Monday, November 30, 2015

Quiltville Challenge

A couple of blocks are twisted the wrong way, but you get the idea... 

I'd hoped to get more done over the course of Jo's challenge, but life was too busy for me to get much sewing done. I made some spools, and some lozenges, and I think I've got more than enough pieces cut to finish off  the lozenge quilt... a little progress on three quilts is definitely better than no progress at all, right?

Sunday, November 29, 2015

Is Black Friday Over and Done With?

I am so sick of hearing about the holiday sales. I stayed home on Friday, except for a quick trip out to the closest grocery store and all day long, I got bombarded with anti-shopping messages. Am I the only one who thinks that's worse than the ads! 

Saturday Morning, Teenage Daughter and I were at Joann's a half hour before they opened, waiting in line for a dress form and discounted fabric for her costume making. 

I did get some of the seventy-five cent fat quarters. I was thinking about Bonnie's mystery and didn't have paint chips. These might be too yellow and not gold enough, but I can always use them for something else. The light grey I bought for my constant is almost definitely too light...but it'll make a great background for something.  I just need to figure out when I can get out of the house to find a better grey. 

The store wasn't too crowded, but the customer service wasn't great.  Is it too much to ask that the employees know where the dress forms are, if they exist at all? Or that they not be scattered in three different locations?

I did find out that the VIP discount card (which is free to members of sewing/crafting organizations, which in my case is the quilt guild) worked on doorbusters, which made some great deals even better. (Edited to add -- just take your guild membership card into the store and they'll give you a form to fill out for the discount card. There are different cards available for teachers and students -- details here. I'm not affiliated with Joann's in any way, I just wish someone had told me about the discounts sooner. It would have really added up over the years I was in the knitting guild!)

Weekly Stash Report

Fabric used this week: 0 yards
Fabric used year to date: 6 1/4 yards
Added this week:  7 1/4 yards
Added year  to date: 450 3/4 yards
Net added for 2015: 444 1/2 yards

Yarn Used this Week: 500  yards
Yarn Used year to Date: 8700 yards
Yarn Added this Week: 0 yards
Yarn Added Year to Date: 9939 yards
Net Added for 2015: 1239 yards

This post is linked to Patchwork Times.

Saturday, November 28, 2015

The Death of my Kindle Fire

After a slow, lingering decline, my first generation Kindle Fire finally charged its last charge earlier this week. My best guess is that its loose charging port, which was an issue with the first Kindles, finally gave out. I hate that it died, but I really have no complaints. The device lasted four years, which is longer than I expected. Between me and the boys, it was in almost constant use for books and apps and streaming video. (And Minecraft. Lots and lots of Minecraft.)

Teenage Daughter, who is busy with other non-Kindley things, has been kind enough to let me use hers until I get a replacement. So I can still watch Netflix in my little sewing nook. These days, I do most of my ebook reading on my new-to-me iPhone 4s. I usually need to be close to the phone and using it instead of the Kindle means there's less thing to carry with me.

If you want to give ebooks a try but aren't sure you'll love them, install the Kindle app onto your smart phone. There are lots of free books available and many libraries have ebooks available as an option.

Everything I loved when we first got our Kindles still applies. Now the question is whether I want the new, inexpensive one or something with a few more bells and whistles. For what I do, I think I'd be just fine with, and less intimidated by, the fifty dollar one.

Friday, November 27, 2015

Let's Make Baby Quilts! {11/27/15}

 Let's Make Baby Quilts Linky Party Rules: 
Link directly to your post or specific Flickr photo. Your post can be about a baby quilt that's finished, or in progress, or you can be writing about what you have planned,  as long as it's about baby quilts. You're welcome to link to baby quilt posts that aren't brand new, but please don't submit the same post or picture more than once. I'd love it if you linked back to my site, either with a text link or the Let's Make Baby Quilts! button.

Thursday, November 26, 2015

Cozy Socks for My Youngest

I finished the second sock of the pair that I was using for the Let's Knit a Pair of Socks tutorials. They took a little less than a skein of Wool-Ease and fit my nine-year-old perfectly. And he's thrilled with them.  I didn't expect that reaction, since they're socks, but if he's happy  I'm happy....and wondering if I should go dig out some more orphan skeins and make more pairs.

This post is linked to Crazy Mom Quilts.


Not much to say about this square. They're carrots, without and arms or legs or hostile expressions. But I do love the colors.

I'm linking up to Slow Sunday Stitching.

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

I'm Suffering From Second Sock Syndrome

Second sock syndrome is a real thing. I've got three pairs that were all derailed after the first sock. One is unfinished because I can't find the partial skein of yarn I need for sock number two. I was sure I'd find it before I needed it, but it's been months since I finished the first sock.

Then there are the Bayou socks. I'm on my third attempt at the second sock of that pair. The first time, I botched the short row heel. The second time, I set it down and a needle fell out. That yarn is so splitty that I can't manage to pick up stitches. This time, I'm being extra extra careful...which isn't much fun at all.

The first Fly sock came out perfectly, but I can't work up the nerve to cast on for the second one. Those bobble eyes were hard!

What about you? Do you have trouble with second socks?

Along with the knitting, there's been reading...

Bridget is a stay at home mom, still figuring out her new role in life. She's sleep-deprived and a little frazzled and she's the only one, except for the baby, who can see the ghost that wanders through the upper story of their house. I loved The Barter by Siobhan Adcock and its depiction of motherhood. There's a wonderfully chilling moment was when Bridget finds herself torn between the ghost, who is trying to push open the door that Bridget is leaning against, and her baby, who is dangerously close to the stairs. And another when she flees the house in fear one morning only to realize that she's wearing pajama pants and a tank top and the baby badly needs a diaper change.  There's a second story, about a newly wed woman in 1902, but I didn't find Rebecca nearly as interesting as her modern counterpart.  I loved the beginning and middle of the book, but the end just left me confused. Judging by the book's Amazon reviews, I'm not the only one.

I just finished Ashley Bell by Dean Koontz. Bibi Blair is suddenly stricken with brain cancer and told that she has at most a year to live. Hours later, she gets up from her hospital bed, seemingly cured. She's told that she must save someone named Ashley Bell and that the Wrong People will try to stop her.  There were parts of the book that I really enjoyed and long chunks of the book that I didn't like at all. (Unfortunately, I can't tell you why I didn't like them without giving away too much of the plot.)  

This post is linked to Patchwork Times and Yarn Along. The Barter came from the library an advance review copy of Ashley Bell was provided by the publisher.

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Thrift Shop Temptations - The Purple Cow

We went back to Value Village on Wednesday to see if they still had that auction game from last week. And because there's a deal on Thursdays when all items with the right colored tags are $2 each. I still want to find some more warm sweaters and inexpensive jeans for active little boys are always a a good thing. Most of the games were gone, but I found a few sweaters and those fabric scraps I posted about on Sunday. And we browsed.

This is the only piece of crewel embroidery that I've ever fallen in love with. I left it on the shelf without even looking at the price because I've got another piece of stitchery with a blue door on it ---and I made that one myself, which gives it priority. 

And then there was this, a life size plush purple cow trophy with what my sons tell me are glowing red eyes... 

Dianne Shapiro Humane Trophies Vermont

If it had been a deer, or an elephant or a rhino, or any other kind of traditional trophy animal, I wouldn't have hesitated. But it's a purple cow with red eyes and absolutely one of the most ridiculous things I've seen in years of thrift store shopping. And did I mention that it's life size?

I said no. My son asked if he could spend his birthday money. And after six or seven more half-hearted nos I finally saw reason because he really loves this awful thing.

And now the cow is hanging over my couch, at least until I put up a nail over the eleven-year-old's bed. There's a Webkinz stuffed possum perched between his horns, added after I took the picture. I'm glad that we live in the kind of house where our boys can hang a plush purple cow on the wall. It'll go into the bedroom because my son wants it there, not because it's an eyesore. (Which is worse, the cow or my tiki painting? I think it might be a toss-up. But the cow is not going in my sewing room!)

I'm ashamed to admit that it took me until Friday morning to realize why the cow is purple. Everyone but me got it. I'm claiming that I was thrown off by the glowing red eyes. While I was looking for the poem, I came across this purple cow story. We could have a whole weird elf on the shelf thing revolving around this cow...

Monday, November 23, 2015

Any Day Now...

I never posted a picture of this little sixteen-patch because I was sure that I'd have it quilted and bound any minute. It's been a couple of weeks.


Sunday, November 22, 2015

The Thrift Shop Had Scrap Bags!

If you've read my blog for long, you know that most of my original stash came from the scrap bags that Grandma found at thrift stores when she was buying stuff for her antique mall. I haven't seen a decent scrap bag in years.  On the rare occasions when I find one at all, I can tell through the plastic bag that most of it isn't quilting  cotton.

Last week though, I found four bags. Every last scrap is cotton, with lots of small pieces of different prints. This is just what I need to get a jump start on my scrappy little trips blocks. I'm guessing there's around forty yards here, all for twelve bucks. Since that would buy me a little over a yard at the quilt shop, I'm not going to be picky about my math.

Weekly Stash Report

Fabric used this week: 0 yards
Fabric used year to date: 6 1/4 yards
Added this week: 40 yards
Added year to date: 443 1/2 yards
Net added for 2015: 437 1/4 yards

Yarn Used this Week: 200 yards
Yarn Used year to Date: 8200 yards
Yarn Added this Week: 0 yards
Yarn Added Year to Date: 9939 yards
Net Added for 2015: 1739 yards

Yarn is coming, enough for eleven new pairs of socks. When it gets here, I'll figure out and add the yardage for that.

This post is linked to Patchwork Times.

Saturday, November 21, 2015

Angry Bears With Empty Bowls

I think these three are from the version of the story where Golilocks gets eaten by the bears.  I found the pattern over at Doe C Doe.

The little kitten, which is only about three inches high, is from my own stash of vintage transfers.

I'm linking up to the Vintage Embroidery Linky Party.

Friday, November 20, 2015

Let's Make Baby Quilts! {11/20/15}

 Let's Make Baby Quilts Linky Party Rules: 
Link directly to your post or specific Flickr photo. Your post can be about a baby quilt that's finished, or in progress, or you can be writing about what you have planned,  as long as it's about baby quilts. You're welcome to link to baby quilt posts that aren't brand new, but please don't submit the same post or picture more than once. I'd love it if you linked back to my site, either with a text link or the Let's Make Baby Quilts! button.

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Creeper Ornament

minecraft creeper ornament tutorial

I've been wanting to make a Minecraft something for my boys and, with Christmas quickly approaching, and ornament seemed like a good idea. It's larger than I like my ornaments to be, but it's as small as I could go and still piece the little squares. They finish at a half inch. 

If you decide to try this, be warned that the pieces are tiny and there are a lot of them. But, unlike the Dutchman's Puzzle ornament, there aren't half square triangles. That makes it sound almost easy!) I tend to singe my fingertips when working with bits this small, which explains why my corners don't match. I sacrificed accuracy to save my fingers. 

Start by cutting 1" squares from solid black and at least two different greens. You'll need twenty black squares and forty-four green squares. I'm sure I'll be doing more stuff with pixels, so I just cut a bunch.

Piece your squares into sixteen itty-bitty four patch units as shown. The black squares are important.  My resident game programmer tells me that the placement of the greens doesn't matter. A creeper is supposed to look mottled like a bush.

Press your four-patch units and lay them out into a creeper face. It looks huge at this point, but half of that fabric is going to disappear into the seam allowances. This thing has a lot of seams.

Once my face was together, I pressed it flat and layered it with a square of batting and a square of solid green fabric. I squared it up with my rotary cutter and zigzagged around the edges. I didn't want to add the bulk of binding.

This post is linked to Crazy Mom Quilts, Confessions of a Fabric Addict, Link a Finish Friday, Tatertots and Jello,

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Not Quite Fiddly Enough

I'm dragging my feet here. The cuff of the Fly socks, with all of those bobbles, was fiddly and intricate. The heel was a technique I hadn't tried before. The foot is just complicated enough that I can't do it without thinking. Every other round, there's a tiny little two stitch cable. It's pretty, but I keep wondering if it's worth the effort for that itty bitty detail.

The Dead House by Dawn Kurtagich is the story of two sisters sharing a body. Carly is present during the day and Kaitlyn is there after the sun goes down. They communicate by leaving messages for each other's. Carly's therapist insists that Kaitlyn isn't real, that she's a symptom of Carly's dissociative identity disorder. Their story is told through diary entries, psychiatric reports, and the testimony of witnesses. It's intriguing and creepy, but I was pulled in more by the unusual format than the plot.

Pretty Baby by Mary Kubia kept me turning pages until the end.  When Heidi Wood sees a homeless teenager on the train platform with a baby in her arms, she wants to do something, anything, to help their situation. The moment passes too quickly for her to make a decision. When she sees the pair again and gets a second chance, Heidi invites Willow and her daughter into her home. Her husband and daughter are horrified. How can it be safe to trust a complete stranger?

This post is linked to Yarn Along, Frontier Dreams, and Patchwork Times. The books are from the library.

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Thrift Shop Temptations - Vintage Board Games

Last week, I browsed through the games at Value Village. I didn't find the game that I was hoping for, but there was an entire shelf of 3M Bookshelf games from the mid-60s. I'd think that someone passed away or finally cleared off their shelves, but there were quite a few duplicates.

The art on front these boxes is just amazing. And look at the backs... They are definitely selling an experience here. The spines of the boxes are designed to look like books. Although they really don't. They look like a box that's trying hard to look like a book.

After reading an online review of High Bid, I'm kind of wishing I'd bought that one. Luftwaffe: The Game of Aerial Combat Over Germany found its way home with one of my teenagers. According to the online review of that one, it takes 240 minutes to play a single game.

Foil would either be a lot of fun or completely frustrating. The box art didn't appeal to me at all, but the actual game sounds like something Teenage Daughter and I might enjoy.

I'll be back next week to see if these have been marked down. The store has a new deal going where all items with the specified color on the tag are $2 each. I found some very nice jeans for the boys. Next week, I'm hoping to find some warm sweaters for myself, since this week I used up all of my time taking pictures of games and didn't get a chance to look.

Monday, November 16, 2015

Playing and Experimenting

Instead of piecing new lozenges, I'm playing around a bit with what I've already got. 

Neither of these ideas has quite the visual impact I was hoping for, but if I ever make a second or third lozenge quilt, it would be fun to make them different from the first. I love fraternal twin quilts.

And I've decided that laying blocks out on the hardwood floor is much more fun than laying them out on carpet. It's easy to slide sections over and move them around. Too bad the house only has one room with exposed wood!

It's almost tempting to pull back a corner of the sewing room carpet to see if the floor in there is the same wonderful old barn boards as the space in front of it. (But don't worry, I can think of lots of reasons not to rip up decent carpet. For the moment at least!)

Sunday, November 15, 2015

My Favorite Quilts

Whims and Fancies is hosting a Trunk Full of Quilts blog hop. I'm a bit late to the party, but I couldn't resist showing off some of the quilts that I'm still swooning over, even years after making them...

Nancy's Mysterious Quilt is still my favorite. I've got a tote that I made from the extra fabric and carry it just about every time I leave the house to run errands.

The twin log cabin quilts came to be because I was helping a friend follow the Quilt in a Day log cabin pattern over the phone. She had the book, I had the book, and after looking at the instructions and explaining them to her so many times, I decided I might as well make my own. Except I was going to use 1 1/2" strips and as many different lights and darks as I could find in my stash. On December 7th, I decided that I wanted to make my grandmother a log cabin quilt for Christmas and that I wasn't going to give up my own. I managed to finish both tops and get hers quilted by Christmas Eve. My own top got quilted a couple of years later.

I had so much fun with those log cabin blocks that I made a Courthouse Steps quilt, which got revamped later as Moab or Sedona?

My husband had to work on my 38th birthday, so I pulled out a white sheet, cut a bunch of dark blue scraps and started making myself a quilt. Including the batting, thread, and thrift store sheet I used as backing, I made the whole quilt for less than thirty bucks. Which makes me happy. I know that I can keep quilting even when money is tight.

For Grandma's Donuts, I followed a pattern from an old magazine and made a cereal box template to cut the wedges.

Leif's Snails, which I finished back in 2009. This is one of those rare quilts that I bought brand new coordinating fabric for. Looking at it now, I think it looks hard... but at the time I plunged into the project without even thinking about it. How does that even begin to make sense?

Most of my quilts are scrappy - the more fabrics the better.

For this postage stamp quilt, I cut 2 1/2 squares of every drab and brown fabric in my stash.

For Cheddar Bow Ties I used every fun little print I could find in my scrap bags.

A few years back I realized that I was making more quilts than me and mine could ever use, so I started making baby quilts for a couple of local organizations. It's been the perfect solution. I can play with just about any color combination or pattern that catches my fancy and, if I really truly love it, I can always make a bigger quilt later for myself.

I've got new favorites, but they're not finished yet. The Nail Polish Quilt and my challenging scrap quilts would all be here if  they were finished.

Online Quilt Trunk Show | Whims And Fancies

Weekly Stash Report

The Big Yarn Sale at Knit Picks starts on Monday morning.  The waiting is killing me even though I've got a stack of pretty library books to keep myself busy with. Maybe I should do a whole bunch of extra housework so that when pretty new yarn gets her I'll have lots of time to play with it....

It sounds like a good plan, but there are SO many reasons why that wouldn't actually work. Clean laundry doesn't stay clean, floors don't stay vacuumed, and this is going to be a ridiculously busy month.

Weekly Stash Report

Fabric used this week: 0 yards
Fabric used year to date: 6 1/4 yards
Added this week:  0 yards
Added year  to date: 403 1/2 yards
Net added for 2015: 397 3/4 yards

Yarn Used this Week: 0  yards
Yarn Used year to Date: 8000 yards
Yarn Added this Week: 0 yards
Yarn Added Year to Date: 9939 yards
Net Added for 2015: 1939 yards

This post is linked to Patchwork Times.

Saturday, November 14, 2015

{Let's Knit a Pair of Socks} The Leg

We left off the last step after working all of the stitches of the short row heel. At this point, we'll stop working back and forth and work around the cuff of the sock.  The yarn should be between Needle #1 and Needle #2. With the tip of needle #2, pick up a stitch from between the two needles. Using your empty needle, knit that stitch together with the first stitch from needle #2. (This prevents a hole where the heel rejoins with the rest of the sock.) Knit all of the stitches on Needle #2, then use the tip of Needle #3 to pick up a stitch from between the needles and knit it together with the first stitch on the needle. Complete the round.

I tend to knit three rounds in stockinette before I start the ribbing. For all of my plain socks, I use k2p2 ribbing, but you could also use k1p1, or any other simple rib pattern. For this pair, avoid cables or a lot of yarn overs because they may make your cuff stretchier or tighter than you need. (With some practice and research, you can learn how to increase or decrease stitches or change needle size to make it work.) Knit in your choice of ribbing until your cuff is as long as you want it. I've been knitting six inch cuffs because that was the criteria for Judy's Pooling Sock Challenge a couple of years ago and I can measure my progress against my six inch knitting needles.  Somewhere, I read that the cuff should be the same length as the foot.

Don't just bind off when your cuff is long enough. For toe up socks, you absolutely need a stretchy bind off. Trust me -- I learned that the hard way! If your bind off is too tight, you won't be able to get your socks on over your heel.

For years, I solved the problem by holding two needles together while binding off. That made the stitches larger. That works, but more recently I've learned to do a real stretchy bind off that I like much better: Knit two stitches, then use the tip of the left needle to knit those two stitches together. Knit the next stitch, then use the tip of the left needle to knit it together with the stitch that's still on your right hand needle.  When I first started using this bind off, I'd knit the knits and purl the purls, but these days I just knit all of the stitches. It's quicker and I can't notice much of a difference.

Weave in the ends, using the length of yarn at the toe to sew up that little opening.

I'd say that you're done, except you've got that second sock to knit.

Have I convinced you to give sock knitting a try? I know that at least one reader found other techniques that she likes better than mine and I think that's wonderful. For me, finally figuring out how to knit socks opened up so many possibilities... which might be why I've got 351 sock patterns in my Ravelry queue.

Friday, November 13, 2015

Let's Make Baby Quilts! {11/13/15}

 Let's Make Baby Quilts Linky Party Rules: 
Link directly to your post or specific Flickr photo. Your post can be about a baby quilt that's finished, or in progress, or you can be writing about what you have planned,  as long as it's about baby quilts. You're welcome to link to baby quilt posts that aren't brand new, but please don't submit the same post or picture more than once. I'd love it if you linked back to my site, either with a text link or the Let's Make Baby Quilts! button.

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Clothes Pins

I found this pattern over at Q is for Quilter and I don't think it's cute, but it wouldn't leave my head. The anthropomorphic dishes are just so weird and angry looking.

I scorched the fabric a just a bit with my iron, but it's not nearly as bad as what I did to the cookie jar transfer. I decided that it adds to the "fake vintage" look I'm going for. In real life, it's not as obvious as it is in the picture.

This post is linked to the Vintage Embroidery linky party.

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

The Latest Tangle

I've got a happy jumble of stuff on my knitting needles. There's the second sock of the pair I've been using for the Let's Knit a Pair of Socks pictures and the Fly sock. I want to cast on another pair, but the needles I have free are too dark for me to see the yarn against them. The pair I'm mad at is still in time out. but if I cast on the second sock and actually finish it this time, I'll have a light colored set of needles to use...or I could ransack my old project bags. I know I own more size 2 needles than I'm using right now.  

There's a new book in Linda Joffe Hull's Mrs. Frugalicious series, Sweetheart Deal. This time Maddie and her family are in Mexico to film an episode of The Family Frugalicious, their new reality show. After Maddie balks at signing a time share agreement because she knows that her viewers aren't going to get the same wonderful deal that she's being offered and wants to do her own research into the company, the sales manager's body is found floating in one of the resort's pools. With the producers of her show urging her to investigate the death, Maddie starts to wonder how far the people around her would go to build ratings and if her almost-ex husband, who she's pretending to be in love with for the sake of the show, knows more about what's going on than she does.  I love that the author has created a completely different type of murder and motive for each of the three books. She's really captured the stress of time share sales in this one. (We own a hand-me-down time share and every time we use it, they try to sell us something new. I don't want to know how pushy they'd be if we weren't already owners.)

If I had to pick only a handful of things I could read about, haunted houses would be near the top of the list. I love reading about spooky old places with hidden secrets. If that's in the description I'm going to pick up the book and read it, which is how I wound up with Hargrove House by Allie Harrison. Torrie Reynolds, who entered the abandoned Hargrove house on a dare and quickly fled in terror, is hired years later to refurbish the old place. It's just too perfect -- her handsome new employer, the way that everything on the project goes so easily, the way she can step into each of the bedrooms and immediately know what paint colors and furnishings she needs to order. Everything except for the digging sounds coming from the cellar... I didn't find this book at all spooky. It had more of a traditional gothic feel to it, with Torrie falling for her employer and avoiding the forbidden locked rooms.

This post is linked to Yarn Along and Patchwork Times. The publishers provided me with ARCs.


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