Tuesday, April 30, 2013

I'm in no hurry here...

I tend to rush through the baby quilts and the projects I'm making for tutorials, because I'm usually anxious to share them with you. When it comes to the scrap quilts that I'm making for myself, though, I'm in no rush. Little trips is a perfect example of that.

The blocks are fiddly -- in case you haven't seen this one before, I'm doing Bonnie's Scrappy Trips Around the World in one and a half inch strips, so the blocks finish at 6" square. It's not hard, but it does require some focus.  My dream version of this quilt would be sixty inches square and only use each fabric once. I've got the scraps to pull that off, but I don't think I've got the organizational skills to keep myself from repeating fabrics, especially since the same prints tend to turn up over and over in scrap bags from different sources.

And then there's the color placement. When I was cutting scraps for the green baby quilt, I cut green strips. What I need will go into this quilt, the rest will go into the bin for my Lego quilt...but now I've got twenty green strips and they're going to have to go into twenty different blocks. So before I do any piecing,  I need to do more cutting.

So that's why this one is sort of a UFO, but not one I feel at all guilty about.

Free Kindle Mysteries

I've been downloading freebies for my Kindle this morning, and thought some of these mysteries might interest you --

It’s just an ordinary day for octogenarian sleuth Myrtle Clover—until her yardman discovers a dead body planted in her backyard. This death isn’t cut and dried—the victim was bashed in the head with one of Myrtle’s garden gnomes.

Myrtle’s friend Miles recognizes the body and identifies him as Charles Clayborne… reluctantly admitting he’s a cousin. Charles wasn’t the sort of relative you bragged about—he was a garden variety sleaze, which is very likely why he ended up murdered. As Myrtle starts digging up dirt to nip the killings in the bud, someone’s focused on scaring her off the case. Myrtle vows to find the murderer…before she’s pushing up daisies, herself.

Elly Blair welcomes the chance to escape her ex-fiance and job from hell when Grandma Imelda, ready to retire to sunny Florida, calls for her to take over her little southern cafe.

Elly has no idea her grandmother has baked up magic for the unsuspecting townsfolk for thirty years–and now Grandma Imelda insists that Elly use her own hitherto unsuspected magical powers to carry on the family tradition.

But Elly’s new at this stuff. Her dishes don’t turn out as full of smidgens of enchantment and dashes of wishes come true as she’d hoped. When handsome customer Rory Covington takes a bite of the wrong burger, he ends up capturing the attention of every woman in town. Elly doesn’t know if her feelings for Rory are true or based on her magic gone awry.

Tom Owenton is an investigator the National Organization for Magic sent to look into the magical mishap. Unless Elly can reverse the spell, the cafe will be closed permanently. Tom is more than willing to help Elly out of this magical pickle, but she’s not sure she should accept his offer.

Elly only has forty-eight hours to find a way to reverse the spell, or she’ll lose the cafe and never discover if her feelings for Rory are real.

Even ‘death do us part’ couldn’t halt her march down the aisle…

Cash-strapped Maui wedding planner Pali Moon can’t believe her luck when a prospective bride flashing a five-carat dazzler pops into her shop, “Let’s Get Maui’d,” to request a glitzy beachside wedding. But then Pali learns the lavish wedding must take place on Valentine’s Day—only nine days away. Oh, and one other little hitch—the groom’s been missing at sea for more than a week. But no worries, the bride assures Pali, with or without the groom the wedding will take place. She’s struck a deal with the groom’s best friend to be the proxy groom, if necessary. Two days before the nuptials, a male corpse floats ashore on a South Maui beach. Looks like the groom’s finally shown up. So now what’s it gonna be—a wedding…or a funeral?

“On this nice July morning in Parkland, North Carolina, the office of Madeline Maclin Investigations might as well have been an Egyptian tomb: hot, dusty, and dead.” It doesn’t help that her landlord Reid Kent, does a brisk business…and briskly hits on Mac to rejoin his agency. He maintains no one will hire a former Miss Parkland as a serious PI.

Mac has been friends forever with Jerry Fairweather. Jerry claims to be psychic and is, unlike his two brothers, somewhat screwy. And he refuses to claim a share in the Fairweather fortune. But he shares some good news with Mac—his Uncle Val has died and left him a house. The two friends drive out to Celosia, a half hour away, where they discover a local beauty pageant in trouble and a house just perfect for setting up shop. A Psychic Shop. The arrival of lawyer Olivia, Jerry’s shark-like girlfriend, rouses both Mac’s interest in the mystery at the pageant and the one in her own heart.

And then comes the first murder….

All of the descriptions are from the Amazon website. I haven't had a chance to read any of these myself yet, but I don't know how long they'll be free, so I'm telling you about them before they're back to full price. If you get a chance to read the before I do, let me know what you think!

Monday, April 29, 2013

playing with low volume pinks

I've been carrying the idea for this baby quilt around in my head  for the past few weeks. I had already cut my pink fabric into 2 1/2" strips when I decided that, if I don't want this to turn into a big girl sized quilt, I really needed to work with 2" squares instead.

So Thursday night I cut new strips. Not a big deal at all, but I've been carefully pulling together and hoarding all of my pinks to make myself Zuckerwatte! from Bonnie's latest book and it was hard to talk myself into parting with enough to make this quilt.  I can always cut the wider strips in half and make them into strips.

Anyone got some good tips for photographing low volume quilts so that the pretty piecing will show up better?
To see more design walls, head over to Patchwork Times.

Sunday, April 28, 2013


Here's the weekly pile of socks. There are four pairs now, one finished and three more in progress but they're all getting farther along each week. This system is working well for me -- I've got a pair in my purse, one next to the computer, and another by the couch. Depending on what else is going on in the room at the time, I can pick up the best pair of socks.

A stockinette foot takes less concentration than ribbing, and both of those take less attention than turning a heel or starting a toe. And the stretchy cotton sock yarn on 7" size 0 bamboo needles? Those are done and the needles have been retired. Maybe I'll use them for a doily someday, but I'm not doing more socks with them.

I've got bits of this week's baby quilt spread out around my sewing machine and socks in my purse. Life is good! :-)

Weekly Stash Report

Fabric Used this Week: 2 1/4 yards
Fabric Used year to Date: 35 1/4 yards
Added this Week: 0 yards
Added Year to Date: 87 1/4 yards
Net Added for 2012: 52 yards

Yarn Used this Week: 400 yards
Yarn Used year to Date: 750 yards
Yarn Added this Week: 0 yards
Yarn Added Year to Date: 7100 yards
Net Added for 2013: 6350 yards

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

Saturday, April 27, 2013

pooling sock yarn challenge - the dancing pair

It seemed so easy. Cast on a pair of socks with some of that yarn that I'd buried in my stash because I just knew it was going to pool and finish 'em for Judy's pooling sock yarn challenge.

And the first pair was easy. The first sock didn't pool at all in the foot, but by the time I got to the ribbing, it was doing the striping within the pools thing that made me hide the yarn away in the first place.  I knit the second pair from the outside of the skein, and the foot pooled.

The yarn is Knitpicks Dancing, a sproingy blend of cotton, wool, nylon, and other. I love the feel of this yarn and stashed every color before they discontinued it. Sock yarn used to be cheaper. Knit on size 0 Clover bamboo dpns, 72 stitches, toe-up, short row heel...

Seriously -- how does yarn do this? Perfect single row striping within the pool. I could never in a million years do that on purpose.

I'm working on three more pairs, in yarn line that I was warned would pool, that has pooled when I've knitted with it before, and is it pooling? No such luck!  

Friday, April 26, 2013

Let's Make Baby Quilts! {week 17}

My baby quilt for this week is Orion -- you can read all about him in yesterday's post, and the pattern is in the sidebar (he's Peter's fraternal twin.)
I quilted this one in free-motion spirals, reminding myself over and over not to get carried away and make them as tight as Emily's spirals were.  It's still fairly densely quilted, but that's how I do my quilts. I want them to stand up through washing after washing. If they're going to get used, they're going to fall out of strollers and car seats and land in gravel or mud puddles -- and that doesn't even take into consideration what a baby can get all over a quilt!
And, if one of these winds up in the hands of a quilter, she can entertain herself by figuring out the quilting pattern or picking apart whether or not my points and corners match.

How do you assemble your baby quilts? My two youngest came home from the NICU with quilts. One was tied and the other was, I'm almost positive, stitched in the ditch. I'm not going to pull it out of the closet right now to check -- but if it was free motion, I'd remember. I spent enough time examining all of the different prints.

Be sure to check out Jo Kramer's new pattern for the Moda Bake Shop, Oink a Doodle Moo Times Two or Three -- she's come up with an absolutely adorable way to get three quilts out of one jelly roll!

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, but it's got to be about baby quilts. While we're still gathering steam, 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, April 25, 2013

Meet Orion

The sun is shining! I had to take my cheddar pinwheels out into the daylight to get pictures -- and I managed to do it without falling through the bridge.

This one came about because I wasn't entirely happy with Peter. His white pinwheels didn't stand out against the green prints as much as I'd expected them to. Cheddar is vivid. There's nothing remotely cheddary in these blue prints -- and it made a huge difference in the finished quilt.  

Even though I know darn well these are pinwheels, I keep thinking of them as stars. So I decided to name this one Orion, after a little boy we used to go to playgroup with when Teenage Daughter was itty-bitty. You know, that point where they're too young to actually be in a playgroup but you really, really want to go out and do something with your adorable little child? His mom and I put a ton of miles on our strollers together.
My original background choice was a flannel with rocket ships and planets on it, but I managed to misplace it while I was assembling the top and decided to go with this cheater cloth mariner's compass instead. And I'm glad I did -- now I've got other plans for those rocket ships!

You can find the pattern  for this quilt here. I'm linking up to Finish it Up Friday, Can I get a Whoop Whoop?Link a Finish Friday, and Freedom Fridays.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

{Yarn Along} Amity and Sorrow

I've started another pair of socks. This one seemed to be pooling, but I think it's settling down into stripes now that I'm done with the toe increases. Whatever it's doing, I love the colors. And I'm using up stash, so it's a win-win.

The book is Amity & Sorrow by Peggy Riley. The publisher's description is brief and intriguing --

A mother and her daughters drive for days without sleep until they crash their car in rural Oklahoma. The mother, Amaranth, is desperate to get away from someone she's convinced will follow them wherever they go--her husband. The girls, Amity and Sorrow, can't imagine what the world holds outside their father's polygamous compound. Rescue comes in the unlikely form of Bradley, a farmer grieving the loss of his wife. At first unwelcoming to these strange, prayerful women, Bradley's abiding tolerance gets the best of him, and they become a new kind of family. An unforgettable story of belief and redemption, AMITY & SORROW is about the influence of community and learning to stand on your own.

And, once I started reading, I didn't know much more. Just that this woman and her two daughters were fleeing something absolutely awful. Their history is revealed in brief glimpses as they move away from their old life and towards something else. Every little detail that was revealed made me want to keep reading to find out more.

The prose is absolutely gorgeous. I could see the candles blazing in mason jars in the windows of the temple and feel the dusty old farmhouse. The story is sad and hopeful -- it kind of reminded me of The Death of Bees, the way that Amaranth and her daughters so desperately needed help, but the people around them were in no position to offer it.

My copy of Amity and Sorrow was provided by the publisher. For more pretty knitting projects to drool over, check out On the Needles at Patchwork Times and Work in Progress Wednesdays at Tami's Amis.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

time to play

It seems like I've finally managed to carve out a bit of time to just play. Those blue strips of fabric I showed you on Monday? They've been cut into squares and chain pieced...

And I stole some of the bright cheddar yellow from my bow ties to make the pinwheels...

Any guesses what I'm making? You've seen pinwheels like these on my design wall before, but it's not the same quilt.  That would be way too much yellow!

{Whatcha Reading?} Portrait of a Dead Guy

I've been reading Portrait of a Dead Guy by Larissa Reinhart.

Cherry Tucker is a classically trained artist struggling to make ends meet in the small town of Halo, Georgia. So when she hears that the Bransons want a memorial portrait of their son, Dustin, she's determined to win the commission away from her rival -- even if that means sneaking into the funeral home after hours to get a head start. She's been paying the bills by painting kids and pets and expects painting a coffin portrait to be easier than her usual subjects. Turns out painting a murder victim is a whole lot more dangerous, especially when she starts investigating on her own! 

Portrait of a Dead Guy was a really fun read, and I can't wait to get my hands on the next book in the series, Still Life in Brunswick Stew, which is due out next month. My copy of the book was provided to me by the publisher.

Monday, April 22, 2013

I'm cutting fabric for new baby quilts

The blue and the yellow are designated for separate quilts, but after seeing them on my cutting mat together, I'm thinking I might need to start planning a third one so I can combine them together...

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

Sunday, April 21, 2013

If at first it doesn't pool...

Pull more yarn out of the stash and cast on a new sock!

I'd have some yarn usage to report if I wasn't halfway through three separate pairs. But this is more knitting than I've done in ages and I'm having fun. And it's all yarn that's been in my stash for years.

Weekly Stash Report

Fabric Used this Week: 2 yards
Fabric Used year to Date: 33 yards
Added this Week: 3/4 yards
Added Year to Date: 87 1/4 yards
Net Added for 2012: 54 1/4 yards

Yarn Used this Week: 0 yards
Yarn Used year to Date: 350 yards
Yarn Added this Week: 0 yards
Yarn Added Year to Date: 7100 yards
Net Added for 2013: 6750 yards

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

Saturday, April 20, 2013

my pink and green quilt

A few years ago, I fell head over heels for the combination of light pink and green and started pulling fabric from my scrap bags and watching for sale fabric.

I cut some pieces, just enough of a start to claim this quilt on my UFO list.  There are different types of UFOs -- the ones you've made significant progress on and then abandoned, the ones you've bought a kit or pattern and specific fabric for and given up on, and the ones you haven't exactly started, but really want to be working on so you put them on the list so that you can work on them instead of the real UFOs. At least that's how I classify mine.

That missing book of scrap quilts that I'd found my pattern in turned up again and the blocks aren't pieced like this after all. It also turns out I don't like the quilt in the book as much as I first did. I like the version I've been carrying around in my imagination better -- but now I'm not even sure if I want a pink and green quilt to keep.


It's not a real problem -- there's another pink quilt that I really, really, really want to make. The fabric can be shifted over to that one. And there's always something to do with the green. If I decide to abandon this project.

I pieced these blocks this afternoon, figuring that if I didn't love them, I could make enough for a baby quilt and call the project done.  The decision would be easier if the cut pieces had been in the box with the rest of of the fabric and I knew how many there were.

Friday, April 19, 2013

Let's Make Baby Quilts! {week 16}

Meet Laura! She's my first yellow and white baby quilt. When I started choosing fabrics, I was worried that there might not be enough contrast between the prints and the white background. Some of these yellows are pretty pale and I thought they might not stand out enough.
I love, love, love the way it came out. So much that there might be another yellow and white baby quilt very soon.

You can find the tutorial for this baby quilt in yesterday's post, and I've added all of the other Let's Make Baby Quilt tutorials to the sidebar.

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, but it's got to be about baby quilts. While we're still gathering steam, 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, April 18, 2013

Laura {a baby quilt tutorial}

Meet Laura! She's my first yellow and white baby quilt. When I started choosing fabrics, I was worried that there might not be enough contrast between the prints and the white background. Some of these yellows are pretty pale and I thought they might not stand out enough. That wasn't a problem. Now that she's pieced and quilted, I'm already pulling out more yellow fabric to make another quilt.

Ready to make another quick, two color baby quilt? Pull out your favorite color and find a dozen 2 1/2" width of fabric strips. That and some background fabric is all you'll need!

This week's baby quilt uses the same blocks as Colleena, but changing the color placement in the nine-patch blocks gives it a different look. Adding a pieced border makes it just a bit larger.

For a 34" square quilt, you'll need:

13 - 6 1/2" white squares
48 - 2 1/2" white squares
176 - 2 1/2" print squares (112 for blocks, 64 for pieced border)

To make the snowball blocks, place a 2 1/2" print square on each corner of a 6 1/2" background square. Sew diagonally as shown, then press open. To reduce bulk, you can trim off the extra fabric a quarter inch outside the seam line.  Make 13 blocks.

Assemble 2 1/2" white and print squares into nine-patch blocks as shown. Make 12 blocks.

Lay out alternating blocks in five rows of five as shown, with snowball blocks in the outside corners. For the pieced border, piece the remaining 2 1/2" squares into four long strips (two 15 square long strips and two seventeen square long strips.) Add the shorter strips to opposite edges, press open, then add the longer strips to the remaining two edges and press open.

Quilt and bind. As always, if you make this quilt I'd love for you to send me a picture or link up to my weekly Let's Make Baby Quilts! linky party. There's a list of my free baby quilt tutorials over in the sidebar and you  can find out when new ones are added by either following my blog or liking the Let's Make Baby Quilts Facebook page.

a new toy for the kitchen

Last week, the family went for a drive and Hubby decided to stop at a grungy little thrift store we'd been to once before. Picture narrow aisles backed with old broken electronics and nasty bedding (not a vintage sheet in sight -- I looked!)

The building seems to have been a grocery store in a previous life and they're selling baby clothes out of an old meat case for five dollars a bag. And yes, if I still had one that tiny, I'd probably have been pawing through it myself. Or maybe not. The pickings looked pretty slim.

I did find some decent Pyrex and my oldest son found me a couple of Nancy Drew books from the 1940s, but they were asking antique store prices. Luckily, I already had nicer copies of those books so I wasn't even tempted.

What did tempt me was this, the cutest little pressure cooker ever! 

The lid is like some sort of Chinese puzzle box. It took Hubby forever to get it off and then he had a hard time getting it back on. I don't think it'd hold more than a quart and I can't decide what it would be useful for....if it wasn't completely lacking any safety valves. Believe me, even if it was functional, we wouldn't be trying to use it. Not to cook in. Hubby did have to see if he could get it to build up pressure. (Don't ask me why -- I think it's the same reason he had to fiddle with that gasoline iron I brought home from an estate sale, again after warning me about how dangerous it was.) It won't.

And even if I did want to use it, I'd never figure out that lid!

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

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

a head start on a new project

This UFO that didn't make the list, because I'd already decided to scavenge these pieces for a new project.  I still have plans to make the original quilt, but when/if I get around to it, I'll cut new pieces. I'd have to do that anyway, since the black fabrics I was using have been absorbed back into my stash and there are other pieces of the project hiding in another box somewhere.

So I wind up with a head start on the new project and no guilt over the abandoned one. That works, right?

{yarn along} New England Foliage

Another yarn that doesn't pool... I even ripped back three or four inches of the foot and added a bit of  ribbing in hopes that it might get some pooling going. No such luck.

All after I avoided casting on with this yarn for so long because I was so worried that it would pool! But the stripes do look nice. And I managed most of a sock in three days, even after ripping back, so I won't whine too much.

The book is Liver Let Die, a Clueless Cook Mystery. I'm only a third of the way in and I'm thinking the heroine might be just a touch too clueless... (Doesn't everyone know what foie gras is? Or at least not to order unidentified foods in fancy restaurants?)  But it's a fun read, and I'm anxious to see if things are headed where I think they're going. 

For more pretty knitting projects to drool over, check out On the Needles at Patchwork Times and Work in Progress Wednesdays at Tami's Amis.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

quirky vacation destinations


After talking to some other parents I know, I'm starting to get the feeling that we don't go on typical family vacations. Flying to Disney World? That's never gonna happen.  We load up on AAA guidebooks, pack the camping gear and, usually the morning we're due to leave home, pick a direction.

Unless we're using the timeshare. Then we actually know where we're headed and when we're going to get there, but that's only once every couple of years. The rest of the time, we just go.

I love my AAA books!  That's how we found the creepy museum of mental health. For the life of me, I can't remember what state it was in, just that it was housed in an old hospital and admission was free and thinking about it still spooks me a bit. (That was before we had kids -- I'm sure we wouldn't go back with them in tow.)

Roadside America is a great source of quirky places to visit. Before we set out in a trip, I used to skim through the listings for whatever states I thought we'd be going through. Now, I can see where we wind up and pull it up on my Kindle if we have lunch at a fast food place with wifi.

Atlas Obscura is a gorgeous site, good for travelling from your keyboard. I was browsing their site and actually figured out where I was when I took the above picture -- Two Guns, Arizona. Next time we go through that way, I'm going to try to talk Bill into looking for the Apache Death Cave. How have we missed that?

This summer, I want to go looking for the bigfoot trap. That sounds like a fun day trip.  And there's supposed to be a house around here shaped like a volcano....

This post is linked to WFMW at We are THAT Family

Monday, April 15, 2013


Judy challenged us to post a list of our UFOs. I started with the excruciatingly complete list. There were thirty-two projects on it when I made it at the beginning of 2012, and it really was excruciating. Then I pared it down a bit.

Do I really need to count the block swap I did with a pregnancy list when my now sixteen year old was an infant? I'm not even sure if I want to  assemble those into a quilt or scrapbook them. Not to mention that I haven't seen them in the seven years since we moved... I crossed that one off the list.

And do I need to count every late night experiment? Just because I pulled some scraps out and made a few blocks, I don't think I need to carry around the burden of finishing the quilt.

What if I pulled together some pink and green fabric to make a quilt, cut a few pieces,  and then changed my mind before I actually assembled any blocks?

After crossing off the late night experiments and the projects that got kitted up but not actually started, I was left with these. These are the ones I'm working on, that I have plans of actually finishing --

Rose Dream
North Pacific
Basket Quilt
Hobo Quilt
Drab Postage Stamps
Lego Quilt
Scrappy Irish Chain
Little Trips Around the World
Cheddar Bowties
Santa Fe String Star
Summers by the Lake
Sandstone Stack the Deck
chicken wool kit
Blue Dresden Plates
Alphabet Sampler

And these are the ones I plan on finishing but can't currently find --

Blue Embroidery
Baby coins
Baby blue 9 patch orphans
Miss Kitty
green and pink kaleidoscope
Texas Braid
 big circle in square quilt

Twenty-four UFOs. I don't think that's bad, not considering the number of quilts I've finished over the seven years that I've built up this list. And there is only one that I feel a little guilty about, because I bought the kit and cut the pieces and then decided that I didn't like it as much as I thought I had.

Do you feel guilty about your UFOs?


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