improv quilting

Simple. Handmade. Everyday. Podcast Episode 2 Show Notes

In this episode I talk about my love of tea, some free motion quilting adventures, my second sock nightmare, my current favorite binge-worthy show, and how I get my kids in the kitchen.

Here are the links of things I talk about in the show:

(Disclosure: Some of these are affiliate links)

Harney & Sons Earl Gray Tea

Teavana Perfectea Maker

The Ultimate Guide to Machine Quilting by Angela Walters and Christa Watson

Piece and Quilt with Precuts by Christa Watson

Free-Motion Meandering by Angela Walters

My Free-Motion Meandering blog posts:

Sew Illustrated by Minki Kim and Kristin Esser

HollyAnne of String & Story

Steam-a-Seam fusible web

Hermione’s Everyday Socks (free pattern on Ravelry)

Void Shawl

Selbu Mittens

Save Our Stitches Craftsy class

Yarn on First yarn shop in Napa, CA

Quince & Co. Lark yarn

Victoria show on PBS

improv quilting

Project Round Up (aka what I’m doing these days)

(This post  contains affiliate links. This means that if you purchase through this link, I will get a (very) small commission, at no additional charge to you. Rest assured, I only link to products that I love!  My disclosure policy can be found here.)

How is it already the end of January? Today is my son Jonah’s 18th birthday, which means that I am the mother of two legal adults! What?! Thankfully, I feel like both Chloe and Jonah still need a mom, so I’m not out of a job yet. The job is just a little different than it used to be. But musing about motherhood is not what I came here to talk about today–though maybe someday soon. I definitely have thoughts on that subject.

Michael Miller charity quilt

Michael Miller charity quilt

Michael Miller charity quilt

Michael Miller charity quilt

Michael Miller charity quilt

Michael Miller charity quilt

January was a blur, but I do have a trail of projects to prove that I was doing something this month. Most notably, I sewed up and quilted a charity quilt that will eventually make its way to comfort a child with cancer through the wonderful charity Quilts for Cure. This quilt, along with six others, are entirely constructed from blocks donated by quilters all over the country. They all picked up fabric at last year’s QuiltCon show at the Michael Miller Fabric booth, made blocks and then sent them back to Michael Miller. Then a handful of volunteers (myself included) pieced them together with borders and sashing into wonderful, one-of-a-kind quilts. These quilts will be hung in the Michael Miller booth at this year’s QuiltCon in Pasadena–to hopefully inspire a whole new batch of quilters to do the same thing this year. I can’t wait to see all seven hanging together! And how amazing to know that each one will someday comfort a child who is fighting for their life. Once I’m done binding, I’ll share some pictures of the completed quilt before I send it off with lots of love.

I love a good sock knitting project

I also made some real progress knitting this pair of shorty socks (yarn from Knit Picks.)  All I have left to do is to close up that toe! And it’s been sitting that way for weeks! I think the problem is that I always need to look up Kitchener stitch to finish it off. No matter how many socks I knit, I cannot commit that stitch to memory. I vow to get that done this week though–since I’d like to pop these in the mail for Chloe at college. I think they will be a fun little Valentine’s Day surprise.

hand piecing

I am in the homestretch of finishing the blocks for my yearlong (and then some) hand piecing project. I’m so pleased to have made it this far. Next will be to actually assemble them into a quilt top, which will probably take all of 2018. Which leaves 2019 to hand quilt it. No big deal 🙂

string block

I’m prepping for a new machine quilting blog hop for February. I will be working my way through Angela Walters new book Free-Motion Meandering. I really need to keep practicing my freemotion quilting and working my way through a book is one way that keeps me inspired. I blogged about working my way through The Ultimate Guide To Machine Quilting and Piece and Quilt previously. It’s a great book–especially for beginning quilters. I has all the basics you need to know, but teaches some really fabulous motifs. I had planned to sew together these blocks, that I made on a whim, for the blog hop (here is a video on how to make a string block) . But, I am running out of time, so I may have to change my plans. Nonetheless, these blocks keep staring at me, so I will get them stitched up into a throw-size quilt soon.

Glass Houses by Louise Penny

And lastly, I continued to read obsessively through January. I finished off the the Inspector Gamache book series and I’m a little devastated that I’m done! I’m sure there will be more, but for now, I have to say a temporary goodbye to some characters that I have truly come to know and love. I’m actually thinking about just starting the series over again. Have you ever done that?

But the devastation didn’t last long, because the newest quilt fiction book from Frances O’Roark Dowell arrived to save the day! If you loved Birds in the Air (and if you haven’t read it, then do!) then you will love this collection of sweet short stories called Margaret Goes Modern. Each story is just so fun and inspiring. Perfect for a curl up on the sofa with a cup of tea.

So, those are some of the things that I’ve been up to . Meet me back here next week when I kick off the fist week of the Free-Motion Meandering blog hop. You can grab the book here, if you would like to follow along!

improv quilting



Joining Ginny with Yarnalong today. I just finished reading Harry Potter and the Cursed Child. I didn’t love it and I didn’t hate it. Mostly it was fun to discuss with my daughter, who is a huge Harry Potter fan. She felt similarly, but books that you don’t actually love are usually more fun to discuss anyway.

I’ve got another pair of socks on the needles. I am trying out knitting socks with 9″ circulars. Hmmm. It’s an adjustment! There is just so little area of the needle to work with. I am determined to finish this pair with these needles before I decide whether I will ever use them again. But so far, I prefer dpns. Except that my stitches kept falling off the dps–which is the reason I tried the circs! The stitches never fall off the circs. I’ll get it figured out eventually.

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slow stitching


photo credit: Minki Kim
{photo credit: Minki Kim}

Have you heard of the Slow Stitching Movement? It’s all about process over product. Take your time and enjoy–there’s no finish line. It’s a frame of mind that I have to remind myself to be in–today’s world is so rush, rush, rush! But our sewing doesn’t have to be that way. (deep breath) It’s not even just about sewing–it can be knitting, crochet, anything creative pursuit really.

Today, C&T Publishing ran a blog post about slow stitching featuring Sew Illustrated! We talk a lot about sewing being a way of life in the book. Take time to sit down with your cup of coffee and stitch for a few minutes–and reap the rewards for that self-care for the rest of the day.

Here’s a website devoted to it, and here is a good blog post about it.

Enjoy the process friends.


improv quilting

knitting bowl

I was gifted this gorgeous knitting bowl from by the talented woodworker Chris MacBain and couldn’t be happier with it!

Have you seen these before? The concept is fairly new to me, but makes a lot of sense. If you have ever knit out of a tupperware container with at hole poked in the lid so that your yarn didn’t tangle up, then you understand the genius of the knitting bowl. Your yarn lives happily in the bowl and feeds through the slot to avoid nasty tangling. I’m working with two balls of yarn for this lap blanket and it has frankly been a nightmare of tangles up to this point, so I’m so happy to have a great solution.

You can knit with it beside you, or sitting in your lap, or even nestled between you legs. A much more elegant solution than a beat up tupperware!

I’m leaving it out as a decor piece and I think I will be inspired to just pick up my knitting and knit a few minutes here and there during the day, since it’s so accessible.

Check out Chris’ Amazon Handmade page here.

sidetopclose up

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yarn along


I cast on a new lap blanket for the Prayer Shawl ministry at church. This is the Ted’s pattern from Alice’s Embrace. I’m really a quilter, so the patchwork design appeals to me. I’m hoping it will be a nice project as we read through Hatchet in the evenings as a family. I just got Big Magic from the library. Hmmm. Not sure how I feel about this one yet. I love the encouraging tone, but it’s a little “out there” for me in some parts. (see: Ann Patchett story). It’s early days yet, but I’m interested in how it will unfold.

improv quilting

yarn along


I’ve been doing more sewing than knitting lately, but I did knit up a whole pile of dishcloths that will replace the ones that are falling apart in my kitchen drawer. I find dishcloths to be the perfect summer knit. Small, quick, portable, and they don’t sit in your lap and make you hot.

My book club is reading Longbourn by Jo Baker, this month, and truthfully I just got it out of the library and will dive in this evening. It is described as a “downstairs” version of Pride and Prejudice. So, it basically sounds perfect to me.

Joining in with Ginny over at Small Things.

improv quilting

yarn along

IMG_7180I’ve been reading Simply Tuesday by Emily P. Freeman this summer. I was lucky enough to get an Advance Reader Copy and this book has been such a blessing to me. It’s all about slowing down and appreciating the Tuesdays in you life–meaning the everyday, nothing special moments. Which are, in fact, special. It was finally released this week, so I encourage you to pop on over to check it out.

Summer knitting means dishcloths for me, and this one has been a fun one to knit, I just need to finish up that last petal! Sadly, I think I made a mistake and need to rip it back and figure out where I am. Oh well, it just means more knitting. Not such a bad thing.

Linking up with Ginny for Yarn Along today.

improv quilting

yarn along



I may be the last person in the country to jump on the Outlander bandwagon. I was cautioned that it starts out a bit slow, but that it was worth it. I completely agree, and I think I’m hooked. I’m about halfway and it is due back to the library soon, so I think I’m going to log some serious tea-drinking and book-reading time this week.

That is, when I’m not knitting this prayer shawl. I recently joined the Prayer Shawl Ministry at my church, as it seemed right up my alley. However, I didn’t really know where to start. I hadn’t actually ever knit a shawl. It turns out that people actually knit small blankets, but oh well. This is going to be a shawl. Of course, I googled it and found this website with a simple pattern. I may try something a bit more ambitious next time, but this is nice, mindless knitting–suitable for TV watching. I love the color and hope that it brings someone comfort in there time of need someday.

Linking up with Ginny.

improv quilting

happy fall

It’s fall and I’ve been having a hard time embracing the change in season since we have been in the middle of a heat wave for weeks. I always forget that here in southern California fall means hot, dry wind. But I’m doing my best to hunker down and find the joy that fall has to offer.

Inspired by my crafty friend, I have been playing around with crazy quilting a mug rug. It’s a lot of fun and the perfect project to pick up and put down throughout the day, whenever I have a few minutes.


I’ve also been doing some hand quilting on this small quilt that has been languishing for a couple years now. I am hoping to turn this into a wall hanging for the master bedroom. I want to hang it over the bed, since I am afraid that anything I hang there might come down in an earthquake. But a nice, soft quilt? That would be okay.


And I unearthed the knitting needles and started on a Prayer Shawl that will be donated to my church. I love the color so much and I hope that it will bring some peace and comfort to someone in their time of need.


I adore fall colors and have been enjoying them everywhere. We may not get the gorgeous fall foliage they do in New England, but that doesn’t mean that we can’t enjoy the beautiful colors of fall.



This is also the time of year for us to get out into the yard and start the post-summer clean-up. Hubby and I spent an unprecedented child-free day doing just that. It’s amazing what a little TLC in the yard can do.




But don’t worry, it wasn’t all work and no play. We treated ourselves to lunch in a charming nearby town. It was fun to reconnect and remember who we were before we had children.




I hope you are embracing fall (or spring) wherever you are!