Tuesday, February 2, 2016

The Raid

Crochet swatch of a baby blanket found on Pinterest.  Maybe make a big one for me?


Orphan blocks found during the cleaning raid and turned into coasters. Knitted washcloth.
I like the way February is starting out.  Lots of little busy work and errands to run, but no pressure from the outside world.  Rain showers and sunshine mixed together, dogs snoozing on the couch, quiet afternoons spent playing with yarn and fabric.
I  devoted three whole days to cleaning my sewing room.  What a scene that was.  Rather like a police raid.  No warning, just rush in and take prisoners.  Every closet, box, bin, drawer and bag was dumped out, searched and sorted.  Spread across the floor, the mess threatened to burst out into the hallway, smothering anything in its path (remember that old movie called The Blob?  It just kind of rolled around and sucked up cars, people, movie theaters.  Like that).   My husband would come in every once in a while, look around at the chaos and walk out without saying a word.  Smart man.  I'm sure he was wondering about dinner, or the lack of it.
 I actually had to leave the room at one point because the fabric/yarn dust caused an allergic sneezing fit, complete with watery eyes.  There was talk of hazmat suits.  Whatever.  I sent three large bags to the Goodwill (should have been more), and painstakingly folded all my fabric and lovingly tucked it back into the drawers.  It was a joy to behold.   Really though, I give it about 4 months before it turns back into a dog's breakfast. 

Now I need a new book to read.  Any recommendations?  I want to keep track of everything I've read this year and so far in January there were five. Katherine, The Hands on Home, Big Magic, The Martian, and Gaia's Garden.  The last one sounds like it could be a romance or fantasy novel, but it's really about understanding Permaculture and how to incorporate it into your yard.  Cool stuff.  To be honest I didn't finish The Martian.  I ended up watching the movie (good!) so there was no motivation to keep reading.  Just as well. The book had several pages of technical scientific NASA speak, which I skipped over with regularity.  I hope some day I don't find myself in a dire situation, where everyone is about to perish, and I am kicking myself for not reading the paragraphs on how to properly release hydrazine over an iridium catalyst and turn it into N2 and H2.  Then burn it without blowing myself up. 
Oh well.  I can make a quilt.  Does that count?



Wednesday, January 27, 2016

California Tulip and a Senior moment

Magically I have finished another quilt.  This one has been hibernating for a while (talk about slow quilting), but I've been really pushing to finish up old projects before they get labeled as "vintage".

The pattern is from Making History, Quilts and Fabric from 1890-1970 by Barbara Brackman, and is called Georgia Tulip.  It's in the last chapter which covers the 1950's to 1970's.  This is a time period I can relate to since this is when I grew up and now, apparently my age is heading into the vintage category.  When I was shopping the other day a clerk asked me sheepishly if I was a senior.  Ahem.  The cut off was 60 years old.  Since I'm 3 years away from said senior discount, and the girl was all of about 18, I forgave her. She was trying to give me a deal, but please, don't rush me.  I will gladly give up the discount to retain every bit of those three years.  Needless to say I went out and bought some new moisturizer and eye cream after that.
Anyway, the original was 35 x 31 inches.  I added a half square triangle border, then a floral border, which brought mine up to 43.5 x 43.5.  There is both hand and machine quilting, and the tulips were paper pieced then appliqued down onto the blue blocks.  The backing is voile.

When I went to the fabric store to buy the floral border, I told the clerk (different one this time.  older than me. not that it matters or anything) that I was also going to add a border of hst's that were leftover from a different quilt.  The conversation went something like this:

Clerk: Well you can't just add those on.  How do you know they will fit?  You have to do the math!

Me: (Channeling my inner Gwen Marston) No I'm just going to sew them together and then trim them to fit.

Clerk (looking at me aghast.  I don't usually use that word, but really. Her face)  The border won't fit.  The hst's will get cut unevenly. You have to do the MATH!

Me:  Um, no really, it will be fine.  I'm doing it on purpose.  It's very liberating, blah, blah, blah.

I had lost her.  It was unthinkable that I would purposefully NOT measure and just whack a row of blocks in mid block.  Oh silly lady.  Sometimes you gotta just bend a little bit.  Besides, I've been sewing since I was eight (Here. I'll do the math. That's almost 50 years), this isn't my first rodeo, and if I want to chop up blocks, then it's all on me.   I love my Tulip quilt as is.

No matter what your age, just go make something today.  And whack the hell out of it.

Thursday, January 21, 2016

Quilt finish and cleaning up



Hello everyone. Welcome back!  The dogs and I are sharing a bowl of popcorn while I wait for these pictures to load up.  The computer seems awfully slow today.  There was a repair crew working on the lines when I walked down to get the mail.   Wind, water or chewing squirrels are usually responsible for a slow Internet around here.
I finished the first of my Hudson Bay camp blankets that I started back in October.  I love the deer fabric on the back, wish I had more of it.  I had to beg my daughter to come outside and hold the quilt up for pictures when there was a brief 25 second window in between rain showers.  The last storm that came through was a doozy, and we lost several branches off our birch trees due to high winds. The yard was a complete mess afterwards.  So I spent yesterday raking and sweeping and tidying only to find out we have more of the same coming in tonight.  Guess I could have waited but the sun was shining and it felt good to get outside in the fresh air.
Its hard to believe that just a few months ago the ground and vegetation here was crispy, dry and crunchy.   Now our small seasonal pond which collects the runoff water is full, and there are mushrooms sprouting all over!
The last picture is a three pack of blank journals that I bought when I was out Christmas shopping.  I have dedicated one to crochet/knitting, one to quilting, and the last to random ideas in general, although it seems to be leaning more toward gardening at the moment. The crochet/knitting has come in handy already, as I am logging in my projects listing the hook/needle and yarn type.  I am notorious for grabbing a crochet hook from a half finished project to start something new, then come back to the old project months weeks later and then can't remember what size hook I was using.  
 Of course it could all be much simpler if I just stuck to one thing at a time (or bought a bazillion hooks and needles in every size), but where's the fun in that?


Saturday, January 16, 2016

Wintery

Snowy Egret in the backyard

It's been raining!  After about 4 years of drought we are finally having a "normal" winter. Snowy caps up on the Sierra mountains, rain, wind and green grass here in the valley.  I heard yesterday that the Sacramento river might be approaching flood levels after this weekend.  And while the grape vines, nut trees and my humble little garden sleep, there is still plenty going on around here. 
The migrating birds are a joy to watch, especially the grey Sandhill cranes that arrive in this area every January.  Our town celebrates with a bird "festival" that includes hiking out to the nature preserve for photography, wine tastings and educational seminars.  I prefer to watch these long, gangly birds quietly by myself from the road.   They land by the hundreds to forage in a dairy pasture about a mile from my house. Their enormous wingspan and graceful movements are so fascinating. 

Just down from where the cranes hang out lives a very lively flock of goats.  Many new little babies were born in the last two weeks, and cries for their mama pierce the cold air.  I love the big Anatolian dogs that watch over them.  They go nuts if you get too close to their business, so I try and keep a polite distance with my camera.
I'm hoping to get out for a quick walk in between storms today.  There's a stew in the crock pot and I want to catch up on some unfinished projects this weekend.
 Gosh I just cringe when I find something old and unfinished in the cupboard.  Southbay shawlette started who-knows-when.   It's not going to make itself so I better get at it.

Thursday, January 7, 2016

Hands on in my home

So on New Years eve day I went crazy in the kitchen and started clearing out cupboards and drawers.  I've been tackling one or two a day, and I'm quite happy with the result, even though I still have the main pantry to finish.  It's already made cooking easier.  Now I don't have to paw through a million gadgets (including 3 zesters, what. why?, a dozen stray chopsticks, old barbecue baster brushes, and assorted camping utensils) to find the potato peeler.  One drawer in particular which holds all my cloth napkins, tea towels, dish cloths and aprons is finally organized.  Previously they were spread across three different places in the kitchen and now I have them all in one deep drawer, freshly washed, folded, and ready for action.

In between all the cleaning I have been reading The Hands-On Home, and I can't recommend it enough.  Well written, with beautiful photographs, Erica Strauss of the blog
Northwest Edible Life, shares her modern homemaking tips in the way of recipes for meals as well as cleaners, canning, preserving, and tips for keeping a natural home throughout each season. The recipes and ideas for what the heck to do with all my lemons (preserving lemons in salt, recipes for lemon curd, lemon glaze over olive oil cake, lemon ricotta and aioli.  who knew?) was worth the price alone, as was a simple dessert for roasted pears with caramel sauce I made last week and shamelessly slurped out the remaining sauce from the pan when no one was looking.

about half the fruit picked from my Meyer lemon tree in the garden
The patchwork squares from my previous post turned into this little mini quilt, a pattern from Temecula Quilt Co.  It finishes up at  11.75x8.5 inches.  I used a piece of flannel instead of batting and I like the way it works in a small quilt like this.

Now before you go I have a couple more links to share with you.  If you have been missing Dottie Angel since the blog closed down, this pod cast/interview with Tif Fussell  at Woolful, might help fill in that gap a bit (and explains why she stopped blogging).
Also this Louise cardigan, I want, want, want and that Anna Maria Horner skirt too!

Until next time :)

Monday, December 28, 2015

In between

I love this week in between Christmas and the New Year.  All the crazy pressure is gone and the real relaxing can begin.

 

At my house we hang out in pajamas, eat left-overs or order Chinese takeout.  We watch movies, make popcorn, and finish off the Christmas cookies.  When the dogs get too rowdy, we take them out for a walk.
A trip to the movie theater to see Star Wars (sooo good!), and lunch afterwards at a local brewery for ribs and craft beer.
 Slowly the kids leave to go back to their jobs and school, and the decorations come down in sections, in between naps and meals. I'm reading, reading, reading as fast as I can.  Katherine by Anya Seton, Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert (which was a nice surprise gift from the husband, since I didn't even know she had a new book out), and a photography book, Understanding Exposure by Bryan Peterson.
One of my favorite presents was this mug rack I'm using to keep my scissors organized. A fresh new stack of fat quarters sits waiting for inspiration to strike and a mini patchwork project is in the works, just the right size to take up space in the "between" moment.
I hope you all have a great week and very creative New Year!

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Friends forever


I made this quilt top way back when.  Time to get it quilted.
All crinkly and washed and ready to be wrapped.  This is going to some friends that we have known for almost 20 years. Our boys grew up together and next year their son will be joining ours at the same university.   Friends forever.  Why have I never made them a quilt before this?

Wishing you all a peaceful and very merry Christmas xxx