Saturday, January 30, 2010

Podcast 010 - Love Stories

Total length of this podcast: 46:32

CLICK HERE to listen to Podcast 010. Right-click on the link and save it to your hard drive. Or better yet, so you don't miss future podcasts, subscribe using one of the links to the right.
You can download the MP3 audio file (which can be played in iTunes or other multimedia players) and skip to whatever segment interests you -- check the minute marker for each segment.


Today's bumper music is The Dutchman, a song by American singer-songwriter Michael Peter smith, used with permission. During the Grab Bag segment you'll get to hear the lyrics of this profound love song.

Here's the Alice in Wonderland stripe fabric I designed for Spoonflower.

Here's the Nursery Alice fabric I designed for Spoonflower.
You can order my fabric at -- search for "Mirkwood Designs." is a site specifically for hand-crafted items. If you are thinking about starting a cottage industry selling things you've made, this is a wonderful place to do so.
Today's Alice in Wonderland redwork is Alice and the Flamingo.
CLICK HERE to download the free redwork pattern.
CLICK HERE for the Drop-Stitch Scarf pattern on Ravelry (also called the Seafoam pattern).
CLICK HERE to go to Ravelry.

Pincushionpalooza! I promise that in upcoming podcasts I'll offer some fun pincushion patterns and ideas. Meanwhile, for your viewing pleasure, here are just a few of the ones I've made recently. Can't have too many pincushions! (Well, maybe you can...)
Jar-top pincushions, lots of cousinet biscornus, lots of shell pincushions, a couple of miscellaneous ones, too
The world's a playground. You know that when you're a kid, but somewhere along the way, everyone forgets it.
[Allison in the movie "Yes Man"]
Here's the late Helen Kelley's column from the February 1984 issue of Quilter's Newsletter Magazine.
One of the magazines in the box was the February  1984 issue of Quilter’s Newsletter, a magazine to which I currently subscribe. The column “Loose Threads” by the late Helen Kelley was terrific. And it applies not only to quilting but to every aspect of our creative lives. Here is what she said:
Quilters spend a lot of time justifying the fact that they would rather quilt than do housework. I will admit that housecleaning is at the rock-bottom of my priority list. I’d better be honest with myself and everyone else. At my house, if I am going to savor the joys of quilting, dirt won’t hurt and dust is a must.
There is something almost mystical about seeing something you have conceived in your own mind flowing from your fingers. And after all the work, there comes the satisfaction of having a thing that is a joy to behold and glorious to touch.
Don’t ever measure yourself by what the next person is doing. Whatever his speed or ability or vision, it has nothing to do with you. What does have to do with you is that you fulfill your vision in your own way. The only measure that is important is that you do the best you can. It is a terrible waste of your own time and it is self-deprecating to settle for less.
If you take the joyful times and mix them with a little of the irritating things and the things that require determination and stubbornness, and if you put all of that into your work, you get a self-portrait. Next time you look at someone’s work, let it make you wonder what it is telling you about the maker.
I have enormous respect for the old. Maybe you’d even call it a reverence, Those gals here in America were really terrific, you know. Everything I do starts out with the old – old fabrics, old designs, old techniques. Somehow, in the process, I begin to see new things in them. How we use what we already know and combine it with new ideas says something about ourselves as individuals. That’s the exciting thing about exploring.
There is something about creative needle-women that is comforting. They use their minds. They have the courage to try something that they haven’t done before. They get a delight from it. And they laugh a lot. They almost always have a wonderful sense of humor.
I'm offering a REAL reward for photos you send me of work you create using my patterns, tutorials, etc. I've started a gallery of your work. This reward is good for a limited time only -- I haven't decided when it will end, but I'll give you plenty of notice. The two people who have submitted photos so far are VERY HAPPY with their rewards, and I think you will be, too. Only one reward per artist! CLICK HERE to check out the gallery so far.

THE FIBER ARTS SEGMENT [Podcast minute marker 16:35]

Valentine's Day Friendship Braid Quilt

This quilt has received the official Cat Of Approval

CLICK HERE to download the free Friendship Braid Quilt Tutorial.
CLICK HERE to download the free Checkerboard Quilt Border Tutorial.

Remember the three rules for making a checkerboard border:
  1. Make sure that the width and height measurements of the center of the quilt are both either even or odd numbers (plus half an inch).
  2. Make sure to use an exact 1/4-inch seam allowance when sewing the border units.
  3. Make sure when sewing on the borders that the checkerboard pattern is maintained around the whole border.
THE PAPER ARTS SEGMENT [Podcast minute marker 26:50]

Truffle Boxes
The Trapezoid Box on the left holds two truffles, and the Bon-Bon Box on the right holds one truffle. They'll also hold other candies and small items, too, like a diamond bracelet or an engagement ring!

CLICK HERE to download the free Truffle Box project sheet.

THE RECIPE SEGMENT [Podcast minute marker 30:10]

Luscious Chocolate Truffles
This is the way Teddy presented his truffles as gifts to his teachers in elementary school.

Three simple ingredients. It is absolutely essential that you use good-quality chocolate.
Also, DO NOT use unsweetened baker's chocolate!

Chop your chocolate until the pieces are small.

Using a small ice cream scoop makes the process easier.

Perfectly toasted coconut.

Roll each lump and roll in coatings. From top, the coatings are powdered sugar, ground walnuts,
toasted coconut, and cocoa powder. Be creative with your coatings!

The recipe makes 24 luscious and beautiful truffles. Bet you can't eat just one!

CLICK HERE to download the free recipe for Luscious Chocolate Truffles.

THE GRAB BAG [Podcast minute marker 37:55]

Love Stories
My husband's parents, the lovely Rosali and The Original Ted

My mom and dad, The Original Ruth and the dashing Jack

The Dutchman
Michael Peter Smith's music is available for download on iTunes under the name "Michael Smith," but don't get him confused with the myriad other "Michael Smiths" out there. These are the albums on which he sings "The Dutchman":
  • Michael Smith Love Stories
  • Songbook, Vol. 4
  • Paradise Lost & Found (with Anne Hills)
  • Such Things Are Finely Done
  • Tribute to Steve Goodman
  • Anthology
I'd like to thank Michael Smith's publisher, Bird Avenue Publishing, ASCAP, for allowing me to sing and record my version of The Dutchman for this podcast. CLICK HERE to visit Michael's Web site.

Have a wonderful Valentine's Day, and tell someone that you love them.

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

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

The Beauty of Science

Darla of The Scientific Quilter is certainly doing something on this topic, and I don't want to steal her thunder, but this is just so amazing. She sent me a link today where you can enter the URL of a Web page and the resulting image is a graphical representation of that page.

I entered my blog's URL ( and received the following image.

This is such a beautiful image. It reminds me of a course I took years ago called Mind Mapping by Tony Buzan. Every dot in this image represents some Web page that my blog has influenced, or that has influenced my blog in some way.

If you have a Web site or blog and want to see your own beautiful graph, here's the link:

Science as art.


Web Site as DNA

I think Darla from Scientific Quilter [LINK] is going to talk about this topic in an upcoming podcast. Meanwhile, to whet your appetite, here is my blog rendered as DNA.
Want to render your own Web site or blog? Check out

Unique Pincushions

I love pincushions and have them all over my house. Pincushions have such a long and varied history, and there are too many designs to count.

I have a wonderful book called Pincushions written in 1974 by Averil Colby, which covers their history and includes many photographs.

One of the vintage pincushions in the book gave me an idea. It was was a velvet ball nestled in a pair of cockle shells. It was so sweet. That pincushion was like a siren song -- I have shoe boxes of shells that I collected over the years on Florida's Marco Island, where my parents lived, and now I know the perfect use for some of them.

For the example below I used a whelk that stands 5 inches tall, and the cushion itself is black silk velvet stuffed with polyester fiber fill. I cut an oblong shape of the velvet, sewed it nearly shut, filled it fairly firmly, and stitched it closed. I then bunched it up to fit snugly in the whelk's opening, and finally used hot glue to affix it.

I can't wait to rummage through my shell collection to make pincushions big and small, to keep and to give away.

EDITED: Here are two more for your viewing pleasure! The pincushion on the left is made with two scallop shells, and the fabric is some of my beloved Japanese chirimen fabric (which I've been saving for years -- I just couldn't bring myself to cut into it!). On the right is a cockle shell, and the fabric is Indian sari fabric in my absolute favoritist color, avocado green.

I challenge you to wander around your house and find something unique with which to make a pincushion!


Oh, the shame!

I really let my sewing room/study get piggy around the holidays, and tonight I did a lot of cleaning and organizing. I found a lot of "lost" stuff, and tossed a lot of junk. I will have a couple of bins to donate to a Good Cause. The before photos were taken with my iPhone, which doesn't have a flash, so they're a little blurry and dark.

Without further ado, for your viewing pleasure, here is where The Magic Happens (before and after)!

My poor cutting table, completely obliterated by boxes (mostly Christmas wrapping and gift boxes).
Notice the watercolor of Titus in the foreground! My Bernina is under there somewhere...

Miscellaneous stuff stacked on my table that is usually bare, ready for me to create.

My computer desk -- buried in paperwork!

And now for the "after" photos, although some work still needs to be done:

My cutting table is uncovered! On the left is my prayer shawl in progress, and on the right is the Valentine's Day quilt from my upcoming podcast. The shelves above hold project in progress, each basket is labeled.
The bookshelf contains mostly crafting and quilting books.

Straightened computer desk, my Bernina is in view, and my beloved Singer Featherweight is completely accessible.

Bins, bins, and more bins -- they contain mostly fat quarters -- lots of Civil War reproductions for my Dear Jane quilt.
The shoe boxes contain stuff I make for consignment for my local quilt shop (notions-type things).

Old dressers come in handy. This one holds sewing notions and some of my son's expensive hand-made origami paper he special orders by the huge sheet. The crucifix on the wall is old -- it was a wedding gift to my parents in 1943. It's a "sick call" set and contains candles and a bottle of holy water.

So there you have it. My messy - then more tidy - sewing room/study.

I was feeling almost paralyzed because of the stacks of stuff and chaos. Now I am ready to get creative!