Tuesday, December 31, 2013

A Glorious Dress for Clara: Eyelet and Angie

My big handwork project this fall was a Christmas gift for Clara--this six-gore jersey dress from Alabama Studio Style. I used the Angie's Fall stencil, and worked it up in the "Eyelet and Angie" variation. I'll tell you about that.

First, here's the neckline. Tiny pale green beads threaded onto feather stitches.

Back to the good stuff. The stencil is put on with white fabric paint that I cut with just a dot of green. Then I used very pale green jersey to make applique shapes for the larger flower petals.

The echinacea petals, above right, are done in reverse applique. As in, the whole dress is lined in green, then the petals are stitched around, and the interior top layer is cut out. The different kinds of embellishment give this piece a wonderful dimensionality. 

Any shape that wasn't appliqued or reverse appliqued, was simply stitched around in back stitch. I used three stands of DMC floss in a matching pale green. The knots are on the inside of the skirt.

When I had worked all my shapes, I went back and put seed beads on parts of the passionflowers, then embroidered stars ("eyelets" in Alabama Chanin vocab) that totally reminded me of piped frosting stars.

The design goes all the way around the dress, and up to the waist. 

Monday, December 30, 2013

Another Log Cabin Quilt Retrospective

My log cabin creations from 2013:

Friday, December 27, 2013

Learning from My Children

Two weeks with some of the young adults at home? Highly educational.

Lots of C.S. Lewis reading and discussion. 

Two Shakespearean tragedies (so far) read aloud. Daisy elbows everyone aside to get the good parts for her own. "I just like to read out loud!" 

We've all gone to see Frozen.

Felix has brought us up to date on styrofoam substitutes made from mushrooms, and taught us how to make intelligent comments in art museums: just use the words "juxtaposition" and "dynamic composition."

And we all learned how to pronounce 'Taliesin', who was of course King Arthur's bard.

This One's Done

I finished quilting and binding this lovely piece. The quilting took about three weeks, I think. It's done with a fairly stout needle, in DMC perle cotton, all white. I didn't want to break up the beautiful subtle diamonds with any distracting stitches.

This vintage quilt top was pieced completely by hand, using fabrics that look like they date from the fifties through the seventies. The pieces are about an inch and a half square.

The colors are very thoughtfully used, with delicate plaids laid next to each other, and bright punches of red and blue here and there.

I've put it in my shop. Happy weekend!

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Christmas 2013

"And I will say to those who were not my people,
 'You are my people!' And they will say, 'You are my God!'"

Hosea 2:23

Monday, December 23, 2013

Crewelwork and a Large Cat

Innocently embroidering by the fire, Clara found her lap suddenly commandeered by a very large cat. Oh well.

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Cardamom Rolls

I've started baking from a charming cookbook called Swedish Cakes and Cookies. It was a Christmas gift from Giles to Bella last year and is full of wonderful things. 

These are Cardamom Rolls. Cardamom is not a spice I've used much of--it's so expensive! But I got some at an ethnic market for a reasonable price and used a lot of it in these beauties!

There's cardamom in the dough, and then the filling is almond paste, butter, and more cardamom. So fragrant.

Friday, December 20, 2013

"Concern Yourself with the Present"

 " . . . meanwhile concern [yourself] with the Present because there, and there alone, all duty, all grace, all knowledge, and all pleasure dwell . . . ."
--C.S. Lewis, The Screwtape Letters 

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Lilies on the Table

No tree yet--we're waiting for Clara to get home on Friday--but the girls have hung wreaths in the windows, and we've got lilies on the table.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Vintage Jersey in the Shop

This is some awesome jersey I found at the thrift store. Would you believe almost five yards? It's fine and drapey and clearly vintage. Putting it in my etsy shop now.

Monday, December 16, 2013

Thirty Paper Dolls

These are Daisy's thirty paper dolls. They live together in a little fabric zip bag. There are sisters and brothers, husbands and wives, grandparents, and neighbors.

Some of them came from the same sheet of paper--like Harry, Jerry, and Terry. Others are singletons. Daisy curled up by the fire with them today. They engage her for hours.

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Bonfire Night Log Cabin Quilt

Linen, cotton, velvet, silk.

The way the coals really glow when dark settles down.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

The Fear of Running Out of Handwork

I looked in some phobia directories to see if there is technically a phobia that is "the fear of running out of hand-sewing projects." There's not. But if there was, I may have it.

That's why I put this quilt together with a back this morning, before I had even finished binding my current quilting project.

If there is such a phobia, I think it is hereditary. I actually had my mother take a quilt away from me and keep it for herself on a trip to New York. At first it was enough that we sat beside each other on the airplane and each had an end to quilt. But at the end of the flight, she took it for herself. She's worse than me.

Anyway, I love these blues, and love the subtle plaids used close together.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Clara's Knitting: Daisy's Summer Cardigan

Though it's not quite warm enough for this week, Daisy has this new cardigan at the ready should the sun come out in a major way. Clara finished it over Thanksgiving break, then was cruelly thwarted in her quest to buy more yarn by the little yarn shop being closed for the holiday. We went to the thrift store instead and Clara got an awesome crewelwork project of a happy raccoon, to work on the train.

Anyway, this is knitted in a cotton yarn we bought in Germany, and the pattern is from Ravelry. I've got the paper printout here, and the keywords I'm seeing are "DROPS collection" and "wavy pattern," so good luck finding that!

It's so cute, and it takes me right back to my own personal and beloved baby blanket. That I loved til I was twelve.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

An Assortment of Gluten-Free Goodies for Christmas

Much of the fun of preparing for Christmas is filling too many tins with goodies to stash away in the freezer, and bring out on fancy trays on Christmas Eve. I like a wide variety, myself, and have to provide gluten-free treats as well as the traditional favorites. If you want to put together a dessert trolley of GF goodies, and prefer not to bake with odd ingredients or anything that starts with an X, here are some suggestions:

Ricciarelli--these are beautifully-textured almond cookies 

Chocolate truffles--holiday classics, great from the freezer

Creamy rice pudding--serve in small portions in stemmed fruit glasses, with kiwi and strawberry slices

Coconut macaroons--so easy, and they freeze really well

Chocolate hazelnut meringues--in case the truffles weren't enough.

Monday, December 09, 2013

Quilting Days

Isn't this quilting weather? I've been curled up under "Bonfire Night" for a few days now. Only nine rows to go, then the binding. It's kept me warm.

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