Best of Quilt Sampler.
Time and again during interviews, shop owners told me "Punchneedle is really big!" and I nodded my head and dutifully wrote it down. But I'd never tried punchneedle myself. To be honest, I didn't really know what it was.
Codi and I went to Quilt Market in Minneapolis, we stopped at one of my all-time favorite shops, Eagle Creek Quilt Shop in Shakopee, Minnesota. I first visited the shop when I interviewed owners Becky and Lori for Best of Quilt Sampler and I was blown away. Eagle Creek is in an old train depot and they have done a fabulous job of taking advantage of the unusual space (the train still goes by once a day). The shop is bright and the fabrics are an eclectic mix—they have lovely wools and darker colors, but loads of lighter, crisper fabrics, too. The rooms are dotted with little surprises—intricate pin cushions made by a Minnesota craftswoman, hooked rugs, wonderful quilt samples, etc. It's also the first place I found shwe-shwe, a fabric from South Africa that I've grown to love (a story for another time). And in little nooks and crannies they have punchneedle samples in frames and stitched to boxes and pillows. To be honest, many of the patterns are a bit "countrified" for my taste, but adorable nonetheless.
So while we were there in May, I mentioned to Codi that I was intrigued and she said she'd teach me. I bought the materials (realizing that here was a whole new world of obsession...gorgeous, variegated threads, many hand-dyed) and later that night in my hotel room I was punching away. (This pattern is called Soft Perch by Threads that Bind.)
This past weekend I learned at another terrific shop (Heritage Designs in Amana) that I was punching too closely, which is why I'd run out of thread. So I bought some more and I'm still finishing the flowers, edges, and putting eyes on the critters. In my overzealous punching I made the bird a bit chunky—Paul claims he thought it was a fish. But it was a soothing, mindless thing to do and I may well do it again. The only problem I can see is that you really can't watch TV while you're punching...you can only listen to TV. One false move with that hypodermic-like needle and you'd have a hole in your thigh. Stick and poke, indeed.
Monday, July 26, 2010
Wednesday, July 21, 2010
My quilt guild has a devoted group of charity quilters. They make quilts for cancer patients, for young, single moms, for the domestic violence project, and for stillborn babies. At each meeting they share the quilts that people contribute and I kid you not, there are often gasps from the onlookers when they see the quilts that people make to give to people they'll likely never know. Their generosity is astounding.
my Etsy post that went up today: Victoria Findlay Wolfe and Anna Maria Horner. Both have committed themselves to making quilts for people in need, and both have taken on projects on a grand scale. With the help of their blogs they're collecting quilts (Victoria) and blocks (Anna Maria) and producing finished quilts that will warm the lives of people they've never met.
Victoria's project when I stumbled upon her blog and Anna Maria told me about her quilt project when we chatted at Spring Quilt Market. It was a treat to be able to combine the two projects and a treat that Etsy was interested in sharing their projects with their wide readership. I'm always so happy when I can do some good with my writing (which is not to say I knowingly do bad...really). But so much of the writing I do isn't directly quantifiable...that is, I can never be sure it's helping make the world a better place. Being able to share the work of Victoria (one of her quilts is above) and Anna Maria (who made the video up top, celebrating the blocks she's received thus far), who definitely ARE doing just that, makes me feel great!
Tuesday, July 20, 2010
Sunday, July 18, 2010
So the World Cup was NOT a big part of our trip. However, eating, drinking, seeing incredible art, architecture, the Mediterranean, ancient churches built on top of mosques and synagogues, sidewalk cafes, hilltop castles, and generally enjoying ourselves were.
Rather than write a travelogue, I think the next post will be simply photos...stay tuned for some of the inspiring details.
Monday, July 12, 2010
When she first showed them to me, and once I got over my disappointment that they weren't those chocolate eggs with the thin candy coating, I marveled at the mottling on them—the way each one was so different. Some had a shiny finish, some a matte shell.
We decided against pickled quail eggs and deviled quail eggs and opted for an appetizer that involved toasting baguette slices and topping them with olive tapenade and a fried quail egg.
Cracking the eggs was challenging—the membrane was tough and they were so tiny. But they fried up nicely. For the second batch she used a goat cheese and dill spread we'd gotten at Saturday's farmer's market instead of the tapenade and left the yokes a little softer. We voted these our favorites.
Wednesday, July 7, 2010
I'd promised to have Spain photos up, but I'll just put vacation photos off for awhile and continue chronicling the 4th of July activities. (Aren't three-day weekends just the best?) It was a busy weekend, in the best possible way.
So while at first I thought the sale would largely just be an opportunity to look, but not buy, I did make a couple of purchases along the way that made me happy.
Spode Tower pattern, a blue and white china I grew up eating on at my aunt's house that will go nicely with my plain blue and white Dansk dishes; and a present for someone who occasionally reads my blog...so I can't talk about that one. But all three were decently priced and I felt very pleased at noon, when we headed home.
Lake Street Dive, a fabulous band from (mostly) Brooklyn. The enormously talented bass player is the daughter of a close friend and plays in several bands (including Joy Kills Sorrow). Lake Street Dive is so much fun to listen to—the lead singer has an absolutely stunning voice and the songs are mostly original (except when they take the occasional Jackson Five song and turn it on its ear). They're also fun to watch because they're obviously having so much fun together.
Monday, July 5, 2010
Between the Farmer's Market and grocery store's fresh offerings, I always become a little unhinged at this time of year. I buy tons of fresh produce and then my week becomes a mad meal-planning and cooking scramble to use up everything before the next market, when the cycle repeats itself all over again. If I were really brave I'd opt for a CSA, but I'm not really brave.
This Saturday's market resulted in a fridge full of broccoli (for steaming), cauliflower (which will be the basis of a long-time favorite: Mollie Katzen's Cauliflower with Cumin and Cheese), green beans (to accompany a Sumer Barley Salad from Cooking Light ), the first-of-the-season sweet corn, and beets (roasted an hour in the oven...I used to steam them, but no more).
After the market I came home and got Paul and we drove out to pick blueberries.
I grew up picking gajillions of blueberries each summer during out vacations in northern Minnesota—the tiny kind of berry on tiny bushes. As I've gotten older I confess that these high bushes with larger blueberries appeal to me much more—and they were just loaded and will be for weeks to come.
(Blueberry pie is also on the menu this week, along with blueberries on cereal and handfuls of berries every time the fridge is open.)
We got two pounds of each type of cherry...does anyone see a pattern here? Like, I'm nuts? Still, there's something about getting things so close to their growing location and season that makes me a little giddy...it's an impulse I can't seem to control.
...and did I mention I've got half a watermelon in the fridge, too? It's leftover from making a salad, the recipe from an Austin Farmer's Market last summer while visiting my eldest daughter—there are a number of variations floating around—here's one. The remaining half melon is going to become watermelon sorbet...following in the footsteps of my rhubarb sorbet of earlier in the summer.