Tuesday, March 03, 2015


I've been MIA for awhile, but going back to work after having a semester off for sabbatical has meant a bit of an adjustment in my schedule.  Then, of course, working and being around a lot of people during the height of the cold and flu season meant that I got what was going around, which knocked me off my game for a few weeks.  I'm happy to be well again.

In the meantime, I made another rag rug on my rigid heddle loom.  I posted a tutorial in 2012, which still brings me lots of blog traffic.   I used a slightly longer 65" warp with this project, and I'll probably go even longer next time.

For this rug I used red cotton for the warp, and various red prints for the weft.

It's a yummy rug for the kitchen.

Off the needles, I finished a pair of socks.   I love knitting striped socks as I can measure my progress with the color changes.   It's hard to stop sometimes because I want to see what the next color will look like.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Straw into Gold

I found a bunch of superbulky wool at the thrift store, not knowing what I might do with it.  When the call went out for mittens for children,  I thought I might be able to do some magic.

These mittens are going to children in one school, so I wanted each pair to be different.  I dyed the wool in batches ( and a couple of finished mittens) with Wilton's food coloring, the kind for cake decorating, and a big slug of vinegar.  The washing, dyeing, and vinegar treatment really softened up the wool.

I used Susan B. Anderson's free pattern Outsider Mittens.  It's a quick pattern on number 13 needles, though I made some pairs with number 11s, and I liked the firmer fabric.  The pattern is available in three sizes. 

I hope these will keep some children warmer through the winter months.

RIP Louie

We lost Louie over the weekend to his failing kidneys.  To lose 2 cats in a month is a lot of grief to manage.

Louie was the sweetest cat I've ever had, and he was my sewing room companion.

Now he's in Cat Heaven with Wee.  (That's Bunny with him in the picture, she's still very much with us).

Louie and Wee are running in the grass and climbing trees together.

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Piecing Blocks

I'm beginning the year piecing blocks for a slow cloth project, my Mexican Jenny crazy quilt.  This quilt is a meditation on the story of Mexican Jenny, the woman who I wrote about in my book: a prostitute who killed her husband in a domestic violence altercation, and then made a crazy quilt while incarcerated in Colorado in the early 1900s.

I don't know about you, but when I piece blocks, it's a messy job.  I haul out all kinds of supplies, many of which end up strewn across the floor.

I began by collecting images that are historically relevant.  Some of these are images of women from vintage French postcards, others are from ads or other media.

I use transfer paper to make motifs that I iron onto linen.  This is the kind of paper you can use to make transfers for decorating t-shirts.   These motifs are the focal points of the blocks.  I like using this medium because the images are crisp, but the downside is that you have to be careful not to iron them because they'll melt. 

I've sewn up 10 blocks so far, and my goal is to finish the first round of 16 before I put away the supplies and start embellishing.  The blocks and the center medallion are connected by the repeated use of some of the same fabrics. 

Here's a peek a a few blocks. 

Tuesday, January 06, 2015

Endings and Beginings

Last year I decided to keep the labels of the yarn I knitted up into finished objects to gauge how much yarn I used.  I happy to report that I used 85 skeins of yarn in 2014.  I've recycled last year's labels, and the collection process has started again.

We had a loss over the holidays when our 19-year old cat Wee went to Cat Heaven on Christmas Eve.  She'd been a part of our family since she was a kitten and my kids were 5 and 7.  Although she had been losing ground for some time, it still came as a shock, and we were very sad to lose our old friend.

Less than a week after Wee's passing, my beloved cat Louie was diagnosed with kidney failure.  Though he's still with us, he requires extra care and I'm treasuring each day we have with him.

For New Year's day we had a celebration of what has passed and what's to come with children, step-children, step-grands, and in-laws.  It was an auspicious way to open the new year.  Whatever comes next, we are always in loving company.  Who could ask for more?

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Red Shawls

Fitting the holiday theme, I recently finished two red shawls.  The first one was a UFO that I'd knitted half of and recently picked up and finished.  The pattern is Gaskell by Sarah Jordan.  It's a very warm garter stitch shawl knit from side to side.  It's the perfect shawl for wearing around the house.

I was on looking for a shawl with pockets to knit for my mom when I found the Contralto Shawl, a vintage pattern available free on line.

It has beautiful cables and is also knit from side to side.

Many of the other pocket shawl patterns I'd seen were very plain, but his one has pizzaz.

 I love this barn red color, just what we need during the long dark (and rainy) days of winter.

Happy Holidays to all, and good health and happiness in 2015!

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Two More from the Vault

I've got two more fully completed quilts!  The first one, Wheel of Fortune, was a long-term project.

Contemporary machine quilting was done by Debra Dixon, whose work is high quality, quick, and reasonably priced.

This detail shows the blocks that are featured in my blog header, as well as the straight-line quilting.

I found this great flannel for the back.

It's lovely and squishy and it now lives in my home office.  I need a bit of visual excitement when I'm working in there sometimes.

The second finish is of a UFO from LONG ago.  When I first started quilting about 15 years ago I pieced these blocks and hand quilted the entire center of the quilt

When it came time to quilt the borders I ran out of enthusiasm.  When I pulled out this quilt recently I had half made up my mind to throw it out, because I had no intention of finishing the hand quilting.  But, hey, I thought, I have machines that do that.

Sure enough, the machine quilted borders are just fine for this quilt.  I still like the graphic design, and now it's fully quilted and bound. 

Cleaning up my UFOs has left me all kinds of mental and physical storage space for projects for the new year.

Tuesday, December 02, 2014

A Finished Quilt


After many pauses and hibernations, my butterfly quilt is bound and on the bed.

Getting my UFOs finished up has been made easier by the machine quilting of my pal Debra Dixon.  She does lovely contemporary machine quilting for a reasonable price, and her turn-around times are very good.  Thanks to her quilting know-how, I've only got one unfinished top hanging in my closet right now, and that will be the next one to go to Debra.

 She can be reached through her blog Debra Dixon Design, and through her Facebook page.

I love the way these colors cheer up my room, especially during the dark winter days.

I think my slow creative process has paid off.