Friday, March 28, 2008

I Need a Hawaiian Vacation

It's four o'clock and I've just spent another entire day tying bows and dropping off a ton of orders at the post office. I'm toast. I need a Hawaiian vacation. Let's take one, eh? We'll park at the Outrigger Waipoli since we're so close. We'll walk through the lobby...and take the beach access path. I can see by all the people by the pool that tourist season has begun. Oh look, there's a little girl studying the colorful koi swimming in the pond. She looks like a statue, doesn't she?
Wow, look at all the colorful flowers. This is why Hawaiian print fabrics are so bright! Can you imagine hanging a grey toned fabric in your house with all this competing for your attention?
The pool looks inviting. The new style in pools is to build them in long ribbons like a river. They meander through the gardens, under waterfalls, and down to the main pool. They even have a current you can float downstream in! No need to heat the pools in Hawaii, they are warm enough to swim in all year long. Well, they do get a little chilly in January, but not enough to keep determined people out...
You can float by--or even under--this waterfall...
and check out the pretty flowers along the way...
Hmmm...that looks like a nice table. You feel like something with an umbrella in it? No, they don't have Hula Pie here.
At last, here's what we were looking for:
Peace and quiet. Is there anyone to the left of us? Hmmmm...a few people, but they're far away.
How about to the right of us?
A lone fisherman on the jetty. This looks like a great spot.
Ah...yes. Peace and quiet. My sore fingers feel better already.
What IS that blue thing you're drinking? And look at all those little paper umbrellas in your hair! I think you were ready for this; I know I was. I'm exhausted. I was just...uh...just thinking....uh....zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

Thursday, March 27, 2008


No sewing today, either. It's been a craaaazy couple of days, but I love it. Thanks for all the pattern orders, everyone!

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

The Best Laid Plans

I'd been trying to get into my sewing room for days now. But errands, appointments, oil changes, groceries, cleaning projects--the list is endless, as you know--had all conspired against me. So it was with great determination that I called my friend Anne on Tuesday night and asked her to come over and sew with me the next day. I knew that if Anne was here, I would be committed to sewing the entire day! We would do an all-day sew-a-thon! I wouldn't answer the phone or clean anything--I would sit down with Anne and sew for eight hours straight. It was gonna be great. Anne would be over by 9 a.m. Wednesday morning and we would sew straight through until 5:00 p.m. Whoo hoo! I would finish quilting the border on my Kisses quilt! I would finish quilting my UFO Friday flower wallhangings! Perhaps I could start on one of those skirts in my new skirt book!
On the set of Simply Quilts, with Alex and producers
Alas. It was not meant to be. Unbeknownst to me, while I was sleeping, my Simply Quilts episode re-ran. I didn't know it was going to re-run (no, no one lets you know) and it aired across the U.S.A. during my middle-of-the-night. This morning, right before my sew-a-thon was to commence--I opened my inbox to an avalanche of pattern orders!

Don't get me wrong, I LOVE pattern orders. Well, except for the bow part, as you know. But I LOVE pattern orders! It's so exciting that someone is actually reproducing something I designed in Australia or Germany or Tilden, Nebraska! Thank you all so much for your orders--I'll tie bows for you any day! And thanks for all the pictures you send of your completed quilts. They make my day.

Unfortunately, though, instead of working on my quilts or a skirt during my sew-a-thon day, I worked on this:

These were just the orders that came in before noon! Afternoon brought a whole new batch of orders. And as quilters across the USA finally manage to watch the Simply Quilts episodes they taped during the week, more orders will be rolling in, especially this weekend.

The Simply Quilts show is phenomenal. Even though they stopped producing it, the reruns are still being watched and loved by quilters everywhere. We filmed that episode five long years ago, even before I wrote my second book! And yet every time it airs, I get a walloping batch of orders from all over the U.S.

If you haven't seen my slideshow of the filming, you really should click here or on the Flickr link on my sidebar and see some of the behind-the-scenes stuff. All the pictures were taken by my sister, Jane Ann Munroe.

The experience itself? I'm still recovering. When I left the studio that day, I felt like I had been run over by a train. It was all very intense and I felt entirely out of my league, quilt-wise. But I survived, and I'm glad I did it, even though I can't watch it without cringing! Alex Anderson was such a sweetheart--I think the world of that woman.

So my sewing day with Anne didn't exactly turn out like I had envisioned it, but that's okay. Anne got some sewing done while I tied bows and stuffed envelopes. Remember this picture from last week of Anne trying to figure out her Japanese Puzzle quilt?

I'm happy to say that she got it together and added a border:
and she'll be quilting it any day. I, on the other hand, might be tying bows all week. But that's okay. You're totally worth it. But TOMORROW, I am DEFINITELY going to SEW. And tie some bows. But mostly sew. I hope.

Monday, March 24, 2008

Better Than Laundry

Today, I did laundry and some gardening. I don't think you'd care to see my laundry, so I'll take you out into the garden with me instead. This, for my dear friends still covered in snow, is what Spring looks like:A zinnia seedling. My husband plants a zinnia cutting garden for me every year.
I'll take another picture of this row in a few weeks. You'll be amazed at the riot of color.

Speaking of color riots, this is a curious flowering bush we have in the yard:

I don't know the name of it, but it's got two different colors of flowers on it. There are silvery pink flowers and coraly red flowers. This bush is a puzzle to me. I've never seen nature get colors wrong, but this one just doesn't seem right. These colors clash! Would you ever make a quilt using those two colors together? But it's still pretty. Perhaps it's some type of Thumbergia? It's upright, but aspires to be a vine. It's got coily tendrils. Anyone?

Mmmmm...the mint is looking fine. We have many kinds of herbs in the garden. Basil grows huge here. Oh look, the horse next door is watching us:

Hello sweetie! Want an apple? My husband feeds the neighbor horse treats over the fence. He's a pushover for a pretty face.

Plumeria blossoms are popping out all over. This is the flower I usually make leis from for visitors. The smell is jasmine-like, but not overpowering. In a few weeks, this bare tree will be full of flowers.
The lettuce is almost ready. And look, we have tomatoes in the greenhouse!
Roma tomatoes pretty much grow all year. In the summer, one bush overwhelms us with tomatoes. I started out with more in this colander, but I had to eat a few while I was taking their picture. They taste like summer.

Speaking of Spring and Summer, here's something that I won't be wearing for a while:

I finished my Merino Lace socks from the Favorite Socks book. I'm really happy with the pattern and fit. I finished these socks a few nights ago and immediately cast on some more socks:
No, this is funny little green blob is NOT the beginnings of a Grinch sculpture, it's the beginning of a Monkey sock! I wanted to see what all the fuss was about this pattern. I like it already! It's all lumpy and funky, but when it's stretched out on a leg, it's really pretty! This yarn is Lorna's Laces Shepherd sock in Carol Green.

Hopefully, I'll get back into my sewing room tomorrow.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Mini-Group Fun

I had a lovely Easter weekend. On Saturday, some of our mini-group got together and sewed all day. It rained a little bit in the morning, so we could only open the doors to the lanai part way. By afternoon, it was gorgeous again and we could open the doors and enjoy the breezes and this view:
Paige finished her Flying Geese circle. By afternoon, she was adding another blue print border after she trimmed the beige down a little. She was so happy with her compass!

I can't wait to see how she quilts it!

I must've had a really good time because I forgot to take pictures most of the day. We had a nice lunch at Nawiliwili Harbor (forgot the camera), Anne worked on a Pinwheel Wallhanging (forgot to take a picture), Roberta made a box bag because she missed the group last Saturday (oops again) and I made a four grocery totes (dang!). I'm sorry...baaaaaad blogger. Baaaaad.

The cat supervised. He sat near my left shoulder like this all day. When I looked at him, he would meow at me. I think he was saying: "Get back to work." That's what supervisors do, you know.

"At least you remembered to take a picture of me. Get back to work...NOW!"

What a wonderful day. I love my friends...even the bossy ones. Meee-ow!

Postscript: Kauai made international news today (!) with this story:

Friday, March 21, 2008

A Wedding and a Wedding Quilt

You know what this is, don't you?This is a BRIDE! This bride happens to be my very lovely stepdaughter, Jennifer. Last June, she married the man of her dreams in Houston, Texas. And you know what a wedding in the family means, don't you? Of course! A wedding quilt!
Here she is with the wedding quilt I made for the newlyweds. (This picture was taken at their cute little house in Houston.) I chose to make the quilt in holiday-themed thirties fabrics, because I suspect (and hope) that there will be grandchildren one day who would like to play "I Spy" with it. I guess that was a little devious on my part, making a wedding quilt with grandchildren in mind, but what can I say? I'm enthusiastic about the possibility. And available for babysitting, by the way. Just so you know, Jen...but no pressure. Ahem.

I think she liked it! You can't see it very well in this picture, but it's the teary-eyed thank-you photo shot. I live for these. She did it well, didn't she? Gorgeous girl, and very, very sweet! I'm so glad she liked it.

I enjoyed making this pattern. The block is called "Vintage Propellers" is available as a free download at Connecting Threads. Here is the link: click here
I modified the pattern by setting the blocks with alternate plain print blocks, as it was a little too busy with all the propellers smooshed together. I wouldn't want to strain the childrens'....uh...I mean bride and groom's...eyesight. No, that wouldn't be good.

Just thought you might like to see the groom, too. Isn't he a handsome guy? It was a lovely wedding.

(Jennifer and Michael--you know I'm only making jokes. No pressure, really. Only when you're ready. Because I am!!!!)

Giveaway Alert: Amanda at Busy Little Quilter is having a giveaway. Leave a comment on her blog and you'll have a chance to win a twenty-five dollar gift certificate to The Fat Quarter Shop. Sweeeeeeeet!

Yarn Giveaway at Happy Handwork

Want to win some yummy Malabrigo yarn? My friend Cinnamon Girl at Happy Handwork is having a giveaway! Click here to enter. I would reeeeeaaallly like to win me some Malabrigo because it's causing quite a stir in the knitting world! We don't have it here in Hawaii, so I'm very curious to see what all the commotion is about. Oh, and Cinnamon Girl? My favorite flower is a fuschia. We don't have those here either. Sob. But I could be comforted by some Mmmmmmmalabrigo....

Thursday, March 20, 2008

UFO Friday

It's UFO Friday, I've got another easy one for you. (Lest you think that all my UFO's are easy, let me assure you that I've got some real doozies currently in hiding. I'm just having a hard time facing them--which is why they became UFO's in the first place! Don't worry, I'll run out of easy ones eventually and have to drag out the real problems. Ugh.)

Obviously, the little wall quilt above is finished, not a UFO. I'm showing you this little quilt in its usual spot, which is above one of my old sewing machines in my dining room. My original idea was to make seasonal wallhangings for this spot. I wanted to do the same flower in all four seasonal colors and rotate them according to time of year. The quilt above is my "Fall."

This paper-pieced flower block is a Shirley Liby design, on the "Sew Precise" Collection 3 disc. (I modified the pattern to suit my vision.) Here is a close-up picture of it:

For Summer, I wanted something really really jazzy and modern art-like:

Summer got finished, too. I like this one a lot, even though it's really wild.

Now for the UFO part. I present Winter:

Winter is still unquilted. I have no excuse. I like Winter, but I sure am afraid of washing Winter after I'm done. I just know those white petals laundered with that dark blue there such thing as a blue daffodil? Probably not. But there will be once I wash it.

I think another reason I'm hesitant about Winter is that after I finish quilting Winter...I'll have to face Spring:

UGH!! I don't like this quilt at all. It gives me a headache just to look at it.

I'm not one for a pure pastel quilt. I need to "ground" pastels with other colors. But I don't know if it's just the pastels that make me dislike this quilt so much. Could it be a deeper underlying problem? Hmmmh. I'm going to go all Freudian on you here and wonder if I don't like this quilt because I don't like Spring all that much!

My mother and I dressed in our Easter outfits, circa 1964 in La Mirada, CA. My feet hurt in this picture and I did not like that hat at all.

Why don't I like Spring? I never have. It's too bright, and mornings start too early. For many years, I resented that time change thing that happens with Spring. It's still too cold outside, and Easter...ugh. My least favorite holiday. I don't like breakfast, eggs, ham, brunch, getting up early, putting on silly pastel dresses with stupid hats, uncomfortable white shoes that make your feet look gigantic, looking for eggs in cold wet grass, disgusting little marshmallow chickens, and giant rabbits at the mall. The whole thing makes me a little nauseous. The only thing good about Spring is the leafing and flowering of trees, bursting bulbs and all the beautiful flowers, which I adore, so I'll tolerate the rest of it.

So perhaps it not the quilt itself I don't like, perhaps it's the reminder of Spring that makes it so icky. It's not the poor sickening pastel quilt's fault. I should just stop whining and finish Spring and get it over with. I think dreading Spring has kept me from finishing Winter, so I should just do it, huh?

Wow. Another great quilt psychology breakthrough. I can't blame a quilt for Spring and I have a hanging sleeve hang-up. What do your UFO's reveal about you? (And "I'm lazy" is not a deep enough answer. We all have that....)

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Places to Go, Bows to Tie

Tonight's post will be brief. I had a large shop order to prepare and deliver (*&^% little bows!) and a two page errand list that returned me home just before dinnertime. It was too late to take any blog pictures, so I'll reach into my archives for a nice Kauai picture.

Pictured above is the Na Pali coast on the North Shore of Kauai. It is inaccessible by car, so the only way you can get a view like this is by helicopter or boat. I've been on a helicopter tour of Kauai, and although it was spectacular, I was too busy trying not to toss my cookies all over the pilot to take any pictures. A cruise ship was much better!

This was the deck of the "Pride of Hawaii," the cruise ship I taught quilt classes on in October 2006 for Quiltmaker Magazine. It was a brand new ship, and it was pretty spectacular.

Gosh. Looks like Disneyland, doesn't it? I love the picture below:

I took this photo when we were on "shore leave" in downtown Honolulu. It looks like the ship is just casually parked at the city mall or something. Like, "Oh! Dang! I forgot where I parked my ship...was it in the D or E section?" Ah well, maybe I'm the only one who thinks it's funny. Probably because I'm always forgetting where I parked my car. If I had a funny big ship, I wouldn't have that problem. Heh heh.

To see more of my Quiltmaker Hawaii cruise pictures, you can click here to see my Flickr photoset: click here

Off to put something cold on my sore fingertips. Grrrr...*&^%% little bows....

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Puakenikeni Baby Quilt

I made this little pink baby quilt to have on hand for baby emergencies. I'm feeling very proud of myself for making this one in advance. Now all I have to do is make a blue one and I'm all set for any non-multiple baby scenario. I feel so prepared!

This is a puakenikeni flower, the inspiration for my quilt:

It smells heavenly! "Puakenikeni" means "ten cent flower" because the locals used to sell them by the roadside for ten cents a piece. I'm told that was quite expensive at the time; I suppose the flower was rarer back then. This flower makes beautiful fragrant leis.

At the time I made my quilt, I thought the puakenikeni flower had only four petals, but as you can see, it has five. Ah well, babies can't count, thank goodness. I did look up other names of flowers that have four petals, but "Epilobium Angustifolium" didn't quite have the same ring to it. So Puakenikeni it is.

Let's get closer:

This quilt was very difficult to get a picture of. It's much softer in color than these pictures indicate, but I had to turn up the contrast for you to be able to see it! Cameras are fussy about quilts.
Here's a close-up of one of the blocks. Looking at this now, I can see where some of my seams on this block didn't exactly line up, but that's okay. Babies can't count OR see very well. She will love it anyway. I hope she loves it to shreds.

This little quilt would be honored to be someone's dear blankie.

The reverse, showing my leafy vine doodle. This picture is closer to the true color.

The flower block itself is made up of four traditional "Snowball" blocks. You just have to change the color of one of the corners and sew them together like this:

I used the following method so I didn't have to cut triangles: I cut a large white square and laid little squares on each corner right side down, then sewed diagonally as I have indicated in red. Trim seam, flip triangles, and press.

This is a very easy block to make and you can make it any size you want! For a 8" finished block, start with four 4 1/2 " cut white squares. (Mine is a 6" finished block--I started with four 3 1/2" squares.) Different sizes of little squares make different shapes of petals, so that's something to experiment with. 1 1/2" cut little colored squares is a good size to start with on a 4 1/2" white square.