Tuesday, August 25, 2009

What I Did on My Summer Vacation

A couple of weeks ago we spent five days at my family's cabin in Northern Minnesota. It's a gorgeous place, but the weather was a bit on the cool, rainy, and windy side. It was lousy for swimming, we only got out in the kayaks once, but it was excellent for sewing. I brought along three projects and managed to tackle them all.

First, a sock monkey. My mom and I named her Jockoline, because I cut her legs incorrectly and she looks a bit like she has scoliosis, so I thought a skirt might be just the thing to hide her unnatural curvature (really, who's to say what's a natural curve on a sock monkey)? I still need to make a large buttonhole on the back of the skirt so that her tail won't be scrunched underneath.

Pearl goes bonkers whenever she sees her, jumping up and trying to grab her—she seems to think Jockoline would be the ultimate chew toy.

Second task was to make more yoyos. I've got a bunch of Christmas fabric, so I'm working away at those. Not yet sure what I'll do with them when I'm finished: perhaps a garland, perhaps top a table runner or holiday pillow.

Finally , my mom and I made pot holders. I bought some Insulbright awhile back and wanted to give it a try.

In a classic move, I neglected to read the part that said to enlarge the pattern for the oven mitt that was on the back of the package and ended up making a mitt so small that I was unable to turn it right side out. My mom wisely made square pot holders, using some of this great blue Robert Kaufman fish fabric I had in my stash: the green is a Benartex Winterscapes fat quarter (that's what I'm using for my yoyos).

My mom chose the pot holder fabrics and quilted them and I bound them. I haven't yet gotten a report on how well Insulbright works, but we did use two layers of it (along with a layer of batting to absorb condensation). Hope nobody gets burned! Anyone else ever made potholders, and if so, what did you use to keep the heat at bay?

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Blue ribbon winners

It's time to announce the winners of Pearl's giveaway. Congratulations to Sondra, Anne, and cliner1004. Please send me your snail mail address and I'll have a cool ToadUSew pattern in the mail to you. Thanks so much to all who responded. Hope to have another giveaway soon, so keep reading and keep commenting!

We're back from a week away. We spent the first day at the Iowa State Fair. Nearly every year I work in the University of Iowa booth for four hours and then wander around the fair for the rest of the day.

There is so much to see and I never get tired of it—it's incomprehensible to me that many folks have lived in Iowa for years and have never been to the fair—if nothing else, it's an incredible cultural experience.

We never go on the rides, but instead enjoy just wandering around, taking it all in. Some of my favorite sights this year included the butter cow and a butter Neil Armstrong landing on the moon—there was even a butter television replaying the actual moon landing footage; the prize-winning vegetables; the biggest bull, pig, sheep, and rabbit; the kids who casually hang out in the pens with their 4-H animals—we even saw some high school-aged girls bathing and blow-drying a fancy chicken; the girls dancing to Michael Jackson, followed by the amazing boy who sang Ol' Man River, as part of the Bill Riley talent search; and of course the plethora of quilts, knitted and sewn clothing, tatting, and weaving.

I've attached a few of my "food-on-a-stick" photos for your enjoyment (including the one I ate and thoroughly enjoyed—pork chop on a stick). If you scroll to the end you'll even see a nod to healthy fair eating: salad on a stick.

I'd recommend checking out Garrison Keillor's "Top Ten State Fair Joys" from the National Geographic web site—some great photos, too.

In Pearl the Squirrel's next installment, I'll get back to the business of making things, because I definitely did that on my week away, too.

Friday, August 7, 2009

Color, color, color (and a contest)!

The new issue (October 2009) of American Patchwork and Quilting is out, and although I'll admit to some bias for the publication in general (and not just because I write for them, I swear), this one is a special favorite of mine. It's all about color and the projects are so enticing. There's also a great profile of Sue Spargo, whose work I adore: folk-arty, but with a graphic twist, and her use of color gives it contemporary feel. It's an issue worth checking out.

I had the pleasure for this issue of interviewing three great designers/design teams for the Contributors Page. I loved Miriam Kujac's story of starting her antique quilt collection by going to farm auctions as her family took their summer vacations: she's now got more than 400 quilts and rotates them through her house—it must be a constantly changing visual treat. I've long been awed by Flavin Glover's quilted scenes using tiny log cabin blocks: her sheep are special favorites of mine. And I was introduced to Colleen Reale and Chloe Anderson of Toadusew: their quilts are colorful and graphic and just a little bit different. They're also triple-tested by quilters of all skill levels.

Toadusew offered to share some three of their patterns with Pearl the Squirrel readers. So it's not really contest (I just liked the alliteration in my headline) but a giveaway. Readers who are brave enough to leave a comment (come on you guys, you can do it!) about what draws them first to fabric: the colors, the patterns, or something else all together, will have the opportunity to win one of three Toadusew patterns: Pot Luck, Harmony, or Just Like Sunshine. I'll choose the three winners from comments left by August 21.