It’s been over a week since I got back from Quilt Con in Austin, and I don’t want to miss the chance to wax poetic about what a great, inspiring show it was! I knew that the quilts would be amazing, and I was excited about many of the lectures I had planned to see. Well, I was just blown away by how informative and entertaining the lectures were, and how inspired I felt by the work and the great community of modern quilters I met (or re-met) there. I heard about the history of “modern” from Thomas Knauer, Learned about photography from David Butler, learned about color from Amy Butler, heard about the paths to design taken by Heather Ross, Anna Maria Horner and the amazing Denyse Schmidt, plus got lots of information on publishing for books and magazines and the role of the quilt guilds. And to top it off, I got to see AUSTIN for the first time, and had a total blast. What a great city! Here is a small and random selection of quilts in the show, as well as a few shots of Austin. Enjoy!
Our new Modern Home collection arrived last week, and we’re now shipping! The studio is stocked full of graphic geometrics and mid-century inspired prints, just waiting to be turned into cool projects. I have plans to make some lounge pants from Living Room, and I’m going to try out a new pattern I’m working on to make a tunic from Pebbles and Little Leaves. What would you make with these prints?
Hello, blogosphere! I’ve taken a long blog break, and these past few months have been a flurry of designing and growing here at Monaluna. Things are finally calming down a bit, and I’m excited to get back to projects and blogging.
I started last week with what turned out to be a pretty ambitious organizing project. I had been carefully ignoring the towering, disorganized scrap pile in my closet for months, and had finally had enough of it. At the same time, Anabelle’s school put out a call for extra blankets and quilts, and I decided it was time to make something from those extra odd pieces. The piecing for three little quilts only took Saturday afternoon, and I hardly had to cut – I just arranged the pieces I had in blocks, and trimmed them to fit where necessary. The backing, binding and quilting took a bit more time, but it felt really good to see them coming together, and I even hand quilted (very quickly and sloppily) 2 of the 3, the first time I’ve done that in years! It was so easy and fun that I decided to organize and bundle all the remaining scraps and make them available on the website. It turned out to be a bit of an undertaking, but in the 5 days since I put them up there they’ve been VERY popular, and the first batch are almost gone! Now that I have the hang of it I’ll be able to add them more frequently, though, and keep my scrap piles at more manageable levels.
Good things come in priority mail packages! I’ve been working with the talented Melissa Lunden, of Lunden Designs, to develop a chevron quilt pattern for Havana, and I just received the sample quilt in the mail. So pretty! She worked two prints into each chevron stripe, and the back is a really nice patchwork using four different prints. I love it, and I hope you do too! The pattern will be available soon.
Every couple of months, my husband and I get together with a group of friends for an “iron-chef” style dinner party. Mostly, it’s just a pot-luck dinner party, but to make things interesting, a key, seasonal ingredient is chosen, and we all make a dish incorporating it. Last week, the ingredient was pears, and Dave and I were supposed to bring dessert. I’ve been on a bit of a goat cheese kick lately, and I decided to make a tart pairing the two. We didn’t win – that honor went to the ridiculously delicious pear and prosciutto pizza – but it was pretty good, if I do say so myself! Here’s the recipe:
Pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees and grease a pie or tart pan. Make sure goat cheese is at room temp.
1/2 c + 2 Tbsp butter
1/4 c powdered sugar
1/8 tsp salt
1 1/4 c. flour
Cream the butter and powdered sugar together using a hand mixer until fluffy. Then add in the salt and flour and mix until it just holds together. Press into the bottom and sides of a greased pie or tart pan. Bake the crust at 350 degrees for 15 minutes. Remove from oven and cool. Raise the oven temperature to 375 degrees. While the crust is cooling, warm the honey glaze, prepare the filling and then slice the pears.
goat cheese filling
1 1/2 packages (12 oz) mild goat cheese at room temp (I used the 365 goat cheese from Whole Foods)
21/2 Tbsp sugar
Mix the cheese and sugar together until soft and pliable
1/4 c. honey
dash of vanilla
few shakes of cinnamon
couple of drops water if necessary
Warm ingredients together in a saucepan.
3-4 ripe pears, sliced thin
With a spatula, press the goat cheese filling into the cooled crust. Cut the pears in half and slice very thin, then arrange the pears on the filling.
When pears are arranged, brush liberally with the honey glaze.
Bake the tart at 375 for about 30 minutes or until pears are soft and crust is slightly browned. Check regularly. Remove from the oven, and brush again with the honey glaze. Enjoy!
It was a gorgeous Northern California fall day here yesterday, and we took advantage of the golden light to do a little photoshoot of our new Modern Home collection. We got two of our favorite models and headed down to the open space near our house for some beautiful backdrops. Here are a few of the photos, plus a sneak peek of the full collection. I hope you like them! I will be introducing the collection at Quilt Market this month, and it’s expected to arrive in December. Anabelle’s dress is made from the Charlie Dress Pattern by Made by Rae.
I grew up in a family and community that was very aware of environmental issues, and pretty active in the environmental movement. My mom started the first recycling truck in our neighborhood, we were members of the local health food co-op, and I learned how to make solar panels in my third grade class. So I knew about the benefits of organic products, and I would buy organic cotton when I could, but it always seemed hard to find, and with limited options. I was interested in supporting organic cotton, but it didn’t seem easy.
In 2009 I had just started licensing my designs for fabric when I heard a piece on NPR’s All Things Considered that profiled the health effects of pesticide use by cotton farmers in India. It really personalized the issue for me, and prompted me to learn more about conventional cotton farming and the alternatives that organic cotton could offer. What I learned surprised and impressed me. Here are some facts:
-Conventionally farmed cotton is one of the most chemically dependent crops, using up to 25 different pesticides and fertilizers, several of which are toxic to humans or are known carcinogens
-Organic cotton is grown without the use of toxic synthetic pesticides and herbicides, and without synthetic, nitrogen-based fertilizers. Instead, organic production uses farming techniques that focus on soil and plant health, including crop rotation, companion planning, local plant varietals and beneficial insects to produce a better crop.
-The synthetic, nitrogen-based fertilizers used in conventional cotton farming dramatically increase the carbon footprint of the cotton crop. Excess nitrogen can escape into the atmosphere, streams and groundwater, contaminating the water supply and contributing to the proliferation of greenhouse gasses.
-Alternately, organic cotton farming represents a significantly smaller environmental footprint. It releases less greenhouse gas, does not contaminate groundwater, uses less energy and, due to the improved quality of the soil, uses significantly less water. There is an interesting blog post on this issue here.
-Conventional cotton farming can pose serious health risks to the farmers and farming communities, particularly in areas where proper use guidelines may not be followed. In addition, the finishing process for conventional cottons can involve numerous toxic chemicals, exposing mill workers to health risks as well.
-Conventional cotton can contain residues of pesticides and finishing agents, particularly formaldehyde, that can cause skin irritations and health affects to the end user.
-In contrast, GOTS-certified organic cotton is produced using no toxic chemicals throughout the entire production process, ensuring a healthier working environment for the farmers and mill workers, and a healthier, higher-quality product for the end user. Additionally, the GOTS certification signifies that the product is fair-trade, ensuring that it was produced under safe, healthy and equitable conditions. Read more about the Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS) and what it covers here.
After learning all this, I realized that I wanted to help promote organic cotton farming in whatever way I could, and I decided to launch my own organic cotton company, Monaluna. Although the first few collections were too small to use the GOTS-certified dyes, we – my husband Dave and I – are now producing GOTS-certified collections exclusively, and we are committed to supporting organic and sustainable farming practices.
These days, organic fabric is much easier to find, and the choices are wonderful and varied. They are still more expensive, but in light of the above points, the benefits are vast. Next time you’re in the market for fabric, do yourself and the environment a favor and try an organic alternative.
When I got back from our family vacation I had a great surprise waiting: two big boxes of the Havana sample bolts! Like Christmas in August. I’ve been happily playing around with them, sewing a few samples, planning quilts and trying to figure out how to show them best at Quilt Market. I have to say, I’m loving this collection! There is a warm red/pink/green colorway, and a teal/blue/green colorway, and they’re both vibrant and bright and fun. Here are some images to get your imaginations going. The full collection should be here in October!
Since the Fox Hollow shipment still hasn’t arrived (fingers crossed for Monday!), I’ve been keeping myself very busy here designing two new collections and making a lot of things with plums. I’ve been stuck in that part of my creative process where things are starting to come together, but not quite working yet, and I always find it frustrating and a bit nerve-wracking, so its been nice to have a completely different creative outlet to turn my attention to here and there. I find myself feeling a little guilty for not putting every bit of time into the collections (I’m actually really late at this point), but sometimes it helps to take a break, and I’ve really enjoyed celebrating the bounty of our garden. Here are some photos from the last week in plum-land:
|plum infused vodkas|
Both the plum sorbet and the spiced plums were made from recipes in the absolutely beautiful book Plum Gorgeous by Romney Steele. I highly recommend it to anyone who wants some inspiration for backyard produce!
We have a LOT of plums! These all came from one little tree, and there are tons more on the ground. Seriously, what am I going to do with all of these plums? Ideas? Suggestions? Recipes?? I may need to gather plum ideas for next year, seeing as how we have an extremely productive plum tree.
I hope you all have a wonderful weekend!