Thursday, February 26, 2015

Sewing with Charlie and the Lunatic

Charlie sits on Luna like this all the time.  He has clearly made her his bitch bench.
Sometimes these two dogs make me think I'm raising toddlers again.  As I write this out on the back porch, drinking tea, soaking up some sun, watching blossoms falling lazily from the pear tree, Charlie prances by with a branch from one of the bushes by the pool, proudly waving it around like a banner.  I'm thinking that bush won't make it through the spring.  The Lunatic, fresh from a dip in the pool (never mind that the water is about 45 degrees. I can hardly stand to put my arm in there when cleaning the baskets), shakes her wet self all over my laptop and proceeds to push her big plastic water bowl noisily across the patio (running into my feet several times) trying to turn it right side up.  Note to self, get rid of that bowl.

We are having a birthday party barbecue on Saturday. Tri-tip roast, rosemary potatoes, salad, green beans and garlic bread.  My oven is working /not working, and I'm waiting for a new part to be installed, which won't be until next week, so my husband will be busy at the grill. I bought a huge sheet cake at Costco the size of my kitchen table, and had to take it over to my parents house because it wouldn't fit in my refrigerator.  Several Canadian relatives are flying in, including an Uncle I haven't seen for over 30 years, and his wife and son whom I've never met.  Part of the preparations include tidying the porch and backyard, and I can't believe just how much these dogs have trashed the place this winter.  Thank goodness the puppy stage is almost over.  For a Lab, I think this must go well into their second year.

The baby quilt is almost done, but will have to be hidden away in the cupboard during the party, so my niece doesn't see it.  I also ordered a quilt pattern, Sweet William, that I have been drooling over for some time.  I plan on using some of my hoarded reproduction fabrics for this one.  The bottom half of each block is pieced, and the top half is applique and embroidery, so a bit of everything.  I made a sample block, and will be machine sewing the basket half, even though her instructions call for sewing by hand.  I know how I operate, and I want to get this done before I'm too old to thread a needle, and not let it become one of those half finished projects you find in a bag at the Goodwill.

I love it when the kids go down for their nap.

Friday, February 20, 2015

About a girl

Seems like everything I'm putting my hands on lately has some kind of pink/red color in it.  I just finished my second Haiku shawl (the first one in grey).  It only needed a few rows to complete, about an hours worth of work really, and yet it sat ignored for months.

Here's a smallish quilt in the works that reminds me of the Bonne Maman jam jars.

 I'm also sewing the binding on my goose tracks quilt and waiting for a sunny day to take a decent picture.

More crochet, this time in red, for a shawl requested by my daughter.

And finally, I'm cutting out a baby quilt for my niece who is going to have a girl in April. When my niece was little she wanted to be a Unicorn when she grew up, so her baby shower is all about pink and unicorns.  I immediately ordered some of the Heather Ross "Far, Far Away" fabric line. 
All the women in my family are pretty excited about the new little baby girl.  My Dad came from a family of 7 (!!!) boys, (Bless my grandma. What a zoo that must have been.) He in turn had 3 girls, and we gave him 4 grand daughters. Yep, 7 girls in a row.  We were all starting to think there was a serious boy drought, and years went by with no new little babies. Then I broke the curse and had my son when I was 36 years old.  Better late than never.  Several years later my other niece had two kids, both boys.
It was starting to look like the boys would repeat the 7.
Come April, it's time for some pink.

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Seeing red

We don't usually go overboard on Valentines Day around here, but it's always a great excuse to have some good chocolate and a glass of champagne (really, like I need an excuse).  Yesterday I made a batch of Snickerdoodles and put red sprinkles on top just for fun. And since they may not last the weekend when my son comes home for a visit, I might make some cupcakes today.

The mini quilt was inspired from here, although I wasn't in the mood for cutting tiny 1.25 inch pieces of fabric, so I went with 2.5 instead and just made one block with corner triangles for a finish of 17.5 inches square.  All the organizing and cutting of my scraps is giving me lots of little squares to play with, and it looks as though they will come in handy when I want to whip up a quick project like this.

The book got some great reviews, and I thought it would fit right into the Valentines Day theme.
Hope you all have a great weekend!  Eat chocolate.  The end.

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

The hat

Okay it's done.  This little unassuming grey wool hat which could have been completed in a few hours, but was actually dragged across a few weeks, is finally done. It's the first piece of anything that I have knitted from start to finish so I guess I'm officially a knitter now.  The reason it took so long is because I was scared of it.  No it doesn't have sharp teeth or a loaded pistol under the rim, it's just knitted.  I approached this warily, knitting two or three rows at a time. I would tell myself, yes, those  three rows look great. Step away for a moment. Don't jinx it. Come back later.  Then I would sneak up on it again, do a few more rows.  All the while looking out for dropped stitches, snags, holes, bumps or anything thing else that might cause me to pitch a fit and run back toward the comforting, familiar arms of my crochet hook.
Yeah, so much drama over a little hat.  There's a relief of sorts, as now I have the confidence to move on towards something more complicated.  I'm not saying socks on DPNs here, maybe more like a pillow cover with a nice stitch pattern and color changes.
The most important thing I discovered..... I like it.  I get it now. Knitting is fun.  By the time I was half way through, I got into the zone, or rhythm that I hear knitters talk about.  I felt comfortable in the way I held the yarn (there was lots of practicing between Continental and English.  I am an English knitter, like my mother and grandmother, although I think Continental looks like it's faster), and picked up the pace. Yep, more knitting will be happening.  Less caution, more knitting.

Pattern: Simple slouch hat by Robyn Devine

In the meantime, There is some quilting that needs my attention......

Thursday, January 29, 2015

When the sun comes out

The fog has finally left the area and we have sunshine once again!  The good weather gave me a burst of energy to run a few errands and do a little shopping.  When I came home I spread my goodies on the table, made myself a decaf cappuccino, and thought about what I would sew/crochet next.  I still have to finish my knitted slouch hat (on the decreasing part now, almost done), and add borders to the goose tracks quilt you see up there, which I'm making up as I go along.  I really hate thinking about what to quilt in all that white space. I just stare at it with a dumb face, then walk out of the room.  Oh well, no hurry.
The oven mitt was a Target purchase, to which I added some Liberty fabric yo-yo puffs.  It was the last stripped mitt they had, and I wish I could have bought more, because I think it turned out kinda cute. 
The wine cork plant marker is a Pinterest idea.  You just write the name of your plant on the cork with a permanent marker and stick it on a wooden skewer.  I have a pot in the backyard that's still full of thyme and chives, so I plopped it in there. After I took the picture, I forgot all about it.  Then my daughter found it a half hour later on the lawn chewed to smithereens. Apparently wine corks also make good doggie chew toys. Guess I won't be making any more of those.
Luna checking out Pinterest for more things to eat.

Thursday, January 22, 2015


How is everyone?  Still organizing and tidying up for the New Year?  I know I am. The weather is still poop, so no playing outside for me.  But that's what winter is all about anyway.  Staying inside, snuggling under quilts, puttering, baking, and watching movies. 
I cleaned out some kitchen drawers and threw the old dish cloths into the rag bin, so that means make more right?  I have a pile of Knit Picks dishie yarn that needs to be used up, so I made these while in the middle of a Sherlock marathon on Netflix.  Now a whole year before it's back on again!!!  Inspiration for dishcloths from here.  I swear, just show me one picture of a cute crocheted anything, and I'm diving into the yarn stash. 

I have 5 quilt tops waiting to be finished, so I pulled my finger out and pieced backings and cut binding for 3 of them, and I'm still working on my scraps, which are now even with the top of the container instead of spilling over.  I'm cutting everything into 5", 3.5", 3", and 2.5" squares. It feels like I'm getting somewhere.  New quilt started too!
Soon as I'm done with this post, I'm heading out to pick up my Mom.  We're going to see American Sniper with Bradley Beautiful Cooper.  Mom read the book, so she's looking forward to it.  I'll just stare at Brad.

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Handwork for gray days

It's Tule fog season here in the central valley.  That means it's foggy when you go to bed at night, and foggy when you wake up. It makes for hazardous driving (in 2007 there was a 108 car pileup on the highway that runs through the valley), but is also beneficial to the fruit and nut orchards to help set their blossoms.
When there is heavy fog, everything drips.  If we're lucky the sun will come out briefly in the afternoon, like a big smile.  I usually have to force myself to do the yard work when it's like this.  Not because it's really cold, but because it's so damp and depressing outside.  It's much more pleasant inside, sewing in front of the fire.

I'm appliqueing my tulips onto their blocks.  It's been a long time since I appliqued anything, and I'm really enjoying it.  I have a quilting friend who taught me the back basting method (she does beautiful work), and always recommended using silk thread.  You need to get some. Your stitches will disappear into the fabric like magic.
The scissor keeper is from a tutorial I found here, (she made so many cute ones!) and it's pretty quick to make.  One of those objects that for me, is totally useless, but I still wanted one.  

This week I'm also trying to tame the beast that lives under my sewing table....
The Scrap bucket.  Seems like I just organized it last year yesterday. I'm sick of looking at it, digging through it and shoving it out of the way. Almost, for a second, I thought about buying another bucket and splitting up the pile. Then I found this which sounds doable. It's going to require a lot of sorting, ironing and cutting.
Then again, I might just take it out back and shoot it.