Monday, May 16, 2011

In Loving Memory

My beloved cat Emma died at the beginning of March which has made for a rather sad spring around here. We affectionately called her Big Kitty and she brought so much joy to our daily lives. She was a gorgeous blue eyed sweetie of a kitty and both Adrian and I miss her terribly. I knew from the minute I got her that she was going to be one of those once in a lifetime pets. The kind of pet that is so perfect and wonderful that you know without a doubt that he or she is going to be the best pet that you will ever own in your entire life. Emma was that pet for me. She was the sweetest most loving kitty and I was extremely devoted to her. Her loss has really devastated me, as I knew that it would. She got sick last spring and it has been a year of worry and bittersweet sadness knowing that she wasn't going to be with us for much longer. I tried to prepare for the grief, but in the end there was nothing to do but endure her loss the best that I could. Our house is terribly empty without her and for a while I really lost my vigor and joy for life. But spring has finally arrived here in Minnesota and the migrating birds are flying through and my garden is waking up and it's time to look forward to all of the good things that the future may bring.My sister Sandra sent me this lovely stone a couple a weeks ago. It weighed a ton! She had it made for my garden as something to remember Emma by. I put it by the pond, next to a lone viola plant that sprouted up this spring. I always plant violas in my yard, it's one of my favorite flowers. I am always amazed when one or two little plants pop up in the spring.

I have been bouncing around from one project to the next for the past few months. The first thing that I knit after Big Kitty died was this cute little bunny:My friend Carmelita came over the next week, took one look at Miss Bunny and fell in love. She was having a bad day so I sent the bunny home with her. I then knit a Mr. And Miss Bunny for myself. The pattern is from fuzzy mitten. I love her patterns.

I also knit and felted a few nests this spring. The pattern is by Marie Mayhew. I absolutely love her patterns and if you have been reading my blog for a while, you will recognize many of the things that I have made from her patterns.I also dusted off some New York Beauty quilt blocks that I had not worked on in years. I began this project several years ago and it was one of the projects that got set aside after I broke my neck. I wasn't able to sew for over a year and it's amazing how easy it is to forget about a project when it has been out of your mind for a year or two. My friend Robin was visiting in March and I pulled out the quilt blocks to show her. I decided that it was time to finish up the blocks and get them ready to make into a quilt. Once I got back into making the blocks, I remembered what a pain in the butt is is to make the New York Beauty blocks! They are all paper pieced and some of the arcs were really difficult to sew accurately. I got all of the blocks on my design wall, remade a couple of blocks that weren't working and fiddled around with the block placement for a week or so. Then I had to put it away because I had to get cracking on a graduation quilt that I am making for my high school pal Nicole.

So that's what I've been up to this spring. I did cast on a new sweater last week, I'll share it with you once it looks like more than an orchid colored blob of yarn. I'll have the graduation quilt done soon as well. Nicole wanted the quilt to be the colors of sunshine. I've had fun buying lots of yellow and orange fabrics, two colors I really don't quilt with too often. It's impossible to be sad when you are sewing with such vibrant and happy colors. Have a great day!

Wednesday, March 2, 2011


Last winter I decided that I absolutely had to do something about my quilting fabric stash. It was in a terrible state of chaos that made it nearly impossible to start any new projects. So I hauled all of the wire drawers out to my living room, upended them on the carpet and began sorting and folding and organizing. It took three long days, but by the end of the process my fabric looked so pretty and organized that I dragged anyone who entered my house back to the sewing room to show it off. One of the best parts of the organization was rediscovering some of my favorite fabrics. I decided that I wanted to make a quick little project out of some of my favorite batiks and after some thought, settled on sewing up some little birds. Well, as some of you may know, when I really get into a project, I never end up making just a few of anything. The baskets of felted hearts, the crocheted acorns and the flock of felted sheep are all evidence of my ability to become just a tad obsessive with my craftery. This typically happens just with the small projects. I can't help it, I am enchanted by tiny, palm sized things... little dolls with littler clothes, tiny pebbles and sea shells, wee hand bound books, petite mobiles hanging from the door jams, small woven baskets. If you were to come to my house, you would discover a lot of tiny things. Anyway, getting back to the birds...before I knew it I had made a flock of them. I am pretty sure that there were over 30 of them. I thought to string them together with beads at some point, but for the time being they sat in my living room clustered in a basket. This fall about half of the flock got turned into ornaments and went up for sale at a holiday art show that I participate in. I also gave away some as gifts for Christmas. My flock had dwindled down to ten so I decided it was time string them together with beads in between. So I gathered up some beads and thread and got to work. I really love how it turned out. It hangs from the wooden archway between my living and dining room. Every time the heat turns on or someone walks past it, the birds twirl in the breeze. I love being reminded of the projects that I made with some of the fabrics. A summer shirt, a quilted handbag, a hand bound journal, a turtle quilt...Some of the fabrics have yet to be used for anything other than the birds. It's fun to think about what I might make with them in the future.

Monday, February 28, 2011


Every so often I get a hankering for igolochkoy. It's an amazing dish made from dried beetle shells, horseradish and fermented brussell sprouts. It's great with ketchup. Nah, just kidding...igolochkoy is just the fancy pants Russian way to say punch needle embroidery.
I usually have a punch needle project going at any given time because it takes me forever to complete them. They begin as travel projects and it's anybody's guess as to when I finally finish them. They get tossed aside and forgotten once the vacation is over and rediscovered months later in my sewing room under a pile of other abandoned projects.
Anyway, I completed my most recent forgotten punch needle project over the weekend and I thought I'd share it on my blog. Ha! Like people actually read my blog. I know for a fact that my dearest loveliest mama is my one and only reader. So I'll just go ahead and address this post to her directly.
Hi Mom! How's the house search going? Make sure you get a house with a huge sewing room so that we have plenty of space to play when I come visit. Adrian says he will build you another water feature if you have room in your new backyard. Here's the my latest punch needle project: I started it last summer on a camping trip. It was when Sandra (my sister) came to visit and we went to Crescent Lake. Sandra started a punch needle project too which I know for a fact that she hasn't finished. She ran off with my Cameo punch needle tool and now it's lost forever in the wilds of Alaska. Mom, will you tell her to give it back?Here's a few other punch needle projects that I've done over the years...This one I started when Adrian and I were staying on Molokai one winter. The hibiscus flowers were blooming and there was a lime tree right outside our door.
I made this next one an a road trip one summer from Minnesota to Oregon. It was Adrian, Sandra and I on this journey. We camped along the way and got to experience a herd of bison take over our campsite in North Dakota.The heart reminds me to always love my sister even though she turns into Senorita Cranky Pants after a sweaty three day car ride. Being rudely denied a bathroom by an over zealous camp hostess at the John Day Recreation Area did not help the situation one bit.
I made this next project while I was in a neck brace and recuperating from a broken neck. Mom, when you came out to stay with us it was a life saver. Adrian always says what a relief it was to have someone help him change my diapers. HA! Just kidding, I didn't need diapers. But I certainly know how very lucky I am to not be in a wheelchair right now. DMC had just come out with their variegated embroidery floss. I love that stuff for punch needlework.
I've already shared this one, but here it is again. I made this one on another trip to Molokai. My sister Sandra was with us and she wanted it badly (she loves turtles). I gave it to her to remember the trip by and to ease the horrors of the mutant tropical rodent that was living in the kitchen of our rental house. I really liked this one, it was my first all original punch needle design, so made myself a replica. The one I have is way better that the one Sandra has. Anyway Mom, call me when you get back from Boise.

Friday, February 25, 2011


It was just a matter of time. My eyes have finally aged to the point where I need reading glasses. Particularly at night when I am embroidering or beading. I was having a really hard time threading my needle and I was starting to get headaches. Last weekend I was working on an embroidery project and I asked Adrian if I could borrow his reading glasses. Holy Cow! I couldn't believe how great it was to see my stitches close up. So I decided to take the plunge and go buy a pair of my own. Adrian frugally suggested the dollar store. Come on!! My eyes may be getting older, but I haven't lost my mind. All of my girlfriends have really funky and fashionable reading glasses and I wasn't going to settle for some ugly cheapo dollar store glasses.

Anyway, I was at The Three Kittens Needlework Store on Wednesday spending my grocery money on Caron Watercolors thread because it was on sale and what do you think I found in the front display case??? These fabulous turquoise reading glasses and they were BEDAZZLED!!!
Best of all they were marked down from 40 dollars to a mere seven bucks. Bazinga! I had found my reading glasses. I decided that they needed a fancy case and I knew just the fabric to use. My beloved Micheal Miller koi and lilypad bark cloth. So I cut a square along with two layers of batting and some pretty pink polka dot lining fabric and free motion quilted them together. Next I cut it into a pocket shape and added some pretty ric rac trim. I stitched it all together and added some green gros grain ribbon to bind the top and voila! I had a spiffy new glasses case. It is the perfect thing to hold my new fancy bedazzled eyeglasses.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Taste the Pretty

I am just about finished up with all of my frivolous knitting projects and I am getting ready for something fun and new. We've had a bit of a thaw here in Minnesota this week which got me in the mood to work on something with spring colors. Also, decorating those little felted hearts totally made me hungry for an embroidery project. So I took a long look in my cigar box filled with my favorite size 8 perle cotton and all I saw was a bunch of dark saturated colors. Bummer. What to do...what to do...hmmm. I clearly had no choice but to take a little road trip to the nearest needlework store.
So off I went today to Three Kittens Needle Arts. In addition to being a great little yarn shop, it is also a fully stocked needlework shop. One of the best things about Three Kittens is their friendly and welcoming staff. There are a couple of other needlework shops in the area that are so snobby and high falutin' and I do not tolerate their snooty pretension very well.
Like most needlework shops, Three Kittens seems to cater to the needlepoint and cross stitch crowd. But there are oodles of wonderful threads for the non-canvas embroiderer like me. I went looking for DMC perle cotton and was delighted to find Finca perle cotton instead. I really love Finca thread. It's made in Valencia, Spain and it comes in so many lustrous colors. I was so happy to find a local source for it. I also snagged a couple of skeins of Caron Watercolors hand dyed thread. I am crazy about this stuff as well. I use it single ply and feels similar to size 5 perle cotton. Again, there are so many colors and I want one of each. Three Kittens was having a sale on the Watercolors for 2 bucks each which is a really great sale and it goes to the end of February. I'm heading back there next week with my grocery money to stock up.
Next week I'll share the embroidery projects that I am starting over the weekend. Here's a sneak peek at one of them and here is another. Have a happy weekend!

Wednesday, February 16, 2011


Almost every Friday I get together and knit with my pals Beth and Sue. We have the best time and sometimes even manage to knit while we are together. A couple of weeks ago Beth glanced down at my ginormous black Crocs and said: 'You know Pam, I think that there is a pattern for knitted Crocs liners out there somewhere'. Prior to this announcement, I'm pretty sure that I was whining that the fleece liners that the Crocs came with were all squished and linty and flat.
Anyway, the rumor of this pattern immediately intrigued me as I am always looking for a completely frivolous project to squander my time on. So I did a bit of searching on the Wide Wide World of Web and found not only a knitting pattern, but also a crochet pattern as well. I settled on the knit pattern even though it was for a pair of size 8 liners and my lined winter Crocs are a size 11. I figured that I could adapt the pattern to fit and what the hey, the pattern was only a buck anyway.The pattern was quite easy. You knit a garter stitch sole, pick up the stitches around the sole, knit a few rows, shape the top of the sock and finish with some rows of k2 p2 rib. It reminded me a lot of knitting those stay-on baby booties that I think everyone has knit before. I tweaked the pattern a bit to get a better fitting liner with more room in the instep and to avoid some pesky short rows in the ribbing that the pattern called for. I also made my liners left and right foot specific, something that the pattern did not do. It was a great pattern to use as a jumping off point for customization. Or you could not be an obsessive compulsive wench like myself and just knit the damn things exactly like the pattern instructs. But where's the fun in that, right?
So I knit up a pair of robin's egg blue liners first. I knit them with Lion Brand Cotton Ease yarn. It's a cotton/acrylic blend that I thought would wash well (and it does!).
After completing the first pair and dancing about the house in them for a few days, I decided to test out my revamped pattern to make sure that everything was written down correctly. So I knit another pair in the same yarn, different color. This time in a lovely key lime green.I have to say that these liners are the absolute bees knees. They are super thick and squishy because you knit with two strands of yarn held together. They keep my feet toasty warm whether I am wearing socks with them or not. This is a really wonderful thing because the wooden floors in my house are absolutely frigid in the winter. In fact, my ice rink floors were the reason for me buying Crocs in the first place.I am quite happy with this little knitting project. I am happy, my feet are toasty, and now its time to move on to the next completely frivolous project to squander my time on....

Monday, February 14, 2011

Happy Valentine's Day

I have been doing a bit of frivolous knitting these past few weeks. This time it's tiny hearts that have captivated me. It began with the purchase of Mags Kandis' latest book called Gifted. On the cover is a bunch of the cutest little knit and felted hearts that you've ever seen. The hearts alone enticed me to buy the book and I am so glad that I did. There are some really great projects in it. I rarely purchase knitting books and prefer to check them out from the library, but this book is definitely a keeper.
Anyway, I got the book last fall and knit up a few of the hearts. They are the ones pictured above, in the bowl of crocheted acorns. They turned out okay, but in my opinion (which means absolutely nothing), the pattern was kind of fiddly. I really don't want to criticize the pattern because it is really quite clever and is a brilliant work of engineering. But I just didn't like knitting it and I wasn't perfectly happy with how they turned out after felting them in the sink. I still really wanted to make some little hearts so I did a search on Ravelry for another pattern. Lo and behold, I found a pattern called Little Hearts by Teresa Fox. The pattern was absolutely wonderful. Teresa included some really useful pictures as she knit the heart and best of all, the pattern is a free download. I found it an absolute breeze to knit and I easily memorized the pattern after knitting a few hearts. The pattern calls for worsted weight yarn. Because I wanted my hearts to be a bit smaller, I used 2 strands of fingering weight on size 7 needles . I also did not use Teresa's figure eight cast on. I did a long tail cast on of four stitches and divided them on two needles. I felted my hearts first before stuffing them. I did it by hand with hot soapy water. It took about a minute apiece. The yarn I used is called Palette by Knit Picks. Knit Picks has super affordable yarn which is perfect for frivolous knitting projects like the little hearts. As with many of my frivolous knitting projects, I got totally carried away and knit a zillion of them. I intended to embellish them all with stitching and beads and such, but that will have to wait for a bit as I am kind of burned out on hearts at this point. I did manage to embellish a few during the Superbowl last weekend.I have another frivolous knitting project that I completed last week. I'll share that next....

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Meet Claude

This is Jean-Claude. He is french and he used to live in Paris....on the left bank, of course. He spent his days writing poetry in his flat above the boulangerie Poilane on Rue du Cherche-Midi. He had to flee the country after an altercation with a Bulgarian juggler. That's how he came to be living with me on Rue de Eustis in Saint Paul.This past Christmas Adrian and I decided to give each other toys. Just toys, and nothing else. He got an tiny flying indoor helicoper and a knex build-a-monster-bug-robot kit. I got shrinky dinks, hello kitty lip gloss, a hypotrochoid art set and a knit-a-monkey kit. Adrian was really unsure if I would like the monkey kit so he got me a robins egg blue Chantal tea pot just in case. He did not need to worry about me not liking the monkey, I absolutely adored it and I had a total blast knitting it from beginning to end. There was a great deal of giggling as I knit the long gangly arms, legs and tail. This was one of the best gifts ever. I used some self striping sock yarn to crochet the scarf. I made the scarf really, really long, just like Dr. Who.