Thursday, May 31, 2012

vintage toys

I've got a few vintage toys that live up in the sewing room. Unlike the ones I kept up there for entertaining my babies on their rare visits, these are mine.

Why did they ever switch from wind up toys to batteries?

The Ferris wheel actually belonged to my younger sister and I'm guessing, since it's older than I am, that it's one of my Mom's thrift store finds. We had some of the coolest old toys! The weighted chiming bird was Alex's, although I don't think she ever actually played with it. But we all know that those infant toys are more for Mommy's entertainment, don't we? Have you saved baby toys for yourself?

This post is linked to Time Travel Thursday & Vintage Thingie Thursday.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

the sewing room stairs

I've been up and down the sewing room stairs at least a dozen times a day since Friday. My legs are tired and wobbly. I can't stand the idea of going up and down those stairs another time.

But I can go up and down that stairs another dozen or so times, which is what this project is going to take. And my knee does not hurt. If you've been reading my blog over the past couple of years, you'll know what a huge big deal that is.

I've had a love/hate relationship with this flight of stairs. There was a stretch where I couldn't go up them at all. Then, at my best, I could manage it once or twice. Which meant if I was working up there and had to pee, I was suddenly done for the day.

I've never showed you my stairs before, have I? (They're even more fun after dark.)

As for why I'm spending my whole week going up and down -- I'm moving everything that doesn't absolutely have to stay in my dining room sewing corner up to the sewing room. Which means that all of the wonderful space I'd cleared out up there is full again, but my dining room is going to look great.

Then it's back to the sewing room clean up.

Monday, May 28, 2012

Rag Doily Rug

Last Sunday, I showed you my new project. Since then, I've stopped ripping old sheets into strips and started actually knitting. The pattern, Rag Doily Rug by Coco Knits, is simple garter lace. Which gets a lot less simple feeling when you're knitting with with 1 1/2" strips of torn fabric on size 17 needles! Honestly, I wouldn't recommend this until you already feel confident knitting lace and reading your stitches.

I do love garter stitch lace and short rows -- they're just plain fun! And I'm adoring the thick, squishy texture that I'm getting. It's a total bonus that I can use up some white sheets that weren't nice enough for quilting with. I'd thought they were going to be foundations for string blocks, this is so much better.

I'm not loving the effect that the project is having on my hands. Two thirds of the way through, and it weighs a ton. I never love knitting with huge needles and don't plan to use them again soon. I'm also stressing over my interchangeable needles. This is the first time I've used this Boye Needlemaster set (which came from an estate sale, so they're an older incarnation) and the ends keep getting loose. I'm tightening them every other row.

Wouldn't this be pretty done with vintage sheets? I've got a few that are pretty colors but kind of worn looking..... To see more design walls, head over to Patchwork Times.

Sunday, May 27, 2012

what to do with some brown calico

After deciding that she wasn't going to use them herself, Grandma gave me a bag of large brown calico squares that someone had given her. I don't have time to do any quilting right now, but if I did, I'd be seeing if I could use them to make something like the Carpenter's Star quilt for Judy's upcoming lessons on quilting feathers. Something like hers, because I'm sure my pieces aren't the right size to do exactly what she did.

It would give me something to learn feathers on....if I can figure out what to back it with...

When you find yourself unable to quilt, does your mind race with plans and ideas and thoughts of what you want to do as soon as you can get back to the sewing machine? Or is that just me?

Weekly Stash Report

Fabric Used this Week: 0 yards
Fabric Used year to Date: 27.75 yards
Added this Week: 4 yards
Added Year to Date: 101.25 yards
Flung --36 yards (96 yards total ytd)
Net Added for 2012: 69.5 yards

Thursday, May 24, 2012

a good end to a bad day

It's been a miserable day. This morning, I had to drive myself to the dentist for part two of the root canal (or part five, depending on how we're counting)... and driving myself meant no Valium. I guess that worked out for the best, since I was paying enough attention to demand that he put in the permanent filling today instead of sending me home with another temporary. Unfortunately my mouth was wedged open and I couldn't say anything until after the temporary filling was in, which meant more drilling.

When that was over, I got out to the parking lot and found out that I'd left the headlights to the van on and the battery was dead.

But as bad as the day was, my mood started to lift when Bill handed me the mail.

I've been watching the post office box for these nifty beaded bookmarks and books that I won in a giveaway over at the Killer Hobbies Blog. Tonight I'm curling up under a warm quilt and losing myself in a good mystery novel. Or two.

Monday, May 21, 2012

design wall Monday - Hocuspocusville

This is turning into one of those projects where I can't keep everything I need in the same place at the same time. I've got the pattern...I've got the floss...I've got the Frixion pen I'm hoping to use...I've got a flashlight so I can use my glass topped table as a lights box...I've found my Q-Snaps...and I've got my fingers crossed that I'll remember where I put the fabric.

I really do want to get started on this while I'm in such a sitting on the couch wasting time mood. Maybe it'll make me more productive. Or not.

To see more design walls, head over to Patchwork Times.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Knitting old rags into lace?

I've been tearing some white estate sale sheets into 1 1/2" strips and joining them into a ball so I can make this --

Knitting old rags into lace? That's right up my alley! And a great way to use up some sheets that aren't quite thick enough or white enough for quilting with.

The strips are joined kind of like a daisy chain, following these instructions. If the knitting is as easy as I expect it to be, this'll be the lengthiest part of the project. The same designer also has a free pattern for a Rag Bath mat.

Weekly Stash Report 5/20/12

Nothing in, nothing out...

Fabric Used this Week: 0 yards
Fabric Used year to Date: 27.75 yards
Added this Week: 0 yards
Added Year to Date: 97.25 yards
Flung --36 yards (96 yards total ytd)
Net Added for 2012: 65.5 yards

Friday, May 18, 2012

Bloggers' Quilt Festival

Amy's Creative Side

The Spring 2012 Bloggers' Quilt Festival is today, and although I've got plenty of other things to get done, I'm drooling. There's a fantastic red and white Red Cross quilt, and a double wedding ring with a grey background... I really need to get some stuff done before I follow any more links.

Go check it out for yourself -- there are curved seams and stars and intricate applique designs. Things I'd never try and things I can't wait to try and things I just want to sit here and stare at.

I'm linking Dashes in the Woods because even though I just shared it with you, it's still my new favorite quilt baby.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

more and more mysteries

I unearthed the bookmark while sorting through cross stitching supplies in the sewing room. I'd completely forgotten this one -- although now that I've got it back in my hand, I can remember buying the pattern and stitching it. I still can't decide whether the woman in the upstairs window is stealing a necklace or preparing to strangle an unsuspecting victim -- what do you think?

Now that I've found it again, I've started actually using it when I'm reading a book with actual pages.

I've already gushed about how much I loved Cut, Crop & Die. That book started me on a mystery reading binge. The Kindle version is still available for free. (If you don't have a Kindle, Amazon offers several free options for reading Kindle titles on your other devices.)

More free mysteries for your Kindle --

Design on a Crime (Deadly Décor Mysteries, Book 1)
Spying in High Heels (High Heels Mysteries)
Trouble in Mudbug (Ghost-in-Law Mystery/Romance Series)
Ms America and the Offing on Oahu (Beauty Queen Mysteries No. 1)
Killer Twist (A Ghostwriter Mystery)
Never Buried (Leigh Koslow Mystery Series)

Note -- All of these titles were listed as free when I wrote this post. The prices on Amazon change quickly, so please double-check the prices before you order them. You can find Amazon's currrent top 100 free mysteries here.

This post is linked to Works for Me Wednesday over at We are THAT Family.

Monday, May 14, 2012

Dashes in the Woods

Little Red Riding Hood has always been one of my favorite fairy tales, even if I was scared half to death by a stuffed doll my great grandmother made me when I was little. I think that doll with its scary teeth and eyes is actually why that story conjures up such vivid images for me.

As soon as I saw A Walk in the Woods with the little girl in the red cape and that cute fox, I wanted to make a quilt with it. I've been dying to show this one off! The pattern is available for free at the Moda Bake Shop.

That enormous tree, the one that's almost as wide as the quilt, is directly behind our house. I can see it from a mile down the highway. Our little farmhouse is almost a century old, and the tree was here long before it was built.

If this is your first visit to my blog, welcome! I'm Michelle and I live in a little old farmhouse in Oregon with my husband and our four children. My teenage daughter sparked the idea for this quilt when she saw a picture with pieces of two baby quilts and thought they were both part of the same project.

I love making scrap quilts and go on frequent baby quilt binges. (Later this year, I'll be inviting you to go on a binge with me, so start collecting bright scraps to cut into 2 1/2" squares!)

Since we had so much fun installing my husband's three new hives of bees a few weeks ago, I've been doing my best to avoid the bugs. Sewing my own finger might've been less dramatic. But now I've got my own suit and, although it's claustrophobic inside the thing, I haven't been stung since.

Honestly, I prefer to leave the bees and chickens and geese for hubby and the kids to play with. I'm happier in the house with my quilting and knitting and cross stitching.

This post is linked to the Wildly Original Roundup over at We Gotta Create.

Amy's Creative Side

design wall Monday

Ever since it occurred to me that I could use my Go! cutter to make crumbs into 1" finished half square triangles, I've been cooking up ideas for itty bitty blocks. This one will finish at 3" square.

I know, I've got two identical prints side by side. That's what happens when you try to make fabric choices with only the light from your sewing machine to go by. But I got the block together without letting any of the kids know that I was awake -- and I'm not ready for the daily stampede quite yet. I'd like to sit in the quiet house and listen to the birds just a bit longer before plunging into my day.

To see more design walls, head over to Patchwork Times. And be sure to check out my latest quilt for the Moda Bake Shop. I've been dying to show it off!

Sunday, May 13, 2012

the secret of the very old ufo

I fell in love with the fabric first. It's got such a great, Mystery of the Moss-Covered Mansion feeling to it. I loved it, but I couldn't justify buying it. Not until I went to the monthly Quilter's Party at Craft Warehouse and fell in love with the Newport Tote pattern. I bought the pattern and headed straight back to Joann's for just enough fabric to make the tote.

And I did start the project almost immediately. I figured out how to free motion quilt on my machine, I remembered lessons from high school home ec about how to work with directional prints, I was doing great.

And then, with only the handle left to finish, my sewing machine broke. I got the machine fixed, but never finished the tote bag. In the seven years since, I've misplaced the bag itself, misplaced the pattern, found the pattern but not the bag, found the bag but not the pattern...

Both the pattern and the bag surfaced during my sewing room clean up, so I decided to finish the bag before I could lose anything else.

If I was starting over today, I'd figure out how to add a zipper. (Not that I'd have even bought a pattern for a bag with a zipper back then.) I'd have chosen a different house for the pocket, because I've changed my mind about which one I like best. And I think the quilting would probably be a bit smoother.

Weekly Stash Report

No fabric used this week, since I'm not counting the fabric from projects that were already mostly finished. I got some scraps from a nice lady on Freecycle and flung another 36 yards. It's the middle of May and more fabric has left the house than has come into it -- can you believe that?

Fabric Used this Week: 0 yards
Fabric Used year to Date: 27.75 yards
Added this Week: 4 yards
Added Year to Date: 97.25 yards
Flung --36 yards (96 yards total ytd)
Net Added for 2012: 65.5 yards

To see more weekly stash reports, click over to Patchwork Times.

Wednesday, May 09, 2012

making progress

I was back in the sewing room after dinner last night, sorting and cleaning until it got too dark to see what I was touching. I'm far from done, but I can't believe how much better it's looking. And how much better it feels!

One of today's projects was the bookshelf under the window. It's part of that awful built-in table and isn't quite the right size for quilting or knitting books. Not long after we moved in Grandma gave me a set of needlework encyclopedias and that's where I put them. I think I forget that just because something's been in the same spot for years, it doesn't have to stay there forever.

I boxed up the set of books and now my favorite quilting and knitting books, the ones that have been piled beside my sewing machine because I don't want anything to happen to them, are safely on the shelf.

I've cleared off the entire surface of that L-shaped table, which is really shaped more like an "f", with the shortest piece lower than the rest. I could understand if it was one flat surface that went back to the corner, but this set up baffles me. I'm sure it was thought up by the same guy who thought beer cans made great roof flashing.

Like the flattened beer cans, it's not going to be a permanent part of the house. I don't know when I'll manage to get rid of it, but it's definitely going.

The lamp, which was here when we moved in, is boxed up and bound for Goodwill. It took up space, needed to be rewired, and I've finally decided to let it go. Should've handed it over to Grandma when she said she could sell it in the antique mall, but just because I missed that opportunity doesn't mean I should keep it, not when I've got other lamps that I actually like.

Tuesday, May 08, 2012

Open the Windows

When I was growing up, the windows were never open. We had air-conditioning, and a programmable thermostat, and we didn't need to open them.

In my house as an adult, we've got the old fashioned kind of thermostat that doesn't make decisions for you. If we're going out for the day, we turn the heat down until we get back home. If it's warm enough, we turn the furnace off completely and open some windows.

I love having the windows open. I can hear the birds, sometimes a frog or two, and the kids playing. If I'm in the sewing room with the window open, I can hear every last "I'm gonna tell Mom if you don't...." drifting up from the yard.

One of these years, we'll have to replace our furnace and we might get a heat pump then, but we'll use it only when it's too hot to move around in the day or sleep at night. Which isn't more than a few weeks a year.

Open windows are a little more work. They mean checking that things are closed and locked up before leaving the house or going to bed for the night. I don't leave windows open when we're sleeping, no matter how hot it's been. Our new house is much safer than our last one (where someone stole the air conditioner out of our bedroom window while I was sleeping in with the babies after hubby had left for work one morning) but that's not something I'm willing to take chances with.

And I don't open upstairs windows if there are children around. Pretty easy around here, since the only upstairs windows are in my sewing room and the attic, where my youngest children don't go.

Opening our windows works for me. To see what works for other bloggers, head over to We are THAT Family.

Monday, May 07, 2012

if this idea is going to work

If I want a whole stockpile of things ready to sew when the weather warms up, I'm going to have to keep cutting fabric faster than I sew the pieces together. This tumbler quilt is going together so quickly, and is so fun to work on, that I might have trouble managing that.

In this picture, the rows are laid out the right way. Isn't it amazing what a difference that makes?

See the sunglight glaring off of the fabric at the top of the picture? I'm not about to complain about the gorgeous weather we had this weekend, even if it does mess up pictures of my WIP!

There's no real plan here, just a bunch of dark scraps and an AccuQuilt die I hadn't used yet. To see more design walls, head over to Patchwork Times.

Did you know that you can get the old Blogger dashboard back?! I found the instructions, which are amazingly simple, over at Quiltsalott. As far as I can tell, it put everything back the way it used to be. Do I even need to tell you how happy that makes me?

Sunday, May 06, 2012

that list of goals I'm no longer keeping...

I need to add a new scissor fob to it, because the one I pulled out with my cross-stitching supplies is looking kinda sad. The fabric grimy, the trim is starting to fall off, and I'm pretty sure this was intended to be seasonal and not stay on my scissors for more than a decade.

I don't remember actually stitching it. The floss for the trim was some white DMC I dyed with RIT dye (wow, I used to be more adventurous!) and the fabric is from one of those grab bags that Silkweavers used to sell. I've got a vague memory of being happy that I'd found a project to use that odd color and thread count for, but not where I found the pattern or how/why I decided to make it.

I've got a vague plan for something happy and summery forming and will post some pictures when/if I manage to make it.

Weekly Stash Report

Fabric Used this Week: 0 yards
Fabric Used year to Date: 27.75 yards
Added this Week: 0 yards
Added Year to Date: 93.25 yards
Net Added for 2012: 65.5 yards

No changes from last week. Nothing much flung, nothing used, and nothing new came into the house. I think I can live with that! To see more weekly stash reports, click over to Patchwork Times.

Friday, May 04, 2012

the best motivation I've had in a while

I haven't been working on the sewing room since the first part of my root canal, because I'm having just a little bit of a pity party here. Since it's the second root canal on the same tooth in just over a year and the tooth may still have to be extracted if this doesn't work... The whole process is making me a bit cranky. And also very grateful that, even if this isn't exactly in the budget, I know we're going to get it taken care of.

During the time that I haven't been cleaning the sewing room, I've been sorting and cutting scraps for a few different projects, getting ready so that I'll have something to sew when the weather warms up and it's too hot to be using the iron in the middle of the afternoon. Or something like that. It could be that I'm in a cutting sort of mood.

Did you see Bonnie's blog post over at Quiltville today?! I knew I was saving up for her upcoming book, but now I don't think I can wait until July. I've been planning a bed size Devil's Claw quilt for a couple of years now....then lost the magazine with the pattern I wanted to use....and now I don't care. THIS is the quilt I've gotta make.

There probably aren't enough red scraps left in my stash (that's what happens when you make quilts -- fabric gets used up, darnit!) I've got lots of green, all in one place, and the brown I was going to use for the original Devil's Claw plan...this is great incentive to get back out to the sewing room and dig through the rest of that fabric.

Thursday, May 03, 2012

the bugs are fighting again

Remember last year's drama in the hive? Well, it's happening again. This time two of the new hives -- including the one I have a grudge against because they made my face swell up like I was wearing alien makeup -- are robbing the third of the new hives.

Hubby went to the hive that was being robbed and sprinkled flour onto the bees leaving the hive while he had me, wearing my new bee suit, crouch down near the entrances of the other hives and watched to see if anyone was coming back with flour on her butt. It works kind of like those dye-packs the banks use...

So now we know who's robbing who, but that doesn't mean we can stop them. All they're stealing is sugar water, and all of the hives have feeders full of the stuff. I swear, they're like little kids.

I'm using my Go! cutter and one of my newer dies to cut scraps into itty bitty triangles, because I've got an idea that's going to take a lot of them. These are the 1" finished half square triangles. I love this die, and see a whole ton of little doll-type quilts in my immediate future.

Wednesday, May 02, 2012

books and books and bookmarks!

The copy of Photo Snap Shot I reserved from the library is in. I've finished reading it on my Kindle already, which I take as a sign that I Really Really Did Need To Buy That Book. As soon as I was done with that, I finished Ink, Red, Dead too, and now I'm debating whether to buy another of the short stories or read one of the 300 or so other books I've got on my Kindle. Or I could get back to cleaning out my sewing room. I really should do that.

The bookmarks are finished. The stitching has been done for a week or so, but I was stressing about finishing them. Finishing isn't one of my favorite things, maybe because it's the last chance to get everything just perfect.

One of the pattern books I'm working from says to glue a piece of felt on the back and fringe the four sides. There's too much stitching here to just glue a piece of felt on the back. I briefly thought of using scrapbooking paper, but let myself get talked out of that idea. And I'm very grateful to the stitchers who encouraged me to do better.

I love the way mine came out. Mine are backed with quilting cotton. The long edges are turned back and machine stitched and the short edges are fringed. I wanted to make a tutorial, but it was night and the light over the table kept reflecting off of my ruler. I've still got two more to finish, and more stitching planned, so I'll try to take better pictures next time around.

The pattern for the bookmark on the left is in Bookmarks Galore and the one on the right is from Hold That Thought. I'm using floss from a bargain pack I bought at Joann's, so my colors don't match the original pattern.

I'm linking this post to Quilting by the River.

Tuesday, May 01, 2012

I want to know what happens!

I stumbled across Ink, Red, Deadwhen I was browsing for free Kindle books. It wasn't free, but the description (a scrapbooking sleuth visits the home of a cat hoarder and finds a corpse in the freezer) intrigued me enough that I ordered the short story and checked the library that afternoon for the first book in the series.

I wound up starting with the second book, Cut, Crop & Die. I don't know exactly what happened in the first book, but there was just enough backstory included for me to plunge in to Kiki Lowenstein's world where, in the first chapter, a woman dies at a crop party after she eats an orange scone poisoned with baby aspirin and the Epi-Pen in her purse turns out to be empty. (Maybe it's because aspirin was off limits to me for most of last year and we've been talking about getting an Epi-Pen now that we've got the bee hives, but that creeped me out.)

In addition to the intriguing murder mystery and fun side plots, there are scrapbooking tips between the chapters. When one of Kiki's classes make scrapbooks out of paper bags, the instructions are included a few pages later. And there's a minor romantic element that has me hooked.

As soon as I finished the book, I wanted to know what happened next. That's where the Kindle comes in. The Kiki Lowenstein mysteries are available in Kindle editions. Which only cost a dollar something less than the paperback, so in most cases I'd buy the physical book.

Did I mention that I really wanted to know what happened next? I didn't want to wait and see if whoever had it checked out from the library returned it on time, or wait for a copy of the paperback to be shipped to me.

Over the years, I've bought hundreds of books that I just had to read and, two decades later, the ones I didn't give away when we moved are still sitting here. At least half of the books I check out from the library for myself get returned unread. Some, I've checked out three or four times and still not even started. (I've also read hundreds more, but those aren't the ones I'm talking about here.)

That's another thing I love about the Kindle. I can add something I think I want to read to my wish list (so I don't forget what it was) and wait to spend the money until I'm actually ready to start reading it.

I'm halfway through my new purchase and loving every page. And hoping the fourth book will be available when we hit the library later this week.
Forget rating books with stars, I liked these books so much I spent the gift certificates I was saving for new dies or Bonnie Hunter's upcoming book -- that's saying something!


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