Playing Catch-up on My Knitting

Hello Everyone,

I am working on a couple sewing projects to share, but in the meantime I thought I would catch-up on some of the knitting I have been doing in my spare time this summer.  I always enjoy summer knitting because the projects go so much quicker than winter projects.  Just leaving off two long sleeves or a hood saves so much time!

My first summer project uses one of my favorite yarns (Hempathy) and the pattern is from one of my favorite knitwear designers (Connie Chang Chinchio)

I like the little details, like the two diamonds in the lower corner.

The pattern extends across the back, which gives some interest to an otherwise plain back.

Here’s the Ravelry link if you want the details.

I worked on this one on our trip last month.  We spent about 22 hours on planes, 12 hours on trains, and another 18 hours in automobiles, so had lots of time to knit.

I haven’t worn this one yet, as I’m not loving the fit.  It looks fine from the side, but I think that I knit the neck too high.  I didn’t want to have to wear another tank underneath, so I kept the neckline up.  Turns out I will probably have to wear a tank underneath anyways, as the side of the top is full of holes.  What was I thinking?  I must have been having too much fun looking at the beautiful scenery to think clearly about what I was doing.

I also  worked on this top on our trip.  The simple SS pattern meant that I could mostly knit by feel and wouldn’t miss any of the scenery.

I love the simple, yet unique styling.  The back wraps forward to meet the yoke line in the front.  It was supposed to have long sleeves, but I only had enough yarn to make a vest.  Here’s the link for the details.

I also made this tee over the summer.  I like the cable detailing, but I liked the yarn that was used in the original pattern better.  I had this yarn in my stash and wanted to use it up.

I love raglan sleeves, so that, in addition to the cables, drew me to this pattern.  More details here.

I love a little bit of lacework and decided to use up some of my stash on this purple number.  The pattern was super easy, unbelievably fast, and fun . . .  until . . . .

I finished it and tried it on.  If Frumpalicious was Hot right now, I would be “like so hot”.  But, since frumpy isn’t in, I have no idea what I’m going to do with this thing.  At least it was really fun to make!  I’m wondering if I can alter it somehow. . . .

That’s what I did with this one.

It used to look like this, but I never wore it because I hated the color.

After a little Rit dye, it’s a whole new sweater!  Much improved, if you ask me.

As you can see, I’ve been keeping myself busy in my spare time.  I’m having my usual issues with knitting (mainly fit), but still really enjoying it.  I like that I can take it out onto the deck in the evenings and enjoy being outside.  That’s a little harder to do with all my sewing stuff!  Being transportable is a definite plus.

So what have you been doing in your spare time this summer?  If you have nothing else to do at the moment, I’m open to suggestions on the frumpy purple sweater.

Posted in Knitting | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 30 Comments

European Inspiration

On our recent trip to Europe, I was fascinated by all the patterns in the architecture.  They were absolutely everywhere.

For example, here in the cathedral in Seville – from the floor, to the wooden doors, to the stone around the doors – everything is full of beautiful designs.  (Not to mention the fact that that box contains Christopher Columbus’s remains)

This floor can also be found in that cathedral.  Maybe a new take on a drunkard’s path?  Or shall I say an old take on a drunkard’s path?

Here is one of the rooms within that cathedral.  Again,  look at all the cool patterns.  I love that starburst type design on the far wall.

and these designs above the benches along the left wall

and this beautiful floor.

This cool design was on one of the sidewalks in Seville

These intricate tile patterns were on the floors in the Vatican museum.

Each room that we went into had a different pattern.

The ceiling designs in St. Peter’s cathedral were just stunning too-

Check out the design carved into the fabric on this statue (Also found in St. Peter’s)

Here’s a close-up.  This workmanship is just unbelievable to me.  I wonder how long it took this person to do this?

These cool designs can be found on the front of the cathedral in Barcelona

These are the front doors.  Another possible quilt pattern?

These next two shots are taken at the Leaning Tower of Pisa – Again, more quilty looking designs.

More beautiful designs can be found on the church in Florence.  Again, I love that starburst design

and the little pink and green flowers running along the sides.

I think my favorite designs can be found at the Alhambra in Grenada (Spain).  This was a castle built by the Moors, who ruled Spain during this time.

I think the Moors were quilting with stone, not fabric.  The next pictures will show why -

No plain sidewalks there!  Just look at these beautiful patterns, enticing you to follow along to the next intersection,

Where you can see designs like this:

And this.

One of the gifts shops had this show-stopper on the floor.

I wish I had more pictures to show you, but we didn’t get into all the areas of the Alhambra.  Unfortunately, by the time we got there, it was sold out for the day.  So check out this link to see more of what I’m talking about.  A-M-A-Z-I-N-G!!!

All of these patterns got me thinking – If this is what the men (masons, tile layers, builders, etc) were doing, what were the women of that time doing?  Were they also incorporating intricate designs into their work?  Maybe their gardens, embroidery, or possibly quilting?  Seeing all of these things made me want to know more about the history of these designs.  It also made me want to learn more about this obsession of mine – and not just the history of quilting in the States, but in areas like Spain and Italy.  It was so hot while we were there, that I can’t even imagine quilting, so maybe they never even did quilting.  So this leads me all to ask a question of you – Do any of you have any recommendations for some good sources for me to read up on some of this history?  I think that it would be fascinating to learn about. . .

Posted in Quilting, Travel | 11 Comments

The Bella Beach Bag

Good Afternoon ~

In my last post I promised a bit about a beach bag.  In fact, I think I said I would be back “shortly” with the beach bag.  Now a week has gone by and I am just getting to it.  Somehow a quilt retreat, family wedding, birthday party, and a lake day got in the way of my good intentions.  A week is shortly, right?  Don’t answer that.  Just say “Right”.

So, speaking of that beach bag, the thing that got me started was the fun oil cloth fabrics that are in quilt shops now.

Here are a couple of the pieces I have picked up -

Aren’t they cute?  I bought them to make a simple grocery bag, as the fabric is stiff and a little hard to do much detail work with. So far, the bags are yet unsewn, but I have still enjoyed admiring the fabric.

I got sidetracked from the oil cloth when a new, yet similar product called laminate came out.  It is much softer and I thought it more suitable for making a bag with a few more details.  I gave it a try with my Bella Bag pattern.

The pattern was written for our regular quilting fabrics, but I decided to use the laminate and make myself a beach bag.  By the way, the coating on the fabric makes it shiny and hard to photograph!

I made the large size, so I could fit a suit, towel, flip flops, sun screen, and book all tucked neatly inside.   The laminated finish means the sandy water just slides off, keeping it from getting wet and dirty.

I was surprised to find the fabric easier to work with than I anticipated.  All I did was lengthen my stitch, and then it fed through the machine easily.  The pattern calls for a fusible batting to give the bag some body.  I left that out with this fabric, as it prefers not to be pressed.  In fact, I used finger pressing throughout, which I don’t normally recommend.  In this case, it was better than having the fabric melted to my iron!

One other thing I changed was the handle, as shown here.  The laminate fabric that I used was wider than your typical quilting fabric, so I had enough fabric (by cutting the full width) to run the handle through the grommet and tie it in a knot.

The original pattern used a button, as shown below.  The knot shown above takes a lot more fabric, so it works well with the wider laminate fabric.

So, for those of you who have the Bella Bag pattern, you can make note of those changes -

Then get yourself some laminate fabric -

So you can start enjoying more of this -

(Shot taken last night from our deck.  I thought it was just gorgeous!)

PS – If you are wondering where I got the fabrics shown in this post, I got them here.

Posted in Fabric Trends, Quilting | Tagged , , | 8 Comments

Sanibel Winner

I meant to announce the winner of the fat quarter pack yesterday, but I got sidetracked staining our decks (and I was trying to finish before the storms come today.)  There are four of them, complete with several hundred spindles and some railing.  In other words, I had a really boring weekend, but at least that yucky job is done!  Now, on to the winner – randomly selected by the RNG – is Annie O of  Please e-mail your shipping address to to claim your fat quarter pack!  For those of you who didn’t win, but are looking for the fabrics, I added a few kits here, that are available for purchase. 


Despite my boring task for the weekend, I did enjoy the beautiful weather.   However, with all that deck staining, I didn’t get any sewing done to share with you.  

Instead, I snapped a few pictures of these tubers that provided some good entertainment while I worked.

They made all sorts of acrobatic moves – like jumping . . .

Maneuvering the tube so the bottom edge was the only thing touching the water . . ( I was sure this guys was a goner, but he hung on)

Playing leap-frog over each other . . .

Doing flips through the air, while still holding onto the tube . . .

And then they rode off into the sunset  – Literally, as their place is on the west side of the lake

 Doesn’t that look like fun? 

 I’m not physically capable of such fun things, so I’ll go back to what I’m in shape for – sewing. 

I’ll be back shortly with a beach bag idea-

Posted in Fabric Trends, Family | Tagged , | 8 Comments

Grillin’ Time

Good Morning!   The give-away from my last post will be on through the weekend, but I just wanted to pop in with a few things.  First, thanks to everyone for the helpful suggestions for organizing my trip photos.  I plan to try out a few of those suggestions later today.  I’ll keep you posted on how that works out.  Second, Mom and I have enjoyed reading all your comments about our fabric line Sanibel.  The favorite colors were (by a landslide) brown, aqua blue, pink, and orange.  So, were you wondering why I asked everyone to vote on their favorite colors?  Mom and I are set to start our next line together shortly and the first step is picking the colors.  Honestly, sometimes that can be the hardest part.  There are so many gorgeous colors to pick from and it’s hard to narrow it down.  We will definitely consider your suggestions in our color selection, so thanks!

In the meantime, I thought I’d blog about meat today.  If you would have asked me 10 years ago if I liked meat, I probably would have said I could take it or leave it.  In fact, I think I really only ate chicken, hamburgers, and roast.  Then I met Joel and things started to change!  It didn’t start out that way – In fact, on one of our first dates he ate a bloody steak and I almost ran from the restaurant.  I didn’t answer his phone calls for over a week until he started bringing me blended lattes.  (I didn’t drink coffee before Joel either.)  Ever since we’ve been married he’s been crafting up his “meat goodness” and slowly winning me over.

He got me started with grilled meats. 

Then he bought a smoker and started making his famous ribs -

He also smokes brisket, pork roasts, chicken, and coming soon, salmon.

Then, he made this -

and I had my first taste of prime rib. 

See that come hither look on his face? 

It’s not for me. 

It’s for the meat!

Here’s a shot of the rub – kosher salt, rosemary, thyme, olive oil, horseradish, and garlic.  Yum!


He’s even won me over to pink steak, so today I thought I’d share my two favorite ways to grill steak. (or for him to grill me steak!)

First, you need the right rub.

4 T.  garlic powder

2 T.  kosher salt

4 T.  corn starch

2 T.  paprika

2 1/2  T.  black pepper

1/4 t.  white pepper

1 t.  thyme

Next, brush the steak with olive oil so the rub will stick.   BTW, my favorite steak is rib eye, as shown in the picture below. ( This steak was cut off the end of the prime rib, as they usually come in such big pieces that they feed 20 people.  Also, the price is usually better if you buy the big piece of prime rib and cut it into steaks yourself.  This prime rib was from Sam’s Club)

Add 1 t. of rub to each side of the steak (or a little more if you like a little more spice)

Heat the grill up – On our grill, I turned all 3 burners on high, so the temp was about 450-degrees.  Grill each side for 3-4 minutes each.  3 minutes if you like them with quite a bit of pink, 4 minutes if you want them a little more done.  While grilling these steaks, I made the mistake of running into the other room and not watching the grill.  In the meantime, the meat started a grease fire, which turned the one steak black and burned up the stick in one of my kabobs!   It still tasted fine though -

Let the steak rest for 5 minutes before serving.  This is very important, as this allows the juices to absorb back into the meat so you don’t end up with a pool of blood on your plate. 

Do you see something wrong with this picture?  If you said that steak is twice the size of the vegetable serving, you would be correct.  The food pyramid would not approve.

The key here is not to over cook the steak.  I used to only eat meat that was brown all the way through.  It’s not wonder I didn’t like steak!  By then it’s so tough you can’t even chew it. 

It’s really that easy to make a good steak.   Plus, I think it’s better than most steaks that you would pay $20 for in a restaurant.  The veggie kabobs are really easy to.  Just cut up veggies, drizzle with olive oil and season with black pepper, kosher salt, and garlic powder.  Grill right along side the steak.  The veggies are really good dipped in blue cheese dressing or T. Marzetti’s Southwest dipping sauce.

My other favorite steak recipe is from the Pioneer Woman.  This is more of a girly way to serve steak and it’s called Ginger Steak Salad.

It’s so yummy!  You can follow the recipe here  The only change I made was to cook my steak on a grill, instead of a pan.

I hope you enjoy these recipes.  As I mentioned, it’s been a bit of a process to get me eating meat.  But, living with a self-proclaimed “meat-i-tarian” will change your mind.  So will going to Italy and tasting their bacon, sausage, and salami.  It is nothing like what we have here!  In fact, here’s a shot of Joel in Italy, admiring the meat.

Joel also loved the Jamon Serrano in Spain.  He is now threatening to fence in the yard, buy a pig, feed it acorns, and learn to cure his own ham.  Yikes.  I wouldn’t doubt if he would pull it off, but I really don’t want a pet pig.  Joel was telling this story to a lady that we met in the the airport in Madrid.  She got this pained look on her face and told Joel that if he watched Charlotte’s Web that he would change his mind. 

Let’s just say that it’s gonna take a lot more than that movie to stop him.  In fact, that won’t even work for me, and I’m just a meatitarian in training!

Posted in Family, Recipes | Tagged | 14 Comments

Sanibel Has Arrived

It was fun to read everyone’s guesses from my last post.   Several people got them all right and it sounded like they were all people who lived in Spain or Italy, so no surprise there!

In case you were wondering, the locations are:

1.  Tapas in Madrid (Spain)

2. Andalusia (Spain)

3.  Plaza de Espana, Seville, (Spain)

4.  The Alhambra in Grenada (Spain)

5.  Costa del Sol (Spain)

6.  La Sagrada Familia in Barcelona (Spain)

7.  Nice on the French Riviera

8.  Monte Carlo in Monaco

9.  The Leaning Tower of Pisa (Italy)

10.  The Trevi Fountain (Rome)

11.  Vatican City (Rome)

12.  Can’t remember ???, somewhere in Rome

13.  The Colosseum in Rome

14.  Tuscany (Italy)

15.  Florence  (Italy)

16.  Venice (Italy)

All those locations doesn’t even begin to cover everything we saw.  It was a crazy itinerary!  I would like to blog more about it (not necessarily for my readers as you might get bored pretty quickly) but for me to be able to go back and remember the trip.  I have a terrible memory, so I am worried about not retaining everything!  The only problem with blogging about the trip is I have to enter in 575 pictures one-by-one.  I tried uploading them to flickr, but there was a tiny 10 MB space limit.  Does anyone else have any ideas for me?  I would really appreciate any suggestions!  I’m not very tech savvy and I know some of you probably are -

While we were gone, Sanibel arrived in stores.

Remember this fabric line?  I’ve blogged about it a bunch before, but this time I actually have some to share.  This little fat quarter pack could be yours!

I always give away the first of any new products, and even though I’m a little behind, I’m still going to do it.  If you are interested, you can just leave me a comment.  I would love to hear what are your favorite fabric/color combinations right now  OR the colors you wish were on the market right now . . .  (Please note this drawing is now closed 7-27-10)

With this pack, you could make 6 of these little toppers -

Or a start on any of these projects below . . . .

I’ll draw a winner next week, so stop back then to see the winner.

Posted in Fabric Trends, Travel | Tagged , | 299 Comments

Where in the world are Heather and Joey?

It’s been well over 3 weeks since my last post.  I just might have a good reason!  We have been on a vacation trip.  I say trip and not vacation, because we worked far too hard to call this a vacation!  We didn’t stay in one place for more than 30 minutes and it’s been the first trip that I have actually lost weight from walking so much!  It’s also been the first trip that we have taken where it wasn’t centered around something to do with work.  We have talked about going for quite a while now, I just thought it would never actually happen.  But, we finally decided to book it, and less than two weeks later we were gone.   We’ve been home for over a week, but my mind is still reeling from everything I have seen.  It will probably be the trip of my lifetime and I kinda have to pinch myself so that I know it is real.  Of course looking at my pictures reminds me and I thought it would be fun to share some of the pictures with you and see if you can guess where we have been.


1.  Hint:  See the sign in the background?

2.  Hint:  The country side was covered in olive trees

3.  Hint:  Joel lived in this city for a semester in college.

4.  Hint:  Considered to be the highlight of a trip to this country.

5.  Hint:  Costa del ______

6.  Hint:  Gaudi

7.  Hint:  Oh so “nice”

8.  Hint:  We didn’t stay in this city.  Far too many Ferraris for my taste!

9.  Hint:  Do you really need one for this location?

10.  Hint:  This fountain was made famous by the movie “Three coins in a fountain”

11.   Hint:  This spiral staircase is located in it’s own walled city, within the city of _____.

12.  Hint:  Very important government decisions were made here.

13.  Hint:  Gladiator.  You probably didn’t need that hint either, as I have totally given away the location now!

14.  Hint:  Under the ______ Sun

15.  Hint:  The heart of the afore-mentioned location.

16.  Out last city.  Hint:  On the water

Want to venture any guesses?

Posted in Quilting | 57 Comments