Wednesday, June 25, 2014


A lot of my crafting these days is centered around surprise gifts for my brother and sister-in-law (really for my niece), so I can't share any of it just yet. Instead, I'm finally posting some photos from the trip Mr. T and I took to Colombia in March.

Street of Bogota
Hanging flowers outside of a museum in Bogota, though now I can't remember which (naturally).

Bolivar Square - llamas and pigeons everywhere! At one point a guy walked his llama to our right and we starting hearing running water. We thought the llama was peeing, but it was actually the guy....

Feeding pigeons in Bolivar Square. Apparently this is going to be a recurring activity for us. We did the same thing in Turkey.
Inside Zipacura. None of my photos inside really turned out, but it was neat. Though we didn't want to pay the extra money for the English-speaking guide, so what's written on the wikipedia page is about all I know.

Inside the Centro Commercial Santa Fe in Bogota. I was cracking up at this little animal pen. You can rent them for kids and they scoot around the mall on them. We were staying with a friend's sister in Bogota, so we checked out the mall to compare clothing prices. Based on our limited survey of the GAP, US prices are about 50% cheaper.

In Medellin. We happened to be there on a holiday, so a lot of things were closed which was disappointing, but it's a really neat city. Lots of young people and lots of things to do.

Plaza Botero, Medellin.

 Guinea pig betting in Plaza Botero. Spectators put coins on top of the bowls to guess which one the guinea pig will enter. If he enters your bowl, you win! I think. It was unclear whether the organizer actually gave money to any of the winners, or if you were just forfeiting your coins to watch a guinea pig scurry around.

At the Museo de Antioquia. By Frank Stella. I want to make "his" and "hers" quilts with the design.

Medellin metrocable. It's part of the metro system (which is much better than the one here in DC...) and connects some of the poorest neighborhoods in the area to the city center. It also goes to Arvi Park, but unfortunately we weren't able to go.

Empty street in the early morning in Salento, in the Zona Cafetera (coffee zone).

I think this was my favorite place outside of Bogota. The architecture and colors were amazing!

Naturally, we went on a coffee tour in Salento. We did this one. Very interesting and thorough.

Different stages of coffee beans, from unripe through roasted and ground.

Grinding freshly roasted beans!

Pineapple! (They grow a lot more than coffee on the farm we visited).

Exploring the Cocora Valley in the rain.
Castillo San Felipe de Baraja in Cartagena

Jugo de mora! (blackberry juice)  I love the jugo in Colombia. So fresh and refreshing, which was extremely important in the high temperatures of the Caribbean coast.

These sculptures were everywhere. I think this is in Getsemani as we walked from the Castillo to the Walled City.

Clock tower at one of the entrances to the Walled City.

Inside the walls.

Candy stall
And after that, my camera died.... Our second day in Cartagena we went on a boat trip to scuba dive and visit Playa Blanca, and we dropped it in the sand/a hint of water, and now it is no more. After Cartagena we went back to Bogota for two more days. Naturally, I dragged Mr. T to a craft fair/flea market. We also ate lots of Crepes and Waffles - 3 times in 10 days; I wouldn't put it past us to go Colombia for a weekend just to eat there again if we could find cheap enough flights.

Overall, we had a really good time. Finding food was difficult at first - we're both vegetarian - but got easier as the trip went along. Surprisingly, I think some of the best food we had was in Salento, a town of roughly 4,000 people.

Highlights included:

- Metrocable
- Coffee tour
- Montserrate at night. We ate chocolate completo (hot chocolate, cheese, and bread) in a small cafe at the top. Muy romantique! (We tried going during the day, but the queue was at least 3 hours long. So glad we ended up going at night. The views over the city were beautiful, and we didn't have to wait at all!)

Things I didn't like so much:

- Playa Blanca - mostly because we're not really beach people and you have to pay to sit anywhere; also, we don't eat seafood, so the lunch options were quite limited
- Zipacura - probably would have been better if we knew what the guide was saying; also, we went with some strange people who kind of soured the experience for us
- La Puerta Falsa - this place got great reviews on TripAdvisor and our guidebook, so we stopped in our first day in Colombia. Maybe it's because we're veg, but it was super disappointing. The people working there were all very nice, but the food wasn't as good as we were expecting based on the reviews. The chocolate completo we had on top of Montserrate was much better.

Lastly, I mentioned earlier that I learned a bit of Spanish using these podcasts (just the free level, not the subscription options) and they worked great for giving me a base. Unfortunately, I fell off the Spanish-learning bandwagon a week or so after we returned, but I'm determined to become proficient in another language within the next year or so, so I've jumped back on! I'm using Duolingo for now. I just started so I can't provide a review, but I've heard good things. It's a similar platform to Rosetta Stone, but it's free.  The concept is really cool - check it out.

 Okay, adiĆ³s mis amigos. Hasta pronto.

Monday, June 9, 2014

Hugh Manatee

A few weeks ago Lindsay Connor (of Lindsay Sews and Craftbuds) put out a call for pattern testers on Instagram (I'm @thecraftyroach, by the way!). I haven't done much testing, but this pattern was too cute and I thought it would be something fun to make for my first niece, who's due in a few short months!  Lindsay released the pattern last week so I can finally share my completed Hugh Manatee here!

Hugh and I had some fun with our lakeside photo shoot.
As his name suggests, Hugh is an adorable manatee plush that any child - or adult - will find cute and cuddly. The pattern calls for fleece, but I didn't have any on hand so I decided to use some quilting cotton from my stash. This Kaffe Fasset parasol print was the first quality, non-JoAnn fabric purchase I made when I started quilting - nearly two years ago now. It's so bright and cheery, so I figured it would make a great manatee. However, since his back is so busy, I gave Hugh a neutral belly to balance him out. It's definitely Kona, I think pomegranate, but I can't be sure.

Note that Hugh is 25 inches long, 19 inches wide (fin to fin) and 6-10 inches tall, depending on how full you stuff him!
Hugh came together really easily and quickly. I did have a few issues with matching the top and bottom. The top is purposefully larger than the bottom in order to make the back fuller and more prominent than the belly, but because I used quilting cotton rather than the suggested fleece, which has a bit of stretch to it, he got a few more wrinkles and I had to cut 1/2 inch or sew off the top at the tail in order to neatly whipstitch him closed. Definitely still doable and totally cute, though. Also, I used the full bag of stuffing the pattern calls for and he's quite firm, so keep that in mind if you, too, like a firm softee.

So, now that you are in love with Hugh, why don't you go pick up a copy of the pattern! It's 50% off through Father's Day, but after that it goes up to the normal price of $8.  And also be sure to check out the other testers.

Monday, June 2, 2014

do. Good Stitches - May 2014

In May, Amy asked us to make any two star blocks of our choosing in a red wine color palette.  Since I'm trying to make better use of the crafting books and magazines I own, I chose two patterns from Vintage Quilt Revival.

First up is Dove at the Window, from page 126 in the book.  Amy specifically requested non-wonky stars, so I followed the directions for the tradition block, rather than the wonky update.

The fabrics are definitely a bit busy, but after staring at it for 3 days it's grown on me, so I decided not to redo it. Plus I think it will be a bit less harsh once it's put in the quilt will all the other stars.

Next up is the Star and Pinwheel block from page 62.  I was a little wary of all the bias edges when making this one, but it worked out alright.