Friday, December 21, 2007

Here are my contributions to our display of Christmas decorations. My stocking looks like it was store-bought, because of the printed picture on the front. Maybe mine was bought before you all were born, and Aunt Nina said, "I could so make that," and made yours.
We have a nice-looking tree this year. Susan and Jim picked it out, and Susan put the lights on and decorated it. She favors all-white lights, and since she's the only one living at home this year, she won the argument. The tree went up really easily, but the next day we noticed that it was leaning precariously, and in the process of adjusting it we broke the stand. So it stood propped up in the corner until we could buy another stand. It seems secure enough now.

I just finished my new Christmas quilted wallhanging last week. It won 3rd prize in my quilting guild's challenge contest. The pictures are done with regular crayons, and the "portraits" are little quilts, which are then mounted on a bigger background quilt.
Linda and I made the cookies. Aren't they fancy? Pam and I learned how to do it at our Craft Club. I think the reindeer are especially cute.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

My stocking

I have the same stocking, Reenie. For some reason, I thought we had made those stockings, with Kathy's help. Anyway, I've been giving the credit to Kathy for mine! Mine still has the little holly berry on it, too.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Finally, the pictures are developed

So I got my pictures developed, and I have something to add to the blog. I have been messing around with fondant cakes. Jedy and I both did the pumpkin for Halloween, and I did the fall one for a party at Chuck and Judy's new house. Eric said it made him feel very Canadian. It is not easy to work with, but I think this is something even Diane could do!


Merry Christmas everyone!

Out with the Halloween costumes and turkeys, and in with the Christmas crafts! I haven't finished anything other than my cards yet, but we are decorating, and finding fun things in our boxes of Christmas decorations. This stocking was made by Aunt Nina long ago - she always spelled my nickname with one "e"! I think each of us got one of these, though I'm not sure Diane was even born when she made them - does anyone else still have theirs? I've been using mine for a few years now - the glitter is still holding up, and there's still one plastic holly berry attached!
Our tree is decorated - we put it in front of the living room window, which made it hard to get a good picture. It's actually a very nicely shaped tree, though it's not very photogenic - in this picture it looks lopsided! Note Mom's Christmas tablecloth used as a tree skirt! Every year I say I'm going to make a tree skirt, but then I always end up just draping fabric around the tree. This year I managed to get a pattern for a tree skirt.

I made some of my cards this year, with stuff from my favorite paper store, Paper Source, which is conveniently located in our neighborhood shopping area! I used as a background, some letterpress cards with pine branches on them, that were on sale last year after Christmas. I only had 16 of them, so I couldn't make all my cards this year, but then I usually lose interest after that many anyway! I did them in two color combinations with a new paper design that I love, called Vintage Snowflakes. While I was at it, I lined the envelopes with matching paper.
Now it's on to trying to machine quilt a Christmas quilt that I put together years ago...

I KNOW you're making stuff

Don't tell me it's mid-December and you guys haven't made anything! Maybe you're like me and can't post because the recipients will see it and ruin the surprise. Mom, weren't we talking about something you had to add here?

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Dress Alterations

Before (is this really what I look like dancing?) After (acting mean)

My friends and I threw a party this weekend with the theme of "The Hills", an MTV pseudo-reality show that takes place in LA. The girls on the show are in their early 20's and go out wearing cute party dresses and tons of makeup, so a theme party was easy. After spending $35 on a Halloween costume (chains are not cheap), I was determined to spend nothing on my outfit, so I took an old dress from New Year's Eve 2005 and altered it to fit current trends. I cut the top off and used an old pair of tights to make straps and a bubble skirt. I wore tights and a tank top underneath because the skirt was really see-through, but if you're going to wear a mini tank dress in December, tights and layers are a good idea anyway!

Monday, November 26, 2007


Brian and I made a Thanksgiving dinner for two on Thursday. This was our first Thanksgiving on our own and we made a 12lb turkey (which will feed us both for a week), mashed potatoes and gravy, stuffing, broccoli casserole (Grandma said we always had to have a vegetable), canned cranberry sauce, and rolls. Pumpkin roll for dessert. The turkey was done about 2 hours earlier than anticipated, but we scrambled and pulled it off! Pictures of the rest of our weekend (mostly of the dog) are here.

Friday, November 23, 2007

Beaded Ornaments

Lauren and I, along with Sara Markt, made these cute beaded ornaments from the latest Martha Stewart Living magazine. They were very easy, and they're even prettier than they look in the pictures!

Monday, November 19, 2007

baby gifts

Sarah is a generous friend and has loaned me her sewing machine again. I'm a little obsessed with the projects that I've been working on (some of which cannot be posted yet due to the future recipients having access to this blog) and have been sewing late at night, as this picture suggests.

This is the changing pad and case from the Amy Butler "nappy bag" pattern. I think it's adorable. I'm officially a huge fan of Amy Butler. I love her patterns. She's a genius.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Art Quilts

I'm taking an online class on art quilts. Of the six projects, I've finished these two. The landscape quilt is loosely based on a photograph I took (from safe on the ground) of Jim and our girls when they took the hot air balloon ride over the vineyards when we were in California a few years ago.

For the other one, we were just supposed to do a quilt with a bird in it.

They're both small. It was difficult for me to get into that artsy mode, but I was able to try some new techniques and do some things that I've been thinking about for awhile, so it was fun and inspiring.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Art Quilts

This is a picture of an art quilt that we saw when we were in Brown County, Indiana in early October. John's Aunt Jody and Uncle Larry took us to a local art show, where we got to meet several of the artists. The woman who made this quilt is Daren Pitts Redman. She was really cute and very nice, as she told me how she threw away all of her printed fabrics, and now dyes and paints all of her fabrics herself. This quilt is supposed to represent the view when she was on a bike ride.... blue sky, red barns, yellow corn, green grass, and brown creek beds. Here is a link to her website.
She also told me about a woman, Elaine Ellison, who makes quilts based on mathematical principles. Here is a link to her website, which is quite interesting. (Even with all of my mathematical education, I hadn't heard of some of the things she refers to.)

Thursday, November 1, 2007

Halloween costumes

The time when Michael Jackson will be remembered as a brilliant pop star is short. Mike (in the white suit) teaches high school math and reports that his students know MJ only as a weirdo who covers his kids in blankets and wears a burka in Dubai.
But MJ was a great artist for 20 years, most of which I remember, so why not celebrate those times with a series of homages? In this picture we have Michaels from (left to right) Billie Jean, Rock With You, Remember the Time, Captain EO, Black or White, Bad, Beat It, and Smooth Criminal. Links to all the videos on YouTube are above.

Halloween Treats

Maybe it's a little late to post this. It seems like Chapel Hill is one of the few places left where we celebrate Halloween on Oct. 31 and not the Saturday before. My house was the meeting place for 8 Michael Jacksons (see above), so I made ghost pigs-in-a-blanket for the occasion. Pilsbury crescent dough and Little Smokies are not usually on the menu at my house, but a person has to make exceptions for the holidays!

Monday, October 15, 2007

Irish weaving

We recently returned from a trip to Ireland, and as we were travelling around I tried to find all the traditional Irish crafts. Alas, it turns out that there aren't many things made in Ireland anymore! We went to a former flax mill, now a museum, and saw how linen is made from flax, but they told us that there is no linen made in Ireland anymore. Anything that says "Irish linen" means that the linen was imported and then made into some product (like a tablecloth) in Ireland. We went to one of the areas where they used to make the Irish fisherman knit sweaters, but saw very few hand knits. There were some beautiful machine knit things, though. And I learned that all those sheep in Ireland are for pork chops, not for wool! Apparently they don't make wool yarn in Ireland anymore either. Even Waterford crystal is blown in Eastern Europe and only the decorative cutting is done in Ireland. Nevertheless, we persevered, and found that there is still traditional weaving being done in Avoca, where there is a weaving factory that's been there for years. You can wander around the factory and see the whole operation. It's quite small, and they make some absolutely gorgeous woven fabric and throws and scarves and things that you see for sale all around Ireland. There were about 6 of these hand looms with a man operating the loom, making throws or scarves. Yarn was being fed to the looms from this big rack holding 100's of huge spools of yarn. There was yarn everywhere, with piles of waste yarn all over the floor and fibers everywhere! It probably isn't a real healthy place to work! The weavers pull the shuttle back and forth by yanking on a cord hanging in front of them. Unfortunately, they didn't give any free samples.

In another room, they had the automated weaving machines that make the woven fabric. They make it into beautiful coats and suits and things. That room is very noisy, and it was fascinating to see the intricate plaids and other patterns being woven into fabric. It's all quite pricey. I was hoping to find some of the fabric or seconds or something for sale, but they only sold the finished products.

Quick Scarf

Finally a project from Martha that inspired me. This knotted scarf is cute and really easy. You simply cut 12 pieces of yarn and knot them together to make the pattern. It probably isn't very warm, but is good enough for Fall.

The instructions tell you to make your first two knots and attach them with pins to "a piece of foam core" to immobilize them. Who has foam core lying around? I used my couch.

I forgot to measure the yarn so that it is 1.5 times the length of the desired scarf. I used the length of the desired finished product, adjusted the spacing of the knots, and made it a scarf for my 7 year old buddy Carmella.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Another purse

I made another purse ( with the help of my mom, of course). The design was inspired by one I already had. It turned out great and definately one of my favorites!!

Monday, October 1, 2007

countryside quilt pattern

I took this picture out the airplane window this weekend near St. Louis, Missouri, where I stopped on my way to Oklahoma to visit friends. The overlapping farm plots were beautiful. I thought it would be neat if this could be converted to a quilt pattern. I messed around a little with graph paper but it's hard work!

Has anybody seen quilts that mimic an actual landscape? Maybe if I felt more of a connection to St. Louis, I'd be more motivated.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

My first project

Here is a picture of a drawstring purse that I just finished. It's the first thing that I ever knitted minus a few scarfs that just turned out to be a few inches long. It is lined and has a pocket inside.

The best Cornhole game ever!!!

Here is the Marsh girls' latest creation - a cornhole game that we made for Susan's graduation party last weekend. Kathy built the boards and made the beanbags, and Linda and Susan designed and painted the boards. We used it at the party and a good time was had by all.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007


After my rant about expensive fabric, I just spent $40 on Etsy. This was sort of a mistake since I filled out an Etsy account after looking at beautiful fabric here, put 4 pieces of fabric into a shopping cart, looked at the total, and then decided against it. I pressed cancel (I thought) but the order went through and I got the bill the next day. Oops! Luckily, I'm in love with the fabrics and can't wait to see them in person!

Monday, September 10, 2007

Lueke Reunion Photos

Pictures from our Lueke Reunion in July are at:
This is a new mac photo posting thing, but I think I set it up so that you can download photos from there directly, if anyone wants any.

Saturday, September 8, 2007

Dog Pillows

At least until I have kids (or somebody I love has some new ones--see my last post about the expensive soon-to-be diaper bag), Izzy is a spoiled dog and grateful recipient of my crafting.
I made two cushions for the crates where she sleeps at night and sometimes hangs out while we eat so she doesn't sneak food off of our plates (we don't have a dining room table and eat all meals on the couch/coffee table). The cushions are double layers of an egg-crate mattress pad I used for WAY too long, covered in cute felt and sealed with a zipper and snaps so that the zipper is safely away from Izzy who likes to chew on and rip such things. These were fun to make because I was proud of myself for repurposing an old mattress pad and the fabrics are really cute.

Saturday, September 1, 2007

I love Carrboro

After a post in which I complained about my apartment, etc., I figured I should write something positive about life in NC. I went to the farmers market in Carrboro today. I got 4 types of tomatoes, 2 bags of basil, cucumbers, corn, and peppers. Everything looks delicious and I have to think of something to make with them all!

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Fabric is Expensive

Do you ever try to fool yourselves into thinking that you're saving money by making things instead of buying them? I do this a lot but unless you're comparing your own handmade item with someone else's, it's almost never true. How can craftspeople compete with Wal-Mart crap?
I went to JoAnne and found some great fabric for the Amy Butler nappy bag that I want to make and I spent $40! And I didn't even get everything I needed (side note: the pattern calls for cotton canvas but I could only find "outdoor canvas". Is there any such thing as indoor canvas? Can I use duck cloth or twill?). Now I'm thinking I'll get an Old Navy onesie for the mom I intended the nappy bag for and make the bag for someone I'm closer to. Or, more likely, my first one will be hideous and misshapen and I'll carry it as a tote :) The pink and green are for the bag. The purple terry cloth and blue and brown fabrics are for the accompanying changing pad. Maybe I'll just send Katie the changing pad...

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Preemie quilts

I recently joined the San Francisco quilter's guild. One of their community outreach projects is to make quilts for the preemies at one of the hospitals here. I think this would be a good way to get rid of some of my fabric stash. I decided to challenge myself to see how many I could make without having to buy any fabric! The quilts are only 18" - 24" square, so they go together fast, but they also don't use much fabric. I finished these two and donated them at our meeting this week. I've made about 6 more quilt tops with other fabrics and still have a stack of child-print fabrics to go! This first one I made with a piece of "Tiny Town" print fabric that was too cute to cut up, so I used it for one side of the quilt and for the other used blocks of coordinated solids. For the other quilt I used some of my 30's prints. I'm using them to practice my machine quilting, too.

Craft Night

Last night was craft night at my friend Deirdre's house. This involved wine, delicous snacks, and whatever crafts we were each working on. Clockwise from the top, Kelly crocheted a baby blanket, Deirdre made earrings, Jen crocheted a scarf, Kyle pretended to knit while Sarah laughed on a break from her applique, and Jean embroidered koi fish onto napkins. I worked on a bed for Izzy, but that will have to wait for another post.

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Lauren's latest project

Here is a picture of the gift that Lauren orchestrated for her Grandma's 77th birthday this week. She used pictures of all of the Markt cousins, and used Photoshop to put them together and make them look like sketches. And, in true Laney fashion, she put most of it together on the morning of the birthday party!

Spousal Crafts

I think John has taken a lesson from Dan (with his fancy wine-cork trivets) and has come up with his own craft project. He was on the committee at our church to raise money for a big capital campaign to replace the slate roof of the church and the steeple. (The church is over 75 years old.) John had the contractor save the old smaller slates from the steeple when they took them off. Then he had a printer silkscreen a picture of the church steeple on each slate. Now he's in the process of touching up a few of the slates and sealing them all with lacquer. He's planning to give one to each family that donated money to the campaign. (They raised about 2 million dollars in about 3 weeks!) Here's a few pictures of the job in progress.