December 21, 2015

A Heartwarming Congratulations

Reading all of your comments over the course of the week has brought me such deeply felt happiness. Thank you for sharing your loving acts of kindness and charity for people who need a little extra this holiday season. You are making such a difference in other people's lives, including my own. I hope you'll take a little time to read through all the comments, to encourage others to read them as well, and to share a feeling of gratitude for being alive at the same time as so many wonderful, creative, thoughtful people.
Wishing everyone a very happy holiday season!
Much love,

December 15, 2015

Holiday Giveaway

'Twas the night before Catmas and all through the house, not a kitty was stirring...

...oh, you know the rest! We wish you and your family a joyous holiday season and
a very happy, healthy 2016.

Thank you for spending some time with me in 2015, here on my blog and elsewhere. I've so enjoyed your comments, kindness, enthusiasm, creativity and encouragement. I've also enjoyed getting to meet some of you in person this year. As a small token of my thanks, let's have a holiday giveaway!
Up for grabs is a new Little Jewels quilt kit – including the pattern by Jessica Darling of VillaRosaDesigns and all of the fabrics (over 7 yards!) to make it, with free shipping to you, wherever you are.
© Marc Litvinoff Photography
To me, this time of year is so much more about giving than anything. It's a time to stretch ourselves and our hearts to those who could use a little extra love, a kind word or gesture, some warm mittens, a bowl of soup, or a simple smile. Something magical happens when we give simple things selflessly and the gifts we receive in return are wrapped in love and tied with happiness. Our world could surely benefit from an abundance of small, positive gestures of compassion and kindness. Whenever possible, i love hearing about what kinds of things people are doing for others. It helps to sustain my hope that we are here for each other, and gives me many more good ideas to enact in my own life. So... enter this giveaway, please leave a comment below briefly sharing one thing you’ll be doing for someone else this holiday season. Please just enter once. Be sure to leave an e-mail address, so that I can reach you if you win. That’s it.

A winner will be randomly selected from all entries and announced here on Monday December 21st. If you would prefer we send this kit off to someone you think could use it, we would be happy to do that as well. If you tell me what to write, I will include a special note from you!

The lovely kit was put together by our friend Christie of Christie’s Quilting Boutique in Norwalk, Connecticut. I picked it up when i visited the shop last weekend to celebrate their 2nd anniversary. Christie, Edgar, and their family have created a very special place, well worth a detour if you're passing through the area!

If you're looking for colored threads to coordinate with this kit, here are a few Aurifil threads
that would work perfectly:
Good luck, everyone! Keep being your wonderful selves.

December 3, 2015

Pantone's 2016 Colors of the Year

Sweet serendipity! Pantone just announced its 2016 Colors of the Year. It's the first time ever that there are two: Rose Quartz and Serenity Blue. Looks like someone *eh hem, wink wink, toot toot* saw these colors coming!
(Aria ships in February)
And then, to my surprise, i pulled out my elements thread collection for Aurifil and noticed that two of the thread colors matched too (2410, 2710)! Here are some additional coordinating Moda Bella Solids and Aurifil embroidery floss colors if you're looking to do some trend-on sewing in 2016! (Sisters Pink is also a Bella option for rose quartz).
Your color-loving friend,

November 25, 2015


The spirit of this season often sneaks up on me and reveals itself in various, unexpected ways each year. Last Sunday, on a perfectly spontaneous whim, Pete and I attended an evening concert at Woolsey Hall at Yale University – part of a “Great Organ Music” series by the Yale Institute of Sacred Music. The performer was Michel Bouvard, a professor of organ at the Paris Conservatory and a world-renowned organist who’s given more than 1,000 concerts in more than 25 countries.

It was our first time attending a pipe organ concert. Though we had seen the Newberry Memorial Organ at Yale before, neither of us knew much about it, or even that it was functional. You could walk into the hall and not even know that you were looking at a room-sized instrument, in fact, the 10th largest pipe organ in the world. All the pipes you can see there on the back wall are merely decorative. The 12,617 that actually make sound are behind them. Here is a little sample of what it sounds like.
That small area where the people are is where the organ is played using keyboards, pedals, switches and knobs. It was quite a sight to see Mr. Bouvard transform into a magisterial performer stretching arms, legs, and fingers every which way while churning out beautiful waves of musical poetry. The layers of symphonic sounds vibrated our eardrums and eyelashes, touched our synapses and hearts, and soothed us into a tactile peace.

Variations sur un Noël basque – was the third piece we heard. It was composed by Mr. Bouvard's late grandfather, Jean Bouvard. For an encore, Michel stood and told the audience, “I dedicate this short piece – also by my grandfather – to the victims of the terrorism in Paris, especially to the children. That they may have healing and love.”

In that moment, I felt overwhelmed by sadness, solace, empathy, hope, and love. His sentiments were poignant; and the music, even more. To think that Mr. Bouvard could dance his fingers across the bright notes that his grandfather left to him to share with us, was deeply moving. It left us stirred and grateful for this gift of generations flowing through us. And its powerful beauty triggered in me a memory of a passage I’d read years ago:

“Music is the language of the spirit. It opens the secret of life bringing peace, abolishing strife.”
– Kahlil Gibran

Each of us is a single note in a much bigger composition, humanity. As in music, we have transformative abilities when we harmonize with each other and resonate beyond ourselves. I am thankful for so much, and join you in a symphony of gratitude in this week of Thanksgiving.

With much love,

November 6, 2015

Gathering Palettes

Hello! What a beautiful, color-full autumn it's been around here. Each season offers its special blend of hues and before it got too late, i zipped outside at lunchtime today and gathered some palettes for future inspiration. From yellows...
... to oranges, blues, greens ...
... to reds ...
... to purples, salmons, pinks and deep burgundy.
If i'm not actually picking colorful things from outdoors, i often document what i see through photographs. When i'm looking to create palettes for design projects, these photos serve as an inspiring starting point for me to build from.
They're not only filled with colors that caught my eye, but also with textures, shapes and memories.
How do you gather palettes for your projects or home?
Have a beautiful weekend!
P.S.: Thanks to so many of you for your generous outpouring of love and support for Roscoe! I'm happy to report that he is home and improving by the day.

October 14, 2015

Seven Scrappy Projects for Fall

Today i am thrilled to turn my blog over to the super-talented Becca, who will share some great scrap-busting projects with you. If you've been following along here, you have already been treated to her sewing talents, fantastic photography and adorable kids — on this post as well as this onethis onethis one, and this one. For my newsletter, Becca was kind enough to select and sew some clothes and accessories that complemented my new Canyon fabrics for Moda. I'll share those on here a little later this week, but right now, please welcome Becca and let's see what she did with her scraps!

Hi there! I'm Becca, Sew-Blogger and Photographer at Free Notion. I have been fortunate enough to work with Kate on many of her fabric releases, and Canyon - like all the rest - has been an absolute joy! My projects left me with oodles of scraps of all sizes, and I'm excited to share some fun projects to put those scraps to good use! Take a look:
Who is it for? Kids of all ages! You can jazz up a tote (like this free one!), a store-bought shirt, or on your favorite boy’s or girl’s knit t-shirt pattern. You can draw your own design, download free ones (like the pumpkin applique shown above!), or peruse applique patterns like the ones available from StitchArt.
What size scraps do I need? ANY! The pumpkin is about 8 x 10 inches, but the leaf and stem were each cut from those really small, and really random shaped scraps leftover from mine and my kids’ apparel projects.
Who is it for? The darling in your life! Perfect stocking stuffer, or kick up your wrapped-gift presentation a notch - use the headband in place of a ribbon to jazz up a medium sized gift this holiday season.
What size scraps do I need? 10 inch strips at various widths (3 inches or less)
Feeling ambitious?? COVER your headband in ~9 of these “Tentacular Dahlia Fabric Flowers.” My 4 year old calls this her Fairy Flower Crown. Bonus: They look just like the flowers featured in the larger Canyon line prints!
Who is it for? Everyone! I monogramed this set for my kid’s teachers. But I come from a family of readers, and know it’d be a hit for many of my relatives! 
What size scraps do I need? Various size squares - max dimension 9 x 3.5 inches
Who is it for? This would also be a great teacher gift, though admittedly this one is for my daughter’s growing, broken crayon collection. (Note to self: do NOT leave this sitting in the car!) It’d also be a great traveling bag, for collecting small items like jewelry. And yes, the cat embroidery IS a nod to Kate’s kitty love ;)
What size scraps do I need? Four (4), 9 x 7 inch pieces (two for the exterior pouch, two for the interior)
What? Teething Ring & Burp Cloth Baby Gift Set
Who is it for? Mom & Baby (though not in that order!). These make great scrappy gifts for a baby shower; and the back side of my teether is made with a new, super soft wash cloth. Throw it in the freezer (damp) and it’ll be perfect relief for sore, teething gums to chomp on.
What size scraps do I need? Apx 20 x 4 inches (Teether) ; 24 x 8 inches (Burp Cloth)
Who is it for? This would make a great hostess gift! Throw these in the tote with a bottle of wine and thank whoever is cooking for you this holiday season with a colorful coaster set for their Fall tablescape. Admittedly, the tutorial is Canadian-themed, but I couldn’t help but translate it for the beautiful season at hand! (The back, not pictured, happens to be the same wool felt I used in this Horizon line hat project!)
What size scrap do I need? Depending on the size leaf you find, it could fit on charm squares. Mine are a little bit bigger, maybe 6 inch squares.

I also wanted to mention that I used a mix of colors from Kate's "Elements" thread collection for Aurifil on all of the top stitching and embroidery in these projects. The colors are beautiful and match Canyon perfectly!
I hope you're inspired to make some fun scrappy gifts for your loved ones this Fall! And thanks so much to Kate for having me guest post for her today. It's an honor and a pleasure!

WOW! How fun are those! Thanks so much to Becca for sharing all these inspiring projects. I can't wait to try them out. How about you? And it's perfect timing with quilt market coming up next week and a big pile of scraps on my floor!

Have a beautifully scrap-happy day!

October 9, 2015

Rug and Pillow Sale

We've gone in with our sharpies and significantly reduced many of the rugs and pillows on our shop site. They'll only be available while supplies last so come on over to take a peek.

Kate (and Franny)

September 21, 2015

Migratory Inspiration

Every morning our cardinal vines are visited by hummingbirds. Except of course this morning — the one where i tried to capture them with my camera. I stood there as still as i could until my arms started to fall asleep and my eye (that was pressed against the viewfinder on my camera) started to water. But the vine is so pretty! It's an annual and we plant it every year just for our seasonal visitors.
Here it is rambling up and over our yew shrub in the front yard. Pete had the wonderful idea to use the shrub as a natural trellis, and it's been a beautiful addition to our garden.
The monarch butterflies, though few, are here each day fluttering around to the many native plant species we selected especially for them.
monarch on butterfly bush, Black Knight
They particularly love (as in they circle around our entire garden and 99.9% of the time land on this plant) Liatris Ligulistylis or Meadow Blazing Star.
I check our milkweed every day with the hope of seeing a little monarch caterpillar, but none sighted so far.
Sadly, Monarch populations are down so much and they really need our help. The Xerces Society has a number of wonderful resources and information about what you can do right in your back yard. Even if you have a very small area you can plant a pollinator feeding station. It's all about picking the right plants for your area. Check this guide for more info. A wonderful plant no matter where you are: Zinnias. They attract all kinds of bees and butterflies (including this Black Swallowtail), and they come in so many beautiful colors!
Ok, that's the end of my PSA. The benefits of helping butterflies, for me, have been a daily lift to my spirits and much inspiration. Keep this in mind when i share more {soon} about next fabric collection for Moda!
Have a beautiful day!

September 8, 2015

DIY, Part 4

Hello hello! Hope everyone had a fun-filled Labor Day Weekend and celebrated the last breezes of the summer season. It's always a little bittersweet to see subtle tints of color creeping into the treetops, but there is so much to love about each season that i happily welcome this transition and look forward to seeing things i missed last year. Hope you spot some new stuff too!

For the next DIY from my Pinterest board, i made a "Leaf-relief Concrete Bird Bath" using an elephant ear leaf. I followed this excellent tutorial. The only things i did differently were to use a finer grain "play sand" and Quickcrete Mortar Mix, both from Home Depot. I wanted to use portland cement, but it only came in 80lb. bags!
materials gathered
leaf covered with concrete
This next part is critical. No matter how tempting it is, do NOT even try to turn the concrete-covered leaf over to "check" it for at least 24 or 36 hours. How do i know that, you ask? Well, i made a second bird bath with a larger leaf and made the hasty mistake of trying to pick it up too soon. It broke into many pieces that were unsalvageable. You're rewarded for your patience, though, because look how beautiful it is when you peel the leaf off! I was surprised at how many of the veins and details were transferred to the concrete.
peeling the leaf off
Here is the well-cured and water-filled birdbath ready for bathers!
And i was so happy to spot that little feather a few mornings later. I guess the birds like it as much as i do!
Have a beautiful day!

September 3, 2015

DIY, Part 3

Can't believe i'm writing this, but...Happy September! If you've been following along, here is the third of the projects i set out to make from my "DIY didn't i think of that" Pinterest board. It's been lots of fun taking these projects on and this was (so far) my absolute favorite — Shibori Dyeing.

I picked up some 100% cotton napkins to dye and they were the perfect thing to use to experiment with many different kinds of Japanese tying techniques. I followed this tutorial and it was very easy to follow, probably because Erica was much more methodical in documenting everything than i was! I highly recommend visiting her site to learn about the materials and techniques. Sometimes, it's nice to put the camera down and just enjoy the process! But here are a few photos i took along the way...
string, dowel, wrapped and bound fabric
various Japanese tying techniques
first dip
When you pull the fabric out of the dye bath, it's initially yellow in color. As the fabric oxidizes, it begins to turn blue. This is amazing to watch happen before your eyes!
unrolling fabric as it oxidizes
This technique is called "Arashi", the Japanese word for "storm" and used a 2 foot length of PVC piping (bought at Home Depot). You roll your fabric around the pipe, knot the string around one end, wrap the string around 6-7 times, then scrunch the fabric down toward the knot. Repeat until you've scrunched all the fabric and it looks like this. 
You won't believe it, but the print on the right (below) is what it looks like when you unroll it. Amazing!
Here's a detail. Ah! Indigo is one of my absolute favorite colors.
The next technique is called "Kumo" which is a "pleat and bind" process. I improvised a bit from the instructions on Erica's blog and it's really hard to go wrong. The end-results will look beautiful no matter what.
I found myself saying "i wonder what would happen if..." a lot and then dove-in to some freewheeling experimentation. For this one, i did a simple accordion fold and then rubber-banded (that's a verb right?) the whole length.
And this is what it looked like.
I have no idea how i did this next one (and many of the others).
And this one takes me back to grade school. Just gather the fabric from the center (or the more grown-up off-center) and band it at different intervals down the length of the gather.
It looks something like this every time.
So, how about it? Throw caution to the wind at try your hand at this. Well not literally, because they'll end up blue.

Craft yourself a beautiful day!