Saturday, June 20, 2009

From the "Archives" (Happiness Project)

In the process of moving out of my sister's house, I found a quilt I had made for my nephew several years ago (maybe 6 or 7 years ago? yikes!).  It is one of my favorite things I've ever made, even if the applique isn't perfect (Ernie's eyes are a little crossed, and Kermit looks like he's ascending to heaven...).  Still, it makes me laugh out loud every time I look at it, and so I borrowed it to hang in my office.  Luckily, I work at a place where hanging Muppets on your wall is encouraged.

This is not a great photo, I know.  First, the lighting in my office apparently stinks, and second of all my old digital camera is not the greatest when it comes to taking indoor pictures (I am still craving a Nikon and saving my pennies...).  But I wanted to share this anyway, because part of why it makes me ridiculously happy is that it makes me remember my nephew as the cutest, sweetest little boy that ever lived -- and frankly, he still is now that he is almost 11.  Best. Boy kid.  Ever.  This has been independently confirmed.  And, he and his sisters, along with my sister and brother-in-law, are here for the summer now (flew in last night!), and I am deliriously happy to have them close by, at least for the next 8 weeks.  

The Muppet blocks are from the book "Quilting With The Muppets", which I heartily recommend even if you don't sew; I thought it gave a really great look into the people at Sesame Workshop who have entertained us all for generations.  The book gives you basic Muppet block templates, and then you are free to design a quilt however you wish - I thought this was great, but probably not for a just-starting-out quilter.  There are many examples of quilts made by Sesame employees over the years that can provide inspiration.  (The patchwork blocks are a mishmash of me playing with fabric and using some plastic templates that I think came from my grandmother. )

Monday, June 15, 2009

A Few UFO's (UnFinished Objects)

I've been reading Julia Cameron's book "Walking In This World", where (among other good things) she suggests that us artists try actually finishing some things.  In that vein, I am endeavoring to finish some long-lingering projects cluttering up my workbaskets.  There are many more to be unearthed, but these two are currently at the top of the pile:

1.  I found these blocks while unpacking, and vividly remember the night ~2 years ago when, in a rare fit of drinking two glasses of wine, I sewed them up.  The blocks are a little wonky (never drink and sew!), and the color choices...well.  I can't decide what I think about them, frankly, and it honestly seems to depend upon the light.  At night, I like them...but in the bright light of day they make me cringe.  Also, I have utterly no clue what to use as a border, having used up all the fabrics.
  I believe this is the "Next Door Neighbor" Pattern from "More Quilts from The Quiltmaker's Gift" by Joanne Larsen Line.

2.  Look, non-train knitting!  A rare find in these here parts lately, I know.  This is a wonderful,  oatmeal-colored alpaca yarn from Frog Tree, which I bought at Knitty City in NYC over a year ago.  With any luck, this will be a baby sweater for my as-yet-unborn cousin (or perhaps second cousin?  I can never remember...).  This is a completely impractical thing to make out of alpaca, as it is hand-wash only and babies are not exactly synonymous with that term...but the yarn is so soft and cuddly that one can easily imagine a baby swaddled up in it.  (Pattern is the "wrap top" from "Easy Baby Knits" by Claire Montgomerie).

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Peanut Redux

Better.  Still some wonkiness, but better.  Another try or two and I think I'll have it down.

Peanut the Problem Elephant

One of my projects this weekend was the "Peanut, The Wee Elephant" pattern from Joelle Hoverson's book "Last-Minute Patchwork + Quilted Gifts".  It was intended as a baby gift but I, um, clearly did something wrong, as he's not supposed to tip over like that.  His trunk is too long, and the underside is a complete mess.  I looked online for pattern errata, but all I found was zillions of other people raving about how easy the pattern is.  I'll give it another shot & see if I can't figure out what my problem is...I suspect this version will eventually be carted off by my youngest niece, who won't care that her aunt's sewing skills are not quite up to par.

Saturday, June 13, 2009


I seem to have created this weird sort of haven for myself where there are good things pretty much wherever I turn.  With the exception of the very loud train, which I have more or less gotten used to (surprise!), I am ridiculously content here.  This morning I browsed the fabric and yarn store next door, came back for lunch and some knitting time, and then spent a few hours walking around the downtown area where there is an art store (geared towards kids, but still) and a quilt store, as well as a nice little cafe for my routine Saturday afternoon iced mocha.  I think there is a bookstore nearby too, but I'm trying to pace myself.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

My Vacation: A Rundown

1)  I moved.
2) I went to NYC to see S.
3) I got a hair cut -- which really deserves its own post, since I had 8 inches cut off.  I had not had a haircut in a whole year, and it was really cathartic having it chopped off; as if I was just cutting away the past year.  
4) I made a tablecloth.  The fabric store  had made one for a display table, and I wanted it in the worst way.  Amy Butler fabrics; no "pattern", but the nice lady at the store sketched out directions for me:

5) I made chocolate-chip banana bread, the recipe for which I found in this book.  It uses whole-milk yogurt instead of butter or oil, and I have to say it is the best recipe I've found yet.  I leave out the ginger, though.
6) I am, at this very moment, awaiting baked macaroni and cheese, which I have never made before.  Now that I have to pay rent, I can't keep spending ridiculous amounts of money on lunch, and so I'm trying out some recipes to see what I can take into work with me.  

In between all this was a lot of packing, unpacking, and cleaning, not to mention a significant amount of cat wrangling, soothing, and entertaining.  He seems to have adjusted, more or less, although I think he feels a little confined here.  Frankly, so do I:  we went from a four-bedroom, three-bath house with a full basement, to a one-bedroom apartment.  There's just not that much room for him to hide, or for me to spread out.  My biggest challenge is setting up my sewing space - there really isn't room for it in the living/dining area, but that's where the TV/DVD player is, and I really like to watch movies while sewing.  

I will say that while I don't exactly feel rested (despite having slept until 10:30 this morning...), I do feel a lot more sane, and less stressed (obviously, because one of the major things stressing me out was the move).  The trouble is, every time I unpack something I think, "Oh God, I'm going to have to pack this again at some point".  It's just a little overwhelming, is all I'm saying!

Tuesday, June 2, 2009


Air conditioner drowns out all manner of noises, and while the train can still be heard it only woke me up twice all night.  Also, cat has turned the corner and only got me up once, at 3:30 am.  Must figure out how to cat-proof the bathroom sink thinking those baby-proof thing-a-ma-jigs might do the trick.

Monday, June 1, 2009

Oh for the love of #$%^

I moved this weekend.  Here are the traumas, in no particular order:

1)  Commuter rail runs right next to building.  Didn't think much of it at the time, since train doesn't seem so loud when I'm riding it.  BIG mistake.  I will either get used to it or spend the next year whining about it...start placing your bets now.
2)  Cat is completely freaked out, partly because he's in a new place and partly because the train whistle scares the bejeezus out of him.  
3)  Understand after last night why I never had kids:  was up with the cat every 2 hours, him yowling like a newborn, banging and scratching the bathroom cabinets (so much for my security deposit...), and racing from room to room.  Wound up with him sleeping curled up next to me (which he never does) UNDERNEATH the blankets.  I freaked and thought he'd smother, but every time I moved the blanket he crawled in deeper.  At a certain point, I was too flipping tired to care, and assumed that a cat who has walked this earth for 6 years must know a thing or two about breathing.  Either that or he was suicidal.  He has spent the entire day under the bed sleeping, and I fear another round of Mr. Nocturnal is in my future tonight.
4) I am covered in bruises.
5) After three days, am still not done.  However, the big stuff is moved and I have the rest of the week off.  Must sleep before I do anything else.  So. Tired.
6) Apartment is in the front of the building above the main entrance.  Teenagers hang out on the steps there after school playing "I'm Too Cool To Do Anything But Sit Around and Swear" while trying to throw a basket ball on the (my) roof.  
7) Elderly couple downstairs turned on their TV in their bedroom for the 11 pm news.  Guess how I know this.
8)  It also appears I live right around the corner from the fire station.  Handy, but loud.  And for some reason shortly after I got here last night, four fire trucks careened into the parking lot with their sirens blaring and lights flashing.  No idea why, as there was no alarm going off.

Clearly, I am meant to live alone in a cave somewhere far, far away from the rest of humanity.  Tomorrow, I'm investigating noise canceling ear phones.