Sunday, September 24, 2017

Pumpkin Patch Tip -- Go Early!

Our middle son's birthday is in late October and every year we celebrate by going to the pumpkin patch. It's usually not on his actual birthday, because the fun activities are only open on Saturday and Sunday. And we usually wind up going the last possible weekend.  Thanks to a news segment I saw Friday night, we tried something different this year.

We went on the first weekend they were open for the season. Guys, it was amazing!  There was no mud. (Last year I borrowed my daughter's car because I was so worried about the minivan getting stuck in their soupy parking lot.) It was warm, even when I wasn't running around chasing the boys. It wasn't raining. (Because it wasn't the last possible day, if there had been rain in the forecast we would've waited until next weekend.) There were hardly any people at all compared to the usual late October crowds.


This is going to be the plan for next year, because it was so much more fun and less stressful. The boys got to do every activity they wanted to do, over and over and over. I think they spent a couple of hours just jumping on the big inflatable pillow thing. (In case you couldn't guess, I brought my knitting and didn't mind sitting and waiting for them.)

I still don't like corn mazes all that much. It's easier when you're not carrying toddlers, and when the kids are old enough to either not dash off or find their way back if they do, but we did an awful lot of wandering and were thrilled just to find the entrance again.


I did make it all the way through the dark maze this year and found the exit instead of giving up, which is what we've being doing for the past three years. And I did it all by myself since the boys abandoned me in there.  

Now I really, really need a nap. 

Saturday, September 23, 2017

Never Not Knitting

Get a little too obsessed with the sock knitting and pretty soon there's nothing new to write blog posts about. I spent a couple of hours knitting ribbing last night -- isn't that exciting? 

But look at this -- 


I put together this sampler on August 13. That means I've knit five and a half pairs of socks in forty-one days. And only one and a half of those pairs were plain stockinette.

No wonder there's nothing else to show you right now!

Friday, September 22, 2017

Let's Make Baby Quilts! {9/22/17}


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!






Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Paperbacks from Hell


I don't know exactly who the target audience for Paperbacks from Hell by Grady Hendrix is, but I'm definitely part of it. When I was a teenager I worked part time at a used bookstore and wound up meeting my husband there. I also read a lot of horror novels.

The books that Paperbacks from Hell talks about are the same books I was shelving and reading back then. I think I probably owned about half of the books mentioned and read quite a few of them. This book brought back all sorts of memories of the books I enjoyed and couple that scarred me for life.

I can tell you exactly where I bought Death Tour, in a little used book shop next to a consignment store that my mom was taking clothes to. I spent that night at Grandma's house, terrified by what I'd just read. I found the book again years later and reread it. As an adult, it wasn't nearly as scary as I remembered and I think that's what finally got it out of my head.

I can also tell you exactly where I saw a copy of The Mall, at a different used bookstore in  town. I don't know if I bought it, or if I ever actually read it, but that cover haunted me like you wouldn't believe. (Especially looking at it now, since it's not scary.)

Paperbacks from Hell was a fun walk down memory lane and I wound up calling my mother more than once to see if she still happened to have a specific title. I also wound up bringing home a huge stack of cheap books from the humane society's thrift shop. Paperbacks were three for a dollar and I grabbed up everything I could remember seeing mentioned. Sadly, there weren't any of those great Zebra covers with the skeletons.

Disclosure -- The publisher provided me with a review copy. All opinions are my own.  

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Charlie McGee

I won!


After I explained to my son how yarn chicken works, he wanted to know if there's a prize for winning. Absolutely -- you get a pair of socks that doesn't have an inappropriate contrast color at the top of one cuff. And a huge sense of relief.

I went into this project fairly sure that I'd be playing yarn chicken by the end, but the colors of the yarn were perfect for the pattern, which called for 350 yards. Hawthorne comes in 357 yard skeins, so I knew I'd be cutting it close but was willing to take the risk. Just before finishing the first sock, I glanced at the yarn requirements again. The large size calls for 375 yards. Oops.

For my non-knitting blog readers, yarn requirements aren't the same as fabric requirements. You know exactly how many 2 1/2" strips or squares you can get out of a yard of fabric. With knitting, it's not that exact. Slight differences in gauge will use up more or less yarn. A skein may have a few more or less yarns than the label says it does. Having big feet doesn't help either.

Knowing all of that, I gambled and I won and I'm happy. I could have left off one repeat of the lace patterns but this is for a knitalong and  I'm pretty sure that would (or should) have disqualified me. My half inch of ribbing along the top edge is definitely a scant half inch, but I finished the pattern as written. And did I mention that I managed it in five days?


These socks were fun.

The pattern is Charlie McGee, inspired by Firestarter. I've seen the movie once or twice, but I really loved the book, which I read shortly after it came out. Another family member had checked it out from the library and I could only read it when she wasn't reading, which stretched out the suspense like you wouldn't believe. We were out on the boat, so it was probably only a couple of days from start to finish, but I was so hooked by the story that it was torture to only be able to read it in chunks.

Monday, September 18, 2017

While I'm Avoiding the Heel on That Other Pair of Socks...

On Wednesday that I was hiding from a new heel technique. It looks like the procrastination is making me more productive. I finished the Great Lakes socks late Wednesday night and immediately cast on the Mesa Socks.


Then on Thursday I cast on Charlie McGee, another pair for the Super Sock Scarefest. This pattern is all techniques I know how to do and I love the yarn and it's really hard to put these down once I pick them up to knit a few rows....

The next pattern comes out in a few days. Maybe it'll give me something else to work on while I avoid that heel.

Sunday, September 17, 2017

It is Officially Late Enough to Start Talking About Halloween!

Do you make things for Halloween? I've got a few tutorials here on the blog -- Halloween Parlor Quilt Haunted House PotholderPotion Bottle Mug RugPumpkin Carving Wall Quilt


This is actually an updated post from a couple of years ago because the list of projects I want to make hasn't dwindled much since I first wrote it. So I'm jarring my own memory and sharing the list with anyone who didn't see it back in 2015. I've also added some things.

Because this is a quilt blog, I'll start out with the ghost mug rugThis spiderweb quilt is actually shaped like a spiderweb. The Three Witches is a wall quilt that combines piecing and embroidery.  These lace doily spiderwebs in embroidery hoops are delicate and airy.

My machine still won't let me do any free motion quilting, so the Graveyard Quilting (no tutorial for that one, but it's amazing and worth a peek) and the Spooky Spider quilting tutorial are off the list for this year.

I'm really liking this full size mummy, and there's probably room in the attic to store one for the eleven months a year that aren't October, but the idea of being that wrapped up in duct tape scares me  These little mummies were more my speed and I wound up making one.

I think we've got everything we'd need to make these DIY bloody hand print clings, except for maybe the nerve. Little child size hands would be super creepy -- and the food coloring will wash off after a while. It's what they get their hands on in the process that worries me.

These altered books with their dimensional covers would be a big hit -- especially if we made them on blank books for the boys to use for writing in. These printable paper covers are clever and would be less bulky to store.

I've been wanting to make some potion and poison bottles. I should still have the send for the Dust of the Dead tutorial.  These are filled with all kinds of neat stuff.   My oldest son needs a thing in a jar. Or maybe a a man eating plant.

We'll see what actually happens between now and Halloween night.

Saturday, September 16, 2017

How do You Make Your Coffee?



The folks at Ultimate Kitchen sent me a French press coffee maker.


We have a traditional electric coffee maker, but I'm not a fan of the thing. It takes up counter space and is hard to keep clean and, since we don't use it on a regular basis, I think I spend more time cleaning the thing than actually using it. Compared to that, the French press is so much easier! My husband has one he keeps in his locker at work. Our oldest son got one for Christmas. And now we've got one in the kitchen that everyone can use.

I'm not a big coffee drinker. Until our Hawaii trip earlier this summer, I wouldn't have described myself as a coffee drinker at all, but the coffee plantation tour ended with samples of all of their flavored coffees. I didn't know it came in banana nut.  That could motivate me to learn how to make my own coffee.

For now, Teenage Son is the one who makes most of the coffee at our house, so he helped me put together a quick video showing how the French press works.




How do you brew your coffee?


Friday, September 15, 2017

Let's Make Baby Quilts! {9/15/17}


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, September 14, 2017

Great Lakes Socks


At least I think they're Great Lakes. I still stink at hanging onto the label until the project is done. Whichever recently discontinued color it is, the yarn is Knitpicks Stroll.

Nothing exciting here, just pretty yarn that kept my fingers moving while I hid from the  pair of socks that I should be working on right now.


More Than Halfway....

The more I get stitched, the happier I am with this little project. 


Wednesday, September 13, 2017

{Books and Yarn} I Got Scared

I love the idea of socks inspired by scary movies. So far I've made my way through Suspiria, The Cure For Wellness, The Bye Bye Man, and Cujo. The movies haven't scared me at all. It's the boomerang heel with German short rows that's kept me from picking up my Dance Academy socks since last week's post. 


The whole thing sounds way too intimidating. I avoided the project for days before watching the instructional video. Part of it makes sense, but the idea of matching up the right techniques from the video with the written pattern sent me running for the safety of an easier project.

If I make it through the heel, I'm sure I can do the leg. Or I could cast on the next Scary Sock which looks like it's all techniques I know already, and is perfect for a skein of Knitpicks Hawthorne I've got in my little train case, and is inspired by a movie I liked better than Suspiria anyway.




Cat Got Your Secrets by Julie Chase

I really enjoyed the first book in this series, but after the first chapter or two or Cat Got Your Secrets I actually had to double check and make sure I was reading the series I thought I was reading. The elements I loved so much in the first book didn't kick in until a few pages later (probably because Lacy's father had just been accused of murder and she wasn't doing the stuff she usually does.) Once the plot picked up speed, I was hooked. Although I'm not much of a pet person and definitely into real life pet cotoure, Lacy's wacky clientele is lots of fun to read about.



The Girl Who Came Back by Kerry Wilkinson

My only issue with The Girl Who Came Back was that the cover copy led me to believe I'd be reading about Olivia's mother. Instead, the story is told entirely from Olivia's point of view and there's almost nothing about her disappearance, just a few glimpses into her young adult years. I did enjoy reading a book that had one person telling the story instead of hopping from person to person every other chapter. The question isn't really whether or not Olivia is who she claims to be, it's what she's going to do about her mother's new husband and his brother, who are definitely not glad to see her return home.

Disclosure -- I was provided with an advance review copies by the publishers. All opinions are my own.

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

What do you Need?

For any activity, there's a list of things you need to get started. Have you looked at the front of one of your knitting or quilting books lately? There's a whole list of things you supposedly can't do without. And I'm guessing that there are at least a few items on that list you either don't own or don't use.

Last fall, I kept stumbling across lists of the things you absolutely must have if you're going to homeschool your children, many of them written by mothers who'd been homeschooling for two whole weeks. I'm glad those moms were enthusiastic. I'm glad it was working well for them.

But the list of things you can't homeschool without is a very short one and it really doesn't include a dry erase board, a laminator, or an electric pencil sharpener. I've also done it for many years without a CD player or a printer hooked up to the computer. (That last one was kind of an accident.)

Depending on whether preschool counts or not, I've either been homeschooling for eighteen years or fourteen. However you add it up, it's been a long time.  I've had the dry erase board and the laminator and the electric pencil sharpener.... and I didn't use any of them.


So what do you absolutely need?  Most of it is stuff you already have if you're living in a household with kids.

More than anything else, it helps to have a sense of curiosity and the ability to be flexible. We spend a good portion of our days chasing rabbit trails, like the afternoon we spent four hours watching a fifty-eight minute video about the history of stained glass.  I do wish I'd switched to a smart phone sooner. Now we can look up things while we're out and about. Like the proper way to remove a leech from your mother's arm...

You need something to write on and something to write with. My current favorite pens for the kids are still those multi-pack of  Paper Mate InkJoy pens I can get for a couple of bucks at Walmart. For my own use, it's the Paper Mate Flair felt tips pens I use in my planner.  Crayons, highlighters, pencils, colored pencils, mechanical pencils... those are all optional.You probably already know which pens or pencils you like best. Use those!

We also like having a fast internet connection and a computer and access to a good library. There's plenty of other stuff that's great to have, but there's really no list of things you can't do without.

If you actually laminate things, go for it. (But I'm guessing you'd already have a laminator in the house anyway.) And I hear that dry erase boards are really good for practicing free motion quilting designs. Mine had an....unfortunate accident several years ago, so I wouldn't know.

This post is linked up to Tots and Me, Rock Your Homeschool, Faithful Homestead, Motivational Monday, Mommy Monday, Totally Terrific Tuesday

Monday, September 11, 2017

You Can See the Trees Again! (And Almost See the Mountains)


After weeks of complaining that the real life sky was the wrong color, I went out and bought a painting with a similarly colored sky. That makes sense, right? As a painting, I love the way this looks. Because it's a painting and maybe, in the world where the artist lives, it's just a normal run of the mill sunset and there isn't anything ominous going on in the distance.

I also love the way that the colors go with my couch.

On Saturday I drove up to the quilting group in Salem and for the first time in weeks I could see the trees at the far end of the fields, and the hills beyond that, and sort of make out the outlines of distant mountains. The sky is blue again...or a normal shade of overcast.


The carpet at the church provides lots of space for lying things out, but it's an awful color to photograph quilt blocks against.

I either need three more blocks...or eight more blocks. I'm still deciding whether this quilt wants to be 48x60 or 60x60.

Sunday, September 10, 2017

And Even More Cross Stitch Kits...

Last week, I went out with my daughter for lunch and some thrift store shopping. I wandered over to the craft section to see if there was anything intriguing and old enough to take some pictures of. Maybe, if I was extra lucky, there might be an old needlework kit. It's rare that they have a kit at all and if they do, it's probably going to be a goose with a big country blue or dusty pink bow...


Maybe I've been wrong  there are always lots of kits and they're mixed in with the dated quilt and plastic canvas patterns like these were. I found one...and then another... and by the time I'd gone through the whole shelf I had a pile of twenty-one unopened counted cross stitch kits.

Seriously, what happened here? The tags were yellow, which made them 25% off...so  the kits must've been sitting on the shelf for at least a little while.

By the time my daughter had made it through all of the clothing racks, I was still trying to use restraint and figure out what to do about this. Whoever the mystery stitcher was, we share the same taste....even more than the stitcher whose estate sale I found back in July. In the end, I decided that for two dollars and twenty five cents a kit it wasn't worth fussing too much. I put back five kits that definitely weren't my style and the rest came home to live with me.


This one was a total gamble. It looked like a complete kit and I could see trees. Landscapes make my heart go pitty-pat and a corner with trees in it seemed promising. As soon as we got home I looked up the name on the chart. I really, really, need to stitch this.


Then there's this little cutie. Our mystery stitcher had carefully opened the top of the package and added a piece of blue linen, then taped it so neatly that if it wasn't for the second piece of fabric I'd have sworn it was unopened. Now the question is whether to use the original aida or the linen. I know the linen will look better, but the aida will be easier on my eyes.


This one isn't a kit. I might've been affected by the floss and fabric fumes and not realized that it (and the one next to it in the big picture) is just a pattern with the fabric included, but not the floss. I still love the image, and the fabric alone is worth more than I paid.


 If you're going to tell me that this is ridiculous, I already know. And I don't think that I care.

Saturday, September 09, 2017

A Stash of One's Own


I thought I'd enjoy reading A Stash of One's Own. I had no clue how much I'd wind up loving this book. The subtitle is Knitters on Loving, Living with, and Letting Go of Yarn and that sums it up perfectly.

There are contributors who talk about shedding their entire stash like a snake shedding its skin. Some come closer to my own strategy of keeping it all because you never know what might happen. A couple claim that they have no stash, but I think that's more about how they define the word than actually living in a house without any extra yarn in it. And there's one unmarried woman who weighs in about hiding yarn from your husband. That one struck a nerve, because I really don't think she knows what she's talking about. There's a difference between hiding overspending and not sharing a new skein of sparkly pink sock yarn with someone who you know doesn't share your enthusiasm.

If you're thinking about your own relationship with your stash, this is a great read. Maybe even if that stash is fabric or polymer clay or embroidery floss. The ideas here are more about what you  have and why you have it than the specific materials.

Disclosure -- I was provided with an advance review copy by the publishers. All opinions are my own.

Friday, September 08, 2017

Let's Make Baby Quilts! {9/8/17}



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, September 07, 2017

I Should've Done That Weeks Ago...


The pre-finished banner was an odd shape so I just held the loose fabric for the Halloween cat while I was stitching it. Then I started the lighthouse scene and didn't have Q-snaps in that size so I wound up holding the fabric again. It had worked just fine for the cat, so why not?

Mostly because the closer I get to the middle, the more and more time I spend rolling and adjusting the fabric and finding my place again. This week I was up in the sewing room looking for that second box of cross stitch kits that may or may not actually exist and spotted a set of snaps that's only a little too big.

Tear some strips off of an old sheet, sew them along the edges of the aidia with the machine's longest stitch so it'll be easy to remove and reuse later, and make the project fit the snaps instead of buying a frame to pick the project.

This is suddenly much easier.

Wednesday, September 06, 2017

This is Very, Very Pink

The inspiration for the current Super Scary Sock is Suspiria. After watching the movie for the first time, the only reaction I have is "Wow, that's sooooo much pink!"  And I don't think blood is that color. Pink nail polish is that color. 


The movie didn't impress me much, but I'm having fun knitting the socks. What looked like an impossible lot of purl stitching wasn't bad once I got going. And my clearance yarn is an appropriate shade of pink. I didn't have a plan for it, so this is perfect.

Tuesday, September 05, 2017

{Dusting Off the UFOs} Celebration

I've got a few more blocks than this, but those are all dark so they won't show what the quilt will actually look like. 


I don't know why I put this one aside from so long, except for the fact that cutting and piecing the blocks is pretty fiddly (especially if you're the kind of madwoman who wants a different fabric for every single block...a decision that I'm reconsidering as I type this)  The blocks aren't hard, they just take more time than little postage stamp squares or bow ties or spools.

The pattern is Celebration, from the April 2004 issue of Quilter's Newsletter. It looks like I started it back in 2009 and I couldn't tell you when the last time I worked on it was.


While I was going through the dining room and boxing everything up so that the refrigerator could pass through on its way to the kitchen, I kept finding fabric that would be perfect for this project. I should start cutting some of that, shouldn't I?

Monday, September 04, 2017

All the Rest of the Cross Stitch Kits!

I've been looking at cross-stitch pictures on Instagram and Pinterest, wondering what might come after the lighthouse I'm working on now.  I know that it should be one of the other kits I bought at that estate sale, or one of the other kits I've accumulated over the past couple of years, but it doesn't hurt to look and daydream a bit.

Then I saw the paper doll. She's soooo pretty...


I was almost convinced that I had the same unopened kit up in the sewing room with all of my other old cross-stitching supplies,  but when I went up there and dug around, I couldn't find the box of kits at all.

There was no reason to panic. I'm the only one who goes up there and I know I had my hands on it last year when I was trying to get things organized. It wasn't where I remembered leaving it, but it had to be in the room. A couple of fruitless searches later, I found the box and the two kits I really wanted to find were inside, along with a whole bunch of others, some that I'd swear I've never laid eyes on before. Happily, my taste hasn't changed much over the past fifteen years or so and most of the kits are ones I'd pick out today.


When I first got hooked on cross-stitching, a big local craft store was going out of business and had everything on clearance for something like 80% off. My memories are a little off, because the place was across the street from an apartment we lived in, but it was after my oldest son was born...so we have to have lived in our first house by then....

I do remember making quite a few trips to the craft store and figuring out how much I could afford. They'd add up the full price for everything and then take the discount, so  I had to put things back once or twice even as the ladies commented on what a great deal it was. Great deals are only great if you have enough cash in your purse on that particular day. (Times have changed and I don't have to count my pennies nearly as closely. I've also got a phone with a calculator on it!)

I know I have at least three more kits that aren't here in the box. Two I remember pulling out and putting in project bags.... but I'm thinking there were a whole bunch of those Marty Bell houses. Which means there might be another box of kits.... There's definitely a box of projects that I'd kitted up with fabric or floss, so I'm looking forward to the chance to go up and dig some more.

And this is why I'm so cautious about de-cluttering craft supplies. Ten years ago, I was sure I was done with cross-stitching. I don't know if this current love for it will stick, but I'm sure glad I kept all of my floss and fabric and kits!

My next project won't be the paper doll because my eyes definitely aren't up to the 28 count evenweave. But I'm happy to have found her.

Sunday, September 03, 2017

Lazy Little Roses

It seems like every time I bind off a new pair of socks,  they become my favorite. I'm not going to apologize for that because it means I've got a bunch of socks that I absolutely love and that is definitely not a bad thing! 

These are my Lazy Little Roses...

 Pattern: Lazy Lace Socks, modified and combined with  Little Roses 
Yarn: Knitpicks Hawthorne, Belmont 

The plan was to cast on a pair of socks and work on them until the first Super Scary Sock pattern was released on September 1. I wanted something easy, something that I wouldn't abandon forever if I got caught up in Scary Socks (which is the goal), but not something so easy that I'd hate working on it if I didn't like the first Scary Sock pattern and had to wait another ten days. I wanted to knit it from something in my DIY sampler that didn't seem appropriate for horror movie inspired socks....

That left me with the Hawthorne Belmont. Little Roses was in my Ravelry queue and looked like a good match for the yarn, but I wasn't sure I wanted to do an allover lace pattern... so I lifted one column of flowers and plugged it into Lazy Lace Socks.

I can't even tell you how much fun these were to knit. I love the color, and the little flowers were way easier than I expected them to be. I'll definitely go back and knit the pattern as written. Or closer to as written. 


Six days of knitting while doing other things. And it wasn't even six full days of knitting while doing other things.

Saturday, September 02, 2017

{Thrift Shop Temptataions} The Cutest Little Sewing Shelf

Look what I found! It's just so perfect that I want to squeal... 


At first I was confused. The notions are real, so it had to be something someone made and not mass produced, but the books threw me. Once I turned it around, I could tell that they'd been cut down to the right size. The little hand crank sewing machine is a pencil sharpener and the needle even goes up and down when you turn it.

Friday, September 01, 2017

Let's Make Baby Quilts {9/1/17}



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.





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