Thursday, May 18, 2017

I found a friend in the garden

We are finally enjoying a few days of sunshine.  It hasn't rained a LOT this week, so the soil is even getting dried out enough to work in some spots.  One spot in my rock garden that needed immediate attention was where the cactus Al brought me from Wyoming lives.  It had been overrun by the sedum, and the ground ivy that creeps into the gardens every chance it gets.  (It's evil stuff, put on earth to punish us for our sins, apparently.  Like many of the worst weeds, the original European settlers of North America brought it with them.  Gee, thanks.)

Anyway, armed with my weed digger and a fish hook extractor I got at the sporting goods store, I went out to do battle.  As you can see these cactus have spines that you really don't want to get close to- unless you're a snail!  This guy happily crawled over the leaves (are they called leaves??) as I worked.  (Okay, I looked it up- those parts are actually considered the stems.)  When I get pricked by a spine, it stings, and often a piece breaks off and I have to perform surgery later to remove it.  But if you're a gastropod, I guess you just ooze on by with no worries!
I think I've mentioned before I detest slugs.  But I find snails  interesting and will go out of my way not to harm them.  I don't know why.
 I've done almost no sewing in the past few days, owing mostly to the fact that I STILL don't know how to quilt that damned quilt, and the nicer weather.  Hubby's annual fishing trip is next week, so I may treat myself to a personal quilting retreat while he's gone- if the weather is bad. 
 I know there are a lot of links in today's post.  I figured it might make it more interesting, since really this is about me watching a snail. 

 There are people "resisting" who can make a bigger difference.  I am very grateful for them!!!

I am also grateful for:
Hugs from Jonathan
Being able to make it work so the nice man at the shelter got to take his kitty home yesterday!
Sleeping with the windows open and listening to the toads and frogs singing for mates.
The hummingbirds have arrived.
36 years with a very patient and devoted man.

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

I'm really enjoying this deconstructing thing!

Remember this quilt I made for the "Architecture" challenge?  I was terribly so disappointed with how it came out.  When I got it home after the challenge I folded it up and hid it away.  I ran across it months later, and decided to use it as a table runner.  But then I had to look at it and remember how it was supposed to look, but didn't.  (You can read the blog post I did about it here)
 So, it needed to go.

Meanwhile I had been trying to decide what fabrics to use for a new purse, using a pattern my friend Anne used for a bag I absolutely loved.  (It's not a commercial pattern. Her friend designed it)  I did some measuring and figuring and decided I could use the quilt for the purse, making it just a bit smaller.  

   It's sort of a bag within a bag.  I am thrilled with it, because the part of the original quilt I hated the most is inside the part I liked!  I used the binding from the quilt to bind the tops of  the bag, and had enough of the same fabric to use as the handles and lining of the bag. 
Look at all those pockets!

So, one of my least favorite quilts is now going to be one of the best purses I have ever owned!

I should look back through the pile of unloved quilts in my collection for more opportunities to turn "trash" into treasure!  I could have a whole new career!




I decided to share some good news environmentally speaking.  They are doing this kind of project in many places due to public demand for it.  We can make a difference when we join our voices together!

I am grateful for:
A wonderful day with Jonathan
Wine o'clock on a really bad day.
The perfect day for a bowl of Irish Stew at O'Lacy's (sorry if this won't work for those not on facebook)
Cold weather means I can bundle up under my pile of quilts in bed. (too soon I'll have to give it up)
A perfectly timed gift from a friend

Friday, May 5, 2017

Another UFO becomes FO!!!

 I am pleased to be able to say that so far this year, I am averaging one item crossed off my UFO list each month!!

My April completion was not completely done until May 2, but I'm counting it.  This was my teaching sample from the days of being a "Scrap Therapist."  The pattern is called "Star Light, Star Bright".  I call the quilt Christmas Under the Stars.

I had a bit of trouble getting this one finished.  I was fine until I got to the red border, when suddenly my machine decided it was unhappy.  I rethreaded, changed needles, cleaned under the bobbin case, tried different bobbins, and changed needles again.  It was just not stitching properly no matter what I did.  So I turned the machine off and decided it was wine o'clock! (no, it wasn't 10 in the morning!)  The next day I did some different sewing- pieced some blocks and such- before setting up to quilt again.  It was still a little fractious, but nowhere near as bad. 

Here's a  better look at the different designs I used.  I could wish the last border had come out a bit more dense, but it is finished. And, with all the trouble I had, there are plenty of nests on the back and skipped stitches I didn't go back and fix.  So this one will be for me and hubby- who really loves it.  If I had known that, I might have made it queen sized.














 
Since I used solids on the back, the quilting shows up nicely.


















So, now it's on to the next items on the list.  The numbers called this month were 12 and 27. My 27 is a kit, so I am going to leave that one for another time.


Number 12 is another Scrap Therapy sample I made.  I have been doodling designs to figure out how to quilt it.  I'm keeping it simpler this time and using a faux pantograph from this book. The weather is supposed to be cold and cruddy all weekend, so I'm hoping to make significant progress on it- assuming the machine is happy.  I hate feeling like I'm entering the lion's den every time I sit down to machine quilt.  Does this ever happen to you??








After yesterday's health care vote, I am feeling rather hopeless.  I feel a bit sick that our country has come to this point.  I will continue to do what I can to make my voice heard.  You should too.

I am grateful for:
Oma time with Jonathan
When sewing is peaceful and meditative
Taking some quiet time to read ( I don't do it often enough)
My tulips survived the deluge.
I'm not alone in the resistance.

Thursday, April 27, 2017

Gardening Season has Arrived

 Spring is in full bloom and the gardens are desperately in need of attention, so that is the priority lately, unless it's cold and rainy.  We had rather a LOT of rain last week, so it was nice to have a dry weekend to get out and clean up, and enjoy some of the early flowers.




There's something both lonely and exciting about a patch of freshly cleaned garden.  I know before long it will be beautiful!!  (this picture is a couple of weeks old.  The tulip above is the plant just behind the shepherd's hook here.)












 I love it when I can bring the first bouquet inside to enjoy.  This is tete-a-tete daffodils and scilla.




 
  The front walkway has some nice color right now!  I'm going to have to thin my Hellebore soon.




















I have to grow the tulips near the house or the deer eat them.  I don't mind at all. 



The cherry tree outside the screen porch is just loaded with blossoms this year.  Taking this picture, I was amazed how loud the sound of happy honeybees was!

 So I'm not doing much sewing this week.  I don't mind at all.

Last Saturday I took a short drive (for me) to the Arts Council of Wyoming County in Perry.  A local fiber artist I am acquainted with, Mary Ann Fritz, is exhibiting her work there this month.  I was very glad I went.  Her work is bright and nature inspired.  Now that I've visited the gallery, I've decided I'll have to make it a habit.  There's plenty of local talent to enjoy there!

If you enjoy nature as I do, it is frightening to think the protection afforded to some of the most beautiful places in America may be removed in favor of those short-sighted people who only see dollar signs.  It's too late to "wait and see".  Make  a phone call, send an email.  "Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better. It's not."- Dr Seuss, the Lorax

I am grateful for:
The sounds of spring.
My kittens are healthy and growing 
Macaroni and cheese
Al wasn't seriously damaged
Inspiring fiber art

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Sorry this is Boring

 Remember last week when I said my cold was getting better?  Yeah, it got worse again last weekend.  I went home early not long after that post was finished, and collapsed into bed.  The next day was Good Friday, which is a flex day for the full time folks.  I had planned to work since I don't get paid if I don't- funny how that works!- but I stayed home and slept all day instead.  Good choice. They frown on me being in my jammies, wrapped in two or three blankets, in the office.
On Saturday, I felt well enough to be upright for a few minutes.  So I did a load of laundry.  When I didn't pass out from that, I watered the plants.  And so the day went- I survived one job and moved on to the next.  I did take short breaks, but never needed a lie down. I even went outside to enjoy the fresh air and pluck a few weeds!
By Sunday I decided I would live, although I still wasn't enjoying it very much.  We took some gifts over to the kids for Easter.  I got the greatest gift!  Jonathan has reached the age where, when I arrive, he runs to me shouting "Ama!" (his word for Oma, my preferred appellation) and gives me a big hug!  Is there a better feeling in all the world?

So I was three days slow again.  It's a good thing the kittens had gotten their appetites back.  If I had been this sick a week ago, the poor babies wouldn't have made it, I fear.  But they are growing and frolicking around the nursery just like nothing ever happened, thank goodness! There are still four, but one was running an errand when I had the camera out.

I think I have made enough "Lil Birdies" for now.  I wasn't making them for Easter, but they would be cute for that, I guess.  I plan to take them to the kids down the street where I buy my eggs.  I know, they should probably all be the same.  I was trying to use up scraps of yarn.


And I finally got my UFO #11 layered and got the quilting started.  I ended up doing a simpler poinsettia thing in the star blocks and will do a variety of fillers in the sashing and borders. If the weather is bad this weekend, I might even get it done this month.  That would make one finished object a month so far this year!!

The People's Climate March is next week.  I'm not sure why it isn't on Earth Day- that's when they're doing the Science March.  I'd love to do both, but am unable to do either for a variety of reasons.  I am showing my support by sending postcards to relevant offices in Washington, DC.  One voice may not make much of a sound, but many voices must be heard.  If nothing else, this divisive time has created a surge in activism. It's about time the complacency came to and end!

I am grateful for:
Finally feeling better!
Comfort food
Grandchildren
Sitting outside enjoying sunshine and fresh air
A few minutes of meditation


Thursday, April 13, 2017

Design Wall Wednesday

I've had very little sewing time the past few weeks, so not much is getting done. Every so often I throw something in the design wall just to ponder for a few days, or until I need the space. This is what it looks like today- yesterday, since I tried doing this from my phone while waiting. 
Kind of a mess, right? The one on the left is random bits from a couple of projects I sewed together.  Every so often I look at it and try to decide if it's worth hanging on to. 
In the center is blocks I made for a swap that flopped.  I'm thinking of making them into a curtain for the sewing room.  The one I have in there is pretty faded.
On the right is wonky disappearing 4 patch blocks I do when I want to sew but don't have time to get involved in a project.  Below them is fabric waiting to become blocks, the fabrics I might frame them with to unify them into a quilt, and some random crap. 

On the far left is fabric I'll probably use as a border for something else.  On top are pincushions I received in swaps, as gifts, or made extras of.

I've been pondering quilting designs for my UFO #11. I printed a couple of copies of the picture in black and white to doodle on.  I think I know what I want to do for the most part.  I need to doodle some more before I get it under the needle.

My first batch of foster kittens for the year were only about 4 weeks old when we got them- far too young to be away from mom.  But they went right to the mush for the first 3 days.  I knew it was too easy.  For the next 3 they refused to eat, and had developed diarrhea- which can be fatal to tiny kittens.  I called on everything I know to help them and might have gotten us back to where I started a week ago.  I hope.  Now they have some catching up to do!




Sorry, coal miners- your jobs are gone forever.  Here's a sure sign- the Coal museum in Kentucky is going solar to save money!

I am grateful for:
The kind words of a person who had no idea how bad my day had been going.
I worked in the garden Monday!
My cold is already clearing up. (shh)
Knowing most of what I needed to do
Sleeping with the windows open.

Friday, April 7, 2017

April UFOs

I've had NO creative time in the past week or so.  No, I guess I have had creative time...

I went to a quilt show last weekend and found some inspiration.  I hesitated to post these, since I didn't get the makers' names.  They are members of the Riverlea quilt guild in North Tonawanda, NY


LOVE the quilting on this one!

Great use of quilting to continue the star design into the blank space.

The quilting in the center of this one uses threads matching the colors in the blocks!

 I have done some knitting.  I've moved a few things around in the sewing room.  I've auditioned fabrics.  I just don't have much to show for my time, and I haven't sewed at all.

I did get out the projects whose numbers came up in the UFO challenge this month.
Number 11 is this Scrap Therapy quilt top I have been hoping to finish for several years.  As usual, the issue is I don't know how I want to quilt it.  But I am just going to layer it this weekend- if time allows- and figure it out when I put it under the needle.   A few years ago, I made a wall hanging with an extra block, and did a poinsettia in the star.  I don't think I'll do that again.  I did buy some dark red thread to use. 

UFO number 16 is another one begun as a teaching sample way back when.  The pattern is called Four Patch Stacked Posies.  It's kind of a stack and whack, obviously.  And, like most of this type of pattern, it can be addictive. 
 These are the blocks I got from the fabric.  It's a small repeat, however. That means the blocks are small (about 5 inches square)...

...and you don't get very many from one set. I have 28 blocks.  I need more to make it a decent sized baby quilt, unless I use the original in between.  So there may not be any progress on this one. Again. 



I got this fabulous sock yarn from the yarn truck vending at the quilt show.  It's like a mobile yarn shop!  What a great idea.  So I also need to finish some knitting projects so I can start this pair of socks.  

I admit it- I'm a water waster.  I have a pretty reliable well, not public water.  It has a funny taste that I am used to, and tends to turn white clothes orange if I'm not careful in the laundry.  So if I'm in the mood for a nice long, hot shower, I take it- just standing there letting the water warm me through to my bones.  Or if it's really hot in the summer, I can go for a few laps in the shower to cool off.  I'm lucky. 
Clean water may become the next commodity nations will go to war over, should climate change continue unabated.  I became more aware of this when the power was out for a few days after a storm.  I keep jugs of water on hand in case of power outages, because the pump won't run.  But the supply of drinking water was a concern after the first couple of days. (It never occurred to me that we might be without electricity for more 70 hours) The water I save is just tap water in old milk jugs, so bacteria growth is a concern.  I'll use it for coffee or tea since I have to boil that first.  Can you imagine a world where the water supply might all be contaminated by flood water? Or where it has to be trucked across the country due to droughts?  And even the Great lakes water might not be usable if the EPA is dismantled.  Just food for thought.

I am grateful for:
I finally got to see Wicked!
It's a quiet week at work, since I have cold.
Time spent with my BFF
I have foster kittens to cuddle!
Sleeping well, when it happens

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

UFO #24 and/ or 41

  You may remember this quilt, from early February, when it was just hanging on the design wall.  It was UFO #24 for this year.                       (As a reminder: My online guild is doing a UFO challenge, where one member calls two numbers at the beginning of each month and your only job is to to least take them out and look at them to assess if it's something you even care to finish.)   
I finished the top, without borders, in February.  The numbers for March were 4 and 41.  As I didn't have a 41, I decided to keep working on this one.  I got the borders on, found backing fabric and got ready to turn the top into a quilt.
Have I ever said how lucky I feel that I have a queen-sized dining room?  (as well as expert assistance, as you can see above)


I did a faux pantograph design, which could have been more dense in some places, but it got the job done.




And, as it turned out, quilting more densely would have resulted in a bit of a problem. I used the rest of this to hand sew the binding.






So it's quilted and bound, and labeled.  It will probably be donated somewhere along the line, unless I need a gift for someone before I decide I have a big enough pile to make the trip to the place I took them last time. 

 





The label is made for a donation to the breast cancer care place I went last time in memory of my dear friend Jennie.

I  also finished the placemats I pieced at retreat.  They'll be part of a raffle basket for the fur ball.  I'm looking for ideas for what else to put in the basket.  They had a ton of wine baskets last year.  I was thinking dinner fixin's, maybe.  Suggestions welcome!


As of yesterday, the rules have changed in the US regarding protecting our climate.  Some of the regulations will need to be re-written, so may not have an immediate impact.  We can't wait and see what they do.  Now, more than ever, it's important to make your voice heard.  Call or email your representatives/ senators often.  Then use the only thing that really matters to those in power- your money!  Choose the more climate friendly choice for your energy supply, buy cars with higher fuel economy, or a hybrid, use less energy wherever you can.  The responses I always get from contact with "my" congressman say "the government must ensure that any federal legislation truly improves our environment, while balancing the needs of our economic sector".   So we have to show them protecting the planet and a good economy can coexist.  

I am grateful for:
Comfort food
Play time with my grand babies
Birds singing in the morning
Some of my crocuses survived the late winter onslaught
Small progress on the UFO list


Wednesday, March 22, 2017

After the challenge

Between storms and power outages and having to work at work, it has been a while again since I've posted.  Every year I say I will get 52 posts up, and then life gets in the way.

Every year I enter the guild challenge- most years I make two pieces to enter.  But then I get them back and wonder what to do with them?  I certainly don't need another tote bag, or have a reason to hang a big fish quilt in my house.    (I know I've mentioned this before)  Here is what I did with one of my most recent entries.

                                 

 This piece was called "Name the Bar".  I had fun making it, but saw things I should have done differently immediately after I finished it- don't we always?  More than that, I had absolutely  no use for it in my home- nor did I think anyone I knew would.  Ar ound the same time, I had been searching through all the places I had parts of my interchangeable knitting needles stored/ stashed.  It was frustrating and wasted my time.  So I did a search for a way to store them neatly, and found this.

 So almost as soon as I got it back from the display last Saturday, I started deconstructing it by removing the flaps and half of the binding. 
     
                                      
Here are some of the needles laid out so I could measure and figure what exactly my needle case should look like.
 
 And here is the finished product- look how neatly things are arranged (and there's room for more!)


This is what it looks like all folded up nice and small- easy to store!


These are the leftovers.  I was going to make it bigger, then changed my mind so the quilted pieces are kind of small.  I may just toss them.  Seems a waste, but it has served one purpose and is now serving another- unless someone needs coasters???


I have been saving my yarn bits for a few years and placing them out int he suet feeder for the birds.  I find them in use when I try to get the house sparrows out of the swallow houses.  I like to think the babies get a nice soft bed from the scraps I leave.  But recently I read a warning that they can harm the babies by strangling them, or being wrapped around their legs and injuring them.  I take everything I read with a bit of skepticism anymore (sadly), so I searched a bit and found posts on both sides of this.  I am  still not sure if its a good idea of a bad one.  So I have decided to still ofer them, but make sure everything is cut into approximately 1 inch pieces, and not place anything fine, like sewing thread, out.  It seems a reasonable compromise. 
Compromise- an idea that needs to be promoted more and more these days. sigh

I am grateful for:
Having someone to call for help when I need it.
Being prepared for emergencies
Good sewing time
Leftovers in the freezer
Brightening someone's day

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

An Oma weekend

I didn't do any sewing last weekend, and I don't care at all.  Here's what I did instead! 

Kiara has been wrestling with the youth league, and they had a tournament.  Anyone who has ever been to a wrestling tournament knows it is a LONG day. So I brought Jonathan down with me to spend some time with mom while I watched big sister wrestle. 

Ra-ra's head gear looks good on me!




In this match, She got her arm twisted under her and had to stop for a minute to be sure she could continue.



 She did, and won!





Unfortunately, by the time her next match came around, it had stiffened up and she lost.  But she took third place in her group, so got a trophy!

Jonathan got restless, so we went back home. He "opted out" of nap time, so we got to play a bit before mom got home.




The next day, Kiara came over for some playtime.  We took it easy since her arm was still tender. Her stuffed animals all enjoyed our adventures in living room land!  I guess I'm a "bad" gramma, since I played instead of taking pictures with her.  (I am not serious here in case you wonder)

 I'll sew next week- if the kids don't need me.  :-)

In case I haven't said this enough- be informed.  Stay informed.  Read multiple news sources, even those you disagree with.  And then do something with the information.  Many of us want to pretend this isn't happening.  We are tired of the stress, the anger, the fear.  But we can't ignore it!  It won't go away. Too much is at stake.  A man named John Pavlovitz said it very well in this post.  Here's a little bit of it. 
In our social media profiles and our daily conversations, we have to make space for difficult, uncomfortable, unpleasant things. We have to have wade into the messy, mundane, and not-fun realities about our political process and face the gravity of these moments together.
In fact, we need to wrestle with these difficult things now, in order to craft a future for our children where they have less difficult things; so that they can inherit a safer, kinder, cleaner, more diverse, more loving planet.
We need to be willing to be burdened beyond our current capacity for empathy and activism, so that we leave them something worth inheriting: a life filled with puppies and babies.
Read the rest, then tell me it's time to relax.  If you can.

I am grateful for:
Jonathan calls me Oma now!
Being silly with a little girl.
Sleeping in under cozy quilts when it's very cold outside.
Getting that great playlist off my old phone at long last!
The people on the front lines.