Gifting the quilt

As much as I love the process of making a quilt. Gifting it in person is really the best thing ever. My friend Dan just bought a 112 year old Craftsman house. And now he is learning about what he has. Needless to say, the moment I set foot in the house I knew what quilt I had to make. First of all a new home deserves a quilt, second of all, I knew it had to be Weeping Willow.

I keep most gift bags I receive. I don’t remember what came in this, but it is the absolutely perfect for gifting this quilt.

Dan receiving this quilt. Can you tell that he loves it already?? Yeah, this is why I give special people a quilt. You know that a big part of me goes into every handmade item I make. And a quilt, with the hours of work and effort, it has a lot of me, not just the fabric and thread.

Immediately he sat down on his reading chair with the quilt. And yes, got to take the glasses off. Which is a little ironic, since the quilt is on a reading chair.

This is the chair under the window. The quilt basically looks great anywhere in this house.

Ok, I get it, the radiant smile is more apparent without glasses. Dan has a roommate, who is quite taken with the quilt, but he only gets to enjoy it from afar. The quilt is now part of the evening ritual of sitting and reading. Yes, it has made the experience much cozier. This is exactly why we crafters love giving out the labor of our hands, we know that a handmade gift has something in it that can’t be found in a store-bought item.

And now, to point out some of the incredible details of this house. Notice the brown tile above the built-in bookshelf. I’m sure this is original to the house. Yes, I love these kind of details.

Here is a broader image of the house. Yes, I know purist would immediately say, strip off that white paint and get back to the original wood. I would say, and I know Dan agrees, the white makes the space so much brighter, and you know what. A bright home matters. The details in the woodwork, in the picture rail in the dining room beyond, the ceiling details. LOVE IT! Now I am very happy in my 1950 home, I am actually working with a designer for the first time in my life to redo some rooms. But the fact that I can visit this beauty, makes me very happy indeed.

The reason why I chose the green backing is because of the tile around the fireplace. Now, I have to be honest, it really really bugs me. I am sure this is expensive marble tile, but there is too much, and it doesn’t work in a Craftsman house. But, not my house, the house is old, it has had many owners, and someone did this. It is not the worst thing they could have done. Dan likes it. Heck, I played off it for the back of the quilt. It’s all good

I didn’t take pictures of the front porch, which is amazing, or the backyard, which is also amazing. A previous owner turned the backyard into and incredible, edible space. He planted some exotic citrus trees, one of them is a Kafir lime. A tree priced in Thailand and in Thai cuisine. Not so much for the fruit, but for the leaves.

The fruit is gnarly looking. The leaves are interesting, double leaves. I brought some home and made some Thai Curry. Was it the red paste? Or did the leaves actually make a difference in the curry? I’m going with, the leaves made a difference. Btw, it’s like bay leaves, you cook with them, but don’t eat them.

Yes, dinner was yummy.



I never claimed to be someone who marches to her own drum. I know that I am very susceptible to prevailing winds in the culture. Yes, advertising works, I know I’ve bought items because of advertising. The same is true of the crafts I partake in. I find myself following trends. So I picked up knitting again 15 years ago when it was cool, I restarted my quilting when the Modern Movement showed up.

So for the last few years I’m seeing more info about cross-stitch. I have embroidered labels for my quilts, using some of the more modern designs. I even cross-stitched a few, especially the last one, with the Kipling Quote.

The book, Retro Cross Stitch is full of great patterns. I’m jumping in in the deep end and making this wonderful Old style travel poster.

Yes, I went on Craftsy and watched a class, where I learned some very valuable things about cross-stitch. I have also begun following some FlossTube Chanels on You Tube. Yes, I have succumbed.

Instead of the cheap Aida cloth at Joann’s, I ordered some linen and thread from The Fat Quarter shop. Turns out it isn’t really linen, but I do have to actually count the threads, which yes, is causing some problems. I also ordered some snap frames and thread holders. If I’m going to do this, I’m doing it right with all the bells and whistles. I even bought a new printer, my old one wouldn’t scan and I was out of of colored ink… so yeah a new printer.

At the moment I am enjoying having the fabric taut, although I may try another project, on real linen that isn’t in a frame and then I’ll try the sewing method instead of the stabbing one.

Ok, maybe I got a little too close with my macro lens…

Yes, there have been times when I’ve had to remove stitches, things weren’t lining up, all part of the process.

Yay! I get to use another color. No, I didn’t use all the brick red yet, one thing I’m discovering is that if I go ahead and move too far off to create more of the design, I tend to get more mistakes

This is looking so cool! Btw, have I mentioned that I don’t particularly like the cutesy cross-stitch? I am intrigued by antique designs, or new ones that are based on antiques. I absolutely love the style of the images in this book. But the cutesy stuff, no thanks.

The ’tile’ background is great.

Watching FlossTube, a number of people mentioned these magnetic cords. Yep, I bought some. Two are taming all of my recharging wires, which were quite the bird nest. Here are two that are holding back some excess fabric on the back, I was snagging it with my needle.

View from the back.

I may have to unpick some of that yellow, this is the problem with random stitches. Right now, I’ve moved back to the woman and will work on her, even if it means, switching out a lot of colors.

I do find this work to be quite meditative. Which these days, is something I really really need.


Knitting and sewing

Every evening I knit, it is very relaxing, I’m not in a race, the sweater will be completed when it is finished.

The row on the blue background was supposed to be a mirror image of the pattern in the middle of the yoke. I made one small mistake and it is not exactly the same. Which is fine, this is how patterns are created.

The body of the sweater is finished. I was sort of trying to get the patterns to line up in the front. Nope, I didn’t succeed, but really who cares, there will be a blue button band. If someone notices and comments, my answer will be: I’m not a machine, I’m a human. I have created a sweater which is artistic but I’m to going for some mechanical level of perfection.

I’m hoping that I have created something that is pleasing to the eye, the distribution of dark against light.

Looking from this angle I’m seeing how the yoke is differentiated from the body, because of the circle vs. the straight knitting.

The back is beautiful, no breaks. I did repeat the narrow blue stripe between patterns, repetition makes the whole easier on the eye.

Here you see the move from yoke to body even better. It will be very interesting to see what happens when I knit the sleeves.

Then it was on to sewing, making some dresses for Shira.

I love sewing her dresses! She is growing so fast, it is scary.

This fabric is a knit. It is a polyester velvet. A little tricker to work with, but oh my – how gorgeous. How festive how lovely!

Took these two to Polywog park, it’s always fun to explore a new playground!


How to finish a quilt

Before I started the quilting, I read a blog post about not over quilting, if you want a nice soft cuddly quilt. We are so used to seeing magazines and IG posts of gorgeous perfect quilts. But they are meant to be used, a full size one is, maybe not wall quilts. So I had started quilting, and basically over quilting. This is the only row that has quilting on the dark colors. Not only did I not repeat that anywhere else, I didn’t bother to take out these stitches. Its’ not a mistake, it adds character.

The quilting itself took time, I worked with off white thread and stitched in the ditch, sort of. So each ‘block’ is quilted in zig-zag along the middle and along the edges. I didn’t want to run the thread across the lattice, so there were a lot of starts and stops. No I didn’t bury any threads, I sewed in place to secure the ends. I’m sure there are some tails still out there.

Here you have it, condensed zigzags and outlines of the lattice. That is harder to see because I used green thread on the back. So yeah, lets be honest this is a pretty densely quilted quilt.

I love how this came out.

I took some artistic photos.

The quilting has made this into a more three dimensional object. But everything is still nice flat and smooth. That is about to change. This is meant to be a cuddle quilt on a couch or chair. It needs to get fluffy and crinkly. I used cotton batting, as I worked on it, it was compact and smooth. Then I threw this into the washer and dryer.

You can see how much more crinkly this has become!

This might not be the best before image, because there was a lot of drag as I quilted.

Here it is out of the wash, there is a lot more crinkle. Take my word for it, it is also much fluffier, softer and cuddlier as well.

It hasn’t in any way ruined the effect of those real narrow sharp saw teeth. The bold graphics are still here.

I am very very happy with the results. Now I need to gift it to a friend who recently bought a house. A 110 year old Craftsman house, I can’t think of a more perfect quilt for him and his new home.


One of those Duh moments

For years I’ve been glue basting my quilts outside. I’d pull out the folding table outside and it was a pain. On the last quilt I made, the huge white one, I did the basting outside, but I just went back to using safety pins. It worked fine. One of the things I learned is to use monofilament and the walking foot and do a basic grid along block lines.

Remember this table? I use it all the time, but with only one leaf open.
So here’s the duh moment, open up that leaf and use this table to baste the quilt!

It works beautifully! I don’t have to schlep things outside, I don’t have to wrestle a table from the garage. Sure, this quilt isn’t all that large, but I think I’ve decided that I probably won’t be making king or queen size quilts much anymore.

Why do we get stuck in old habits and forget to look around and learn new ones?

Using the pins works just fine. I don’t place them too close together. I have all the layers stretch on the table and suddenly it isn’t an onerous task.

I probably could have worked with regular cotton thread, brown thread since I quilted along all of the lattice strips. And no, I don’t like monofilament, it broke a lot. I did get the job done. Now to figure out the rest of the quilting.

I really had to zoom in with my macro lens for you to see this.

In other news, I get to go back to Grandma and me with Einav!!!! Here she is with her friend Scarlett. They met 10 months ago, then we had that awful long hiatus. And here they are back together. During the lockdown Scarlett had some major surgery on her scalp, thank God, it all worked out, so that helmet isn’t for vanity, but for a serious issue. God Bless America, she got amazing treatment and is doing extremely well. Although it looks like each girl is eating her own snack, nope, the grabbed food from one another, it just makes my heart sing.

I hate the lockdown, I hate that kids are isolated. I really hate what it is doing to my special needs grandson. But for my six year old grandson, I’m seeing silver linings. He is meeting classmates at the park, he plays with the neighbors. And together we go on long walks. this is the second time we went to the pier. Look at that deep blue ocean, it calms my soul. So we watched the fishermen, we were surprised that the lifeguard station didn’t put out the daily information about the water temps and the tide times.

We sat together on a bench on the pier and watched the surfers and talked about what they are doing and how they are doing it. I have no doubt that one of these days Westley will be one of them. Right now he is learning to paddle board on the inner harbor and is also learning how to boogie board.

On our walk home we passed a huge mural which is part of the Hermosa Beach Murals Project. Which btw, is a good effort, they do sell posters of the murals, I’m all in favor of renewing through art.

This is not my picture, I downloaded it. This mural is being painted by Hermosa Beach resident Chris Coakley, go read his bio, fascinating.

Also, not my photograph, no way I could capture this all. Yes, I LOVE this, great art! This is Hermosa Beach in 1909. So Westley and I stopped and looked at this and admired the pier, the few old buildings and the trolly.

This got us taking about the trolly, I explained that back then, trollies ran all over southern CA. We were up on Manhattan Blvd, but one street closer to the beach is Hermosa Ave. I said to Westley: you know how Hermosa is a divided street, with a median with plants in the middle? Oh yes, they have gone to the median to get succulent cuttings. Well, at every cross street we could look down and see the median. Guess what, that is where the trolly tracks used to be!

That kind of history lesson only happens when one is out and about experiencing the world. I am so grateful I have these moments to share with my grandson. A silver lining to the awfulness of what the world is going through.


Weeping willow

I should have known when I couldn’t find this pattern on Judy Neimeyers site that not many people made it. It is hard! But I kept at it because, there is something so unusual and unique about it.

Top is done! It was a very long road getting here, and an expensive project to boot. That is OK, this is the third quilt I’ve made this year. I have ordered the materials for a serious cross stitch project. So quilting will be on the back burner for a few months.

Here is the pile of the final blocks. Yay! I forgot, now I need to pull out the papers. It was suggested to just pull the centers out, leaving the sides in to stabilize the blocks. Heck no! My least favorite thing is removing the papers.

Ugh! I hate this. I love the kind of blocks one gets with paper piecing, I cannot stand the process of removing the paper.

This is what the wastebasket and floor look like. And it’s not like I’m getting all the paper out, many bits and pieces remain.

I’m going row by row, I would shoot myself if I sat there and removed all the papers first.

And this is why taking pictures along the way is so important. I simply didn’t see the two blocks that were upside down. I was very careful not to make this mistake again. Guess what, on the final row guess what mistake I made again! Grrr

Much better!

Almost there! Mirrors are also wonderful tools. In this case, makes it look like a real long quilt.

It is looking so good! really three dimensional. Trying to figure out how to quilt it.

Oh, another thing, the pattern called for using solid black in the background, I opted for dark brown. Another advantage of using batik is that there were four different patterns for the sawtooth bands. Because batik appears the same on both sides, I was spared a lot of work!! The same was true of the diagonal background strips, I simply cut them and flipped them which ever way they needed to be.

Take a close look, a lot of paper scrapes. This is the last you will see of them, they will simply be quilted into the quilt and no one will know. It turns out that antique English paper pieced quilts often have the complete paper still in there. I am happy to say that I bought a wide backing for this one. Another thing I’m getting tired of doing is piecing backs. It was a way of conserving fabric, but these days, one can find wide backing at a reasonable price. Since this one isn’t that large, I will be using the width of the fabric for the length, it will be fine.

And now, to rest and ponder how I will quilt this. It won’t be intricate, but knowing me, it will be more work than is necessary.


Still working on sweater and quilt

As the wuflu ramps up again, (remember flu season? Even if this is not a flu, these kind of diseases kick in when the weather gets cold). Grandma and me started up again, it was a delight to take Einav back here. One other girl, her exact age, also a red head came back as well. Scarlett was all over Einav, in some ways a little too much, but for us grandmas, it was great to see.

That is teacher Julie, telling the stories. I am so proud, before the lockdown, or maybe during the lockdown (the lockdown hasn’t ended here btw). We must have discussed embroidery – well Julie has started to embroider and she is hooked. I am so happy for her and so proud of my influence.

She is at the drunken sailor stage of walking, this will pass too quickly! The sweater is one I made for her brother, he wasn’t happy to see it one her. I don’t know that he wore it much, its’ perfect for her, for maybe another month.

Speaking of sweaters, I frogged what I had started, it all just felt too big, went down a size and started over.

There is a formula for this style of yoke. Basically, every 2.5″ there is a row of increases. As the yoke grows, there are less increases, so the shape remains. I needed to plan those increases in the solid rows between patterns. so the first one happened on the first white row at the top. Then after the blue plus signs, another row of increases.

Larger diamonds and more increases.

I have now put the sleeves on waste yarn and am working on the body of the sweater. One thing that will repeat often is the blue band with the white beads. Also, the center band is there for steeking, this will be a cardigan, not a pullover. A lot of planning going into this project.

Yay! I’m done with needing patterns to fit into 2.5″ increments, so now I can add in a large pattern. Yes, many mistakes are being made, some are corrected, some are ignored, but all in all I really love this project.

On the quilt, there are three bands of zigzags that are different from what I’ve done so far.

Only five left to go! I can’t wait, I just want to put this together already! Although I do have another Judy Niemeyer pattern, I think it’s going to be a while before I do it. Paper piecing is amazing, but I’m ready for something else. You will find out soon what that something else is. There are no idle hands here.


A week of silence

This has been a hard week for me. The elections were crazy. Yes, I voted for Trump, but what is bothering me much more is the cheating and fraud that is going on with elections in America. I live in CA, I’ve known for a while that things are rigged here. It really became obvious with the propositions. So many people voted down the most progressive propositions, but the needle never budged on the big ticket items on the ballot. We have had massive Trump rallies, but no, none of that even showed up in the results. Of course we weren’t going to change CA to red, but a little more purple? So yeah, regrouping. I have this blog with maybe 10 followers, (Bloglovin tells me I have over 230 but they are all porn bots) so I will speak my mind here. All social media, FB, Twitter, IG are censoring conservatives. I’m not turning this into a political blog, but when I feel the need I will speak my mind.

I am SO proud of my kids, They bought a house up in Big Bear and fixed it up so beautifully, the spent a lot of money and effort to create a beautiful retreat.

For rental info, check here: The Getaway at Big Bear.

Everything is new, clean and very very bright. Not your typical run down mountain cabin.

One thing they did was remove some walls and doorways, the feel is wide open now and the fireplace is delightful, it is gas, which is easy to use and is quite warm.

Large kitchen and after this was taken, they replaced the stove. People are already coming up for Thanksgiving, they need a good stove in which to roast their turkey. Did I mention how proud I am? My kids are not trying to cut corners, they are trying to run a very good quality business.

Lovely back yard. There is open space behind them which is nice and that mountain there is one of the ski slopes. Also, The house is one mile above Quilty Pleasures… for any quilters out there.

Same view as the snow started falling. We were the first guests this weekend. We had seen the place when they first bought it, so we really saw the transformation. Also, being up there, I was able to to use things and point out what needed to be fixed. Like the shower wasn’t hot enough, or a door stuck too much. All the little things that need attention.

It snowed heavily all weekend!

The boys got busy, although within a few hours everything was covered up.

Taking a picture of falling snow really doesn’t work.

I used the slo-mo function on video, yup it really snowed.

We ended up driving the back road down the hill through Victorville, luckily we had invested in chains, and my son drove down in his fourwheel drive with us. Not a lot of traffic, no problems. I’m not sure I’ll be going back in the winter, I’d never say never, but warmer weather is more my style.


Day and Night

So here are local decorations in the day time:

carved too early, he is begging to rot

Someone found a skeleton from when giants roamed the earth

Scary door

scary window

nature sharing it’s halloween colors.

I’m rusty with my nighttime photos, at least you get a sense of the color.

Best photo of the evening, the dragons’ tongue waves as well.

He is in the same yard with the giant, as you can see, most of their decorations are inflatables.

This is a real jack-lantern, it’s plastic and the bright internal light is overwhelming the nose. Anyway, my hope is that more people go back to decorating for Christmas.


hats and a sweater

The good thing about teaching a friend to knit is that it forces me to try techniques I haven’t done in a while, or I haven’t done at all.

Case in point, Brioche knitting. Oh, great news, although by now the sale may be over. Craftsy is no longer part of NBC or whatever conglomerate bought them. No, they haven’t been able to film new classes, but they need to rebuild the base. So they offered Premium membership for $3 instead of $80 a year. You bet I signed up. I also gave myself a reminder for a year from now, in case I decide not to renew.

This is a wonderful baby alpaca I bought in Peru, left over from a sweater. Nice and soft and cozy and not easy to knit brioche with at all!!!

It does make a lovely warm hat. Sorry about the blurry image, I’m not great at selfies.

The hat wasn’t intended for me, I sent it to my friend who moved to Virginia and desperately need cold weather gear. As you can see, she is thrilled!

The hats didn’t end there. My grandson saw me knitting and asked when would I knit something for him. For him means for him and his big brother. So I pulled out the wonderful Merino I bought in New Zealand. I had already made Joel a hat, there was enough yarn left for two more. Now, this yarn is great for brioche. Now you can see how wonderful this stitch is.

First hat done! The yarn is thicker, the heads are a little smaller. So I got this one done in a day.

And the second one done early the next day before I drove down to see them. Yes, working that fast means a few mistakes, but they will never notice them. And at this point, neither will I.

They were outside playing with their neighbors, so although they are excited, it was momentary.

Then they got goofy, which is exactly what little boys should do. They will be in the mountains this weekend, which is why I was in such a rush to finish these hats.

There is a wonderful brioche shawl pattern. One by One shawl, go take a look. Anyway, I want to use these brioche patterns in a sweater. So I knit a sample, guage swatch. Here it is right off the needles.

Here it is blocked, much neater.

Using Ann Budds’ top down sweater book, I am attempting to create a sweater. I am creating a circular yoke and am speaking this, so it will be a cardigan.

I got this far, but, I frogged it all. The neck opening is too big, it’s just not right. So I’ve started over, smaller size. Another huge issue here is that every 2.5″ I need to do a row of massive increases. So that must happen in one of the garter rows between patterns, that means I need to be very judicious with the patterns. I can’t use the much larger patterns until I get to the body of the sweater. There is a reason why it is such a pleasure to buy a well designed sweater pattern. Although, there is something wonderful about designing on my own, even if it means a lot of frogging and changing as I go. Oh, and the designer is following me on IG, she wants a sweater too, not just a shawl.