crafts · knitting · Quilting · Quilts · sewing · Uncategorized

Scrappy Quilt #5

Us two weeks ago: Enjoying 70+ degree days with lots of walks around the neighborhood, traveling north and south to add new miles to our North Country Trail miles in Michigan, opening windows to let the fresh breeze in and the stagnant winter air out, wearing short sleeves and tank tops, going slipper- and sock-less inside, getting out the flip-flops, eating lunch on the deck, listening to the peep frogs peeping in the swamp…

A pretty scene from one of our hikes.

Mother Nature last Monday: I’m sorry. Your 7-day free trial of summer has expired. How about some snow?

Ah, she’s a fickle sort, that Mother Nature. And knowing this, we have to take advantage when good weather comes our way. Indoor projects take a jump back on our to-do lists, and outdoor fun moves to the top of the list. (Notice I didn’t say “outdoor work.” When blessed with a week of wonderful weather in a month that is typically not filled with wonderful weather, we don’t squander those glorious days doing work. There will always be time for work later.)

But with winter, or at least a slightly more spring-ish version of winter, making a reappearance last week, it was time to once again focus on indoor activities. I spent several evenings adding to my current knitted afghan project and, just two nights ago, transitioned to color #3. I’m loving how this Irish Moss pattern is looking.

Also, this past weekend, as we were stuck mostly inside (except for a short walk around our property) due to rainy weather and Hubby being under the weather, I enjoyed nearly two full days at the sewing machine.

A cool gnarly tree on the channel between the pond and the swamp that we just discovered on our property after living here for nearly 22 years.

My goal for April was to finish one project. I had hopes of finishing another scrap quilt–if not the entire thing, then at least the quilt top. After two days in the sewing room (and crawling around the living room floor), I not only had the top completed, but the backing sewed, large scraps of batting pieced together, and the entire quilt pinned and ready to be quilted!

I sewed together strips measuring 1″ to 2-1/4″ wide then trimmed blocks to 5.” Finished quilt size was approximately 73″x73.”

I do not enjoy piecing backings together or sewing together scraps of batting. This is usually the part of the project where I drag my feet for a LONG time and start something new. But I forced myself to get on with it. I spent one evening picking out backing material. As I didn’t have more than a yard or two of each piece and refused to buy anything new, I had to come up with several pieces that worked well together from my stash. I initially settled on some dark red and brownish-toned fabrics. After sleeping on this decision, I went back to my stash and pulled out some yellow, blue, and brighter red fabrics to use instead, as I felt like those worked better with the brighter quilt top. As for the batting, I had large bits left over from other projects and knew I could cobble together a large enough piece for this project. Not having to buy anything new is a total WIN, especially as this was a scrap project.

Now, will someone please explain to me why my scrap pile has not gotten smaller after 5 scrap quilts?

crafts · knitting · sewing

Irish Moss Stitch Afghan

Knitted socks complete, it was time for a new knitting project! I could have chosen to knit up the rest of the sock yarn in my stash first, but I’ve had three skeins of Caron One Pound yarn calling to me from my knitting basket for months. They were just begging to be knitted up into a cozy blanket.

I love making quilts and love having them draped over the back of the couches, arms of chairs, and the quilt rack we found at a garage sale for cheap and hanging on the walls of our home but our kids have always preferred snuggling up under knitted afghans. And, I must admit, so do I.

Having made several afghans in the past, I knew making one would be quite a time commitment. I also knew that any pattern utilizing the moss stitch would be an even bigger time commitment. Knit. Purl. Knit. Purl. Knit. Purl. Repeat over 200+ stitches. UGH!

So I was definitely not choosing any pattern that involved moss stitch.

Except that’s exactly the kind of pattern I chose.

And not just a row or chunk of rows of moss stitch amid chunks of all knit rows or all purl rows as I’d done in the past. Nope. Here’s me, a glutton for punishment apparently, doing the ENTIRE thing in Irish Moss stitch because I liked how it looked.

Heaven help me. I’ll be still working on this thing when I’m 80.

I’ve chosen blue, cream, and rose pink for my colors. (Not the blue you see above. Those are just markers so I know if I flub up the pattern.)

Also, may I present, as our daughter calls them, our pervert-proof curtains, another project I worked on this week:

There’s quite a story there.

You see, for the past 21 years, we’ve lived in the middle of nowhere. Except it’s the middle of nowhere with neighbors. We have one neighbor to the north and a neighbor across the pond. Now I’m fairly certain that the people who live across the pond cannot, unless they have superior eyesight and an amazing set of binoculars, see into our upstairs bathroom, and, up until a few years ago, we never worried about the next door neighbors being in their backyard. Then a, shall we say more mobile (as in younger) person purchased that house. I still wasn’t worried.

It wasn’t until this past week, as I was heading toward the bathtub au natural, that I got worried. As I went to step into the tub, I spotted a flashlight beam bobbing around in the dark next door. It was our neighbor. He was taking his puppy out to go potty.

I immediately ducked down below window level. Then I peered over the edge and watched as he headed toward his basement door. I’m sure my cheeks were flaming with embarrassment. Probably ALL my cheeks, if you get what I’m saying.

Could he see anything? I don’t know. I sure hope not, because that will make things very awkward when I next run into him when we’re out walking our dogs.

Did I, almost immediately, head to the store for some curtains? Yes, I did. Unfortunately, we couldn’t find anything the right length. We did, however, find a nice pair of sheers at Walmart for less than $20 that I could shorten.

It’s never dull out here in the middle of nowhere.

crafts · knitting · Quilting · Quilts · sewing · Uncategorized

A Finish…Finally

As I’ve been languishing in a state of eunie since “First Winter” arrived with its gloomy grey skies, I made finishing a project one of my goals for March.

(Judging by the state of our car, we are somewhere between Mud Season and Actual Spring, but I don’t recall passing through Fools Spring or Spring of Deception yet. Those must have occurred sometime during the night when I wasn’t awake to enjoy them. My sister-in-law believes we are on Sixth Winter, but as that isn’t listed on the generally accurate “11 Seasons of Michigan” list, I assume she has counted incorrectly. Or else I’m in denial. That’s probably it. I’m just thankful that the sun is shining even though there’s more snow predicted for the weekend and the road in front of our house is muddier than…I don’t know what.)

(And, by the way, don’t search for “Muddy Things” online when you’re looking for something innocent to compare a Michigan seasonal road in spring to. The top few results were totally innocent, then WHOAH! Not at all what I was looking for. And now you’re probably curious.)

(Also, if you don’t know what a seasonal road is, it’s a road that the county refuses to take care of even though the people who live on that road pay more than their fair share of taxes. What that means is that we, the residents of our neighborhood, are totally responsible for road maintenance and snow removal.)

Anyway…back to my March goals.

I listed two unfished objects as possibilities, and finally settled on completing a pair of socks as I knew finishing a quilt was probably not going to happen.

I’m actually pretty impressed. After making note after note to myself in the margins of my sock pattern, I, for the first time ever, got through the entire pattern without any major problems, creative cursing, or much stitch-picking-out. (On the second sock in the pair. The first one still gave me some troubles.) I think writing “Don’t be an idiot” in a few places on the pattern made a difference.

This is my third pair of knitted socks. As it generally takes me quite some time to finish a pair, I have an aversion to actually wearing any that I’ve made! I’m vowing right now that I’m going to rectify that situation when Spring officially arrives (weatherwise, not date-on-the-calendar wise) and I can put away all my wooly socks.

Project note: I made these with Premier Serenity Sock yarn that I purchase on clearance at Joann Fabrics for $2.97 a skein. I bought two skeins and have enough left that I could maybe eek out a second pair of socks. This yarn worked up just as well as the vastly more expensive sock yarn I previously used. It will be interesting to see how both types wear.

This past month, I also made a teeny tiny little dent in my scrap pile by sewing up a lot of scrappy triangles. I am still many triangles away from having enough for a quilt. It’s fun to watch these scrap projects come together, though I am more than ready to move on to some different fabrics! I feel like I’ve been staring at the same patterns for decades.

Which I have, as my scrap collection spans 25 years of quilting.

(Do you see that dark blue fabric on the right side forming the point of the triangle? That was one of the first fabrics I bought after I purchased my sewing machine. It was used in a bed quilt that took me 19 years to finish. In case you’re curious, that wasn’t 19 continuous years of sewing. It probably would have only taken 6 months if I hadn’t kept getting distracted by other projects. One of the pinks was used in the first project I ever finished: a baby quilt for our first daughter.)

Now, ask me about my progress on the rest of my March goals.

Or, better yet, don’t. It’s embarrassing.

crafts · knitting · Uncategorized

1 UFO Completed. 3,496 To Go.

I don’t really have 3,496 UFOs lurking in my sewing room. It just feels like I do. And I’m not sure I can truthfully say that I completed one in January, which was my goal. It was more like one-half. As in, one-half of a pair. As in, more specifically, one sock.

With the completion of that sock, my sock tally is now at 5. Which is 2.5 pairs, in case math is hard for anyone. Considering how long each sock takes me to finish, I think they should be counted as individual projects. And, also considering how long each sock takes me to finish, I will save them for special occasions. Which I know we shouldn’t do, because life itself should be a special occasion. (The black and colorful stripey pair is my favorite.)

(For the record, I’ve typed the word occasion approximately 5 billion times in my life and still don’t know how to spell it. Thank goodness for autocorrect, am I right? Except for last night when autocorrect told my daughter that we would be “dining” out this weekend when I thought I had typed that we would be “finding” out this weekend. She was confused. I was confused by her confusion. Then I looked back and realized my words had been taken over by AI.)

As soon as I dealt with the Kitchener stitch to sew up the toe area of the sock (using this tutorial, I immediately started on the second sock of the pair. I had such big plans, as I always do, and thought if I got it started I’d be inspired to knit feverishly so I could have the pair completed. Guess what? I put that begun sock in the bushel basket I use for my knitting projects and haven’t looked at it for a week.

crafts · knitting · Uncategorized

Sock Drama Part Trois

Nobody knows the trouble I’ve seen
Nobody knows my sorrow

-Louis Armstrong

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.

crafts · knitting · Quilting · Quilts · sewing · Uncategorized

The Never-Ending Scrap Pile

I had planned to post on Saturday after a day of sewing on Friday. Then Saturday rolled around with an Arts Festival where I was playing in a community band concert (and where I narrowly missed being hit in the head by a pigeon egg…more on this later), a trip to the store for over-priced groceries (I thought food costs around here would go down with two kids out of the house this summer) and dog food ($30 more expensive than it used to be), a tasty early dinner (air-fried salmon), a walk around the neighborhood with the dogs (battling deer flies the entire way), and a trip to the tennis courts for a few matches with Hubby (I did not win).

Then there was Sunday with church in the morning, weeds that needed pulling, summer squash and wild blueberries that needed picking, trees that needed felling (not by me…I can barely be trusted with a rotary cutter, let alone a chainsaw), dogs that needed walking, and a Dark Winds season finale that needed watching.

So here I am on a Monday to show you what I was up to with scaps on Friday.

I have oodles of scraps left over from the I Spy quilts I’ve made for just about every baby relative (and there have been A LOT of babies). As I have to fussy cut images from the fabrics, I’ve been left with piles of holey fabric. (The fabric looks a lot like newspapers used to look after my grandma got done cutting out the bits that interested her. In other words, only the boring bits are left.)

I finally pulled out this box of boring bits on Friday and vowed to come up with a quilt that would use them up…or at least make a dent in the pile.

For the blocks above, I cut strips from the fabrics in widths ranging from 3/4″ to 1-1/2.” I sewed these strips together, then cut them down into 2″ chunks. I then sewed those chunks together until I ended up with a 13″ block. I sewed two 13″x2″ blocks together and added a 1-1/4″ border. I plan to make enough blocks for a decent size quilt.

Am I in love with this project? Not really (or at least not yet), but it is mindless sewing I can do while listening to audiobooks with Hubby AND it uses up scraps in a different way than I’ve used them before. After middle daughter declared all of my scrap projects as looking exactly the same, I thought it might be time to shake things up with a new pattern.

I also added about 11 more paper-pieced tiny pineapples to my growing pile on Friday and began blanket stitching my table runner/wall hanging. I attempted to start “turning the heel” on my knitted socks last night, but how was I supposed to concentrate on tiny stitches when Dark Winds was so intriguing?!

An innocent accident or something more sinister?

As for the pigeon egg story…Our community band plays in a pavilion next to a lake in town. When the pavilion was expanded and lights were added, the local pigeons moved in, nesting above the lights. They have created what I disgustingly refer to as the “Excrement Drop Zone” right next to where I sit during the concerts. As we were preparing to play a piece on Saturday, I saw something come flying through the air in my peripheral vision. For a moment, I thought I had narrowly missed being splattered with pigeon poo. Then something hard hit the ground in front of me, and eggy shrapnel scattered all over the place.

The question is, did the pigeon lay that egg on the fly? Did it land in the nest and dislodge the egg accidentally? Or was there something more sinister going on? Did that pigeon not like how I was playing and choose to throw that egg at me? We’ll never know. What I do know is that with it turning into an Alfred Hitchcock-esque scene down by the lake, I might just have to start playing in body armor.

crafts · knitting · Uncategorized

The Danger Zone

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.

Wish me luck!

crafts · knitting · Uncategorized

Sock Drama part deux

The sock drama continues.

Yet again we were watching an episode of Grantchester. Yet again I was knitting away at a pair of socks. Yet again I was paying full attention to neither the show nor the mess of needles and yarn in my hands. Yet again I missed part of the plot and made a mistake. And yet again I wondered why I bother knitting socks.

The end result: there was a hole in my sock. It wasn’t a big hole. It was barely noticeable. After a close inspection, I determined it wasn’t a dropped stitch. It was more like something got twisted in a funny way. I decided I could live with that. Who would ever even notice such a tiny hole other than me?

And so I knitted on.

For about six more rounds.

Then the little perfectionistic demon that I usually keep under control reared its ugly little head and insisted I needed to do something. I whined. I complained. (Mostly in my head.) I swore at that demon. (Also in my head.) Then I gave in. I could not allow that hole to remain.

I decided the best course of action would be to work up to the problem stitch, drop it down to the hole, and pick all the stitches back up. While this would be a challenge considering the thinness of the yarn and tinyness of the stitches, it was preferable to picking out six or more rounds of knitting and re-knitting everything.

Apparently, a tiny crochet hook would have been the perfect tool for my stitch picking up. I learned this after the fact. Unfortunately, I don’t own a tiny crochet hook because I don’t crochet. (I tried it once. It made my hands hurt. Don’t do things that make your body hurt. I learned this the hard way with running.)

Strangely, as we began season 3 of Breaking Bad last night, I managed to knit several inches without any mistakes. Could it be that Grantchester is the problem and not me?

crafts · knitting · Uncategorized

The Worst Pattern Ever!

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.

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!