About From the Homestead

A crafter and homesteader in south Minneapolis


Hooray! I’ve been accepted into the Powderhorn Arts Fair as one of the main exhibitors. Hooray! The PAF is the first weekend of August, Saturday the 3rd and Sunday the 4th.  It’s 10am to 5 or 6 each day. A long, long weekend – but super fun! And a glorious setting.  There are almost 200 artists of various types side by side all the way around the Powderhorn lake.  There is food, crafts for kids, a giant book sale, demonstrations, puppet shows for kids, music, etc all in a gorgeous park setting. It’s also the same weekend as the Loring Park Art Festival and the Uptown Art Festival. Often the city will run buses or offer passes for people to travel between all three art fairs. I think ours is the best location because we get a nice breeze and it can be slightly cooler by the lake. Very helpful because it is often super hot and humid in August!  Hmm, hard to imagine heat and humidity right now, in March. Sounds kind of good! =)

I have  a lot of preparing to do!



The newest member of the stuffed animal menagerie: a pig!


I adore his little ears, cute wonky nose, and tiny little eyes.  I based him off of my sheep pattern. It took a couple tries to get him just right, but now I’m ready to make a bunch of adorable little piggies.


And I’m wondering, what other animals will translate well into this flat toy style? Someone suggested a llama – they’re hot right now.  As much as I’d like to just start making all sorts of animals, I have to wait for my brain and imagination to really latch onto the next idea and perfect it.  I’ve got to tease out the ideas first, otherwise I end up with multiple horrible looking attempts!


snuffle, snuffle – don’t you just love me!?


My husband Jeremy has been telling me for years that I should make stuffed animals.  While I grew up loving and hoarding piles of stuffed animals, I wasn’t sure that stuffed animals really fit into the goals of my business.  I’ve said since the beginning that I want to make beautiful, well-made, and practical items.  So tea cozies, tote bags, pouches, glasses cases – they all are beautiful, well-made, and practical!  I guess quilts aren’t always that practical when I think about it. A quilt to hang on your wall is a piece of art.  Can a piece of art be called “practical”? It adds beauty to your life, but does it make your life any easier or help you in some way? I think this could be argued either way.

Obviously I have been arguing that art isn’t practical. And along the same lines, stuffed animals aren’t practical. They’re just toys!

But, very slowly, I’ve been making stuffed animals here and there – a few sheep, a few whales, a fish, some elephants.  And people really love them! They may not be practical, but something that makes people that giddy can’t be bad. (And yes, it’s the same for art. It makes people happy – and that’s not bad!)


Last fall I dropped off a bunch of new sheep stuffed animals (with legs!) at a local bookstore, Moon Palace Books. Also, a few elephants and a fish.  I started with all white sheep, the close cousins of my tea cozies.  Then later I added some black sheep.

A month or so ago the idea of stuffed animals exploded in my head and more animals are coming.  I made fleece rainbow stripe sheep; argyle sheep; sheeps with hearts. I made sheep out of felted wool sweaters.  I’ve got more sheep in progress: lumberjack plaid sheep, tie-dye sheep, polka dot sheep.

P1070675   plaidsheep1c

heartsheep1b   Woolsheep2b


Woolsheep3c    Woolsheep1b

I’m having loads of fun with them.  If it’s this much fun for me, it can’t be all that bad! =)


And of course there is the sheep hat! Ever since I started selling tea cozies, people have been trying them on as hats; especially since the animals came along.  People are quite sure these are meant to be hats, not tea cozies. Tea cozies don’t work really well as hats though. It has been on my mind for around two years now to make a sheep hat since people wanted it so much.  But try as I might, I could not figure out how to do it! I make tea cozies, not hats!  I drew designs and tried them out with no luck. I used my own hats and made patterns out of them to no avail. I bought an actual hat pattern, modified it with a sheep head, and it completely failed.  I have more than a half dozen creepy, weird, or disastrous looking attempts at sheep hats in a basket in my sewing room.

A couple weeks ago I finally had a breakthrough. What if, instead of trying to make a hat look like a sheep, I try to make the tea cozies work as hats? I put a tea cozy on my head, pinned it where it needed to be taken in, and went from there.  And, voila! It worked!!


It’s incredibly ridiculous and I have trouble believing people will wear a hat like this, but it has been received with rave reviews by a few friends.  I have to figure out sizing next. This is the “adult” size and I’m sure more kids will want to wear this than adults.  So I have to figure out kid head sizes. Then I’ll take the plunge and make some up. I am hoping to get into the Powderhorn Art Fair again this August. I should find out on Friday!  If I do – there will be sheep head gear. =)

First big quilt in awhile

Elsewhere on this blog I’ve posted pictures of one of my favorite quilt patterns ever – the stained glass quilt. (I’m not sure what the pattern is actually called.) I’ve made three of these now in the past several years and actually managed to sell two of them.  I just love the way they look.  They are relatively easy to make and a good way to use up some colorful scraps.

stained glass quilt detail

I’ve had the quilt itch now for several months. I’ve been looking through my quilt books, looking at my towering stack of scraps, thinking, dreaming.  I was going to make another small art/wall hanging quilt. I even got going at one point with an idea…but it seems to have failed.  I folded that project up and hid it away. It will come out again someday when I’m ready to face it again. It just didn’t work the way I thought it would.

Somehow, out of the blue last week, I decided I was going to make another stained glass quilt, but a big one this time.  I dug through my mountain of scraps looking for big enough pieces to cut up.  I ordered a few yards of tone-on-tone black spotty fabric for the black part.

I had the color pieces cut out by Friday (the 22nd) and then the black fabric arrived that day. So I spent the whole weekend working on this quilt.

It will be stunning when it’s done (it already is stunning!) but it kicked my butt and I’m definitely over the quilting itch now.  Nothing speeds that along like making multiple, and I mean multiple, mistakes!  First I did my math completely wrong. You’d think it would be very easy – this design is about the most simple there is – but somehow I managed it. After every single last piece was put together I realized they were too big, so I had to cut about 1/8 inch off two sides… of every piece. Grr.

I got that straightened out and then started sewing the squares together. First it’s one to one, then those groups of two to each other, then groups of four to each other, etc.  With the smaller quilts I always laid out the whole quilt and then sewed the blocks together in rows.  It was small enough to do that and I didn’t want any similar colors/patterns touching so it made sense. But this quilt is so much larger that it didn’t make sense to lay it all out first. There were enough colors/patterns that I knew I could avoid that (for the most part).  After sewing the two-patches together though, I discovered that it matters which side is sewed together as I sewed roughly HALF of them wrong! So I had to tear those all out and resew. Argh!

But I kept at it.  In the end I was just four individual squares short so I found some pieces to make those last squares. I had adjusted the math on my pattern so future pieces would be cut right. But wouldn’t you know, I adjusted wrong so those pieces were too small! I cut them apart, cut new black pieces and did it again. FINALLY, I had my last few pieces in and the inner part of the quilt was done.

I just finished putting on the last two borders and then I’m totally going to have someone else quilt this beauty!



I feel the need to make quilts is totally gone for now and I’m quite excited to get back to all the other projects I’ve been putting off!



Christmas project (and hey, where have I been?)

I’ve been sewing Christmas presents for years and years. I often end up with at least one bigger gift each year. Quilts for my siblings, a quilt for my mother-in-law, stuffed animals, etc. I guess quilts are usually the biggest things I give!

This year folks on Jeremy’s side of the family emailed around lists and hints for presents. Our nephew said he would like an “interesting hoodie.”  Well what does that mean!? I asked his moms for further info.  I got that he would take any color, he wanted a thick hood, an inner pocket on the chest for pens, and a hole in one pocket for feeding his ipod cord through.  I asked his sister what image I could put on the hoodie. She suggested something from Dr. Who. Back then, in November, I had never seen an episode of Dr Who and didn’t know a thing about it. My niece suggested a “tardis” because a “dalek” might be too complicated to make. Whatever those things are!

I looked up pictures and saw that actually anything from Dr Who could be quite complicated. I decided to purchase some patches of K-9 and a dalek, and I made my own giant tardis patch for the back of the hoodie. I’m quite pleased with how it turned out and my nephew (who is 13) loves it. He apparently doesn’t leave the house without wearing it, which is definitely success in my book.

(And don’t you worry about me and Dr. Who – I am embarrassed to admit how many seasons I’ve gotten through since the end of November. I am an addict for sure! =)

K-9 patch for hoodie pocket

K-9 patch for hoodie pocket


The whole beautiful tardis, on the back of the hoodie.


detail of the tardis hoodie. I used a tiny zig zag stitch for most of the lines. I ran out of time and had to embroider the lines on the right side by hand.


The dalek patch is on the left side, on the chest and there is a pen pock sewn on the inside. The dalek hides the stitches from showing on the front.


I also made an awesome winter hat for my niece out of felted sweaters; a stuffed sheep for my 3-year-old niece… hmm, that’s all I can remember making for Christmas! Wacky. My poor brother got more pillows from me. I doubt any male likes that many pillows (he got two from me a couple years ago, and I think he got some from my mom this year or last.) He’s like Drew in Never Been Kissed – except he’s not the one making the pillows!  Oh, I made a little wallet out of ties for my sister-in-law.

I received some great fabric for Christmas and some amazing gingher scissors. I did not know what sharp scissors were like till I got these.  Using them… it’s like the difference between hand-piecing a quilt and machine-piecing; or like the difference between cutting out quilt pieces with scissors and using a rotary cutter and ruler.  All you can think is, “how did I do this before?” They are marvelous.

Here we are in 2013.  What will this year have in store? I don’t have any dates in store for art/craft sales or markets, though I am applying and planning to apply for several. I do have one new product in my shop that I have been thinking about and trying to work out for a year or two. I’m quite pleased with the final product.

penguin french press cozy

penguin french press cozy

cute penguin!

cute penguin!

I’ve made one owl too, but that was a special order so I’ll have to make more of those.

I’ve also managed to find some good black faux fur so I’m making black sheeps now; and my sheep stuffed animals now have legs which makes them so much cuter.

Here’s hoping 2013 is full of great art/craft shows, lots of time for making fun creations, and maybe developing some more great creations!



I feel like I’ve been recovering from the Art Fair for a long time! But really, I’m sure the recovery didn’t take that long; after recovered I was just enjoying doing other projects. That is: not sewing!

But I’m gearing up again for a busy fall and finishing up a few outstanding projects.  The first was replacing a coat lining. It was a wool coat with one of those pathetic satin-type linings that wear out and shred to pieces – you know, the standard lining in coats these days? I carefully removed the whole lining and took mental notes on how the lining had been put together and put into the coat. I ironed out the pieces, pinned them to the new fabric, and cut out new pieces.



Here’s a close-up where you can see the shredded arm pit region:


I have to admit I’m always surprised when these things turn out. I actually know what I’m doing!! Or at least, I was lucky? Anyway, I got the lining sewed back in, the sleeves were long enough, and it turned out pretty nice.




Yes, I even sewed the care instructions back in right where they had been.  =)


Next projects? Replacing a coat zipper (doesn’t seem like a fun photo essay though) and making some new cushions for a pair of chairs.  The foam is cut out and the top and bottom of each cushion is cut out, with cording sewed on.  I’m just waiting for zippers so I can finish these up. I liked how they’re looking so far.




Just so you know, I did NOT plan for the cording and cushion patterns to match up perfectly… it just sort of happened that way. =)

After this I’ve got a lot of sheep tea cozies to make. Those fuzzy tea warmers are needed everywhere!

Mark your calendars for my upcoming shows this fall/winter and I’ll give more details later:

  • November 9-10, Craftastic in south Minneapolis
  • November 17, Green Gifts Fair in south Minneapolis at the Midtown Global Exchange
  • December 15, Women’s Art Festival in south Minneapolis at the YWCA

Yep, I prefer shows that are no more than 10 or 15 blocks from my house.  It narrows the options, but there are some good ones even in that area. Alright – back to sewing!

Want some mice in your kitchen?

Not the furry squeaky kind of course!!  I mean, these mice:


That’s right – these are the mice that are up for grabs!!  The contest goes live tomorrow, August 19th, on the HandmadeMN blog. How can you enter? Check out the page sometime tomorrow and the post will tell you how. But it’s pretty simple, all you have to do is leave comments on the post over at the Handmade blog and each comment counts as an entry. But wait till the contest is announced! Only comments on that post are counted. =)

Now, for those of you paying attention and actually reading this post – a bonus, of sorts. If you win the drawing, you can pick out any pair of mice in my store. You may love these beautiful red ones, which is great, but if red isn’t your thing, I’ve got lots of other colors too. So if you win and you want a different pair, just let me know. Good luck!