Archive for the ‘Home’ Category

Visions Online Spring Exhibit

Thursday, April 4th, 2019

I’m delighted to share that my Lilies of the Valley quilt has been juried in to the Visions Art Museum online exhibit “Spring.”

Lilies of the Valley, 36 x 36 inches. As always, there is dense quilting to bring the quilt to life. This work is has been juried into the SAQA Connecting Our Natural Worlds exhibit, and is available for sale. However, the quilt cannot be delivered to the purchaser until the end of the SAQA exhibit in 2022.

I love the delicate fluted cups of the tiny flowers near our front porch, the shades of green as the leaves curve around the delicate stalks. And later in autumn the flowers become vibrant red and orange berries to add little glints of surprising color to the fading landscape.

Sarah Ann Smith's Lilies of the Valley art quilt features small white flowers against a field of green
Detail, Lilies of the Valley

The quilt uses my own hand-dyed fabrics extensively along with commercial batiks and cotton sateen.
I encourage you to visit the online exhibit and enjoy!

Jiminy Christmas!

Sunday, December 16th, 2018

Happy winter folks!  Egads….time whizzing by, change in the behind the scenes stuff on my website so trying to write a blogpost is totally unlike what it has been for 14 years…. I’m lost!   Don’t even know how to add a photo.  Well, it has been busy as usual what with massive house cleaning, getting ready for the holidays and all that.  I’m also starting a newsletter, so there is a new sign  up button on my home page and, if I can figure out how, I’ll put it in here, too. 

 Here is a snapshot of the house so far..Eli came home from college last night so we can finally finish trimming the tree this weekend.  We are due to get snow tonight and tomorrow, but after a cold and wintry November it is warming up in December so I don’t think we’ll have a White Christmas (but I’ve already watched the movie for the season!).

So it looks like I added a photo, now what…gosh I hate when things change so radically!   Trying to decipher MailChimp has been hard enough for the morning.  So here’s a quick peek at what I’m doing in the studio:

The start of a rose hip……

What are some of your favorite holiday traditions?  When I grew up we made candy and delivered it as gifts, but haven’t done that in decades.  In the interest of fitting into my clothes, I am restraining myself.  But I love remembering who gave me various ornaments or where we went that year.

Here’s an ornament made by my friend Deborah Boschert, an angel that was on a gift from my cousin Anne sometime in the mid 60s (for anyone from southern California, probably it came from Pic N Save!), a spider web in glass from my first tour in the Foreign Service in Toronto (and miraculously not broken despite traveling around the world for umpteen years) and my two beautiful Lalique discs, at the top of the tree out of pet danger.

and here is an attempt at a pop-up sign up for my monthly (or maybe every other month) newsletter…I’ll fine tune formatting another day, ahem. now, I need to figure out a logo!  Give me suggestions LOL! PS–scroll down, I can’t figure out why so much blank space.

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Call me a Shannon Cuddle fan!

Sunday, October 14th, 2018

A heavenly combination: my studio, my Janome 9400 and Shannon Fabrics cuddle fabric–I’m ready for winter!  This fabric is so soft you just want to pet it, snuggle under it, and not give it away as a gift!

Last May, Janome America had its first ever Janome Education Summit, and one of the presenters was Shannon Fabrics.  From the kit they provided, I made the lovely summery top in this blogpost.  But they also shared samples of their fabrics, including these two.  True confession:  I have this Elmer Fudd-esque love affair with red and black buffalo check.  When I got home from the Janome event, I searched for the cuddle buffalo check on the internet wanting to buy multiple yards of it it but couldn’t find it anywhere, so contacted the presenter from Shannon Fabrics, who told me it wasn’t available until summer for the new fall season.  I ordered some other Shannon Cuddle and Luxe Fur from Fabric.com (still waiting to make that up, stay tuned in December).  Mid summer I still couldn’t find it, so I wrote to her again, and she SENT ME a big box to make not one but TWO projects.   This throw is SO fast and easy and it would make an awesome holiday gift. Literally, I made it in a short afternoon!

Me by the fireplace, wrapped in my jumbo throw. This is big enough for two people on a sofa. Or one person a cat and a pug in a chair. Ahem (photo below).

 Here’s what and how:

The two fabrics pictured are available at Fabric.com here/minky buffalo check and here/Studio minky forest park, both in the scarlet color way.  It is also available in a blue version, and there is a lovely silvery gray and white buffalo check too.  I used two yards of each, but had a little of the print leftover–gonna make a hat out of that!  You’ll also need some thread–color doesn’t really matter as it disappears into the pile, but I did use red. If I had found the Shannon free pattern and video (keep reading) I would have ordered 2 1/3 yards of the check since you need a little extra to wrap.  Instead, I trimmed down my white print to work.

A blogpost with lots of pictures is better. Here is the throw on the love seat / reading zone in my basement studio. You can see how large it is!

TIPS and HINTS for working with Cuddle, Minky and Luxe Fur:

  1.  The BEST tip for minimizing lint came from Ellen of Shannon Fabrics in May:  you know you when you cut Minky and similar fabrics you end up with little bits of fluff EVERYwhere forever?  Not any more!   First, especially with the long fur-like fabrics (in my upcoming December project), cut your fleece from the back cutting only through the knit backing.  This minimizes the snipped bits of fluff.  You can also do as I did with the regular pile cuddle (what I used here) and use a rotary cutter.  Then scoop up ALL the pieces (including leftovers if you keep them for small projects later), perhaps into a basket or large plastic bag, and take them to your DRYER.  Yes, the clothes dryer.  Tumble on no-heat for about ten minutes, then CLEAN THE LINT FILTER. About 80+ percent of that fluff will end up in the lint filter and not all over your sewing space and house.  OMG it really worked!
  2. There is no stretch on the lengthwise grain.  At all.  If you make a garment (my next project) make sure you keep grainline in mind when fitting the garment.
  3. The fabric DOES NOT RAVEL.  At ALL.  That means you don’t have to turn under edges!!!!!!  That means these projects are FAST!
  4. Stitch length:  The fleece will hide your stitches.  That means it will be challenging if you decide you need to remove any of the stitches, so pin carefully to avoid ripping out!   Also, it is good to use a slightly longer stitch length.  I used a 3.0.
  5. Best stitch for seams on knits: For garments, using a zigzag or “lightning” zigzag will at a 1.0 width will look like a straight stitch seam from the outside, but adds a little bit of flexibility and therefore helps avoid popping stitches in the seam.

Shannon Fabrics has many free patterns available.  I used this one for my throw, a youTube video called Cuddle Self-Binding Blanket from Shannon and FleeceFun.com.  I hadn’t found this video when I requested my fabric.  If I had, I would have ordered 2 1/3 yard of the buffalo check and 2 yards of the forest park print and had a slightly larger (better!) throw.  WATCH the video before you order fabric…it is only 7 minutes long and will help you.

I used a serpentine stitch on my Janome 9400, an “S” shaped stitch to sew down the edges. You could also use a blanket stitch or a 3-step zigzag (the one that takes three stitches in one direction, then three stitches the other way).  I mean, you can’t even SEE the stitches.

Here’s what the serpentine stitch looks like from the back. I used red thread and you can’t even SEE the red on the black square!

I have been a Janome Fan-Girl for 15+years now.  I am now a Shannon Fan-Girl too! I’m finishing up a winter jacket with more of the buffalo check and a cream cuddle fleece lining, and will share something else that will be a gift for Christmas–perhaps in late November which is plenty of time for you to whip up a few of them in time for holiday giving.  Or keeping.  Ahem!

This is what I expect to look like most evenings in winter: in my chair in the living room, me and pug under the throw, cat checking things out, ready to make a dent in my pile of reading!

And because it is boring, this photo is last, but it shows the throw out flat.

THANK YOU SHANNON FABRICS for this fabric which I was totally prepared to order!   I have purchased more of their fabrics own my own and know I will be using it again.  If they ever make their “Spa” line in some bold colors (not pastel, not purple) I am so gonna make a bathrobe…..in the meantime, I have more snuggle quilts and gifts to make to keep me plenty busy.  And as always, Thank You Janome America for making the best machines EVER!

laid out flat on my studio floor (cement painted green!)…big, warm, SOFT. And did I mention, SOFT!

 

Looks what came in the mail from Shannon Fabrics! Soft and pettable!

Thursday, September 27th, 2018

Luxe print cuddle and velvet cuddle (the solid red) from ShannonFabrics.com

Oh I can’t WAIT to start sewing this.  At the Janome Education Summit in May we had a program from Shannon Fabrics using their double gauze and Cuddle (minkee).   I saw these three fabrics in swatches and NOW I have some!  They are part of the Fall line, and I can’t wait!  SQUEE…just checked and these are now available at Fabric.com–go here.

The white with buffalo-plaid moose will be backed/edged with the big buffalo-check (each square is about 2 inches) for a ginormous throw, almost twin sized (I think it will be about 54×66 inches when done.  The red will line the buffalo check for a new winter coat or wrap to snuggle in.  This stuff is SO SOFT!

Learned a fantabulous trick from the ladies at Shannon Fabrics at the Education Summit:  when cutting Cuddle and other hairy fabrics (like minkee and similar), cut the pieces, then carefully roll them up and put them in the drier on air/no heat for a while.  About 80 percent of those stray hairs will gather in the lint filter (remember to EMPTY IT), leading to a billion times less clean-up in the studio.

Stay tuned–I should have the throw done by early next week.  The coat will take longer!  THANK YOU Janome America for that fabulous summit and Shannon Fabrics for these snuggly fabrics.  For all of you, I had already ordered some blue for a different throw, and some other fabric for Christmas gifts which obviously I can’t tell you about—yet!

So stoked! Dishwasher repair and rehab! Complete kitchen re-do!

Thursday, September 13th, 2018

Warning:  no art or quilty content whatsoever LOL!   So I have shared on Facebook about my kitchen re-do, thanks to the wonderful folks at Pine Ridge Carpentry of Hope, Maine.   GOSH…I didn’t blog about it I just discovered.  OK, this just turned into a comprehensive kitchen re-do post.  It’s lotsa eye candy and inspiration, not much reading…just scroll!  At the very end I’m putting some of my favorite things / details from the re-do so be sure to go down to the end for the best bits.  OK, it’s all good stuff!

The FINAL, all-fixed-up version… read on for more!  Today I finished the last bit:  repairing the handle on the dishwasher and painting the black metal front in green to match the cabinets.  I am THRILLED with how it turned out.  I can’t believe I semi-took-apart the dishwasher, changed out the front control panel and switches, re-did the door and it looks good!  Some day I may replace the totally-functional faucet with one that matches the new decor and maybe convert the recessed can over the sink to a small drop light, but that will wait.

Here is what the icky “before” kitchen looked like:  DARK.  In 2011, when we moved in, the fridge and stove were black, and there was no dishwasher at all.  So we removed a cupboard (well, the carpenter did!  Thanks JB for a great job back then!) and inserted a dishwasher to the left of the sink.  JB had to reduce the size of the corner cupboard–when he was done, you’d never know it hadn’t always been like that.  Just found this photo from our first walk-through before buying the house:

The kitchen at the very beginning…dark counters, dark cabinets, grayish white on the ceiling, black appliances…ugh.

Then, this past late spring/early summer, I took out the dark old ick which included a lot of fading of the color, down to shadow marks!.

The reddish color was the original cabinet color. The spot is from where the knob cast a shadow and prevented the light from the window distorting the color. You could actually see a diagonal (blurry) across the upper cabinets where the sun bleached it. Yuck!

I couldn’t afford to re-do the whole kitchen.  Shortly after we moved in, we got rid of the dark green formica counter (which showed every single grain of salt, mote of flour, dried drop of water) and put in quartz counters.  I wanted to get rid of the claustrophobic feeling at the sink where the upper cabinets closed in on me, and love the old fashioned whatnot shelves.  I figured (correctly as it turns out) that having these on the ends would open up the window area.  Some of the lower doors were also starting to warp…not good.

This is what the kitchen looked like for most of the past 7 years (I had already taken the drawer fronts off to start sanding in this photo). Dark. Ugh.

I looked and looked for years, and found some great semi-custom at EBS, the local hardware store.  Finding an installer that would show up  however was an issue.  One guy came out, gave a bid, shook hands on it (how business is done in Maine), then decided it was “too far” for him to come (25 minute drive!).  So I stopped in to Pine Ridge Carpentry a few miles from our house.  They asked to bid on the project instead of installing the pre-fab cabinets.  Their bid was $1000 above the cost of the pre-fab, but agreed to match the price because they had a sudden opening (in a week!) in their schedule and wanted to keep the crew working.  So I got CUSTOM, exactly everything I wanted, for the same price.  AND I ended up ordering new doors for the lower cabinets, sanded the frames and painted them myself, sanded the drawer fronts down to wood, and they painted the drawer fronts and new doors to my custom color.  So for about $2000 more than the initial cost I got an almost entire new kitchen!

I hung plastic drop cloth in the basement to contain the dust when I sanded down the drawer fronts, which Pine Ridge painted along with the new lower cabinet doors.

What a lucky day when I popped in here on the way home. I had driven past it for 7 years, but didn’t realize they build entire houses and are master carpenters. I LOVE that I was able to “buy local.”

Pine Ridge is so cool–I stopped in to drop off a check, and got to see the workroom, and Nate showed me some of my new upper cabinet fronts–these are the ones over the stove. This place is so clean you could eat off the floor!

Test-driving various greens (painted on primed cardboard so I could move them around to see the colors at different angles/in different light)

I sanded the lower frames down to bare wood, then primed and painted with the same paint Pine Ridge used for an exact match. And boy did I test-drive a lot of samples to get the perfect-for-me green!

De-installation, by me with muscle from Paul. I wanted not to rip off the old cabinets. They are currently in the garage for future use out there, with a couple in our store/work room in the basement.  Note the large bulky microwave plus toaster on the counter.  The cushion was knee padding as I removed screws.

LOOK how much better it is without those awful dark cabinets closing in on the window!

Voila! Mo’ bettah! Paul even admitted the kitchen looked SO much bigger and lighter already.

Installation day!

Nate really is that tall, about 6’5″…he could reach the crown moldings without a stepstool!  He can also make ANYTHING.  Impeccably!

Finished by Mother’s Day. I cannot tell you how pleased I am with the results, my design, and Pine Ridge Carpentry’s outstanding responsiveness and quality. They aren’t inexpensive, but they are worth EVERY SINGLE PENNY. I told them if I win the lottery, they are building my dream house!

The only thing left to do once I had **finally** selected the hardware and they installed it was to do the dishwasher.  Thanks to Bosch and YouTube, I was able to repair the cracked handle and get the door panel off.  Thanks to my friend Deirdre Abbotts for helpful hints on painting metal. I was disappointed that on a quality brand like Bosch the handle / panel cracked to the point of needing to be replaced, but glad that you could actually replace JUST the handle (not the whole door) and that they told me about good video tutorials on DIY on YouTube.  As I was about to order the new handle, I realized I could order silver, not black!   AND that I could order a new stainless steel full door panel.  But that panel cost $180.  Leftover paint:  free.  Help from Deirdre:  free and appreciated!

New handle and buttons installed, black panel removed for painting. It was literally plug and use!  Like clicking in Legos!

Before removing little stuff like this plastic panel, TAKE PICTURES so you can get it back exactly. The videos don’t do close-ups of all things.

Painting the door panel in my utilities room, where I dye fabric. I figured it was the least dusty part of the house, but the floor joists permit air from the rest of the basement in. It is IMPOSSIBLE to paint in a dust-free, pet-hair-free environment in this house. Oh well. I did my best!

Installed this morning…I just about squealed I was so excited!  The finish isn’t perfect, using Floetrol in the paint (thank you again Deirdre) was essential, and next time I will buy cheesecloth and strain the paint.  But it is as good as I can get it in this environment, and I am thrilled with the final results.

The FINAL, all-fixed-up version… one more time.

Here are some of my FAVORITE things in the new kitchen:

I LOVE these rounded shelves. My gramma had them in her Southern California bungalow home. I designed them into our dream home in Friday Harbor and loved them there. And I love them here. That is Joshua’s about 8-year-old hand on the yellow cup, a UK National Trust Teapot on the middle shelf I ordered while living in Gabon circa 1990, and Eli’s about age 4 hand on the cup/teapot thingie on the bottom shelf, with the Ulu bought in Alaska last year and used often.

The Pine Ridge guys asked if I wanted a pullout for trash. Um yeah!  I had initially looked at DIY options, but they wouldn’t work with the old cabinet base. They made a box to fit and installed bump out glides. I can use my toe or leg to open the garbage–ya know how you crack an egg then realize you didn’t get out the trash can? No longer an issue! Because of this feature, we opted to put the pulls horizontally on the three doors under the sink.

When JB retrofitted the cabinets to install a dishwasher in 2011, we had him build two pull-outs for the pan cupboard. We decided to screw the new door to the pull-out so it functions similarly to the trash, but because we used the existing hardware you pull it (not bump)…which you can do with one finger!

Speaking of retro-fitting….

This cabinet opening is a skinny 8 1/2″. Useless for almost anything other than cookie sheets (which are on the other side of the kitchen in the mirror image cabinet). It originally had a half-deep shelf. Useless. So I asked them to make a pull-out for the bottom and a full depth shelf. The shelf is installed at the very top and my rolling pin, stick blender and rolled-up non stick cookie mats are in there. Easy to pull out and return. The guys found a slab of wood and installed it on the bottom with glides. We used a handle I had ordered but decided wasn’t the right style to pull it out. Now I can get the Cuisinart in and out easily without knuckle mashing.

Hidden, accessible, perfect! You’d think I would want to take on something as easy as a paper towel holder installation. But I was leery of screwing through my new doors. Nate has a brilliant way to help with that: a brace of wood that extends to the thick frame part of the door, then apply the holder. The latter I ordered from amazon and has a ratchet so you can pull and tear off a single sheet one-handed. It really works. Link here. I painted the wood green to match before Nate installed it. LOVE!

A “leg” on either side of the fridge makes it look like the fridge is built-in, extends the hallway visually. Before, it was just the side of the fridge next to the hall–not so attractive. Pine Ridge milled baseboard trim to match, I stained it, they installed it. I did drywall mud to join the new panel to the existing hall and when I painted this summer, it looks seamless.
I LOVE that they were able to match the curve on the top of the cabinet that I requested to the curve on the top of the hallway. We planned to ditch the old big microwave (which died shortly after installation of the cabinets), so had a smaller opening made to get a small microwave OFF the countertop.  Cereal goes in the cupboard on top.  And OH…all the hinges are soft-close.  Didn’t think I needed them, but it is what Pine Ridge does standard.  LOVE them.

So what was going to be a short post on painting the dishwasher panel has turned into a long, LONG post.  But I hope that you find some ideas that you could use…some of the last “my favorite” bits especially can be done to an existing kitchen without too much fuss.  To my local peeps, I can HIGHLY recommend Pine Ridge.  They are fair in their pricing, honest, hard working, superior quality, responsive.  Like I said:  If I ever win the lottery, they are getting some of the proceeds whether I build a new house or do “pie in the sky” upgrades to this one.  I am a HAPPY CAMPER!