Sounds like the name of a band. If anyone uses it I think I should get royalties.

I mostly listen to the local NPR station ( staffed primarily by volunteer programmers). There are several different types of programs, some music, and a few talk. Not too much national stuff  — the budget is very small. It seems like once a week or so I hear “we have a report of a lost lab – answers to the name of Trudy”. And if you listen long enough, you hear that Trudy made it home. It’s nice. There is the Ship Report on weekday mornings, which gives a breakdown of the comings and goings of all the big boats that make their stops along the Columbia River. It is a remarkably busy shipping  channel.

We have weather here. Real weather. Seven feet of rain, on average. Often I look out and the sea is a a mess. During the storms, the swells grow to 20 feet, easy.  Though the past few weeks has been unusually calm, dry, and cool. The air is incredibly clear.  I see a million stars at night, and occasionally even a satellite while I lie in bed in the pre-dawn hours of the morning.  And then there is the big  river.  The bridge over to Astoria is four miles across, and I never tire of the view when crossing. Last week it was so calm, it was masquerading as Lake Powell, smooth as glass, which is a rare sight this time of year.  Water skiing, anyone? Yeah, I’ve never seen it around here. That water is cold. And the sunsets here are stunning.  I took this shot looking out toward the ocean near the mouth of the river.

This time of year is special. On Monday morning I looked out to see the telltale twinkle of lights on the water, signaling the onset of Dungeness crab season.  “I’m dreaming of a crabby Christmas…”  . I got up and counted an even twenty boats making their way north along the peninsula, setting their pots for a couple days of soaking. It was clear, cold and the sea was calm; no doubt there were a lot of happy fishermen.

The locals here relish the winter (but truth be told, the talk turns to warmer climes in a wishful sort of way). Few tourists, no lines at the grocery stores, and no one on the beach to speak of. Excepting the clam digging weekends, when it gets busy for a couple of days.  And winter here brings the annual crab pot christmas tree to the port of Ilwaco. A night shot would be better, but my camera has it’s limitations.

crab pot tree

And with it nearly Christmas, I have soooo much sewing to do. The past few weeks have disappeared too quickly, and once again I feel like I lost a week or four. There were a couple of trunk shows at the coffee shop, and lots of work leading up to them. I hope to get one day to cram a ton of baking in before we leave on Friday.  And just maybe a ‘regular’ sort of post here. Some good news, sewing project / progress, or the like.

And with that, I head for the studio.

(gasp!) Air!

The last few weeks has not seen the intended updates here. There is just too much stuff going on with a senior (the high school one) right now.

I finally got some things added / listed in my etsy shop, and will do so again next week.

I’m currently in the middle of working through a long list of projects for this coming weekend’s trunk show at our local coffee roasters. Like nearly everything else lately, I get in sort of a freeze with the stuff that needs to be done. I think about it, obsess about what to do first.  Of course the list always includes more fabric  (yes, mom. more), because that piece I just saw would be perfect for ______________ .  Finally, the other day I made The List of what I wanted to have for this show. Like I seem to do with lists, I just kept adding to it until the paper was filled up. But, it helped me prioritize, I think. I spent Friday sorting and choosing fabrics for new messenger bags ( get the hardest things done first is my strategy)and doing all the cutting and fuseing. Yesterday I had four finished – one more than on my list, aka goal sheet as I’m now calling it.

I moved on to ‘mug rugs’, which are about half the size of a place mat – just big enough for a cup of coffee and a pastry. They’ll be part of some gift baskets, which will have coffee in a little gift bag, to-go cup sleeves, a and soft bin to hold it all.  It seemed like a good way to use up scraps, so…………I dumped out my scrap bin and began to color sort. I really do my best at keeping my work space pretty tidy. If everything is a jumble I just can’t seem to focus on the task at hand. So this           is sort of hard for me to take / work around. But I think it makes me go faster to get that part done, so that all those scraps can go back to their bin.  I did get eight of them pieced and quilted, now they just need the bindings on.

Then it will be on to two or three other handbags, about 40 headbands, 30 coffee sleeves, bins, maybe some baby gift stuff ( that might just get shelved until the next show in a few weeks) , some tea-towels, aprons, napkins and I don’t remember what else. At the end of the week, I’ll put up some pics of what I actually accomplished off of the goal sheet.

I took Friday night off, and went clamming with my friend. We drove the old jeep a couple miles north of here on the beach, and set out with her lantern ( I broke the glass in mine just before we left ) and the clam guns. It was dark and windy, but there was no rain, so still there were quite a few people out braving the elements in search of the wiley clam. We walked out and started hunting for the little holes; I dug the first one, and within a span of twenty minutes we both had our limits of 15 clams each. All in a space of about 15 feet square.  The only bummer is that Richard had to come and give us a jump as the jeep didn’t want to start.  We had planned on going out Saturday as well, but the driving rain that night just wasn’t attractive.

And now, a little moment of nature. These guys were just sort of hanging in the sunshine on Friday morning across the street.  Mama and her two young ones. She stood there over them for nearly an hour before she laid down as well.  After fifteen minutes or so, dad showed up:  and moved everyone along.

retreat time

One more weekend away from home. I guess it’s the season. This time around it was a quilt retreat put on by the local shop, right here in my town. Well, almost  – just down the road in Long Beach.  I stayed at a friend’s house over on the bay, along with four other women. It was absolutely perfect.

    this was the view I woke up to. Complete with the sun rising over the mountains and streaming across the bay to my window.  My friend’s house was a beautiful setting for a get together.  We drove into town to sew during the day, went to eat, back to the hotel to sew some more. Repeat, repeat, repeat.

This retreat had only a couple dozen women, which made it a different experience than the ones I’ve been to before, with about 60 women all in a gym sewing. Since it was at a hotel in Long Beach, we had the conference room, along with a view of the beach. There were silly games – with prizes, no less. An obscene amount of snack food, and only moments of quiet throughout the weekend.

Because there’s been a lot going on around here I wasn’t sure as to what my weekend project would be much before I left. I put together a big bag of random cotton prints from my stash, along with my pretty box of duppioni silks. Friday was spent cutting strips of muslin, fabric, and fusing interfacing onto the silks to stabilize them. By the end of day one, I got one quarter of one block finished. Yikes. Never fear, on Saturday, I got another eleven, giving me three complete blocks. On Sunday I finished another couple. The walls were pretty full of other people’s projects, so I got a picture of just four of my blocks ( as yet still un-sewn together).  The friends I was with got a heck of a lot done. Here’s Michelle with a partially completed bag from one of her patterns (caught in a brief moment of not singing tv theme songs)    Along with that she finished binding an adorable baby quilt, and made a top for another one. Her mom got all the blocks done for a quilt from the same pattern – Victory Garden- and I fell in love with the chartreuse and lilac color combo:      I really want to make that pattern now. Our host for the weekend, Peggy, nearly finished a quilt top that had a ton of sewing in it    in one of my all time favorite fabrics “Aviary II”  in a whole new colorway of greys and yellows.      Love.     The fifth person in our group, Gail, made two quilt tops (my pic was too blurry) nearly completing her goal of making quilts for each of her nine brothers this year.

There were silly games: fabric bingo; something called Left-Right-Center; and door prizes. Our little group of five also traded gifts. Every time I turned around, I had more fabric. (And no, I’m not in any way implying that that’s a bad thing.) Ans notions. And candy. I left home with one ton of stuff, and came home with two.      In addition, I gained five pounds.

I’ve been trying all week to again get caught up on the work here – lots of alterations, along with more items for the coffee shop. Tomorrow I go to Seattle to wish my mom a happy birthday.

the big surprise

A month ago I took a big chance and entered a couple of quilts in the NW Quilt Expo in Portland. When the acceptance letter came, I got all excited: “We are pleased to announce that your quilt has been accepted into the show!” Whoopee! Wait – which one???   I called, gave my name and the woman in charge called back and said gleefully ‘both of them’ .  Not at all what I had expected.  Wow. So I get them dropped off via a friend who was making the trip to the big city.

Then,  a couple weeks ago the phone rings: “Hi, it’s Shelly from the NW Quilt Expo, and I was calling to invite you to our awards ceremony. We hope you can make it.”  “Uh, okay, sure, I’ll try to be there.” (The whole time I’m thinking that they are calling everyone who entered so that they can get an audience for the awards/ sell me something/ or who knows what.) Shelly then says ( because I sound so nonplussed) “I’m calling because you won! If you’re at the ceremony, I’ll hand you your certificate and an envelope with the cash.”   Did she say cash? Won? Wait – does she have the right person? I’ve been to that show, and truly the things I’ve seen there are nothing remotely like the work that I do. Incredible quilting, stunning design. I might get points for creativity, but the technical skills, well, lets just say I have a long ways to go.

So, last week I set out for Portland to go to the NW Quilt Expo. I picked up mom in Kelso ( she rode the train from Seattle) then we were on our way.  Of course a stop at Fabric Depot is somewhere in the unwritten rules of going anywhere near Portland, and we both found a few things – well, how can you not?

The next day we hit the Expo Center for the big show. They should have renamed it the explosion of all things glittery. I was sort of taken aback by the amount of metallic threads, crystals, and overall embellishment on the majority of the quilts.  This quilt won Best in Show with a mere 40,000!!! crystals added on: A close-up of the stitching and some of the crystals  and a small representation of the dense quilting from the back side      We walked around, visiting the vendors ( boosting the economy) and looking at the stunning quilts on display. There was indeed some amazing quilting on most of the entries. Like this:     and a close up shot: 

I found the first of my two entries    ‘Room with a View’ and no ribbon attached to it, so I knew that it was the little dresses that got the prize. When we found  ‘Dressing the Part’     I could barely contain my excitement.  There was a pretty pair of ribbons pinned to it ( why there were two on each of the winners, I don’t know???) that read “Judges Choice”.  Really? I must have hit a soft spot with another lover of vintage fabrics.  This quilt was certainly the plainest jane of all the quilts at the show. The only embellishment being the little embroidered hangers on each of the ninety-nine blocks.  And just a minimal amount of quilting.  Mom insisted on taking my picture with both quilts – it’s so cool to be a grownup and see your mom so proud of you.  And I was there for the award ceremony, and received my certificate and a sweet check.

We walked and shopped and looked and took pictures pretty much the whole day. I saw so many inspiring quilts, lots of really beautiful patterns and some awesome fabrics. There were notions that sort of made my head spin . Now truth be told, I am a notions junkie (just ask my friend Julie) – I love a new tool or gadget in my sewing room, in the kitchen or something to make painting just a little neater/easier. But this thing – I just stood there while the nice lady demonstrated it, my mouth open and dumbstruck for words. I started laughing a bit, then just stared at it for a few minutes trying to figure out who would spend the equivalent of five or more yards of fabric  on such a silly thing ( that you have to put batteries into!!!). I sort of thought my head would explode if I kept contemplating it. So we left.

Then it was north to Seattle for a few days.  I think I drove there on a cloud.                                                                                               With my proud mom.


How I spent my summer

More aptly – what I did while I was waiting for summer to arrive.

What happens when you don’t blog for a bit? You get out of the habit. Things happen, too many things to even begin to get caught up on, and you get too overwhelmed to post.

No surprise – I spent my summer sewing.    (and thanks to spellcheck – this is not full of the typos that might be there because apparently I also forgot how to use a keyboard )         I did three – or was it four?- trunk shows at the coffee shop.  Now that fall is here, I’ll be missing that for awhile.  I sold lots (somewhere in the neighborhood of 200??)of headbands, coffee sleeves, baby quilts, napkins, and bags.

Here’s a shot of the space sort of set up in the coffee shop:


       And a sampling of messenger bags.

It was like having a paycheck again. Pretty swell. Its an amazing thing that is the feeling that people are willing to spend their hard earned cash to own something that you made. I feel worthwhile. Contributing.

All the alterations are really nothing to write about. Seems like that part keeps growing and growing.  And I’ve done exactly zero personal sewing. How can I have gone a whole summer without sewing a new skirt, at least? Maybe I’ll have to keep one of the bags that I have left (though I guess I could count wearing one of my headbands every day  as wearing something handmade).

Summer came ’round here sometime in August. We had lots of company – three rounds of people from San Diego, lots more from Seattle. It sort of goes along with living at the beach. Some of the California company got really beautiful weather, others didn’t. Summer can be a fickle thing – sunshine one day, fog for the next three.  We planned on going on vacation, just the two of us, while the grandson was visiting his parents in SD, but it didn’t happen.  In there was another show or two, then labor day, then school started, then rod run.

I’ll get caught up here, sort of, and get back to the keyboard sooner rather than later………to be continued….


The center of town is busy with tourists buying souvenirs & t-shirts that no-one really wants. The go-cart track seems to have a couple people running – rain or shine- no matter what time of day or night. The beach horses are usually in their corrals. The local festivals begin: Garlic Festival, Doggie Olympics, Sandsations (sand castle weekend)  and the biggie: The Kite Festival.

Weather be damned, the kickoff is the Memorial Day weekend. An event billed as “The world’s longest yard sale” – when our peninsula turns into a huge bargain hunting mass of people for three or four days.  Which is really just the beginning to the official garage sale season. The signs go up; lots of those you see over and over again and you know after the first time that those ones are to be ignored. Who would even want to have a yard sale more than once every few years I just can’t imagine. Our Wednesday newspaper want ads increase each week when it comes out.  I tried my luck at a relative few; my goal was to go to 1000 of them ( not really). However, I made it to maybe two dozen before I gave up. Partly because I came to my senses and realized I was just wasting time when I could be sewing. Partly because I quickly got tired of seeing tables full of mismatched tupperware and old florist’s vases, and all the assorted odds and ends that no one ever buys, but the sellers clean out of their cuppboards in the hopes that someone will.

Not that I didn’t buy anything. But there were certainly no big ‘scores’ out there like I always hope for. No fabric – at least nothing good, unless piles of ugly polyester blends is your thing. Dang, I hate that. There was someone who had a boatload of beautiful old printed table linens, but no bargains to be had,  so they stayed right there. I found this pair of glasses for just a buck:

I also got a birthday present for a friend:

  These cute stacking cups looks like someone’s ceramics project from thirty years ago or so.  Short one cup, but what the heck?

I also couldn’t resist yet another lazy susan for myself  – just because of the colors ( and the fact that it was just a few dollars )  No chips or cracks, and complete with the turntable underneath. And who knows? Maybe I will have the big buffet someday and be able to put several of these lazy susans to use. I guess I could use one of them in my sewing room to put little things in…….but what?

This week I’m sewing a bunch of bags – grocery, handbags, and clutches to get stock for next weekend’s show at the coffee shop. Pictures will follow when I have amassed a pile.

side trip

After a month break from posting ( life here is days full of teenager-ing and sewing – seems like about a 50/50 split ) and I only have a little to say. Sort of sad, don’t you think?

I made a trip to the big city to surprise my sister on her birthday. She ( and my other sis and my mom ) did it to me, so returning the kindness seemed the thing to do. I was successful, showing up with mom at her house while she was gone. We set the table for lunch and when she and her husband drove in we hid.  Mom had baked a strawberry-rhubarb pie, and we had deli sandwiches and champagne.  It was great to sit and talk for hours.  There should be a pic of us here, but it came out the usual (bad) way.   I do have one of an inanimate object which does not have it’s eyes closed and an expression which looks like I could be drooling.        I made her this wine bag:      It started out as a project I began years ago of silk tubes that I sewed, and ribbon and yarn, then hand wove into a vest a long time ago; after finishing one front I gave up and put it away. I found it a while back, and decided it needed a purpose rather than languishing in a drawer for eternity. Combined with some black silk and quilted lining it came out beautiful.

I also made a bag for my Mom for Mother’s day.

 Can you have too many bags? I’m beginning to wonder. I thought this would make a nice tote for her to take to quilting. It is bright and colorful and it was fun to do.

I spent time with my other sister talking with someone about a ‘real’ website. And a facebook business page for redclothespin. So much to think about and with a big ‘to-do’ list to go home with.

It was a nice break from all the duties of home, which gave me a bit of a recharging that I needed.