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.

Quilting · Quilts · sewing · Uncategorized

Tis the Season

Thanksgiving and Christmas collided at our home this year. I was tempted to greet our guests with a Merry Thankmas or a Happy Christgiving. Actual Turkey day was spent prepping for our guests who would be arriving throughout the day on Friday and dealing with the after-effects of jab #3. (While they weren’t as severe as what I experienced post-Pfizer #2, the muscle aches, small bit of chills, and swollen lymph nodes were still unpleasant.) I pushed through the aches and prepped everything except for the traditional green bean casserole and the turkey. When our guests arrived on Friday, the turkey was already in the oven and everything else was ready to go save for a quick mix-up of the casserole and a bit of a heat-up of all the sides while the turkey was “resting.” Prepping pretty much everything in advance meant I was able to sit down, put my feet up, and actually visit with our family.

We chose to dole out Christmas presents at our gathering, knowing it would be sometime after Christmas before we would be able to have everyone all in one place again. Thus is life now that our oldest lives and works downstate and our other two kids are in college.

As the holiday season is upon us, I’ve changed out all of our Thanksgiving wall hangings for Christmas ones and thought I’d take the next few posts to share them.

This whimsical wall-hanging is a personal favorite. The pattern, which was originally intended to be used in a table runner, came from the September/October 2013 issue of Quiltmaker magazine. I enjoy doing these simple embroidery projects. Minus a pattern, one could, as I have mentioned before, use a cute, basic coloring page as a pattern.

Quilting · Quilts · sewing · Uncategorized

I Spy

Our extended family is about to gain a new member. My brother will welcome his third child with his girlfriend/partner/not-sure-what-to-call-her this month. This will be his 8th child and her 5th. They range in age from almost 30 down to almost born. (My brother is 7 years older than me. His partner is a year younger than me. I can’t imagine having a baby at my age. The idea is exhausting. Our 3 are all 18 and older now. I am thrilled they no longer need my help to get buckled into car seats and that they can dress themselves and wash their own clothes. Though sometimes the 18-year-old brings laundry home from college.)

As is tradition, I made an I Spy quilt for the newest little one. Many years ago I started making I Spy quilts for baby gifts. They are super simple, quick to make, and will live on longer than a tiny newborn onesie.

Generally, I use a solid color as the “background” fabric. I’ve been trying to use up a lot of my stash and I don’t have a fabric store nearby, so this time I used a cute star print instead. The I Spy pieces are 4 1/2″ fussy cut squares. The sashing pieces are cut 2 1/2″ by required width and 2 1/2″ x 4 1/2.” I do simple in-the-ditch quilting. The backing was a piece of purple flannel from my stash.

As I already had a huge stack of I Spy squares cut, I was able to complete this quilt in around 10-12 hours spread out over about 4 days. That includes the time to hand sew on the binding.

I also took some time last week to make a cute tied fleece blanket for our eldest daughter’s boyfriend’s son for Christmas. He’s a fan of dinosaurs. So he got different dinosaur fleece on both sides.

Quilting · Quilts · sewing · Uncategorized

Let’s Talk Turkey #2

I’m in trouble now!

Here’s what happened.

It’s been several years since I completed this turkey wall hanging:

As I searched Pinterest and Googled, using all manner of search terms (“incognito turkey with sunglasses,” “turkey with sunglasses,” “Thanksgiving quilts,” etc.) I found all sorts of fabulous turkey patterns and projects that I now desperately want to make. Who knew I had such an affinity for funky-looking turkeys? What I didn’t find was that lovely lady in the above project. Therefore…no link. Sorry. I also want to apologize to the original artist for not being able to give credit where credit is due.

What I can tell you is that years ago I found a photo of this gal somewhere online. Hubby worked some magic with the printer to get her the size I wanted and we printed her off. I then made patterns for each different part, adding a bit of extra around sections that would be underneath so I didn’t have any gaps. (Here’s where you can learn from my mistakes. See that dark splotch on her yellow belly? That’s the extra bit I added to the black feather fabric. Obviously, I added too much. I didn’t realize my error until I ironed everything down, at which point it was too late to correct the problem.) After ironing all the bits in place (using Wonder-Under), I satin stitched around the edges and added a couple beaded necklaces.

Does she remind anyone else of Flo from the Progressive Insurance commercials?

Now…I need to scrub those funky turkey images from my brain and get back to the baby quilt I’m making for a gift that needs to be finished ASAP. Maybe I’ll revisit those turkeys another day.

Quilting · Quilts · sewing · Uncategorized

Let’s Talk Turkey #1

Thanksgiving is rapidly approaching. It seems like the poor turkey and pilgrim decorations get barely any time on the shelves and walls between the jack ‘o lanterns, ghosts, and witches of Halloween and the Santas, reindeer, snowmen, and nativity scenes of Christmas.

(I actually keep my nativity scenes out all year. And my snowmen. In northern Michigan, we sometimes have snow from October to May so snowmen seem appropriate decor all year long. This year has been an aberration, though. We’ve had a few dustings of snow, with about an inch one day, but none of the white stuff has stuck around. The temperature has been bouncing around between freezing and the low sixties, but there’s talk of a whole heap of snow on the horizon. I have a feeling we’ll soon be trading out our hiking shoes for our snowshoes. I must admit, though it’s a hassle to shovel around, I much prefer snow to all the rain we’ve had this season.)

Today I thought I’d share one of my turkey wall hangings. I’ve shared in the past how coloring pages make excellent patterns for embroidery. They also make good patterns for applique projects. I found a turkey coloring page for kids here: https://www.iamstyle-ish.com/2021/09/free-color-by-number-thanksgiving-printables.html and used it as my pattern for cutting out applique pieces. I wonder-undered the pieces onto my base fabric, satin stitched around all the edges, added a couple borders, and voilá.

I made it sound like the project was finished so quickly, didn’t I? It wasn’t. Getting all the pieces lined up just right before ironing everything in place and satin stitching around the fabric edges took a lot of time. I think he turned out pretty cute, though.

(I’ve gotten a lot of use out of the two brown border fabrics. I purchased a grab bag of brown fabric scraps during a Shop Hop and was thrilled to find a lot of larger pieces inside. Actually, that cream I used for the background was also in the bag.)

knitting · Uncategorized

A Pretty Impractical Afghan

Many, many years ago when our kids were little (actually before our youngest was even born) I attended a knitting group with my mom. The local hospital hosted the group, titling the class “Knitting for Stress Therapy.” I’m not sure how many people actually attended for stress relief or whether most just saw it as an opportunity to hang out with people who enjoyed doing the same things and as a chance to maybe gossip just a bit. I was, at the young, young age of 23, the youngest person in the group. The oldest attendee, I believe, was a nun who was probably in her 80s or 90s.

The class was hosted by a woman I always refer to as the Knitting Lady as she was probably responsible for teaching at least half the knitters in our town how to knit. She had a shop outside of town where she hosted additional classes on occasion and sold all sorts of supplies, patterns, and gorgeous yarn. She was our go-to person for knitting advice and was always more than willing to rip, rip, rip out entire sections of mistakes. She was also my go-to person whenever I needed a dropped stitch fixed. Sadly, she passed away several years ago. I’ve since had to learn how to do all that ripping and dropped stitch fixing on my own.

As a fun idea for a class one year, the Knitting Lady decided to do a Block of the Month project which would yield an afghan by the end of the year. Each month we would purchase a new pattern and yarn. I think the entire afghan ended up costing well over $100. (Probably $150, which makes me shudder!) Crazy, I know. (Now I buy a couple skeins of that One Pound yarn…whatever brand that is… when it’s on sale and can have an afghan for about 1/4 the price or less.) What was even worse than the $100+ price tag was that the yarn used by the class for the project was gorgeous, hand-dyed 100% WOOL!

Now, do you know what happens to 100% wool if you toss it in a washing machine?

It felts.

Which is probably not a good thing. Because afghans that are actually used for…I don’t know, say, snuggling under to stay warm…rather than just as a chair decoration might actually need to be washed once in a while.

Other than the initial very delicate hand washing (which I did prior to blocking each block), this afghan has never been washed. It has never been used. It hangs out on the back of a rocking chair in our bedroom just looking cute.

I have to say that I love the colors I picked. The Knitting Lady seemed very skeptical when I chose the orange yarn, but as there was some orange in the variegated yarn, I knew the variegated would tie all the solid colors together.

Quilting · Quilts · sewing · Uncategorized

A Crossed Canoe Quilt

Winter is rapidly approaching in northern Michigan. We saw our first snowflakes tonight, our headlamps illuminating them as we walked the dogs in the dark after supper. I don’t know about anyone else, but I’m not a fan of these “shorter” days. I don’t like how it looks like the middle of the night at 7 in the morning or how by 6-something-o’clock in the evening it’s pitch black outside. The dogs don’t seem to mind these “night hikes” through the neighborhood, but I do feel just a tiny bit of apprehension over whether or not we’re going to encounter some sort of scary night creature. Like a bear…as happened to one of our daughters during a run at dusk. Or a bobcat…as happened once before to us, which was quite an ordeal involving a can of bear spray that was discharged into a human’s eyes.

But that’s a story for another time!

This cooler weather has me reaching for afghans and quilts every evening and being thankful for my snuggly “little” dog who likes to curl up next to me on the couch and share his body heat.

This past Sunday, when our outdoor work session was put on hold due to endless drizzle, I spent several hours in the sewing room working on one of my unfinished quilts while Hubby caught up on work and we finished an audiobook we’d been listening to. (The Hunting Party by Lucy Foley) I can’t say that I wasn’t thrilled to be able to put off the hours and hours of raking that still need to be done, but I would love to be able to get the leaves taken care of before the temps drop so low that I freeze my fanny while raking. (Raking/leaf blowing is probably my absolute least favorite chore. I’m not kidding when I say it’s a ten-hour job. I enjoy the first hour. After that…it’s just drudgery! But it must be done because wet, moldy leaves are an allergy sufferer’s worst nightmare in the spring.)

The quilt, with two deviations from the pattern (I chose to leave off the extra border and use fewer blocks), comes from the October 2014 issue of American Patchwork & Quilting. It is called Pieceful Waters and uses paper-piecing to make Crossed Canoe blocks. My hope is to have it finished completely by the end of the month. For some strange reason, I seem to stall a bit when it comes to sewing backings and doing the quilting and binding. So…we’ll see. I’ve set a goal to finish one unfinished project this month, so this may be the one.

Several of the fabrics in this quilt were used in previous projects. There’s even some pink that I used in my second quilt–a baby quilt for our first baby over 20 years ago! The Wizard of Oz green in the second pic was used in a bed quilt I made for one of our daughters when she was a toddler. Our other daughter’s quilt had a blue Wizard of Oz fabric. I think that block is my absolute favorite in this quilt. The floral in the border triangles can be found in several other quilts in our home. I must have bought a ton of that! I’ve finally whittled my supply of that one down to just a few large rectangular scraps.

I’m pretty pleased to note that I didn’t purchase any new fabric for this quilt. Instead, I pulled everything from my stash!

knitting · Uncategorized

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.