Wednesday, November 4, 2020

Puttering in the Studio

What's his name is quarantined for a few days after attending live business meetings... So I've PLENTY of time to putter around the studio. Here's what I've been working on.
  • I am still knitting away on the Double Your Pleasure cowl. Someday when it's done I'll have a photo to share.
  • Wanna be towels
    The towels are on the Gilmore loom... I'm debating how much they're going to shrink up off the loom so I can figure out how long to weave them; There really isn't any excuse not to sample. I am thinking of weaving the first one 36" then pulling it off and finishing it just to see what happens. This one has a single color weft but the other two I'll play with multiple weft colors.  I'm also designing a 2nd run of towels to go on to the Baby Mac using some variegated 8/2 cotton I hand dyed a few years ago.
  • 1/2 of a quilted tote bag
    I recently purchased a premium Craftsy subscription, with access to tons of classes for all kinds of crafts, gardening, cooking etc. I'm so tempted to play with frosting cakes! Instead, I'm working on a few new techniques/projects. I watched The Scrappy Market Tote with Christina Cameli for "intuitive" piecing techniques, and quilting with some new free motion techniques from The Secrets of Free-Motion Quilting  (also with Christina Cameli).  Sadly I forgot to push the purchase button on some strapping for the handles so will not finish the bag until next week.  I used my new piecing foot, the Bernina Quilt Stitch Regulator, and the ruler work foot with my new rulers. The QSR is surprisingly easy to use, the ruler work is surprising hard and needs more practice.
    What was I thinking?
  • Next up, The Machine Embroidered Quilt with Eileen Roche, if I can figure out where Craftsy hid the embroidery files...
I've also been spending some time cleaning and rearranging the studio and found a box of fabric. It looks carefully curated, as if I were going to start a new project with it's contents. I have no idea what I was planning.

There's nothing new on the food front. Honestly it's not very interesting to cook for one. I did make a lovely brocolli salad with a honey mustard dressing, and some green chili stew, leaving some on the porch for the DH as if he was a feral cat or something. Yesterday, election day,  I was tempted to make an almond cake per Alice Waters but remembered that comfort food only comforts me while I'm eating it (so not very long) but exercise seems to put my brain at ease for much longer. I did stress nibble my way through the kitchen but also got out for a late afternoon walk which was quite soothing. 

Monday, October 12, 2020

Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking

 This month's cookbook challenge is the Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking by Marcella Hazan. Last night, I cooked Spareribs Pan Roasted with Sage and White Wine, Treviso style with polenta (the lazy less stir method) and some broccolini. We drank it with a La Monacesca "Mirum" Verdicchio di Matelica Riserva.  Such a lovely dinner!

I've decided to back off on quarterly goals and allow myself some time for exploration, at least for the rest of the month.  In November, I'll pick up work on the pub quilt again...  Meanwhile, I'm playing with the new sewing machine and largely ignoring everything else. Here's a short list of what's been active:

  • I've been working on the Double your Pleasure cowl in front of the TV and on zoom calls; have torn it out twice but now I think it's going well.
  • I took out the paintbox quilt (Judy Niemeyer) and have pieced the rest of the blocks. I know it's been on time out for some problem but the problem seems to have healed itself? I've ordered some fabric for backing/borders and will look at piecing it together in the next month or so. It'll be twin size. I may machine quilt it myself, or maybe send it out...
  • I've been "down" after the second shingles vax... just feeling crappy and "meh" so watching videos on machine quilting using a technique called "ruler work".  I've ordered a set of rulers and have been watching videos on Craftsy so am ready to play with this new technique!
  • I have a warp ready to go on the loom and need to get another one on the other loom... hoping to do that later this week.
  • I also organized my button collection and am looking at refactoring the studio so I can find things better... More of that later.

Wednesday, September 30, 2020

Q3 2020 finished things (9)

Here we are again at the end of a quarter. I confess that I find the EOQ exciting and the push to finish the "almost done" projects is amazing. I oddly do not find it stressful. Here's the list:

  • The evil eye mosaic is done, and I grouted the color stick although I'm not convinced the grout will stay adhered to the piece. I think it's fun to see the color stick in this plant on the deck.
  • Finished the woven jacket with knitted sleeves.
  • Wove two ikat scarves.
  • Made masks:  2 pink ones to match the ikat scarves, and two testing out some methods. I'm only counting Masks as one item regardless of how many I've done. Otherwise it feels ridiculous.
  • I also bought a new sewing machine with an embroidery unit. I confess I was a little confused when I brought it home as to what I'd do with it. So I enrolled in an online class and learned all kinds of things while making this tiny 20" square wall quilt! This lead to a bunch of exploration on line and a list of new techniques that I want to try. I'll explore this more in another post.

I also finished two major pieces:
  • The woven jacket with knitted sleeves.
  • The Festivus quilt. I'm trying to figure out when I started it and I've determined it was before 1995, based on the completion date of a smaller quilt I'd started about the same time. I'm going to guess '93 or '94, probably the former. It's gorgeous and I'm thrilled with it. I'm going to leave it on the bed for some time even though it feels a little early for Christmas...

I have partial progress on some of the other goals.
  • The table design is done; I have all the glass, and the substrate is ready to go but it's been too hot or too smokey to want to work in the garage bay.
  • I explored doing Zentangles on fabric using fabric pens from Sharpie and using gel glue resist. I need to have a dye day to take them to the next step, and this will give me the info I need for the Number One shirt
  • Make masks for family in Utah: what can I say, they're partially sewn together. I'll get on it. 
  • Trial another shirt pattern (Patternworks Akita). The pattern is printed and taped together. I find this an unpleasant process. So now I need to trace off my size, make a muslin, etc.. It's almost time to start trialing vest patterns instead.
No Q4 goals yet, I'll give some that thought and publish later in the week.

Monday, September 28, 2020

Powering through the Festivus Quilt

At the very end of 2019 when I basted the Festivus quilt, I was anticipating getting the quilt done in a couple of months. Ha!  I've been working diligently on it, quilting a bit most days, making it my choice of projects for meetings and TV time... and here I am, 9 months later and it's done and ready to go on the bed. You would think I'd be in a good mood, finishing a quilt after so many years... but in the past it's been a very anti climatic event. You spend all this time working on something and in the end, it's just a blanket, right? 

I will confess, the quarterly list of finished things is ending up being very motivating for me to finish things at the end of the quarter!!! It's not stressful, just motivating.

On other fiber projects, I enrolled in Sara Snuggerud's online Embroidery Essentials class and I'm feeling very satisfied by what I've learned; it's 15 different techniques I can use my machine embroidery machine for.  I've got all the blocks done, sewn together and quilted; am hoping to bind it tomorrow or the day after. I've got some ideas for additional projects with the embroidery machine but also have my eyes on what I can finish next... I'll flag a couple of links here:

Photos of the quilts have not happened yet and will be on my finished things page. 

The looms are all empty right now but I have a warp for 4 kitchen towels ready to go! The other loom will be my Double Weave project for the Study Group.

I managed to bring in a few of the ripe Granny Smith apples from the garden before the rodents get them... Luckily I don't think they care for this variety! I made this French apple cake with GF flour; it's got 2 apples in it and is absolutely delicious!  The next day it got hot, so I beat the heat by cooking these Red Beans and Rice in the slow cooker.

Thursday, September 10, 2020

Hawker Fare

Yesterday the sky glowed orange, the sun appeared either a faint yellow dot in the dark sky, and confused crickets chirped mid afternoon; at 2 in the afternoon it was as dark as late twilight. This was a result of lots of smoke blown high in the atmosphere above us and a lower marine layer or fog and haze...  Very eerie and emotionally draining...

Yet I'd marinated 2 lbs of pork chops according to a recipe in Hawker Fare for Septembers cookbook challenge. The cookbook is the story of a Lao refugee, now the chef at a well known SF restaurant of the same name.  There's more recipes than story, and many of them with ingredients that are not easy to get in a pandemic. I did manage to find some Lao fish sauce online, which is a nasty pungent thick version of the Thai fish sauce we're more familiar with; but mixed into a sauce or a marinade, it's pure salty umami. So in the early evening, I made some rice and cucumber salad using cukes from the garden, and we braved the apocalyptic skies, grilled the pork chops (moo ping) and served them with a spicy dipping sauce. I'd make this again, for company!

There's also a beef rib satay recipe that I'll expect to make before the month is out; I'll try to cook the egg salad and maybe another dish as well. Next time I'll try to get pictures.

Beef Satay from Hawker Fare
Beef Satay from Hawker Fare; there was enough satay
sauce for chicken satay later in the week

For my birthday, DH bought me FIVE NEW COOKBOOKS! I'm sure we'll see some dishes from  these in the near future. We've been eating very well and I take this as a compliment to my recent cooking endeavors. 

Sunday, September 6, 2020

New Bernina!!!

I bought myself a super fancy sewing machine for my birthday this year! I've barely used it since it came home a few weeks ago but have big plans; I'm noting a couple of websites (and one doc you won't be able to access) here so I don't forget them.

Bernina videos:

Embroidery Website List:

Embroidery class online; for a price but it seems to be worthwhile:

In other news, I finished a small 3D mosaic; here it is with grout drying. DH has promised to take some glamor shots of it for me... I'm really pleased with it. He's almost got the substrate ready for me to start the next table, and I was able to buy some glass this week! So no excuses!

There are so many things I could say about this piece, and so many cute and clever names I could give it. Does art need a clever name? Does that make it more artistic or detract from the artists intention? Is a clever name better or a mysterious name? Shouldn't art speak for itself?

I'm slowly chipping away at the Festivus quilt border... Sadly as I approach the top left corner I realize that I left an entire block unquilted! So I'll be working on that after I finish the final snowflake.

I've been working on that knitted cowl too, when the cat takes the quilt away, and just realized I'll need to take out about 4 inches. Don't ask.

I also started winding the warp for some dish towels... I was playing Yarn Chicken (where you're not sure you have enough yarn so go on anyways) and lost. So I'm waiting for MORE yarn to arrive in the mail. Meanwhile, I need to warp up a sample of double wide double weave, hopefully before Thursday when I meet again with the folks in my study group.

I am working on a Project where I document the steps as I go along in a book. I'm combining hand spun and mill spun yarn into a fabric that I'll use for a vest.  I believe I have all the yarn ready to go; more on that as it progresses.

And masks... I need to dig out the mask box and finish up the 13 masks I have promised here and there.  So much to do!

Wednesday, August 26, 2020

August has just been too damn much fun!

August has been an interesting month, what with the wildfires and smoke and all. Looks like we've made it through the worst. Can't wait to see what September brings!

This month has been a food month of internet recipes, and tomatoes, which just keep growing. I've cooked the following. Don't ask for links, I did not save them.

  • Tomato jam from 2 lbs of cherry tomatoes using a recipe from Thea but with suggestions from the internet... I also made it with the surplus of heirlooms but the cherry tomato one is far superior.
  • Tomato Salsa over halibut and cilantro lime rice; I'd make this again.
  • Tomato risotto: OMG good!
  • Peach ice cream: meh
  • Chicken and butternut tagine: also good
  • Brocolli salad with a tahini dressing

On the fiber front, I've been mask making again; I'm adding medium weight interfacing on the sides to give it more body, and experimenting with the flat metal strips instead of Scott's wires to see if they're more comfortable. 

I finished the 3rd border of the Festivus quilt and have been knitting on the Double your Pleasure cowl until I can get around to marking the final border.

The 2 ikat scarves are off the loom, and one will be flying away today... I dyed some shibori fabric with the warp and weft to coordinate and made a mask to go with it.