29 Mar

Pattern review and a Query

Thanks for all the Katja blog and Mushroom Quilt love. We appreciate it!

This weekend, I pretty much ignored the kids and just sewed. I made a shirt for my son from some Hawaiian fabric I wasn’t going to use for anything else. It turned out fine, but not worth photographing. The real winner of the weekend was the Daily Spice Apron by Heather Bailey.

I saw this on her blog a million years ago and passed on many an apron pattern while I waited to see if she’d share it (it’s not like I actually USE aprons, I just like the way some look). As soon as the pattern came out, I ordered one, but as it was for me, and not a gift, I chose standard shipping. After waiting weeks and emailing Heather to see what happened, it ends up the pattern (and fabric) I ordered had been returned to sender for an undeliverable address (I must have had help typing from the cat — it happens). Anyway, Heather and crew were very nice and after a couple stumbles, I finally got my pattern and fabric. Luckily, the project was worth the nearly three year wait.

A retro look halter apron that looks modern rather than costume-y. The pattern is for three sizes, but no style variations. It’s pretty easy to imagine though, that by mixing up the fabrics and/or adding embellishments like applique, embroidery or trim, one could get dozens of different looks.

The apron comes in three sizes. I chose small which fits just as I’d expect it to. The writing is clear without being too wordy. There are plenty of diagrams, and I almost could have made the apron just looking at teh pictures. I say almost because I did trip myself up not reading exactly what lines up with what when sewing the bodice to the waistband. As soon as I read the instructions though, it all worked perfectly.

Degree of Difficulty
I sort of expected this to be fiddly, especially with teh instructions to stay stitch and clip curves before sewing on some pieces, but it all came together very easily. I think that even a beginning sewer could probably make this. certainly someone with a few projects up his or her sleeve would have no problem. I made this easily in one day, including cutting the fabric.

I really like this pattern and would make it again, maybe as gifts for foodie friends. Katja has already put in an order as well. Next time, I’d like to add “stuff” to it just for fun. You might notice that the waist ties are a different fabric. I had originally intended the bodice to be the terra cotta print and the waist and ties to be that different green floral, with the lining being the floral on cream, but when I tried it out, I preferred the bodice and skirt in the same fabric so I just turned the bodice over and sewed it in the other way around. For Katja though, I might try a riot of fabrics. I think for the right person, some Luziapimpinella woven ribbon would look great with ric-rac along the bottom and pockets.

I would recommend this pattern. I give it 12 muffins!

Now for my query. I’ve been feeling the itch to make a ripple afghan. I’ve been resisting for years now, but it is like the Borg. Resistance is futile. I haven’t crocheted in forever, but I’ve looked at some free online patterns and it doesn’t look too hard. I considered knitting it, like the Chevron Scarf, but I really like the look of those fat, flat, soft wave stripes. The problem with generic online patterns like this though, is that there’s not a whole lot of info on yarn. I know people have made the afghan in cotton, but for such a big project, I’m wondering if I might prefer something a little springier. Of course, I live in Hawai’i now, so full-on wool is probably overkill. Maybe I need a cotton/linen blend, or Debbie Bliss Cashmerino? An alpaca blend would be nice, but I’m thinking too expensive. Or do I just submit to the acrylic? And how much? Can I get away with one 50 gram ball of each color as long as I get five or more colors? I’d like to use the beach wedding color palette, so I’d need yarns that have lots of browns and tans and a good orange. Does anyone have any experience with this? Kirsti?

28 Mar

Katja Blogs

Hi my name is KATJA I am Guest Blogging for my mama.

Today I will talk about Spring SNAP at Hawai’i Nature Center. (As dictated to mama.)


I went on a hike on Makiki Loop trail. It was a long loop. It was hard, but it was fun. I was so excited because I got to play camouflage. Camouflage is a game where one person stands in one place and the other people hide. Then, the person standing turns around but cannot move out of his or her spot. They have to turn around in circles. Once the person has been looking too long they do it again and those people that he or she didn’t find have to move 10 steps forward. That was good. I found 10 kukui nuts on the ground. When I got home, I got out a nut cracker and a garlic press and a piece of cloth. First my mom cracked the shells. We put the nut in the garlic press and pressed it. Then we put it in the cloth and squeezed the oil out.


I went on a really log hike to the top of a really long trail. It was long. Really, really, really long [from mama: regular readers might recognize this as the dreaded lighthouse hike]. We saw whales! It was amaaaaaaaazing. Really, really amazing! I learned how whales communicate. They go all the way down to the sound channel then they do a song without using vocal cords. Then the sound channel makes it go really far and if another whale is down also in the sound channel it will hear it. I also learned different behaviors. I learned how they breach. And their tail slap. I saw it from the bus on the way back. The third behavior is spy hop. And the bubble net. When I went back I saw this whale waving goodbye with it’s tail. It was slapping and slapping and slapping. It was coooool. My drawing is a whale doing the bubble net, over the sound channel. Underneath the sound channel is the sand and in the sand is a treasure chest. There is krill in front of the whale.


Today I went a bamboo forest. It was really, really, really fun. The bamboos are really big and amazing and really super big and we got to take a little bamboo and play music on them. Then, we went to back to the nature center. We dropped off our bamboos and went to the taro patch. The Hawaiian name for taro is Kalo. We pulled the weeds and then we watered. We also jumped in the mud and had lots and lots of fun. Taro grows in mud. We jumped and jumped. Afterwards we went back to the nature center and washed ourselves off and changed our clothes. Then we ate lunch. Afterwards we turned our bamboo into instruments. We could choose from two different instruments. One group got holes drilled in the bamboo. For our group the instructors cut notches in them.


Today I went to a beach. It was really, really fun and there was this big, big stick sticking in the sand. I got my towel and do you know what did? I tied the top to the top of the stick and it was a sail! It was really, really amazing. It was so cool because I pretended it was on a boat and I was sailing on the ocean. We jumped in the waves and built sand castles. When we got back to the nature center, we played games. I wrote in my journal that Waimanalo means “sweet water.” I also wrote a list of things to look for when you’re finding a place to live on a Hawaiian island: water, food/fish, view, access to ocean, close to mountains. We also learned what ohana means. Ohana means family: extended family, friends, plants and animals. At the bottom there is earth mother and at the top there is sky father. In the middle is taro (our older brother) and people.


Today was stream day. We learned about where stream water comes from. The rain pours down onto a mountain. Some goes to the ocean, but some of it goes down to the roots and into the aquifer. In the aquifer it gets filtered and it takes lots and lots of years just to get to us. We should make sure that we have some plants and trees to catch the rainwater so it gets to the aquifer. We went fishing at one location. We used nets. We only caught shrimp, but we also caught two toads. After 45 minutes we went to another location and we wrote a poem about our favorite thing. I wrote about water:

Water clean and fresh floing
throo a butiful shtreem
making satsh a butiful
sawnd it makes me laf

I drew a picture which was the stream and I drew lots of rocks and plants. When we got back to the nature center we ate lunch and made beautiful boats. We had to first decorate a sail. We took some clay and stuck it on the little boat, and I also plugged some holes. After I stuck the mast in the clay we could make things to put in the boat. At one point we had a chance to float our boats or just go fishing. I did not let my boat free. Mine was too precious. So was Zavi’s.

I liked my week at SNAP.

27 Mar

Fliegenpilz III (The Latest Mushroom Quilt)

You know when you can’t decide on something and then you ask for someone’s opinion and then are disappointed if they don’t give the answer you wanted and so “poof” you have your answer?

I was hoping that would happen with my mushroom quilt. But, no. It didn’t. Everyone’s help was equally appealing. After much internal debate with me, myself and I, we decided that, although the Fairy Ring was conceptually awesome, the row of mushrooms better showcased the ‘shrooms, and looked a bit more modern. I resigned myself to buying more fabric and took the plunge to actually purchase backing fabric too (it totally cracked me up that the burgundy with green polka dots that was just perfect ended up being a Kaffe Fasset print!).

I did use a strip to separate the mushrooms from the strips — jumbo red ric-rac! It has the necessary contrast, and just the right whimsy to compliment the mushrooms. I mean really, when you are working with wonky polka dot mushrooms, you can’t take yourself too seriously

I almost convinced myself that I should overdye the strippy side just out of curiosity, but I wimped out and cut a bunch of the strips thinner instead. There was a lot of cutting and re-sewing and cutting and re-sewing. There are some sections that I don’t think are as successful as they could be, but it’s destined to be a utilitarian quilt and at some point, I just wanted it done. I kinda wished the near solid was the larger half, but it was the perfect color (and had groovy flowers on it that picked up on the quilt’s whimsy without being too cute) and the shop had a very limited amount. It’s a print from a Christmas kitty collection a year or two ago, so I didn’t feel like going on a quest for more.

The Fairy Ring still lives, but you can’t really see it in the photos. I quilted an arc about six inches wide with red thread where I had intended the ring to be on the original quilt layout. Inside the ring, I quilted free form circles in green and outside the ring I echoed the strips with parallel lines, also in green. It’s subtle, but it’s there in spirit.

I tried a couple of gadgets on this quilt. A column in the latest Quilter’s Newsletter Magazine made light fun of wearing a toilet paper tube as a necklace to facilitate sewing the binding on a quilt. Sure, it looks ridiculous, but man if it isn’t incredibly helpful! Speaking of binding, this is the first quilt I’ve made with rounded corners. For a softer look, it’s great. I think I make pretty good corners, but I sure didn’t miss them this time around. I also used my new (as of Christmas) laser level square both when I blocked the quilt (before binding) and when I squared up the quilt to be bound. How did I ever live without this? Thank you Nadine for turning me on to this indispensable hardware store find!

25 Mar


When I go to the Hawai’i Quilt Guild meetings, I usually go with a friend who found me through this blog and her granddaughter who happens to live near me. The granddaughter is a high school senior and is part of her school’s culinary arts program. Their big end of year research project is to plan a wedding: create a menu that they would cater and source the food, choose linens and table decor, location, cake, price entertainment, and probably a few other things. She’s decided her project will be a morning wedding on a beach. We tossed out ideas and compared wedding stories over dinner post-meeting. I envisioned a simple, classic, tiered cake with sandy colored fondant and sugar sea shells. My friend improved on the idea with those marbled Belgian chocolate shells. This led to visions of white linens, woven mats and hurricane lamps or apothecary jars filled with sea shells (no need for candles in the morning). Red coral seemed an appropriate exotic accent in the jars, which led to orange lei for the guests as well. I was really taken by the idea of a neutral wedding with accents of orange and spent the entire next morning making an “inspiration page” of images I found on the web (I’m not posting it here since it’s for personal use and I don’t want to mess with copyright issues or trying to link to every source, but imagine sea breezes and rustic chic). As much fun as finding all the parts was, I was really liking the colors. So, I made a palette, a la Vicky. It wasn’t looking as great as the inspiration or the vision in my head and I quickly realized that the proportions were wrong. Too much orange. So, I messed around a bit more and now the palette looks like a fabulous quilt block. Too bad the wedding isn’t a real one — I could make a quilt for the happy couple.

24 Mar

Spring Break!

It’s Spring Break here in Hawai’i. My kids are trying out camp at Hawai’i Nature Center and the first day went well. My friend Robin is looking for snow on the Mainland.

While she’s away, she’s invited a fun group of friends and acquaintances to keep an eye on her blog for her. Go check out Simply Robin for fabulous fabric giveaways, new bloggers to meet, and on Saturday the 28th, me!

18 Mar

Tutorial Challenge

This may not be known as much of a craft blog, but, everybody loves a good tutorial, right?

There are so many, many fabulous tutorials out the on the web. In fact, there are so many, that some blogs have made massive lists for our convenience (how about Sew Something Special’s list of bags and purses, Creative Kismet’s fantabulous categorized list, and Whip Up’s Mammoth List of Festive Tutorials, just to start).

Remember the Rainbow Bag filled with Bowling Kitties (Bunnies) I borrowed from Bitter Betty? She combined two great tutorials (I’ve made the Wee Bunnies here and can vouch for their awesomeness) to come up with a great gift (and I’ve just upped it to three by adding instructions for the bag).

As I made my version, I thought, “Hmmm. I wonder what else crazy crafty people might come up with, just by combining existing tutorials.” Has anyone made a woodland scene with Little Birds’ Cone Trees and Resurrection Fern’s Knit or Button Mushrooms? How about making Montessori By Hand’s Recycled Bathmat, but using some Spiderweb Blocks from Bonnie instead of little squares? Posie’s Pleasant Dish Towel embroidery on one of the bajillion aprons out there? And when I saw Maya*Made’s batting Easter basket I immediately thought about making it with the colorful dyed batting from Painted Threads‘ pillow tutorial.

The more I thought about it, the more it sounded like a good idea to spread around. (Being hot off of participation in a successful swap, I must be high on connections and sharing!) So share your mutant creations with links to the tutorial origins in the comments. Heck, I’ll make a Flickr group so we can show them off. To bribe people to mash tutorials for my entertainment, I’ll probably even give prizes for clever combinations.

Here’s a list to get you started (check out other tutorials at all these sites too):

Folding Kanzashi Flower Petals, or this one that’s in French, but has pictures on making a whole flower instead of just one petal.

Bella Dia’s Travel Tissue Holder (my personal favorite of the many tissue holder tutorials)

U Handbag’s Pleated and Darted Purse of Prettiness (you do know that U Handbag is a great source of purse patterns and tutorials, right?)

Montessori By Hand’s CD Case

Paint in My Hair’s Undercover Crate

Styrofoam Paper Straw Wreath, via Folding Trees which is a treasure trove of cool stuff in itself

Odd Dotty Dollymaker’s Itty Bitty Oddity (egg-like doll)

Grand Revival’s Ruffled Skirt — an alternative to the 3 Peas Tiered Skirt (via Kuky Ideas)

Sew Mad’s Heartfelt Window Mobile

Criss Cross Coasters from Allsorts

Sew Mama Sew

Monster Munch’s Sock Monster

Button and Felt Hair Bands from Vlijtig

A modern Tree Skirt from Crazy Mom Quilts

Those cute little owls from Moonstitches, or the graceful birds from Spool that have been all over the internet

Fusing plastic bags at Craft (there’s a few fusing tutorials, but this one had mushrooms, so how could I not use it?)

This list is by no means comprehensive — it’s just some of the stuff I happen to have bookmarked. Go forth and find tutorials to mash and be sure to come back and share, either in the comments or the Flickr group (or both)!

17 Mar

Sonya’s Mushroom Swap

I don’t participate in many swaps, but this one looked too fun to pass up. Sonya asked everyone to make five 3-D mushrooms and send them to her. She (and a few helpers) then mixed them all up and sent each participant a box with five assorted ‘shrooms. It’s been great fun to see all the creations via the Flickr group, and to finally get my own box in the mail.

I sent out this:

And received these in return:

From left to right they are: Bolete (and the mushroom notebook at the far right) from Rane, “Emmaline” from Cathy Gaubert, Toadstool from Vanessa, Sluggy Mushroom from feathergirl36, and a mischievous looking blue ‘shroom from Theresa.

The kids and I were so excited to open the box and see which five we got. Now, they (the mushrooms, not the kids) are happily ensconced in my collection. Here’s the mushroom room Chez la Flamme (click to check it out closer):

… and zoom in closer on the insanity (also clickable):

There’s a few more on a vertical shelf on the wall to the left, but I’ve posted that before.