Detail from "Rain Dance," an original quilt by Sherrie Spangler

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Ready for Long Beach quilt festival!

My quilting/embroidery/beading travel kit is packed, and in 36 hours I'll be headed to Long Beach, CA, for the ...

International Quilt Festival!

This little quilt will fold up into the travel case (a freebie from Clinique) along with scissors, needles, embroidery thread, beads, and beading thread. It weighs next to nothing and hardly takes any space, but it will keep me busy for hours.

Here's a closer look at the embroidery and beading. It's so meditative -- I don't have to think and I'm in no rush to finish. All I have to do is enjoy the colors as I sew them down. I've already made two passes around the main motif with different embroidery stitches, and now I'm making a third pass with beads.

I hope it's sunny in California, because we've had too much rain here lately. Above are the brave Feet and Forks women taking a break during a chilly, wet hike this week.

Earlier this month, I snapped these gorgeous plants in Nancy's garden. Luscious colors and patterns ... quilt inspiration.

Have a colorful day

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Pie crust and garden bounty

I learned to make a pie crust yesterday!

My neighbor, the expert, had a little lesson for myself and another neighbor. That's mine on the left, in a pottery pie dish I bought at our local farmer's market. Our crusts turned out so flaky and light that I could hardly believe it.

I never had luck making crusts before, even though I followed directions exactly. They always cracked and fell apart. The problem, I discovered yesterday, is my hot dry hands. I just had to pat extra water on the dough as I handled it.

So I took my prebaked crust home and filled it with fresh peaches and blueberries tossed in a light fruit glaze that I made from my neighbor's recipe. This is all that was left this morning, and now it's all gone. It was delicious!

After mastering crusts yesterday morning, I shelled peas from our garden for hours last night. This is so much nicer than getting food at the grocery store. I hate the atmosphere in supermarkets -- not enough natural light and too much packaging and artificial food.

I picked a nice bowl of this romaine today for a salad tonight.

The bean stalks are growing like Jack's magic beans ...

The corn is lush ...

And this is a little medley of Swiss chard, kale and beets. Tonight will be a tomato-goat cheese quiche with onions, basil and parsley from the garden in my OWN pie crust; a saute of chard, kale, red peppers and garlic; and a crisp green salad.

Have a flavorful day!

Monday, July 18, 2011

Clay babies, clay birds and beads

Some rare "clay babies" from the shores of Fox Island, WA
Soon after moving to western Washington, I started hearing about the rare legendary "clay babies" found only on a certain part of Fox Island. Today, I finally got to hold two of the precious formations.

The occasion was today's book club meeting, where we discussed "Clay: The History and Evolution of Humankind's Relationship" by Susan Staubach. Beth brought two of the clay babies to show us. A google search of "clay babies Fox Island" turns up quite a bit of information, which boils down to this:

These rocks, which are found along a portion of the western shore of Fox Island, are concretions. Veins of high quality clay extend onto the beach and the clay is exposed to waves, tidal action, and the sun. These are the perfect ingredients for forming the unusual projections on the concretions, which often look like plump little baby figurines.

Here is just one of the many links to clay babies:

Then we headed into Barb's wonderful backyard pottery studio, below, where she taught us all how to make clay birds. It was amazingly simple!

Hops adorn the walkway.

Some of Barb's finished birds with one in progress.

Barb shows how to pinch the clay into a beak.

Side view of Barb's studio.
We started by making a pinch pot, then sealed the lips to form a hollow oval and then pulled out the tail and beak and embellished them with designs. After they're fired, we'll return to glaze our creations.

And here's today's update on my yoga mat quilt. I started adding beads last night and now my mantra, as I stitch, is "Three golds, one green, three golds, one green, three golds, one green ..."

Have a colorful day!

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Yoga embroidery and coconut cake

I'm making good progress on the embroidery on my "Up Dog Yoga Mat Quilt." Here's the thread I've used so far -- all luscious hand-dyed pearl cotton from except for the lavender on the far right.

After making one pass around the central motif with a feather stitch in Salt Water Taffy thread, I decided it needed more definition. So I did a chain stitch in purple on one side, and now I'm working up the other side in blue/green.

It's very meditative.

And then there's coconut cake:

Go Sheila! My friend Sheila just got her diving certification in the ffffrigid waters of the Puget Sound, so she deserves the calories in this coconut cake. We recently came into joint possession of it, so we split it down the middle, and boy was it rich.

Have a colorful day!

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Color, food and fun with the Twisted Nuts

Nancy's jacket got the party started.

It's that time of month again:
Sew Day with the Twisted Nuts!
That means color, food and fun!

One of a colorful array of lunch salads.

Linda J. gave us all big chunks from this fun purple fabric.
Stretch pants, perhaps?

Carolyn outdid herself with breakfast quiches and melons.

More fabric from Linda
-- slinky tops to go with the purple pants?

Breakfast continued with a mountain of muffins.

Linda P. pulled out this wild felted pincushion.

I checked out Jean Wells' book,
Intuitive Color & Design: Adventures in Art Quilting

Nancy upcycled this black tote with fun fabric and funky straps.

Carolyn made this fabulous crazy quilt pillow for a lucky friend.

And that's not even the half of it, but it's enough to give you a taste of a day with the Twisted Nut Stitchers.

Have a colorful day!

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Upside down yoga quilting

Down dog or up dog?

Yesterday I thought the orientation below was what I wanted, but now I like up dog better -- the top photo.

Lesson from yoga: Be flexible but stop before it hurts.

(Down dog and up dog are yoga positions.)

I finished embroidering around the central motif this morning -- inside because it's cold and gray today. Now I have to decide if I want to use the same thread and stitch on the other motifs or change it up. I'll meditate on it!

Have a colorful day!

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Yoga mat quilting

It's a gorgeous, hot, sunny day in Gig Harbor and I'm taking advantage of it by sewing outside. I've started on my second "yoga mat" quilt, so named because I've been inspired by the flowing design on my yoga mat.

I started last night by selecting a background and motif fabrics from my stash that I've painted over the years. The orange fabric has a little sparkle from Setacolor pearlescent paint.

I ironed paper-backed fusible web to the back of the motif fabric, folded it in half, drew a free-form design and cut it out.

Surprise! A happy face emerged,
with a Jimmy Durante nose.

... then a sad face ...

... and here is the final version, with a chunk relocated from the middle of the nose and the eyeballs moved.

Then I loaded a tray with my embroidery threads, scissors, and ice water and settled in the back yard to soak up some rays while adding the hand stitching.

(The thread is hand-dyed by Laura Wasilowski at
Have a colorful day!

Monday, July 4, 2011

Knee high by the 4th of July

Here's our neighbor, who planted three rows of corn in our garden, posing beside it today to show that it is indeed:

Have a colorful holiday