Ty's first alpaca show

We have been sleuthing here at House of Kitten and we finally figured out where the pics from last year's alpaca show were.

You may recall the other day I was having trouble finding them.We'd searched the memory cards from our cameras and archives from our phones and came up empty handed.

We were sure we had taken pictures of Ty at his first alpaca show last year. There's no chance we would let a moment that special go by without recording it for posterity.

Then we realized--we have a third memory card. Probably hiding somewhere in Uncle Floyd's desk! So I sought it and found the pictures.

These are them:

We might've taken more if you could tell at all that the baby and the alpacas are in the same place.

Eh, guess you'll have to take our word for it.

MoPaca mo problems

We hit up the American Royal's Alpaca Convention today.

It was Ty's second trip to the annual convention. We took him last year when he was just a couple of weeks old. I remember calling the pediatrician's office to make sure it was okay for me to take him. I wonder if that's one of the odder new parent questions they have gotten. Anyway, they said yes and we had a great time. I could've sworn we had pics from last year but they are nowhere to be found.

But we do have pics from today!

Ty got to do more interacting with the alpacas than he did last year, although last year the alpacas were really into him and watched him closely whenever he came near. Here he is below while he watched judges take a close look at a group of alpacas.

I love his expression. It's like, "Um, what exactly am I doing here?"

And then he returned to checking them out:

Yup! That's our little guy--already showing a deep appreciation for the wonderfulness of the alpaca!
From there, we walked around to say hello to these beauties.

Hello, gorgeous!

I didn't buy any knitting wool this visit--my favorite alpaca guy wasn't there-- but we still brought home some awesome souvenirs!  We bought Ty a little sweater with a fair isle alpaca pattern and an alpaca finger puppet that he tried to eat.

I bought these Peruvian boots that are totally comfortable and also super bright. I wore them all afternoon while we went out to buy our spring garden seeds. Then I wore them while I worked in the garden and planted our seed potato. So excited! I grinned the whole way home--excited like a little kid. 

On other craft notes--posting some pics of the hand-quilting I'm working on to finish this quilt. The pieces came to as unfinished squares of uncertain, yet family origin. I've been slowly quilting my way through it all year. I actually got started on New Year's Day, so how's that for keeping a careful record!

I am knitting some booties with the last of my fantastic alpaca wool. I will post pics soon!

Pretty pillowcases

Oh my gosh!

I have a new computer with a brand-new screen that doesn't blink in and out when I'm working on my blog posts. It feels so unfamiliar to me.

Do you remember long ago I posted about using waste canvas to cross-stitch johnny jump-ups on fabric so I could sew pillowcases?

I have pics of how they finally turned out!

I tried to take a few pics so you could see all of the details. I love them! I gave them to dear friends of mine as a wedding gift and they told me that they will cherish them for their handmade details. Yay!

I decided to make a new set of zinnias with citrus colors. Reminds me of the flowers that Adam and I had in our engagement photos:

 Who is this darling little bumblebee that snuck in my blog post?

Anyway, I finished the first pillowcase and am finalizing the second. More pics soon! It's such a fun and easy project. You should totally try it!

Our headliner

 We celebrated our little guy's first birthday over the weekend.

I had big plans to post pics of my progress on embroidered pillowcases, but I've already been accused once today of burying the lede, so let's start with the good stuff.

He was the happiest trooper at his party, even though he hadn't felt great earlier. He really perked up and gave us lots of smiles. 
I embroidered the bicycle on his sunsuit and sewed it together using a pattern that was used to make Adam an outfit when he was little.

It was the greatest day!

Now who is still at all interested in pillowcases cross-stitched using waste canvas?

Well, just in case: 

You know I'm into sustainability, right? Well, I think I have stumbled on the most genius sustainability project of my sewing career thus far. I made the sunsuit below as a practice run on the birthday outfit for my little guy's birthday (it was a fail--too small). But I used an old workshirt of my husband's, cutting it down and re-using different pieces from it to make the outfit--even the buttons are repurposed.


So I'm thinking this could be my thing. It's a way to make something darling out of a shirt that has been lost to busted elbows. I could also amend the pattern to make little dresses. Anyway, super enthused about the potential. And it gives me one less excuse to acquire fabric. Pretty important as I Marie Kondo my way through the sewing room.

Check in with you later, dudes. 

Here I am, friends

Hello there, Internet.

You may have been wondering where I am, but I've been here all along. Maybe not posting to my blog, which has been looking pretty neglected these past few months, but I've done a great deal of Googling queries like these:

Taylor Swift songs for handbells
How to direct a handbell choir (not that hard, says the Internet)
Home remedies for quilting injuries
When will the cat start to love the baby? (maybe never)
Starbucks latte K-Cups (they don't exist)
Taza (because I'm too lazy to type in LoveTaza.com)

I have nearly one million updates and not a clue where to begin. So I'll begin with the cathedral squares:

We have made great progress on this project, which I started nearly three years ago. I say "we" because it's not just me working on finishing it. I've had wonderful help from dear friends and family to pick up the pace and get it finished. It will be given to a wonderful friend of mine and I'm excited to say that there's just a bit left to go. I dare say that March is a realistic goal.

 Oh look! There's Kitten!

And more Kitten! The fabrics in this quilt are more varied than before because my friends shared their scraps with me. It's so much better this way!

We even had an old fashioned quilting bee in October, which was more fun that I imagined it could be. I would definitely suggest trying it out.

I have other project pictures to post:
Bicycle embroidery using waste canvas
Toddler mittens
Infant mittens
Lemon sweetrolls
New sewing table arrangement
Quilting progress on decades old and forgotten quilt pieces (Robert Kauffman Betty Dear! backing fabric--it's so gorgeous)
Receiving blankets!
The list could go on.

But let's be honest here--most of the pictures I take these days look like this:

So maybe you won't mind if I just post these? And you'll excuse me for my recent and dreadful waste canvas entry that posted twice from my phone?

Maybe just one more? (Or a few?)

And I'll be back soon! Because you must see this vintage quilt I'm working on! And maybe a dozen more photos of my Love Bug?

See you later, friends!

What you don't see

I have finally finished this little quilt top with Birch fabric I bought years ago from the Purl Soho. 

I love how it's so soft and neutral. Also, it has fishes and whales on it. Just need to send it to the quilter!

It's funny, Kitten helps me with these usually by curling up on the unsewn pieces I have set out. She likes to be 
involved and when she's uninterested I wonder if I've done something wrong.

She definitely took a shine to this one and I am glad to let her roll all around on it now that it's done.

Even if it means she's just hanging out and taking a bath.

Give me Liberty

Kitten continues to find clever places to perch herself in her new sewing room. My sewing room? I think we ceded control to her long ago. She is currently trying to perch herself on the laptop while simultaneously asking me to play.

I am plugging away at my cathedral squares, which is the perfect project for this season because it's a mix of intensive cutting and ironing in the sewing room balanced against the handstitching portion of the work that I can do while watching re-runs of Downton Abbey. Or whatever football game my husband has on in the background.

I ordered some lovely Liberty fabrics this weekend to add to my cathedral squares and I can't wait for their arrival. I will be sure to post pictures.

 Kitten managed to hop up onto a double-sized mattress propped on its side against the wall. We still aren't sure how she managed to leap that high.

Cathedral squares

Kitten loves sitting on this laptop. I think she likes the squishiness of the keyboard under her little paws.

Detail pic of the Liberty and Grandma scraps cathedral square. Those safety pins have been a lifesaver (or finger-saver). So much less dangerous than strait pins!

Hope you are having a lovely Columbus Day. It's a perfect fall day here.

Oh and have you seen this? Baby girl clothes in Liberty fabrics from J. Crew. How can they release this upon the world? Who could resist?

Man, oh man

Order is slowly restoring itself to our abode. Adam and I can't believe we moved last weekend. It seems like ages ago.

We are slowly settling in and getting back to things we love, like playing Scrabble, cooking good meals, listening to cool new music and sewing.

Portugal. The Man is coming to town soon and I've been listening to them in my sewing room, along with the new Grouplove and Small Pools.

I remember posting something about the cathedral squares I was making with my favorites of my Grandma's scraps, but I had kind of stalled out because I didn't have enough of these delicate florals to move forward. But that was before I ordered a Liberty bundle from Purl Soho. The fabrics are so delicate and pretty that I finally feel like I've found something refined enough to match my Grandma's collection.

Liberty's backstory is pretty cool, too. It's a British company that's been around for ages and made a name for itself designing high quality fabric with florals inspired by famous gardens throughout Britain. So these jewel-tone patterns are really a perfect match for my painstaking cathedral square handiwork. 

I'm glad to be back to work (and inspired.)

Here's the first square I sewed in with the Liberty last night. Isn't this fabric lovely? I have been ironing the squares, as described in this tutorial, with help from Kitten who keeps trying to walk on my laptop and pausing my music while I work. Alright, so she's not all that helpful, she's just good company. She is currently sleeping on my bundle of Liberty fabrics.

One of the many chai lattes I've picked up from Starbucks since fall officially began. People keep talking about the Pumpkin Spice Latte and I don't get it. Give me a chai latte any day.

Adam and I may have detoured to the Cosentino's Downtown market for lunch one day after a trying experience at the downtown DMV. So we had some chocolate cream pie to make up for it (Tippin's!). Holy moly, it was good.

See what I mean?

Although we're not fully up and running, we are well past this state of things. Thanks to Adam and his master organization skills. 

Time for me to sew.

Chai Shai, what took us so long?

Adam and I erred when we moved to 59th street and didn't immediately go to Chai Shai, our neighborhood Indian and Pakistani restaurant. It's blocks away from our little rental house and makes for an easy walk.

So naturally, we didn't go there for dinner until tonight, in the midst of our packing to move away on Saturday. We have heard from many fellow Brookside neighbors that this place is great and we believed them, but I guess we didn't really hear what they were saying.

Because it's ridiculously great. We've never had pakoras with such light, fluffy outsides and perfectly spiced insides. Our whole meal (all vegetarian) was quite a treat. And then we got an iced chai to go. Another great call.

We were so excited to be there that we took pics. I am mid-fist pump in my pic down below.

The good news is that we're not moving all that far away (mere blocks, really) so we can still come to Chai Shai. In the future, though, it will probably be more of a bike ride distance than a walking distance.

But we will be back. I see a new Thursday night tradition in our future.

Back to packing!

Wasted canvas

Look how cerebral we are here in House of Kitten. We've got the New York Times and two weeks worth of US Weekly.

I've been naughtily hinting at and then posting nothing about my cross-stitch project, so I want to apologize and post progress pics.

First things first. The project is to cross-stitch on waste canvas, heavily starched cross-stitch fabric that you apply to regular material like cotton, knit, linen or whatever. You then apply your design on top of the waste canvas but through the layer of fabric.

Once you've finished your cross-stitch, you soak the whole thing in water so the starch comes out of the waste canvas. (Some advise adding a tablespoon of vinegar if you think your colors might run.) Then it dries (impatient Sarah tried to do this while it was still wet and it was wrong and a waste of time) and you pull out the waste canvas.

All of the sudden, you have perfectly measured stitches on cotton, which would be impossible to do without the crutch of the canvas. Pretty cool, eh?

So I have progress pics:

Kitten kept me company while I worked my way through this border pattern. Eventually, this will be a pillowcase in our guest bed.
Here's Kitten, looking bored.
A fuzzy shot of my progress, which I think may have already appeared in a post. Apologies for the re-run.

Hello, Adam! I took this picture at Pizza Bella when we went for my birthday. I get hungry just thinking about it. Not sure how that snuck in.

 Back to my task, here I am this weekend rounding out the project. I had my handy pattern book nearby at all times. It's a Johnny Jump-Ups pattern, and I don't know what a Johnny Jump-Up is, exactly, but I know it makes for a lovely little floral border.

 More stitches...
 This is where I soaked it to loosen the starch. Sometimes I think the back looks prettier than the front. And you'll notice, no knots! Always must weave in those ends.

Front side, still wet. You can see all the little canvas pieces poking out now. 
 This is the dried piece with some of the threads from the waste removed, and others still there.
 Bald patches in this vs. where the threads remain.
 This is how easy it is to pull them out. I was so taken with the process that I was almost late last night to my MBA class because I was standing there pulling these things out for so long.

All threads gone! Waste canvas totally wasted and gone. On to the next one!

Won't these be a pretty pair? I hope they class our place up a bit. Love homemade touches.

It's easy so you should totally try it!

We have a winner

Adam is popcorned out. We returned to the Plaza Art Fair for a second day of Topsy's limeades and popcorn this afternoon. Today was another gorgeous day with cool breezes and warm sunshine.

Yesterday I mentioned that our favorite art fair game is to find creepy artwork for children's rooms. We did some close examination today and found some great examples that would be a perfect nursery gift if you're trying to be really passive aggressive toward the parents (or don't like children).

I should've gotten the name of the artist so we could properly recognize them here. But I was in a hurry to take the pictures because I was afraid I would be shooed away.

Armed monkey in space!

This bunny (below) looks wise, but not quite in a kid-friendly way. More like the original Alice in Wonderland (not the Disney version.)

Time to work on my johnny jump-ups cross-stitch pillow. 

More later. 


A fair day for an art fair

In between all of the eating Adam and I did at the Plaza Art Fair this weekend, we did make time to look at actual art. I believe there are people who don't even do that, they just have cocktails and socialize--but it's a great venue for it so who can blame them?

Anyway, we saw new works from Signe and Genna Grushovenko and I couldn't resist taking pictures. I am so taken with these artworks. I tried to be mindful of not taking pictures of entire paintings, just interesting bits and pieces, but I think you still get a good sense of the artworks.

Maybe someday we'll have one on our wall in our new house.

 Another favorite pastime Adam and I have at the art fair is looking for the most terrifying artwork that we can find--we like to make jokes about using it to decorate a child's room. Today we found some enchanting moon artworks that would be just fine for a child to see, except that they had holes cut in them with terrifying little monster figures sticking out. Totally fit the bill for our long-running joke (going on three years, I believe?)

We like anything that promises nightmares, bonus points for recurring ones.

 Oh yes, it's Topsy's. A steal at $3. Pairs nicely with a limeade.

Adam took this pic of his old apartment building, centrally located right on Ward Parkway. We still miss his location, parking spot, and immaculately clean and brilliantly cold pool. We still get wistful when we think about it. We had some good days there.

Am currently embellishing pillowcases for our new casa's guest room. I will post some good progress pics.

Happy weekend!

The latest

Thanks for indulging me as I share basically all the cool pictures I've taken since my husband gave me an awesome 50 mm lens for my Canon for my birthday.

The lens kills it on portraits and I love the depth of field. It's pretty rad.

We've just returned from the Plaza Art Fair, a major event that draws jumbo crowds and offers cool art and indulgent dinner choices. Oh and lots of booze.

Earlier we visited our brand new house and made arrangements to get some work done (away with you, popcorn ceilings) and then we headed to the Topsy's stand at the art fair for some actual popcorn. It was delicious.

My sadness in leaving our rental house amounts to leaving my impatiens, which are pictured above. I bought them from the River Market back in April or May and they have been thriving, especially with the cooler temps and rain lately. We can't try to move them or it would be the end for them--I might have to sneak over and water them until their season ends. I have loved seeing them every morning.

The thriving sage plant is coming with us. 

In other garden news, we discovered a rogue tomato plant growing in our compost pile. I haven't been tending it too closely, just dumping out scraps from my dinner prep, but today I was digging around and got hit in the face with that pungent tomato plant smell. Upon closer inspection, the plant was fully grown but sprawled out all over. We are way past staking it. Who can say what will come of that? I won't tell the plant that the seasons are changing this week. There may be some tomatoes for the new tenant if we have an Indian Summer.

Other pics include my mouton, or my sheep. Little Prince fans will recognize the phrase: Draw me a sheep. I embroidered one and in order to do so I had to ask someone to draw me a sheep. So that worked out pretty cool. The sheep body is made of hundreds of French knots and I may have finally perfected my technique. 

Pretty fun.

I have more art fair pics to post here in a bit. I would post them now but Kitten wants in my lap and I must tend to her.

Stay tuned.