father to go to the roof (the house was kitty corner from the SF cable car barn) to take the photo. Before I was a twinkle in Dad's eyes, his father suffered a stroke which affected his mobility and speech. I never really knew Grandpa -- a shame because he spoke English, and I would have liked to ask him so many questions.

February 6, 2009

Spring Shows 2009

I need a break from art shows. If you've been reading my blog this week, perhaps I sound anxious (ya think?!). Along with two PT jobs, personal projects are piling up with personal deadlines, and my munchkins made sewing requests.

Nancy and I will do one show this Spring (see sidebar) and, maybe another this Summer, but I intend to do my normal round during the holiday season.

If you are local and have needs (lavender pillows anyone?), please write and we'll arrange a get-together.

Ooh, another oldie but goodie! I cut and sewed binding onto my 2003 wedding quilt. It's comprised of 5" fabric squares that our guests signed (in lieu of a traditional guest book), the "Just Married" sign appliqued for our car, and a giant red double happiness Chinese character. Tien watched me as I hand-stitched the edge and said, "Sometimes my wife take a long time to finish things..."

By the way, pencil marks in yesterday's quilt disappeared in the wash, yippee!

February 5, 2009

A Woman's Work is Never Done

Would you look at the title of this post and quilt?! Talk about a self-fulfilling prophecy! No wonder I've felt panicky about chores these past few days.

When I first started quilting, I loved vintage patterns and images. Southern belles and elegant ladies of the 1930-40s were a favorite and, rather than embroider them on dish towels, I made them part of my quilt (53" x 59"). It took so many years to finish this project I daresay the colors are outdated. Not only that, but there are fade marks where the sun took its toll, plus I can't remember who machine quilted it for me. I see that the lower right block is not positioned properly, but oh well, too late now! Who knows -- maybe I did it on purpose ;-).

Some of the roles of a woman are written in the horizontal white block: playmate, comedian, maid, messenger, mind reader, social secretary, defender, organizer, devil's advocate, #1 fan, nurturer...

...driver, ray of hope, masseuse, sunshine, pet groomer...

...bookkeeper, lover, listener, caregiver, miracle worker...

Some of my pencil lines are still visible. I wonder if it will wash out after all these years?!

February 4, 2009

I Am Not What I Do

Sure, just like every other Type A personality, I enjoy being busy. What I don't like is the accompanying stress brought on by self-imposed deadlines. Having too many things on my mind causes things to slip through cracks and missed details. (This topic is a rerun, which means I haven't conquered the challenge yet!)

From the lovely blog of Nina Bagley, I learned the word, indolence. One of her readers, Jackie Bastow, provided an excerpt from Henry van Dyke's Fisherman's Luck, 1899, in the chapter entitled, "A Lazy, Idle Brook."

Indolence is a virtue. It comes from two Latin words, which mean freedom from anxiety or grief. And that is a wholesome state of mind. There are times and seasons when it is even a pious and blessed state of mind. Not to be in a hurry; not to be ambitious or jealous or resentful; not to feel envious of anybody; not to fret about to-day nor worry about to-morrow, --that is the way we ought all to feel at some time in our lives; and that is the kind of indolence in which our brook faithfully encouraged us.

Think I'm gonna download this book onto my iPod. Here are two more paragraphs to finish the thought. Wonderful!

It is an age in which such encouragement is greatly needed. We have fallen so much into the habit of being always busy that we know not how nor when to break it off with firmness. Our business tags after us into the midst of our pleasures, and we are ill at ease beyond reach of the telegraph and the daily newspaper. We agitate ourselves amazingly about a multitude of affairs,--the politics of Europe, the state of the weather all around the globe, the marriages and festivities of very rich people, and the latest novelties in crime, none of which are of vital interest to us. The more earnest souls among us are cultivating a vicious tendency to Summer Schools, and Seaside Institutes of Philosophy, and Mountaintop Seminaries of Modern Languages.

We toil assiduously to cram something more into those scrap-bags of knowledge which we fondly call our minds. Seldom do we rest tranquil long enough to find out whether there is anything in them already that is of real value,--any native feeling, any original thought, which would like to come out and sun itself for a while in quiet.

February 3, 2009

I'm Stitch-Happy

Ooh, I love blue and white! It reminds me of a china pattern. Two sides bound and two sides to sew. Remember, I'm ripping out stitches along the way, boo-hoo, WAAaaah!

February 2, 2009


Frequently Asked Question: How did you spend your birthday?

Answer: I slept late, my nephew and nieces sang Happy Birthday to me, my husband took me out for lunch and gifted me with a clock/radio/CD player/docking station for my Christmas BFF, I napped during the Super Bowl, we had Hong Kong style noodles for dinner, and then I stitched, ate ice cream and cracked up during a hilariously gory zombie movie.

Simple joys are so nice! I love these nice sharp corners that pal Nancy taught me to do. Binding is slow on this quilt. I've only finished one of four sides, but that's okay -- there's no hurry.

Wonder if Punxsutawney Phil saw his shadow this morning? Of course, I'm not up that early.

February 1, 2009

Happy Birthday To Me

I'm 49 today, YIPPEE! Age is a matter of the mind; if you don't mind, it doesn't matter. Each year, I feel just a little bit wiser.

Guy Welch, a cameraman and artist, was my Dad's coworker at KTVU, once an independent station on Ch. 2 in Oakland, long before it became a Fox affiliate. Sometimes on our birthdays, Dad would ask Mr. Guy (as we knew him) to draw birthday cards. Dad brought this home many years ago. Dad knew I was crocheting, and Mr. Guy's interpretation was knitting needles and a ball of yarn. Mom had sewn this beautiful orange gaucho outfit with a vest (we found a white ruffled blouse to go with it) -- when I wore it to school, my friends gushed. All the memories in this 10"x 14" card are wonderful to me. Guy Welch is gone now, but I still treasure this bit of his art.

"Birthdays come but once a year
Some in Spring and some in Fall
But of all the birthdays in the world
Your birthday is the best of all"