Friday, October 4, 2013

Ella es muy caliente!

Ella es muy caliente!
Roughly finished.  Raw-edge applique and free-hand quilting is something I have little experience with.  I need more practice.

My first free-motion art project

Here's my first attempt at a free-motion quilting art project.  I had this drawing tucked away in my Illustrator files and thought she'd be the perfect candidate.  I'm struggling with the technique; those stitches really run wild and get away from me, as though the machine has a mind of its own.  While this looks like a good start, it may end up totally out of control.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Hostess Apron

Here's a reversible hostess apron from a pattern presented in Stitch Magazine (Summer 2011).  This was so easy to make.  I added a front pocket panel on one side, because I like pockets and it also makes practical sense.  I used a cream-colored remnant of a mid-weight cotton twill for my base fabric.  In retrospect, I wouldn't use such a heavy fabric; still, this demi-apron hangs nicely and I'm pleased with the result.  This is a great pattern for making quick gifts.  Fun to mix and match colors and prints, and a great way to make good use of my fabric stash.

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Christine in the garden, in pants that she made...

Christine; c'est moi
Christine in the garden, in pants that she made!  C'est vrai!  Copied this drawing onto fabric with my inkjet printer.  Then I cut her and stuffed her to make this odd-shaped pillow.  It's a work in progress; I plan to develop this one further.  Variations on a theme, you might say.

Workroom color palette

I wish for a crafty workroom; someplace where I can sew, quilt and create.  Here is my color palette.  Found this basket and the little pincushion on sale at Joann's.  I already had these fabric cuts in my stash.  Made the basket mat in under an hour last night.  I'd like to build my craft room around these colors; refreshing and oh so sweet!

Friday, September 20, 2013

Christmas is coming and I haven't even finished Halloween!

Christmas stash
Slowly working my way through my fabric stash.  Here's Christmas scraps and remnants.  Maybe some oven mitts, mug rugs, patchwork puzzle balls, and aprons will help this pile of fabric to dwindle?  Falling behind already! 

Cheryl's Baby Blanket

My mom's sketch
My mom passed away a good number of years ago.  Among her things was a little plastic bag containing this sketch and a handful of little dingle balls.  When my niece was born, my mom's first granddaughter, I remember my mom working on a baby blanket to send along.  There was a kind of Winnie the Pooh bear appliqued on top of a soft yellow background; that's my recollection.  I remember at the time, looking at the finished bear and thinking what a funny little bear he was; kind of on the skinny side, I thought.   I was with my mom the day she went to Hart's Fabrics in Santa Cruz, when she bought these dingle balls, a few snips of this and a few snips of that.  It must have meant a great deal to my mom to have kept these things tucked away for all that time.  It means the world to me to have them in my keeping.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Slow-going applique...Mrs. Lincoln's Sampler

Working on first applique block of this sampler
Up close
I decided to start my Mrs. Lincoln Sampler (designer Lori Smith), as noted in last entry.  I have dabbled in Hawaiian quilting and applique in general with success, and so I thought I'd whip through the 24  little applique blocks that comprise part of this quilt, without too much trouble.  double hah! hah!  The background surface is a 6-1/2" square piece of fabric, which will be cut and finished to a 5" block.  Looking at my bluebird and those green leaves, I see that I could have tucked and/or rounded the pieces a bit more, here and there.  My bird's neck is wonky, the leaves pointy, but all edges are neatly tucked and stitched down. hmmm...  Tempted to start all over and redo this block to achieve greater perfection, before I set those red circles.  But then...  After all, charm lies in a quilter's individual handwork, which makes it her very own.  Doesn't it?  Final note:  It became an enjoyable task once I relaxed.  Use the correct stitch, trust the process, find your rhythm, and the stitches will begin to flow.

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Mrs. Lincoln Sampler

5" blocks
I have had it in mind to do a more detailed project.  I had thought about starting a Dear Jane quilt and may still do so later on; but then I came across Lori Smith's, Mrs. Lincoln's Sampler Quilt.  What a charming quilt.  These are 5" blocks, some pieced, some appliqued.  I am currently on my third block.  It may take me some time to finish, but I'm enjoying the challenge.  In the meantime, I'm still cranking out those pot holders and mug rugs, as well as other quick and easy projects for Christmas gift giving.  Also, my Colores quilt top is complete and I'll soon begin machine quilting that one and finishing it off.  I've got a lot of projects going on!

Halloween's a comin'...

Halloween 2012
Halloween 2013
Last Halloween 2012, I thought it would be fun to make play blankets for Chloe and Natalie, and so I did.  I bought a bunch of Halloween prints and still have a bunch of fabric left over.  So this year, with the mug rug craze that's taken hold of me, I decided to make the girls some Halloween mug rugs.  These finished mug rugs measure about 6-1/4" x 9-1/2". 

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Mug Rugs and Mini Mitts

Mini oven mitts
Rug Mugs; I mean..Mug Rugs!
Love these Sock Monkey mini hot mitts.  My design has only one pocket instead of two, but they're still functional for grabbing hot dishes from the oven or microwave.  Mug rugs are much smaller than a place mat, but larger than a coaster.  These little rugs are perfect for hubby at his computer station, or on the coffee table, a good place to rest his coffee cup or cold beverage, to catch the drips.  The larger ones in the picture above measure about 6"x8", a very convenient size.  

Sunday, September 1, 2013

Keep tools handy!

Chris' catch-all thing-a-ma-bob
So I keep misc. tools and gadgets in this catch-all, thing-a-ma-bob.  Half the battle is remembering what you have, the other half is remembering where you put them.  Tonight I was looking for those scissors-like pinchers that I use to pull my needle through stubborn layers of fabric and batting, for when I'm hand-quilting or stitching, to give my poor fingers a break.  There they are in the jar! 

Saturday, August 31, 2013

Poor Witchy Poo!

This side...
and that side
And then there's Witchy Poo.  I started this baby quilt last year, after I had already completed two Halloween playtime blankets for my granddaughters.  Poor Witchy Poo!  Her threads are still dangling, which bespeaks her unfinished condition.  On the other side, I pieced together a simple two-color checkerboard pattern.  See the "Happy Halloween" skeleton fellow in one of those lime-green blocks?  I used a fusible, iron-on printer sheet for this design, and I am not exactly pleased with the result.  Next time I will try stamping directly onto fabric with a rubber stamp.  There must be some kind of fabric-friendly ink available for this kind of project.  I'll have to check it out.

Progress report...

This quilt wall hanging has been pieced and ready to be quilted for some time now.  The design is Edyta Sitar's "Mini Star Quilt," from her Scrappy Fireworks Quilts book.  Definitely, one of my UFOs that I hope to finish before the end of 2013.

L'il Mitts and Potholders

Useful l'il mitts
8" patchwork potholder
Back of patchwork potholder and one in the making
I love making these little mitts and patchwork potholders.  I went through my boxful of fabric scraps and fat quarters, mixing and matching colors and prints; an artist working her pallet, one might say.  I'm thinking the yellow patchwork potholder is a little bit busy?  But it's adorable.  I didn't put hanging loops on any of these and I'm wondering if I should or not.  The loops would definitely give them an official potholder look, but I don't hang my there you go; I'll have to think on that.  Right now, I'm on a roll.  Reasons I love to make mitts and potholders?

1.  Great use of fabric scraps (Always on the lookout for scrappy patterns)
2.  Mixing and matching colors and prints is so much fun
3.  Small-scale machine quilting helps me improve my skills
4.  Great reason to make my own bindings (not so hard to do)
5.  Practice applying binding, especially in the round and at corners
6.  Finished potholders and mitts are useful and they make great gifts

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Colores Quilt - Rough finish; almost done

From this...
to this... this; 20 finished blocks.  Quilt top almost done!
Here they are.  Twenty completed quilt blocks for my Colores quilt top.  I moved blocks around, over and over again, in an attempt to distribute colors evenly; to create a visual palette that would be pleasing to the eye.  I definitely wanted to make a quilt with a Southwestern flavor, in honor of Papa Paz who hails from the enchanted State of New Mexico.  My next step will be to sew the blocks together.  The finished quilt will measure approximately 56"x 70" and I plan to order extra-wide fabric for the quilt back, so that it can be placed all one piece.  As for quilting the layers together, it will be very basic machine quilting, in accordance with my skill level.  I guess the only way to master machine quilting is to forge ahead and just do it.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Colores Quilt Top in the making...

Piecing the blocks, one by one...
Here are some finished blocks are on the design wall
I've been working on this Colores quilt top, but have had it on the backburner for a while.  With summer gardening chores under control, I finally have come back around to quilting.  Time to sort through what I have on hand, what needs to be completed, what I'd like to work on next.  They are often referred to as UFOs, those unfinished projects stashed away in cupboards and boxes.  I'm determined to finish Colores before summer's end.  Each finished block for this quilt measures 13"; there will be four blocks across and five down, for a total of 20.  I have completed nine, almost ten, as of this writing.  Cutting measured pieces from two-inch strips and then piecing them together is very easy to do (it goes quickly with a rotary cutter).  I enjoy the process; mindless pleasure one could say.  After having made a handful of blocks and hanging them on my design wall, I see an overall pattern of color emerging.  With each block, I give thought to color selection so that there will be a good distribution of colors and an overall balance of darks and lights.  Once this quilt top is completed, then the quilting begins. 

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Hawaiian quilting

Hawaiian Quilt Pillow in the making - right side...

...reverse side
I've been working on this Hawaiian pillow quilt for a very long time.  It's been one of those back-burner projects of mine.  I really enjoy Hawaiian quilting; it's all handsewn and not as difficult to do as one might think.

Monday, August 5, 2013

Oi!! Cucumber Kimchi

It was a long week with folks visiting the Casita from Hawai'i and Idaho, and other closer locales, for a special family event.  Everyone has gone back home now and Calico Quilter's Casita has returned to quiet slumber.  So what to do?  Make kimchi pickles, of course!  My only regret is that I didn't get these cucumber kimchi pickles made in time for big brother to have a taste while he was here.  The recipe is as simple, as simple can be, pinched from one published in the Honolulu Star Bulletin.  I have decided not to grow cucumbers in my garden, but rather to purchase them from the market when they are in season; so much less labor intensive.  I was lucky to find these healthy cucumbers in the produce section at Winco while shopping for other things.  Basic ingredients:  pickling cucumbers, coarse Korean red pepper powder, garlic, green onions, ginger, salt.  Other traditional recipes include a kind of Korean fish base/oil, slivered daikon radish, and sometimes sesame seed/oil; however, I keep mine more simple than that, being a 3rd generation, Korean kind of person, with very Hawaii/American taste buds.  Crossing my fingers that this will be a tasty batch.

Thursday, May 16, 2013


Zucchini from seed!
Look, look!  Here is a zucchini plant that I sprouted from seed.  There is no greater excitement than to see a seed sprout and grow into a healthy, fruit-yielding plant.  We are at mid-May and this is the only zucchini seedling that I put into the ground, of the four seeds that I sprouted.  I have high hopes of bringing this plant to maturity.  Yummy visions of zucchini bread and calabasitas (Southwestern-style squash casserole) float in my head.  But, whoa Nellie!  We've a ways to go yet; perhaps I should have planted two (an heir and a spare)?  I'm thinking if plants could talk, this one would say, "Stop watching me and let me grow!"

Journal Entry: Thoughts on garlic and onions...

I am thinking that the garlic and onions in my garden have come to maturity much sooner than they should have; this according to books and articles I have read.  It seems that beyond good soil, water and tender care, temperature and climate ultimately dictate the success of what grows in the garden and how it grows.

Chris' onion patch...

From this (mid-March 2013)... this (mid-May 2013)
The garden continues to follow the dictates of Mother Earth.  Things change quickly as seasons change and temperatures fluctuate expectedly or unexpectedly as the case may be.  We are at mid-May, and what was a flourishing patch of green onions, garlic, kale and sweet onions has metamorphed into a barren onion patch.  I only planted 5 onions, you might recall.  Three are still in the ground, while two have already made their way to the kitchen chopping block.  I have added little sprouts of purple onions into this patch to see how they will grow and if they will flourish with this late planting.
Up close; see the onion bulbs growing into plump goodness?

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

I grow garlic!

From this...
to this...
Here is the progression; from this, to this, to this!  I planted garlic seedlings, purchased from Armstrong's Nursery in Temecula some time ago, maybe in early February?  Second photo, in the third row background, see the garlic plants growing?  Bottom photo, the end product, my first garlic crop.  The kale is done with, all went into delicious green smoothies; in fact, I tried kale chips which some folks suggest. 

Kale Chips:  Tear leaves into large pieces, sprinkle with olive oil and season with salt; bake in the oven until crispy.  The chips were indeed crispy, but the taste?  Too, too, too! organic for me.  I should have maybe tried again and adjusted the seasoning...  Do you think?!  I'll stick with smoothies for now. this! 
As for the onions, well the onions have hit a bump.  This is my first time attempting to grow garlic, or kale and onions for that matter.  I am still trying to figure out what grows and how they grow in this Temecula climate; very cold winters; extremely hot summers.  Last week there was an unexpected, extreme fluctuation of temperatures, from very hot to very cold, which caused the onions to begin bolting; my poor Walla Wallas became confused and two of them sent up flower shoots.  (I only planted 5 onions, you know.)  The books say, pull them if they begin to bolt and use them as soon as possible, and so I did.  The onions I pulled are perfect and well-formed but my dreams of very big round sweet onions...

So today, I have a chopping board full of garlic cloves.  A good handful of unpeeled cloves, I have frozen.  I have a small bit of garlic pulp chopped up ready to cook with, and the rest of the crop are pictured here.  Poor Papa!  Ray's reaction:  "Looks like garlic! " he says with pride, always a big fan of my accomplishments at home and in the garden.  "Eeewh!  Smells like garlic!"  (Such a discerning nose he has.)  I think the kitchen smells cozy, he thinks the kitchen stinks of garlic; and so it does!


Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Oh Henry! King of Blueberry Hill

Here's Henry atop Blueberry Hill, so named because below where Henry is standing are two Sunshine Blueberry bushes.  They are relatively new plantings so are still small, but this year there are blossoms on each plant, and I am hoping for a small handful of berries this season. 

Welcome Spring!

Mid-March 2013.  My garden is thriving thanks to recent warm Temecula temperatures.  I tend my garden every morning and sometimes in the afternoon; I cannot think of a nicer thing to do.  Life at the Casita is quiet.  Henry and I spend a good amount of time outside, enjoying the backyard.  The back area where these photos were take is still a work in progress.  With a little effort I have managed to pull together a cheerful spring garden.


Thursday, January 24, 2013

Still weaving...

Visit to see my most recent woven scarf, a silk/merino wool blend.  I have been filling these winter days, weaving as well as cleaning up and puttering in the winter garden for upcoming spring planting.  I comment on garden happenings  my garden blog,  Too many blogs; I know!  I have considered consolidating; however, there is a service where one can publish one's blog entries into a printed book format; they do it all for you.  I have always wanted to be published and self-publishing my journal is a goal.  Therefore, I have four categories which I try to keep separate:  home, garden, sewing and knitting/crafty things.  We shall see how it all turns out; in the meantime, I am busy, busy, busy and very happy as well.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

There's weaving going on...

There's weaving going on at the Casita!  To make this scarf, I used a skein of wool yarn for the warp (vertical strands) and a skein of silk sari yarn for the weft (horizontal strands).  The fabric is being woven on an Ashford Rigid Heddle Knitter's Loom.  Mine is a small, convenient loom, but it still provides the simple pleasure of weaving.  I'd have to say, hands down, including all of the various crafts that I dabble in, weaving is by far my favorite.  This scarf is all done; it took two days to complete.

Monday, January 7, 2013

Spring ahead

We're at the beginning of January and there's still a winter chill in the air, but spring planting is already on my mind.  Today, rain-drenched grounds, cloudy skies and cold temperatures keep me inside.  This is a good day to curl up with a cup 'o tea and a good book.  I have a selection of books pertaining to herbs, gardening, cooking, sewing, poetry and such; things that inspire, things that I love to do.  There's been a lot of sewing going on, but gardening's always in the back of my mind.  I have another blog you know,; this is where I log gardening happenings at the Casita (Christine! One blog too many perhaps?)  Today I am feeling compelled to read and study.  I really enjoy this book (pictured), The Moosewood Restaurant Kitchen Garden, by David Hirsch; this is today's reading for fun and inspiration.