Rickrack Redux

Since my first blog post about rickrack I’ve come across a few really nice examples of rickrack combined with crochet. I found the first in a box full of crocheted trims that a friend gave me. See how it’s looped back and caught with the thread to form a flower-like shape. The second is from a cotton bed sheet that I found at an antique store last weekend. Same basic design but with two rows sewn together to form a wide band that runs all along the top of the sheet. Really gorgeous work!

Someone asked me if I was going to cut up the sheet for pillows. Umm, no. Sometimes I find things that are so perfect it would be a shame to alter them in any way. And this sheet is perfect except for a very tiny hole near the bottom. Even though it's that heavy cotton that needs to be ironed, I'm going to use it as it was intended—on my bed!


Rain, rain, go away

It’s been raining where I live since Sunday. And not a nice soft drizzly rain either. The downpour kind. Not only is my basement flooded, but I’ve had a sinus headache and stuffed-up nose and just feel crappy. I don’t usually do this but on Monday I gave up and went to bed. I sipped juice, read and did embroidery, but mostly I napped. There’s nothing like a summer cold to knock me flat. Anyway, that’s why I haven’t posted since last week. I’m feeling better today and hope to be fully recovered soon. Because...

This weekend is the annual linen/button theme weekend at Shupp’s Grove in Adamstown, PA. (Weird music warning if you click that link) They have a flea market every weekend but this is a special one where vendors focus on textiles and sewing-related items. This will be my third year and I always find tons of stuff. I especially love the Amish and Mennonite women who come in from the surrounding areas to sell feedsacks, which are just about my favorite thing. I really should do a post about them one of these days. Not sure whether I’ll go on Saturday or Sunday—that depends on whether it’s raining. Did I mention that I’m sick of this weather :)

I'll be sure to pack my camera and post some pics next week. And tell you what I found!




People have definite likes and dislikes when it comes to strawberry shortcake. My grandmother always made it with biscuits (with some sugar added to the dough) and served it in a bowl with milk poured over it. My mom usually bought those little packaged sponge cakes and served it with Cool-Whip. She worked and didn’t have time to do much from-scratch baking or make her own whipped cream.

I’m not a big fan of pre-packaged foods so will usually take the time to make things myself because they taste so much better and I know what’s in there. So, I bake my own sponge cake. I don’t remember where I got this recipe but I’ve been making it for as long as I can remember. It’s easy (especially with a Kitchenaid to do the mixing for you), tastes yummy, and looks like you spent all day in the kitchen.

Sponge Cake with Strawberries

1 cup flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
5 eggs
3/4 cup sugar
3 tablespoons butter
1/4 cup heavy cream
2 teaspoons grated lemon peel
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 quart strawberries, hulled and halved
1/2 cup sugar
1 1/2 cups heavy cream, whipped, divided

Mix flour and baking powder; set aside. In a large bowl at high speed, beat eggs and sugar for 10 minutes, or until lemon-colored and thickened (don't scrimp on the time—it needs lots of air). Meanwhile, in a small saucepan over low heat, melt butter in the ¼ cup heavy cream, lemon peel, and vanilla.

Gently fold flour mixture into the egg-sugar mixture, then add the cream mixture. Divide batter evenly between two greased and floured 9-inch layer cake pans. Bake at 350 degrees for 22 to 25 minutes, or until the top springs back when touched lightly. Cool in pans on rack for 5 minutes. Remove from pans and cool completely.

Gently toss the berries with sugar and let stand at room temperature until they draw juice, about an hour.

To assemble the cake, place one cake layer on a serving plate. Spoon half the berries and juice over; then top with all but 1 cup whipped cream. Place second layer on top and press down lightly. Spoon remaining berries and juice on the cake; mound remaining whipped cream in the center. Serves 10.

You can use a combination of berries and, if you want to be really fancy, add a little orange liqueur to the berries. Yum!


Happy Father's Day!

Back in May I did a photo tribute to my mom for Mother's Day. This one's for my dad who died of pancreatic cancer six years ago.

There was no date on this but definitely 1940s.

On a trip to Oklahoma in the mid 50s with his camera gear. He was an excellent photographer and I got my photo skills from him. Thanks, Dad!

1959 on vacation. Love that flat top!

Stanley Thomas Moir


Eye Candy...the printed variety

When my friend Deborah at ChicCosas mentioned the new magazine Adorn and how nicely designed it was, I ran right down to Borders to check it out. And she’s right, it is. And, true to its tagline “the crafty girl’s guide to embellishing life” it’s full of fun ideas. Like embroidering Chinese slippers (I love Chinese slippers and will definitely do this), painting on china, and sewing with eyelet trims. I especially liked the article about shopping for vintage stuff called “Secondhand Style.”

And, because it was Borders and I couldn’t resist, I didn’t stop at just one. I also picked up the premiere issue of JunkMarket Style, which features Sue Whitney and Ki Nassauer who you may recognize from Country Living magazine or from their books about turning junk into treasures. I sometimes find their ideas a bit silly, but there are lots of great tips here. And a great article about a junking trip they took in and around Los Angeles.

I also found the new issue of Quilts and More with instructions for a cute patchwork tote bag, a strip quilt that will be a great way to use up small scraps, and a patchwork dog bed. How fun!

The fourth magazine, Marie Claire Idees came in the mail today from my friend Alex at Blossom Boutique. When I visited her a couple of weeks ago she had a copy and was nice enough to send me one when I couldn’t find it near where I live. This is a French magazine and I can only pick out a word here and there thanks to my one semester of French in college. But no matter. The photos are beautiful and, if I can’t figure out the instructions, I’ll find someone who can translate for me.

In case you couldn’t tell, I have a thing for magazines. Not so surprising when I tell you that magazine design is something I do in my other life. I’ve designed kids magazines, agricultural trade magazines (yawn), and some health and medical-related ones, too. Nothing as fun as craft magazines—unfortunately. But I do appreciate a good-looking magazine. If you have any favorites, dear readers, please do share.


Uh, oh

Guess who's taken up residence in my strawberry patch?


And it's worse than that—there are two of them! I went to check for ripe berries and some of the ones I thought would be perfect on my cereal this morning were gone. And others had little bites out of them. Now, there are lots of strawberries and I don't mind sharing, but can't they please eat the whole strawberry?

Look at this—they're not the slightest bit afraid of me!



The power of making

For as long as I can remember I’ve kept journals. Oh, nothing formal – just plain notebooks usually. I write quotes from books or magazines, paste in photos that I like, and draw little sketches for things I’d like to make someday. I was cleaning the other day and came across some old journals from years ago.

Often when I save things I'm not even sure why. So it’s interesting that something I wrote down more than 15 years ago can still resonate and have meaning – maybe more so now than it did then. Keep in mind that I wasn’t doing much crafting or quilting when I wrote this quote by Miriam Shapiro:

“What is a quilt? Among other things, it is the history of women, a receptacle of passions, attitudes, largesse, and anger. It is a reassembling process, which in itself may embody a solution to human problems. It is inspiration, a connection to self, the dogged will to make something extraordinary in the midst of family routine, a sense of wholeness, the wish to please, to succeed, pleasure in the act of working and knowing the power of “making.”

The power of making – wow, don’t you love that? And not just as it applies to quilting.

…the quilting tradition illuminates the darkness of women’s history like a torch, showing us the strength and power of women as artist-makers and the consolidation of women as a sharing community.”

A sharing community. And isn’t that exactly what we’re doing here online - just on a much larger scale? There aren’t a lot of crafty women or outlets for creativity where I live. The internet has given me (and all of us) a way connect with women who have the same interests and to form friendships all over the world. And I think that’s an amazing thing. And something Miriam wouldn't have even dreamed of back when she wrote that.

The picture above doesn't have much to do with this post, although I didn't want to do an all-text one (and we all like a little eye candy along with the words). I think a lot of us keep journals or scrapbooks of ideas - maybe one of these days I'll talk more about mine.


Eat your carrots...

I thought I’d show off a recent Ebay purchase and new embroidery project today. It’s a matching set with a baby bib and highchair tray cloth from the 1930s. At least, I think it’s 1930s. Designs from that time period tend to be less cute and sweet than later designs.

I just love the design of the carrots – a simple elongated triangle.

When I’ve finished the embroidery I’m going to back them both with an allover carrot print cotton and add some binding – probably orange. Maybe a thin layer of batting or flannel to soften them up a bit, too.

I also bought a set of four Colortex quilt blocks from the same seller. I’m going to use them for a set of pillows, although I haven’t decided if they’ll all use the same fabrics. Maybe that’s too matchy-matchy. And it might limit my color choices. Hmmm.

There’s also a girl puppy knitting, a girl kitty playing with a spool of ribbon, and a boy bear tooting a horn. These are from the 1950s—see the difference—much sweeter. Now to find some time to work on these.


Tie One On: Smock Apron

The May theme for the Tie One On apron show-and-tell was to make a smock apron to wear out—something I had wanted to do anyway. I bought a Simplicity pattern (#5201) a while back during one of JoAnn's pattern sales, so just needed some suitable fabrics. JoAnn's came through again with this daisy floral print that I found on the sale rack for $2/yard! The black and white polkadot came from my stash.

The fabrics...

The pattern...

I thought this would be easy to make because there were four pattern pieces and just four seams, but I didn't account for the binding. Because it goes around the entire outside edge it ended up being miles long and was kind of tricky to work with. If I make this again I think I'll sew one edge of the binding on first and then flip it to the front instead of the way they said to do it. It's another step but I think it would go more smoothly and involve less pinning (and yes, cursing). Another weird thing happened with the binding. When I cut it on the bias (which you really need to do for the curves) the dots lined up in rows. I think that looks funny.

Front view...

Back view...

I have to say I'm a little disappointed with how it turned out. I like the combination of fabrics and the pockets are cool, but I'm not happy with the fit and will have to adjust the side seams a bit if I'm going to wear it. The reason my hands are in the pockets in the front view photo is because I'm holding down the underarm/side seam bagginess with my arms. If I'm going to do more sewing for myself I really need to get a dress form. If I'd had one I would have realized this was too big early enough to do something about it. Oh well, live and learn as they say.

There are lots of cute aprons this month—check 'em out in the gallery.