A “Maker’s Curiosity”

Do you ever wonder if you have too many creative hobbies?  Although knitting and sewing have been mainstays for me, I have ventured into embroidery, cross stitch, clothes making, jewelry making . . . well you get the point.  I believe the skill and practice of making causes one to look at the world differently.  We makers start to examine more closely how things are constructed and what materials they are made with.  That study often propels us to the next question of whether we can make it ourselves which at least in my case, leads me into new creative hobbies. (I treasure this “maker’s curiosity” by the way as it seems a rarer and rarer characteristic in our buy everything from Target, disposable culture.)  All these words to say I have ventured into some new creative fronts this month while continuing work on my mainstays of quilting, knitting and bag making.

Dying Fabric requires a ton of rinsing muscle power and a ridiculous amount of water.  Who knew? The results however are hard to compete with.  Following directions from Malka Dubrawsky’s “Color Your Cloth” and Kim Eichler-Messmer’s Book “Modern Color” I dyed some organic fleece in various shades of blue using both dry and wet dying techniques.



Using this pretty substrate I decided to try sewing knits for the first time with my new serger.  It’s a tad ridiculous how easy my machine makes its all for me.  I decided to make the very popular Linden Sweatshirt (Linden Sweatshirt – Grainline Studio) and had to adapt it a bit by making the neck opening a little wider, lengthening it an inch and making a wide split cuff at the bottom.  I look Kind of silly in the pic but man this sweatshirt is comfortable and I already have plans for others.



I decided for the first time as well to combine fabric and knit together in the Shawl Collar Baby Coat by sweet k m. (Direct Download PDF Knitting Pattern Shawl Collar by sweetKM)

What better fabric to use then some hand dyed by Kim Eichler-Messmer from a previous order and I topped it off with a vintage button.  The pattern recommended using a felt heart on the inside to better secure the button.  I will definitely use this technique in future sweaters.  What a cute detail!




I ended this week by making up and testing a new bag pattern.  Oh this is a good one!  Look for more examples and maybe even a pattern or tutorial in the future.




Merry Making.


April Bee Sewcial Blocks and Other Makings

Boy oh Boy, April has been a productive month thus far!  Not only did I tackle and succeed (after some missteps) in making some challenging curved blocks for Diane (random thoughts…do or “di”: Me Bee-ing Sewcial) in our Bee Sewcial group, I made something with my new serger for the first time and as we speak I am in the process of dying some fabrics (a first for me and next time I need to remember to keep the gloves on the whole time.  Call me Ms. Blue Hands.), I started the month off finishing some gifts for a dear quilting friend and her gorgeous daughters.  I made a dress up using some linen, vintage lace and even used my serger to make finished edges.  I knit together a sweater from FrogTree Bamboo/Wool yarn in the Wallaby 10 ply pattern (Ravelry: Wallaby 10ply pattern by Georgie Hallam) and made up a sweatshirt using a washcloth and fabric scraps in a combined machine and hand appliquéd technique.  The book, Sew Adorable (Sew Adorable: Classic Clothes for Boys and Girls: Vanessa Mooncie: 9781861089311: Amazon.com: Books) from which the dress pattern came was the gift for Mama.  When I see people, I often see them in terms of colors and my friend is all about blues so I channeled the turquoise variety in her gifts.  They were very fun projects. 9L4A7506 IMG_1923 IMG_1952 IMG_1949 IMG_1954 9L4A7503 I am gratefully in the middle of some collaborations with artist friends.  One of my friends gave me a vinyl copy of one of her mixed media paintings to play with.  I combined pieces from it with some donated repurposed leather and made them into a folded clutch of my design with another topstitched Lonestar. IMG_1984 9L4A7581 IMG_1989 In the repurposing arena I also transformed a painted canvas left over from a Musical Chairs Painting Party into a simple clutch.  You guys, this was soooo easy and easily done on a traditional machine.  I think a tutorial may be coming up for a few of these techniques in the future. 9L4A7549 9L4A7550 9L4A7554 And of course, I had to work on my Bee Sewcial blocks for the month.  I was actually feeling a little cocky about the mission we were given.  Diane asked us to incorporate curves into our blocks with a fun color palate that asked for a sliver of black.  I have done so much curved piecing over the last year, I thought this would be an easy month but man it took me several attempts to get the blocks I wanted.  In the end, I think they will go well with the other pieces made by my stellar bedmates. (I came back to edit when I almost choked on my coffee reading my typo but had to keep the original for giggles.  I meant BEEMATES not BEDMATES. Yikes. Haha)IMG_1994 IMG_1945 9L4A7611 IMG_1993 Cheers, Hillary

Creative Distractions






This Monkey Mind of mine has kept me distracted on several fronts.  Needing a little Spring in the middle of dreary winter, I came up with the idea of painting heavily starched white linen and making up linen flowers to embellish everything I own.  I experimented spraying starch, tinted with watercolor paints, on the linen and  also tried painting the linen with acrylic paints in all shades of pink before cutting out petals and hand sewing them together.  This has been a popular project among my friends and daughter hence more coming up.






I’ve also been working the sticks and made up a cowl for a girlfriend and a baby girl dress for another.  Both are made out of malabrigo yarn.  I increasingly love well engineered knitting patterns and this simple baby dress qualifies with it’s “knit in one piece” construction, knit in pockets in a complimentary gray yarn and spots to use two of my blue vintage buttons. (patterns here: Ravelry: Bulle pattern by Karen Borrel and Ravelry: Vite Cowl pattern by Kristi Johnson)

I was fortunate to take my kids to see the Ai Weiwei exhibit at Alcatraz in San Francisco this weekend.  The exhibit is a combination of visual and audio art meant to honor and bring attention to imprisoned artists around the world.  It was a treat to see but I think I fell most in love with the whole Alcatraz experience: San Francisco on sunny winter day, the quiet beauty, the history, the smell of Eucalyptus on the island and the color scheme . . .  SWOON!  A project in Alcatraz Palette is in my future for certain.













Circles and Squares






Recent Creative Work includes a quilt top of my own design: pieced concentric circles cut into 10×10 inch blocks and reworked.  Once again I found inspiration in Modern Art.  You can see the poster that inspired me here: AnuiColor | Flickr – Photo Sharing!.  This quilt top is still in search of a name.  Do you have any good ideas?

The cowl is made from 2 skeins of Malabrigo Rasta yarn.  The free pattern is here: Ravelry: Blue Brambles pattern by Alyssa Heath.

Did you notice the new picture in my blog header?  The pic is a herd of curious Chamois we ran into hiking around Zermatt, Switzerland.  It was such a treat to see them and how lovely are they in the fog?



The Hills Are Alive . . .

Guten Abend , Ich habe dich vermsst.  Just off the plane from Switzerland and I still feel in sensory overload.  Truth be told, I never knew I wanted to go there.  After being gobsmacked with such stunning natural beauty, I can’t imagine that I didn’t always dream of a visit”

Our family loves to travel.  My daughter once told her teacher that traveling was our hobby. 🙂  I think we inherited this wanderlusting from my sister and brother in law who have explored the world at length, lived in London and Europe and now have permanent residency status in Australia.  Once we started exploring at home and abroad, we put money away every month for our travels (while making ourselves comfortable with our old cars and home.)

My husband gets a few weeks off a year.  When his week off came up for September, we decided to do a little hiking in the Alps while my parents generously volunteered to watch our kids.  One of my favorite things about traveling Europe is the amazing rail system.  We took advantage of the Swissrail during our recent trip and toured the country without a car.  Those train trips gave me plenty of time to complete a baby sweater for a friend whose daughter just got out of the NICU.  I was able to use some of my vintage buttons and knit it with Cascade 220 yarn in gray.  The pattern is Little Buds and can be found on Ravelry here: Ravelry: Little Buds in English pattern by Karen Borrel.  It was such a fun knit, I am sure to make it again.




On our recent trip, we spent time in Zurich, Wengen, Zermatt and Lucerne.  It was a thrill to hike so close to the Eiger and the Matterhorn.  We heard (via the bells around their necks) and saw sheep and cows all over the hills.  We hiked among Chamois and saw Edelweiss up close and personal.  We channeled James Bond and hiked to Schiltorn in the Jungfrau region and we hiked to the Matterhorn base camp to see climbers heading up the mountain and rescue teams plucking folks off the mountainside.  Honestly, it was one of our best trips ever and it has inspired many creative ideas that I am anxious to share soon.

















imageAuf Wiedersehen,


Let’s Break the Rules. Shall We?

Let’s break the rules.  Let’s deviate from the pattern or not even use a pattern at all.  Let’s create with nonconventional/non-flavor of the week fabric. Let’s repurpose when we can.  Let’s think outside the box.  Anyone with me?


Ha!  I sound like such a rebel don’t I?  Obviously I’m being a bit dramatic but must say I’ve been pondering a lot recently on the substrates I use for creating. I don’t know if anyone else feels this way but I am often left overwhelmed by all the newest fabric lines that seem to appear every hour.  And don’t get me wrong, I cherish my designer fabrics and special threads, etc.  Sometimes though, I feel like bucking the system and deviating from the norm.  This theme helped in the making of my latest baby quilt pictured above.  Not surprisingly, I named it “Break the Rules” baby quilt.  It garnered this name as I used nontraditional fabrics (ikea canvas and denim and cotton from the remnant pile off my local fabric shop), made up my own design that is pretty modern and nontraditional for a baby quilt.  I also mixed techniques making this using both traditional piecing and needle turn appliqué.


I followed the same theme with a cowl I made yesterday.  Once again though the beautiful green yarn was lovely, my rebel streak made me add a postage stamp splash of orange.


For some real rebels check out Luke Haynes who often makes his quilts with repurposed clothing.  His fiber art is off the hook cool.

LUKE! – Luke Haynes.

Also check out my friend Bianca who sews almost exclusively with vintage patterns and fabric. She is amazing.

Thanks! I made them!.

Now I need to play with some of my plentiful designer fabric and work on a sweet toddler girl sweater because we modern girls are allowed to be girly and traditional too.



Busy Hands

Oh my goodness, these last couple of weeks have been busy work and family-wise.  Looking back I’m a little shocked at how much hand work I’ve been able to accomplish and have several finishes and works in progress to share.


First off, I decided to get creative with some of my leather scraps and made up this clutch with a moth out of leather for the front.  Being able to use orange leather as accents and as a zipper pull tickles me to no end and has me searching vintage shops high and low for unique colored leather to repurpose.  With the orange feather Anna Maria Horner fabric lining I want to walk around with the bag open at all times however impractical.


I also got busy making another Sew Together Bag for a friend.  The Koi fabric has me calling this bag “Why so Koi?”.  Don’t tell anyone but I think my favorite part of creating is coming up with names for my makings. 🙂



You can find the Sew Together Pattern here: Sew Together Bag by SewDemented | Sewing Pattern.

I’ve also been busy with yarn.  My husband and I are headed on a vacation to a cooler climate in a few weeks so I made up this double cowl in anticipation.  The lovely grey yarn got a little monotonous so I decided to add a mustard stripe.  Best.  Idea.  Ever.




I used a grey yarn by Neighborhood Fiber Company (Studio Worsted in the color Thomas Circle) and the mustard is Malabrigo Worsted in Sunset.  The free Ravelry pattern can be found here:

Ravelry: Casu Cowl pattern by Galia Lael.

Some beautiful hand dyed fabric by Malka of Stitch N Dye came into my possession and has also been spurring my creativity.  Riffing off techniques I learned from Carolyn Friedlander in her latest book, I made up a pattern and am working on some needle turn applique pillows.  These have me really excited.




Are you still there? 🙂  Lastly, I’ve been exploring a new idea for the theme of Nude as a clothing color.  If you have been following me you know that I oppose this still common designer habit.  My previous post is here: Needle Turn Applique with a Message | Entropy Always Wins.  Using Carolyn Friedlander’s pattern and trying out paper piecing for the first time I have been making several dresses in various shades of “nude” and a quilt idea is coming together.  I purchased her pattern here:

Carolyn Friedlander Shirts [1PA-CarolynFriedlander-1112] – $11.95 : Pink Chalk Fabrics is your online source for modern quilting cottons and sewing patterns., Cloth, Pattern + Tool for Modern Sewists.





Blessings everyone.


A Palate Cleanse

Bold, Graphic, Black, White – These themes have been calling me this week, perhaps in reaction to the color overload of our recent vacation.  I’ve ditched the small needles and delicate lace weight yarn for some lovely worsted weight hand dyed yarn in dark gray by Neighborhood Fiber Company.   I also finished up a quilt top this morning in black and white linen/cotton by Rober Kaufman that is all bold and graphic.  These have provided quite the palate cleanse.


My quilt top was heavily inspired by the work of Mark Grotjahn.  You can find some of his paintings here:

PHILLIPS : Art Auctions | Contemporary Art | Exhibitions | Private Sales | Private Collections.

I’m calling it “Queuing Theory” which per the Wikipedia definition means “the mathematical study of waiting lines, or queues”.




I’m not quite sure how to quilt this bold beauty up.  A big package of Aurifil thread came into by possesion recently.   Here’s hoping it lives up to  it’s amazing reputation.

in other news, the challenge of working with lace weight yarn paid off and a picture of my Windspiel shawl was picked up by Flickr Explore.  My husband is happy to remind me that it is actually HIS picture.  🙂

Windspiel Lace Shawl- Explore | Flickr – Photo Sharing!.


I have about 4 more quilt designs and several bag designs percolating but the next few weeks are full of work and family.




Monday Musings – Creative Inspiration and a New Shawl

Hi my blogger friends!  I have missed you.  I feel like the last few months have been all about work and travel with limited time for creating in between.  Although I’ve had less time to create I’ve certainly had a lot of time to ponder future projects.  My family and I just returned from a trip to the Southern Caribbean island of Bonaire.  It may be an island you have never heard of as it is less developed then the more popular islands and the land itself is pretty arid and desert-like.  Those of us who go there however, go for the water and sea life.  Bonaire never disappoints.  My mind is spinning from all the variations of blue we came across in the sky and sea contrasted with the bright colors over the rest of the island.  No sewing machine meant no quilt or bag making but I did find time to do some hand stitching and I finished a lace shawl that has been in the works for awhile.

Ravelry: Windspiel pattern by Nicole Eitzinger.






The importance of blocking a knit garment is never as obvious as when making lace.  The pre-blocked version is shown below.  Considering the conditions I was knitting in (on the beach surrounded by sea and sand) this knit benefitted from the washing that took place with my blocking as well.



Before signing off I have to share some of the pictures from our trip.  Expect to see a lot of blues, oranges and mustards in my future makings.








Lastly I have to share some amazing local paintings I discovered by the artist Alejandra Riquelme.  Although I don’t think I would make these into quilts (though they are begging to be imagined that way) I would love to interpret some of my own pictures onto quilts in this fashion.  Inspiring!!


9L4A0608Blessings and I hope you have a wonderful week.



Forward Motion

Catching up on family and work needs after my weekend retreat but also making slow, steady progress on knitting and sewing projects. I’ve been adding to my hexie quilt a few hexies at a time and loving how it is evolving. Also making SLOW progress on my first lace weight shawl. Oh my goodness, this knitting takes so much attention. I have to constantly check the pattern which is not what I am used to with knitting projects. It doesn’t yet much look like the finished product on Ravelry. I am hoping for miracles when finished and blocked. Pattern here:

Ravelry: Windspiel pattern by Nicole Eitzinger.

Lastly, I did finish my Carolyn Friedlander Needleturn applique on vacation and liked it so much I am working on another with more fun Maze and Vale fabric. I’m hoping they will come together as complimentary pillows that are not too matchy-matchy.

Hope your crafting is moving forward as well.