Thursday, February 24, 2011


Wow - has it really been since February 14th since my last blog post - sorry - things got just a bit overwhelming again! I'll be back on track soon!

For those of you out there who dream of Project Runway - I bring you life at Parson's. As many of you know, my youngest daughter is a student there - here is her latest project from her methods class - a dress - it's all about technique.

The front:

The back:
And the latest collection from her concepts class - I honestly forget her inspiration for this collection.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Have a Happy Valentine's Day!

Here's a little Valentine's Day sample I worked on years ago - the Queen of Hearts. Now this is pretty sloppy, but it was my experimentation into all things cowboy boots - - - er, well, cowgirl boots!!!
We had a Western themed party to attend a few years back and awards were being given to best dressed. What's a cowgirl outfit without boots, right? I did some research on line and fell in love with the workmanship of cowboy / girl boots - - - it's like wearing an applique quilt on your foot - with a price tag to match!!!
I decided rather than shelling out the hundreds of dollars for the boots I fell in love with that I would create a cowgirl inspired vest - - - please keep in mind - this was a costume, nothing you'd catch me wearing out to the grocery store or dinner. How I wish better judgment would have prevailed and prevented me from putting that image of the scary cowgirl on the back of the vest - - - oh, well!
What I did love about the vest were the cowboy boot motifs I played with to corral the scary cowgirl. I used bold solid fabrics and accented the motifs with lots of satin stitching and specialty stitches in contrasting colors. What fun!!
Some reverse applique,
And, flame-like border work.
The front of the vest featured a cowboy / girl boot barkcloth I found on line - super colorful.
It wasn't a vintage barkcloth, but with boot images this good, who cares.
I had so much fun making this vest that I vowed I would revisit the applique art of cowboy boots in my quilting down the road, but time, and distraction, has been my enemy. The vest served the purpose for the party - first prize for best dressed, but now hangs forgotten in my closet. No more - - - I'm gonna dismantle the gal and turn her into a market bag for the start of the spring farmer's markets - she should really turn some heads!
FYI - - - Pub and Kitchen in Philly - - - fantastic!!!

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Foodie's Delight Weekend

Last night - dinner at Restaurant Alba in Malvern - - - highlight of the meal was dessert and the apricot crostado - - - I'm gonna try to get that recipe, and if I do, I promise to share. Sorry - I never snap pics in restaurants. A lot of wine was consumed - can't sleep in - - - market in the morning!

Who says you can't eat local in the winter in Pennsylvania - - - evidence of doing just that! Here's our stash from the Phoenixville Growers Market this morning - - -

We picked up a lovely box of assorted chocolates from John and Kira's - a Philadelphia chocolatier - had a sample of the lemongrass ganache filled chocolate - YUM!.
An experimental cheese from Birchrun Hills Farm - they had me at experimental - love everything they do! We also picked up a veal tenderloin for a valentine's dinner for family tomorrow night.
A whole grain loaf from St. Peter's Village Bakery - this bread is addictive!
Salmon from Wild for Salmon - a local husband and wife team that actually travels to Alaska, catches the salmon, processes it, and brings it back to southeastern PA for sale at various markets.
Some delicious cold weather cuts of bison from Backyard Bison - this stuff is great, and so much leaner than beef!
And, yes, produce - baby bok choy, red mustard, arugula and gorgeous carrots - all grown locally in winter! This adds to my produce lot that I picked up earlier this week from the Anselma winter market.
Loosen up the belt buckle - more indulgence tonight - - - Pub and Kitchen in Philly - - - I have been itching to have dinner at this restaurant but they don't take reservations. Tonight we are hitting it early with hopes of getting a seat - cross your fingers!

Friday, February 11, 2011


My husband and I saw a most amazing documentary last night - Wasteland - based on the work of the artist Vik Muniz and his portraits of the catadores of the Jardim Gramacho of Rio de Janeiro.

A little background - - -

Jardim Gramacho is the largest landfill in the world located in Rio de Janeiro - receiving over 7000 tons of garbage daily from neighboring communities.

Catadores are the pickers of that landfill - they pick anything and everything that has recycling value, and then broker their finds to provide an income for their families. Most live adjacent to the landfill - - - the images of the landfill in the movie are so poignant you find yourself bracing for the inevitable smell which the movie spares you.

Muniz created his portraits with the help of the catadores that his portraits depict - - - out of trash and recyclables. His method is captivating - a physical and emotional experience for the catadores and on-lookers alike. The dialogue is powerful and visceral as the politics of the Jardim Gramacho are revealed. The result of his artistic endeavor had / has far reaching social implications for the catadores - - - it is so compelling. If you have the opportunity to see Wasteland I highly recommend it.

Here is one of his portraits in the creation stage - a photographic image is projected onto the floor. From that projected image the catadores use castoff refuse to re-create that image in collage form. The website for the movie is excellent and provides a wealth of information on not only Muniz's artistic approach, but all of the politics involved.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Dyeing for a Visit

I had an all-star day visiting with my friend Jackie Gauker - creator of the most beautiful hand-dyed wools you have ever seen!

This is part of her inventory - if you ever visited Quilter's Palette it will look familiar - that was her quilt shop which she closed a few months ago. Since then she has been taking some well-deserved time for herself, but back to reality - time to dye!

Here are the fruits of her labor from yesterday's dying session - - - don't drool!!!
Here's a multi-colored sample
This is her dying bible - Dying Wool by Karen Shellinger.
When she started dying wool she was using 5 basic colors - - - as you can see, her palette has expanded.
Here is her fabric waiting to be dyed - she soaks it in water treated with synthrapol. She dyes all different colors of wool - even dark wool. She sampled a dark brown wool in a purple vat for me - - - the wool took a distinctive purple hue - - - very interesting.

She has become a connoisseur of wool - this is her favorite resource for good quality dying wool. Dying wool is very different from dying cotton - citric acid is added to the dye bath. Here's her work space.
Know what these things are???
They are measuring spoons for the dye. And, fyi - you don't wash them off to clean them - you dip them into salt to remove the dye powder.
Unlike dying cotton which requires room temperature water, wool dying requires boiling water. Jackie uses her stove and 2 additional 2 burner hot plates for her dying sessions.Those are stainless steel food grade pans - this is serious dying paraphernalia - the addition of citric acid requires only the best of equipment.

Here's a three stage multi-dye sample on a winter white wool. First step - boysenberry.
Second step - some plum swirled into the mix.
And third step some yellow to tone it all down.
Let's say it together - - - ohhhhh, ahhhhh!!! Dying is so addictive!
Thanks for the tutorial Jackie! If you'd like to get your hands on some of her wools and are local to the Philly area you can find it at Chester County Quilting in Phoenixville.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Rear View

These pillows are just as pretty from the back as they are from the front - - - you'll have to take my word on that since I'm not showing the front - sorry - - - later.

I whipped up three pillows today using this fantastic little technique I found on Sew Mama Sew a few days ago - - - it is "sew" simple!

The little flap hides a zipper. Here I've used a main fabric featuring fun little bicycles, and an accent fabric for the flap.
On this example I used three different fabrics to create the back - - - honestly, you could use this side of the pillow and get rave reviews. The technique includes the use of fusing tape to simplify the zipper insertion process.
And, here's a more sedate example - again using three different fabrics. The Sew, Mama Sew site has a lot of great pillow hints!

Wondering what happened with all of that binding from yesterday - - - phewwww!!! Every inch of it has been sewn onto its respective quilt - - - I'm dizzy! I've got tons of binding ideas to exchange with you when I have time to write them all down - - - soon, I promise!

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Super Bowl Yardage Record

Yup - that's a whole bunch of yardage - - - enough for the 10 quilts in the queue awaiting finishing - - - right about now the Steelers would love this yardage.

Thank heavens for continuous binding - whipped this stash up in less than 4 hours yesterday - - - I was a machine! Today and tomorrow - - - getting it onto the quilts - - - yippee!!! I took a bunch of pictures for the special little things I do to simplify making continuous binding - - - soon - - - soon I promise I will re-visit binding to give you my tips for making the easiest binding ever!!!

And in celebration of the Super Bowl - - - RIBS!!! This year I'm passing on the standard gooey barbecue ribs drenched in sauce in pursuit of something different - - - Coconut Barbecue Ribs. Baby back pork ribs are steamed first (the steaming gives up a lot of the fat making a fairly fatty meat a smitch leaner), then marinated in a bath of deliciously infused coconut milk - seasoned with cilantro, shallots, garlic, lemon grass, ginger, brown sugar and soy sauce. I couldn't find any fresh lemon grass but this stuff in the tube was an acceptable replacement.

I used the lite coconut milk - no sacrifice in flavor and far fewer calories.
Wondering what my ginger is resting on??? That's a ginger grater.
I like to peel the ginger before grating - then you just rub the ginger nub over the rough surface, and, presto - beautifully grated ginger.
The hairy strands are left behind - do you think you could weave those into fabric???
These ribs were fantastic - so tender and full of flavor. I saved half of the marinade to try with chicken thighs later this week.
I made a light salad to accompany the ribs - don't you love my maroon carrots - super high in beta carotene, and so beautiful in a salad.
Go Steelers!!! - - - Loving the commercials!!!

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Opening Night at Jenkins

It was Opening Night of Celebrating Nature's Beauty in Stitches at Jenkins Arboretum last night and what a lovely evening it was! I love how this photo shows the reflection of the quilts in the massive windows of the visitors center. Unfortunately the arboretum is open only during daylight hours, so if you missed the opening, you missed the chance to appreciate the reflections.

The collection of quilts selected for the show is impressive - this wall in the main room features quilts by one of the feature artists, Barbara Persing - notice the lighting, particularly the Gum Blossom quilt in the upper right hand corner - rectangular lighting to really highlight the quilt - the staff at the Arboretum is so professional!This wall in the main room features a collection of quilts by another feature artist, BJ Titus,
and the quilts on this wall were created by a variety of quilters selected for the show.
Bargain tip - entrance to the arboretum and quilt show is free; not to mention, the show booklet is only $5 and contains great photos of all of the quilts in the show.

Viewing Tip: the quilt Seasons of Pollination by the Longwood Gardens Quilters (pictured above) is hanging on the giant windows in the board room. When you view this quilt during daylight hours it appears as though it is gridded - why - - - because the daylight illuminates the seam allowances creating a shadowing effect, adding a completely new dimension to the beauty of this stunning quilt.