For on-the-go

I consistently carry some kind of project in my purse or my car with me for the down moments when I find myself sitting and waiting. It is almost always some kind of portable handwork - knitting, embroidery, needlepoint. I like having something to keep my hands busy, but that allows me to talk and interact with others while I am doing it. I find it especially nice to have something to work on when I travel. Besides being portable, it needs to be easy to pick up and put down. I always used to have a book on hand because I love to read, but when the girls were little, I found that I never got around to reading the books because they talked so much. (Understatement.) That is when I started carrying some kind of stitching. I could work along and listen and converse and laugh all the while.

Presently I find myself waiting alone more than I do with one of my cohorts, but I am still stitching along. I love the sense of accomplishment I get from completing a band of ribbing on a hat or two needles worth of yarn on my needlepoint in the thirty minutes of a guitar lesson or the fifteen minutes before play rehearsal is over. Plain and simple, it's just a good use of my time.


My newest project is Carolyn Friedlander's Alturas. I have wanted to make this for a long time and bought the pattern from her last spring at SewDown in Nashville. And, of course, I was heavily inspired by Cheryl's version. It is just so beautiful! In searching for my *perfect* palette, I consulted my stash and settled on Liberty. Just that, Liberty of London Tana Lawn in all of its floral goodness. I'm not worrying about the colors or the scale or how in the world I am going to hand applique all. of. those. pieces. Instead, I gathered 70 five-inch squares and cut a handful of backgrounds from my very favorite Kona Snow. I took eight prints from the top of the pile and packed them in my handwork pouch (complete with thread, needles and embroidery scissors) for a quick day trip to Chicago a couple of weeks ago. Thanks to a five hour delay at O'Hare on our way home, I had all eight blocks prepped and ready for needle turn applique by the tie we landed.


I'd be lying if I told you I had gotten further than that. I haven't. I am so very, very close to finishing my other traveling handwork project started almost exactly two years ago. Anna Maria, you are going to be so proud of me.

Postcard from my kitchen table


I left last Wednesday morning for QuiltCon and was back this morning at 2:30 a.m. Six extra hours of airport time had me very thankful that I packed some handwork from my Alison Glass applique class in my carry on. I started the day with one plus appliqued and finished with only 1.5 left to go. I have a lot to say about this (wool! over-dyes!), but I don't think I can string the words together right now. The whole weekend was great and fun and inspiring and overwhelming and exhausting and filled with friends (new and old) and lots of things to think about and creative exercises to try and more things to make. There is a lot of stuff swirling around in my head and I'm going to drink (more) coffee, wait for the dryer repair guy, stitch the remaining pluses and try to make sense of it all while attempting to ascertain just what groceries are needed and what to make for dinner. Then, maybe, I will unpack. Look for more snippets (or postcards, if you will) over the next week or so as I ease back into my days.

What I am working on this fine Wednesday

Scissors on a string

Stork scissors

Because I keep putting my scissors down and not being able to find them, I made a scissors lanyard. Simple fix, really. Now I can just wear them around my neck. I used a strip of Liberty that was laying around, cut to 1.5" wide. I pressed it in half, opened it up, pressed the raw edges into the center crease, folded it closed and sewed it shut. Easy peasy and long overdue. Now I will not drop them between the seat of my car and the console while I'm stitching in the carpool line because they will be on my person. Look at me...I am brilliant!


Pouch 1

And then, as these things happen, I decided that I need something in which to carry the threads and fabrics required for car sewing. Pouch, of course! I picked out the fabric based on the zipper colors I had on hand. A little hand sewing and some machine sewing and I am in applique-on-the-go business. Cooking with gas, I tell you! Said pouch is about 10" x 8", the exterior fabric is Hatbox by Alexia Abegg, the interior fabric is a coral dot I had in the stash, I used perle cotton to embroider a running stitch around Kentucky 3 times and a 12 inch zipper was cut to fit. Did I miss anything?

In all seriousness, it is killing me that I can't show you what I am working on (book!!!) so I am contriving small, satisfying sews to share here when time allows. And sometimes when time does not allow and I really should be doing something else, but I only have 40 minutes and that is not enough time to conquer the next logical book step. So, ta da! Lanyard and pouch! Which I will be putting to use in just ten minutes time as I head out the door to pick up my high schooler. (Yes, it's still weird when I stop and think about that.)

Happy making to you!

Slowly, but surely

Thanks for all of the comments on my stash organization question! I have LOVED reading through everyone's systems (or lack thereof!). If you haven't added your voice to the conversation, please do. You have until Friday afternoon to be added to the pot for the giveaway. As of right now, the chances are 1 in 155. Not bad!


In the evenings, I have been slowly stitching away at my needlepoint. I started this April, but it sat for a good six months (summer/fall) without being touched. It got a lot of love during the Olympics and I am also enjoying working on it a bit here and there, in various waiting rooms, on the go, etc. The road trip case makes it super easy for me to tote it around - it really is grab and go. And while this is definitely a slow craft, all those little stitches add up! I can't tell you how exciting it was to move on to another section, complete with wool in five new colors. It's the little things, you know?

Weekend Stitching

Weekend 1

Weekend 2

Weekend 5

Weekend 3

Weekend 4

I've got my hands on all kinds of projects at the moment.

The crazy star quilt has its binding attached on the front and is just waiting for me to slow down and stitch it onto the back.

I started slicing up the Liberty strips I bought in October for Anna Maria's feathers. I'm wondering if I'm crazy to make the center of the feathers out of voile or if I should use some quilting cotton instead.

My spring/summer traveling, waiting room, TV watching project is this needlepoint Floral Path bolster pillow, also designed by Anna Maria. I don't think I have done any needlepoint since I was about 10, and then it was always with embroidery floss on plastic canvas. I'm excited to see this progress.

Did you have any time to spend stitching this weekend? Do tell.

It's all about the x's

October 10

October 11

I'm snatching every spare moment to stitch x's. I packed a small tote with needle, floss, hoop, scissors and this project to take in the car so that if I find myself waiting for kids, I can stitch. Then I tote it all back inside and place it on the couch, where I sew more while watching Friday Night Lights in the evenings. Rinse and repeat. I am anxious to finish, so excited to see the end of the making and the beginning of the using.

The pearl cotton is Anna Maria's and so is the fabric. Both materials are absolutely lovely as is the artist herself. She's a true gem, a fantastic teacher and an incredible inspiration. Plus, she's funny and nice and down to earth. I can't wait to show you what she helped me make. And I will. Soon.

Summer Sewing

July 24

I finished stitching my Daisychain Sampler this past weekend. I enjoyed every last stitch! This project was a great reminder of how much I love handwork. I am on the search for my next take and go embroidery or crewel work. I also might just design my own!

July 26

The sampler will be framed and hung in Jane's room which is undergoing a bit of a makeover. Two summers ago, I painted it and made her new curtains and then moved onto other things. I'm back to finishing her room - we've added a bookcase, sent fabric out for an upholstered headboard and bought new bedding. There is a bedskirt to make and furniture to paint. Still, I couldn't resist starting a quilt for her. I hope to finish cutting it tonight and start sewing tomorrow.

I promise to show and tell when it's all finished. I'm also sprucing up some other corners in the house. More on those later.

Crewel Summer

July 5

I forgot just how soothing hand stitching can be.

I bought the pattern a few weeks ago before Fatty and I went to New York and immediately transferred it to a fat quarter of aqua quilting cotton. (I didn't mention that, did I? New York? It was a quick and fun trip - one of our favorite places to go.) I took the pattern into Purl Soho and the super patient and kind gals there helped me narrow down the choices when it came to the Appleton crewel wool. There are so many beautiful colors!

I started the letter "a" in the terminal in LaGuardia while waiting for our flight. The "b" came the following day. And so on. I've been carrying my hoop, wool and pattern in a gallon sized ziploc bag, toting it to the pool, piano practice, tennis lessons and more, just hoping to get a few stitches in as every free moment arises. I've mastered the stem stitch, the satin stitch and the lazy daisy. My french knots are getting better. My chain stitch isn't too shabby and I really like the long short stitch that I had never done before. Every letter brings something new and keeps me interested, still stitching along.

I had forgotten how my mind rests when my hands are at work. Seems silly, doesn't it? That I could forget such a fundamental thing? I did, though. In all the hub bub of summer, of running kids here and there, packing and unpacking for trips, staying up late and getting up early to beat the heat, I shoved my creative time to the side. And I've missed it. And really, I need that creative time. I'm a better mother, wife, friend, geez even a better housekeeper, when I take the time to make things. So I'm moving sewing up higher on the priority list. It's now right up there with a good night's sleep and exercise each day. I'm going to keep stitching all the way through "z", reveling in the deliberate and quiet way that needle and thread quiet my mind and energize it at the same time.

Do you enjoy hand stitching, too? What other creative pursuits give you peace of mind?

Kids' Summer Stitching

I was so flattered when Cindy asked me to contribute to her Summer Craft Camp.  She has compiled one great list of kids' crafts!

Emb 5

One of my kids' favorite crafts is embroidery.  They have both been stitching for a few years. This time, Kate was my very willing assistant and got to work on a cute flower embroidery from a drawing she did.  You can find our project here.

Kate emb

Kate and I made her flower into a sweet pillow with a rick rack trim.  You could also add it to a quilt or a bag.  Another great idea is to have your child embroider on flour sack tea towel for a gift.  Whatever you choose, it's sure to be treasured by you and your child alike.

Quiet afternoons around here....

Kate stitching

Jane 3

call for embroidery.  Some back stitching for Kate.  Split stitching for Jane.  Lots of needle re-threading by me.  All in all, nice way to spend a rainy, summer afternoon.

Both of the girls embroidery transfers came from the Sublime Stitching Craft Pad.

Back tomorrow with the winner of Vintage Baby Knits.  I haven't forgotten - just been busy watching my nephews and cleaning out the studio!  Scrap bags coming soon!

For Annabel

Jane's friend Annabel had her birthday party this weekend.  On Saturday morning, Jane and I set about making her present.


This fabric that I bought from Leslie is a lightweight canvas, perfect for a tote.  Jane and I thought that Annabel might need a bag to carry her ballet stuff in, or to fill with things to do while waiting at rehearsal for The Nutcracker.  Jane wanted to embroider ballet slippers or something dance related on the pocket, but crazy enough, we didn't have the right thing.  She settled on Annabel's initials.


Jane drew the letters on the polka dot fabric with a pencil and embroidered them herself while I was cutting out the bag and making the handles.  When she was finished stitching, I made the pocket and sewed it all together.


Inside, we put a sweet bundle of embroidery supplies:  hoop, needles, lots of floss, three fat quarters of fabric and Hillary's Peppermint Fairy Stitchettes.  I told her mother, who shares her daughter's birthday, that she was going to love me or hate me.  I know from experience that this requires lots of adult supervision and help.  I think Suzanne was just fine with it - after all, she's one of my craft swap peeps.

Happy Birthday friends!

For Felix

The girls and I just came home from meeting our new nephew and cousin.  The little guy is so sweet - it was great to finally see him and hold him.


This morning I whipped up some cuteness for the new baby.  I made him some burp cloths like the ones I did for Declan and Augie.  I also got out my embroidery machine and put his name on some onesies and a hat.  Sweet things for a sweet babe.

And in case you were counting, that is 7 nephews and 0 nieces.  Lucky me!

Color Week :: Yellow


I love my train case, made for me by my friend, the super talented Meg.  It came last week when I was feeling down in the dumps about running.  The timing was perfect and I adore it, especially because it is yellow and has houses and the illustrations are embroidered.  Thanks Meg!


And I have found a craft that I can do with the wrist brace on.  This is one of Hillary's Stitchettes...I finished the summer, fall and winter ones last year.  On to spring!


Thanks for all the birthday wishes for my mom.  I think she had a great day.  My dad flew all the adults in the family out to Telluride to surprise her.  It was a quick trip....22 hours door to door which is a bit shorter than my last journey out West.  It was great being able to celebrate with her.  All that eating and drinking and not enough sleep has left me completely worn out.

Moving on....craft swap was on Monday night and, as always, was just great!  One of our group is recovering from major surgery and decided to sit this swap out.  Well, we really couldn't let that happen!  We all made an extra craft for her and, with her husband's approval, held a surprise craft swap at her house.   We swooped in with food and drink and handmade goodies.  What isn't there to like about that?


Inspired by Amy and Courtney, I made coffee cozies.  My original intent was to make them patchwork using fun fabrics from my stash, but when I found the chocolate brown linen on sale, I decided that it was better.  This way all little coffee drips will blend right in.


I embroidered everyone's name with a running stitch and chose fabrics to compliment the floss.  There is one layer of batting sandwiched in the middle.  I wanted to quilt each one differently, but in the end decide that less is more and went with two simple lines.  Each cozy closes with little fabric loops and two buttons.


My friend Laura pointed out that these would make great teacher up a cozy and pop a gift card in the cup.  I think she's right.

Every one made such wonderful items at this swap.  I haven't had time to photo them all, but I will in the next day or two.  I am also working on the pillow zipper tutorial....I had hoped to have it up this week, but it may be a bit longer.   After our quick trip, groceries, laundry and rest are at the top of the agenda.   Back soon.

Oh baby

With all the alphabet posts finished and the kids in school, I actually managed to make something.  This is a craft blog, after all.


It's my first quilted bib and I am pretty happy with how it turned out.  What is there not to love about patchwork and bias tape after all?


I scooped up that chocolate brown linen on sale about a month ago and I am just crazy for it.  It is a pain in the you-know-what to embroider on, though.  I have a white pencil, but it doesn't show up too well.  Anyone have other suggestions for transferring images or text onto dark fabric?  I have a fairly large embroidery project in mind that I want to use dark blue linen for, but don't want to start unless I know I can transfer it successfully.

Thanks for all the back to school love - both girls had great first and second days.  We all love school.  Phew!  OK, the craft swap is on Monday.  I am about 75% finished...better get cracking.  Have a great weekend.  I will be back next week with some lovely show and tell.  The mailman has brought me some lovely packages in the past few weeks.  Oh yeah.

Creative Summer

Here is something I love:


Kate is at it again.  She asked me if she could embroider something to make a pillow.  Of course!  She drew this frog and I traced the back side of the drawing with a transfer pencil and then ironed it onto this cotton.  She worked on it for about 30 minutes a couple of days ago and then put it down.  This is why it takes her six months.


Not to be left out, Jane is working on a swan from the Sublime Stitching book.  She really wasn't interested in stitching one of her own drawings.  She is a wonderful little artist, but she likes lots of details and that doesn't always come across well with embroidery floss.

Something else I love:  the Creative Summer flickr group started by Molly.  Wow!  There are lots of great ideas over there and I plan posting as much as I can.  I am especially enamored with Mama Urchin's lily pad toss game.  Such a wonderful idea.

What creative things are you doing with your kids this summer?

Sock Elephant and Blue

Project::Sock Elephant


I made this little elephant for a birthday present.  The happy 6 year old promptly named her Ellie.  I used the pattern in this bookBlair was the one who turned me on to it, but I was skeptical.  My only other sock animal experience was not good.  Then I saw Blair's dog and decided to give it another go.  The elephant is not perfect (my mistakes), but the pattern was well written and the book is full of cute little critters.

Color week::Blue


The sky at dusk and


me wearing a light blue shirt.  I am also wearing these beautiful earrings from Susan - you just can't see them in the shot.

In other news, I taught myself a new craft and am aching to tell you all about it.  I'll save that for another day.  Let's just say, I'm hooked.  Happy Friday!

This tree grew in only six months

...or it took Kate six months to embroider this shirt.  You choose the title.


She started this embroidery project in January.  The drawing is her own - I used a transfer pencil to trace it and then ironed it on to the shirt.  She picked it up now and again over the course of six months - most often when I was embroidering something.  She did the trunk first, then the pink flower, then the "hair", as she calls it.  I did the face.

When we took the hoop off, it had a nice big ring around it.  Yep, a big white circle where the hoop was and dirt and food and finger marks everywhere else.  I popped in the wash after a liberal application of stain stick and - voila! - a perfectly white tee!  Well, a white tee with a super cute smiley tree worn by a very proud five year old.

That's my girl.

A Little Crafting

While traveling last week I worked on some embroidery.


This was the perfect craft for me to take along.  It didn't take up much room in the suitcase and it was small enough that I could sit and stitch by the pool or in front of the TV.  It's easy to pick up and put down as needed and I can still carry on a conversation while stitching along.  I find it to be extremely calming also.  And who couldn't use a bit more calm in their lives?  I certainly can. 

Hillary has published 3 groups of stitchettes....I have 10 of the 12 done.  What do you bet I get the other two finished while I am waiting for my machine?  Waiting is the hardest part.