It’s getting hot, I can wear my new clothes

I like hot weather, the slightest chill and I’m freezing. So I welcome the warmth. For the first time last night we enjoyed dinner out on the patio. This also means that I can start wearing the clothes I made in the last few weeks.A short sleeve t-shirt – linen knit! I have one more to make.Sooo cozy.This is basically a circle skirt, but McCalls has you lay out the pattern differently. This is the second time I’ve made this, and the fit isn’t great. So after this skirt, the pattern gets tossed.I made adjustments, this skirt fits fine, but I don’t need a pattern I need to fiddle with. I love this dress!  The fabric is from the final sale at Sew Modern.  When I bought the fabric I had no idea what kind of dress it would become, so I purchased a lot of yardage. I was able to cut the front panel on the bias – which of course adds interest to the dress.Looking good from the side and the back.Shira already wore this to Disneyland where people asked her which store she bought it from. Her response: my Savta Leah made it, she makes me beautiful dresses. Which ensures that she will get many more beautiful dresses.I made sure to sew down the opening here. I don’t like gaping necklines!

Another great outcome is that my friend Anna is now sewing! When she only had one daughter I made her a few dresses, now she has three. Although she told me years ago that she can’t sew a straight line, that turns out not to matter. She made an adorable knit dress for her daughter, they worked together. I think there are many more dresses in her future.




Let me just try this new technique…

A few weeks ago all the shows from The Quilt Show were available for free for one weekend. I binged. One of the last ones I watched had Ricky Tims showing how to insert a square into a square. I had to try this technique.Quilters will notice that the larger square isn’t pieced around the smaller one, it is inserted, so no seams are visible.As you can see, I couldn’t stop. Once I had this I realized I need to continue and build up a quilt.I like my quilts to be rectangles, much more practical. So the first border has different widths to change a square into a rectangle. If I had planned out ahead, my final square would have been a rectangle, but at that point, I was just playing around.

I’m in love with rulers these days, instead of using Deb Tuckers, I used Jodi Barrow’s ruler.  She gets the same results, but her approach is slightly different. Where Deb uses triangles, Jodi uses strips. It is all planned out to give you the finished block with the necessary quarter inch seams.By now you must have figured out that scrappy is the way I quilt. I’m happy to say that this is truly a scrappy. I didn’t buy anything specifically for this, just dove into my stash. I also made my attempt at Rita Streimer’s quarter inch border. You can see how I am increasing the rectangle as I go. Both in the solid borders as well as in the pieced ones.The angle of the camera makes this appear to be more of a square, that is how photography distorts.  I had enough, a baby size quilt is enough for this project. I have a number of friends who are becoming grandparents in the next few months, a lucky baby will get this soon.I LOVE quilting baby quilts! The project is small enough not to get drag as I work, I can just go to town with the quilting.Even if the quilting gets lost in the busy print fabrics, it subtly highlights the shapes I want.From this distance, it’s hard to see the quilting, but notice how firmer this looks compared to the image on the grass. Quilting not only provides warmth – because of the batting, it also turns a two-dimensional object into a very slight bas-relief one.Done!I deliberately chose a bright contrasting fabric for the binding. Sometimes I want the binding to blend in, at other times, I really want it to frame the quilt.Can’t help myself, need to share close-ups.Nothing exciting about the back, it is small enough that I didn’t need to piece it. The fabric is something I purchased at an estate sale and of course, my label is already there.  When I figure out who is going to get this, I will put on a bigger label with more information.

Art, real art

If you have been reading my blog for a while you have probably noticed that I have a certain disdain for modern art. I’ll be honest, I hate it, it’s ugly, it’s angry and way too political in a very narrow sense.  That is a big part of the reason why I am no longer a docent at any Art Museum.

Yesterday I put down my money and became a member of the Autry Museum Of The American West.  This is a big reason why:They work in conjunction with organizations like this to show what I call real art. Yes, it is a large gallery showing, many of the works here are for sale. Earlier in the year they have a similar exhibition with another organization.Many of the paintings are plein-air, wonderful landscapes, in this case mostly from California. There are examples of hyper-realism, such as this marvelous still-life that would look at home in an 18th C. Dutch gallery.I have a real fondness for Troupe L’oeil, Fool the eye paintings. Really most paintings are just that, creating the illusion of three dimensions on a two-dimensional surface. Here is a more modern version, the wood is painted by the way.

And here is a much more traditional version.This grabbed me, I love the series Last Remaining Seats, the big fundraiser of the LA Conservancy. Very few shows are at the Palace, it is a much smaller venue than the rest.

I can attest, when I was a LACMA docent, we got the yearly statistics of visitors. Whenever there was an exhibit of some kind of craft, be it glass, ceramics, fashion or objects from the Arts and Crafts movement, the number of visitors was at least triple the number who went to see the modern exhibits.  LACMA would never show this kind of exhibit – it is beneath them. The arbiters of art are elitist intellectual snobs, they talk about bringing the masses into museums, but that is talk. They don’t really mean it, they love having their highbrow setting away from the riff-raff. I wasn’t the only one enjoying this. I saw another couple who clearly was there to buy something. There was also a group of disabled adults, seriously disabled, they were there for an outing, I sincerely hope that some of them reacted well to the art.

Then I stepped outside to another kind of exhibit. California Yarnscape, not just yarnbombing. Using all kinds of yarn and techniques to create works that signify to the maker what California means to them.In this case the maker used all sweater to create what is probably her own dog. Notice the poppies?Although this was made before the Super-bloom, it is wonderful to be able to go out to nature this year and actually enjoy this scene in real life.Each person has their own ideas about what California means to them, I’m guessing this is the ocean. Gotta love the pompoms.Crochet, knitting, embroidery, everything using yarn in one way or another. It is bright, colorful and fun.

This is why I joined, The Autry may be small, but they bring in Art, the kind of art that people actually really enjoy.  I want to support them so they continue to do so.


It’s getting warm here, so why am I knitting hats? I took a craftsy class on short rows, turns out I’ve been doing it wrong all along, so I wanted to try out some short rows, not on a full sweater of course so – a hat.

I ended up buying the book Knitting Short Rows, the pattern I wanted was only available in book form.Oh my, this picture reminds me of my first year of marriage, when as an Orthodox wife, I covered my hair all the time. Things have changed!I used some handspun yarn that I had received as a gift a few years ago.  It is a fun slouchy hat and the short rows really give it the unique shape. It fits well on my head and slouches in the back.It is fun to see the yarn-play, the color gradations.Who knows, maybe I’ll have a chance to wear it before next winter.

This wasn’t the first hat I made out of this pattern, here is the first.Cute, but just a little small.I think I need to give it to Shira.I’m trying to use up old yarn, and this is very old, over 10 years. Koigu yarn, using the same book I’m going to make a shawl. When I wound the yarn, it did break in one or two place, that is what happens to old yarn. But it’s Koigu! I’ve saved it this long I need to use it!

A quilt show

Rita Streimer has been teaching quilting for a long time and won’t stop until they remove her on a gurney. She has organized a show of her student’s quilts, of course, I went.An interesting way to display the large ones.This one caught my eye, simple yet very effective.Not only are the center squares three-dimensional, Sandy really tried hard to match the stripes.I missed the binding until someone else pointed it out to me. Sandy didn’t want a solid binding, she also didn’t want to make a facing, so she carefully matched each square on the binding, one again trying and mostly succeeding in matching the stripes. What can I say but WOW!One of Rita’s signature design elements is the quarter inch border, done here in multiple fabrics. Nice feather quilting!The block is quite simple, it’s how the quilter plays with the colors across a number of blocks.This one was titled ‘In progress’ because it is.Fun with fussy cutting.A different kind of fussy cutting, how to achieve akaleidoscopee. Here in a very tight print.Here using a much looser print, achieving a similar yet different effect.This show was in Canoga Park, in a wonderful area that was once the downtown, before it was annexed to Los Angeles. Today this area has a lot of antique shops, a theater and some cute restaurants. It also has some interesting old buildings, of the kind of doesn’t see often in the valley. Brick is rare. This whole look is rare, what lovely stain glass windows! The interesting color on the outdoor lamp.Another is an example of an ‘almost craftsman’ with a painted front door.A much newer building, an office building.Finally, taste is not objective, but why is one little bird left unpainted?

Happy Passover

Happy Passover to all who celebrate, I’m busy getting ready for the second Seder, smallish group, yet still a lot of work.

So let me share what I did just a few days ago.

First of all I bought new hiking boots, we are going to Switzerland with friends this summer, time to get good boots and break them in.

I met my friend Elin at The Church at Rocky Peak and set out for a hike.Getting a different point of view of the Church’s cross, I usually see it while whizzing along on the 118 freeway.The trail predates the large gated community, so they are obligated to have a right of way for walkers.  Oh my, what a community it is.Just look at this lion head!The gardeners were working hard, so I got a chance to peak beyond the gates into some of the front yards. Yes, even in a gated community, people put up gates around their own property.…and have gargoyles protecting the premises.Up and out beyond the community, a hazy look back at the San Fernando Valley bellow us.With some obligatory rusted object.Our original plan was to hike to these old foundations of a house, but time ran short, so I got a picture from afar. Next time.It is a large property, the entrance looks like it would have been very impressive.Back to the Church parking lot. You can see why it’s called Rocky Peak. Interesting rock formations here at the Santa Susana Pass.Since I mentioned Passover, here is an obligatory image of the brisket I cooked in the Instant Pot, and yes, it was moist and delicious. Hardly any leftovers, just enough to send home with the CPA son. Great Seder, good company, two of the guests discovered that their mothers were best friends as children. What a small world.



Quilts of Valor I

A few months ago, Ruth, Irene and I started getting together to quilt. I guess you’d call us a mini group. We also go fabric shopping, exhibit visiting and other fun stuff together.  Friends in real life who share similar interests is a great thing.

Irene suggested that we each make a Quilt of Valor. These are quilts that are donated to veterans.  Always happy to do something for the men and women who serve our country.  Then Irene suggested we all use the same pattern, Storm At Sea.With the wonderful ruler out on the market, it has become easier to make a quilt from this block. Easier does not mean easy. A wonderful thing about this pattern is how fluid it is. No two iterations look alike. QoV requests red, white and blue, a patriotic theme. This isn’t a colorway any of us would chose on our own, but we are all up to the challenge.I worked the old fashioned way, printed out the pattern and pulled out some colored pencils. Ruth has some amazing programs so she planned out hers on her iPad.Yeah, I’m a little jealous, she made all her components and then put it all together. She also made an 18″ block, while Irene and I struggled with 12″.To be honest, I probably wouldn’t work that way in any event. I had a crazy idea of the pattern crossing the block lines, so I ended up slowly working row by row.Irene, who chose the pattern, noted that this is a hard one, she has never used her seam ripper more. Join the club! I can’t tell how many times I had to rip something out! And for all that, it  appears as just a scrappy quilt.Except it isn’t, there is a method to my madness. Because of my crazy choice I have very definite pentagons. Some are dark blue, some are light blue and some are the light background. I thought I was done. It was a little small and to be honest, borders hold the whole thing together, especially since I think every side here is on the bias. So I added a border and now it’s waiting on my dress form for me to get the backing together and buy the batting. QoV request polyester batting, makes sense, we don’t know how these quilts will be cared for and some people might be allergic to wool or other fibers. This is Irene’s’ version. I’m happy to say I gave her some of my blues and grays.And here is Ruths’.This is why a design wall is so handy. Get the layout right!

Group projects like this are so much fun! Being limited by pattern and color is a big part of the challenge. I’ll keep you posted about the progress.



Sunday Hike

We are going to Switzerland this summer, so it is really important to get into shape. Luckily we have mountains here to practice on.It was time for a hike up  to the Griffith Park Observatory. Last time I was there it was covered by a cloud. On this gorgeous spring day, many others were hiking up the mountain with us. We started in Fern Dell park, a park that was created back in the 1930’s. In those days it was very popular to make concrete look like wood. So all the railing look like this.Since you can’t touch, here is photographic proof. Re-bar in the middle of what is now a broken log.We started climbing, not only are wildflowers out, the rain has done other damage as well. Look at this rut!The views along the way are spectacular- even through the haze downtown is impressive.The Hollywood sign is always fun to see.The closer we got, we could see a lot of people walking around the building.I feel sorry for people with allergies, this year is especially hard. I have no idea what kind of tree this is, but it sure is pretty.We weren’t the only ones making our way up here. I’m impressed that the dog runs along side the horses. At this point, they are trying to figure out where to park them so they could go inside. Here is the front view, somewhere there is a plaque in honor of James Dean from Rebel Without a Cause, that was filmed right here, shortly after this building was built.Art Deco details that sparkle in the light.Then it was down through Fern Dell park. A tropical slice of heaven in the middle of the city. Joel, the LA native had never been here before. I love introducing him to his city.Can you see the steam coming off the bubbles? My guess is – it’s like the La Brea Tar pits, primordial ooze.A tree fell, was it this winter? Or much earlier and it just hasn’t been cleared out?Once Iencounteredd one Staghorn fern, it appears that they show up everywhere.As is our tradition, finish off a hike with tacos. These are fish tacos from Ensenada Fish Tacos on Hillhurst. Not as fancy as ‘Home’ that had a line down the sidewalk waiting for brunch. We’re sticking with our tradtion of some kind of local taco place.



The Mountain Mermaid

Every year the LA Conservancy thanks it’s volunteers with an event at an interesting location. This year, it wasn’t in the city, it was out in Topanga Canyon. That funny, quirky canyon that connects The Valley to Malibu.It is so green this year, the mustard and lupine have started blooming. Not sure there will be any CA poppies here.

The location is the Mountain Mermaid, a home and event center. Bill, speaking to us about the home has many stories to tell about this location and all he did to save it from ruin. Many mermaids are on display.Using them as lamps seems to be a theme.Or as fountains in the garden.Other nautical elements, portholes as windows. There were a few examples around the house.There were many examples of arrested decay being used both inside and out. Anything that can be used as a fountain, is. Water in the mountains is so soothing.These deadly spikes on the banister going down to the garden. The colors and texture here are what I love.Although I live in a pretty dry part of the country, with a little help, it can be green and lush.There is a whole story about rebuilding the pool. But how can you have a home named for a mermaid without a body of water?I wonder, did this old door belong to one of the original iterations of the building or did Bill find it and bring it here?Just a little longer and the figs will be ripe.It’s not only mermaids, this garden bench has dog heads. Or is it some other mythical creature?With my re-ignited interest in mosaic, I find myself drawn to glass.20 years ago, Staghorn ferns were all the rage. This one looks ancient because of the size of the rootball which is covered with the shield fronds. The garden is not only beautiful and serene, it highlights many local plants as well as attracts butterflies.  This is the time of year that many of our plants bloom. I can’t resist them, even if they are common around here.