Monthly Archives: August 2010

Another Year In The Life, Documented

Today we come to the end of another year of Project 365. WOO HOOO! We’ve now managed to take at least one picture every day since August 23, 2008, keeping a photo diary of the exciting and photogenic events as well as the mundane and less thrilling. As always, our lives are generally short of earth-shattering developments, so what did we have to take pictures of this year? Well, we watched hockey, we stitched, we planted, we harvested, we cooked, we gave away our marbles, and we let them run free. It was a year filled with baking adventures (like this, this, this, this, this, this, this, and most of all this), quilting adventures (like this, this, this, this, this, this, this, and this), and hockey adventures (like this, this, this, this, and this). Big goings-on for us included Schnookie serving on a jury and Pookie getting a new desk at work. It was a year of photo excursions — we went to Princeton, New York City, Ocean Grove, New Hope, Philadelphia, New York again, New York again, the nature trail behind our house, New York again, Columbus, New York again, Asbury Park, New York yet again, and The Netherlands (oh, The Netherlands, The Netherlands, The Netherlands, The Netherlands!). It was a year of photo-worthy weather, with snow, snow, and more snow, and lightning that cost us a dear friend. We challenged ourselves to be more creative taking everyday pictures, at work, on the way to work, on the way home from work, putting googly eyes on things in the office, participating in the sixty-four colors Flickr group, and crossing off items on the Scavenger Hunt 101 Flickr group’s list. Best of all, we had great times with great friends, including having an apple-canning adventure with our buddy Sarah, visting Katebits (and Heather and Amy and McGuffers) in Buffalo, we had the best week ever hosting Patty Party at stately IPB Manor, and we met Mags in Amsterdam for what was probably the best day of the year.

Last year we picked our five best and five worst for our summary 3-2-1 Hockey post, but this year’s 365 doesn’t have pictures we find as charmingly bad as last time around. (Don’t get us wrong — plenty of them are bad. Just not endearingly so.) So we’ll just leave you with our ten favorites.

October 23, 2009: 62/365

October 23, 2009

October 30, 2009: 69/365

October 30 2009

November 16, 2009: 86/365

November 16 2009

December 23, 2009: 123:365

December 23 2009

December 31, 2009: 131/365

December 31 2009

March 17, 2010: 207/365

March 17 2010

April 26, 2010: 247/365

April 26 2010

May 12, 2010: 263/365

May 12 2010

May 20, 2010: 271/365

May 20 2010

August 8, 2010: 351/365

August 8 2010

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It’s Getting To Look A Lot Like Squee!

You know what I never thought I’d do in my lifetime? Finish piecing the top for Squee City.

Squee City

But WOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!! I did it! Will wonders never cease?

I started this project last summer because I fell in love with Sheri Berry’s “Trick Or Treat Street”, quite possibly the cutest Halloween fabric ever designed.

Halloween Cats

I bought up a bunch of it, and then decided instead of trying to match it to some pattern we owned, I’d just “design” my own quilt — a nine-patch with black sashing. I don’t think that actually qualifies as designing something yourself, but I did draw the concept on graph paper, using colored pencils, so it at least felt like I was self-designing.

I thought this would be the perfect project for me, because there’s nothing I love more than piecing together 2.5-inch squares, but what I quickly learned from this project is that I hate, hate, hate making nine-patches. 16-patches? Rawk. Units of 24-square strips? Awesome. But nine-patches? Yawn. They’re so small and monotonous. They’re adorable and they look great, but man, they just drive me nuts. So when my fit of “it’s summertime and I want to be thinking of Halloween!” quilting energy passed last summer, I stuffed this away in a closet and intended to forget about it forever.

So fast forward to this summer, and Boomer’s return to her own supposedly-forgotten Halloween quilt project. When she started working on her quilt in earnest in June, I started to feel that seasonlonging pull, the desperate need to be working on a holiday-specific project. A girl can’t really justify buying a whole new Halloween quilt when she’s got one already substantially under way in a closet up her guest room, can she? Well, the shocking discovery I made in returning to Squee City was that it was A) closer to being half-finished than I thought, and B) exactly what I wanted to be working on. No, I didn’t find I liked nine-patches any more than I used to, but for whatever reason, it was right in my wheelhouse. In just about no time at all, the squares were all finished. Then I took a big stack of squares and sashing pieces to The Netherlands with me, and in just about no further time at all, there were long strips ready to be assembled into a quilt top. A few weekends back at home watching “Walker, Texas Ranger” DVDs later, the whole thing was coming together. I expected it to take forever, especially the little outer border of 2.5-inch squares, but with some assistance from Pookie (and a shift from “Walker” to “Simon & Simon” and “Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman”), a finished quilt top quickly appeared.

Squee City Border

I am insanely pleased with this. I think “Trick or Treat Street” is just the cutest fabric ever, and the Halloween jewel-tone colors — the hot pink and teal and sherbert orange — delight me. It’s far, far awesomer than I imagined it would be; I daresay my colored-pencil concept drawing didn’t do it justice at all. My plan now is to piece a backing for it, and then I’m going to — GASP! — hand quilt it. We’re taking a class at PQW at the end of September, and Squee City is so going to be my sacrificial lamb.

[Posted by Schnookie]

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Stitching Miscellany

I branched out of the quilting scene recently to make… accessories! I know! Shocking! The thing is, I’d been admiring the Little Folks voile collection by Anna Maria Horner since it came out last Winter. Then Sarah got some and I saw it in person and it seemed every awesomer. But… It just didn’t seem feasible to make a whole quilt out of it (mostly — nay, entirely — because it’s wicked expensive) so I figured I’d never get to enjoy the line, especially not the fabulous berry pink that really spoke to me. Flash forward to last month when I was bored at work and stumbled upon a quick and easy tutorial for making scarves out of 1/2 yard cuts of the 54″-wide voile. Perfect! I ordered two of the berry pink prints, drafted Boomer to do some machine sewing for me, and presto! I had two fabulous, silky soft scarves to spice up the dull cooler months!

Little Folks Scarves

And because I’m a good sister, I made them with the idea of sharing them with Schnookie. Which means I can justify making a ton more of them! Next up will be some light blue plaid ones made out of some French General wovens (side note: who knew the French General wovens would be so insanely soft and delicate? Based on the swatches you see online, it seems like it should be thick, like toweling or something crazy like that). And then after that? Well, I like the voile so much, I figured I’d check out what’s available in tana lawn, since I’d heard it was a lot like voile.

When I think “tana lawn”, I think “Liberty”. And when I think “Liberty”, I think of insipid busy prints of little florals in uninspiring colors. You know, like that Target Liberty bike everyone was all gaga over. So I clicked on the link to Liberty of London’s website without much hope. Turns out I was completely and utterly wrong. Like, I could not have been wronger. Liberty has tons and tons of awesome, spicy prints, many of which have nary a floral motif in sight. While I could have picked ten or fifteen prints, Schnookie and I settled for just three that we both really loved.

Liberty Trees

Liberty Birds

Liberty Pansies

The question is just figuring out what to use for an accent at the end of each scarf. We’re thinking maybe shot cotton? Who knows. All I know is I want to have an excuse to carry that autumn tree fabric around with me at work. Heh.

In other exciting fabric-y news, I entered a Sew, Mama, Sew giveaway and won! Woo-hoo! It was for a book called “Fa la la la Felt”, which seems right up our alley given that something close to 90% of our most cherished Christmas decorations are made of felt.

Giveaway Spoils

The prize booty arrived last night and we all eagerly pawed through the pages like, well, like it was Christmas morning. The verdict? We’re gonna need a bigger pile of felt. Seriously, we want to make pretty much every single project in this fabulous book, from the peppermint candy garland, to the woodland cone things on the cover, to the gingerbread house ornaments.

In yet more exciting stitching news, I made an extraordinary discovery: straw needles. Please, Gentle Reader, try to contain your excitement! I was going to stage a photograph of the new needles, but I didn’t, so just imagine you’re looking at a short, sharp, skinny, bendy silver stick. I’d read online a couple of times that straw needles are the best for applique, so as a treat to my fellow quilt factory workers, I bought a packet to see if they made appliqueing pies and tarts easier. Turns out, they do (or at least they made appliqueing my first dresden plate for Cheeky Dracula City easier, but I assume if I ever get back to working on Pies and Tarts, they’ll work for that too. ::shifty eyes::)! They also make piecing and binding easier! The size 11s bend really nicely, allowing you to rock more stitches at a time. (So, I guess as far as piecing and binding and appliqueing goes, I’m a bender. Hee! Time will tell what I prefer for hand quilting. More on that after the hand quilting class in September!)

So that’s all the excitement stitching-wise here at Maple Hoo. Garden-wise, the exciting news is that we grew this:

Goldy Tomato

Isn’t she a beaut?

{Posted by Pookie}

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Quilt Shopping Halfway Around The World

Not long after we decided to go to the Netherlands to visit KtG, there was a quilt featured on the cover of “Quiltmania” that took my breath away. It was a stunning kaleidoscope quilt in rich and vibrant reds, oranges, and yellows. The pattern said it was called “Queen’s Day Quilt” in honor of the Dutch holiday. “No way,” I thought, “I’m going to the Netherlands! What a coincidence!” Then I noticed the fine print at the end of the pattern: “Quilt kits available from Den Haan and Wagenmakers in Amsterdam.” “No way,” I thought, “I’m going to Amsterdam! It can’t be a coincidence! It must be fate!”

And fate it was, Gentle Reader! Delicious, delicious fabric-y fate.

Our last day of vacation was spent in Amsterdam, hanging out with the one and only Mags. Because Mags is such a dear friend and all-around cool person, she agreed to be dragged off to a quilt store even though she’s a knitter (she returned the favor by pointing out that her favorite yarn store was right around the corner, which meant we got to follow up the fabric shopping with some giddy discussions of which new Rowan patterns she should knit). It was probably good we had a non-quilter in tow because we probably would have just stayed forever if given the chance. You see, Den Haan and Wagenmakers isn’t just a quilt store — it’s a quilt store specializing in Dutch chintzes.

Dutch Chintzes in Yellow

Imagine being surrounded by those gorgeous colors and those sumptuous prints! The store was tiny but filled to the brim with absolutely stunning store models and bolts and bolts and bolts of these fabulous chintzes. It was incredibly overwhelming so it was a good thing the shop also stocks kits. Lots and lots of kits.

Kits like “Queen’s Day”:

Queen's Day Quilt Kit

Isn’t it gorgeous? I loved the pattern based on the “Quiltmania” photos, but I had no idea the fabrics were so fabulous. The colors really don’t convey at all. And the fabrics themselves have a totally different feel than the quilter’s cotton I’m used to; they’re almost like a coated cotton, but really soft. The plaids in particular are unbelievably soft; most of the shop models were backed in the plaid and after buying the kits, Schnookie and I both began plotting to order some of the plaids as soon as we got home. Only, when we got home and I unpacked the kit, I discovered a big piece of plaid was already included for the backing! I’m telling you, I was fated to buy this quilt kit!

I also picked up a kit for “Hindeloopen”. That one wasn’t as much fated to be because I neglected to pick up a box that included the pattern. Oops. But it does include some really awesome border fabric:

Border Fabric

There were a lot of prints that were either border fabrics like this one, or prints like American Jane’s four-in-ones, where there were big blocks of three or four prints on the same bolt that were complimentary but in different scales. (I also love the handwriting on the selvage. If I were one of those cool kids who makes string quilts out of selvages, this would be quite the score! Since I’m not, I’ll merely admire it from afar.)

Schnookie also picked up a chintz kit of sorts:

July 24 2010

The box in the store had a picture of a really cool log cabin made out of teensy tiny cuts of the chintzes, but the box itself was just a box of fabrics. They look to be about fat eighth-ish size (the bolts are 54″ or something nutty and European like that) and the possibilities of what they could be turned into are endless! Schnookie’s come up with tons of ideas, but the one I’m pulling for is tiny sawtooth stars. (Also, the picture of the log cabin could be used for inspiration for a future project, but for some bizarre reason Rollie has decided it’s her souvenir from overseas; she curls up in a tiny ball which as little of her hanging over the edge of the paper as possible and sleeps for hours on this increasingly crumbled piece of paper. Go figure.)

The store wasn’t just chintzes, though. There was a second story that was mostly Moda fabrics we can find here in the states. But that doesn’t mean there wasn’t non-chintz fun to be had. Schnookie found a kit that uses traditional American prints to make really cool foundation-pieced stars:

Stars Quilt Kit

We also picked up a packet of what feels like upholstery fabric, figuring we’d never find something like this at home:

Upholstery Fabric

And because we’d come all the way from America, the shop owner gave us each a free fat quarter!

Free Fat Quarters are the Best Fat Quarters

We figured we had to get an orange one in honor of the World Cup madness, and the brown was too lovely to pass up.

If you ever find yourself in Amsterdam, do check out Den Haan and Wagenmakers. You won’t be disappointed. (Now if only I could get my hands on that missing pattern…)

Four Den Haan Kits

{Posted by Pookie}

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Filed under Away From Home, Pins and Needles, Quilting