Saturday, June 25, 2016

Packing it in

We've been really busy lately helping the oldest daughter pack up her apartment and move.  While that was going on the boy/man came home briefly from university ( in between regular and summer classes) and we cleaned out his bedroom and packed away his childhood. But before that could happen, I had to tidy up the garage to make space for sports equipment, video games and high school yearbooks. I've dropped off so much at the Goodwill lately, they must see me coming and think my house is a never ending bottomless pit of All the Stuff.
I tell you what, my 50 something body can't take too much more of this moving and packing, especially since the weather is hovering around 100 degrees or higher for the next 5 days.
Ah summer, how I want to love you here in Northern California, but I want to experience you in Alaska, or Maine, where I imagine a light sweater is needed when the sun goes down,  people eat supper outside, and you can still wear long pants and shirts with sleeves in them.
There have been beautiful sunsets here though, and the grasses have dried to that rich California gold color.  I get to pick wild blackberries on my morning walks, make fresh lemonade from the lemons off my tree and float on a raft in the pool looking up at a sky so blue it makes you ache inside.
All that kind of makes up for the upper lip and boob sweat, the constant hum of the AC, and the inability to do anything outside between lunch time and 9:00pm without melting your face off.

 Enough complaining about the weather. Guess what? I finally joined the Instagram crowd (I resisted for a long time).  I still prefer blogging because I love the written word, the stories, the connection.  It's quicker to post something on Instagram, a nice picture, two sentences punctuated by a dozen emoji's and you're done. But man you can really get sucked into the looking and spend hours of time on there! I'm just figuring out how to navigate around and so far it's been fun.  I don't have too many posts up yet, but if you want to visit, I'm at  lifeofreilly58.
In between the packing I'm grateful this week for some quiet moments to practice my knitting, and  continue sewing more of my drunkards path blocks.  I've been able to build up a nice little pile so far.  However this is looking to be a 3 year quilt, as I started these blocks last year and it doesn't appear I'll be finishing any time this year.
Anyone got a summer project started?  Besides my white crocheted blanket, I've been itching to try some embroidery and I have 2 new books to read.  I'm down for anything really, as long as it doesn't  involve packing tape and a truck :) 

Thursday, June 16, 2016

Changing directions

I changed my mind on two of my projects.  I was dragging my feet about finishing them, so I took a good hard look at why the feet were dragging.  Something wasn't right and I figured they needed to be tweaked just a little in order to regain my interest.  So out came the seam ripper for the quilt, and frogging commenced on the cotton blanket. 
I originally set the quilt blocks in my usual standby, Kona snow.  You can see them here. The white background was bugging me so I remade them with a tan and cream shirting fabric which softens the blocks somehow and gives them a little more interest.  The quilt is now almost done!
The cotton blanket from my last post was a simple sc, ch1, sc pattern, that was soothing to work, but a bit boring.  The plan was to make a solid cream colored organic cotton blanket, but I was constantly fighting with myself so I wouldn't add a colored stripe somewhere.  Maybe what I really craved was more texture.  When I spied this blanket, and this one,  I ripped out my boring one and started the new squares immediately.  BAM!   Instant crochet fun!  I love working on this pattern.
daughter doing the creepy eyeball picture
There are just enough popcorn stitches to keep this fun.  Also the Knit Picks Simply Cotton Worsted has exactly the amount of yarn per skein to make one 10 round block (H hook).
My daughter pointed out that both the crocheted block and the quilt block share similar shapes. Hmm.  Even weirder they both measure out at 13 1/2 inches.
I think I'm heading in the right direction.

Thursday, June 2, 2016

Catching Up

Gosh what a crazy couple of weeks it's been. I'm mentally pooped out.  No blogging, no making, (well a little bit on the cotton blanket up there but that's it), no fun.  I spent 2 separate days with 2 different family members at the Emergency room.  One of them was on Memorial Day weekend, so you can just imagine.  Both my Dad and my daughter are now fine, but there's 12 hours of my life I'd rather not repeat.
I hadn't mentioned this before, but my Mom had surgery back in March to remove a pancreatic tumor.  Looks like they got everything, but she started chemotherapy treatment on Tuesday.  I  will be taking her once a week for 3 weeks, then a week off.  This will go on for about 6 months.
She's such a trooper.  So far she's tolerating the chemo pretty well and is in great spirits, still walking 2 miles a day.  I hope I can say the same when I'm 79 years old.

I did get some new yarn in the mail which is always a treat.  Last week was Crochet Week at Quince and Co., and they released 5 crochet patterns to drool over. I ended up ordering 3 skeins of Piper which is a light fingering weight in the color Sweetwater, and 2 shawl patterns.
Two new magazines came as well, Taproot, and the first edition of Making.  In Taproot, they have tutorials for things like arm knitting, or how to season your cast iron skillet.  This issue (18) included recipes for Moroccan chicken with preserved lemons, cheesemaking and and herbal remedies like bug balm. I really enjoy their short stories/essays.
Making is full of beautiful photography, knitting patterns, embroidery, cross stitching, sewing, even recipes. 
 So, relaxing with a good magazine, a little crochet and iced tea is working wonders. Cooking always helps recharge my battery somehow too, and I made some pasta yesterday and added chard and basil from the garden (so much chard!. you pick it and by the time you carry it into the house, it has grown 20 new leaves.). Things are slowly drifting back to normal. Soon I will feel  less like this....

substitute yarn ball instead of rubber ball 

and more like getting back to the sewing room. 105 degrees predicted for tomorrow.  Anybody want to come over for a swim?

Wednesday, May 18, 2016


I'm not sure if you want to call what I'm doing "progress" or quilting myself into a corner.  When I make a visual list of everything I'm working on/want to work on, it's kind of overwhelming. I actually left 2 other quilt projects out of this post, and will talk more about them later.  This is enough even for me.
Last week I drove about 45 minutes into Sacramento to visit the Quilters Corner fabric store.  I don't get there very often but when I do, you can bet I make it worth my while. I bought some neutral backgrounds, a few Karen Kay Buckley tools, 2 Quiltmania magazines, a handful of fat quarters to feed the stash and a Kaffe Fassett bundle (last picture). They didn't carry a lot of modern quilting fabric, it was heavy on the reproductions and batiks, but they had some fun classes going on, awesome samples hanging up, a large supply of Aurifil thread and other notions, even wool for applique. It was a great couple of hours spent by myself, and I stopped on the way home for an iced tea and a sushi roll from Mikuni's (I love their Marilyn Monroll, yum!)

The snowball quilt now measures about 27 x 29 and I think I'm going to add a border of flying geese next. I'll just keep going until it feels like it's done. The dark blue fabric was pulled because I want to make an indigo quilt, maybe with some sashiko stitching.  I'm still dreaming about that one.
I also received 2 little hangers from Temecula Quilt Co.  They're perfect for mini quilts.

Sadly the Killdeer eggs from my garden disappeared 2 days after I posted about them.  I'm not surprised, since the nest was sitting out in the open, unprotected.  There are a lot of cats, hawks and raccoons around here, and I discovered a hole in the ground just a few feet from the nest (snake?) Could have been any of them. There wasn't an egg shell or feather left behind.  Just, Poof! Gone.

So today it's going to be 97 degrees, and like usual, I'm trying to outrun the heat. Everything has been watered early this morning, and I just finished vacuuming and mopping floors. Soon the air conditioner will kick in, and that's my signal to start sewing. I've got lots to do, some of it I like, some of it I don't.  I'm not complaining.  It could be worse.  I could have been born as a Killdeer egg.

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Garden visitor

Right now a big section of my garden looks like this....
But beyond the green lies an area where we used to keep the chickens.   I've been slowly cleaning it up to add more plants, maybe grapes or an orange tree.  It looks like this....

But wait, let's zoom in a bit.
Do you see the eggs?
They belong to a Killdeer.  And Mrs. Killdeer was not happy that I was walking around her nest. If you want to call it a nest.  More like a shallow depression in the dirt.    She was quite nervous and wanted me to follow her away from her babies.

So she pulled the broken wing act, like on the Discovery Channel.
Not going to work on me lady.  I saw that episode.
Nevertheless she continued the fake job.

After a few minutes of me standing perfectly still, except for the sweat dripping down my face, she cautiously came back to hover over her eggs.  I was about 12 feet away, on the other side of a fence.
I left her alone at this point.  Probably enough torture for one day.  Looks like I won't be gardening in this part of the yard until those eggs hatch.
Meanwhile I sewed all these little snowballs together and now I'm just staring at it. I don't know what to do. Wait for some inspiration or just quilt it and sew on a binding and call it done.  Hmmmm.

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!