Sunday, December 25, 2011

Christmas Wrap Up


If you’ve followed my blog the last year, you’ve seen that I love to make Christmas gifts for friends. Last year I made notepad covers and the year before, handbags. This year I made two dozen mittens from thrift shop sweaters that I washed and felted and added polar fleece lining to make them very cozy! As usual I overbought on the sweaters so have plenty left for future projects!


Also this year I thought a very special little girl would like a poncho in PINK with butterflies on it instead of mittens. This was a simple pattern with hood that took less than 2 hours total!  If you start in September, you can have it all done before Halloween and it is so fun to give something that you made.


And for the neighbors, we use this Swedish saffron bread recipe and make trees for their Christmas breakfasts and deliver them on the 24th!  I make the dough and my husband rolls out the tree shapes. It is sooooooo delicious and a recipe in my family since the 60’s.


Next to our tree this year, you can see my Christmas present on the wall…a Noriko Endo quilt from an earlier post.

The tree skirt is a pattern that we sold when I started the company….it’s ornaments with fancy machine stitches and comes with a wallhanging and a pillow. DSCN8374DSCN8375


On the tree are many ornaments that I’ve made throughout the years. Here are machine embroidered ones from Criswell that I used to give to all the elementary teachers.



I made these smocked ornaments. The first year that the Clintons were in the White House, they asked many artists to make blue and gold ornaments for their tree and I made one for them. They sent a lovely photo of the tree and a card. It was exciting!


I love my Christmas stocking because it is a sewing studio! A friend made this for me when I was in grad school in exchange for a formal dress that she wore to her boyfriend’s military ball. I think it was a good deal…I still have the stocking but the dress is long gone I hear!

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We collect these German ornaments by Heutschenreuter ( a ceramics firm) and they may be the most expensive ornaments on the tree but the one below is the most valuable!


   Made by my oldest son when he was in pre-school!

Hope you all enjoyed a very happy day with your family! Now for my husband’s sauerbraten dinner!

P.S. I already know what gift I’m making next year en masse!  Stay tuned!

Monday, December 19, 2011

Christmas baking at my house

This is not at all related to quilting or book publishing but…it’s the most interesting subject I could come up with now!

My husband is from Germany, where many of these traditions originated. For the holidays, he bakes several kinds of delicious cookies while I sit on the sofa.  A few years ago he and another German-American friend, Scott, started baking cookies together, or more specifically, springerle cookies!  Those are very difficult cookies to master and it is a two-day process. I thought I’d share a bit of it with you.

Here are the molds that you use to press into the dough to make the cookies. They are very beautiful with old world scenes and come in wood, resin and the metal ones.

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You can get practically any motif on a springerle board nowadays….I even have a Chinese dragon one!

They first started doing this in Scott’s mom’s kitchen with her grandmother’s recipe. After that Scott brought his mixer over to our house but this year everyone…his 2 sisters, sister-in-law, a friend and my husband baked in their new kitchen!  It was wild because part of the recipe is to have the mixers going at full speed for ONE HOUR! Imagine that in the olden times, you took turns beating the dough by hand for an hour!

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Here are all the mixing/work stations. The younger crowd was learning the techniques and ‘secrets’ too so it was lots of fun!

Here is what the men do when the mixers are going….


only German beer of course!

IMG_2675 After mixing, you roll out the dough to an even thickness.

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Then, you press a mold onto the top of the dough and it looks like this.

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Next a fluted wheel is used to cut the cookies apart/or you can use a knife.

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Then they sit on a tray in a dry,cool place overnight where the tops dry out so that when they are baked, you don’t lose the definition of the impression. There are anise seeds sprinkled on the tray.

When baked the next day, the underside of the cookies rise and spring ‘feet’. These are really white/ivory in color but the kitchen lighting came up more yellow.


Besides these cookies, my husband makes cinnamon stars, wasp’s nests, macaroons with chocolate drizzled on them, lebkuchen and our favorite…spitzbuben…a ground almond cookie sandwiched with currant jelly between and powdered sugar on top!

It’s a fabulous and fattening season!

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Winners and their Quilts

From our last blog post, the quilt that won the most votes to become a silk scarf was SPIDERWEB by a huge margin so expect to see that soon in the Sassaman and Dragon Threads online sites.

The winner of the mousepad Sassaman style is ‘lila’. There is no email on her profile, so please send it to me on a comment below and I’ll contact you for your address to send the mousepad.

Here are photos of some of the winning quilts from Quilt Festival in Houston and the quilters. It was great to walk around and talk to some of the winners on Friday.


This is Maria Elkins. I can’t wait until next week when she comes to speak at our guild!



These two quilts above are by my Quilt Festival roomie, Susan Brubaker Knapp. She is author of a great new book called, Point, Click Quilt! She has a fun blog that you should look at.


This is the famous Sharon Schamber who has won a major award at Houston for years! The amazing part of this quilt to me is the red weaving you can see here between the petals and around the border. I asked her how she did it but I’m still not sure. Spectacular.


My Bernina Artisan pal, Barb Shapel did this gorgeous quilt. What I love about her quilts is that some of them have an entirely different scene on the back. Two quilts in one! I was dying to see the back of this one so I went to her website and here is what I found….



Deborah Kemball from Chile was graciously answering many questions and handing out her postcards. I see on her website that she has a new book too. This is all hand quilted and called Euphoria. Her work is breathtaking in person.


I would love to hang this one in my livingroom! I’m partial to Oriental design and especially Chinese dragons as you can probably guess! Sue McCarty made this and had an interesting story about it below.  The borders are all gold threadwork which is so thick it looks like painting. She won a $10,000 award!



I’d also love to have this quilt by Megan Farkas of Sanbornton, NH.  The detail and colors are my favorites. On facebook, search ‘Quilts by Megan Farkas".

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Life in the City by Sheila Frampton-Cooper is one of the two awards she won this year. There is an article about her in the latest Quilting Arts magazine! A young quilter that you should watch!


O Happy Day by Timna Tarr was just so eye-catching… simple design with effective use of color! It certainly is a happy quilt!

And then this quilt was a big winner and appropriate for this season!

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The talent at this show was phenomenal….can’t wait to go next year!