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

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 · 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.

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

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.