Saturday, February 24, 2007

Winter Market

ACK! Yesterday after school, Andrew and I jumped in the car (picked up the 'rents first) and drove down to Baltimore for the ACC's Winter Market. It was a crazy trip but we HAD to go last night because I'm in rehearsals all weekend. The show was open until 9 and we got there at about 6, so that left about 3 hours to try to soak it all in. There were rows and rows and rows of things to soak in. Giant pendulum clocks made entirely out of wood with their spindly guts all hanging out. A woman selling felted shibori scarves in every color of the rainbow that looked so delicious I could have thrown them on the floor and rolled around in them. An artist who made teeny-tiny sculptures out of things like makeup brushes and a booth filled with patchwork clothes assembled from thrifted cashmere. I bought the felt ring here which is so fabulous AND can be made even more so by taking out the felted ball in the center. Hours of OCD fun! I also got a lovely felt brooch made of layers and layers of colorful felt, the end result being an all-sorts candy kind of thing. My final purchase (it's called restraint, people) was a pewter cast of a horseshoe crab because a) horseshoe crabs are incredible if not for their appearance, than for the fact that they are prehistoric, and b) I have a few tiny molted horseshoe shells that I collected in Maine last summer and I'm going to try to mount them together with my new pewter guy. Despite the fact that the only part of our brilliant last-minute (as in Thursday night planning) road trip scheme that was lacking was how to incorporate dinner (which sadly became a slightly dry croissant from a rest stop Starbucks at 9:30 pm); it was a wonderful trip in that it filled me with lots of ideas and inspiration.

And if anyone is wondering what the theme song of the evening, it was "If I had a million dollars...I'd buy you that entirely hand-stitched quilt over there for $8,400..."

Sunday, February 18, 2007

My First Quilt

It's finally done! This is the first quilt I've ever made and this weekend I completed it by adding the bias binding. I've always wanted to learn how to quilt, and I'm lucky enough to work with two talented quilters. One of my colleagues, Nancy, invited me to her church's quilting day this past summer. I was given the instructions to get some fat quarters and a simple pattern and bring my (newly purchased and raring to make an appearance in the outside world) sewing machine.

Oh! The world of fat quarters. Shopping for these was incredibly fun and Andrew and I managed to pick out some crazy colors that worked quite well, if I do say so myself. Finding a pattern was more difficult. Nancy gave me a simple pattern name, but my local quilting store didn't have it. So I checked out some books that had fat quarter quilting, and found the pattern I ended up using. The woman helping me tried to convince me that this was not a good first quilt which, of course, meant that I'd found the right pattern. Who wants to start simple? In my family, paying attention to difficulty level is a sign of weakness. There have been countless times that my dad and I have stumbled across something in a store that we really love, only to look at each other and say "we can make that." Although my success rate isn't as good, with my dad the statement is almost always true; he really can make whatever he sees. I figure that the full power of that gene will turn on in me in a decade or so and I'll suddenly be comfortable around a radial saw and then: look out world. I have also inherited my "I've never had one lesson" sewing skills from my dad (who has outfitted the entire house in fancy curtains) so a difficult quilt pattern was just what I needed.

It took me the entire quilt day (8-4!) to make 2 complete squares and have everything else cut out. I went home that evening and stayed hunched over my sewing machine until 10 or 11. The next day, I woke up and finished the quilt top. I learned a lot, ripped and resewed a lot and got lucky, I think, with the color choices I made. There is this sort of optical illusion thing that goes on with the orange in the quilt which was entirely unintentional. I think that's the thing that I most admire about quilters: their ability to see color in bits and pieces and to have a sense of how it will all go together. I'm nowhere near having that ability yet, but going to quilt day is a wonderful exercise in seeing all of the different styles and possibilities that occur when you have lots of quilters in one room.

A few weeks later, I set to quilting the thing using the stitch in the ditch method. And finally, this weekend was the winter quilting day session at the church, and I was taught how to do the bias binding. I thought that I'd hate to hand stitch the binding in the back, but it was calming and satisfying in the same way that knitting is for me. And it was so close to the end of the project that seeing it come together was enough motivation to keep stitching.

I've started another, much simpler quilt that will be all red, black, and white. With this simpler pattern, I hope to mess around more with the quilting part of the project and the fact that piecing it is taking much less time than my first quilt is keeping me focused. It will be another small quilt because although, in crafting, I typically like to bite off more than I can chew, I know that I am NOT ready to tackle a full sized quilt yet. That will take some guts.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007


FINALLY! We have had a pretty snow-less winter (although it's been mighty cold) and when you're a teacher, that means no snow days. But today, we got the most wonderful call a teacher could get at 5:30 am...and promptly fell back asleep until 9:00. It doesn't look like much snow in this photo, but remember: this is Philly. I went to college in Maine where it would snow three feet and you'd wake up the next morning to see that everything would be plowed with a layer of dirt on it and life was humming along just fine. Here we all rush to the market to get eggs and bread, throw down an ocean's worth of salt on every bit of pavement, and cancel school at the drop of a hat. It's beautiful. Despite the fact that there isn't much snow that came down, the main problem is that it's now an ice storm (which you can't really see in the photo, but trust me when I say it was coming down sideways) so today is truthfully a day that schools should be closed and people should be off the roads. I'm not sure if it's a day that you need to have 13 gallons of milk in your fridge, though...

The best part of snow days for me is that I work with my boyfriend, so we get to stay home together. With that in mind, here's the list of the top 10 things I like to do on snow days (in no particular order):

1. drink hot chocolate

2. try to convince Andrew to make me crepes with Lavender Jelly (he usually does because he's the best)

3. make stuff (today's project include more pin cushions, I think)!

4. stay in my pj's all day

5. catch up on Days of Our Lives (I know, I's the only one I watch...honest!)

6. attempt to make a dent in the Netflix pile that's been sitting around for too long

7. read

8. enjoy avoiding the gym since I have a good excuse

9. shoveling (not on a day like today when ice is pelting your face, but it's a great way to be outside on a nice, snowy day)

10. enjoy the moment - it's a wonderful gift of time off from the usual hectic pace of working with teens.

Sunday, February 11, 2007

Newly Created

I just made a pin cushion! I've been tossing around the idea for a while. I thought maybe I'd make them Martha-style, because heaven knows I can never throw out a good mason jar. I really wanted a pin cushion that was attached to some sort of container for storage. I stumbled upon these wooden boxes, and this is the result. After many attempts at using different fabrics for the cushion that failed because the edges just ended up too puckered and uneven, I remembered my stash of felt. Woohoo! No seams to turn inside-out! I just love how crisp the lines created by felt are and I was compelled to use the circle to my advantage. I'll be posting this in the shop soon, so you can see more images there.

Yesterday I got my driver's license renewed and had to get a new photo. I must say that I am impressed with the DMV - I was in and out of there in no time; but the ever-present bureaucracy never ceases to amaze me. When I my number was called, I went to my assigned counter and sat in one of the two chairs there. The lovely DMV man motioned me to sit in the other (left most) chair. I obeyed and filled out all of the pertinent information (do I need to change my voter registration, am I an organ donor, etc.) I signed some piece of paper and then started fluffing my hair for my photo. I noticed the (still lovely) DMV man motioning to me again. I looked at him, uncertain. "Sit in the OTHER chair," he said. Ha! So I had to sit in the LEFT chair to fill out my information, but then move 12 inches to the right to sit in the OTHER chair for my photo. As I changed chairs, I tried to exchange a laugh with him about this, but he was not amused. I said "Come on, that's kinda funny..." at which point he answered an incoming call on his cell phone, told me that I could smile if I wanted, and snapped the photo. I didn't bother him with a retake. I'm wondering if the expedited license update process is, at least in part, due to this clever two-chair system they have goin' on...

And lastly, I sang at our school's annual talent show last night. I'm doing the normal kicking-myself-in-the-rear for mistakes I made that I'm sure no one else heard, but are still driving me crazy. Crafting is helping to take my mind off the instant replay:) I sang Isn't It Romantic and Lullabye [sic] with a small group, a beautiful little Appalachian folksy tune called Long Time Traveler as a trio, Case of You (Joni Mitchell) and Nothing In This World Can Stop Me Worryin' Bout That Girl (The Kinks) with my friend, Larry, on guitar. Afterword we got a pint at a local bar and saw a former student of ours who is now of legal drink age. Oof.

Saturday, February 10, 2007

Why Sophie is The Best

Sophie just turned 8; here is her birthday present. We made a recipe box for her because of her recent and amazing adventures in the kitchen. While preparing a batch of banana bread, Sophie realized (too late) that the yogurt she was using was bad. She had to throw the batter away, but was left with some melted butter that she hadn't mixed in yet. Since she still really wanted to finish a cake, she decided to just make a recipe up. She added flour, sugar, salt, baking powder and soda, lots of cinnamon and maybe a little vanilla. Her mom was skeptical that it would hold together since there were no eggs involved. With hopes not too very high that an actual cake would come out, Sophie popped the concoction into the oven and when it was done: cake! It was REALLY GOOD cake! Kind of like a spice cake...Sophie thought it was like a carrot cake without the carrots. Did I mention that Sophie just turned 8? Crafty little girl.

So we got an unfinished wood box and had to cut a piece of thin wood for the top and inside lid because we could only find a box that had this silly mesh center on the lid. For what? Making a hermit crab cage or something?? Ever since Amy's post on Enid Collins purses, I've enjoyed staining these unfinished wood boxes (I use regular craft paint mixed with the goo they sell that makes it the consistency of a stain) and then painted and gemstoned the thing up (the top of the lid has the gemstones). The cards were goccoed and I borrowed the beautiful alliteration of Sarah's on that one.

As we were goccoing the cards, Andrew mentioned that it was such a cool craft tool. We had a little impromptu moment of silence for the imminent demise of gocco. But wait! Check out! Is help on the way?

Monday, February 5, 2007

OK, I've Created Something Odd...

Something about buckeye seeds makes me a little loopy. I think it's the sound they make when they clunk together. Or maybe it's the fact that they're really smooth except for one slightly grainy patch. They come packaged in an evil little prickly thing so they also have a little attitude; maybe that's my favorite part. I few years ago, a fellow biology teacher plunked a few on my desk as a little gift. Ever since then, I've wanted to make things with them, and here's the result: an odd little necklace complete with a squishy felted bead. This is the first one, a second is coming...they'll both be in the shop.

I am working on a great gocco project as a gift for a dear soon-to-be 8-year-old and I'm just loving it. I'll blog about it post-giving. I've been a little crafting rut and having a deadline (read: birth date) is very, very good for me. It's made me motor and not get wrapped up in the "I can't make it look as good as I want it to, so why even bother starting" loop that I'm so fond of. Sheesh. I also owe much thanks to Laurel, my etsy crafting bud who keeps my rear in gear (yes, I just made that rhyme up JUST NOW!).

I'm off to post to my etsy shop, and then to open my mail from mystical creation yarns and Superbuzzy. Just try to visit Superbuzzy without getting any of their twill tape. Go on. I dare you.

Saturday, February 3, 2007

Happy Birthday my man. He chose a vanilla cake with raspberry filling and chocolate frosting. I added a little amaretto into the chocolate for an extra surprise. I'm not sure how I feel about the vanilla cake...if you have the opportunity to have even more chocolate, I don't know why you wouldn't take it, but whatever, it's not my birthday;) Chocolate or not, it's another opportunity to use one of my favorite garage sale finds of all time: a vintage cake tray and lid for $1.

Birthdays abound right now. I have to work on a project for Sophie who turns 8 on Wednesday and more hearts for my feeling-slightly-better friend. My birthday is right around the corner which means I have to get a present for my mom, not because I like to thank her for birthing me, but because we have the same birthday (but thanks for birthing me too, mom!) I have one of those weird families where everyone is born on the same day (my first cousin shares our birthday, too) and it all comes just a little too close to Christmas for my DIY sensibilities. Despite all of the presents I should be working on, I am currently trying to find a way to alter my plethora of pull-over hoodies into zip front. I've found lots of tutorials and rather than just insert a zipper, I've now ratcheted up the difficulty level to include altering them to fit better. I am currently in the crafting stage called "paralyzed with fear" but as my colleague put it: "it's just a zipper." And a hem, and sleeves that need to be taken in, and a pocket that needs to be relocated and a hood that needs to be re-sized...

Thursday, February 1, 2007

The Perks of the Job

A local radio station camped out to raise money for hunger (Philabundance…check it out, a great organization) and a local high school won a competition to collect the most food for the hungry. This local high school was not the (wee) one that I teach at, but a ginormous school that my friend is an assistant principle at. Long story short, the school won a free concert with these guys and my friend got me passes (AND I didn’t even have to chaperone!)

One of the reasons why I love OK Go is because of their choreography. I choreograph the middle and upper school musicals at school and I thought I was pretty creative incorporating a trampoline into one song and a razor scooter into another. But treadmills?! I am not worthy. I was hoping to see some signature moves tonight, but alas, it was all singing and no dancing. But they are so incredibly creative that it didn’t matter. One of my favorite parts was that they came out into the audience and did an acoustic set on a platform set up in the middle of the crowd. They threw out some hand-held spotlights to some kids so that they could be seen. It was really cool and intimate and would have been an amazing first concert as a teenager.

And the best part(s)? It was free, we sat in the adult-only balcony where we could enjoy some adult-only beverages, AND it was nice to be at the Electric Factory when it wasn’t filled with wall to wall people. Hello, I am That Person who no longer likes to stand for concerts and appreciates when they are over before 10pm. Nice to meet you.

made. by k.d.