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.

crafts · Quilting · Quilts · sewing · Uncategorized

A Tiny Terror

Last weekend I wrote of the two tiny tyrants who share our house, or as our daughter calls them, the Guinea pigs. This week, let me introduce you to the other tiny terror in our lives:

Her name is Rosie. She’s 17 and spoiled absolutely rotten. (She would disagree on the spoiled rotten bit for two reasons. #1 – She has to live with 2 dogs and #2 – She occasionally has to wait to get her bedtime treat longer than she would like.)

Rosie, and her sister Belle (who died in early 2020), came to live with us when they were one day old. We then became a, gasp, four cat family at the time, having adopted two males from the shelter four years previously. (Sadly, the boys died several years ago.) Rosie and Belle had to be fed with bottles (even in the middle of the night), burped like babies, and taught how to do cat stuff (like use a litter box) by the humans in the family.

I was the only mama Rosie ever knew. And I didn’t shove her out of the “nest” as a normal mama cat would. Thus, a monster was created.

She’s clingy, insisting on sharing my chair when I sit down to sew. If she’s not on the chair behind me, forcing me to teeter on the very edge, she’s sitting on whatever project I’m attempting to work on. If I’m lucky she might lay in her bed nearby. Chances of that improve if I’ve got a space heater running nearby so she can toast her little whiskers.

At night she insists on sleeping as close to my face as possible, occasionally treating me to a neck stomping as she settles into position. As a person with allergies, let me just say that it’s a real treat having a cat sleep right under my nose every night. We tried evicting her from the bedroom, but her meowing skills are top notch. She can meow for hours at a time and often does so if her nightly treat is running late.

Her most recent transgression had nothing to do with neck stomping or lengthy bouts of meowing and put her firmly in top place on the naughty list for the week. Displeased with the state of 1 of her 4 (!!) litter boxes, she left me a stinky “present” right on top of the Lemon Pepper Quilt I was quilting.

I disposed of the “present” and spot cleaned the area, mentally cussing the entire time because I knew a spot clean would not suffice. There was no way I would put that quilt on the back of the couch or snuggle underneath it until it was washed.

I ordered some Shout color-catchers, knowing I did not want a repeat performance of what happened when I washed the bed quilt that took me 19 years to complete. (Blue backing that had been previously washed bled onto the front cream stars, which might not have been stopped even with a color-catcher.) As this quilt was a mix of whites and blacks and pale greens, I worried it could all be ruined with one washing.

After finishing the quilting (straight line meandering and a lot of it!) and binding AND taking photos just in case something bad happened, I said a prayer and tossed it in the wash. Thankfully, it came out looking perfect.

So, here it is, the Lemon Pepper Quilt that was on my UFO (unfinished objects) list and the third project knocked off the list this year:

Luna is carefully checking out those quilting stitches. No word yet on if she approves.

*Update on the Guinea pig hay bags from last week: Apparently I made the holes in the hay bags slightly too large. The boys are able to yank the hay out a bit too easily, thus creating mounds of hay on the floor of their enclosure which they might or might not eat. They will, for sure, act as if they have nothing to eat when the hay bags are empty despite these mounds of perfectly good hay.

crafts · sewing · Uncategorized

These Little Piggies…

There are two tiny little tyrants who live in our house. (Plus one medium-sized tyrant, but this isn’t about her. She’ll have her own story next week. And it isn’t pleasant.)

Our tiny tyrants rumble strut around in a pair of cages that take up nearly a quarter of a room in our house. They stare at me with interest as I do my daily workout in front of their cage, their little jaws gnawing away at hay. I’m their entertainment and the hay is their popcorn. They demand their dinner every night at the exact moment I rise from my chair at the table with loud, shrill WHEEKS of bossiness. And anytime I peel anything while cooking, they loudly request a sampling of whatever it is.

But the funny thing is, these little bossy potato-shaped furballs aren’t even MY pets, nor do they belong to Hubby, though we provide at least 75% of their care.

Allow me to introduce you to the two little boys I call “Sirs,” as I greet them every morning when they run to the side of the cage in anticipation of the pellets I will measure out: Winston and Basil, the guinea pigs.

Photo credit to my daughter

How did Hubby and I come to be the caretakers of these two hooligans who flip pigloos around like they weigh nothing, making me wonder just what strength these creatures would have if they were human-sized?

It all began with two other guinea pigs. Once upon a time, our middle daughter begged us for a guinea pig. She would be the sole caretaker, she promised. Since she seems to have been born with a responsibility gene that some youth lack, we relented and Beatrice, a senior citizen rescue piggie, came to live with us. As our daughter lived up to her end of the deal, providing all care for her piggie, we allowed her to adopt another piggie. Mable joined the family. (I blame the picture book One Guinea Pig Is Not Enough that we read to her when she was younger for this guinea pig obsession.)

Sadly, Mable developed what the vet suspected was a heart condition, and she passed away. Not much later, our little senior citizen crossed the rainbow bridge, as well.

Our daughter was heartbroken. There were tears. Lots of tears. But we couldn’t get more piggies! She was a senior in high school at the time, about to launch into the world of college and dorm life where piggies wouldn’t be welcomed.

Let me just say that allowing her to adopt two little baby guinea pigs from the rescue was NOT my idea. But they were cute, our daughter promised to be home on weekends to care for them, and I relented.

And that’s how we came to be the nearly full-time caretakers of those two fellas who I will probably miss when they move out when our daughter graduates from college next spring.

Anyway…that was a long story to get to today’s sewing project.

The two little dudes with very sharp teeth had chewed through their hay bags. Thus, I whipped up some new ones. I thought this fabric, leftover from a pillowcase I made for my dad (he collects pigs) many years ago was just perfect since our little piggies are pretty hoggish.

crafts · knitting · Uncategorized

Another WIP off the List: Socks

I had hoped to have my Lemon Pepper Lap Quilt finished to share this weekend, but the quilting is taking WAY longer than I had planned. Hubby and I made it through the audiobook A Rule Against Murder by Louise Penny (We’re working our way through the Inspector Gamache series), all 10 hours and 50ish minutes of it while I quilted and he worked, and I’m still not finished with the quilting. I see another entire audiobook in our future before I’ve sewn the last stitch.

Meanwhile, I did knock another unfinished object off my lengthy list. The goal for the year was to finish up three projects (before starting anything new…although where’s the fun in that?), and I’ve now completed two.

Behold…the socks that took at least a year:

Not only did these socks take at least a year for me to finish, but they weren’t even supposed to be one of my projects.

Several years ago…probably at least ten…my daughter and I bought yarn to knit socks. I picked a black and orange and pink and numerous other colors variegated yarn for mine. She picked a blue and brown yarn. After several years (YEARS!) I finally finished my pair.

It took years because I was terrified to do the whole “Turning the heel” bit because our local “Knitting Lady” had passed away and I felt like a YouTube video couldn’t possibly compare to live instruction. Thankfully, YouTube did not fail me, as I haven’t found a replacement Knitting Lady to pick out my mishaps and pick up my dropped stitches. (I can actually pick up my dropped stitches all on my own now.)

Anyway…my daughter moved on to other knitting projects since socks didn’t really interest her, and I became the owner of the blue and brown sock yarn and about 1 inch of the sock that she had completed. Last year I finally picked up the project, unraveled what she’d completed (since we knit at a different tightness), and vowed to make myself another pair of socks. Hours and hours, days and days later, I finally Kitchener Stitched up the toe on the second sock yesterday. I can’t explain why it takes me so long to knit a sock or a pair of socks. It just does.

(I like how this yarn stripes. And, amazingly and through no effort on my part, the stripes on each sock nearly match.)

Now the question is: Do I frame these? Hang them up somewhere? Put them in a safe and bring them out once a year to admire? They’re super comfortable, but after all that work I can’t just wear them and wear them out!

Quilting · Quilts · sewing · Uncategorized

Pieceful Waters Quilt

Last year I created a list of my unfinished projects. Some call them UFOs (Unfinished Objects) or WIPs (Works in Progress). I came up with nine projects that were in various states of completion–7 quilts, 1 knitting project, and 1 cross-stitch project. The goal for this year is to knock at least three of those projects off my list. I will, no doubt, end up starting several new projects thus causing my list to grow rather than shrink! But at least I’m trying to keep the pile of projects to a minimum.

The first project I completed off my list was the Pieceful Waters quilt which featured Crossed Canoe blocks. I absolutely love how this quilt turned out. I love the colors and the design. I especially love that I was able to use some carefully hoarded Wizard of Oz fabric scraps left from a quilt I made one of our daughters when she was a toddler. (That quilt was in last week’s post.)

This quilt pattern was from the October 2014 issue of American Patchwork & Quilting magazine. I believe I started working on the quilt in 2020. Because it involved paper-piecing which I’m not a huge fan of (I don’t like tearing all the paper off.), I worked on it rather sporadically over the past 2 years.

I made a couple changes to the pattern. As I’m not a fan of huge borders, I did not add the outer 5″ border that was in the original pattern. I also made 16 blocks instead of the 20 in the pattern. (That was mainly because I was running low on green and pink fabric and didn’t want to purchase anything new for the project.) I did very simple quilting, choosing to quilt approximately 1/8″ from the edge of the pieces. I used green thread on the pink fabric and pink thread on the green fabric.

Once Hubby makes a compression hanger, this quilt will hang in our bedroom. I can’t wait to see it on the wall!

My next project won’t be one from the Unfinished Project list. Our middle daughter’s guinea pigs need new hay bags. It’s not an exciting project, but I’ll try to choose a fun fabric.

Quilting · Quilts · sewing · Uncategorized

“Friends” Quilt

Hubby, our middle daughter, and I enjoyed a trip to Texas during the last two weeks of December. We visited Enchanted Rock State Park, Big Bend National Park, Guadalupe National Park, and El Paso. We hiked miles and miles every day, summited Guadalupe Peak, and enjoyed a visit with my brother and his family.

Guadalupe Peak Summit

It was a great trip.

Then we got home.

Where one after another we succumbed to what we think was the Big C. The Great Contagion. The thing for which we were all vaxxed to the max. I wouldn’t say it was horrible, but it definitely wasn’t a good time. Now, a solid month and a couple days from the first symptom, I think I’ve finally fully recovered. (Tests were very difficult to find, so we simply stayed home.)

For most of January, I didn’t feel like doing much. I read. I slept. I watched television. I cooked “interesting” meals from what we had on hand in the freezer since we were pretty much stuck at home for three weeks straight. (We might not have still been contagious after a week or so, but no one wants to be the person having an uncontrollable coughing fit in the middle of the grocery store right now! It was just easier to stay home. And, as an added benefit, we were forced to use up some older food in the freezer.)

This past week I finally felt like doing some sewing. I picked up where I left off prior to vacation on the quilting of my Crossed Canoes quilt. I had hoped to have the quilt finished by this weekend, but didn’t quite make it. I also spent an evening working on some knitted socks.

Since I have nothing new to share, I thought I’d pull a couple older quilts out of the cedar chest to share. Please excuse the wrinkles. They were well-used and have also been stored for some time.

These quilts were made from the “Friends” pattern found in Quick Rotary Cutter Quilts by Pam Bono Designs.

Quick they were not!

Each large doll block was constructed of 45 different pieces, and that didn’t include the buttons and frills and hair! (It was fun choosing the ribbons, lace, and buttons to dress up each doll.) This quilt pattern could be a great use for scraps.

I made these twin-size quilts, one in blue and pink for our oldest daughter and one in green and pink for our younger daughter, when they were around 4 and 2. They are both in their 20s now.

As I look back now as a mostly empty nester who doesn’t seem to complete projects quite as quickly as I used to, I am amazed at how much sewing I got done when the kids were younger. At the time I made these quilts, I was pregnant with their younger brother and had two very active toddlers running around the house.

(The book also contains a pattern for a doll that matches the quilts.)

crafts · knitting · Uncategorized

Felted Clogs

At the top of Texas on a very windy day!

It’s been a rough couple of weeks. Following a super fun, two-week Texas adventure where we hiked lots of miles, saw family, and summited Guadalupe Peak (the highest point in Texas at 8,751 feet), we returned home and started battling a “cold.” It’s been approximately 24 days of one symptom after another, and I finally seem to be in the final days of a nagging cough. (Do you ever wonder when sick if you’re ever going to feel fully normal again? I’m at that point right now!) Our daughter, who claims she’s just “built different” by which she means “built better,” luckily had barely a sniffle. No one got tested for anything since we were able to just stay home, so we will forever not know if we caught the “thing.” (Our daughter and son did eventually get tested when they moved back to college.)

It wasn’t until the last week or so that I felt like doing much other than vegging out on the couch watching television or napping. When I noticed that my slippers were sporting some holes in the soles, I decided to get busy making a new pair since that was something I could easily work on while continuing to recuperate.

I really like using the Felt Clog pattern from Fiber Trends for my slippers. I’ve been using this pattern for close to 20 years. I believe this is the same pattern http://www.fibertrends.com/p/ac33e-felt-clogs-pdf-download.

Before felting

The pattern calls for using a double strand of heavy worsted weight yarn. I chose to use a single strand of bulky yarn. I purchased Buttercream Luxe Craft Roving from Hobby Lobby as that is the only local place to purchase 100% wool yarn. (Lest you think I went shopping for yarn whilst sick and potentially infected other townfolk, let me assure you that I purchased this yarn a couple months ago when I realized that I would soon need new slippers. I went nowhere for 3 weeks, finally venturing out to the grocery last night since we were nearing a dire empty fridge situation.)

Still a bit large

Comparing this yarn to one I had purchased at a Joann’s store in a nearby town (sadly our Joann’s closed many years ago) for my last pair of slippers, I believe this brand felted up a lot faster.

The felting process is like magic. It’s amazing to see what can happen to what looks like a big floppy pair of clown shoes in just 10-15 minutes of hot water and agitation in the washing machine. I’m not a fan of trying the slippers on during the felting process. They’re wet and dripping everywhere, a bit soapy, and hot. Plus I don’t like that fuzzy yarn against my bare toes! (I always wear socks with these slippers.) They were still a bit large in the photo, so I put them in for another 3 minutes which made them just right. After forming them to my feet, I placed them in front of the fireplace to dry.

All finished!

Though both slippers are knitted from the same pattern, once you form the wet slippers to your feet, you do end up with a distinct right and left slipper.

These are so cozy. They are great for when you’re just sitting around on the couch at night. I prefer a hard-soled slipper for when I’m walking around the house during the day as these are a bit slippery on hard surfaces. Plus, though I enjoy knitting them, I like for them to not wear out quickly.

A final note: I do not make the extra “bumper” sole that can be added to these slippers.

I hope to get back to quilting soon!

crafts · Quilting · Quilts · sewing · Uncategorized

Tis the Season #3

I know, I know. Christmas has come and gone. The New Year is upon us. I’m going to share another Christmas wall-hanging anyway because this Christmas quilt hangs in our basement all year long. (It’s lap-quilt size, but I didn’t want this one to get the amount of wear that a lap-quilt gets laying on the back of the couch, so we hung it up.)

I chose to use Christmas fabric for this quilt as I had a ton of Christmas fabric in my stash that we had planned to use to make stuffed wreaths.

Many, many years ago (like over 30!) when I was in fifth grade, my teacher used to do craft projects with interested students after school. One time we painted bird-shaped suet holders (which I still hang outside every summer minus the suet). We made gingerbread houses. And we made stuffed wreaths. All these years later, and I still have the pattern pieces. What I didn’t have was a good memory as to how it was all put together. Sadly, we flubbed up and ended up with something completely unusable!

But I wasn’t about to let that fabric just languish in the closet. (I have plenty of fabric that has languished in the closet. Christmas fabric is too special for that fate.)

I wish I could remember where I found the pattern for this quilt. I think it must have been in a book I checked out from the library because I know it isn’t in any of the books I own. If I had to guess, I’d say it was in a book where all the patterns used jelly roll strips.

(Check out the really awesome hanger my husband made for this quilt. He’s made many of these for my quilts.)

The giant plain squares and triangles of bluish fabric needed a lot of quilting to make them interesting.

Here’s to hoping 2022 is uneventful and boring. Who thought that might ever be a wish for the new year?

crafts · Uncategorized

Merry Christmas

Today seems like the perfect day to share my favorite homemade Christmas ornaments. I’ve given away many to family over the years. Here are a few that are hanging on our tree:

Supplies needed:

  • 3-in styrofoam ball
  • cross-stitch fabric, pattern, and floss
  • scrap of beads (opt.) and scraps of ribbon
  • Christmas fabric scraps
  • glue (I use Aleene’s Original Tacky Glue)
  • grapefruit knife
  • a 2 3/4″ or 3″ diameter circle cut out of paper

Directions:

  1. Select a cross-stitch pattern that, when complete, will fit within the diameter circle you have chosen with a bit of unstitched fabric left around the edge.
  2. Stitch your pattern, place the paper circle on top of the cross-stitch design, trace along the edge of the paper pattern, and cut out your design.
  3. Glue the cross-stitch design onto the styrofoam ball, leaving a small amount along the edge unglued. (approx. 1/4″)
  4. Using the grapefruit knife, gently tuck this unglued edge into the ball.
  5. Begin adding scraps of fabric to the ball. (Glue is unnecessary for this step.) Simply tuck the edges (probaby about 1/2″) of the fabric into the ball with the grapefruit knife. A tiny bit of planning on fabric placement will allow you to have a middle point where you can tuck in a ribbon for hanging. (I’d use glue on the hanger.)
  6. Glue a bit of ribbon around the edge of the cross-stitch design. Add a string of beads if desired.

Here’s the back of one of my ornaments so you can see how I arranged the fabric:

Quilting · Quilts · sewing · Uncategorized

Tis the Season #2

I don’t often put dates on many of my projects anymore, and I don’t know if that’s a good thing or a bad thing. While it’s interesting to know how long ago I completed a project, sometimes it’s a bit of a shock to see that a decade or more has passed since I made the final stitch. It makes me feel like my life is just flying by. Such is the case with this little snowman cross-stitch wall-hanging which I completed 12 years ago.

Whoops!

Nope!

13 years ago.

It’s not that I lack math skills for calculating how many years have passed, but rather it’s the fact that for a moment I thought it was still 2020. Some days it feels like 2020 came and never went.

This snowman cross-stitch pattern came from a booklet titled Snowmen Thru the Year. It has patterns for Christmas, Easter, Fourth of July, Halloween, and a large pattern of 4 snowmen representing each season. I’ve completed all of the holiday-themed snowmen and hope to do the season snowmen project sometime in the future.

These projects are easily turned into small wall-hangings with the addition of fabric borders, some hanging tabs, batting, and a tiny bit of quilting. I also like to add a strip of ribbon around the edge of the cross-stitch.