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.

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.

crafts · Quilting · Quilts · sewing · Uncategorized

Conquering the Unfinished Projects

I have no idea where the last two weeks went.

Oh, wait. Yes, I do.

I had to block off a lot of hours last week for worrying. Yes, worrying.

Our middle child (actually an adult) ended up in the emergency room of a hospital a couple hours away earlier in the month. After a few tests, a tentative diagnosis was reached, and she was told to follow up with her physician. She did. At that visit, lab work showed the problem had worsened. Had I not already been worrying, I would have started then. She was referred to a surgeon, and I spent an afternoon at the hospital with her while she underwent some more testing. As of yet, no real diagnosis has been reached, but she’s feeling much better. So the hope is that whatever caused her issues was just a temporary blip.

I will say, and I’ve joked with her about this since her time in the recovery room, that the show she gave me as she came down off whatever good drugs they gave her was worth the price of admission, i.e. what insurance isn’t covering. She was swearing. She was saying goofy, inappropriate things. And she was loud. I was glad there was a curtain around her recovery cubicle so no one could see us in there. This is a smallish town! Someone might know us! It all made for a good story to tell the relatives, though.

I found a little time to sew last weekend, but with two of the kids home from college, there wasn’t time to share anything here. This past week I found more time to sew, and yesterday I finished my 4-patch Little Squares quilt top, a project that has been in an unfinished state for a couple years.

The top consists of 1,152 1-1/2″ squares made into 4-patch units combined with 2-1/2″ cream squares. The colored scraps making up the border are 2-1/2″. The outer cream border measures 1-1/2″ wide. This made a smaller lapsize quilt. All of the fabric, except for the cream, used in this quilt is from my never-ending, ever-growing stash of scraps.

I vow to conquer the procrastination tendencies that seem to arise at this point of a project. I WILL get a backing sewn. I WILL get it pinned. I WILL get the quilting done. I WILL get it bound. Am I the only one who hates sewing backings and doing the pinning?

crafts · Quilting · Quilts · sewing · Uncategorized

Little Squares

It’s been a week.

A rough week.

I enjoyed a bit of sewing and cross-stitching time last weekend, then Monday hit.

And with Monday came the stomach flu and a week of feeling not quite right. I’ve been doing a lot of napping and lazing about on the couch with my faithful canine companions by my side. I hope this coming week finds me out of this ick funk that I’m in so I can get back to the things that I enjoy.

(Not that I don’t enjoy lazing about on the couch. I just don’t like doing it for days at a time.)

After finishing the Lemon Pepper quilt and matching pillows I decided I’d get back to my unfinished project list and work on something that had been gathering dust for a while. I chose what I’ll refer to as my “Little Squares” project.

Little Squares is made up of so many…you guessed it…little squares. I’m doing four-patch blocks with 1 1/2″ squares. These four-patch blocks are combined with a 2 1/2″ block of cream fabric.

After a bit of calculating, I discovered that I need 1,152 little squares to make the quilt the size I wanted. That’s a lot!

Here are a couple of progress photos. I’m hoping for nine of the larger units in the finished quilt, so I’d say I’m nearly halfway there.

As I cut up my scraps into the tiny squares, I’m adding a lot of even smaller scraps to my itty-bitty scrap container. These will come in handy when I get back to my miniature paper-pieced pineapple blocks.

crafts · Quilting · Quilts · sewing · Uncategorized

A Trio of Pillows

Did we need more pillows?

Probably not.

As it is, one of our couches has just enough un-pillowed space left for a single dog to enjoy a siesta when she’s feeling antisocial in the evenings and chooses to relax in a different room than her humans and her doggy “brother.”

Did I make more pillows?

Yep.

You can never have too many, right?

Besides, I had numerous scraps left from the Lemon Pepper Quilt–little bits that had already been sewn together which could be trimmed up and pieced together to make pillow tops.

I also had enough larger scraps left that, with a bit of piecing, could be used to make backs for the pillows.

I trimmed the already pieced bits down to 2 1/4″ strips and sewed four of these strips together to make a block. Each pillow top had 4 blocks, 2 going vertically and 2 going horizontally. I added a black border and quilted the tops in a similar style as I had the Lemon Pepper quilt (kind of an all-over straight line quilting 1/4″ from some of the seams…think boxy zigzag.)

crafts · Quilting · Quilts · sewing · Uncategorized

Grandma’s Quilt. Dad’s Pajamas.

My dad’s pajamas hang on the bottom of our bed.

It’s not as weird as it sounds.

My grandmother, my dad’s mom, died before I was born. I’ve seen photos and heard many stories about her, but the only connection I have to her is a quilt my grandfather gave to me a few years before he passed away.

By the way, those stories about grandma? The one told most often was about how she was such a kind woman. But one day, one of the chickens in their backyard flock pecked her one too many times, and that kind woman wrung his neck! You can guess what they had for dinner that night.

I’m fairly certain–judging by the fact that many of the fabrics are florals–that not all of the quilt squares were cut from my dad’s clothes, but I know for certain that at least one of the fabrics came from a pair of his childhood pajamas. If I recall correctly, his pajamas were made of red and white stripe fabric.

Though my dad is still living and I don’t need a tangible item to bring memories of him to mind, it’s nice to have this quilt nearby as a connection to the grandmother I never got to know and to the child my father once was. And I’m glad my grandfather trusted me with this heirloom and knew I would appreciate the effort put into each hand-stitched stitch.

I also appreciate all of the fabulous patterns on the old fabrics.

crafts · Quilting · Quilts · sewing · Uncategorized

A Confession

I have a confession to make.

This quilt was supposed to be a wedding present.

Many years ago a childhood friend got married. I was her Matron of Honor. She had been my Maid of Honor a few years earlier.

I chose the pattern “Treasured Hearts” from the book Hearts are Forever by Four Corners, picked out the fabrics, and got started. I worked diligently but, as I was an exhausted new mother, quickly realized I would never finish the quilt in time for the wedding.

Besides, I had fallen a bit in love with the quilt and really didn’t want to part with it. Horrible, I know. What kind of friend am I?

So a new gift was chosen for the wedding, and I put the quilt away to finish when I had more time.

I wouldn’t find that time for several more years, not until long after we’d built a house, moved, and had two more children. I can’t remember exactly what year that was (I should probably label my quilts), but I have a very clear memory of being cold and working on the quilting at the kitchen table while our across-the-pond neighbor at the time was in the basement fixing our broken furnace.

Ordinarily, I’m not a fan of white fabric. I find it tends to show every single wrinkle. But I liked the white on this quilt. I chose to quilt in the ditch around each colored piece of fabric. I used a soft, green flannel, that my parents purchased an entire bolt of at a very reasonable price in Ohio’s Amish Country, for the backing. The pattern made a twin/double size quilt measuring 73″ by 87.” For now, this quilt is draped over a chair in our living room. I thought that one day, should we ever turn our kids’ bedrooms into guest rooms, I might use it on a bed. After laying it out today to take photos, I realized how much it has aged just while draped on the back of a chair. The white is less white; the colors are a bit faded. It was a reminder that everything…and not just me…is aging.