Sunday, December 29, 2013

Thursday, December 26, 2013

New Attitutde

Hey there! Haven't been posting for a while--just not in the mood. 

I have been making things and am pretty pleased with the way some of the things have turned out. Also, I made a big decision. I gave myself a year from around Thanksgiving to get my Etsy shop up and running or give up the idea entirely. Enough already! I have wanted my own business since the 80's and for one reason or another have not been able to get it together, so I decided do it now or stop thinking about it. Of course I work full-time, so it won't be easy, but I think I have a couple of good ideas. Anyway, trying to make a bunch of things to open my shop with a full stock, so stay tuned.

I don't know if you remember the beautiful Cladonia shawl I made last year. /this is what it looked like when I finished it. I was so proud!

So, I rarely wash anything by hand. I put everything in the machine. The more delicate things go into a lingerie bag. Last June I was washing my woolens to pack them away for the summer and I threw my shawl into the washing machine with everything else, without thinking. I did not put it into a lingerie bag. When it came out it had a huge hole in the lace. It probably got caught on the agitator. I was devastated. This shawl was the most intricate lace I have ever done and next to the Swallowtail Shawl, the most beautiful thing I have ever made. I love the Madelinetosh Tosh Sock yarn and the subtle iridescence. 

I was planning on fixing it in Italy, but really did not think I was in the mood, so now almost a year later from the day I finished making the shawl I have prepared it to re-knit the lace border.

First I picked up the first row of the "set-up" for the border. Then I removed the border by cutting an end stitch and pulling out the row.

Next, I tried to salvage as much of the yarn as possible. A little bit of a hassle as singles yarn, especially after being washed is a little difficult to rip out. I did not save the picot edge as I have plenty of that and it was really difficult to rip, so I removed it and made a cat toy with it.

Now I am ready to re-knit the beautiful lace border. I still have .9 ounces of new yarn for the lace and now the 1.4 ounces that I ripped out.

Someone told me that I deserved to have this happen because I wash my hand knits in the washing machine. That person also told me that the definition of fair isle knitting is knitting with more than 2 colors in a garment and stranded knitting is knitting with only 2 colors in the garment. I said nothing. I've only been knitting for as many years as this person has probably been alive (around 30), and certainly know the definition of fair isle knitting--I've done enough of it--but she made me doubt myself and I looked it up.


"Fair Isle is a specific form of color work knitting named for Fair Isle, a small island off the coast of Scotland where knitters were known for their skill with the technique.

Fair Isle traditionally uses two colors of yarn in a row, though more than two colors CAN be used in a project. The yarn that is not being worked is carried along the back of the work, creating strands or floats that make the knitting twice as thick as it would otherwise be.

The knitting of Fair Isle was popularized when the future king Edward VIII was seen sporting the designs while golfing in the 1920's.

These days, Fair Isle is sometimes used to refer to any stranded knitting technique in which two colors are worked per row. Knitting history purists say that Fair Isle should only refer to those patterns that are traditional to the Shetland Islands where the technique originated, calling other motifs using the same stranding technique stranded colorwork or stranded knitting."

So this person really did not get any of it right. I believe the piece they showed me was actually a traditional Fair Isle motif, made of 2 colors, which a purist would say is Fair Isle!

So why did I let this bother me so much? Just one of many things that I have allowed to bother me recently, but this challenged my field of expertise. And I did not like how cocky this person was when they "corrected" me. So I will just try to stay to myself for a while, Mr. R believes it is better that way and I am beginning to agree.

Baci e abbracci. 

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Be Like a Raven Rolling in the Snow

If only... But I've watched this several times and it makes me smile every time. They are so adorable.

Baci e abbracci...

Monday, October 21, 2013


My girlfriend read my post and told me that a piece of muslin should be added behind the batting (this layer will be against the feed dogs) and that you can turn the piece right side out from the center opening--no need for an opening around the perimeter.

Sorry about that...

Baci e abbracci

Sunday, October 20, 2013

My First Tutorial

Yesterday my friend and I attended a very small quilt show at the Memorial Sports Complex in Marlton, NJ. It was hosted by the Berry Basket Quilt Guild. The main reason I attended this show was to supplement my collection of Handloom Batik fabrics. I shopped from this vendor twice in the last few years and both times picked the same colors, neglecting red. This time I got smart and took my fat quarters with me and purchased what I needed.

Otherwise the show was very small and the vendors that attended brought very little with them. I would not have minded if there had not been an entry fee. Of course I found things to purchase, and I also learned about a unique thimble. I stopped to watch the person hand-quilting and noticed the beautiful thimble she was using. I asked her the name and looked into it. The Roxanne Thimble comes in several sizes (watch the video for how to find out the correct size to purchase) and is available in sterling silver, silver plated, gold plated and bronze. It is expensive and I am considering it, but I still am not able to work with anything but the leather thimbles, so I would have to keep practicing with the metal thimbles before making such an investment.

Some pretty bird fabric, really pretty ribbon of antique scissors and a spool of thread and some fat quarters.

A fat quarter of antique machines I could not resist.

When my friend came to pick me up, she brought a "make and take" project with her from Pennington Quilt Works (oh the life of a retired person...). It is a cute potholder. When she showed me how it is made I was excited! I thought I could do my first tutorial. Unfortunately I do not know who came up with this pattern.

For this project you will need:

(5) pieces of fabric that measure 10 inches x 10 inches
(1) 10 inches x 10 inches piece of muslin
matching or contrasting thread (your choice)
(1) 10 inch x 10 inch piece of insulated batting (I used Insul-Bright that I purchased a while ago from Amazon.)

I used the pre-cut fabric I purchased from Connecting Threads, Indigo Patchwork 10 inch squares, one package of 22 squares of fabric for $9.11.

Walking Foot for Sewing Machine

Step 1: Choose 4 of the 5 fabrics for the front. Fold each piece in half, wrong sides facing. Press.

Step 2: Layer your fabrics as pictured with the creased side toward the center. (Note: I found out after I ripped out a seam that it is easier to layer the batting and back and arrange the front on top.)

Step 2 a.

Step 2 b. 

Step 2 c. 

The last step is like folding the flaps on a box. You lift the left top flap of fabric and the piece of multi-colored indigo fabric goes underneath.

Step 2 d. 

To look like 2d above.

Layer the fabrics as shown. Batting, backing (right side up) and top (which really does not have a right or wrong side, but if you like a particular order of which way the squares go--right side should go down). Using the walking foot (I did not at first and had to rip the seam out--there are many layers here), sew a 1/4 inch seam.

Clip your corners without cutting into the stitching.

Turn the potholder right side out and poke the corners with a knitting needle to get them as pointy as possible. Top stitch 1/2 inch around and then sew down each opening. I used a blanket stitch. My friend used another decorative stitch.

This was really easy. Although there is opportunity for more quilting, I think leaving it un-quilted provides more protection for your table top from the heat of the pan.

Now go make a bunch. My friend will be making them for stocking stuffers, and if you like to make kitchen/cooking gifts, I think adding this to a basket with a recipe and the ingredients to make a great dish would be sweet too.

Baci e abbracci

Friday, October 18, 2013

A New Quilt

As I am still working on my “fall colors” quilt, slowly hand-quilting it with Perle cotton #8, I decided to start a new project. 

I had the idea of creating “sketches,” as Gwen Marston puts it, using different traditional patterns in a liberated way. I would use these small quilts to work out my ideas, but have decided to set that aside for now in favor of an idea I stumbled upon.

As you know I recently had some surgery and wanted to give a little something to my doctor at the follow-up visit. I did not have much time so I decided on a card. My next quilt was going to be made from men’s shirting and I wanted to practice the mitered square. I started cutting up the shirts and made a block using a mitered square of the striped shirting, some scraps of fabric and embroidery. I liked it, but could not find an acceptable way to convert this into a card.

When that did not work out I decided on a sachet for one of his drawers or to pack with his woolens during the summer. I used a liberated log cabin pattern in solids and liked it. But I still liked the idea of using men’s shirting, so I made another mitered square with a border of solid fabric for a new sachet. I did not like the way that turned out, so I set it aside. 

Then the idea of using some ties that I have been saving with the shirting came to me. I made a sachet using a square of a silk tie and shirting. I used the messed up mitered square for the back. I decided it was too small by itself and gave the doctor the log cabin sachet.

Then it hit me. I am going to make a wall hanging using the tie fabric as the center squares in the middle of the scrappy hexagons like the “Crazy Patchwork,” (on page 182) quilt in the book “American Quilt Classics” by Patricia Cox. This quilt offers liberated quilting in the patchwork and the opportunity to learn how to do a “y,” or “inset” seam. The other design option would be still using the ties as the squares but framing them with strips of shirting. Maybe I see a series in my future…

Finally, check out Odili Donald Odita's work at the Jack Shainman Gallery in New York. Couldn't this be the inspiration for a beautiful quilt! I love the colors. 

Look for great colors in paintings or artwork by surfing through the New York galleries from your computer.

Another artist whose work I love is Bill Scott. His work is currently on exhibit at Hollis Taggart Gallery, also in New York. Aren't his colors phenomenal?  

Moe Brooker's work is also amazing...

Have a great weekend!

Baci e abbracci...

Thursday, October 17, 2013

From BoConcept Furniture Store in Center City Philadelphia:

They had these blankets/quilts in a few combinations all hand-stitched. I was told they are made of fabric that is also used for saris. I have been trying to find a store in the Philadelphia area that sells saris with no success. I thought a patchwork quilt made of sari fabric would be great.

This is a nice pillow made of felt and hand embroidered. 

Both pieces were inspirational.

Baci e abbracci...

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Another Dead Bird...

Mr. R spotted this one as well while we were driving through a shopping center parking lot this afternoon. It is an immature herring gull, I believe it was beginning its second or third winter. So it was a youngster. Mr. R feared it was one of the hawks in the area. Although we were glad it was not a hawk, but a bird more common, it is still sad. Perhaps it was hit by a car and stunned, then died on one of the grassy areas in the lot. Its feathers are so beautiful.

Baci a abbracci...

Monday, October 7, 2013

Palette Builder by Play Crafts

I have always admired Maryline Collioud-Robert's photos where she has the palette of the picture. She recently provided a link to Palette Builder/Play-Crafts and I tried it. At first I could only get the older version to work with my Safari 5.0, but after a short email conversation with the developer at Play-Crafts I was able to use the updated version by downloading Firefox.

Version 1:

Version 2: Beta

As you can see the Beta version gives you Kona cotton fabrics that match your palette. I can make a quilt the colors of my baby bear! How amazing is that?

I had my surgery today and obviously lived to tell. Hoping this will do the trick. I think because of my OCD, I cannot just think everything will be okay, because if I do not worry about it, something will surely go wrong. Deep down I knew it would be okay, otherwise, I would not have gone through with it.

I was not in the mood to start anything new since I have been home from Italy and worried about this day, but now I am thinking about a "sketch." A small quilt to try out a pattern I found in American Quilt Classics, by Patricia Cox. It is a square in the middle of four hexagons made of scraps.

Also, I order some fabric from Connecting Threads and it is nice! I will be giving reviews on their fabric and my new hoop soon.

Gonna go get some rest...

Baci e abbracci...

Saturday, September 28, 2013


Not for the Faint of Heart

Yesterday when we walked to the car to go home from the train, we realized we left the car at the train station not the supermarket parking lot nearby. As Mr. R. was walking back he noticed this dead bird. He knew I would want to see it and drew my attention without alerting the person we take home.

It worked out perfectly because she and I had to wait for Mr. R. to walk  back to the station and come back with the car. I decided this time I was going to take the dead bird home to study, photograph, and properly draw. In my bag I found a paper towel from my painting supplies and a plastic bag that held honey purchased earlier. I went to pick it up and saw tiny red ants had already started feasting. So much for bringing it home. So, trying not to hurt the ants I placed it back on the ground and took photos with my phone. The paper towel kept blowing so it was not easy as bending down was hard on my back and my right arm is weak from the tendonitis or whatever is wrong with it. (I will hopefully find out this coming week as I finally made a doctor's appointment with a specialist.) We covered the bird with the paper towel secured with a brick at the corner, as the ants were on the towel at that point which would have blown away and I wanted them to find their way back to the bird.

The pictures are not great, and I am not sure of the identification, but I was thinking warbler. I have to look it up in my Peterson's Guide. (UPDATE: My first ID was warbler, then on the way home I thought vireo, red eyed vireo to be exact, but when I looked on the internet, I said "no way." I just looked in the Peterson Field Guide and it seems to be a red eyed vireo. I only just noticed the gray cap.)

I have found dead birds before and always see it as an opportunity to study something that is always moving up close. The last time I found dead birds when a center city scaffolding was removed I gave one to an art student at work and the other to a member of the printmaking faculty, who gave me a print of the blue jay I gave him.

It is Saturday and I have not touched my sewing machine since the end of July so I am hoping for some enthusiasm to come my way. I saw a scarf at work that I would like to knock-off. (See photo above.) Knitting is painful and slow so I find myself sitting on the couch every night watching TV until 9:30 p.m. and then going to bed. Certainly not the way I spent the last year, hardly ever in front of the TV without something in my hands to work on. I must say it is disturbing and depressing to be in a creative funk.

Wish me luck!

Baci e abbracci...

Not for the Faint Hearted

Monday, September 16, 2013

Quilting Hoop

If you have been reading this blog you know that I have started hand quilting. Although it is slow I have to say I really like it. This "tendinitis" that I have in my right arm from machine quilting "Sunny in Philadelphia" makes quilting and knitting painful but I am really enjoying the process.

I started with the Q Snap 11 x 17 inches but did not like it. It was too tight so while in Italy I only snapped the quilt on 2 sides. I also did not like that I could not rock the needle too close to the frame so I could not complete the full inside square without moving the frame. I also have a smaller one that I have not used yet.

When I returned home I started using the wooden quilting hoop (14") and liked it much better! So I was thinking that I would find some cool hoop this weekend at the Mancuso Quilting Expo at Oaks, PA, but I found a really nice handmade hoop on Etsy. I ordered a 14" lap hoop from Harry Barnett Laptop Hoops. It is light weight and allows me to easily get my left hand under and out from under the hoop. I cannot wait until it comes!

Baci e abbracci

Saturday, September 14, 2013

I am so proud of myself! Mr. R. is at the gym and food shopping and of course, he does not have a cell phone. I am cleaning ,and as I am vacuuming I smell something burning. I stop and check, start, stop and check. Nothing is caught so I figure I have to take it apart. After searching, and searching, I found a short little Phillipp's screwdriver to remove the screws, but could not get the bottom off, after taking more things apart and trying to pry it apart for 45 minutes, I finally found that I had not unscrewed two screws!!!!! So I take everything apart, clean as best I could, take off the belt and find that it is hard and has cracks, so I tried to replace it. Well due to a problem I am having with my right arm I did not have the strength to get the new belt on. I looked outside and none of the neighbors I know are out. I try using leverage with the longer screwdriver, Nothing is working and I am determined to vacuum. Then I see 3 uniformed men canvasing the neighborhood. One knocked and asked for money to support senior citizens--which I am really feeling like at that moment. I said I would contribute $5 if he helped me replace the belt. He said he would do it for free. I brought the vacuum cleaner outside and Viole, he got it on! I gave him $5 and put the machine back together and it worked!!!!

Although this started out as the best day physically in weeks, now my arm and back ache from the whole operation and a headache has started, but I got it done, without Mr. R! You know when you become so dependent on your husband to do these things, you wonder if you can still do them yourself. Yes, I needed the strength of a man's hand, but I got it completed on my own.

Back to cleaning...

Baci e abbracci.

Friday, September 6, 2013

On the Late Train

Starting the second sock on the train home tonight. I finished the first one on the plane home. Had to work late so will not have much time when I get home.

Monday, September 2, 2013

Back in Philadelphia

We are home. This year I got homesick kind of quickly. For some reason I missed the TV and was a little edgy. We had so many social commitments for the first two weeks it was rather overwhelming for someone who doesn't usually spend a lot of time with people. The smoke at the Snack Bar bothered me and since it was cool I spent most of my time in the evenings inside, but the doors were open so the smoke would come inside and the TV was usually blaring with Italian shows I could not understand. I also thought that a medical treatment that I received prior to leaving was going to take care of an health issue, but it did not and I had a couple of incidents that left me upset and depressed.

I am quite displeased with the contractor and the mess he left in the front of the house, let alone the theft of an item from the basement and the possibility of being overcharged. You may notice the new photo at the header with the missing fig and laurel trees in the front. They were taken out to widen the drive for the width of a car to fit in front of the house. Disappointing, but necessary. Knowing that Orsetto did not make it another year, it was hard to leave Orsina and the dog, wondering if I will see them next year.

On the plus side, our friends were even more generous than usual and made me feel a part of the social set, and due to the cool weather and rain, there were less mosquitoes.

Hopefully, next year will be better...

Looking forward to doing some sewing after I get my studio in order. I've just dumped everything like yarn and books from the trip in there and have to straighten it out.

Baci e abbracci