Category Archives: Crafts

Handmade Ottoman

We’ve been working on this ottoman for-ev-er and we finally finished it a few weeks ago. If you look closely, you can see all of its little imperfections but that’s part of why I love it so much.  We started by sketching the designs, Greg built the frame and put furniture foam on the frame. Then, Dwight helped by chewing some of the foam off, but we were determined.  After the sewing and quilting was finished, we pulled the fabric over the foam and stapled it to the bottom.  There are tiny rubber feet on the bottom to keep it just a touch elevated off the ground. Let me know which side is your favorite…I’m still deciding!


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Noro Socks #4

I’m obsessed with Noro yarn, and I’m obsessed with knitting striped socks with them.  This is my 4th pair and I’m already looking for my next skein. The yarn is a beautifully dyed self striping yarn. I usually use the Noro Kureyon Sock, but wanted to try the Silk Garden Sock.  The Silk Garden is a bit thicker than the Kureyon, but both are really fun to work with.

I knit these on a long Size 1 circular needle using a toe up, magic loop technique. I like the toe up method because I don’t have to guess how long to make the leg before turning the heel and, in turn, I end up wasting less yarn this way. I have many other knitting projects in progress, but once I start on a pair of these socks, I usually can’t stop until they’re done…it’s that addicting.

The yarn gradually fades from one color to the next, so to get the distinct stripes that you see in these socks, I made 4 equal sized yarn balls (2 for each sock), and alternated the balls of yarn every 4 rows.

Anyway, if you have any questions about how I did this, let me know!


Filed under Crafts, Knitting

New Socks and a Lace Scarf in Progress

I’ve had so much going on that I had neglected knitting for a while.  I’m now back at it and trying to finish up projects that have been hanging out on my needles for way too long.  I had started these socks nearly a year ago for Greg’s birthday last year.  Oops, at least they’re finished in time for his birthday this year.

Notice the dog fur that has already been incorporated into them.  It’s a battle that we’ve given up on.

Here’s the pattern I used.

I’ve now moved on to trying to finish my Seascape scarf/wrap. I’m using Malabrigo Lace Yarn.  It’s amazingly soft and easy to work with.  I’m hoping to have photos of the finished scarf up in the next couple of weeks.



Filed under Crafts, Dogs, Knitting

a few new projects and the meals that fueled them

vacation has been nice. but with last month’s busy schedule and hurried move, there were several projects (new and old) that needed to get done over the two weeks. a few were required due to the move. the kitchen needed a table to hold the microwave and the craft room needed a table/shelf for the loom. these were quickly built and may not be earthquake proof. also, i had to rebuild the bonsai shelter which was more complicated than it should have been.

the microwave plug doesn't reach the outlet so don't bring us hot pockets

the bonsai deathstar is fully operational

more creative projects include a small stool for eunice in front of the vanity in the bathroom and an ottoman for the main room. these aren’t quite done, just picked up the upholstery foam this afternoon and have yet to choose fabrics for the ottoman.

on its way to becoming a stool

cube in the works

awaiting foam and fabric

in between all the creativity i have managed to dedicate my vacation to bacon, with blt’s, rasher’s, and pancetta all making an appearance and frequent encores. these last few days may have a few pimm’s cups as well.

central valley summers are great


this never happens when i have to wake up at 5 for work

irish rashers are the greatest form of bacon, discuss

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Filed under Cooking, Crafts, Dogs, Food, Furniture, Outdoors

Paintbox Quilt

So, we’re pretty much moved in now, and we put the last touches on our new art/craft studio (I love calling it that).  I’ve been looking to make a version of The Paintbox Quilt for quite some time now, and I finally found some time last night to start.  I plan to make my version in different shades/prints of blues and greens rather than rainbow colored.

I cut out the pieces above for my first couple of squares and I can’t wait to piece them together.  The fabrics are Moda’s Hoopla Cross Weave in Green and Kona Jungle.  All my solids were purchased from the Simply Solid Fabric store on Etsy, and I was really happy with them.

Below is a preview of some of my other fabric pairings.

Stay tuned for more!

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Drop Spinning

Bosworth on the left and Spindlewood on the right

Over the last year or so, my knitting obsession turned into a fiber obsession.  I kept reading about these people that would spin their own very beautiful yarn, and I became super intrigued.  So, I went out, bought myself a drop spindle and some cheap wool and spun some crazy looking brown yarn and I was hooked.  That first spindle unfortunately became an unintentional dog’s chew toy, but since then, I’ve purchased a 36 gm (1.28oz) Bosworth Midi made of Bloodwood and a 22 gm (3/4 oz) Spindlewood Square spindle made of Figured Myrtle that I love using and have refined my skills a bit.  Here’s a sampling of the yarn that I’ve spun so far.  I would LOVE to own a spinning wheel some day (yes, I just turned 29, not 65). If you’re thinking about spinning yarn on a drop spindle, there are a lot of online resources.  If you’re close to the Bay Area, A Verb for Keeping Warm is an amazing resource for supplies and classes.  If you’re in the Sac Area, Rumpelstiltskin has some spinning classes and supplies too.  Right now, I’ve got some lovely A Verb for Keeping Warm Alpaca/Silk blend on the spindle. Stay tuned for a post about what I’ve done with all this yarn!


Filed under Crafts, Knitting, Spinning

Kitchen Window Quilt…Completed

I’ve finally completed quilting and binding and washing the quilt, and I love it.  It’s perfect to use both as a lap quilt while reading or watching TV or on the bed as an extra warm layer.  I did try to save some money and bought pretty cheap thread for the quilting, and I think that was a big mistake. I had lots of issues with thread breakage while I was quilting.  I think next time I’ll pay the couple extra dollars to save me that frustration.

I used Alexander Henry Heath in Chocolate for the binding and I really like how it looks with the rest of the quilt.


Filed under Crafts, Quilting, Sewing

Making the Quilt Sandwich

Now that I have the quilt top and quilt back completed, the next step is to start actually quilting the 2 together.  To do that well, I start by creating a good quilt sandwich.  In addition to the top and back, I need batting to give the quilt warmth and softness.  For this quilt, I used a twin size Quilter’s Dream Natural Select batting that I cut to be just bigger than my quilt top.To start off, you need a large enough space of flat hardwood or tile floor.  If you’ve got dogs, make sure to sweep and mop beforehand or your dog’s fur will be part of the quilt (which, in retrospect, may actually make the quilt warmer).  Once you’ve found your workspace, roll out the batting.  Don’t worry about getting all the wrinkles out yet, that will come later.  Just get it relatively flat.

Next, spread the quilt top on top of the batting like so…

Then, starting from the top, roll the 2 together and set aside.

Next, lay the quilt back down with the right side facing down.  Also make sure that the top and bottom are oriented correctly.

Then, take some masking tape and tape the edges.  Pull the fabric somewhat taut as you go so there are no wrinkles, but not so much that it becomes warped.  We are NOT trying to channel Joan Rivers’ plastic surgeon here.  I find that the best way to do this step is to start by taping the top.  Then, I work down the sides together.  Then I end by taping the bottom.  You will probably want to use enough tape to cover almost all the edges or else it may not stick to the floor well as you’re putting tension on the fabric.

Once your quilt back is taped, starting from the bottom, roll out the backing and quilt top.

Here it is all the way rolled out…

Now the final part of this step is to pin all 3 layers together.  I use curved safety pins because they make it really easy to grab all 3 layers.

I like to start in the center and spiral my way out.  The key to this step is to smooth out the quilt top as you pin so that you get rid of the wrinkles but not so much that the fabric becomes warped.  Again, NO Joan Rivers!  It’s ok to sit/kneel on your quilt during this step.   This is probably one of the most tedious steps in the whole quilting process, but once you’re done with this step, you can untape the quilt and carefully put it on your lap and imagine what it will be like when you are done with making the quilt.  Remember to not go super crazy with your excitement of trying the quilt because it may undo some of that smoothing you just spent time doing.   I like to leave a couple of inches of batting and the quilt back extending beyond the quilt top.  I think that that makes the quilting process a bit easier.

Next up will be the quilting itself.

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Filed under Crafts, Quilting, Sewing

My Completely Improvised Quilt Back

I’m so surprised at how quickly this quilt back came together, especially since I made the pattern myself!  For the quilt back, I wanted to do something different than what the pattern in the book suggested.  I had some of the Metro Living Lantern fabric pictured above and I knew I wanted to incorporate this, but I also wanted to tie in some of the fabrics from the front (mostly so I could use up my leftover scraps).

To create this quilt back, here’s what I did. I took 2 yds of the Metro Living Lantern, and cut it in half. I had about 3/4 yd of the Quilter’s Linen left over, so I cut that in half and sewed it to each of the halves of the Lantern fabric.  I then cut 1 1/2 inch strips from the Kona Aqua, sewed them end to end to create a long enough strip to span the width of the quilt back and sewed that to the Quilter’s Linen.  Now I was left with 2 large pieces of fabric (seen at the top and bottom of the quilt back).  I placed my completed quilt top on the ground and then I placed these pieces I just created over the top and bottom of the quilt top with about an inch overhanging on all sides.  Now I could see how much space was in the middle that I needed to fill with other fabric.  Turns out I needed a strip about 12 inches long to fill the gap.

From the leftover printed fabric that I had from the front (Alexander Henry’s Natura Collection), I cut 6 pieces that measured 6.5″ x 12.5″.  I also cut 1.5″x 12.5″ strips from the Kona Aqua as sashing between the printed fabric.  I sewed these together as shown below.  I then figured out how much more fabric I needed to fill the edges with the Quilter’s Linen and sewed these on to the ends.  I then sewed this middle strip to the top and bottom pieces.  Now onto the quilting and the binding!

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Kitchen Window Quilt Top Completed

I’ve been chipping away slowly at my 2nd quilt, and I finished the quilt top today.  The pattern comes from a great book called The Practical Guide to Patchwork by Elizabeth Hartman.  She also runs a great blog called Oh,Fransson!.  If you’ve got a little bit of sewing experience and want to start quilting, I think that this would be the book for you.  It’s got a bunch of tips and techniques and also a bunch of patterns that are youthful and fresh. 

For this quilt, I picked the Kitchen Windows Pattern.  The printed patterns come from the Natura Collection by Alexander Henry that I’ve had stashed away for a few years.  The blue solid is Kona Cotton in Aqua and the tan is Quilter’s Linen in Straw (both by Robert Kaufman).

It’s by no means a perfect quilt, but I am proud of how much better my corners met up on this quilt compared to the last.

Now I just have to figure out how I want to do the back.  I’ve got some Metro Living Lantern in Leaf that I want to use, and I think I’ll somehow incorporate leftover scraps from the fabrics above along with it.  It may be another few months until I post about the back, but stay tuned!


Filed under Crafts, Quilting, Sewing