Sunday, December 30, 2012

Hot tip

One of the items on my wish list from Santa was a new iron.  Now I normally don't request presents that plug in, but I have 2 reasons for wanting a new iron.  Here is reason number one. 
Trashed cover from drips and steam. Ewwwww.
You can bet that if my steam iron is doing this to my ironing board cover, my fabric and clothes are getting the same treatment.  I currently use a Black and Decker Classic steam/dry iron, and I love the cute vintage-y look of it.   It's small, not too heavy, and gets good and hot. McSteamy!  Reminds me of the one my Grandma used.  There it is on the left.

 It actually drips way less than my expensive Rowenta ( which has been sentenced to the back of the closet without parole, for bad behavior), and it also costs under $30.  So if this one works so good why ask for another?
Reason number two.  Holes.
The holes on steam irons always get caught on the edges of my fabric, especially when I'm piecing or doing applique.  Then I have to re- press to get the crunched fabric to lay flat.  Not fun when you're working with little 2.5 inch squares.
So I looked around on the Internet and found a Continental dry iron with a flat sole plate.  Problem solved.  Now I keep a spray bottle handy if I need to add some dampness.  The price is still under $30.  However it does not have an automatic shut-off like most irons (personally I find this feature annoying).  So if you are the type that leaves the house for a two hour trip to Ikea, then says to the hubby  "Did I turn off the iron?", it may not work for you.  Over the years I've gotten into the habit of turning off lights, sewing machine and iron when I leave the room, so I'm not too worried about it.

Now about that ironing board cover.  There are lots of tutorials out there on how to re -cover your ironing board, so I won't bore you with the details.  Let's just say it's about time.
Fresh and clean for the New Year!
 Thank you Santa : )

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Brown-eyed girl scarf

 Remember that Van Morrison song Brown Eyed Girl?   It always gets me singing and tapping my toes.  It's a happy song, and this is my happy scarf, made over the happy holiday season.
In the wake of mall shootings, school shootings, and then two days before Christmas some friends lost their nephew in a car accident (texting, no seat belt!!!!!), I needed a big dose of Happy.  This little scarf was good therapy.
I used the new Paton's DK super wash and a G hook.  I just made up a square to look like something flower-ish.  There are 15 squares total, 3 of each color, and it measures about 71 inches long without the fringe.  Here are the colors I used:
Center circle:

Flower petals:
Apple Green

3rd round:

Last round:

Here is what I did.
With Mocha yarn, chain 6, then join with a slip stitch to form a ring.
Round 1- Chain 3 (1st dc), then 15 more dc into the ring.  16 total dc. Cut yarn and leave a tail to weave in.

Round 2- With colored yarn, work in the spaces between the dc's.  Insert hook between any two dc's and chain 2(1st hdc made), then hdc again in the same space. 2 hdc in next space, chain 1. 2 hdc in next space, 2hdc in next space, ch1. Continue around. You are basically inserting 2 hdc in each space, with a ch1 after every 4th hdc. When complete, join with a sl st to the beginning ch 2.  The round should have 32 hdc, and 8 chain 1 spaces.  Cut yarn and leave a tail to weave in.

Round 3- With Latte yarn, insert hook into any chain 1 sp, ch3, 2dc, chain2, 3dc.  First corner made.
Ch1, 3dc, ch1, in next chain sp. Then 3dc, ch2, 3dc, in next ch sp. Second corner made.  Continue around as in a regular granny square, slip stitch to beginning ch 3 when done.  Cut yarn and leave a tail to weave in.

Round 4 - Switch to Aran yarn and join in any sp and continue basic granny square pattern as in round 3. Join with sl st to beginning ch 3 and cut yarn.
I joined my blocks right sides together with sc, so the joining ridge is on the back of the scarf.  Then I did sc all around the scarf with 2 sc in each corner.  Added some fringe for more happiness.

Hope you are all enjoying the Holiday season!

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Happy Holidays!

I made some more pears.  This time out of (a very old) velveteen skirt which I think belonged to my husbands' great Aunt Alice.  It was a really small skirt, and didn't fit anyone, so I thought I would get some use out of the fabric.  These pears are ornament sized, about 2 1/2 inches high, and I sprinkled on some glitter and added a thread for hanging.  I made one white one from my wool stash.
The cross stitch bird was something I had laying around unfinished for years.  I sewed a piece of velveteen to the back and stuffed it, so now the Partridge can join the pears on a tree!
 I also put together two Christmas Tree Hot Pads from a free pattern available at Pink Chalk Fabrics.  They just need some quilting, then I can start using them.  The crochet bits are part of a scarf that I will show you after Christmas.  Right now I need to turn my sewing room into a gift wrapping room,  so I will be checking out until after the holidays.
 Have a wonderful, peaceful Christmas!
Lynne xxx

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Sew Fresh pincushions

Are you all having fun getting ready for Christmas?  Me too.  Our Internet was down briefly this morning, which left me feeling slightly panicky about my online ordering.  As you can see though, peace and joy have been restored.
This time of year, I don't get too much done in the way of sewing, and usually lean toward small portable projects.  These pincushions were on the cover of SEW fresh magazine (Better Homes and Gardens), and I thought they were pretty cute.
I was able to use up a some of my wool scraps, and the hand sewing was fun and relaxing.  That little mouse is pretty tiny, and I have to keep it away from my kitten.  I might just make her one of her own for Christmas.  Both are stuffed with fiberfill, and the bottoms are filled with some kind of ground up shells I bought years ago for crafting.  It gives some weight, so they stand up.
I'm off to block a scarf and make some cookies!  Enjoy your week!!!!

Friday, December 7, 2012

Quilt re-do times two.

For some reason I wasn't happy with this as a quilt.  It needed more of something.  I also needed a new tree skirt.
 So I cut an opening (it felt weird to purposefully cut into a finished quilt) and then traced a circle at the top of the slit using a bowl as a guide.  Then I bound it with red and white binding and threw it in the washer and dryer.  When it came out I was still disappointed.  My binding was horrible.  I did not cut it on the bias (to go around that circle) and I knew it wouldn't look good but I went ahead anyway, thinking I could fudge it and it's just a tree skirt not a wedding dress, and who is going to see it when it's covered with presents anyway, and I'm in a hurry! Gaah!
So I went back to the sewing table, where I cut off the white outer border and the red crappy binding, and added white on-the-bias binding, red ric-rac, and wide red grosgrain ribbon, (saved from a present last year).  I think I like it now.
I would really like to add some pom pom fringe around the outside, but that would take another trip to Joann's, and if I step foot in there one more time this week they are going to add me to the payroll and put me to work!
Now that I'm done obsessing about this tree skirt, I can finally focus on the holidays.  We have been hovering in a barren decorating wasteland between Thanksgiving and Christmas, with nothing on the mantle, shelves or tabletops, besides a fine layer of dust.  Time to get my Christmas on!

Monday, December 3, 2012

Where are you Christmas?

I don't have one Christmas decoration up.  Not a bell, bauble or bow. So why do I feel like I 'm behind?  After all it's only Dec. 3rd.  Nothing like a little self imposed pressure to start the week.

 We spent the entire weekend listening to the wind howl, and watching the roof leak in my kitchen, while we got pounded from a series of storms.  My son and husband each sat at a computer, finalizing my son's college applications and fine tuning his essay, praying the power wouldn't go out before he hit the SEND button.  This is my back porch after it was over.  I thought for a while we were going to need sandbags.
Anyway, I almost finished a quilt. Since it's mostly red and green, I guess that qualifies it as a Christmas decoration of sorts.  I'm not that excited about it, it actually looked better in my head.

So I cut it.  Eeeeek! Yes I did.  I cut up my quilt. Hopefully by the end of this week I will show you what I did with it.  Stay tuned.
I started another quilt using some fabric that I bought during the Black Friday sale last week. Now this fabric I don't want to cut.  Look......

Liberty Lifestyle quilting cottons, the Bloomsbury collection in Natural browns.  The minute I opened the package I knew what I wanted to make with it.  It will be big and simple and I can savor each square like a piece of chocolate.
Okay enough procrastination.  I need to go drag the boxes of decorations down from the attic.  Put on some Christmas music to help get things started.  Grab a cookie and some spiced Chai tea.
 C'mon Christmas spirit!!!!

After I do one or two more squares of this.

 Have you started or finished decorating yet?

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Roller Coasters

Hi again!  I've been on a roll making coasters this week.  My quilt is still patiently waiting for some machine quilting action but I'm not feeling it yet.  Crochet has her hooks in me.
I found a coaster pattern on Pinterest, which led me to this blog.  This is a really fun pattern with lots of possibilities. As you can see I went a little nuts.
I used cotton yarn with an H hook.  On a few of them, I held sewing thread in with my yarn to give it a tweedy look.  Or maybe it's more of a hairy whisker look.  Anyway it was fun to try something different.

These are my favorite.  Ecru cotton yarn blended with metallic thread. I added 6 tiny little jingle bells around the edges for some holiday sparkle.
Great stocking stuffers and hostess gifts, don't you think?
Also, if you are in the mood for some crafting for the holidays, check out Michelle made me.  That woman is a wizard with junk mail and a pair of scissors!

Monday, November 26, 2012

Good stuff!

Did anyone else brave the big 60% off sale at Joann's this past weekend?  I went on Sunday and it actually wasn't too bad.   All I needed was some thread, but I did come away with 3 spools of pretty good stuff.
I thought I showed great restraint. Very unusual.  I must be coming down with something.

Today I made two bags of bone broth with the leftover turkey carcass from Thanksgiving,  which I had left simmering in the crock pot overnight (like this recipe).  This morning my husband declared he is truly sick and tired of the smell of turkey, so into the freezer it went.  It's good stuff, but I'm glad to be done with it.

 Now I am basting and marking a quilt to work on the for the rest of the week.  We have two storms coming in back to back, so I will probably stay close to home and sew.  I couldn't be happier!
And here is a product I want to share with all you quilters out there.  While at the fabric store last week,   I eavesdropped overheard a woman asking for a tape that is used to fuse leftover batting pieces together.  Oh yes, I could use this too!  After she left, I grabbed the last package.
I tried it on the quilt above and it worked great!  Just lay a strip on top of your batting pieces and press lightly with your iron.  The instructions explain which heat setting to use depending on the batting type.
I usually zig zag stitch my leftover pieces together, but this was a great time saver!  Definitely good stuff!
Linking up to Tuesday at the Table

Monday, November 19, 2012

Ombre granny and some pie.

I always wanted a black edged granny blanket like the ones from the 1970's.  I originally decided that the squares would have an ombre effect, but it was hard to find the yarn colors I needed, so I just did the best with what I had.  I used mostly Caron simply soft, with a few other wool blends thrown in.  The first two rounds of the square were done in a darker shade, the next two in a lighter shade of the same color.   The last round was black Paton's classic wool.  I used the Attic 24 join as you go method to connect the squares.

 The mosaic border is from Lanas and Hilos.  Love it.  Another name for this blanket could be the stained glass window blanket.  Or how about the Licorice All Sorts blanket?... Ooooh yum!
Now I can concentrate more on planning the Thanksgiving dinner.  Here is my menu....

Turkey (a whopping 27 pounder).  Please, please fit in my oven.                                                             
Green bean casserole with crispy fried shallots, red peppers and mushrooms.
Brussels sprouts with marjoram and pine nuts.
Gulliver's corn.  You have to try this.  My mouth is watering just thinking about it.  I added this dish last year and it was a big hit.  You can find about a hundred recipes for it online and I swear it has a cult following.  Named after the (now closed) Gulliver's restaurant chain in the San Francisco bay area.  Don't forget to thaw the frozen corn kernels first.  Very important.
Mashed Potatoes
Sweet potatoes (yams) mashed with butter and apple butter
Gravy.  Here is where I cheat.  Every year I order 2 jars of Williams Sonoma Turkey gravy base.  You simply mix with milk and your pan drippings.  A bit pricey but worth every penny.  When everything is ready to go on the table and people start milling around in the kitchen,  I don't want to be messing with gravy lumps.
Stuffing.  I make this with the turkey giblets, celery, onions, and mushrooms.  I guess I learned this from watching my Mom, who watched her Mom and so on.  It's good and I haven't changed it in 20 years.  The only problem I have is trying to find bagged dried bread cubes with no high fructose corn syrup or other unnecessary additives.  Just dried bread please.  I guess I could dry my own, but I have to draw the line somewhere.
 Pumpkin Pie. mmmmm,  pie.  I usually make at least 3, and 1 apple pie (my husband doesn't like pumpkin pie. Whaaat?) This year my sister is bringing the pies from Costco.  They are BIG and pretty good.  Half the time people are so full from dinner that the pies hardly get eaten, so I'm eliminating the baking this year.
Rolls from the local bakery.  
Cranberry sauce from scratch
We usually serve either a signature cocktail, (we are still talking about the chocolate martinis from a few years ago) or make a sparkling punch in my antique cranberry glass punchbowl.
Everything is made with real butter and cream.  There is no such thing as "light" or "fat free".  I have tried to change up the menu in the past, but everyone starts hollering.
The only thing I regret is that we all can't be seated at the table.  There are just too many of us!  So we serve it buffet style and help ourselves. 
Every single year I say "Let's not do it this year.  I'm tired of the decorating, cleaning, cooking, etc.  Can't it be just the 5 of us?"  But then I get over myself.  It's only once a year.  And it's all about our big, loud, exhausting, wonderful, silly, extended family.  And pie.

 Happy Thanksgiving!

Linking to Tuesday at the Table


Saturday, November 17, 2012

Soggy Saturday

I woke up to gray skies outside my window this morning.  The wind and rain have all but stripped the little heart shaped leaves from my Redbud tree.  Some of you might think I'm crazy, but I love this weather!  How about bundling up for a long walk, and when you're done, some cocoa in front of a fire!
I have been super busy getting ready for Thanksgiving this week.  We are now up to 26 guests!  I'm going to need a whole flock of turkeys (and more wine!).  However, this arrived today and got me all distracted.
I received my floss order from Sublime Stitching.  They come in yummy colors with fun names like  "fainting couch", "cookie sheet", and "velvet curtain".   I ordered the Prism, Flowerbox and Parlour packs.  Somebody knows how to market this stuff!
Should have a Tah-Dah any day on my blanket.  Just weaving in ends and finishing the border.  I may  have to add one of these labels.
I have so many projects that could wear this.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Holiday happenings

Here it comes.  Thanksgiving is fast approaching and Christmas will be right on it's heels.  I have been so busy cleaning (oven, fridge, moving furniture around) to get ready for Thanksgiving, that I barely stepped into my sewing room last week. Nothing crafty got finished, but it's time for a post anyway.  Here's what's new at my house.
 I pulled my homemade vanilla extract from the back of the pantry to have a look.  Almost ready!
Then I found some nice printable labels here.  Now I just need bottles.
The first sign of the holiday season happens in my mailbox.
This pile of catalogs represents the last few days.  Good lord.  Our mailbox is about one quarter mile round trip from our house, which is set back from the road.  When I set out to get the mail I pack a small snack, water bottle, and bring my phone.  Seriously, unless I stop by on my way in with the car, I need to take an empty bag with me to haul everything back.  My husband says they will stop sending them to me if I stop buying.  Snort.  Where's the holiday spirit in that?

I did manage to start a new Claudia scarf.  This one out of a beautiful, soft alpaca.  Pale blue as a wintry moon.  It's so nice when you're done running around like an idiot, to sit and relax with a bit of crochet.  And a few catalogs.

Monday, November 5, 2012

Recession Quilt

My scrap quilt is done, and I still don't know what this block is called, despite searching the web.  Someone remarked that it looked like a depression block, but it's not quite. 
 This is basically a 36 patch, with 8 of the squares being half square triangles.  The light and dark values of the fabrics help create the pattern.   Not quite a depression, so how about a Recession?  This being an election year here in the U.S. and us being in a recession, I thought I would take political liberties with the name of my quilt.
All fabrics came from my stash.  I almost ran out and bought some backing, because everything I had just didn't work.  Not wanting to spend any more money (recession remember?), I ended up using the Kona snow that made up the borders. I always buy yards of it when it goes on sale, and have a good size stash.
 So it wouldn't look totally vanilla, I appliqued a mini block to the back corner.
Instead of machine quilting, I tied it, something I don't usually do even though I love the look of a tied quilt.  I used #5 Perle cotton, which frayed badly after washing and drying, but the knots held, so I guess it's okay.  I also chose a solid colored binding, all because of one small fat quarter of Phillip Jacobs floral, you can see in the picture above.  It was used as a dark, even though it reads as a medium.  It added a sparkle to the quilt that really stood out, and I had this violet Kona solid (in the stash again, don't know the color name), which coordinated well with it.
Don't forget to vote tomorrow!!!!!!!