Last week, in the midst of normal schedule upheaval, I actually managed to make progress on a project. Our week was bookended by an apartment-hunting trip downstate with our middle daughter on Monday and a funeral downstate on Friday. As Hubby didn’t take time off for these activities, choosing instead to conduct business from his temporary home office of the passenger seat, I was forced to drive…which meant driving three times through a city I hate driving through. (He drove back on Monday saving me from the city once.)
Knowing that this week was going to be equally tiring–with a trip downstate to visit our oldest daughter, another funeral, and a concert to which we were taking our younger two in the cards–I chose to spend the middle of last week taking it easy.
There were naps. There was time for reading. There was time for sewing. There was time for knitting. I chose to recharge so I wouldn’t go into this week with my batteries already drained. Sometimes you have to think about yourself and know your limits. I am thankful to be in a position to be able to take time to rest. (As an introvert, all the people-ing and hugging and socializing like we had last week sometimes makes me want to curl up in a quiet cave somewhere.)
I spent the week working on my current scrap project. I have enough blocks finished and sewn into strips to almost double the size. Which means I’m about halfway finished. This one is going to be pretty large.
Once I ran out of the strips I’d cut at an earlier time, I spent a couple hours one day refilling my strip box.
Now that my box is almost full, it’s time to sit down and sew.
Project notes: Strips are cut between 1″ and 2-1/4″ wide. I cut them longer than 5.” I sew the strips together into a rough square of just over 5.” Then I even it all up to 5″ square.
I always start each month with the best of intentions. Then something happens. Or lots of things happen. And then nothing happens, especially anything related to my intentions and carefully made plans.
My goal for January, as I mentioned last weekend, was to finish up one unfinished object. Will that be happening? Nope.
I pulled an unfinished project from the closet, cut lots and lots of strips of fabric, sewed up several blocks, then got bored of cutting and sewing strips. So I put that project aside and pulled out my English Paper-Piecing flowers. You know I’m bored when I pull out anything that involves hand sewing.
The photo above is the one I shared last weekend. The bottom photo shows the progress I’ve made over the past week. Clearly, this is not a speedy project. Or, clearly, I’m not a speedy hand-sewer. It’s probably the latter.
Each flower takes me approximately 1 hour to sew. So, doing up the math quickly and probably totally inaccurately in my head, I’ll probably have about 4 bazillion hours into stabbing needles through paper hexis by the time this thing is big enough to cover anything bigger than a baby.
As for how big it’s going to end up being…who knows. Least of all me.
With the holidays over, my enthusiasm for finishing the Christmas “Joy” wall-hanging I previously wrote about has waned. It has joined the other UFOs (UnFinished Objects) in the closet. These, and my fabric scraps, seem to multiply like rabbits every time I turn my back. I’m almost convinced there’s a little sewing elf running wild in my sewing room at night cutting up new scraps to replace any I’ve used.
Since there are so many scraps, I’ve forged into the New Year, once again, with a goal to tame the pile. (I think that was my goal for last year.)
But there’s one problem.
I’m so bored with my scraps! I’m practically knee-deep in scrap quilts and scrappy pillows, but my fabric pile (mountain, is more like it) doesn’t seem to be getting any smaller. The pieces are, but the pile is not. It’s one of life’s greatest mysteries.
However, I will persevere.
With my January goal being to finish one UFO, I pulled out this easy one:
Over two days I put together around a dozen new 5″ squares. Each square consists of strips ranging from 1″ – 2″ wide. I’m not certain I’ll be able to complete this project in January, but I’m hoping to at least have the quilt top finished. I have a ways to go as it is only about 40″ square at this point. (Then I’ll procrastinate the sewing of the backing, the pinning, and the quilting for a few months because those aren’t my favorite parts in the process! I had this wild idea of quilting stars on it. We’ll see.)
With boredom setting in after cutting strip after strip, I also did a little hand-sewing and added a few more EPP flowers to the quilt top that, at the rate I’m making progress, will probably not be finished in my lifetime.
Does anyone else get to the holiday season and just find themselves swamped with tasks that aren’t difficult but take a disproportionate amount of time? Ordering Christmas presents, for example. So simple. So easy. One click, or ten, and it’s done. Finished. Complete. All family members getting exactly what they wished for.
If they arrive on time, that is.
Or at all. I’m looking at you, UPS. (Could you tell me whose front porch you left my package on? It wasn’t mine.)
Tracking the packages daily has me feeling like I’m trying to herd cats who are scared of the outside world into a car so we can evacuate the house during a wildfire.
That’s a very specific comparison, you might say.
Yes, it is. Been there. Done that. (Hubby got peed on.) Thankfully the wildfire never came close to the house. (I think the volunteer firefighters may have been a little over-zealous with their evacuations.)
Present buying and package tracking aside, there was Thanksgiving cooking to do, Christmas cards to address, a Christmas tree to decorate, and a few decent-weather days to hit the trails before the snow really starts flying. All that added up to less time in the sewing room.
I finished these Christmas stockings for the newest members of our family. I still have one more to make.
I was excited to find that I had everything I needed to make these. The denim came from old jeans. (I’ve made many, many denim lap quilts over the past 20 years or so.) The red knit lining was from fabric leftover from our oldest daughter’s first Halloween costume. (She was a ladybug.)
For a pattern, I simply traced around a store-bought stocking we already had.
I purchased a zipper in the loveliest shade of orangey-coral without having any idea if I had any fabrics in my stash that would match. I wasn’t worried, though. If nothing matched, then I’d create something so hideously mismatched that it would end up looking cutely intentional.
Luckily, I had two pieces of orangey-coral fabric that matched perfectly, and I had a pretty black fabric to pair with them for the bottom. (The pattern showed a patchwork pouch, but I opted to not make a patchwork strip.)
I cut the first piece of fabric and realized I wanted a larger pouch than the pattern produced. So I did a little math using ratios and whatnot so the dimensions would be proportional to the original and ended up cutting my three different pieces for the outside sections at 12″x 2-1/4,” 12″ x 4,” and 12″ x 3-3/4.” I adjusted the interfacing, lining, and inside binding pieces accordingly.
My thoughts on this project:
It was fun to make something that didn’t involve tiny scraps of fabric, as I’ve mostly been doing scrap projects for the past many months. Obviously, since the pieces used are so small, this project could be made with larger scraps.
The project took (I’m estimating here) around 5 hours to complete. Making a second one would probably take less time now that I’m familiar with the pattern.
I would like to figure out how to eliminate the exposed inner seams that end up being bound. Binding the seams was a tad tedious. I’ve made purses in the past where all seams are encased between the outer fabric and the lining, so I know this is possible. I just didn’t want to spend the mental energy on figuring this out the day I finished this project.
I like the size I made my pouch. I’m not sure what would even fit in a smaller pouch. A few Q-tips, perhaps? A pair of socks? A tube of lipstick?
I have no idea what I will use my pouch for. For now, I just like looking at it and admiring how nicely the zipper went in!
Nobody knows the trouble I’ve seen Nobody knows my sorrow
Need I say more?
Knitting socks and trouble. They go together like peanut butter and jelly, eggs and bacon, turkey and stuffing. You can’t have one without the other.
Well, perhaps you can.
Maybe you have zero sock drama.
Maybe you never tangle up your five needles. Perhaps you never drop any of those tiny stitches. Is it possible you don’t get hung up on turning the heel?
Some people have all the luck. Me? Let’s just say disaster comes calling whenever I pick up my partially-knitted sock. Which might be acceptable (annoying, but acceptable) if I had never knitted socks before. But this is my third pair and, frankly, this is getting embarrassing.
Last night I decided it was time to work on the dreaded heel. I was halfway through the heel flap, and things were looking good. I made short work of the remaining heel flap rows, and then it was time for the much-dreaded picking up of the stitches for the heel gusset.
I worked slowly. I counted carefully. I did a little hocus pocus to somehow find 15 stitches to pick up though there were really only 12 there to work with. I knit my way through those stitches, worked my way around needles two and three, then did a little more hocus pocus to conjure up another 15 stitches for needle four. Just when it all looked like it was going to work out, numerous stitches escaped from needle one.
I picked everything back to needle one, because there was no way I would be able to pick those tiny miscreants back up. I did everything a second time. I counted and counted and worked my way back to where things had gone wrong, and despite my careful counting, I discovered much too late that I had only 14 stitches where 15 needed to be back on…you guessed it…needle one.
Back to picking things out.
The third time was the charm, and it seemed things were finally going my way.
Until something weird happened somewhere between the first row around on the gusset and the fifth row around when I realized I was missing a stitch somewhere.
At this point, I was ready to chuck the sock and the yarn and the needles out the window. But I persevered.
After more tiny stitch picking, I finally found the issue.
Then I went to bed. It was late, and I was in no mood for any more drama.
Good morning on this beautiful day in the neighborhood!
Actually, it’s raining and gloomy, and all I wanted to do this morning was stay in bed reading a book I’ve been struggling to put down. (Don’t you love it when a book is that good?!) Plus, it’s 65 degrees in the house, and staying under the covers sounded nice and toasty. (We should not have to turn the heat on in mid-September, right? I refuse to do so.)
I forced myself out of bed. Partially because I try to maintain some sort of image of a mature, responsible adult, but mostly because the dogs needed to go out. Except they weren’t too keen on the idea of going out in the rain. Luna took one look at the water pouring from the sky and her forward momentum out the door (which wasn’t too fast to begin with) stalled. I had to give her a gentle push on the rump to get her moving. Nevy, meanwhile, was being his usual ornery self and hadn’t even come down from upstairs. He likes to make me climb halfway up before he charges down toward me. Once we finally got outside, he took care of business with more speed than usual since he hates rain. (See photo below showing his disdain.) He didn’t even try to pull me toward the neighbor’s house as he usually does in hopes of catching a glimpse of his hero: neighbor dog.
The rain, which has been falling off and on, for the last few days, has put a damper on all of the outdoor fall tasks that need to be completed before winter. Not that I’m complaining. Clearing out flowerbeds, hauling logs in from the woods (which I did for what felt like eons last weekend), washing windows, and finally getting to some painting (a couple outside door frames) are not high on my list of Things I Can’t Wait to Do. However, they’ve got to be done soon because once the leaves start to fall there won’t be time to get to them.
Between fall tasks and kids being home for the weekend from college and a college scholarship awards banquet and a housewarming party for our oldest daughter and a church community service project, my sewing time has been at an all-time low.
But I wanted to share the little bit of progress I’ve made on two projects over the past week.
First, my English paper-piecing quilt has grown by a few “flowers.”
Each “flower” takes me approximately one hour to piece and add to the project, as I’m not the fastest hand-sewer. I’ve not yet decided how big this quilt is going to be. But, at the rate I’m going, I should finish it in about fifty years. I like to put a show on Netflix while I work (currently Virgin River) or listen to audiobooks with Hubby (currently Picture of Dorian Gray). Since this is simple work, neither is distracting.
A hint I would like to share is to purchase moleskin to use in place of a thimble. Usually, when I do any hand-sewing, I find that the eye of the needle pushes painfully into my middle finger, sometimes even piercing the skin. I don’t like the inflexibility of thimbles, but find that moleskin works wonderfully. You can buy it by the roll on Amazon.
The second project I’ve been working on (usually at night while Hubby and I watch television) is a cross-stitch project I started early in 2020. I’d had the pattern for years, and, though it isn’t really applicable to my current life (not too many ASAPs or SOSs in my life, although I do have a bit of piled-up work to do in the form of logs in the woods), decided to work on it since I had everything I needed. I’ve completed all of the regular stitching and have started on the backstitching. (Some of those things that look like blobs right now will actually look like something once I get the backstitching finished.)
Though it doesn’t really fit my life right now, I do like all of the bright colors.
Before we get into the yarn and needles business of today’s post, let’s pause for a moment for a brief update on piggies and hay.
Remember these fellows?
If you don’t remember them, I present to you Winston and Basil, the two tiny tyrants who demand their dinner the moment I stand up from the table after eating mine. Their loud chorus of wheeks sends me scurrying to the fridge night after night to prepare a heaping bowl of romaine, carrots, tomatoes, and peppers. Oh, the joys of being a guinea pig grandma who is on duty while their mama is off at college. (Side note: I think they eat more veggies in a day than my son.)
Perhaps you remember that I sewed these two little monsters some adorable new hay bags a few months ago. It quickly became apparent when hay was being pulled out with wild abandon and left in heaping piles on the bottom of the cage that I’d made the holes in the bags much too large. To remedy these hay hijinks, my daughter sewed some inch-wide strips in the middle of the openings. This, she was certain, would keep the boys from getting up to no good.
Clearly, this idea was flawed.
It didn’t take even a week for those greedy gut guys to rip the strips off so the hay spillage could commence again.
Alas, my daughter and I will need to put our heads together. Perhaps between the two of us, we can design a new hay bag that will outsmart our sharp-toothed cavies.
Now, on to the yarn and needles bit, which I’m certain is vastly more boring than cute critters, so I’ll keep this part short.
I have entered the sock DANGER ZONE.
Oh, who am I kidding? Every single change of directions in this sock pattern seems to have found me flirting with danger…or at least mistake after mistake. Now, though, I’m working on the heel flap which comes right before turning the heel.
It was supposed to be a table runner. Then I used white fabric for the background. As a person who squirts blueberry juice everywhere when cutting up waffles topped with them and thus has a selection of purple-dotted table runners, it seemed ill-advised to lay anything comprised of white fabric on any surface where I might be dining.
So now it will be a wall-hanging. The bad news is, I’m running out of walls to hang things upon. The good news is, the house is incredibly well-insulted with all of the quilts covering the walls. The question is, how many quilts would I need to hang for the house to be so well-insulated that we wouldn’t need to purchase propane or firewood in the winter?
This past week I finished cutting out the flowers and dots and stems and ironed them all in place. I found that a Teflon pressing sheet worked well for ironing on the bits that hung over the edges of the hanging so they didn’t stick to the ironing board. Those overhanging bits were later trimmed off.
Next week I hope to do the blanket stitching around the edges.
The pattern is Modern Flowers Skinny Quilt by Jennifer Jangles. There were options for three different sizes given. The wall quilt measured 54″x14.” The table runner was clearly designed for a table the size of which is only seen in lavish dining rooms in Jane Austen-esque movies/television shows. It finishes at a whopping 72″ x14.” If it were a little wider, I could totally hide under the thing. Finally, there is a bed runner measuring 108″ x 14.” I’ve never really understood bed runners. They seem to be all the rage in hotels these days where they spend more time sliding off the bed and onto the floor than they spend actually decorating the foot of the bed.
As I wanted to use up fabric from my stash, I was limited in the length I could make the hanging, The largest piece of background fabric that I liked in my stash was just over a yard long, so that’s what I went with.
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.