Quilting · Quilts · sewing · Uncategorized

Everything’s Coming Up Squash

The summer squash and zucchini in our garden are multiplying like rabbits every night, and I can’t keep up. We’ve had Tomato-Zucchini Tart and Italian Roasted Veggies. I’ve made bread for the freezer (which barely fit in there as we still have soup made with zucchini in there from last year, along with too much ice cream, frozen strawberries, veggie broth, and icy chunks of leftover tomato paste because the larger can is cheaper). We’ve eaten zucchini muffins (actually summer squash muffins, but they are totally interchangeable). Tomorrow, I’ll be whipping up a Sausage and Zucchini casserole for dinner.

Today, I air-fried an entire summer squash as a side for my lunch. (Slice 1/8″ to 1/4″ slices, coat with a bit of olive oil and Parmesan Cheese, and air-fry for approximately 10 minutes at 400 degrees. Super simple. Super tasty. I tossed it in a bowl with quinoa, garden peas, grape tomatoes, Kalamata olives, and a drizzle of herbed olive oil, added a bowl of honeyrock melon, and finished my meal with a square of dark chocolate. Do I feel healthy? Yes, I do.)

Approximately one week of harvest

And the really crazy thing about all that squashy goodness?

Most of the plants that have produced veggies thus far weren’t plants we actually planted. I did plant one packet of zucchini seeds and one packet of summer squash seeds, but they haven’t done much yet. The plants that have been thriving for weeks now came up from seeds that were in our compost pile. And what’s even crazier is that we seem to have some strange zucchini/summer squash/spaghetti squash hybrids sprouting from the ground.

I also did not plant tomato plants, but we have those too, and we seem to have some sort of watermelon/pumpkin that’s coming along nicely. (No one is quite sure yet what it is. It’s getting big, though.) I may even have a butternut squash.

It’s a plant free-for-all out there, and nothing is neat and orderly, and it makes me just a teeny bit sad that my lovely row of beets is hidden and shaded by massive squash plant leaves. But I shouldn’t complain. Food is growing and it’s tasty and basically free.

Clearly, with this Great Squash Uprising that’s going on (along with taking time to enjoy the few summer weekends we get in northern Michigan), I have been spending minimal time in the sewing room. Thus, I have nothing new to share. What I do have is an older project that I don’t think I’ve shared before.

This is the Ice Cream Social wallhanging fom the Spring 2012 issue of Quilts and More magazine. The sample in the magazine was a little “busier” than I liked, with a dotted background, an inner stripey border of many colors (kind of like my outer pieced border, though the stripes were printed on the fabric), and an outer border that had various ice cream novelties printed on it. The corner blocks on the sample were pinwheels. It was a bit much for me. So I opted for an inner border that matched my more muted background fabric, another narrow border in pink (to match my binding), and an outer pieced border made of various width strips that matched what I had used for the ice cream and popsicles. (One great thing about this project is that you could make most of it with fabric scraps.)

crafts · knitting · Quilting · Quilts · sewing · Uncategorized

The Never-Ending Scrap Pile

I had planned to post on Saturday after a day of sewing on Friday. Then Saturday rolled around with an Arts Festival where I was playing in a community band concert (and where I narrowly missed being hit in the head by a pigeon egg…more on this later), a trip to the store for over-priced groceries (I thought food costs around here would go down with two kids out of the house this summer) and dog food ($30 more expensive than it used to be), a tasty early dinner (air-fried salmon), a walk around the neighborhood with the dogs (battling deer flies the entire way), and a trip to the tennis courts for a few matches with Hubby (I did not win).

Then there was Sunday with church in the morning, weeds that needed pulling, summer squash and wild blueberries that needed picking, trees that needed felling (not by me…I can barely be trusted with a rotary cutter, let alone a chainsaw), dogs that needed walking, and a Dark Winds season finale that needed watching.

So here I am on a Monday to show you what I was up to with scaps on Friday.

I have oodles of scraps left over from the I Spy quilts I’ve made for just about every baby relative (and there have been A LOT of babies). As I have to fussy cut images from the fabrics, I’ve been left with piles of holey fabric. (The fabric looks a lot like newspapers used to look after my grandma got done cutting out the bits that interested her. In other words, only the boring bits are left.)

I finally pulled out this box of boring bits on Friday and vowed to come up with a quilt that would use them up…or at least make a dent in the pile.

For the blocks above, I cut strips from the fabrics in widths ranging from 3/4″ to 1-1/2.” I sewed these strips together, then cut them down into 2″ chunks. I then sewed those chunks together until I ended up with a 13″ block. I sewed two 13″x2″ blocks together and added a 1-1/4″ border. I plan to make enough blocks for a decent size quilt.

Am I in love with this project? Not really (or at least not yet), but it is mindless sewing I can do while listening to audiobooks with Hubby AND it uses up scraps in a different way than I’ve used them before. After middle daughter declared all of my scrap projects as looking exactly the same, I thought it might be time to shake things up with a new pattern.

I also added about 11 more paper-pieced tiny pineapples to my growing pile on Friday and began blanket stitching my table runner/wall hanging. I attempted to start “turning the heel” on my knitted socks last night, but how was I supposed to concentrate on tiny stitches when Dark Winds was so intriguing?!

An innocent accident or something more sinister?

As for the pigeon egg story…Our community band plays in a pavilion next to a lake in town. When the pavilion was expanded and lights were added, the local pigeons moved in, nesting above the lights. They have created what I disgustingly refer to as the “Excrement Drop Zone” right next to where I sit during the concerts. As we were preparing to play a piece on Saturday, I saw something come flying through the air in my peripheral vision. For a moment, I thought I had narrowly missed being splattered with pigeon poo. Then something hard hit the ground in front of me, and eggy shrapnel scattered all over the place.

The question is, did the pigeon lay that egg on the fly? Did it land in the nest and dislodge the egg accidentally? Or was there something more sinister going on? Did that pigeon not like how I was playing and choose to throw that egg at me? We’ll never know. What I do know is that with it turning into an Alfred Hitchcock-esque scene down by the lake, I might just have to start playing in body armor.

crafts · knitting · Uncategorized

The Danger Zone

Before we get into the yarn and needles business of today’s post, let’s pause for a moment for a brief update on piggies and hay.

Remember these fellows?

If you don’t remember them, I present to you Winston and Basil, the two tiny tyrants who demand their dinner the moment I stand up from the table after eating mine. Their loud chorus of wheeks sends me scurrying to the fridge night after night to prepare a heaping bowl of romaine, carrots, tomatoes, and peppers. Oh, the joys of being a guinea pig grandma who is on duty while their mama is off at college. (Side note: I think they eat more veggies in a day than my son.)

Perhaps you remember that I sewed these two little monsters some adorable new hay bags a few months ago. It quickly became apparent when hay was being pulled out with wild abandon and left in heaping piles on the bottom of the cage that I’d made the holes in the bags much too large. To remedy these hay hijinks, my daughter sewed some inch-wide strips in the middle of the openings. This, she was certain, would keep the boys from getting up to no good.

Clearly, this idea was flawed.

It didn’t take even a week for those greedy gut guys to rip the strips off so the hay spillage could commence again.

Alas, my daughter and I will need to put our heads together. Perhaps between the two of us, we can design a new hay bag that will outsmart our sharp-toothed cavies.

Now, on to the yarn and needles bit, which I’m certain is vastly more boring than cute critters, so I’ll keep this part short.

I have entered the sock DANGER ZONE.

Oh, who am I kidding? Every single change of directions in this sock pattern seems to have found me flirting with danger…or at least mistake after mistake. Now, though, I’m working on the heel flap which comes right before turning the heel.

Wish me luck!

Quilting · Quilts · sewing · Uncategorized

Fancy Flowers

Modern Flowers Skinny Quilt

It was supposed to be a table runner. Then I used white fabric for the background. As a person who squirts blueberry juice everywhere when cutting up waffles topped with them and thus has a selection of purple-dotted table runners, it seemed ill-advised to lay anything comprised of white fabric on any surface where I might be dining.

So now it will be a wall-hanging. The bad news is, I’m running out of walls to hang things upon. The good news is, the house is incredibly well-insulted with all of the quilts covering the walls. The question is, how many quilts would I need to hang for the house to be so well-insulated that we wouldn’t need to purchase propane or firewood in the winter?

This past week I finished cutting out the flowers and dots and stems and ironed them all in place. I found that a Teflon pressing sheet worked well for ironing on the bits that hung over the edges of the hanging so they didn’t stick to the ironing board. Those overhanging bits were later trimmed off.

Next week I hope to do the blanket stitching around the edges.

The pattern is Modern Flowers Skinny Quilt by Jennifer Jangles. There were options for three different sizes given. The wall quilt measured 54″x14.” The table runner was clearly designed for a table the size of which is only seen in lavish dining rooms in Jane Austen-esque movies/television shows. It finishes at a whopping 72″ x14.” If it were a little wider, I could totally hide under the thing. Finally, there is a bed runner measuring 108″ x 14.” I’ve never really understood bed runners. They seem to be all the rage in hotels these days where they spend more time sliding off the bed and onto the floor than they spend actually decorating the foot of the bed.

As I wanted to use up fabric from my stash, I was limited in the length I could make the hanging, The largest piece of background fabric that I liked in my stash was just over a yard long, so that’s what I went with.

crafts · knitting · Uncategorized

Sock Drama part deux

The sock drama continues.

Yet again we were watching an episode of Grantchester. Yet again I was knitting away at a pair of socks. Yet again I was paying full attention to neither the show nor the mess of needles and yarn in my hands. Yet again I missed part of the plot and made a mistake. And yet again I wondered why I bother knitting socks.

The end result: there was a hole in my sock. It wasn’t a big hole. It was barely noticeable. After a close inspection, I determined it wasn’t a dropped stitch. It was more like something got twisted in a funny way. I decided I could live with that. Who would ever even notice such a tiny hole other than me?

And so I knitted on.

For about six more rounds.

Then the little perfectionistic demon that I usually keep under control reared its ugly little head and insisted I needed to do something. I whined. I complained. (Mostly in my head.) I swore at that demon. (Also in my head.) Then I gave in. I could not allow that hole to remain.

I decided the best course of action would be to work up to the problem stitch, drop it down to the hole, and pick all the stitches back up. While this would be a challenge considering the thinness of the yarn and tinyness of the stitches, it was preferable to picking out six or more rounds of knitting and re-knitting everything.

Apparently, a tiny crochet hook would have been the perfect tool for my stitch picking up. I learned this after the fact. Unfortunately, I don’t own a tiny crochet hook because I don’t crochet. (I tried it once. It made my hands hurt. Don’t do things that make your body hurt. I learned this the hard way with running.)

Strangely, as we began season 3 of Breaking Bad last night, I managed to knit several inches without any mistakes. Could it be that Grantchester is the problem and not me?

crafts · knitting · Uncategorized

The Worst Pattern Ever!

I picked up the pattern for the third time. This was the time, I was certain, that I’d read the pattern properly. This was the time I wouldn’t make a mistake. This was the time I wouldn’t have to rip out stitches, teeny tiny stitches in fingering weight yarn on teeny tiny needles.

I was wrong.

For the third time, I had a five-needle nightmare going on as I worked my way out of multiple rows of mistakes.

Will I ever learn?

Is it just me? Am I unable to comprehend basic directions?

Clearly not, as most projects go smoothly. Clearly, this time and the other three times this has happened, the mistakes I’ve made have been the fault of the Worst Pattern Ever!

But it was free, so I can’t really complain, can I? Besides, you’d think I would have learned a thing or two the first two times I worked my way through the pattern.

There I was, happily knitting around and around, my five needles all behaving and not in a Pick Up Sticks jumble. (Remember that very safe childhood game with its long pointy eye poker-outer sticks?) I had one eye on my knitting and one eye on the episode of Grantchester we were watching, so it took a few rounds of knitting for me to realize that something wasn’t quite right.

I looked at my sock in progress. I looked at the pattern. The pattern said to “Do pattern.” (No “pattern” was given. It was a knitting-free-for-all situation. And when it’s a knitting-free-for-all situation, I choose to knit. I’m not a purl fan.) But above that, someone had written in “Plain knit.” I was just knitting, plain knitting as the hand-scrawled note said to do. I wasn’t “patterning,” as the original pattern stated. I seemed to recall “patterning” on the last pair of socks I’d made. A quick check in my sock drawer at my still pristine homemade socks–2 pairs! Barely worn! They take too long to make for me to actually wear them and wear them out!–showed that I had, indeed, done a K3 P1 pattern in the past.

With a great sigh and a whole lot of swear words running through my head, I headed back downstairs to spend an hour picking those tiny knit stitches out, vowing to add yet another “Don’t be an idiot here” onto the pattern.

I suppose the fact that I’m having to write “Don’t be an idiot here” multiple times might be a sign that the problem could be with me and not with the pattern.

No. Nevermind. I refuse to take any responsibility for these sock debacles.

For this pair of socks, I’m using clearanced Premier Serenity (Serenity? Ha! More like Angry-stitch-ripper vibes!) sock yarn from JoAnn Fabrics. I snagged multiple skeins for $2.97 each! My pattern is a free sock pattern for Five Needle Socks that I got at a local (now closed) knitting store.

Quilting · Quilts · sewing · Uncategorized

Whimsical Runner and More Pineapples

The past few weeks have been full of fun and not-so-fun things.

First, there was a week of vacation at Mammoth Cave and Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Hubby and I climbed our third mountain while in the Smokies. (We’ve now ascended Mt. Mitchell in North Carolina, Guadalupe Peak in Texas, and Mt. LeConte in Tennessee. We have our sights set on several more in the future.)

Since returning home, we’ve been on several hiking adventures. We’ve picked tons of dandelions to make dandelion jelly. We’ve eaten massive soft pretzels drenched in butter and parmesan and garlic from the Petosky Pretzel Company and consumed giant bowls of tasty ice cream from Kilwin’s Fudge Shop. And just yesterday we met up at a park with my parents and our kids to celebrate several birthdays.

The not-so-fun consisted of spring cleaning and more spring cleaning. Basement cleaning consumed almost an entire Sunday afternoon, and I’m pleased to report that our daughter’s paddleboard has FINALLY been stowed away…just in time for paddleboard season. Window washing, my least favorite chore, stole several hours of happiness. And garden weeding with our overly friendly mosquitos has sucked the joy out of at least one day and threatens to do so again tomorrow.

But let’s not dwell on unpleasant things!

My sewing time has been minimal, but I did manage to finish up several more tiny paper-pieced pineapples. Recently I decided to make blocks that were the “opposite” of the ones I’d previously completed. Where I’d used lights before, I switched to darks, and vice versa. I laid them out on the floor today to see how I liked the look, and I’m pleased with how they are turning out. I’m not looking forward to removing all of the paper from the back of each block, though.

After growing a little bored with pineapples and tiny scraps (actually all scraps at this point), I decided to pull out a pattern I’ve had for several years and start a…gasp…new project. As I still have several unfinished objects cluttering up the sewing room, the last thing I needed to do was begin something new, but here we are anyway.

This pattern makes a very long wall quilt, table runner, or bed runner. When I say “very long,” I mean “very long.” Like so long that I’d only be able to put the table runner-sized table runner on the table if I had the table expanded to its limits with multiple leaves being used. As it’s often just Hubby and me here for meals, we only have a need for our table to be stretched to fancy-dinner-at-Downton-Abbey size approximately once a year. I’ve decided that I’m going to make a much smaller table runner, probably consisting of either the top or bottom 2/3 of what’s pictured on the pattern. Thus far I’ve cut out a portion of one of the large flowers. Choosing fabrics for this whimsical runner was a lot of fun.

With rain forecasted for a portion of this weekend, I’m hoping to spend a few hours sewing. But first…I need to iron the curtains that need to be rehung post window washing. Ironing…now there’s a real joy stealer! (There’s also a pile of laundry that needs to be ironed. Sigh!)

crafts · Quilting · Quilts · sewing · Uncategorized

A Scrappy Patriotic Project & an Update

Several years ago my mom and I went on a Shop Hop around northern Michigan. At each shop we were given a free patriotic pattern.

Am I the only one who usually finds the free gifts on Shop Hops to be…well…not that great? I know I shouldn’t complain, but the last thing I want is patterns I don’t like, swatches of fabric I’ll never use (and no one else wanted either if you have them left over to give away), or a weird little sewn together tissue holder that makes getting a Kleenex out of my purse so much more difficult because I’ve now got to get through a flap and a piece of velcro to access what I need to wipe my nose. Trust me, that Kleenex holder that someone spent so much time putting together is just going to get taken apart so I can use the scrap of fabric it was made with for something more practical.

Wow. I probably sound like an ingrate.

Sorry. I just don’t like clutter. (Though the state of my sewing room right now tells a different story.)

But back to those patriotic patterns that were given away free, because that’s where we were before I went off on a tangent. Some of those patterns were actually pretty good. I chose the four best, dug out my patriotic scraps, and made a small wall-hanging.

I want to point out that I had originally used different colors for the bottom right block. Sometimes things just don’t turn out the way you think they’re going to. Which is fine, because you can always throw that ugly mess into a scrappy quilt like I did. (I only used a portion of the ugliness, because the entire block would have been too overwhelming!) I think what went wrong in this block was I reversed the darks and lights and the star part of the pattern just didn’t stand out.

Now for an update.

Maybe you recall how I made some guinea pig hay bags a few weeks ago. As it turns out, the openings for the hay were too large for our greedy little boys. They relished shoving their heads into the bags and yanking mounds of hay out, mounds that they would then leave uneaten on the floor of their cage. As the price of hay has risen astronomically, those potato-shaped monsters needed to be stopped. My daughter (the owner of the piggies and the purchaser of the hay) decided to sew a small strip of fabric across the middle of the openings in the hope that they would no longer be able to yank everything out as easily. We’ll see how this goes. (Look at Winston with hay on his face!) If they continue to waste hay, we may need to find them jobs so they can earn their keep. With their skills at munching, I think we may be able to hire them out to do lawn maintenance.

crafts · Quilting · Quilts · sewing · Uncategorized

Tiny Pineapples

I’ve been working my way through my list of Unfinished Projects this year. I was on quite a roll, then stalled a bit over the past couple of weeks. I’ve been working on some other projects that aren’t craft-related, have been planning some summer adventures, and have been helping move college kids back home.

My piano room presently looks like a hoarder lives here as Middle Daughter has to move back to college next week for her summer classes and we piled all her things in there when we unloaded the car rather than put them away for such a short period of time.

Son came home with mountains of laundry a week later, claiming he’d run out of Tide Pods a few weeks before the end of the semester. I can finally see the floor in the laundry room again…after days of tripping over hoodies and blankets–he sleeps under no less than 10 blankets every night–and underwear.

With my days spent moving laundry from the floor to the washer to the dryer, my sewing time has decreased significantly. However, I did manage to eke out some time to work on a few tiny paper-pieced pineapples.

These pineapples measure just over 3″ square and are great for all those tiny scraps!. I found the pattern at https://www.thelittlemushroomcap.com/paper-pieced-3-pineapple-log-cabin-block-mini-quilt-progress-free-paper-piecing-template-a-video/.

Originally I made a stack of these blocks with lights where the darks are in the above photo. As I laid them out, planning how I was going to arrange them, I decided that I liked the look of alternating blocks with lights and darks in the corners. So now I’m working on creating a stack of what I’ll call dark blocks. (Like the one above. Below you can see the difference between the “lights” and the “darks.”)

I haven’t yet decided how large this quilt will be. Considering all of the time involved I will probably choose to hang this one on the wall rather than have out where it can be used.

crafts · sewing

A Quick Little Project

Late last year I started reading The Count of Monte Cristo. I was reading it on my phone whilst walking on the treadmill. Then I realized just how long the story was and just how much I hate reading books on a phone screen and that I would probably end up walking the equivalent of a trek from Michigan to California before reaching the final page.

So I thought, “Why not try the audiobook.” We had a lengthy car ride coming up in December. Surely I could make it through a bazillion hours of listening whilst watching the scenery go by from Michigan to Texas and back again. Then I realized that there were a lot of names that weren’t Bob and Tom but were more like Caderousse and Cucuetto and also a whole lot of foreign-sounding places, all of which were difficult to understand.

So, rather than giving up on the whole idea of reading the book, I thought, “I’m going to have to actually get a physical copy of this book and read it.” I couldn’t check it out from the library because I’d end up needing to renew it for the next six months and that’s not allowed.

I ended up buying the book, and I’m making myself read one chapter a day.

“Why?” my middle daughter asked because classics aren’t interesting to her.

I’m not sure why. Maybe because the classics were ruined for me in high school when we had to read them and get out of them whatever the teacher said we should get out of them. (Which I never did.) Maybe because it’s enjoyable to read something original that doesn’t follow a formula. Maybe because it’s nice to read something that’s stood the test of time and is still here. Maybe just because the story is actually pretty good.

Since this book and I were going to be constant companions for the next 117 days (that’s how many chapters there are), I decided I needed a pretty bookmark to look at for those 117 days.

For this project, I sewed together two scraps of fabric wrong sides together on their long sides. Width and length don’t matter…whatever dimensions are preferred are fine. After turning this tube right side out, I tucked in the raw edges on the short sides, slid in a scrap of ribbon on one short side (folding it in half so all raw edges are inside), and edge stitched around all four sides.