We usually vacation in winter. Last year, however, with a move over 400 miles and then dealing with a major earthquake, I didn’t have a chance to plan a vacation. I am not very good at taking impromptu trips, so a long vacation was out of the question. The mountains here are also very dry this year, not a speck of snow on them. So we decided to stay home.
Stone Cottage Pattern – Craftsy and Etsy
I love the outdoors and I love camping. Weather permitting, we camp most of the time when we visit the parks of California. One year we went to Kings Canyon National Park and it was already too cold for camping. We rented a cabin during that stay. In a nearby building, there was a very large common room with a gigantic fireplace for everyone’s use. We would go there later at night when most people had already left and have the place to ourselves.
Since I am a little trip-starved this year, I decided to bring some old vacation memories back by drawing this winter scene which was inspired by the our stay at Kings Canyon. Very soon it became this Winter Cottage quilt pattern. It’s a 12″ block, and I added a 2.5″ border all around it. The fabric used for the border was going to be the sky originally, but then I decided to use white to mirror the snow on the ground. I embroidered black lines on the doors and windows to add a little more definition. Then I started hand quilting the slanted dashed lines as if it was raining outside, and quilted solid lines on the snow. It would be wonderfully cosy to sit inside by the fire on a day like this. I can also envision changing out the snow for a green and flowery meadow, that would be lovely too!!
This Saturday it will be a whole year since we moved to our new place in Napa. Before that we lived in a loft apartment where my workplace was divided into two rooms. I did my office work and design work at the computer in the loft and my artsy work at the corner of the big living room where I had a second desk and a cabinet. When we were looking into buying a house, my husband insisted that I have a room that I can call my own. I thought it would be nice to celebrate that occasion with a tour of my “Little Atelier”, which is what he calls this room.
I painted the room a cool blue-gray colour that was inspired by my favourite season – Winter. This is my sewing desk. The sewing supplies are stored in a lovely fabric basket sent by Cheryl. She also sent me the cathedral window pincushion that is resting against the fabric basket. My most favourite wall hanging – “My Best Enemy” – is on the main wall and my little acrylic painted crest is on the wall to the left of the window. I saved a small branch while trimming a tree in our backyard last weekend, the crest is hanging from that now.
I love the night sky and that takes centre stage in this area. There’s a HUGE Map Of The Universe poster on the wall. On the desk there’s a Lego space shuttle and a Mars hug-a-planet ball. Keeping with the theme, a little bit of Doctor Who also sneaked into this area of the room. A blueprint of the sonic screwdriver of the tenth Doctor is on the wall and a Tardis clock sits on my desk.
A wider view of that corner
The sewing desk is actually an old dining table. I love the large size of it. I have some computer hardware programming items under that desk as well. My violin and a mandolin are behind that desk, right by the floor lamp.
I have a large kitty bed on my computer desk for my beloved orange kitty who joins me every morning within ten minutes of my walking into the room.
This is the “Shelf Around The Corner”, very much like the Shop Around The Corner. It is more of a shelf of whimsical curios than anything else. A lot of the things on this shelf were gifts, while some of them I collected during our travels. Along with my computer programming and cosmology books, I also keep a few of my favourite story books here, some of which are signed. A new addition to this corner is the “Will Work For Books” magnet on the lamp. My first-ever job was at a bookstore, so recently my husband got the magnet for me as a nod to that.
Aside from a variety of Florentine and other types of stationary papers, there are a multitude of other things on that shelf: A couple of Venusian glass pens, a little replica of a standing stone from Orkney, bejeweled spiders, a tiny little violin, some tiny chemistry flasks and beakers, just to name a few. Tintin and Captain Haddock have been my best friends since I was a child, so I had to keep a Tintin pencil sharpener there too. I have to work hard not to clutter this shelf up too much!!
Right beside the shelf is my guitar and its amp. I catalog my books, so new books always end up in that Fair Isle star fabric basket before they go on the shelf. The serger, a few more books, rocks, mineral collections, etc. are stored in the closet. The drawers at the bottom are perfect for storing my knitting supplies. My pretty Doctor Who stitch markers and the Tardis wallet made by Caroline are also in one of those drawers. The ironing table hangs behind the door. My husband changed out the drawer pulls and the closet handles for nicer ones after I finished painting the room.
These are the cabinets on the other side of the door. Between the two cabinets are a few Lego sets, painting canvases and my other violin. The cabinet on the left is my fabric cabinet, that’s all the fabric I own. It is organised by projects and type of fabric. There’s only one exception – Amanda sent me a huge stash of novelty fabric from her own stash. They are so much fun to look at that I left them at the top of one of the stacks. This way I can see them and smile every time I open the cabinet.
The other shelf with the half doors is right by the sewing desk. Inside the closed doors you will find yarn and sewing supplies. I sometimes have Charlie joining me here, that cushion is for him to sleep on. On the wall are two of my watercolour paintings – Northsea coast and a stone bridge on the isle of Mull.
I love the painting supplies on this shelf. When I walk into this room every morning, they are lit up by the soft morning light. I love to play with large Lego sets and I usually sort the pieces before I start building. That’s what’s stored on the second shelf along with a Lego biplane and the yellow pincushion from Kris. The two boxes on the top shelf contain a few more quilting supplies. On that shelf I also have a few prints acquired during our travels. I need to frame those. Hanging from the knobs is a little house sent to me by my dear friend Sil from Brasil.
It is not a large room, but many things happen here – work, play, music, photography, painting, drawing, and sewing. This room has to fit it all, and it is very much organised with that in mind. With that said, I also made room for the little things that make me happy.
I had a very nice, long holiday break, and I hope all of you had the same. Rather than spending a lot of time sewing, I did lots of other things instead. One of them was to start teaching my hubby how to draw. He is my first and only student and he is coming along very nicely. Of course I sat a little with the sewing machine during the holidays and started on this quilted wintry wall hanging. If you want to make one for yourself, the Winter Cottage quilt pattern is already available from my Craftsy and Etsy shops. I am hand quilting mine. I was hoping to show the finished quilted mini today, but I am a pretty slow hand quilter. So more to come soon on this little wall hanging. In the meantime, I thought I’d show you a few beauties that I have acquired over the last few months.
My friend Kris at KrisLovesFabrics sent me this very generous cut of fabric along with the cute pincushion. I am going to make a travel bag with the fabric. The pretty yellow pincushion sits on my shelf where I can see it as soon as I walk into my workroom every morning. I love yellow, it makes me happy!!
I really liked a fall quilt Kelly at My Quilt Infatuations made, so I left a comment on her blog post. I was both happy and surprised when I found out I had won this gorgeous giveaway from Benartex. Each piece is a half-yard cut. The set will make a lovely fall quilt.
Morning Star on Craftsy and Etsy
Last year my little kitty-cat got sick and I made this quilt for him. I entered it in the Pantone Quilt Challenge 2014 to share the story. Little I knew that I would actually win and get a gift certificate from the Fat Quarter Shop! I wanted to use the gift certificate to buy fabrics to make something special, so I held on to it until very recently.
I finally have an idea for a quilt and these Downton Abbey fat quarters are just the fabrics for that project.
I also got these Downton Abbey fabrics for the same quilt.
Last year was a mix of good and bad for us, but these beautiful gifts definitely tipped the year toward a glass-half-full year. A little late, but A Very Happy New Year to all of you!!
Exactly a year ago during a visit to Napa, we found a yarn shop in downtown. It was a crisp December weekend and I found myself gravitating toward the warmth of the yarn shop. Even though I had no mitten-making skills whatsoever at the time, I couldn’t resist this fingering yarn and the mitten pattern. Then, a few weeks ago, when the weather started getting colder, I also started knitting. I watched a few youtube videos to learn how to even use DPNs! I had to use some seriously thin, 2.5mm needles for this project. I persevered and here’s my very first set of mittens.
A year later we stopped by the same yarn shop, now as Napa residents, and I picked up this beautiful orange-yellow shade of yarn and a set of knitting needles. It has been raining nonstop for the last couple of weeks and I found myself yearning for another pair of mittens. This one was even faster to make with a chunky weight yarn and 5.5mm knitting needles. Even with my deviating a little from the pattern to knit the thumbs, I finished this set in no time whatsoever. I love my mittens and they are definitely keeping my perennially frosty hands very warm.
This little one is staying warm as well with his very own winter clothing. This one belongs to Sandra. She made him from my Little Penguin Polaris quilt pattern. Love the little thing with his super cute red hat and scarf!! He is so perfectly dressed for his winter holidays!! Many thanks to Sandra for letting me share him with all of you!
Stay dry and warm, and have wonderful holidays, everyone!!
Drawing of a doorway detail, Jedburgh Abbey, Scotland
In school, I was never very good at history, I always managed to only pass by the skin of my teeth. I had the hardest time following the syllabus. Whenever I came across an era that I liked, I researched, read and dove in, completely ignoring everything else that was being taught in the classroom. The good thing about being a grown up is that now I can continue to do that without the pressure of grades. I also don’t have to stick to just books, I can now travel to places of historic interest as well. I love prehistory, archaeology and ruins. That took me to Scotland twice.
Drawing of a stone relief, Iona Abbey, Scotland
I recently started drawing again after a long hiatus. I missed the scratching sound of pencil on paper too much. I went through my Scotland photos and picked out a few to draw. In the evening after a long day, it’s wonderfully relaxing to revisit the places through drawing while listening to some comforting old TV show or movie. I think these drawings would make nice embroidery designs too.
I could not have done these drawings without my trusty camera. I made the SLR camera pattern many months ago and never got around to making it. My friend Amanda recently made this pillow from that pattern. I squealed in joy when I saw the picture. I LOVE the way she quilted it. I already told her that I am going to copy that quilting design when I make my quilted camera.