I am a part of a book club with 10 or so other friends, and 2014 was our second year together.
At the beginning of each year we all nominate 4 books, we each get one shoe-in (although everyone has absolute veto power), then we discuss and vote on the rest. Each month a different member is the host; they feed us and we drink and have lively conversations.
I spent 4 years reading almost nothing but classics, with a special affinity for Russian literature. This group has made me read books I never would otherwise and I love that!
My thoughts, in the order in which we read them:
“Pale Fire” by Vladimir Nabakov — N/A — I did not make it very far into this book. It felt a little tedious at the time, though I’d love to still read it one of these days.
“The Interestings” by Meg Wolitzer — ★☆☆☆☆ — This book was anything but interesting. It partly hinges on the idea that one of the main characters is “the funny one” but she is not, which makes the rest of it kind of fall apart.
“A Super Sad True Love Story” by Gary Shteyngart — ★★★☆☆ — I kept waiting for this book to get super sad, and it never really does. But in the meantime, it’s an amusing and interesting idea of the future, including the over-saturation of technology and obsession with beauty and youth.
“Oryx and Crake” by Margaret Atwood — ★★★★☆ — I loved this book. It’s the first of the MaddAddam trilogy, which I quickly read all of. It’s an interesting and strangely beautiful idea of the future including the propagation of diseases to assist natural selection.
“Salt: A World History” by Mark Kurlansky — ★☆☆☆☆ — This book was so boring. It seems like it wouldn’t be so difficult to write about history in a compelling way (Jared Diamond and Erik Larson do it very well!) but this book definitely did not.
“The Lowland” by Jhumpa Lahiri — N/A — I didn’t read this book; it was just one of those months. But it’s still waiting for me on my bedside table!
“Who Fears Death” by Nnedi Okorafor — ★★★★★ — This was my second favorite book of the year. I didn’t finish it in time for that month’s meeting, so parts of the ending were spoiled for me but I plowed through it soon afterwards and loved it.
“The Love Affairs of Nathaniel P” by Adele Waldman — ★★★☆☆ — This book was entertaining but didn’t have a lot of depth. Well, it delved into the mind of a man in his playboy prime but in a way that, as a girl, was very disheartening.
“The Witches of Eastwick” by John Updike — ★★☆☆☆ — I didn’t totally finish this book because I got so bored, but made it far enough through to judge it.
“A Good Man is Hard to Find” by Flannery O’Connor — N/A — I didn’t read this either, even though it was a short story and would have taken no time at all. I bought it in an anthology with all of her short stories and I hope to read them soon.
“Battling Boy” by Paul Pope — ★★☆☆☆ — We have read graphic novels in December for the last two years. I find myself reading through them so quickly that I hardly pay attention to the illustration, which is the best part of the book.
“Burial Rites” by Hannah Kent — ★★★★★ — This was my favorite book of the year, hands down. Though it’s a fairly bleak story set in northern Iceland in the 1820s, Hannah’s writing style is so smooth and lyrical, it was hard to put it down. I have had a fascination with Iceland for a long time and I very much want to visit.
We are starting off this year with another Margaret Atwood novel called “The Handmaid’s Tale.” At our next meeting we will be deciding on books for the rest of the year and welcoming a couple new members. Do you have any recommendations?
I love keeping track of books on Goodreads. Find me there and be my friend!
Happy new year! I have some very exciting news to tell y’all…
Beginning February 1st, I will be the proud owner of The Little General, a beautiful and cheery fabric store located locally in Reynolda Village, and Eileen Quilts, my friend’s longarm quilting business, and combining our forces.
The owners of both are good friends of mine that have been so kind and encouraging in this process and I couldn’t be more excited!
Gina asked me some fun questions for the announcement newsletter that I thought is include here for any new readers. (Welcome, by the way!) We will be having a “Meet Kait” party at the Little General on January 16th and I’d love if you came by!
Tell us a little bit a bout yourself!
I was born and grew up in Northern California. Moving away when I was 20, I have lived in Minneapolis, DC, Roanoke Virgina, and in Winston Salem for the last 4 and a half years. I have been a barista for 7 years and coffee is an important part of my life. I enjoy classic literature, especially Russian novels, my favorite being “The Master and Margarita” by Mikhail Bulgakov. I have a cat named Amos and two dogs, Jackson and Adelaide. I am part of an artist studio collective in downtown Winston Salem called Electric Pyramid Studios. I have 17 tattoos including one of my 1947 Singer Featherweight, one that was part of an art project, and one that’s shared by 56 other people.
What do you love most about sewing?
I love that something I’ve made might still be around longer than I am. No one that I know of in my family was a quilter so I don’t have any hand-me-downs, but the idea of passing a quilt down through generations is inspiring.
How did you learn to sew?
I took a sewing class when I was 12 where I learned clothing construction. I made a cropped halter top, fully lined with ties at the back and neck, from neon swirly polyester fabric and I have no idea what I was thinking! I got my first sewing machine when I was 15, a Pfaff that I still use. I worked at JoAnn Fabrics when I was 18 and decided one day I wanted to learn to quilt so I bought some fabric and figured it out. I haven’t stopped since.
Do you have any favorite sewing memories?
The aforementioned halter top is pretty funny to remember. But earlier this year I had a friend approach me about making a quilt for her fiance for their wedding and not a week later, her fiance came to me and asked me to make a quilt for her for their wedding! So unbeknownst to each other, they got each other quilts. They exchanged them a couple days before the ceremony and were so surprised and excited about it. It was a neat thing to be a part of.
If you were stuck on a desert island with one fabric designer, who would you pick and why?
This is a hard one! I’d think I’d like it to be Katy Jones. Her and I have mutually admired each other in secret from afar but I think we would get a long really well and have fun.
Where do you turn for creative inspiration?
I get a lot of inspiration from being around other creative people. Electric Pyramid Studios, of which I am a part, has 14 participants including painters, sewers, a printmaker, a multi-surface embroiderer, and an upholsterer. Just walking around the space inspires me. Pinterest and blogs are also full of inspiration.
Tell us about KaitCetera
I started my blog 7 years ago, though it took awhile to become the creative place it is now. It used to be called Sew it All but then the magazine and television station of the same name came up so I changed it to kaitcetera, because it was more than just sewing. I write about quilts and clothing I’ve made, things I cook, thrifting finds, my animals, travel, and books. I hope to keep kaitcetera going in some form and will continue to sell my own quilts with that label.
What most excites you about your new adventure with The Little General?
I can’t wait to interact with a larger part of the sewing and quilting community, to possibly bring inspiration to others. The shop is such a cheerful and beautiful place and I hope to carry on lifting people’s spirits through it’s environment.
Tell us a little about your quilting and fashion aesthetic!
I lean on the modern side of quilting. I’ve always thought I would like to be an architect and quilting is a great mix of creativity and precision. I like to mix colors and fabrics that you wouldn’t necessarily think go together and enjoy using negative space.
What’s your favorite non crafty thing to do?
I really enjoy baking! I have tattoos on my calves, St Clare of Assisi, the patron saint of needleworkers, and St Honoratus of Amiens, the patron saint of bakers and confectioners. Cranberry caramel almond tart, blueberry basil goat cheese pie, chocolate babka, mint cream filled cupcakes with raspberry mousse topping… Yes please!
Joseph Gordon Levitt.
We hear you have some exciting long-arm related news! Is there anything you’d like to share with us about that!?
I have been given the amazing opportunity to buy a longarm machine! It has been a friend of mine and I have been able to use it over the last 2 years, but now I get to bring it to the shop! It’s a Gammill Optimum Statler Stitcher that will hold quilts up to 118″ wide. I will be attending a Gammill/Statler conference at the end of the month to increase my skill set and look forward to playing around, experimenting, and eventually offering classes and rental!
When I set out to make my mom a quilt a couple years ago, I cut out enough blocks from Jay McCarrol’s Habitat collection to make two queen sized quilts. But the blocks ended up being needlessly complicated and having two sets of blocks made it more so.
Just like the Spring Maples quilt, I found the orphaned blocks and put 4 of them together, changing each slightly and trimming every block down to 20″ finished (instead of 24″) and adding 2″ sashing and borders, bringing this quilt to 50″ square.
It’s backed with the much-loved Ikea numbers fabric and other Habitat prints. It’s longarm quilted with pale grey thread in a swirly pantograph called Fern, and bound in scraps from trimming the back.
I’m bummed Swoon is such a tedious pattern, because I really like the block. The cutting directions are specific to fat quarters, but the block could be made much easier by making two sets of 8 half square triangles and two sets of flying geese, along with the squares. Maybe one day…
Anyway, this quilt is for sale! It’s $300; email me if you’re interested!
kait [at] kaitcetera [dot] com
Thanks again to Laura for helping me take pictures!
After moving into the studio and being more than ready to start churning out some quilts, I went to my orphan block bin and found some maple leaves I had left behind from this quilt.
I stuck them up on the design wall, added a random smattering of squares, and filled in the blanks with white. I knew right away I would back it with a vintage sheet and some extra stripes and squares.
It’s longarm quilted in a maple leaf pattern with pale peachy thread, labeled, and bound in a light pink stripe from my stash. It measures 50″ square and is for sale! Email me if you are interested.
Thanks to Laura for helping me take photos!
Triad City Beat, one of the local arts weekly around here wrote a really nice little article about our studio space recently, including a few awkward pictures of me. You can read it here
Remember this pillow I made for my good friends Austin and Erin back at Christmas? Well, it was a hint of a quilt to come that was finally gifted recently, for their soon-to-be-born daughter, Lucy.
I’ve wanted to make an Arkansas Traveler quilt for a long time and loved Salty Oat’s version with the dark background. Yellow was the only direction I was given so I went with what I had in my stash.
I changed the foundation paper pattern a little bit so there would only be 4 middle sections instead of 8 like the original, and got a bunch of them printed up at Kinko’s (I see another one of these in my future).
I took it up to Virginia to Ursula the Longarm and quilted it with a meandering heart pattern in golden yellow thread. It’s backed in a Flea Market Fancy (re)print and some pale yellow dots, labeled, and machine bound in a grey with yellow dots.
Erin’s comment was “I love this times a million!” so I’d say it was well received :)
The day after the quilt was given, Erin went into labor and Lucy was born on October 24th. Good timing!
I love a good trade. My friend Emily has a wonderful business called Em Dash Paper Co and I asked her earlier this year if she’d do some logo design work in exchange for a quilt and she accepted!
I had recently bought a fat quarter bundle of Carolyn Friedlander’s Botanics that I knew would be perfect. I used this great tutorial to make four at a time and kept those sets together in the layout, moving from dark in the bottom left to light in the upper right.
I backed it with two of the 108″ widescreen, one more four geese set, and a label.
I long arm quilted it with a feather design in golden yellow thread, and bound it in scraps from the front.
Thanks so much to Evan for helping me take these pictures!
I love this fabric line and this is one of my favorite quilts I’ve ever made. Emily received it with much enthusiasm and I’m so glad it has a good home :)
In addition to the blog header, she also designed a logo for me that I printed through Spoonflower for some new quilt labels.
I also transferred it to felt and put it on a banner for use at markets.
For the last two years, I’ve had about 70 square feet of a studio space in a room with 7 other people, behind the coffee shop I work for. It came to me at a time I really needed it and it was great to work in a space with so many other creative people.
Back in April, we were told we needed to move out due to upcoming renovations at the coffee shop. It was sad news to hear but 6 of us decided to stay together and start a new venture. We found a building for rent just a few blocks away and started the process or forming an LLP and working with the city and the landlords to get into the space. After a lot of paperwork and waiting, Electric Pyramid Studios signed the lease on August 8th and renovations began.
We scraped peeling paint and plaster, painted walls and floors, tore up all the carpet upstairs (which revealed some beautiful hardwood but some was covered in glue so we painted that as well) tore out old phone lines, and cleaned every surface.
Except in my room. I had a vision and after not sewing for three months, I was ready to throw myself into a project…
I tore down a chair rail that remained on two walls and layers of wallpaper that had been painted over for years.
I started scraping paint from one of the plaster walls. See that little spot in the middle? It was a hint of brick and it gave me an idea. I bought a masonry chisel and went to work.
I exposed as much as I could without damaging the soft brick underneath and spent an evening sealing it. (I exposed more than the above picture but didn’t get a good picture of it.)
I painted three of the walls pale grey (goodbye terrible nude pink!) and one wall black.
I painted the window and door trim and the baseboards and gave the floor some extra attention. I loved the pattern of the plywood so I taped out a 20″ grid on the diagonal, painted a checkerboard pattern in white, and then sealed the whole floor with 4 coats of polyurethane. I love it so much!
One Sunday evening we got some of our friends together to help and moved out of the old space.
I hung up shelves, including one that goes all the way across the top of the window from which I hung the curtains and some plants (so I wouldn’t have to drill into the brick any more than necessary).
I put up my project wall, a pegboard, painted a new-to-me cutting table that I got from my studio-mate Gaby, brought in plants and flowers, an electric kettle for tea, hung a mirror, a clock, and a few mini quilts I’ve made or received over the years, added light, a chair and a side table, and more storage…
and got to sewing as quickly as I could!
Welcome to my new space!
I have tried multiple times to write a big post with so many pictures about my studio remodel
But alas, no pictures are uploading.
So, I will be working on a blog migration and hope to post about the last few months of my life soon, including some big news!
Thanks for sticking with me and I’ll be back!