Monday, July 31, 2006

Life back to normal

Today, we went back to a normal schedule, with our Girls Fiber Arts Club this morning. Jumping right back into my fiber arts with a vengance this week is just what I need. With the heat index in the 110's today, hanging out in my basement studio will be heaven this afternoon. No laundry or dishwasher running, because of the warnings about electricity consumption and blackouts. I'll even refrain from working on my MBR quilt and keep the sewing machine and iron off, feeling virtuous while finishing my Widdershins sock.

Speaking of which, I finished turning the heel and have just to finish the calf. I'll be working on it at the Fiber Arts Club and my two youngest DD's dance camps today. We're off. I'll hopefully have pictures of my new socks by tonight. Yipeee!

Saturday, July 29, 2006


Here is the necklace photo as promised.

I wish I could figure out how to remove the date/time stamp from the photos. It's my DH's camera and my DH and DS are out of town for the day and I am too impatient to wait for their return to post the picture. I'm an instant gratification kind of lady. The large, silvery purple beads are from The silver is a crackled foil within the glass. They are gorgeous. I wish my photograph did them justice. The rest of the supplies came from a small, local bead shop called Beadville USA in Chaska.

I did some shopping for yarn while in Marshall. There was a little yarn shop called the Purple Iris Yarn Shop on Main Street. She had yarn on sale for 30% off and I picked up two skeins each of purple, black and a dark blue tweed Lang Yarns Jawoll for socks. It's probably a good thing she doesn't accept credit cards yet, or I would have gone crazy. I didn't take my checkbook and had a limited amount of cash along.

I think I've mentioned before that I love hand-knit wool socks during hockey season. And my DS's team colors include purple, so I'll have to make the purple up special for playoffs this year. I'm not quite ready to turn the heel on the other Widdershin sock yet but love the pattern and will probably never go back to the cuff down style. This sock pattern (the heel flap, especially) rocks! If you haven't checked it out at yet, do so.

Time to go be the Proverbs 31 woman and keep cycling laundry and start supper. Sometimes the most profound act of love is an act of service. Especially when you have been up since 4:45 am and working non-stop and would rather take a nap. Fortunately, I hid some easy meals in my freezer before the trip, so I can just put them in the oven and forget about them while they cook. So I might be able to sneak a nap in, too.


Hooray, I finished the necklace and some earrings to match, just in time to wear them to the dance recital last night. Pictures will be posted as soon as I get home and can download camp pictures from my camera and take them. I am excited with my design, as I'm a fledgling bead designer, this only being my 3rd bead project. The technical aspects are decidedly amateur, as I forgot my beading books and had to guess and by gosh it but figured I could take it apart and rework it later when I learned more, if necessary.

The dance performances went long, as most of these things do. My 5 yo fell asleep in my arms before the performance ended by I was proud of my oldest dd and her friend, as they toughed out a long week and did well in their performances. We're enjoying the pool this morning and then heading for the Twin Cities. Once there, pictures of my few accomplishments will appear but I'll heave a sigh and be proud of myself as well. Chaperoning a week of dance camp is not for the faint of heart. Ta ta.

Friday, July 28, 2006

Last Day of Dance Camp

Last day of dance camp and all I have done is one sock and half the foot of another. I did get my beads out and look at them yesterday. One of my cases had leaked beads, so I had to clean up a spill in my case. Eauuuwwww! Beads all over the place. It was horrible! Oh, the humanity!

Okay, I'm over-reacting but I have had a long week with two 11 yo girls, one of which is tempermental enough to be the prima ballerina of any dance company in the nation. Fortunately, my daughter chose the most diplomatic best friend in the world to invite to this dance camp and she has done a tremendous job bringing my daughter down when she's started to get all gnarly and grumpy. Otherwise, we would have packed up and headed home days ago.

I have a longer day without the older girls today, as they dance until 4, so I'm hoping to get the beads out and work on the necklace. I'd love to have something besides a sock and a half to show for a week away from home. And the necklace will be spectacular, thanks to Glastonbury Glassworks. (see my previous posts)

Once again, no profound spiritual insights, except for a gratefulness for God's goodness in allowing my daughter to choose such a wise and peacemaking girl as a best friend. The adage "opposites attract" certainly applies here because these girls are so different in personality and they get along so well as a result. PTL! It has blessed my week.

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Dance Camp

Well, we're here at dance camp. Third day with four girls in a hotel room. We've spent close to 6 hours in the pool and many more cooped up in a small hotel room. Thank goodness for my crafts. I couldn't sleep this morning. I heard a thump at 4 am and got up at 4:30 to try and log on the internet. It was down (arrrgh), so I sat in the dim light of the bathroom and finished my first Widdershin sock. I'm ready to cast on for the second one this morning but am finishing up schoolwork with my younger two daughters before taking them swimming. I get plenty of knitting time poolside.

Of course, the beading hasn't come out, as I'm afraid of controlling all the little components in a small space, although I'm hoping to get to it yet this week. And the quilt has yet to come out of it's bag. But progress on my fiber art projects continues to be made, bit by bit, stitch by stitch. And after all, isn't life's journey just that, taking one step at a time.

Friday, July 21, 2006

What's on my design wall

Here is one of my current UFO's. I've put a bunch of my unfinished quilts up on my design wall, in the hopes that they would inspire me to finish them. I am undecided as to whether I will machine or hand quilt this one. It was hand-appliqued (one of my favorite techniques) but hand quilting takes me forever and I've got a quilt already in the hoop being hand quilted. So this one may get machine quilted. I'll be uploading more of my UFO's in coming days. Hopefully, a visual listing of my UFO's/WIP's might also spur me to greater diligence in finishing up the old before starting anything new.

Some items that I haven't photographed (yet) include those in my knitting bag. Currently, I'm working Samus from in a heathery, denim blue, as well as Widdershins socks from the most recent issue of I have been collecting red novelty yarns for a sweater for myself but am waiting to lose a few more pounds before making it.

I have some beautiful beads I purchased from that I plan to make into a necklace. Those are going with me to the dance camp, as well as Samus and Widdershins and my handquilting. The only other project that may get packed is my spindle and fiber, so I can get some more practice spinning. That is my newest skill and I'm still learning about it.

Well, no profound thoughts today, just lots of dreams and UFO's bouncing around my head. I'm off to take kids to different activities, as usual. With my craft bag in tow, of course.

Thursday, July 20, 2006

First Rug Hooking Project

As promised, here is a picture of my first primitive rug hooking project. It was started on Mother's Day weekend at a class at the The original design by Victoria Jacobson of called for simple stripes, either horizontally or going around the heart. I modified it to add the flowers at the center. I finished it as a small rug but intend to sew it to a pillow form. I need to go shopping for some wool fabric that will coordinate with my bedroom quilt but am waiting to finish enough blocks to make a pillow sham to take along to coordinate with.

I have to admit that this project didn't thrill me. I was limited to the color choices in the kit. She did bring a bunch of strips along and allowed us to trade in colors that we didn't want for different ones. Since my MBR is in purples and greens, I was able to swap out some really outlandish colors for others that would coordinate better but didn't feel I wanted to spend a lot of money for additional fabrics to make the rug even more coordinated. I also found the technique itself hard on my hands, which take a beating as it is, between my hand crafts and boxing and household responsibilities. If I absolutely adored the craft, I might be worth the wear and tear on my hands but it just didn't put me in that relaxed, metitative state that knitting or hand-quilting often does. However, when I stopped by my LQS to pick up the tape to finish the back, I saw some needlepunch projects hanging on their walls that were absolutely adorable. So, who knows, maybe that's another new craft to try . . .? I'm always on the hunt for the new and exciting.

As a side note, I'll be out of town for a week with my daughters at a dance camp. I'm hoping to have access to a computer to perhaps post once or twice but can't be sure. I'm dragging several projects along to fill the hours while DD#1 is at dance camp and the others are swimming, playing, or napping, so I'm hoping to have several UFO's crossed off my list by the end of next week. Woohoo!

Monday, July 17, 2006


Well, my DH and I have been married for 19 years today. We celebrated yesterday with dinner and a walk at a local lake and dessert of ice cream, which was refreshing since the heat was so oppressive. I wish I could give pearls of wisdom for marital longevity but I'm just learning as I go along.

I did take the anniversary as an excuse to start a pair of socks. I usually make myself finish something before starting a new project but this hand-dyed sock yarn was burning a hole in my stash basket and I saw a new toe up pattern on called Widdershins that I've been dying to try. It's going very well and I'm almost ready to start turning my heel. I've modified the pattern slightly, in that I've added a 3x3 ribbing to the top of the foot, to add some elasticity. I'm using a slightly thicker yarn than called for, so it's knitting up pretty dense, so I wanted to add a little stretch. I love hand knit socks for hockey season because I spend so much time sitting in cold rinks watching my son play. The wool socks make a huge difference in my comfort level.

I also spent some time today working on my MBR quilt. My DH and I picked the fabric for this quilt out together while we were on vacation in Colorado. It is an offset log cabin quilt that I designed on my computer using Electric Quilt 4.0 (there is a newer version out now at I have 102 paper-pieced blocks with 17 total strips. It is going to be a huge quilt (queen-size bedspread) and I'm making extra blocks for pillow shams and accessories and such, so I work on it whenever I get a few minutes. Machine quilting it is going to be a challenge but it will be lovely when it's done and because my DH and I both picked out the fabric and he'll help me design the final layout (I have four different layout possiblities designed), it will be precious and a true symbol of our love and partnership. Do you think I should make it my goal to finish it by our 20th anniversary?

Saturday, July 15, 2006

Being Childlike

Being a quilter tends to spill over into other areas of my life. I also serve as an Awana leader in our local church. Every year, we have a Grand Prix race for our Truth and Training club (3rd-6th grade age group). Leaders are also allowed to buy a kit and make a car for fun. There are no prizes, just bragging rights. This was my first Grand Prix car. I was especially fond of the little kitty curled up on the bed. Although the photo is a poor one, there are little stitches on the quilt and everything.

Working with kids, whether it's teaching them to knit, quilt, sew clothing or being a leader in a great organization like Awana can be very rewarding. In some ways, it gives you permission to be somewhat childlike yourself. I have a blast designing and building my Grand Prix car every year. I'm always striving to come up with an idea that will make people scratch their heads or cause them to wonder how I come up with such wacky ideas.

More importantly, to teach a child, you have to get inside their head. If you can understand their dreams, their fears, their hopes, their worries, you can speak to their deepest needs. By letting myself be a kid for awhile in the making of my Grand Prix car, with great ambitions of smokin' the other leaders at the finish line and even experiencing the disappointment of coming in last in the race, I'm tasting a little bit of what the kids experience. I'm walking a mile in their shoes, to use an old metaphor, so I can communicate with them better when the chance comes.

In the meantime, I'm still trying to figure out my design for next year. How difficult would it be to make a sewing machine? Or maybe a rotary cutter? A boxing glove? (Did I mention I also study kickboxing?) Hmmmm . . .

Thursday, July 13, 2006


This is the quilt I made for my sister's graduation from college a couple of years ago. Yup - the same year my step-brother graduated. Talk about a stressful year! The blocks were from a mystery class from several years earlier. They didn't work out as well as I liked, so they just sat in my UFO pile for quite awhile after the class. Later, at a retreat, with the help of a friend, I figured out it needed more contrast, so the sash and post setting was added. The additional blocks were added at the top to make a pillow cover. (We had to hold the quilt sideways because everyone in my family is short and we weren't tall enough to hold it the longways for the picture.) Now that I have a design wall, I'll be able to take decent pictures of my large quilts.

It's interesting to go back and look at old projects. Especially when the heat is so high and energy levels are so low. It is in the upper 90's to 100's in the Twin Cities this week and there is no relief in sight. Fortunately, my new design studio is in the basement and what is usually a chilly place to work should be a delightfully comfortable and cool. I long to sneak down and work on something creative but have been busy running kids to and from hockey camp, dance camp, the library and several other activities this week and I'm frightfully behind on laundry and chores. So I should be plugging away on gotta-do's instead of playing in my design studio.

There is always that struggle between the wantas and the gottas and finding the balance between the two is where real grace exists. I wish I could say that I've found that special balance but it's always a struggle and I suspect it always will be. But the pleasure derived from the creative process is so worth the effort that I'll continue to wrestle with it. Having children and educating them is the joy of my life and the family God has blessed me with worth the effort of caring for them. The pleasure of creating fiber art also is rewarding but it is more transitory. So, I must head off to care for my family, and if I get a few minutes later tonight, maybe I can sneak off to my design studio and get a few more stitches in on a WIP before bedtime. Either way, I can say I've been blessed.

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Passing Fad or Education Investment

Being a homeschool mom, I have an insatiable curiosity and thirst for learning. The scarf pictured here is the result of my latest research and hands-on training. For Mother's Day, my DH treated me to a day at the Shepherds Harvest Festival in the Twin Cities area. I took a primitive rug hooking class and a rigid heddle loom weaving class. The scarf I managed to finish the same day. The rug hooking project took several weeks. I still have some finishing work to go on rug hooking project, which will be a small, heart-shaped pillow for my bed. Pictures will be coming soon.

Being somewhat eclectic in my tastes has gotten me into some messes, though, both literally and figuratively. Fortunately, I know enough people like me to know that I am not unique in that I have a large closet full of UFO's - those notorious unfinished objects. As well as a large collection of tools and supplies for numerous different types of crafts. Every new fad comes along and I feverishly collect the newest and the best gadgets and materials, then the inspiration fades or a new passion begins and the stuff gets tossed into a new storage bin and gets added to my collection. For a long time, guilt plagued me. How could I waste all that money and time on something that didn't "stick".

Now that I'm older, though, I believe that nothing is wasted. The knowledge is still in my head and it comes popping out at the most convenient times. While reading to my kids about Laura Ingalls Wilder, they'll ask what a nine-patch block is, I can tell them. What's more, I can pull a book off the shelf and show them, or, better yet, get fabric, scissors, needles and thread out and have them make a nine-patch block. When Almanzo's mother is working on the loom, I can show them how a loom works and they can actually weave cloth themselves. Embroidery, tatting, needlepoint, knitting, crochet, beading, soapmaking, candlemaking, braiding, macrame, weaving, primitive rug hooking . . . all historical crafts, all new again at some point, all part of an endless circle of creativity that get discovered and rediscovered and passed on to our children.

Somehow, those dusty boxes of craft supplies seem much more important and less guilt provoking if seen as an investment in my kids' education than just a passing craft fad. How cool is that!

Monday, July 10, 2006

Created to be a creator

This is a quilt I designed a couple years ago for my step-brother's graduation from college. Friends have asked to see some of my work, so I'll be interlacing old and new work in my posts. It will also highlight the rather idiosyncratic nature of my personality.

We just returned from our Girls Fiber Arts Club. I started a Fiber Arts club for pre-teen and teenage girls for the summer because I teach knitting during the school year to homeschool kids in a cooperative organization and find that they tend to set their projects aside in the summer. I was trying to find a way to keep them motivated and working through the summer on their projects, as well as find a way to keep them connected as friends. To date, the club has been a roaring success.

Being a woman of faith, I've shared brief Bible studies about fiber arts each week we've met. This week the study focused on Genesis 1:1, "In the beginning, God created . . ." and Genesis 1:26, "Then God said, "Let us make man in our image, in our likeness . . ." God created us to be creators.

It is a simple idea, yet awe inspiring to imagine that the creative spirit within us is that very likeness of God.

First Post

First anythings are always intimidating. First day of school, first date, first French restaurant . . . Well, this blog is my anniversary gift from my husband. We will be celebrating 19 years of marriage next week. We have four wonderful children, all of whom I homeschool. I am a 40+ year old, Christian fiber artist who is a first time blogger, who is shaking and stumbling for words, as though I'm 16 again and on my first date. What this blog is really going to look like, I don't know. I've been browsing through blogs for the past 6 months. I know what I like to read and look at. So, here it is, my first post. Where we go from here, I guess will be up to the Spirit.