Uncategorized · knitting

Half of a Pair

Finally. I have a sock. My oldest daughter’s response when I sent her a photo of the completed sock was, and I quote, “Ayyy. Only took years.” I have no idea what “ayyy” means. I’m sure it’s some sort of exclamation indicating astonishment at my slowness. But let’s talk about the “years” that it took, shall we?

Several years ago…less than ten, or maybe more??…I took oldest daughter to the yarn shop to purchase sock yarn. I bought some for myself, which I knitted up into a pair of socks in approximately 5 years, and she chose this blue/tan combo.

She began knitting her socks, completed approximately one inch of ribbing, and declared that she was ready to do the heel as she didn’t want high socks. At this point in time I wasn’t even close to ready to start on my heel, and, as we needed to make a trip to see the “knitting lady” for a bit of show-and-tell on how to actually do a heel, my daughter laid her pair aside.

By the time I was ready to learn how to do the heel, our “knitting lady” had passed away and my daughter had lost all interest in finishing her socks. (She had moved on to sweaters and afghans by this point and thought that knitted socks weren’t worth the effort.) Without our “knitting lady,” I had to watch YouTube videos on how to form the heel since our printed directions were slightly lacking in photos and instructions. Finally, I completed my pair.

As I’m not really a blue and brown kind of gal, oldest’s partially completed sock lurked in my knitting basket for several years before I finally picked it up to work on it. As I wasn’t certain exactly where she was in the pattern and since we knit at a different tightness, I picked out her work and began again. After several months, which involved much picking out due to misreading directions, I finally completed this sock. It’s mate is in the early stages and may be completed within this decade. I can’t make any guarantees.

I was recently discussing the cost of homemade socks with my husband. I believe one skein of this particular sock yarn was somewhere between $9 and $18. It’s been so long ago that I can’t remember what I paid. When you add all of the hours spent working on a pair of socks to the cost of materials you end up with a pair of socks that would be too ridiculously expensive to sell.

So why spend all the money and time making them?

They are super comfortable. Many of the socks I buy from the store are too long for my feet. I have some toasty wool socks whose heel lands significantly north of my Achilles tendon when pulled on all the way. They bulge out from under the hem of my pants like a fluffy tumor. Homemade socks can be made to the exact size of your foot. That said, I don’t think I’ll be making all of my socks in the future. At the rate I knit, I’d be barefoot most of the time. I’d also be broke.

knitting · Quilting · Quilts · sewing · Uncategorized

The Unfinished Object List

As I was sifting through a box this week, I happened upon an old Unfinished Object list. While I was happy to note that I had completed at least one project on the list in the past year, I still had several more to finish and had even added new projects over the past year. So I sat down to make a revised list.

Here’s what I ended up with:

Quilting projects

  • X-scrap quilt
  • Pink and green paper-piecing quilt
  • Tiny pineapples quilt
  • 4-patch squares scrap quilt
  • Cabin Quilt
  • Striped squares scrap quilt
  • Lemon Pepper quilt (Just needs to be quilted.)

Other Craft Projects

  • Knitted socks
  • Cross-stitch project

I suppose my list is not as lengthy as other’s lists, but it is still a bit daunting.

Here’s a peek at each of them:

Despite the urge to start another new something, I chose to work on three of these projects this week. I worked on the pink and green paper piecing quilt, which will probably end up hanging on a wall in our home. Or it may be a lap quilt. I haven’t decided yet what we’ll do with it. I also worked on the 4-patch scrap quilt. I intended to continue working on the pink and green paper piecing when I wandered into the office/sewing room later in the week. However, I arrived just as my husband, who often works from home, started listening to an audiobook. Normally, I’m not a fan of action books (in this case, Lee Child’s The Sentinel), but I somehow got hooked in the first few minutes. Since I was unable to hear it playing over the sound of the sewing machine, I chose to work on my cross-stitch project. Abandoning all of my other work, I arrived in the sewing room/office the next day to continue listening and cross-stitching. This could quickly become a dangerous habit!

What does your Unfinished Object list look like?

Quilting · Quilts · sewing · Uncategorized

Scrap Quilt #3

For the past year or so I’ve been attempting to make a dent in my fabric scraps. I would assume, after finishing three lap quilts, that I’ve succeeded. So why does it seem as if there’s still just as many bits and pieces left to use up?

Here is my most recently completed scrappy lap quilt. I finished this one up earlier this week.

I used up lots of odd blocks and extra pieces cut for other quilts. (See those triangle squares with the autumn colors matched with the light tan? Those were extras left over from the first quilt I ever finished.) I used up many small scraps by sewing them together, cutting a straight edge, then adding a new piece or section to that straight edge. For this quilt I was even able to use up some binding I had leftover from another project. The backing, which I showed in a previous post, consisted of brightly-colored rectangles. (These were fabrics I wasn’t overly fond of, so weeding them out in a useful way was great!) It may be a bit eye-crossing to look at, but it is still nice and toasty and was so enjoyable, though time consuming, to make. (The blocks for this quilt were 19″ by 15.” I did all-over meandering quilting since the top wasn’t busy enough!)

Here are all three I’ve completed within the last year or so. Two are very similar. the third one (the one on the left) was made by sewing strips of fabric to paper triangles. I absolutely adore that one, but that was a whole lot of triangles!!

After I complete a few of the projects on my lengthy list of Uncompleted Objects, my next scrap project will involve figuring out what to do with all of the bits left over from my I Spy quilt fabrics. (I have made numerous I Spy quilts. Nearly every single baby I’m even somewhat related to has received one. Which reminds me, I have a new niece coming soon, so I better add another I Spy quilt to my list of projects to complete.) I have an entire box of, what we’ll call, “image/picture/kids” fabrics that look like my grandmother’s newspapers after she got done cutting articles out to put in her genealogy scrapbooks. I’m thinking that I might try to play with the colors a bit for that project…maybe do something with an ombre effect.

Quilting · Quilts · sewing · Uncategorized

“It Looks Like Clown Pants”

I do this thing every month where I write out my goals for the month in my bullet journal. Sometimes I accomplish everything on the list. Sometimes I accomplish nothing on the list. Sometimes I accomplish one or two things. It all depends on how the month goes.

Last week, while reviewing my goals for September, I was reminded of how I wanted to get a quilt ready to quilt. I had two quilt tops lurking in the sewing room and decided I needed to do something with one of them.

I don’t know about any one else, but I do not like putting backing together for a quilt. I also don’t like pinning the backing, batting, and top together. But I suffered through the process, kneeling on the living room floor, with HGTV playing on the television as a distraction from the tediousness of pinning.

For this scrap quilt I chose large blocks of bright fabrics for the backing. As I looked at it laying over the ironing board, I was reminded of clown pants. I took a photo and sent it to my mom telling her what I thought. She said she liked the big blocks of bright color, so I decided they would stay.

Every couple days I’ll spend an hour or so doing random all-over quilting. I know some people aren’t fond of random all-over quilting. I love it. I don’t need a fancy machine to do it, and there are minimal threads to tie when completed. I’m probably around 3/4 finished and am pleased that I’ve done more than just get that quilt ready to quilt.

Which maybe makes up for the fact that I’m not going to complete those other goals of finishing a new quilt top or finishing one knitted sock.

knitting · Uncategorized

Knitted Socks and Pureed Peaches

This past weekend was all about peaches. (And hiking and errands and church and movies and knitting. But mostly peaches.) Our peach tree is a sad little thing. It’s lopsided and leans heavily toward the ground once the peaches begin growing. Once upon a time we had its trunk tied to a large aspen in our yard in the hopes that it would eventually end up standing straight. We’ve since given up all hope of this happening.

Our peaches are also sad little things. They have dark specks where bugs have attacked them, and they are generally no larger than ping pong balls. There may have been two in the bunch this year that were a decent size.

While they are sad looking and tiny, there are many of them. This year we picked a grocery sack full. After at least 4 hours of peeling and cutting while listening the Paper Ghosts podcast over two days (resulting in a horribly cramped hand), we ended up with 28 bags of puree to freeze and add to smoothies. While I know that all those little plastic baggies aren’t good for the environment, it was the best option for us this year. In years past I have frozen the puree in ice cube trays and stored the cubes in a large plastic bag. The trouble with ice cubes is that they take up a lot of room. These bags flattened out nicely and fit well in our overstuffed freezer. Last night we enjoyed our first peach smoothie, and it was tasty!

This weekend I also decided to make some progress on my knitted socks. I enjoy the sock knitting process once I get the needles all sorted out after the first few rounds. But when I neared the heel I knew I would need a lot of concentration and a few YouTube videos to get past it as I’d only knit one other pair of socks before and had forgotten how to do the heel. So I set the project aside until I felt ready to tackle that part.

I’m not sure why working on the heel seems so scary and daunting. It’s not really that difficult. After a few tries and bit of picking stitches out when I struggled picking stitches up on the heel, I managed to produce something that looked pretty good.

Below is a photo of the sock in process and one sock of the pair I made a few years ago. I really like the striping yarn. I’m using a five needle sock pattern that I got for free from the woman who taught me how to knit. I believe she may have created the pattern herself as there is no information on it that indicates it was created by someone else. Whenever I get to a tricky spot in a knitting pattern, I always think about this woman and wish she was still around to help me out of a bind. Sadly, she passed away several years ago.

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Pumpkin Spice and Everything Halloween

Just kidding about the pumpkin spice. I am not a pumpkin spice kind of gal. At least not when it comes to beverages. I like my pumpkin spice where it belongs…in pie. And, even then, it’s not my favorite thing. I’m a bigger fan of pecan pie or blueberry pie or apple pie with a thick, crunchy coating or lemon meringue or even this strange concoction of a pie made with buttermilk and not much else. Pumpkin pie is WAY down on the list of favorite pies.

However, despite my lack of fondness for pumpkin spice, I love love love to decorate for fall and Halloween. I like the oranges and reds and yellows and blacks. I like the pumpkins and jack o lanterns (though I don’t actually enjoy doing the carving myself as the pumpkin guts give me itchy arms). I like the cute witches and scary, warty witches and skeletons and bats.

So in honor of the upcoming fall season and upcoming holiday which I have ALREADY decorated for, I wanted to share with you a small wall-hanging I finished several years ago. I believe the pattern was from an edition of Quiltmaker magazine that my mom had given me a subscription to for either my birthday or for Christmas for several years.

The pumpkin and spider web design was transferred onto a scrap piece of muslin. My aging brain can’t remember if I used colored pencils or crayons to color in the design. (I believe I used colored pencils. Then I did the majority of the embroidery with black cross-stitch floss, using a strand of sparkly silver with the black for the spider webs. I added a black border and a green border and (after quilting in those seams) covered my sewing seams with orange and silver ribbon.

This was a project that I thoroughly enjoyed completing.

Hint: Basic children’s coloring pages make great embroidery patterns if you can’t find an embroidery pattern that you like.

Quilting · Quilts · sewing · Uncategorized

Water Lily Quilt

Water Lily Quilt Pattern

Several years ago our oldest daughter received a bedroom set from her grandparents. This bedroom set has been in the family for many years. As the only grandchild who seems to be interested in old things and antiques, she seemed like the perfect person for this set to be passed down to.

I can’t recall who the original owner of the set was. I only know that for a period of time in my childhood, before I, strangely, wished to downsize to a twin bed so I could have more space in my room, I had this furniture in my room. I especially loved the bed as it had a footboard that made a daring balance beam. Yes, I walked along that narrow footboard whilst pretending to be an Olympic gymnast, keeping my hands on the popcorn ceiling for balance. Don’t tell my mom. What she doesn’t know now can’t get me in trouble back when I was a kid!

I had made lovely nearly matching quilts for our oldest and her sister, which I will share at a later time, when they were younger. With a larger bed, and being a bit past the age that the original quilt pattern was intended for, she needed a new quilt. I let her pour over the pages of my quilt books and she selected the Water Lily pattern from Quick Rotary Cutter Quilts by Pam Bono Designs. She wanted purple fabrics for her quilt just as in the book, so I chose a pretty assortment from Joann’s.

The nice thing about this quilt pattern was that the quilt was made of just two different blocks. One was a bit more complicated. The other was rather “plain.” I wasn’t sure about the “plain” block, but I ended up liking how it all came together.

Our oldest daughter has since moved away from home, moving over 2 hours south of us to start her “Big Girl Job.” She’s still a lover of antiques and everything old. Her room here is still full of antique store “finds.” The quilt is still on her bed here at home. One day she’ll take that bed and the quilt and the rest of the bedroom set. Maybe she’ll even take all those stuffed animals she’s held onto for 22 years. Maybe she’ll take all of those antique store “finds.” Though, if she locates the antique shops in her new town and fills her new place with “new” stuff, we may be providing storage for antique fans and glassware forever.

(She came for a visit recently and brought a backpack to carry a few of her things home with her. A backpack. Is there an eye roll emoji I can add here? I offered her a box. Or two. She declined. She said she’ll fully move out when she has a house. Who knows when that will be, but she’s got her eye on her goals, so I know she’ll make it happen.)

Quilting · Quilts · sewing · Uncategorized

Empty Nest Cleaning Frenzy

I went into a cleaning frenzy over the weekend. After moving our younger two to college (the middle for her junior year, the younger for his freshman year) and getting all of the “stuff that needed to go with them” cleared out of the piano room, I decided some major cleaning in order now that it was only going to be my husband and me rambling around the house for the majority of the next nine months.

I started with the kids’ rooms then moved on to the bathrooms, which got pretty much a top to bottom, every cabinet and surface lysol-ing. Then I worked my way through the downstairs and the basement, dusting and sweeping and mopping until I was exhausted. (It didn’t help that we’d had two nights of horribly interrupted sleep. Night one involved major storms that seemed to last ALL NIGHT LONG. Our “little” dog, Neville, hates storms. Thunder, gunfire, smoke alarms…they all make him shake. Just the sound of rain makes him nervous. He spent the night army crawling around under our bed, shoving things out of his way and out from under the bed as he went which I would then trip over in the dark. His stress made our other dog, Luna, stressed. So stressed that she decided to snooze in the closet. Night two involved a misbehaving smoke alarm that went off twice for no reason and a stressed Neville, as not only was the smoke alarm terrifying but so was the new storm brewing outside.)

Anyway…

After hearing me complain several times about how I had to kneel on the floor to use my large rotary cutting mat, my husband decided that there had to be a way to get the mat off the floor in our shared office/sewing room. So we tackled that room on Saturday night.

Let’s rewind for a moment to see how I came to be kneeling on the floor to use my cutting mat. Twenty years ago when we built our house we planned for the “den,” as it was labeled on the print we used, to be my sewing room. I was sooooo excited to have a room just for this purpose. For several years I enjoyed having my own craft room. Occasionally I would move my sewing table elsewhere in the house when it became more convenient to do so. For a short while it was in our bedroom, then the living room, while the craft room became a play room so the kids could be nearby when I cooked meals.

Around 14 years ago my husband took a job with (what we referred to after a very short time as) the Evil Empire and the Boss Who Shall Not Be Named. Let’s just say it was a rough four years. The only good to come of those four years was that my husband could now work mostly from home.

There was only one problem.

He needed office space.

So I had to share my sewing room.

We’ve been sharing ever since. (And, thankfully, he no longer works for the EE and the BWSNBN.)

Once we started sharing, I lost one large table and about a third of the room. As I didn’t want to have to travel back and forth between, say, the kitchen table and the sewing table, I chose to suffer through long bouts of kneeling on the floor whenever I needed to cut fabric.

But, no more!

With our new arrangement, I’m able to keep my largest mat on my sewing table AND also have my two smaller mats on a desk. I’m pretty excited to get back to my projects now that I have this new arrangement. My husband is excited that I can no longer talk about taking over our oldest daughter’s bedroom which would have us on totally opposite ends of the house. Of course, we will both probably be in a nursing home before she finally moves her last possessions out of her room, so the likelihood of me moving up there anytime soon was pretty slim anyway.

Here’s the progress I made on the Pieceful Retreat quilt last week. I really like this one!

Quilting · Quilts · sewing · Uncategorized

UFO #43 & WIP #20

Unfinished Objects. Works in Progress. I think I may have even heard them referred to as PIGs once at a quilt ruler class, though I can’t remember now what those letters stood for. Perhaps “Project In…” and something starting with ‘G.’ There was some story that went along with it about pigs in a barn or something like that. I’m in my early 40s and I think my memory is already going.

I know some people keep track of how many projects they’ve got in the works at any given time. They may even have them divided into their own little container with all the pieces carefully labeled. I am not one of those people. I’d take a picture of my sewing room right now, but that would be embarrassing. I have projects piled on my sewing table, stuff stacked in the closet, fabric on the floor that I was sorting through to start yet another project this week, laundry that needs ironing hanging off the back of my chair. It’s a disaster. I should also add that there are carefully cut fabric bits on the ironing board, which means my husband’s church attire won’t be meeting up with the iron any time soon.

I was thrilled to have several hours to spend in the sewing room on Tuesday while I enjoyed one of those incredibly rare moments when everyone was out of the house. (I homeschooled my kids and my husband works mostly from home, so days alone happen once in a blue moon. Our youngest will start college this fall, middle will move back to college for her junior year, and our eldest is living on her own in another part of the state, so those blue moon type days might roll around a little more frequently in the upcoming weeks.)

I sewed up some bits for scrap quilt #4 (or 5–I’ve lost count), then decided it was time to tackle a project I intended to do eons ago. My mom and I were supposed to take a class nearly 20 years ago to make a bed quilt. We bought the pattern, chose our fabric, but never took the class. (Which was fine with me. I’m not a class kind of person. I like to sew in solitude and figure things out on my own.)

The pattern is Pieceful Retreat by Laura Boehnke for Thread Head Designs. It makes a 99″x99″ bed quilt. I once said I would never make another quilt that large as it is difficult to quilt them on my machine (and I don’t send my quilts out for quilting), but here I am making another one.

Thus far I have nearly completed the cabin section. Only 95% of the quilt to go!

I’ve also made some progress on another scrap quilt. As I’ve mostly run out of cut strips to use for this one, I’m taking some time off from working on it until I get some more strips cut. I really like how it’s turning out, but I think I need to add to the width a bit. I thought 8 blocks wide would be sufficient, but it’s a bit smaller than I intended. I just love all the bright colors!

knitting · Uncategorized

Shrieking Owls

I sat down to write and an owl started hooting outside. It sounded close to the house so I rushed out on the deck to see if I could spot it in the trees. Luna, the dog, fearing an intruder on the property, got mad and started barking. Nevy, the other dog, charged out onto the deck with me because that’s what he does when the slider opens. The owl hoots had him quickly wanting to go back inside. He’s a bit of a scaredy-“cat” when it comes to loud or strange noises. I wasn’t able to spot the owl, but as I stood and listened, another owl, also close by, began shrieking. Our hooter, perhaps offended that someone else was in his/her territory or scared off by Luna’s barking, quickly relocated across the pond.

(Luna is on the left, Neville is on the right. Luna was enjoying the brown-eyed Susans on Saturday. The photo of Nevy is from a hiking trip where he managed to get himself from the back of the car into the middle seat. He was very pleased with himself.)

We’ve lived in the woods for over 20 years, and up until this year I had never heard an owl shriek. We’ve only ever heard them making their cute little hooting call. A couple weeks ago I stepped outside IN THE DARK with Nevy so he could do his business. It sounded like Jurassic Park out there. There were shrieks coming from all directions! This is 2021, and, as we all well know after living through 2020, anything is possible. I didn’t know if there were velociraptors lurking in the weeds or alien life forms swinging from the tree branches. What I did know was that Nevy and I were not going to stay out there long. He was in total agreement with that.

After a bit of YouTube searching, I discovered that our little shriekers were the barred owls that we’d only heard making cute sounds up until that moment. For many years we would occasionally hear a pair hooting to each other from separate sides of the neighborhood. After listening carefully to our shriekers, I’ve determined that we have at least three now, which is incredibly cool!

We’ve been enjoying nature a lot the past few weeks. I’ve not been spending much time in the sewing room, because when northern Michigan gives you decent weather and minimal mosquitoes (I hear others aren’t so lucky), you get your fanny outside because you know it’s only a matter or months before your fanny will be freezing out there without multiple layers.

I’ve picked up my knitting again in the evenings. My goal was to use up most of my yarn before purchasing anything new. Ha! I stayed strong until I saw some yarn that would make a pretty afghan. As if we need ANOTHER afghan! And now that I have the yarn, I can’t find the pattern I was going to use. So while that yarn sits gathering dust, I knitted up some dishcloths.

The variegated yarn is from a large spool which I believe is never going to run out! I can’t tell you how many dishcloths I’ve already made from that spool. You can see from the photo that I’m attempting to use up every last bit of dishcloth yarn, even if some of the color combos are a little wacky (such as the variegated and blue one). Once I bored of dishcloths I started a pair of socks.

I find it’s nice to have a project going that you can do almost mindlessly while watching television at night. I feel just a bit less lazy if I have something to occupy my hands while relaxing on the couch.

We’ve been working our way through Schitt’s Creek, a show our middle daughter suggested, and have found it to be really funny. On the opposite side of the “humor” scale, we’ve not been enjoying HBOs (which I think stands for Random and Pointless Nudity) The White Lotus, which for some strange reason claims to be a comedy (and a drama). We started watching since it claimed to be a comedy. We keep coming back week after week and cringing through it because we just want to know who dies. Why are we doing this to ourselves? It’s not like we don’t have better things to watch. Hubby has that DVR filled up with movies…and there’s always those Chicago Med episodes that I haven’t been desperate enough for entertainment to work my way through. (I got fed up with a few of the characters…well, all of the characters…and stopped watching last year but never told the DVR to stop recording them.) The good news is, we are four episodes in and there are only six in total. I gotta say, though, I’m about one random and pointless nudity away from not giving a crap how it all ends.