Sunday, September 09, 2007

She seeks wool and flax, and works with her hands willingly

The woman who works with her her hands is only a laborer The woman who works with her hands and her head is a craftswoman The woman who works with her hands, her head, and her heart is an Artist
~St. Francis of Assisi

After what has turned into a long summer hiatus, my blog like Martha Stewart is back on the air. What I may have lost in words I've more than made up for in activity over the last couple months. I have been a very busy person.

I've canned peaches and applesauce. Also made a small batch of apple butter.

After two summers, the trellis/pergola top for the courtyard fence is done. Now if I could just get to the Kwall store for the paint! (No, I didn't build it, but I had to keep the workman who did supplied with liquids.)

I've framed 3 finished cross stitch pieces. Michaels had their friends and family sale and I got 60% off a frame order. Nice. Never could have afforded them otherwise. I mounted the needlework and Sarah put my backing and hardware on. I love how old the frames look. Unfortunately the frame details don't show up well in the photo.

The sewing projects have been piling up at an alarming rate. Sarah is bringing home fabric faster than I can buy tubs to store it in. She's finished a wine colored Will Turner shirt and a very Twiggy tweed wool jumper. She's neck deep in black fabric for a Snape costume. I've managed to snatch the machine a few hours for myself ...

At long last the new pillows for the family room sofas are finished. They look fantastic. Simple pillow sham construction with iron on velcro closure. Used scotch guard on the fabric so they wipe clean between washings.

A very good thing because...

Elliot thinks the new pillows are great. Here he is defiling them. He has no respect for anything but his own comfort. He is such a pug!

Here is my French flea market apron. I made it using really cute retro Halloween fabrics from Marcus Brothers and

And last but not least...
They say imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, and I sure hope that's true because I'd hate to be called a copy cat. A friend of mine, whose blog I discovered while hunting up help with the Charlotte's Web shawl, Nancy, is a very talented lady. She and I have so much in common that I have often told her I wished we were neighbors, or at least lived near enough to visit. She knits and scrapbooks, sews and rubber stamps. We often end up choosing the same knitting patterns and similar yarns without even knowing it. I've watched Nancy's quilt making with awe, but never had any desire to do one myself. Until the day I logged on to her blog and saw her red quilt. I kept going back and looking at it again and again. I wanted it. I began to dream of having it. Desperation drives people to do strange things. It drove me to check out every Kaffe Fassett book the library had. It drove me into scouring the internet for the fabrics. I hope Nancy will understand and be flattered. Here is the finished quilt, I call it the Ruby Quilt after my mother. Red was one of her favorite colors and I think she would love it.

I used Fassett's layout for the Tapestry Garden Quilt. However, when it came to which color block goes next to what my head began to spin. I let the fabrics tell me what felt good and went with it. Beth got so excited as I neared the end, she did the whole lower third. We ended up with too many purple plums in the last row, but who cares? It's gloriously beautiful.
We had so much fun that I've ordered fabrics for another. All golden fall rose hips and crab apples.

While it may look like Nancy's in overview, it in no way resembles Nancy's in true beauty or quality of workmanship. I had no end of trouble with it. I made mistakes I never should have made. My impatience got the best of me again, and I paid the price. Forgot to iron the quilt top. Didn't use clear thread for the top, which would have covered so many of my mistakes. I used a spray adhesive for basting the layers together and it worked really well, but the reviewers who said I would not need pins as well were sadly mistaken.

I think my biggest problem was simply dealing with the sheer size. I struggled and struggled with the weight pulling the sewing out of line. Up until now I've kept my time at the machine to short bursts. The weight of the quilt along with the stress and sitting really took its toll on my neck and shoulders. I will never machine quilt another large project. This said, I have fabric for two quilts waiting. What to do? Tie 'em.

I also used Nancy's tutorial for sewing a bag and created this beach bag. It's lined in muslin and even has an inside pocket. Nancy wasn't fooling about it holding six beach towels.
This is the beginning of what I hope will eventually be enough bags for my grocery shopping.

They are incredibly cheap to make. JoAnn's always has bolts of home decor fabric on the clearance, and this bag barely cost me $6 and that's with the lining and the webbing for the handles. That beats the store bought canvas bags by $10.

And speaking of grocery bags, here's a great recycling idea from Martha Stewart. Make your own shopping bags out of t-shirts. Sew across the bottom hem of the shirt. Lay the shirt flat and cut off sleeves following seam lines. Cut an approximately 9 1/2 inch 1/2 circle in neck. A bowl works great to use as a guide. Mark a line around the bowl and cut. There you have it, a shopping bag! Put it in your purse and you'll have a bag ready when ever you shop for clothes, books, etc. Make enough, and you can sack your groceries. To add longer life to the bag, zig zag stitch along the cut lines of neck and arm holes. :o)

While I've had great success on the sewing front, my knitting has not been going so well.
I'm still struggling with the Shoalwater shawl. I certainly thought I'd be done by now, but it is determined to make my life miserable. If I didn't have so much time and money invested I'd burn it. I could rip it out, but the thought of all the wasted hours makes me sick at the very thought. This is all doubly embarrassing after the quilt debacle and only made worse by all the knitters on line who have made this shawl apparently with little or no trouble at all. Lovely things sit waiting to be cast on but I refuse to give it until this beast has been tamed. I do love this fantastic free trade market basket I found at the Sunflower Market.

He who knows what sweets and virtues are in the ground,
the waters, the plants, the heavens,
and how to come at these enchantments
is the rich and royal man.



Nancy (knitting wench) said...

I am truly, deeply flattered that you found my quilt so inspiring! Yours is incredibly lovely! There cannot be too many plums in that quilt – that was my favorite fabric. All I see from here is red goodness. I had a few really wonky seams myself (all those squares really show anything not squared) but I can tell you after almost daily use those errors just disappear. Too bad we don’t live next door so our quilts could have a little tea party!

Love your beach bag too. Glad the tutorial was a help. Thanks for the t-shirt idea.

I’m so jealous of your canning. My husband puts up a tomato condiment (called “chili sauce” in his family, but best on eggs) and occasionally pickled onions, but I’ve yet to try canning myself. May just have too after these photos!

Nancy (knitting wench) said...

Oh, and I love the pillows! And the adorable dog, who just like mine, loves pillow lounging. And the framed cross stitch (I can see that frame detail - perfect). And finally, that cute apron. Well done ma'am.