Friday, February 26, 2010

Podcast 012 - This and That

Total length of this podcast: 39:02

CLICK HERE to listen to Podcast 012. Right-click on the link to save it to your hard drive, or better yet, so you don't miss future podcasts, subscribe via iTunes or PodBean using one of the links on the right side of my blog.
You can skip to whatever segment interests you -- check the minute markers for each segment.


It's been a beautiful, snowy week here in Belleville (even considering a fall on the ice which resulted in pulled muscles and a bonked head!). Here's a photo of our meadow. Yes, that's all ours. Down in the meadow is a stream that runs to the Huron River, which is about 1/4 mile behind our house. Our house is tiny and humble, but the beautiful property (called, appropriately, "Mirkwood") more than makes up for it.

I just finished knitting myself a scarf using beautiful lime green merino wool. The fringe is a pretty lime and aqua novelty yarn. The pattern is my favorite, "sea foam."

The local historical museum contacted me last week asking if I'd submit some quilts for their show in March. Last year I entered two of my icon quilts and as a result got a pretty hefty commission because one couple loved one of the icons so much they had me make one for them. So I entered six quilts this year, although they're not as special as my icon quilts. If you want to see the ones I entered, CLICK HERE to check them out.

The quilt below is one of them. It's called "Hideous Kinky," and I made it by challenging myself to use the ugliest piece of fabric from my stash. Believe it or not, I had bought 5 yards of this truly hideous stuff! The fabric was not only ugly, it was also completely off-grain and was a pain to sew. But the quilt is pretty cool. I actually got a commission to make a copy of it! The center was made using Ricky Tims' convergence method, sort of a bargello technique. It helped disguise just how hideous the fabric really was!

The quilt show, called "Patches & Patterns" is March 2 through 31, 2010, at the Belleville Area Museum on Main Street in Belleville, Michigan. Admission is only $2, which is a bargain. It's a small show (the museum is tiny), but I've seen some of the quilts and they're beautiful. Two, in particular, are antique quilts made by African American women and handed down in the family -- I met the woman who brought them in.

My sister Kathy had hip replacement surgery this week and is doing remarkably well. Isn't modern medicine marvelous? In preparation, someone suggested that while recovering she wear aprons with a lot of pockets to hold stuff so she doesn't have to get up to find things like her cell phone or the TV remote or whatever. My sister Pat and I made aprons for her based on a pattern I designed. I'm going to present the pattern in the March 31 podcast, but here's a sneak peek. This one is mine, but wait until you see Pat's! She paperpieced all of the pockets and it's just beautiful.

Podcast listener Debby Siccardi's quilt "Morning Has Broken" was one of only 50 chosen for the competition portion of the Quilt Fest New Jersey VI. It's also in the Show and Tell section of the current issue of the National Quilting Association's Quilter's Quarterly magazine. Congratulations, Debby! Here's a photo of Debby with her beautiful quilt.

CLICK HERE to download the eleventh of my continuing Alice in Wonderland redwork series, "Queen Alice." There is only one more, and then I have to decide on a new project series!
Check out THE GALLERY to see recent submissions. Remember, there is a real reward I will send to anyone who submits a photo of a project inspired by my podcast or blog. This offer is good for a limited time only, and only one to a customer. I'm not sure when I'll stop the reward, so send me your photos soon so you don't miss out!

THE FIBER ARTS SEGMENT [Podcast minute marker: 9:50]
Handy Zippered Wristlet

The Fiber Arts project is a handy zippered wristlet purse, just the right size to hold your keys, cell phone, and other essentials. You can also use it to carry your digital camera or your makeup.

NOTE: I'm using a new format to present my tutorials and photo documentations, so please let me know if it's not working for you!

Click the image below to see the tutorial. You can download and print from the viewer.
If you'd like to see step-by-step photos, click the image below. Again, you can download and print the photo series.

THE FIBER ARTS SEGMENT [Podcast minute marker: 16:27]
Paper Doll

Today we're playing with dolls -- paper dolls, that is! This past week two different Mirkwood Designs fans emailed photos of their projects, and they were paper dolls using a template I had designed at least 10 years ago. I hadn't decided on a paper arts topic for this podcast, so I took it as A Sign. This is such a fun project. The really interesting thing was, as I progressed with each doll, she began to take on a persona. The doll above is named Mathilde, le Mademoiselle Avec des Tatouages, accompanied by her faithful Capuchin monkey, Choux-Choux. (Hey, every creation needs a back story!) I used some of my son's "good" origami washi paper, and it reminded me of tattoos. So Mathilde travels with the circus.

Click on the image below to view the tutorial, or to download and print it.

If you'd like the photographic process, click the image below.

And here's another paper doll I created. Her name is Mad Margaret after the character I played in Gilbert and Sullivan's operetta Ruddigore.

I know you'll have fun with this project, and I hope you'll share pictures of your creations!

THE RECIPE [Podcast minute marker: 23:15]
Chicken Pot Pie

CLICK HERE to download the recipe for Chicken Pot Pie, the ultimate comfort food! I made enough for a small army, but fortunately it freezes well.

If you'd like to see the photographic process, click the image below.

THE GRAB BAG [Podcast minute marker: 29:05]
Here's the jigsaw puzzle we'll be working on when our son Teddy's home for spring break. It's made by Pomegranate, one of my favorite jigsaw puzzle companies.

Teddy sings bass with the University of Michigan Men's Glee Club, and 2010 marks their 150th anniversary. He's been touring with them, and they're preparing for their huge spring concert held at Hill Auditorium in Ann Arbor. Here's a video from their 2009 spring concert performing Sound Off composed by their director, Professor Paul Rardin.
The University of Michigan Men's Glee Club performing Sound Off

On a more somber note, my thoughts and prayers go out to so many of my friends, relatives, and acquaintances who are struggling with great hardships right now. It's said that bad things happen in threes, but right now it seems they are happening by the dozen. 

Current events brought to mind my favorite Stephen Foster song, Hard Times Come Again No More, written in 1854. If you watched the Hope for Haiti concert last month, Mary J. Blige sang this beautiful and poignant song.

CLICK HERE to download my rendition sung with banjo accompaniment.

Here are the lyrics:
Hard Times Come Again No More
by Stephen Foster

Let us pause in life's pleasures and count its many tears,
While we all sup sorrow with the poor;
There's a song that will linger forever in our ears;
Oh Hard times come again no more.

    Tis the song, the sigh of the weary,
    Hard Times, hard times, come again no more
    Many days you have lingered around my cabin door;
    Oh hard times come again no more.

While we seek mirth and beauty and music light and gay,
There are frail forms fainting at the door;
Though their voices are silent, their pleading looks will say
Oh hard times come again no more.

There's a pale drooping maiden who toils her life away,
With a worn heart whose better days are o'er:
Though her voice would be merry, 'tis sighing all the day,
Oh hard times come again no more.

Tis a sigh that is wafted across the troubled wave,
Tis a wail that is heard upon the shore
Tis a dirge that is murmured around the lowly grave
Oh hard times come again no more.
Stay safe, people, and hold those whom you love close to your heart. Life is so fragile.
And remember
Creativity isn't a race . . .
. . . it's an adventure!

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Trying Out Some New Technology!

I'm giving some new technology a try -- a more pleasing way to view PDF files. The files are still downloadable, but look better on the blog, sort of like a magazine. What do you think? Good? Bad? Helpful? No?

I'm going to use this format for the detailed photos of my projects, in addition to the tutorials. That way I won't waste so much blog space for the step-by-step stuff. LOVE IT!

Thanks to Facebook friend Mike Fisher (a really cool instructional designer-type person). If there's new technology out there, he's the go-to guy!

So the deal is, from now on I'm going to have my projects and all of the accompanying photos in this really cool magazine-type viewer, rather than clutter up my blog with zillions of photos.

The "magazine" is still completely printable and downloadable, and that is a huge improvement when it comes to the photo series. (Before, you'd have to print out the whole blog to get the photos, and it wasn't a pretty sight.)

Take it for a spin! Click the links below to see how the Pressman's Hat project, the Beaded Sachet project, and the Beaded Sachet process photos look in the ISSUU viewer. (These projects were from Podcast 011.) You can zoom in and move from page to page like you're reading a magazine. You can also print and download the documents just like a regular PDF file. Pretty slick!

Note: Each link will open up in a new window so you don't get lost!

CLICK HERE to view the Pressman's Hat project.

CLICK HERE to view the Beaded Sachet project.

CLICK HERE to view the Beaded Sachet process photos.

Again, please give me feedback if something isn't working -- I'd hate to jump into this only to find out that the viewer isn't compatible with a particular browser or platform.

Ruthann (always looking for a better and more creative way to share information!)

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Podcast 011 - Mardi Gras

Total length of this podcast: 45:15

CLICK HERE to listen to Podcast 011. Right-click on the link to save it to your hard drive, or better yet, so you don't miss future podcasts, subscribe via iTunes or PodBean using one of the links on the right side of my blog.
You can skip to whatever segment interests you -- check the minute markers for each segment.


First of all, since I'm recording this on Valentine's Day, here is what my husband gave me today. Tulips, heart cookie cutters, and my favorite candy, Jordan almonds!

Today's bumper music is the French love song Plaisir d'Amour written in 1780.

Don't forget about my Reward program -- send me a photo of your work inspired by my podcast/blog and I'll post it in the Gallery (link is along the right side of the blog). This reward is for a limited time only! Darla of The Scientific Quilter is very happy with her reward! Here's a link so you can see for yourself!

CLICK HERE for my Reward information!

I'm recording this podcast and writing this blog entry on Valentine's Day, February 14, 2010, which happens to be fellow podcaster Jennifer Ruvalcaba's birthday (of Patchwork and Pacifiers fame). CLICK HERE to visit her blog and podcast and to wish her a happy birthday (even if it's late!).

You can purchase my Alice in Wonderland fabrics directly from the manufacturer, Spoonflower. CLICK HERE for a link directly to my two AIW designs. You know you NEED some Alice fabric for your stash!
CLICK HERE to visit my Alice in Wonderland - An Interactive Adventure! Web site. My partnership with Fandango (where you can buy movie tickets and gift cards) should be live soon.

This podcast's Alice in Wonderland Redwork is "Drink Me." CLICK HERE for the free downloadable pattern.

THE FIBER ARTS SEGMENT [Podcast minute marker: 10:30]
Beaded Sachet

Fabric Beading Bibliography
  • Beaded Crazy Quilting, Cindy Gorder, Krause Publications, 2005. 
  • Beading Basics, 30 Embellishing Techniques for Quilters, Mary Stori, C&T Publishing, 2004. 
  • Beading on Fabric, Larkin Jean Van Horn, Inverweave Press, LLC, 2006. 
  • The Art of Bead Embroidery, Sherry Serafini anbd Heidi Kummli, Kalmbach Publishing Co., 2007.
Supplies (minus the potpourri for the filling)

Starting the Lattice Stitch

More of the Lattice Stitch

Close-up of the Lattice Stitch

The Line Stitch

Stacking the Beads for the Flower

The Stacked Flower Almost Done

Making the Flower Bud

Sewn Together -- Trimming the Corners

Turning Right-side Out -- BE CAREFUL!

Filling With Lavender Buds

Sewing the Opening Closed

Five-Bead Picot Stitch

CLICK HERE for the free downloadable project sheet for the Beaded Sachet.

THE PAPER ARTS SEGMENT [Podcast minute marker: 19:08]

Festive Paper Hat (The Pressman's Cap)
 Fold the newspaper in half, fold away from you.

Fold the two sides toward the middle.

Fold the top sheet of paper up twice (this makes the hatband).

Turn the hat over.

Fold the two sides toward the middle, just overlapping (1/2 inch).

Fold the bottom edges up toward the center.
Fold the bottom up . . .

. . . and tuck it inside the hatband.
Fold the point down and tuck it inside the hatband.
Open the hat and flatten it.

Fold the two points in and tuck them into the hatband.
This is what it should look like. You're almost done!

Open the hat.
Square up all the edges. Decorate (or not!).
CLICK HERE for the downloadable project sheet for the Pressman's Cap.
CLICK HERE for the Halloween/Mardi Gras Mask.
THE RECIPE SEGMENT [Podcast minute marker: 25:20]
Traditional Creme Brulee


Special tools

The water bath -- note that the water comes only half way on the cups!

Perfectly baked.

Ted torching the sugar (this one is a little darker than it should be).

Perfect brulee!
THE GRAB BAG [Podcast minute marker: 37:40]
CLICK HERE to check out Joe the Quilter (Joe Cunningham) -- his work is unique and pretty darned amazing! And he's also a talented guitarist/singer/composer! GOOD STUFF!

And remember
Creativity isn't a race . . .
. . . it's an adventure!