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.

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.