The Life and Projects of An Avid Hobbyist

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving

It's been an unusually warm fall here in the garden state. I usually wait until the first frost to harvest my cabbage and collards (usually in early November). There's no frost in sight so I processed all of the greens in time for Thanksgiving.


Total yield: 12 quart bags of bags of collards, cabbage and kale. More than enough to make it through the winter.

I'm bringing oyster and cornbread stuffing to my best friend's family in South Jersey. It's great to be able to relax and spin all day on a four-day weekend.

Happy Thanksgiving! ~ksp

Thursday, October 1, 2009

A Tough Night of Work

Life's been so busy, that my pain and stress is best relieved by a little nip during my evening work sessions.

Hard Night of Work

This evening's delight was Hitachino Nest Beer from Amanti Vino in Montclair, NJ. I've gotta find another crutch before this becomes a habit. ~ksp

Monday, September 7, 2009

Labor Day Indeed!

It's been busy days over here....

As is customary at the end of the harvest season, I commit a lot of time to putting up the summer bounty.

Cases of Veggies

This weekend's haul:
  • 2 cases of tomatoes
  • 1 case of peaches
  • 1 case of figs
  • 1 case of mushrooms




Labor Day Indeed! ~ksp



Saturday, August 1, 2009

Quilts for Vyo and KiKi

When I lived in Boston...I became friends with a lovely family. The Nundlall's. The patriarch was also a grad student at Brandeis in the Economics Department. Despite being a dyed in-the-wool capitalist, we became fast friends. On occasions I would sit their two children: Vyo and Kiki.

These two are precocious boys that love dinosaurs. I mean LOVE dinosaurs. They can tell you the difference between a triceratops and an iguanodon including the age in which they lived. Additionally, they are from a tiny island nation east of Madagascar name Mauritius. Since I hadnt seen them in years and was not able to see them off to England when they left the states, I felt compelled to make them quilts.

I started by trying to pick fabrics. Since their roots are in a tropical nation and they loved dinosaurs I started my design with 2 packs of Hoffman Bali Pops in the Mint Chip colorway. Bali Pops are basically jelly rolls of batik fabric. The colors were rich and reminded me of them.

Now don't be confused, just because their interests are similar, these are two very different boys. Vyo is very orderly and logical while his brother Kiki is 100% pure energy. So I decided to use similar fabrics to create 2 differently unique quilts.

For oldest brother Vyo, I made a nine-patch quilt with no sashing. I surrounded the patches with mitered cornered batik borders (creme and navy) and backed in a blue batik.


For Kiki, I challenged myself to produce a quilt without a pattern. This proved to be most challenging. I did not realize how attached to patterns that I had become. There was more ripping and re-sewing on this one than I'd care to admit. The finished product was a medallion quilt with a creme border and a green batik back.


I quilted both of these myself at Olde City Quilts in Burlington, NJ over a series of days in a meandering pattern. I unveiled the quilts before leaving England.



I think they like them! ~ksp

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Europe 2009: A Great Trip!

We rounded out the trip by visiting friends and going to Stonehenge. While we were there near the solstice, it's closed to visitors during that time.

It was a long bus ride out to Wiltshire, but it was great to walk the grounds of a place I've read and studied so much about. Its a great piece of history, ad to actually be there was such a treat!


l'arc du triomphe

Had to find fibre, I couldn't resist!

Palace of Westminster in London aka Big Ben

Friends old and new.

A Blankie for (Another) Baby

For several years I lived just outside Boston as I worked on my doctorate in social policy (no, I don't talk about it). During part of that time, I lived with Lea. While we began simply as roommates, we quickly became friends. Our mutual dislike of most things Boston strengthened the bond between us. I don't get to see her often so we keep up through email and occasional phone calls.

I was pleased to pieces to find out that she was expecting her first child at the end of summer 2009. As is often the case when my friend's become preggers, I searched my knitting books to find the "perfect" pattern. Lea's full name is often mispronounced as "uh-zeyl-yuh" (like the flower) so when I saw this pattern I knew it would be perfect. Lea also likes bright (often mis-matched) colors so I had to pick something bold.

Lastly, most of Lea's work is international, splitting her time between, Haiti, Rwanda and South Africa so I wanted something durable and something that could withstand multiple laundering applications.

I recently met up with her whilst in Boston on a business trip to give it to her...she loved it!

At the Boston Sheraton

Stitch definition close up.

Crochet bound off edging.

Project Specs

Pattern: Azalea by Marianne Kinzel in the First Book of Modern Lace Knitting

Yarn: Dream in Color Classy in Golden Experience purchased here.

Time on the Needles: March 5th - May 25th.

Comments: There were several fits and starts because I had a hard time understanding the vague pattern instructions of yesteryear. While I loved knitting this doily on worsted weight yarn and I love semi-solid yarns, I wish I had played closer attention to the variation in the veiled dyed yarn. In some parts it makes what looks like rings that I think are distractions to the pattern.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Europe 2009: Amsterdam

As part of the circuit, we made a trip through Amsterdam. This is not my first time to this glorious city. In 1996 en route from Ghana I had the occasion to spend some time here. I was most pleased to be able to visit again. Unlike some Americans, what I appreciate most about the city is not the legalized canibus. I love the culture of the Netherlands, the laid-back attitude, great (often local) food and great beer...hello Heineken.

I just had to indulge.

As is to be expected, we took the canal tour of the city. What a beautiful place. And we were blessed with great weather.

Successive canals view.

Requisite nekkid local-in-the-window,

Boat house.

Lunch was at a local restaurant where we dined al fresco and took in the sights.

GrilledVeggie Sand
Grilled veggies with local cheese...divine.

On the list of places to visit included Knopenwinkel, a local button shop. The storefront is just too cute and inviting.
Shoppers are greeted by a giant button.

And the offerings inside were too numerous to count. I added greatly to the great button stash (photos at some other time).


We later took the Stena Ferry from the Hook of Holland to Harwich. It was a lovely ride.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Europe 2009: France

During the world wind 2009 European vacation, I made my way through Paris. I absolutely love history and Paris architecture has not shortage of great buildings. High on the list of places to see was the Notre Dame Cathedral, the Parisian seat of the Roman Catholic Church.

The stone detail work is exquisite.

We later traveled down the Seine to see the sights including:

le Tour Eiffel

On the Siene near Notre Dame Cathedral

Having done a fair amount of internet research before arriving, I had a list of places I intending to visit and Le Rouvray, a small patchwork shop near Notre Dame was on the list. Cutest damn patchwork shop in Paris. I was a bit disappointed at both the exchange rate (damn recession) and the number of fabrics that were imported from Asia. Nevertheless, I was able to find these small bundles of regionally produced fabrics.


All this...and fabric?! A girl could get used to this! ~ksp

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Europe 2009...Wimbledon

I am an avid tennis fan. As has been noted on these pages. So needless to say, I was so pleased when I scored damn good seats to Wimbledon's Centre Court. Wimbledon definitely has a different vibe than the US Open. The crowd is just as brisk but a lot more civilized. Everyone seems to know the etiquette of the sport, and more importantly, they're willing to follow the rules. Not once did I hear the chair umpire ask someone to take their seat, or to "quiet down".

So damn civilized.

Vinay with Richard Williams on the grounds.

We watched tennis while eating well and drinking loads (English sports venues allow folks to bring their own liquor...who knew?).


Me drinking a pint during the match. I'd rather my cucumber in my salad...not in my drink.

We walked the grounds, It's so interesting to actually be somewhere you've only seen on television. It was surreal to read the wall of champions while watching the champions of my day. Determined to get the entire experience, we sat on Henman Hill and watched a few matches.

We were told that it was untypical weather for England (warm and sunny). In fact, this was the first year of the retractable roof and there was never a need to use it...go figure.

Drinking a Pimm's (I'm not a fan) and knitting a sock in the colors of the Union Jack (coincidentally the US flag also)

Loopy on Henman Hill.

Had a great time! ~ksp

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

We Have a Winner...Well, 2 Actually


I was at Wimbledon (as well as several other places) last week.
More on that to come.

Both Donna and Risa guessed correctly, and thus, win a special prize.
Please send me your snail mail address. ~ksp

Thursday, June 25, 2009

The Happy Couple

I traveled down South to witness one of my good girlfriend's wedding. I went shopping for the occasion and found this fabu sundress with jacket.


The happy couple...congratulations Adina and Michael.

Happy Couple

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Playing Catch-Up - A Centerpiece

I won't yet tell you where I those who are interested a chance to register a guess.

This past April, I took a hand quilting class at City Quilter (a fav spot). In order to get ready for the class I prepared a small centerpiece using a red, white and blue Moda honey bun and some remnant red fabric.


It seems I suck at hand quilting so it will take some time for this to be completed. It was fun nonetheless...

I love to change up one square into something unexpected...a little eye-candy. I hope it doesn't throw off the pattern. ~ksp


Monday, June 22, 2009

Tale of My Demise...

...have been greatly exaggerated.

I have been beyond swamped the past few months. Fortunately, a lot of crafts have been completed and I shall report on them forthwith....

In the meantime, does anyone want to guess where I am?

Strawberries and Cream

A prize to anyone who can correctly guess.
Multiple correct entries will be raffled for a winner. ~ksp

Monday, April 13, 2009


When I lived in Boston I had a very hard time adjusting. While the physical environs were lovely, I found it socially difficult to move around in ways that I was accustomed. It was then that I began practicing yoga. To this day, it continues to be one of the few activities that can calm my anxiety and clear my head. When I moved back to NJ in 2005, I searched for a local studio where I could continue my Iyengar practice.

I tried several places before settling on Starseed Yoga in Montclair, NJ. I loved everything about it. The class schedule was convenient and the staff were careful to re-direct me into a more deep and personal practice. During fall 2008, the studio announced that it's founder JyothiMa was ill. During this season there were a series of events in her honor and to raise funds. I, along with a former colleague, began working on a special quilt to donate towards the effort.

Here it is laid out and un-seamed...
JyothiMa's Quilt

Chakra Quilt

Using batiks in the colors of the chakras, Edna and I began working on Jyothi's quilt. Unfortunately, life got in the way and I never finished it. I has lived on my "things to do" list for months now. Sadly it is pinned and ready for me to finish the piecing. Sadly, it was announced yesterday that Jyothi passed on Saturday.

For many minutes, I was speechless. I was overwhelmed with a sense of guilt in setting out to do something and not finishing it.

I called Edna late last night. After we caught up with each other, I made arrangements to pick up the remnants of the quilt to be finished...soon.

I am sure there are many opportunities for lessons here. Perhaps a lesson for one to not over-commit, to schedule and honor down time, to be diligent and finish what one starts. The lesson I choose is one of acceptance. I took on this endeavor in the purest of spirits and life altered my plans. I can feel guilty about that altered path or I can accept it and move on. I choose acceptance. ~ksp

Friday, April 3, 2009


I have been sewing since I was knee-high to a grasshopper...(as the country folks say). At my mother's knee, I learned to first make pillows, then doll clothes, then clothes for myself.

A few years ago, I decided that if I can sew a dress with a 5/8 seam, that I too could sew a quilt on a 1/4 inch seam.

As my blog bears evidence, I have produced many a quilt...but never one cut on the bias.

Faithful readers may remember the post where I lamented this quilt. A few weeks ago, I took it to one of my favorite quilt shops and learned that I was reading my ruler incorrectly. After a quick tutorial and a few hours of sewing....


I have so many mistakes cutting this puppy out that I have to redesign the entire quilt top...(the country folks also say that necessity is the birthplace of invention). I will post the finished top...when it's finished (insert shifty eyes here).

To celebrate my new quilting-ruler knowledge a contest...

Leave a comment (by 5PM EST April 8) about how you recovered from a craft disaster and be entered into a drawing for a giveaway. ~ksp

...And the Gifts Keep on Coming...A Recap

Life has surely been kicking my arse lately and I've had no time to blog. Plenty of desire...but not a stitch of time...please allow a brief re-cap.

As the calendar attests, my birthday month is over. Here are a few of the gifts that didn't get posted.

First off the bat...I got a new sewing machine. I was looking for a machine that would allow me to machine quilt at home. After some internet research and joining a yahoo group dedicated to the machine, I decided on a Juki-TL98Q from here. After some mix-ups with their shipping department I finally got her home.


New Machine_No Name

At the moment she is namely, she is very shy and hasn't revealed her name to me. When she does, I'll be sure to let you know.

While in Cali on retreat, my knitting mentor got me this hot little ticket.

Knitted Lace

For those not in the know, this is only one of the hottest new knitting books to hit the shelves in recent months. Already is its second print, I was pleased as punch to get it, and even happier to check the inside...

Signature Page

I dunno if i really will meet/see THE Nancy Bush at MDS&W and I really don't care. I will cherish this book forever...gotta learn how to make a nupp (rhymes with soup).

I got lots of other gifts and spent a lot of time with good friends. Can't beat that...
In other birthday mentee celebrated his birthday on St. Patty's Day. I took him to a brewpub in Central Jersey with the intention introducing him to micro-brews (interpret...get him drunk)....Happy Birthday D.

His best effort.

Crappy Crackberry photo