winter thyme dreaming

I recently (finally) started reading the first book in Susan Wittig Albert’s China Bayles series.

ladybug in the hyssop

They’re cozy mysteries, gardening-related, set in a cute small town, by the author of the Cottage Tales of Beatrix Potter, and the main character is an avowed feminist. What took me so long?

Random notes:

  • I really like the descriptions of the protagonist’s herb garden. It makes me miss gardening and look forward to our future home where I can do that again.
  • The first book was published in 1992, and I don’t remember too many people (or book characters) overtly stating their feminism at that time (or showcasing it on their t-shirts, as this character does).
  • There are twenty-something books in this series, so who knows how far through it I’ll get, but it’s off to a good start.
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New year newness (and some sameness)

Happy new year!

I feel like 2014 was a pretty okay year. We had a lot more stability in our lives, which was a refreshing change from last year. We did move again in the summer, but it was just a couple miles away and we splurged on professional movers who packed everything for us, so it was a lot less stressful and strenuous than our previous couple of moves. We’ve been pleased with our new digs and they’re a lot less expensive, so I feel happy that we’re actually saving a small amount each month now.

In terms of reading, Goodreads says that I read almost the same number of books I did last year.

2014 Goodreads stats photo Goodreads_My_Review_Stats_-_2015-01-01_130559_zps9f437f3c.png

Except that their stats don’t count a lot of books including knitting and sewing books (many of which I admittedly skim or read only parts of) and picture books. If you count all of those, my number would be 397. I made a concerted effort to read more books by women this year, after noticing last year that my reading was ridiculously dominated by male writers. My fave reads from 2014 include: The Miniaturist by Jessie Burton, What If? by Randall Munroe, The Cottage Tales of Beatrix Potter by Susan Wittig Albert (this is actually an 8-book series, which I enjoyed more than I can say – it is cozy as cozy gets), Hyperbole and a Half by Allie Brosh, The Silkworm by Robert Galbraith (AKA JK Rowling), and Life After Life by Kate Atkinson.

I also wrote and published 38 knitting patterns!

Ravelry my shop photo Ravelry_AnneArchy_Anne_Heidemann_s_Ravelry_Store_-_2015-01-01_131432_zps43788c2d.png

They’ve been selling fairly steadily and people seem pleased with the clarity of my pattern-writing, so that’s pretty awesome. And I knit 96 things in 2014! That is a lot of knitted items. 23 of those were xmas gifts and 6 were craft-it-forward gifts made to help folks remember to be excellent to each other.

For sewing, I conceived and created my first art quilt, titled Figure and Flock.

Figure and Flock -  art quilt by Anne Heidemann

It was featured in the grand opening art show at the local Dreamer coffee shop, which was pretty neat.

Last year I made some resolutions, which have gone pretty well for the most part.

  • Blog regularly: I did this fairly well – I posted 94 times in 2014
  • Continue to attend yoga class once a week at OmBodies: This one I let go (consciously uncoupled from?) – I decided that having my Sunday mornings to myself at home was more valuable to me, and the cost of weekly classes felt like too big a sacrifice when we’re trying to save for a down payment on our next home
  • Take more photographs, especially of Coraline while she’s awake (this will require some effort): This one was middling – I took a good number of photos, but the ones of Coraline are definitely mostly sleepy-face photos
  • Go for more walks/explore Mount Pleasant (this may not happen robustly until spring): Success! Once the harsh winter abated, we took Coraline for lots of walks, especially once we moved into our current apartment where it’s more neighborhoody.
  • Create a couple of websites for folks who could use them: This one didn’t really happen, but only because the folks ended up not really needing them. However, I did create a site for the Blythe Swap Group, which helped us tremendously because we have avenues of participation on three different social media sites and it was getting really difficult to keep track of everything. I taught myself how to do a few new things with WordPress, which was cool.
  • Participate as a swapper in the Blythe Swap Group at least a few times: Done! I did the Baby Animals and Halloween swaps, both of which were super fun.

For this coming year, I’m setting some more goals:

  • Blog regularly (keeping this one)
  • Participate as a swapper in the Blythe Swap Group at least a few times (keeping this one again)
  • Find ways to be excellent to others on a regular basis
  • Write up and publish the remainder of the Blythe knitting patterns I have started working on
  • Complete my current art quilt project
  • Spend time with near- and far-flung friends more often

Feeling pretty good about 2014 in retrospect gives me a pretty optimistic view for 2015 (unsurprising, since I’m generally optimistic anyway). How are you feeling about the last year? And the new?

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let’s hear it for the sisterhood

Last weekend, I went with some lady friends to a cabin up north for some rest, relaxation, and grrl time.

Shade Monger

We went to the beach one morning, which I actually enjoyed, thanks to lots of shade, a good book to read, and great company. (While we were up north I finished the final book in the Cottage Tales of Beatrix Potter series, which I heartily enjoyed. They are the coziest of mysteries, featuring a fictionalized imagining of Beatrix Potter’s life in the Land Between the Lakes, where she in real life purchased and maintained a couple of farms. I’m a little sad to be done with them.) As you can see, I am under a beach umbrella, under a canopied chair, and wearing a large sun hat. Plus lots of SPF, of course, should any stray piece of myself have managed to encounter the sun.

@shinyinfo 's Zen garden

I watched Kristin create a mini zen garden on the beach and enjoyed people-watching as well. There was a BT far down the shore, and someone was paddle-boarding with a boxer/mix! It was lovely.

Cool moth

There was lots of my type of communing with nature (meaning, for short periods of time and without a lot of direct contact) and this moth hung out on the screen for almost the entire weekend. I thought it was quite pretty. Anyone know what kind it is? (We took a group promise to not look things up on our phones for the weekend – we’re all librarians and tend to be the one who seeks out the answer to any question posed, so it was nice to give that a rest for a few days.)

Being outdoorsy, tried and enjoyed a smore #personalgrowth

I also attempted some personal growth in the form of being outside around the campfire each night and expanding my taste to include enjoying a s’more. I’ve been averse to marshmallows for years, but I decided I’d try one since it’d been decades since I last did. Turns out, it was alright! Not a taste I’ll probably pursue on the reg, but when in Rome, I can hack it.

The best part of the weekend was just getting to spend time with some of my closest female friends. We don’t get together often enough! We danced, we sang, we imbibed, we talked about body hair and the patriarchy – what more could a woman ask for?

 photo 10593321_514110358689751_1369144211_zpsb3a0c2d9.jpg

Thanks, ladies! I can’t wait to do it again!

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Shepherd Maple Syrup Festival Quilt Show

Last weekend we went to the Shepherd Maple Syrup Festival to check out the syrup, arts and crafts, and quilt show. I had considered entering a quilt myself, but didn’t get to it in time to make the deadline. Next year!

Odd as it seems, despite having lived in the area for close to 15 years in the 90s and 00s, this was my first time attending this festival. We got some syrup, of course, but skipped the really, really, really long lines for the all-you-can-eat pancake and sausage meal.

The quilt show was small but a nice mix of types of quilts by a few different quilters (some quilters had multiple pieces on display). As usual, I was most interested in the original quilts, but those made from commercial patterns were also very nicely made.

Some of the quilts had been made long ago, in some cases by older or now-deceased relatives of the person who entered the quilt in the show.

Shepherd Maple Syrup Festival quilt show

This one, which was one of the largest on display (96×68″), was hand-pieced by the owner’s mother, who used fabrics from the owner’s childhood. The dimensional quality of this design is really impressive.

Shepherd Maple Syrup Festival quilt show

I liked the nature/fantasy subject of this quilt (62×46″) by Carol Griffin. It is called Flower Belles and I suppose one could see the women as just that, but I thought they seemed to be flower fairies. I’ve been reading the Cottage Tales of Beatrix Potter series by Susan Wittig Albert, which has probably put fairies at the forefront of my mind.

Shepherd Maple Syrup Festival quilt show

I’m interested in portraits and depictions of figures in quilts and this was a nice example of a relatively simple approach that is realistic but still fun.

Shepherd Maple Syrup Festival quilt show

Another one of my favorites was this dog quilt, titled Moochas Pooches (57×46″).

Shepherd Maple Syrup Festival quilt show

While of course I would’ve liked it even more if it had included a Boston Terrier, this pug was cute enough to almost make up for it.

Shepherd Maple Syrup Festival quilt show

The smallest piece (10×8″) on display was this framed fabric art, titled Lake Michigan and made by Carrie Dunn. To make it, she used raw edge applique, a technique that I have been reading a lot about since seeing it used on some of the art quilts in Lenore Crawford’s exhibit at Art Reach in February.

Shepherd Maple Syrup Festival quilt show

One of my favorites of the day was this horse wall hanging (36×47.5″), pieced by Carol Griffin. I’m not particularly interested in horses as a subject, but the piecing and construction of the quilt caught my eye.

Shepherd Maple Syrup Festival quilt show

I like the combination of fabrics the artist used, as well as the variety of stitch techniques she used to create the impression of texture and movement.

One thing I found notable was that, with the exception of the tied and vintage or antique quilts, very few of the pieces on display had been quilted by the same person who pieced them. I suppose that most of the folks doing the piecing take their quilt sandwich to a professional machine quilter and pay them to do the machine quilting. I’m not opposed to this on principle, but I definitely feel like, for me, it would take something away from the overall achievement of having completed a quilt. The same is true for using pre-made quilt patterns, as I prefer to make it up myself, or at least make up most of it in the cases where I might use a well-known quilt block design as inspiration. I want to do it all myself! (This is probably why it takes me ages to finish anything.)

Shepherd Maple Syrup Festival quilt show

One of the things that I was excited to see was the chance to participate in a contest in next year’s show! The challenge is called Spring Fling 15. It cost $1 to sign up, which provided a small piece of fabric that should be incorporated into the entry. The finished piece can be any shape and size as long as the perimeter is between 60 and 100″ total. All the entries will be displayed in next year’s festival and awards will be given for the best representation of the theme, best use of color, and best workmanship in piecing and/or applique. I’m excited to plan my piece.

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