Friday, April 29, 2016

Heating up slowly

geranium in "watermelon"

repairing the binding on an old quilt
American Robin
new quilt pattern
We've had the nicest rain showers this last week, with thunder rumbling in the distance for dramatic effect.  I haven't had to water the garden as often, which is nice, but the weeds love the rain too, so the battle continues. We are slowly moving out of our nice Enjoy It While You Can spring weather phase and will soon be entering into the blistering hot, Kill All the Plants summer phase, which I endure for about one month, then by July I'm in the house with the air conditioner on drinking buckets of iced tea.  I really want to try and embrace summer this year (I say this every year), take part in more outdoor/summer activities, but it's hard for me.  I inevitably melt into a sweaty limp puddle at backyard barbecues and theme parks, clutching a cold drink in a death grip, crazed eyes darting about for a seat in the shade, my hair plastered around my head like a wet dish cloth.
So attractive.  Meanwhile everyone else continues to party on, seemingly unfazed by the heat. Sigh.
Must buy more pool floaty toys. And cold beer.  And a short haircut.

On the sewing front, I haven't been very diligent lately.  I made a few scrap improv blocks and will probably make some kind of quilt with them, but for now they're just hanging out on the design wall patiently waiting their turn.  Instead of sewing I've been obsessed with listening to knitting pod casts and really learning a lot.  However the patterns I'm drawn to are made with fingering weight yarn and toothpicks, and I'm struggling. Maybe for now I'm better off learning with worsted or dk weight and bigger needles?  I'm both impressed and intimidated by people who jump right in there and whip up a pair of socks a week after they learn to cast on. Knitting feels painfully slow to me, and you have to really pay attention.  Example : K2, yo, knit to marker, yo, sm, k1, sm, knit to last 2 stitches, yo, k2 stitches, touch your nose with your tongue, and scratch your belly with your big toe.  Repeat rows two through nineteen, 175,678 times or until your eyes cross, the phone rings or the dog jumps in your lap in which case you're basically screwed. If your lucky the damn markers will stay where you put them and you can find your place and start over.
 Possibly I have some kind of knitting attention deficit disorder. Or knitting commitment disorder. Whatever it is, it makes me doubt myself.  I run back to the comfort of my crochet hook and think "do I really need another craft, maybe I will just stick with crochet and quilting?"
Again, must buy more cold beer.
Anyway last week I had a give away for a quilt pattern and a stack of 5" squares from my stash.  Pam at CreativeCrazyGirl won, and I hope she can use the extra scraps in her stash, and maybe try out that pattern!  Thanks to everyone who took time to leave a comment.  It's nice to have so many lovely blogging friends out there. Hope you all have time to make something fun this weekend :)

Thursday, April 21, 2016

Pretty little thing

A second South Bay Shawlette, this time in an ombre merino fingering yarn from Two Black Sheep on Etsy.  I used an H hook and could not put this down.  Each row slowly bled into that darker berry color and I enjoyed it right to the end.  I added a final row of picot stitches because I wanted to tease out as much of the darker color possible before I ran out of yarn.  Early on I was worried about the colors pooling or looking lopsided like I had spilled my Kool-Aid on it, but it played out beautifully.  I gave it a brief soak before blocking, more like a quick dip really, and it bled a little (yikes!)  When I rolled it in a towel there was no color transfer so all was right in the universe.
Oh and Meredith finished hers (she's fast!), so go take a look at her gorgeous shawl!
Now that that's done, I can get back to some quilting.  I made this top a few weeks ago but haven't got a backing for it yet.

I had this collection of fat quarters (Bari J. for Art Gallery Fabrics I think) sitting around forever, and finally stumbled on a pattern that would suit it. It's basic strip piecing, cutting, then sewing rows.  So easy it almost makes itself.  Finished size is 54 x 70.
Somehow I ended up with 2 of these patterns.  If you would like the extra one (and I will throw in a small stack of 5 inch squares from my stash) leave a comment and I will pick a winner.  If you're a no-reply blogger please add your e-mail address. Thanks for visiting! 

Monday, April 11, 2016

Dessert Yarn

So I started another South Bay Shawlette.  Meredith is making one too, and when I told her I was thinking of making a second one, she said why don't you join me?  And just like that I did.
You see I'd just received a ball of yarn from Two Black Sheep.  It's a fingering weight, hand dyed ombre merino in the color You Had Me at Hello.  The name alone was enough reason for me to order some.  It comes all nicely wound up for you, just like in the picture.  You can pull it from the middle or from the outside, your choice.  Strangely enough, that little ball of yarn with it's dark berry colored center makes me hungry for two childhood desserts.

Dessert number 1
When I was a kid my mom often made us tapioca pudding.  She'd serve it in a little glass dish with a teaspoon of strawberry or raspberry jam plopped into the middle.  I remember pulling a little of that jam onto my spoon along with the pudding as I ate towards the center.  I'm quickly crocheting my way to the jam blob in the middle of that skein.  It's quite motivating.

Dessert number 2
When was the last time you made a jellyroll?  My mom and grandma made them often and they were always a treat filled with the same aforementioned jam.  However, no one could make a jellyroll like Olga's mom.
Years ago, when I was a young single mom living in the San Francisco Bay Area at the foot of the San Mateo bridge in a very windy town called Foster City (it was always a challenge to try and light the barbecue there let me tell you) there was a family from Czechoslovakia that lived in the apartment next door.  The kids, Olga and Thomas, were about the same age as my girls and they would play together after school. To this day I can't remember their mom's name.  Heck I don't think I ever got it right back then either, because it was difficult to pronounce and it often embarrassed me that I couldn't grasp it.  My kids just called her Olga's mom and it stuck.  When Olga's mom realized I had no husband, was raising two kids on my own and working full time, she went into complete mother hen mode.  The jellyrolls began to arrive at my door almost weekly.  Here was a woman who barely spoke any English, was alone in an apartment all day in a strange country, taking care of her own husband and kids, and she wanted to take care of me too.
 No wonder those jellyrolls tasted so damn good,  They were full of kindness!
I made one the other day, from the beat up pages of my old Betty Crocker cookbook and thought of her.  Hey Olga's mom?  If you're out there somewhere - this shawl is for you.

Thursday, April 7, 2016

Hugs and Kisses Baby Quilt

I finished the Hugs and Kisses baby quilt for the newest member of our clan, squeezing it in just before his due date.  This week my husband and I thought it would be a good idea to take turns getting the flu and I dragged along, hand sewing the binding down, which seemed to require way more effort than usual.  Funny how even the smallest task can feel monumental when you're sick.
So I washed all the germs off it, took some pictures, wrapped it up and sent it on it's way to Canada.  Happy Birth-Day little boy.  It measures 33x41, made entirely from scraps.  You can find a link to the X block in my previous post Happy Place.
I  also just finished another quilt top NOT made with my scraps(shocking), but from a fat quarter stack that's been hanging around for a while.  I have a few of these hoarded piles of fabric from the same fabric ranges, and they need to come out of the cupboard and become something. Anything.

So. Onward. To the next quilt. There may even be a give-away involved.
Also just downloaded The Glassblower onto my kindle.  I love starting a new book as much as starting a new quilt!

Monday, March 28, 2016

Life in the jungle

My mind is a jungle of ideas.  My garden is, well, a jungle. I'm still running back and forth between inside and out, trying to accomplish everything at once.  Though Easter Sunday forced me to slow down.  A quiet brunch with my tribe and an afternoon nap. Some knitting on the back porch.
Those little snowball blocks up there are slowing me down as well.  I started out sewing them on the machine, but they were pulling and bunching up at the seams, so I tried a few by hand and I was really pleased with how they turned out.  I highly recommend gathering your supplies in a little basket and hand piecing out in the spring air and sunshine.
In case you want to make some, here's what I'm doing.

From an assortment of dark/medium and light squares cut some 3" blocks

Now cut 1 3/8" blocks, 4 of the same color (light or dark) I know it makes my eyeballs hurt just typing that number, never mind cutting them to that size.

Place 4  matching tiny light blocks on the corners of a 3" dark/medium block
Place 4 matching tiny dark/medium blocks on the corners of the 3" light blocks.
Here's a tutorial on how to sew them.
I didn't mark my little squares first before sewing.  Instead, I folded them in half diagonally and pressed across the fold with my fingernail.  This leaves a faint press line that you can follow when sewing.
Arrange the finished blocks alternating light corners against dark corners (I have 4 sewn together in the bottom right side of the picture)
I have no idea what I'm going to make.  I feel like if I give this project a name or commit to a specific size, it will spoil the magic of making them.

The yarn is from Quince & Co.   I've been wanting to try out the color Carrie's Yellow, and finally went ahead and ordered some. When it won't get out of your head, you might as well give in to it.
I'm thinking maybe a very long 1x1 rib scarf to go with all those neutrals hanging in my closet. A simple scarf from beautiful yarn.

Here's a few links of things I've been into this last week, in case your bored:

"Cooked" on Netflicks
"In Defense of Food" on PBS
This U-Tube video is a typical day at my house, but replace the cat with a small dog and me saying "All I want to do is crochet" EDIT: Looks like the video was removed. Too bad, it was funny!
I bought this pattern, and this one, and this one too.  Haven't made any of them yet.
 I REALLY want to go to Squam for my birthday in September.  Anyone going???
The jungle grows.

Thursday, March 17, 2016

Happy place

Off the hook is Southbay Shawlette in Malabrigo sock.  The color is Impressionist sky.  Those people sure know how to name their yarn.  This shawl took one whole skein using a 7 (4.5) hook with a few yards to spare.  There have been about a bazillion of these made on Ravelry, with all types of yarns.
In my cupboard are 2 balls of Cascade alpaca lace in a pretty apricot color that may just turn into another one.  They say this is called a potato chip pattern.  You can't make just one.

I'm building a baby quilt using blue/green scraps and my old white standby Kona snow (here is a tutorial for the X block).  This one needs to be shipped off to Canada sometime in April.  That means I have to get to it and not start anything else.  And of course there are so many quilts I want to make right now!  The sun is out, the birds are singing, the garden is calling and all of it is fueling a creative furnace in my head. There are clothes hanging on the line, seedlings ready to plant, and patio furniture to be re-painted. There is a dress pattern on the way, a pile of soft cotton on the shelf waiting for a chance to become a new frock and a delicate crocheted wrap about half way done. I'm bursting with ideas and am not able to corral them fast enough. Every morning I stand in the hallway, holding my coffee cup, trying to decide whether to go outside or into the sewing room. Amazing what a few days of sunshine can do for the soul.
Spring is a short season around here.  But when it arrives, it surely knocks your socks off.
Well, the socks are officially off.

P.S.  Thank you for all your comments.  I appreciate each and every one.  However some of you are no-reply bloggers and I can't respond back, so I'm not ignoring you! If you need help changing that up let me know.

Friday, March 4, 2016

Birthday quilt

I finished this quilt for my niece two days before her birthday party.  Last month I delivered the Hudson Bay camp blankets to her little boys for their birthdays, and she loved the deer fabric I used and asked if she could have a quilt made up of woodland animals.  I told her where to look online for fabric so she started a Pinterest board.  I then followed her board and was able to find a lot of the fabrics she liked, then added to it from my stash.  Now the three of them have new quilts!  The oldest boy (aged 7) sleeps with his every night.  He told his mom that he wants it underneath the top comforter, in case robbers came into the house, they wouldn't see his quilt and try to steal it.  That's quite a compliment! (or they need to move out of that neighborhood ha ha)
Anyway, Ashley's quilt is made using 6.5 inch squares laid out in a nine patch pattern with 1.5 inch lattice in between.  I think it measures 60 x 64.  It had to be simple and fast, and patchwork always does the trick.
I just started a blanket for my cousin in Canada who is getting ready to have her first baby in April. It's turning out cute so far, and is all from my stash and very scrappy.
Stay tuned.