Friday, December 18, 2009


Okay, I learned to do kumihimo tonight. The top one is the practice run with the directions, but without instructions. The one on the bottom is after tonight's instruction. The process wasn't fast, it took 3 hours to make 8.5" of beaded cord, though I'm sure it would be much faster after a couple times. (And of course, that includes the time it took to undo it twice after I found mistakes.) These really could make cool bracelets. It takes a bit of rayon cord, some #8 beads and the tool. The cord needs some end caps and a clasp, but it definitely has potential.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009


Cool, you never know what you have. I just found out that I have a URL. I was trying to post a comment to the CWBQ page and had to fumble around trying to figure out how and they needed a URL, so I used the URL from the blog. And it worked! How fun is that? I also sent the note asking to join the CWBQ blog since I am starting this quilt after the holidays. But, and it is a big but... I still have to find the background. Nothing has yet called my name in the fabric store, well not exactly true. There are lots of ideas in my head and things call my name all the time, but not THE background. I'll have to work on it after Jan 1. I'm kind of busy until then with fabulous holidays, starting with hubby's birthday on Dec 23, celebrated with all the extended kids (including son-in-law, fiancee, and significant friend... ) and his sister's family, and couple extra folks on Christmas Eve, and then Christmas with all the kids. My sisters are coming after the holidays for a few days and it will be so good to see them too. I can't wait....

I'm excited, the art/fabric guild is tomorrow night and I'm using this stuff to create a beaded cord thingy (think bracelet or something). It is usually done using floss. It actually comes loaded with embroidery floss, if you look close, you can see the red and yellow. If you follow the enclosed pattern, you get a very dense red cord about the thickness of a pencil with little tiny yellow diamonds as the pattern. One of the folks is teaching us how to make the cord with beads. It's a Japanese kumihimo beading technique. I gave it a practice run and I'm not posting a photo of the trial. I'll see how it turns out with instruction. It has to be better. C was watching the trial and it is a bit comical, chasing those little beads all over.

It's supposed to look something like for this bracelet goes to EML Designs on the web. This is actually very nice, so I'll see if I can pull this off. Maybe next years gifts... I suspect it would take me that long to make several of these. It was a pretty slow process.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Bread and Birch

Perfect cranberry and orange bread. A co-worker brought in her mom's cranberry bread to the office last week. It was the best that I have ever tasted, moist, tart, and nutty. I got the recipe today, thanks A, and made it tonight. I had enough batter to also make 6 muffins, which of course, you don't see because they were really good with our tea tonight and the other 2 are put away for breakfast. Each of these loaves is made with 2 cups of cranberries and a cup of walnuts. The moisture comes from orange and cranberry juice and there is also some orange zest for more flavor. It is pretty tart and you can really taste the cranberries, which I love. These are going in the freezer for the holidays so I will have something to go with the evening tea and coffee.

This next photo was yesterday afternoon's project. One of the women from basket guild makes the most beautiful little birch bark baskets. This photo does not do them justice. I went over to her house and she graciously showed me how to prepare the birch for basket-making. This stuff, after you strip off the outside white paper and the inside dark brown lining material, is gorgeous. It is supple, like leather and has that feel too, because it has natural oils left in the bark. This is bark from fallen birch that I picked up in the woods last summer while we were in Munising. It looked awful, was dirty brown and stiff, and probably at least a year old. But after scraping is going to make lovely baskets. It is every color of tan and cream imaginable. And we scraped it at M's kitchen table and just swept the floor afterwards. I left the big plastic bag of fire-starter with her. I'm not going to get to the baskets until after the holidays, but it is now stored properly, in C's dresser, don't tell her, and will be ready when I have time.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Gift Basket

This is the hand thrown glazed clay basket that I received today at Basket Guild during our annual gift exchange. Isn't it fabulous? The leaves, berries and curlicues on the side of the handles are made of clay too. N has been taking pottery classes for some time and it really shows in the details. N also weaves with me and does baskets at guild. All of her things are just as beautiful as this. Thank you N. The brown things in the basket are some kind of cone from a conifer tree. We weren't sure what kind it is, but they are pretty cool, very flat and rose shaped. If anybody knows what they are, let me know. These came from the collections of a friend that wove baskets with us and passed away a few months ago. I so much enjoy the gift exchange because I now have baskets from most of the guild members who are also dear friends. I love seeing my friends baskets on the shelf.
I see that some of the internet quilt groups do this kind of exchange too. They call them an advent exchange. I would do that too, but I need to get better at quilting first (unless I could just send cool fat quarters and buttons, that would work).
K will be here soon. She is interviewing locally and will be in town tomorrow. I can hardly wait to see her. I miss the kids so much. I made peanut brittle and fudge yesterday so she can take some back. And we went to Lansing today, had coffee with C, and bought some food for D. Next week is exam week and I wanted to make sure that he had easily made food so that he had time to eat this week. It's easier with C at home right now, I can make sure there is turkey and ham for sandwiches and fruit in the refrigerator, but it's harder when they are away. I'm keeping my fingers crossed that interviews for K and exams for P, C, and D (and neices and sister) all go well. And E will be here in a couple weeks too. How incredibly fortunate we are.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Bright Baskets

This is the start of the bright baskets quilt. I know, it's totally outside where I usually am regarding color, but that was part of the purpose in starting this project. Since I have worked on this applique almost every day for 5 weeks, it is astounding to me that I don't have it completely done yet, but I'm not even close. In fact, some of these basket handles aren't even sewn down yet (which is why they look skewed to one side). These are only 5" finished blocks, so it will take 324 blocks to make a 90" x 90" quilt. I do have about 50 completely done, but it's going to take a while. Each basket is basted down, then hand appliqued, and the rick rack is sewn around the inside and outside. I also took a whole bunch of them apart tonight since the fabrics didn't really go with these. I'm still figuring out colors and they weren't bright enough. As it turns out, gold fabric doesn't really belong in this group. The yellows need to be yellow. I have another 170 baskets cut out of fabric and about 35 of them basted down, but since I don't want to do more than 2 of each fabric, that still leaves a bunch to do and more bright fabric to purchase, since I have already cut them out of every piece I own. I'm also considering adding some 9 patch pieces, but I'm still deciding. I did learn this last week that fabric stores will cut 1/8 yard pieces, 4.5" wide, which is plenty big enough for these baskets, so at least I don't have to buy tons of fabric. I am going to have to buy more rick rack however. I'm already out of orange and lime. Who would have guessed how much rick rack 324 handles would take to make. And of course, the huge question is what am I going to do with this once it is finished....