• Category Archives Product Reviews
  • Someone DOES Make Them Like They Used To

    OK, I’m going to digress from my usual cat or quilting commentary and take the time to give a product review (and – ‘no’, it is not a quilting product). Have you ever caught yourself saying “they don’t make them as good as they used to…”? I’m talking about GRAHAM CRACKERS! You remember Graham Crackers? Those yummy, crumbly flat ‘boards’ from kindergarten that we loved to dip into milk? My husband has been jonesing for some good old-fashioned graham crackers for the last year or so and we have tried EVERY brand we can find. The Honey Maid, Annie’s, Nabisco; the store brand generic, the ‘gourmet’, the organic… cheap ones, expensive ones, cinnamon covered, plain, we even tried a knock off brand from the Dollar Store… NOBODY makes graham crackers like the ones I remember from my childhood. Some came close but missed the mark, others weren’t even close (in flavor or texture – the Safeway house brand were the closest we found). Try tossing in trying to avoid high-fructose corn syrup and the playing field gets much smaller. Well, we finally found them! Good old Trader Joe’s wins again, Their ‘boxed’ Honey Graham Crackers are it. We just put them to the milk test and it was like going back in time to sitting around that circle painted on the floor and dipping our crackers into the milk – I could almost smell the tempera paint.
     
    Mind you, these are NOT the TJ’s cinnamon topped crackers sold in the clear plastic deli containers, these are plain and come in the box but oh the memories… These are just cardboardy enough, sweet but not too sweet, and have just the right ‘sandy’ ‘gritty’ texture, hold their shape when dipped in milk but crumble in your mouth. Heavenly!

  • A ‘Treasure Hunt’

    If you are anything like me, you love to find interesting fiber art stuff. My sewing studio is jam packed with not only the standard ‘sewing’ things (fabric, batting, thread…) but also unusual finds – beads, novelty yarns and other exotic materials.

    I want to share a great source with you, many of you ‘locals’ already know about this place but some may not or may have heard of it but not gotten around to checking it out so here’s a nudge. It’s a thrift shop devoted entirely to sewing and related crafts. It was formerly called Knitt’n Kitten but is now operating under a new name – Kraft Kitty.

    The shop is run by my former daughter-in-law and her mom and features – well – just about anything you can imagine. Vintage and unusual fabrics, trims, old patterns, buttons, lace, beads,,, You never know what you will find but you can count on it being something you wouldn’t find anywhere else. I love to embellish some of my art quilts and have found all sorts of treasures there. If you like the rare and unusual, you need to check this out.

    Kraft-Kitty-Announcement


  • The Sublime Heritage of Martha Mood Volume II – Book Review

    I have been quilting first on a hobby level and then professionally since the early 1970’s and why I’d never heard of Martha Mood before is beyond me. Her work is phenomenal. This is the second volume in a two volume set; the first volume is more a biography about her and her career. While I should probably pick that one up as well at some point, I really wanted this book, the one¬† with the gallery, eye-candy of her spectacular work. The photographs in this large format book are numerous and beautifully reproduced, she was quite prolific so there is a lot to see. The copy I saw in a friend’s possession had a lovely printed hard cover featuring a close up of one of the mural style pieces she made; though there was no image on the listing I found for the book on Amazon, I was delighted to find my copy had the same cover when it arrived.

    I was introduced to this book (and some other lovely ones on embroidery) by a friend that I spent a lovely evening with last fall. I was in Tillamook Oregon where I had been teaching some hand embroidery and hand applique classes at the Latimer Quilt and Textile Center. I was staying at¬† a friend’s home for a few days and one evening another friend who had been in the embroidery class came by and brought some books she thought I might enjoy looking through. One look at the cover and I knew I had to have this.

     

    The book cover shows a fine example of Martha's unique style
    The book cover shows a fine example of Martha’s unique style

     

    Martha was an applique artist who made marvelous fabric tapestries. Most of the work presented in the book is from the 1960’s, the designs are very lyrical express a free spirit. On a certain level, I find her work reminiscent of the art of Charley Harper, she certainly was a contemporary of his even if she worked in a different medium.

    Martha used a wide variety of types of fabrics in her work, many appear to be decorator fabrics and she used a lot of hand stitching/embroidery to add exquisite detail to her work. Her work reminds me of some of my own early work when I felt no hesitance at incorporating whatever fabric caught my fancy with no regard as to fiber content; I also loved to enhance my applique with hand embroidery and perhaps this book will give me the courage to explore this again.

    The pieces she made were largely appliqu√©, some rendered skillfully by hand with turned edges, some rendered in a primitive raw edge technique. There is no reference to whether she used fusible webs in the raw edged work but given most of the pieces shown are dated from early to late 1960’s, I know the choices of fusible webs were very limited back then (if available at all). The raw edged work does not appear to be fused though; there is a ‘look’ to fused appliqu√© that I find particularly unpleasant and even the softer webs do not allow the fabric to form true to its nature.

     

    a close look at Martha's raw edge applique, this amount of hand embroidery would have been very difficult on fused fabric
    a close look at Martha’s raw edge applique, this amount of hand embroidery would have been very difficult on fused fabric

     

    Due to the large format of the book and the resulting large photos, it is possible to really appreciate the workmanship and the texture of the materials shown in the pieces selected for this book, I think it is a ‘must have’ for any quilter who is interested in pictorial style quilting and appliqu√©. I found a used copy on Amazon for a very reasonable price, interestingly, my copy is a bit of a collector‚Äôs item in my opinion as a stamp on the front faceplate page indicates it was withdrawn from the Smithsonian Institution Library on May 12, 1983, that in itself makes it an interesting addition to my personal library.