Friday Quote No. 9/2014

Happy Friday! Today I’m sharing my latest quote poster to send you into the weekend with inspiration.

You can fail at what you don’t love,
so you might as well take a chance on doing what you do love.
• Jim Carrey •

I was so inspired after watching this one-minute video with Jim Carrey giving a commencement speech. He gives such great advice:

  • Don’t choose your path in life out of fear disguised as practicality.
  • Dare to ask the universe for what you really want!

Hope you are inspired by something or someone. Enjoy your weekend!


 Font used: Langdon and Ostrich Sans.

Best Practice – Resources

Ready for another installment of my Best Practices series? I can’t believe I have stuck with this series for six weeks  now!

I have worked as a paralegal for so many years (17!), and I’ve always found it important to have the right resources at hand. This carries over to my creative world too. There are lots of resources available, from books to magazines to the Internet.

(my new favorite resource – the Fat Quarterly e-zine!)

I especially love using the Internet and fellow bloggers for resources and inspiration. But I also like to have the actual books and magazines when learning the terminology, materials, tools, new techniques, and just looking for inspiration.

Finding what works for your needs can be fun. A couple things I like to look for in my resources: high quality pictures and illustrations (eye candy!), useful tips, intermediate to advanced techniques, and a variety of fresh, modern projects.

Sewing / Quilting References

When I first learned how to quilt in 1999, I took formal classes at the local quilt shop. I guess I was lucky to have access to such a fabulous shop because so many people nowadays seem to be either self-taught or are learning from free sites on the Internet. I’m a visual learner, so I like to hear and see the steps done and then try them myself.

Anyway, after those classes, I bought this quilting encyclopedia to have by my side as I made quilts on my own.

It’s an older book, but still great reference, from tools to techniques to piecing to quilting.

I progressed to using baby quilt books, since they provided easy to follow instructions for great projects.

These days, my sewing interested have expanded from sewing quilts to patchwork goods for our house and bags and clothes. Who doesn’t love Anna Maria Horner’s Seams To Me sewing book?! Every girl has to have this on her shelf!

I love the basic sewing techniques in this book to guide you through the charming projects that will stretch your sewing skills beyond of quilting. I adore Anna Maria’s voice and perspective – fun and free. There are no rules here; just guidelines to help steer you in the direction of success with your modern projects. I also especially like that this book is spiral bound so I can lay it flat.

Another sewing book I love is Amy Karol‘s Bend-the-Rules-Sewing book. It’s full of clever, modern projects with a fresh twist, from bags to aprons to table linens to aprons. I love her illustrations, and the multiple pictures or ideas she presents for each project.

Knitting and Crochet References

I learned how to knit and crochet when I was about 10 years old, but I ended up setting crafts aside while I was in college.

I relearned both knitting and crochet over 10 years ago, so I bought a couple reference books to have on hand. My absolute favorite resource book is the Knitters Companion because it serves like a mini encyclopedia (or a paperbook version of Google) when I get stuck and need to look up something quickly. I also really like that it’s spiral-bound so I can lay it flat if I need to follow along.

I always need help figuring out how to interchange yarns, since I often don’t have access to the yarn used in a pattern. So I especially love those particular pages!

Embroidery References

I used to do more embroidery and needlepoint in years past. At one point, I had to narrow down my hobbies, which is mainly sewing these days.

(Doodle Stitching by Aimie RayKids Embroidery by Kristin Nicholas, and Colorful Stitchery by Kristin Nicholas)

But I was so happy I had these reference books on my shelves when I made my mini friendship quilt for my recent blog giveaway. I needed a refresher on how to stitch words and flowers.

Color References

I think we would all agree how much fun it is to learn about the color wheel, how to use it, and how to make projects with the color wheel in mind.

I love the color exploration sections in Joelle Hoverson’s books. She provides a simple yet artsy narrative on combining various colors to achieve a different feeling.

I found this cool book at the local yarn store. I haven’t had much time to spend studying it, but it has amazing examples of different color combinations based on how you turn your color wheel.

Drawing Resources

I also have a pile of drawing and design resources, but I haven’t had much time to spend on those art techniques since the design and drawing classes I took last year.


I know, there are zillions of great craft reference books and pattern books on the market. I could write a separate post reviewing each one of these wonderful creative books. (I do have a couple new sewing books I plan to review soon, so stay tuned for more on that.) Having these particular resources on my shelves has given me access to techniques and inspiration right at my fingertips! Feel free to share your favorite resources in the comments or link to your blog.


Previous posts about my Best Practices:



Bobbins, Pins and Folding

Business Cards

Carry Your Product

Best Practice – Filing

I deal with ridiculous amounts of paperwork in my day job. I think real estate transactions generate too many documents. To keep up, I have to be very organized, which carries over to keeping paperwork at home organized. The home filing is much more interesting – sewing and knitting patterns!

There are hundreds of wonderful tutorials offered in blogland, which I usually just bookmark. Since I do all of my computing on a laptop, sometimes I need to print a pattern so I can follow along as I make the project. Or I just want to save it for future reference. I don’t have any of those fancy magazine holders to store my patterns and magazines, mainly because I’m cheap frugal and short on time to make them for myself.

My sewing room is only 10 feet by 8 feet, thus I don’t have a lot of space, so no room for a filing cabinet. I make do because I think I am lucky enough just to have my own room!

I’m a simple girl, so I use accordion file folders to keep my patterns and reference information organized. I love them because they expand, meaning there’s always room for more ideas.

I try to keep them coordinated – pink for quilt patterns, purple for bag patterns, green for home patterns, blue for clothes, vanilla for color inspiration, red for crafty projects, yellow for techniques.

I keep them on my book shelves (as you can see in the photos above) in between the magazines I save and reference books I collect. I broke the patterns down into categories of handmade projects, which makes life so much easier when I have an idea to just browse through my files. I keep files similar to this for my shop too.

The other filing practice I like to do is keep my current project in a plastic sheet protector, which allows me to store the instructions and cut fabrics together. Since I don’t like cutting, I tend to cut several projects in one day, in essence “stocking up” on cut projects, so they are ready when I find some free time.

I also like using these pocket file folders for the same purpose. Once I’m done making the project, I file the pattern into the appropriate folder shown above, and reuse these protectors or pocket folders.

These best practices have saved me time and patience! Feel free to share your ideas or practices in the comments or link to your blog.


Previous posts about my Best Practices:


Bobbins, Pins and Folding

Business Cards

Carry Your Product

Week Night Progress

This is what I’ve been slowly working on during the weeknights this week:

darning Mike's mitten

My brother gave me his favorite mittens to darn, since one of them had a hole near the fingertips and a big hole in the thumb. I’m not a big fan of darning because I don’t really know how to do it, especially with such a big area that doesn’t have much yarn/thread left to pull back together. I usually just make it up as I go along. He gave these to me a couple weeks ago, and I forgot about them! (sorry Mike!) They will be in the mail this afternoon.

I have resolved to not start another quilt this year until I finish the unfinished ones in my house. To keep up with that resolution, I send three quilts to a machine-quilter friend of mine a few weeks ago. I sewed the binding onto my Darla quilt last Sunday, and I’m trying to get the binding hand-sewn onto the back by the weekend.

binding for Darla quilt

If I get that binding finished in the next couple nights, I’m planning on quilting my Mod Girls quilt this weekend, which I’m really excited to finish because I love that quilt! I even have the binding all ready sewn together and pressed, lined up to attached to a finished quilt. I also have a bunch of products to work on for my shop, so you can find me in what Dave calls the “girl cave” for the next few nights.

No Cat In a Hat Here

Both of my cats refused to pose for a picture modeling the new hat I made last weekend.

cats on their bunks

And my husband’s head would stretch out my new hat.

Dave's big head

I don’t have one of those head models, so I had to model the hat myself.

my new hat

I was quite happy with how it turned out! I liked the pattern, which uses a sort of baby cable stitch, and this lovely silk-merino yarn is warm and luxurious.

crochet flower embellishment

I think that crochet flower adds a subtle but charming touch too! Definitely need to embrace warm things around here these days, since I don’t have a fur coat like those spoiled cats pictured above.

Holiday Traditions

Like most families, my family has a lot of traditions.  Since my brother, sister and I are grown up and have families of our own, those traditions with my parents have changed over the years.  We have also added new traditions over the years with our new families.

I participated in Sew Liberated‘s Holiday Traditions Exchange this year.  Meg at Sew Liberated matches two people to share  our crafts, cultural, and thoughtful reflections about what the holidays mean to our family.  This includes things like:

  1. a handmade holiday decoration,
  2. our family’s favorite holiday recipe,
  3. a “tradition” tutorial, and
  4. a mix CD of our favorite holiday tunes.
Exchange Package

My partner is RaeAnn, who lives in southern California with her husband, three boys, and a little girl on the way!

My most favorite holiday tradition I wanted to share was our annual Cookie Day where all my aunts, uncles and cousins on my mom’s side get together the Saturday after Thanksgiving and bake as many cookies as possible.  Our record was 26 different kinds!  I made this apron for RaeAnn’s holiday baking.

Poinsettia Apron

I also made the patchwork basket picture below to hold a couple of my favorite Cookie Day recipes.  We are also a very crafty family so we also make lots of things for the holidays, mostly ornaments.  We usually exchange ornaments with each other so I knit these mini mittens, sweater and stocking ornaments for RaeAnn’s tree.  Those ornaments were packaged inside the patchwork drawstring bag.

Ornaments for ExchangeI included a copy of The Christmas Carol story, a play we try to see every holiday season; and the soundtrack from The Charlie Brown Christmas Special, a favorite in our house.

Exchange Book and CD

I hope my partner likes her package and shares in some holiday traditions from my house.  Merry Christmas, RaeAnn!

Be sure to go to the Holiday Traditions Exchange Flickr Group to see more photos of what others are exchanging this year.

Ornaments and What-Knots

Ya gotta love that word – what-knots!  I don’t really know what it means or where it came from, but it makes me laugh every time I hear someone use it.

I have been feeling a little blue for not participating in any ornament exchanges this year.  I guess I am realizing I love ornaments.  I already know I love to make them.  So I decided to make a few extras this week, just for fun.  Maybe I’ll save them as ideas for an exchange next year… and start making a quantity of them in JUNE rather than the week before Christmas!

These are the newest ornaments I made this week – mini miniature 9-patch quilts!  I am so happy with how these turned out that I might make more mini miniature quilts using different blocks.

Miniature 9-patch ornaments

I make a lot of these mini-sweater and mini-stocking ornaments from the Last-Minute Knitted Gifts book by Joelle Hoverson.  I end up giving many of them away that I found I didn’t have any left in our ornament box, so I had to make more.

mini stocking and sweater

Finally, I decided to try a couple new “ornaments” this year from the New Noel booklet by Linda Lum DeBono.  I made this adorable stocking, which was so easy that I definitely need to make more.  

fabric presents and stocking

I also made these charming little present boxes, which aren’t really ornaments, but look darn cute under the tree, or anywhere you want to display them. 

fabric presents

I think these would look great in the new Darla collection by Tanya Whelan.

That’s what I have accomplished so far this week.  Now I’m off to do some holiday baking since we’re hosting a holiday open house on Sunday afternoon.

Felting is Fun

The only thing I did not get to on my weekend list was to spend an hour at the local yarn shop. Instead, I finished a felting project at home. I fell in love with felting a couple years ago. In fact, it was on my list of New Year’s resolutions for 2007 to learn something new, like felting.

I knitted two of these oven mitts from the pattern “Out of the Frying Pan” by Amy E. Anderson with Ella Rae yarn by Classic Elite. Very easy pattern to follow (even for beginning knitters), very nice yarn to knit with, and it felts great too.

And then I felted them, which calls for three cycles of agitation on my washing machine.

I just love how these oven mitts turned out!

Next step – embellishment, which I did with a little embroidery stitching.

I make these felted oven mitts as gifts quite often. I made a pair of forest green mitts embellished with daisy stitches using variegated thread as a gift for my sister. This pair might be for my mom’s birthday coming up soon. She’s a very patriotic person, so I thought the red and blue mitts with white stars would be festive. Next on my list should be a pair of felted oven mitts for us to use in our kitchen.

A Day Off

I am so glad I took the day off. I had a doctor’s appointment this morning (all is good), and then I went to the yarn shop to browse. I don’t do much knitting in summer, so I haven’t been to the yarn shop in awhile. They moved the register to make more room, and added some shelves for more yarn. They were also offering harvest latte with pumpkin flavoring – yum-o! It felt good to be back, so I stocked up on a few supplies for new projects.

I’m thinking about making a couple felted oven mitts and potholders, and a scarf and fingerless gloves to match my favorite fleece jacket.

Next on my list is to finish my new laptop sleeve. I made it from a pattern in this book-

But I didn’t follow the pattern exactly.

In my stash I found these great fabrics from Amy Butler’s Midwest Modern collection, so I decided to make the front from a solid piece of fabric instead of patchwork.

It isn’t quite finished yet because I still have to hand sew the lining to the outside, and I’m going to add handles to it, but here it is so far-

Isn’t it cool? I really like how it turned out. This is the first time I have used fusible fleece, and I love it. Highly recommend it. I fused the fleece to both the outside and lining fabrics for added cushion to support my laptop, and I’m happy with the result. It created a lot of extra bulk in the seams, but I trimmed the corners and seam allowances, which helped reduce the lumps and bumps.

Thank goodness I had made the portable cushions from Sew,Mama,Sew’s tutorial series or I would never have figured out how to do the zipper and gusset. The directions for that part in this book were very minimal, so I used the directions from the cushion tutorial and things went together quite smoothly. I will post another picture as soon as I finish the hand sewing and handles.

Now I’m going to enjoy the rest of my day off!