The Life and Projects of An Avid Hobbyist

Monday, June 28, 2010

Cutting Up!

All my bags are packed I'm ready to go!, But before I can leave, I need to get my crafts flight-ready.

This meant, a lot of cutting....

...and fabric...

Me and the hexies are ready for the airport...goodbye Florida! ~ksp

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Saved by Jo-Ann's Fabric

I would not consider myself a fabric/craft snob by any stretch.  While I have yet to incorporate thrift shopping into my crafts, I frequently check out what my local thrift stores have to offer.  I am, however, not partial to large chains.  I like my fabric stores, moderately-sized like here and here, where the staff use the products and know the craft.  I tend to not find that at the larger stores.

So imagine my surprise when I, desperate for a project but unable to travel the 45 minutes one way for the nearest to me quilt shop (that meets my criteria), begrudgingly went to the local Jo-Ann's Fabric.  I don't think I've ever been in a Jo-Ann's this big.  I mean huge-so huge, there is an independent sewing machine dealer inside of it.

I was desperate and I was satisfied.  I bought several items to get me started on what will be my next long-term quilting project.  It's a 1" hand-pieced hexagon quilt top...or at least it will be.  I have been following Texas Freckles blog with the very helpful videos and tips.

 I might not go insane on this family vacation/visit after all. 

I don't know how big the finished quilt will be, but I like the idea of piecing and then laying them out in a gradual color spectrum.  The only problem with that strategy is that you have to piece a whole heap-a-hexes in order to get the color layout right.  Let me get piecing and see how this goes.  ~ksp

Friday, June 25, 2010

It's That Time Again - the NJ State Fair

Faithful readers will know that I am a big proponent of state fairs.  In New Jersey there is a carnival in the Meadowlands Complex that calls itself the state fair.  I am NOT referring to that.

Instead, I am talking about a fair where residents (in this case statewide) compete in activities ranging from turkey calling to canned jams and jellies.  There's livestock and NJ 4-H...and on opening day, there's a decent fireworks display.

In short...its a blast!

I lurve the NJ state fair.

Every year about this time, I stalk the local farmer's market to find items that I can prepare and enter the fair.  I have had moderate success and have ribboned every year that I've entered items (knock on wood, don't wanna jinx it).  This year will be no different.  I have been busy in the test kitchen with my most recent batch of ingredients, including the mint previously discussed on this post.

If you don't live in NJ look for the county/state fair in your area. But, if you live in NJ, please check out the competition categories here and for the adventuresome and competitive among you, find the entry form here.

And prepared to get your a@# kicked by me at this year's fair. ~ksp

Thursday, June 24, 2010

F#ck Cancer! - Team DM

My dearest friend DM has a Burkitt-like lymphoma and will spend the summer in treatment at St. Barnabus Medical Center.

I am very pleased and honored that he is allowing me to help him through these tough summer months. Not to do it alone, I enlisted the help of ChopChop and MadameFoo to help ease the imaging issues that cancer treatment can sometimes bring by knitting caps for him to wear.

This group of classy ladies put together a bunch of caps for him to wear. The drab colors are his request to accompany both his wardrobe and default mood.


I lovingly refer to the large and ever-growing list of people who offer his support, food, encouragement "Team DM". Lord knows this is a rough spot and its great to have folks there to help lighten the burden. We also decided that the team's slogan is "F#ck Cancer!". Its our attempt to put the lymphoma on notice that its days are numbered.

I eventually made him try all of the hats (to ensure good fit and to make him laugh). While it will be hard to wear in the summer months, he is often cold in the hospital so they'll come in handy.

A face anyone could love.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Making a Mess

Life has a way of shifting your priorities for you, or in my case forcing my hand. I have been meaning for some time to cook at home more often. I am a damn good cook, but between, work, my hobbies and sleep, I manage to not have enough time to do the necessary prep let alone execute. As fate would have it, lately, I've been spending a lot of time-more than usual-cooking. Don't get me wrong, I love to cook, but I haven't cooked this often (read: daily) in years, if ever.

I've noticed that I don't really have "cooking clothes" nor any aprons. My kitchen counters/sink are at a perfect height for tasks which also means its the perfect height to stain the fronts of my clothes.

So what's hobbywhore to do? Well, make aprons of course.

My web handle would suggest that I am indiscriminate but, I assure you, I am particular about aprons. For example I do not like the halter style, as it irritates my neck and is otherwise uncomfortable. I like this style, but for the most part a 1/2 apron will suit me just fine.

I went to a great fabric shop and grabbed some great fabrics from the clearance rack!

Now I just have to dig my aunt's old sewing machine out of the study and get it humming...and I figure while I'm at it I might as well give one away (in one of these color combinations or another of your choosing.)

GIVEAWAY: So, leave a message about something you've been meaning to start or get back in to and be entered into a drawing for an apron. Comments will close on Sunday, June 27, 2010. ~ksp

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Visting Family - Reinforcements


Need I say more!

Back on the Wagon

As I was heading to Tampa, I was desperate to take a knitting project. Knitting and I have been estranged for some time now. I have not cast on a knitting project in such a long time, I actually had to think about how to cast on...for like 2 whole minutes.

While in-flight (JFK to TPA), I cast on the ever-popular Ishbel by Ysolda. I was looking for a pattern that had the ability to hold my interest, but not so complicated so as to get put into the UFO column. (I'm easing back into knitting regularly.)

I went to the stash (have I mentioned I'm on a yarn fast?) and found some Sundara yarn from her 2008/9 club. It's Sundara Sock a small-batch and kettle dyed fingering weight yarn in the colorway night blossom. Picture's don't do it justice as its a deep maroon almost black semi-solid yarn. It was 350 yards which should be more than enough on US 6 needles.

Crappy in-flight photo. Had to wind the ball by hand due to poor planning.

Gotta love Jet Blue Airlines DirectTV. Watched Wimbledon the whole way.

So far it has been a great project to get me back in stride.
I'll keep you posted on progress...or not. ~ksp

Monday, June 21, 2010

Urban Gardening - Chapter 1

I live in a rental community in Montclair, NJ. The neighborhood buts up against a regional university and has lots of great amenities, except community gardens.

Last winter, when looking for a new place, community gardening space was one of my criteria. I was both surprised and disappointed at how scare they are here in the "Garden State" I was able to secure several planting boxes on the property for use in gardening.

When I started the boxes had been well neglected and were covered in weeds.

Step 1: Remove weeds.
Neglected Planter

Upon closer examination, I noticed that the "weeds" were in fact mint plants. An overabundance of mint plants.

Montclair Mint
Mint is a weed with invasive me when I tell you...more info on the mint on a later post.

Step 2: Condition soil.
Soil + Box

A combination of new potting soil, hummus and nutrients were added to the dirt and mixed well. Did I mention it was approaching 90 degrees outside with crazy humidity?

Step 3: Plant vegetables and set-up tee-pees

I planted a great crop of heirloom tomatoes, hybrid tomatoes, hot peppers, cucumbers and beans.

Heirloom tomatoes include: Mortgage Lifter, Aunt Ruby's German Green and Cherokee Purple.
Hybrids include: Rutgers (I felt obligated as an alumnus).
Peppers: Thai hot and habanero
Cucumbers: various vining

I am also trying a new-to-me support system this year the garden teepee. I built mine with lengths of bamboo from the local hardware store. I will train the plants to climb up them. I've set-up a (several times a week) watering now it's time for mother nature (and some organic fertilizer) to do her thing.

Here's to the "Home Garden 2010"! May the good earth (dirt) produce nature's bounty. ~ksp

Tuesday, June 8, 2010


My good friend is an old-skool tinkerbot. He loves to do tech things like rebuild computers and for a project to do together, we're taking this on for a challenge.

Radio Manual



Friday, June 4, 2010

Quilt of Valor

Several years ago, when I was perusing blogs I came across Patchwork Times. Occasionally, Judy publishes patterns and does quilt-a-longs. In advance of Memorial Day she published the fabric requirements for a Quilts of Valor (QOV) pattern.

The mission of the QOV Foundation is to cover ALL those service members and veterans touched by war with quilts called Quilts of Valor (QOVs).

To this end Judy published this pattern (scroll down), and while I did not make her deadline I am pluggin' away at the pattern.

Since I am on a stash fast, I challenged myself to pull fabrics only from the stash closet. This is my sample sheet. Given the various lengths of fabric at my disposal, I ended up with scrappy options of tonal calicos and tone-on-tones.

QOV1_Cheat Sheet
These sheets from Electric Quilter are hella handy when choosing fabrics.

Here are the actual fabrics....

Now's time for the pattern. My summer is chuck full of stuff so it'll take some time.

More to come. ~ksp

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Have We Met?


This warning sits at my office desk near the door...a gentle warning for those with whom I am not already acquainted. ~ksp