Tuesday, November 18, 2014

An 8-link post. Spreading the blog love.

While in the throes of making wonky colored quilt blocks, I did a complete U turn and started to crochet dish cloths.  I don't get it at all.  I don't even try to analyze my actions any more.

Thanks goes to Meredith, who made about a bazillion of these (and others) for the holidays.  The power of suggestion is strong in blog land. This is the Primrose dishcloth pattern, which had a broken link for a while, but has been resurrected over at Love the Bluebird.  I made a few of these a couple of years ago, and used them until they turned to rags.  The pattern is super easy and fast.  Grab some cotton yarn and an H hook, and you'll have one or two done before you need to wash the dinner dishes.

I'm also making this scarf right now, but am waiting on more yarn so I'll just show you when it's all done. Kristen made one too, so you can go have a look while you're waiting for me to finish mine.

I just finished the Orient Heights scarf made out of a bulky Louisa Harding that I had squirreled away to make a poncho that never happened.  It's really a pretty blue, very warm, and well, bulky.  I'll have to wait for a trip to Tahoe to wear this, it's just never cold enough here in the valley unless I want to go out at say, 3 o'clock in the morning.  No.

Do you like fish tacos?  I tried a new sauce recipe for fish tacos and it was quite amazing.  I used fresh cilantro and a jalapeno pepper and it was like a party in my mouth.  If you don't have a food processor, I'm sure a blender would work fine.
My latest inspiration for the holidays came from Katrin's blog.  There is an Advent calendar tutorial over on Quiltmania, and she has already completed 4 of the blocks, maybe more by the time I'm done fiddling with this post, and I have been compelled to join in.  There is a new block released every day (except weekends) up to Dec. 15th., and they are already on block 5.  I have completed 2 so far, but I am finding that I'm so anal about every little bit and bob that goes into it (plus I'm spending a lot of time searching my craft bins for said bits and bobs), that it's really taking me a long time to make just one.  If you decide to join in, be forewarned, all the instructional videos for each block are in French.  But they are well done, and it's easy to figure out how to proceed.

Heading off to start block three. Toodles.

Monday, November 10, 2014

What a weekend

I spent last weekend happily sorting through my fabric and decided to challenge myself.  I wanted to make some quilt blocks from my bin of small scraps, and not yardage from my stash.  They had to be solid or almost solid fabrics, and I couldn't use a pattern.  A fly by the seat of your pants, make it up as you go kind of quilt.  I was so fired up after reading this book- did you ever get so excited about something it almost renders you immobile because your mind is so full of ideas that you don't know where to start?- that I just started throwing fabric around the room.  When things finally settled down,  I had six 10 1/2 inch blocks, and started playing with a layout.

Kind of like Gees Bend meets the Amish.

While that was percolating, I transformed 2 old quilt blocks into pot holders.  I can always use new ones at Thanksgiving.
By the way, see that long yellow squash back there?  Perhaps you've had these before, they are called Delicata squash. I am obsessed with them right now and have been making one every week since they arrived at the grocery store.  The outside peeling cooks up soft so you don't have to remove it before eating.  I slice it into one inch rounds, take out the seeds, and lay on a cookie sheet tossed with olive oil and sea salt.  Roast at about 400 degrees until they get softened and slightly browned.  Sprinkle with parmesan cheese while they are still warm.   I'm making that one with pork chops and wild rice tonight. 
Okay where was I.  Oh yeah, then last night, after watching several taped Hallmark Holiday movies (where every female main character is named Holly.  Why don't they branch out and try Noelle? I do love watching these though, no matter how corny or badly written), I got on Pinterest and found a banner for Thanksgiving.  So with midnight approaching, I warmed up the printer, dug out the glue and twine and made this.

I reduced the size of the letters to 60%, because the original printed out as big as the copy paper (too big for where I was hanging it) and I didn't have any brown craft paper, so I cut up some grocery bags instead.  I already had the small clothespins, but where were they?  No matter, I was on a mission of the most determined crafty kind, and there would be no rest until the clothespins were all present and accounted for (you know these "quick" projects are never really quick are they?).  After a half hour search through every basket, box and bag, in my sewing room I found them.  However I was one  short, so a hair clip is standing in until I can get to the craft store.  Can you spot it?  Or maybe I will leave it like that haha!
I swear the sun was coming up when I finally went to bed.  What a weekend.

Get your craft on!

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Family signature quilt

top photo- my husband and his sister, middle-me at 1 years old, bottom- my girls hiking near Solvang, Calif., when they were little.
It's hard to believe I started messing around with this quilt idea back in May.  I knew I had until Thanksgiving so I dawdled about finishing it. 
It's 42x42 inches square and made from my scraps.  I was inspired by a flickr photo from a Japanese quilt book.  It wasn't hard to figure out  how to make one by looking at it, just half square triangles bordered like a log cabin block.  The idea is to use the white space for signatures.

There are 64 blocks in the quilt, and about 22 of those will be filled up at Thanksgiving.  Then, whenever a new baby is born (you're next Megan!) or someone gets married (how about it girls??), we can add more signatures.  I was thinking we could send the quilt home with someone different each year and bring it back the following Thanksgiving to be turned over to the next family member. I will probably make a sleeve for the back so it can be displayed like a wall hanging.

Have fun making stuff this week!


Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Granny Scarf

I was looking for an easy project to work on while watching the World Series, and happened upon this scarf pattern from MyDailyFiber.  The first one I made using some leftover acrylic from my stash and an H hook.  Because it worked up so quickly, I started another and got a bit more serious with the yarn selection, this time using Sublime wool dk with a size 7 (4.5) hook.  Check out her other examples too.  The Noro scarf is really pretty.  I bet you could even use a couple of already- made orphan blocks.  I know I have a few lying around.
I'm also quilting my family signature quilt, and it's coming out just like I hoped it would.  I'm looking forward to everyone signing it at Thanksgiving.
We went to Phillips Farms again, for lunch this time, and brought home an extra quart of their Tortilla soup. We love coming here for breakfast or lunch, wine tasting (home to Michael David winery.  Try their 7 Deadly Zins. Yum!) and grabbing a handful of fresh cut flowers or an apple rhubarb pie still warm from the oven.  Don't you just love the shape of those Cinderella pumpkins?   I enjoyed growing some in my garden a few years ago, because I couldn't find any.  Now you can buy them at the grocery store.  My daughter calls them "back-fat" pumpkins.  Takes the cute right out of them.

My butt will be parked on the couch watching the baseball game tonight, while I finish up that scarf. Have a great week!

Sunday, October 19, 2014

She started it

Deep in the belly of my fabric stash, in the darkest corner of the closet, there is an old canvas tote bag embellished with buttons, doilies, embroidery and other sewing paraphernalia that I made years ago (and will never, so help me ever, be seen on my shoulder in public) stuffed with a jumble of old scraps, notions and orphan quilt blocks.  I haven't peeked into it in years, and to my delight, found a strip of seven blocks made with old feed sack fabrics, that I had bought at a quilt show for $3.
 Someone had started a quilt, and never finished it.  Now why does that sound familiar?  The blocks were pieced both by hand and machine, and not always accurately.  I would have run away screaming if I had to sew just one of those blocks.  I'm surprised she made it to 7.

I imagine her tossing it aside in a fit of impatience, (oh wait, that would be me) or stuffing it into a canvas bag in the back of her closet to be dealt with later (me again).  Or maybe she just lost interest and started something new.
Somehow, the old blocks found their way to a quilt show sale table, where I snatched them up. Now I don't care if you quilt, knit, crochet, or do underwater basket weaving, you probably have several projects on the go at once, and if you're anything like me, you approach said projects like a chain smoker, starting up a new one before the last one is done. So why would I want to work on someone's unfinished project when I can't even finish my own?
Closure, I suppose, for a very talented quilter who came before me.  Someone who inspired me to make a table runner out of her handiwork and show everyone that her efforts were not in vain.   Besides, I know what it's like to not finish a project.
Despite the wonky mismatched seams, the pink fabric bleeding onto the white, (things I hardly tolerate in my own work. Hmmm something to think about there) I love her quilt blocks. 
I kept 6 of the blocks together in their original order and added the crosshatch border fabric.  Then I hand quilted it with running stitches.  The binding was sewn onto the back by machine, then flipped to the front and hand sewn with more running stitches using two strands of blue embroidery floss.
I backed it with a bright yellow calico, and used the 7th block as a giant label.  The runner measures 63 x 15.  Look at all those seams!!  Curved piecing too!  That black fabric with the roses is my favorite.

After I took these pictures, I went back and added my name to the label.  I don't know who started it, but it's finished now.

I hope she likes it.

Monday, October 13, 2014

What did you say?

Well here I am again without a finished bit of anything to show you.  I've been released from Physical Therapy, so I'm back to walking again in the mornings and it feels so good.  The dog likes it too.
Last week I got a burst of energy and repainted the kitchen, and it looks nice and clean and fresh and ready for the holidays.  I got rid of a lot of clutter, cleaned out cabinets, the oven, and the fridge.  It wiped me out though, and I felt like I had been dragged through a knothole backwards (my Grandma used to say this quite often, with her feet propped up after a long, hard day.)
Anyway, when we moved into this house over ten years ago, my good friend Erin, who is an interior designer in Colorado, came out for a visit, drew up new kitchen blueprints, met with my contractor and ordered cabinets. After living 3 months with a gutted kitchen, and our refrigerator  sitting in the dining room, our new kitchen was born. I wish I could find the "before" pictures to show you.  They were really hideous.
I think it's held up pretty well don't you?

So here's what I'm messing around with this week.  I had a gift certificate and bought a bundle of 30's reproduction fabrics from my local fabric store. This wouldn't have been my first choice but honestly there was nothing else to pick from.  The owner really needs to step up her game and start ordering some new lines of fabric.  There is so much out there to choose from and she keeps bringing in the same old crap stuff.  When I came away from the store I was completely uninspired and felt as though I was buying something just to use up my certificate.  Pooh.

I'm almost done with my family signature blocks. When I started this quilt a few months back, I figured I had plenty of time before Thanksgiving to finish it up so everyone could sign it.  Oooops.  I need to get a move on.

Now, not only do I have my own WIPs to finish, but I decided to take on something that was started by someone else.  Nothing big, and I'm enjoying it.  But really, another WIP and it's not even mine?
More on this next time.

The big chunky ribbed crochet blanket is about halfway done and I LOVE it.  I would like to add some faux fur like the throws they sell at Pottery Barn.  I feel a hack coming on.  No picture this time, because it looks almost exactly like the picture from my last post, and I don't want to bore you with the same old baloney, just warmed over (Grandma again).  Do you guys have family sayings or quotes that get repeated over and over like that?  Or lines from movies. "I'll have what she's having"(When Harry Met Sally) or "You're killing me Smalls" (Sandlot), are a couple that usually find their way into our conversations, along with song lyrics, which must be sung while you're at it.  I dunno, maybe we're just weird like that.
 I also started a crocheted scarf using Berroco Flicker in an indigo blue.  It has silver threads throughout and is quite soft, but the stitch definition is not very pronounced, despite trying out three different patterns.
Not quite what I expected so far, but it's better than a kick in the butt with a frozen boot (Grandpa).

Saturday, October 4, 2014


A ribbed throw for the couch.  I started it last fall...and look, it's fall again.  Let's see if it gets finished before next fall rolls around.
I'm off to buy more yarn at Joann's.  This thing is hungry for more.
Half double crochet in back loops only, using Wool Ease Thick and Quick.
A hook the size of a baseball bat.
This one's a snuggler for sure.

Two cookbooks are on the way (I bought used copies), Delancey and A Homemade Life.  Both by Molly Wizenberg.  I can't wait to read them and cook something delicious.  You may have heard of her blog, Orangette.  Beautiful photos, yummy food.  I love finding new blogs.  I turn into an instant stalker, multiplying their page views by about a thousand. I found out about Orangette from this blog.  I spent a long time at that site too. 
So there you go, some weekend reading suggestions from yours truly.
Have a good one!