Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Ready for Some New Socks?

I'm busy working on the samples for Saturday's post. I was thinking that I couldn't show them in this post, but this knit along isn't a mystery....

And I've been reading, book after book. This is one of those weeks where I've found lots of good ones to get lost in.

I found another Little House on the Prairie book! This one is Death on the Prairie by Kathleen Ernst and it's the 6th Chloe Elefson mystery. (I'm new to this series, but the Little House element of the plot led me to jump right in.)   Hoping to confirm that an antique quilt was actually made by Laura Ingalls, Chloe carefully wraps it in archival tissue and takes it with her on a  tour of historic sites related to the author. The quilt's owner has asked her to determine which of the sites the potentially priceless artifact should be donated to. Chloe knows about the Ingalls family from the books and finds herself surrounded by fans who only care about the books, fans who only care about the television series, and academics who question who actually wrote the books and if Pa Ingalls was as noble a man as she always believed. She's dismayed to realize that Laura's real life childhood wasn't the fairy-tale that she imagined after reading the books. The book is set in 1983 and provides a lot of interesting reminders about how different things were then, let alone in Laura's time. I highly recommend this one, especially if you're into Little House on the Prairie.

A Beeline to Murder by Meera Lester is the first title in the Henny Penny Farmette mystery series. Beekeeper Abigail Mackenzie leaves a swarm of bees and her other farm chores to rush some jars of her honey to her favorite pastry chef, who won't tolerate a late delivery. When she discovers Jean-Louis lying dead in his own kitchen, Abigail calls the police and begins investigating the scene herself. Because Abigail is a former police officer herself and currently works as a private investigator, she knows how to solve a murder. I enjoyed the book, but I wish there'd been a little less focus on the police department and more on the farmette. The author's descriptions of the swarming bees were so well done I could practically hear them buzzing.

What if the clothes you wore carried ghostly fragments of your soul, and somehow those fragments got transferred to one who wore those clothes next? That's part of the publisher's description of The Woman in the Movie Star Dress by Praveen Asthana. Genevieve works at Mel's Hollywood Clothing store, the place to buy dresses worn by the stars. Or supposedly worn by the stars...her employer is happy to encourage misunderstandings that will help sell a piece. After discovering that she can absorb some of the previous owner's qualities, she  begins to borrow dresses from the shop, hoping that they'll help her get what she wants. The book is darker and more serious than I expected and completely absorbing. There's more to it than just putting on a dress, and sometimes Genevieve doesn't know quite as much about the actresses she hopes to emulate as she thought she did.

I'm linking up to Yarn Along and Patchwork Times. The publishers provided me with ARCs.

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Every October?

If I pull out Hocuspocusville every year when the stores put out their Halloween decorations and stitch on it until after we got trick-or-treating, sooner or later, I'll have all twelve blocks done, right?

Monday, September 28, 2015

{The Bed Turning} Appliqued Butterflies

This quilt wasn't made by a family member, but I'm going to write about it anyway. 

Mom and Grandma were at an estate sale a couple of years ago and this quilt had been thrown onto the concrete floor. Grandma bought a piece of furniture and the seller used it as packing material when he loaded it into her car.

As awful as that is, it's  found a good home with my mother. It's all hand applique and quilting and those 30s prints are still vivid and pretty.

It makes me wonder. Our quilts have been worn to shreds. This one is in pretty good shape for its age -- does that mean that it was safely tucked away for most of its life?

This post is linked to Let's Talk Vintage, Thrifty Vintage Finds

What if I Try to Turn a Vintage Embroidery Pattern into Applique?

Can I claim that the pile of random stuff sitting on the edge of my sewing machine table is an inspiration board? For weeks, I've been looking at this embroidery pattern and wondering what would happen if I enlarged it and divided it into separate applique pieces, then outlined them with buttonhole stitching.

vintage embroidery applique hot iron transfer

Well first off, that pink solid doesn't contrast nearly enough with the white background. I'd thought that using black for the outline would be too much. Now I'm hoping it will salvage the project a bit. And some busy quilting should help the unquilted kitty stand out...

If nothing else, now I know what happened!

This post is linked to Patchwork Times.

Sunday, September 27, 2015

{The Bed Turning} Double Wedding Ring

This is what I see when I think "antique quilt." It's one of the quilts  I slept under as a teenager. There was  a second double wedding ring, but it was passed on to another family member. I feel bad about contributing to their wear and tear, but if it hadn't been seen and loved it wouldn't have nearly as much meaning.  

It was made by Great Great Grandma Rowell, who died in 1935.

I'm not quite done yet -- stop by again tomorrow afternoon for more family quilts. 

There's a Lot Going on Here

I'm still commuting to the-job-that-isn't-mine four days a week. The cat is still healing from her surgery and is getting harder and harder to contain. She wants back outside and is determined to get there by any means possible. We've already recaptured her several times, but the better she feels the faster she gets. I'll be so glad when she gets that lampshade collar off! She'll still be stuck in the house, but the stakes won't be quite so high.

I've started the sock knitting project. The first post is here, and in yesterday's post we started off by swatching to make sure that we like our combinations of yarn and needles. Next Saturday, we'll start the toes.

And I've been sharing pictures of the quilts that my ancestors made. The newest ones were made by my great-grandma, and we've got some from her mother and sister. They're the quilts that formed my definition of what a quilt is, although that's evolved a bit since I started quilting. It's interesting that they're not the old fashioned patterns I want to make myself. I like more itty bitty pieces. And I'm not hand piecing. Maybe that makes a difference!

I've got a favor to ask. Did anyone used to own an iphone 4? While I was on my way to pick up Teenage Daughter from work a couple of nights ago, my charging cord vanished. It was plugged into the phone, then I unplugged the phone to take it into the grocery store, and when I got where I was going, the cord was gone without a trace. I've searched the car and my purse and checked the lost and found at the grocery store with no luck. The after market cord I bought (because nothing else in our house uses a 30 pin cord) will charge the phone, but the phone throws a fit if I try to hook it up to the laptop. If anyone has a charging cord that's outlived  their phone, I would love to take it off your hands.

Weekly Stash Report 

I actually finished a quilt and used up some fabric this week!  

Fabric used this week: 1 1/2 yards
Fabric used year to date: 6 1/4 yards
Added this week: 0
Added year to date: 46 1/4
Net added for 2015: 40 yards

Yarn Used this Week: 0 yards
Yarn Used year to Date: 6800 yards
Yarn Added this Week: 0 yards
Yarn Added Year to Date: 9539 yards
Net Added for 2015: 2739 yards

This post is linked to Patchwork Times.

Saturday, September 26, 2015

{The Bed Turning} Dresden Plates

This quilt was made by my great great grandmother. I grew up hearing that it was from the turn of the century, but look at those fabrics...

Those are 30s prints, aren't they?

Be sure to stop back tomorrow afternoon for the double wedding ring. 

Getting Ready to Knit Our Socks...

Are you ready to start knitting along with me? We'll cast on for our toes next Saturday. While we're waiting, let's choose the best possible combination of yarn and needles. 

I actually have three of these sets of Knitpicks double pointed needles. They come with one pair in size 0, two different size 1s, two different size 2s and one size 3. I absolutely love them, but if you don't do a lot of knitting with different weights of yarn, they might not be the best choice. I find myself using both size 1s and the smaller set of size 2s for my socks and, less often, the largest and smallest sizes for other things.

Using worsted weight yarn? Start with a needle two sizes smaller than the ones you use for your regular worsted weight projects.

With the needles you think you'll be using, cast on twenty or so stitches and use two needles to knit yourself a swatch. Knit a row, then purl a row, then knit a row....On the actual sock, you'll be knitting around in endless circles, but for this you need to alternate to get stockinette.  Knitting back and forth in rows won't give you the exact same gauge that knitting in the round will, but we're just trying to make sure that  this combination of yarn and needles will create a fabric you like.

I used size 3 needles and sock yarn for the beginning of this swatch. That's way looser than I want the fabric of my sock to be. After the garter stitch ridge, I went down to 1 1/2s (I think -- they're not labeled, but I've used them for lots of pairs of socks) and got much more suitable results.

You want a tight knit. With sock yarn, that's probably going to be 7 or 8 stitches per inch. (You don't need to measure and count unless you really want to!) If your stitches are too loose, the socks will be uncomfortable to walk around in and won't hold up as well as tighter knitting will.

Stretch your gauge swatch a bit. If there's a lot of empty space visible between the stitches, they're too loose and you can go down a needle size. If it's too tight, you're probably going to feel it while you're knitting. I've actually heard that you can't make your sock gauge too tight, although I'm sure you could if you tried hard enough.

Socks don't have positive ease like a sweater does.  The circumference of the finished sock should be the same or a little smaller than the circumference of the food that will be wearing it. Your store bought socks are probably that way, too. Notice how they stretch a bit when  you put them on?

Friday, September 25, 2015

{The Bed Turning} Flower Baskets

This is another of the quilts I remember from early childhood, the ones that formed my definition of "quilt." It was made by Great Grandma Walters. 

The poor thing is just worn out. We cringe to look at that now, but if it hadn't been out and on a bed, it wouldn't have had such an influence on me. Some of the flowers have frayed away except for their edges.

I couldn't get a decent picture of the hand quilting against that white fabric, but it's there and it's amazing. This is why I don't hand quilt. I thought the standard was for those perfect teeny tiny stitches.

It looks like someone added borders later to make the quilt larger.

Be sure to stop back tomorrow afternoon and see the quilt that Grandma Walters's mother, Grandma Rowell made. So much for my not thinking there weren't quilters in the family! 

Let's Make Baby Quilts! {9/25/15}

 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, September 24, 2015

{Bed Turning} Grandma's Red and White Quilt

The fabrics are so faded you can barely see them, and the quilt itself is so tattered it's painful, but it has the best story and that makes it my favorite. 

When she was in second grade, Grandma ran away from school. She went to the top of a hill near her house and refused to come back down.

Aunt Clara (who would have been Great Grandma Walters's sister, if you're keeping track of the family tree) made this quilt to bribe her. 

That story has got to be one of the best quilt stories ever. (I might be just a little biased.)

There's no batting between the layers. I think that was is there is flannel. If this quilt was made in a hurry, I wonder if that's all Aunt Clara had on hand or if this was what she always used.

Be sure to come back tomorrow afternoon. I've got more quilts to show you! 

I Went Back to the Thrift Shop

All weekend my thoughts kept going back to that sewing machine we saw last week. I'd told myself that I'd buy it if it was still there when the green tags went to 50% off.  I don't know how well it sews, but after seeing some vintage typewriters used as planters on Pinterest (gorgeous, but not anything I'd ever do to a poor defenseless typewriter!) I'd pretty much convinced myself that I could buy it just because it was blue. I don't have a blue sewing machine.

After I dropped Teenage Daughter off at work Monday morning, we swung by the thrift store. The machine was still there,  still only 25% off the sticker price. And now she's at my house because I refuse to feel bad about spending less on a sewing machine than a large Bacon Ultimate Cheeseburger combo would cost.

Halfway home, I remembered that Great Grandma's sewing machine is a bluish mint color. So much for that excuse.

She's a Singer 338 and when I plug her in and push the foot pedal she sounds like a sewing machine should and the needle goes up and down. So far, that's all I know.

I'm even excited about the label tape. This little darling must have gone places!

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

{Bed Turning} Prairie Sunrise

This quilt was made by my Great-Grandma Walters. It's tied, so go ahead and call it a comforter if you're a purist, but it's a quilt to me. 

I don't know what that block is. The closest thing I can find in the Encyclopedia of Pieced Quilt Patterns is Prairie Sunrise, but the color placement and pieces are quite a bit different and that one isn't set on point. These are.

If anyone does know what block this is, please let me know because now I'm curious.

Be sure to stop back tomorrow afternoon for the next quilt.

This post is linked to The Chicken Chick, Pieced Pastimes

More Bright and Pretty Sock Yarn

There's not much to show you this week except for the pretty colors. This is going to be my 18th or 19th pair of socks this year, depending on whether I finish it or the Eagle's Flight pair first.  It all depends on whether or not each day calls for mindless knitting or I can play with the feathery lace.

I've started work on the posts for the sock knitalong. You can find all of the details in this post.

And, as always, there are books to tell you about --

The Black Tongue by Marko Hautala left me more confused than scared. Set in Finland, it's the story of Maisa, who has returned to her childhood home to research urban folklore and the legend of Granny Hatchet, and Samuel, who has come to make funeral arrangements for his father. I've been reading lots of books set in other countries lately, absorbing other places and cultures, but I just couldn't get into this one. I don't know much about Finland (or Somalis, or the different political parties) to begin with and the flashbacks didn't make it any easier to figure out what was going on. The story of Granny Hatchet and how it's told to the children by a masked figure in the "fairy-tale cellar" was seriously creepy, but once they left that tiny room and returned to the real world, the book lost me.

Where the Memories Lie is the newest book by Sibel Hodge. (I read and posted about her book Look Behind You last spring.) When Olivia's father in law tells her that he killed and buried someone named Gertrude, Olivia is concerned enough to do some fact checking. The only Gertrude that Tom knew is alive and well and, with his advancing Alzheimer's, it's not uncommon for him to get confused and claim something from a movie or television show is part of his own life. But then Tom says that it's Katie who he buried and Olivia is afraid that she knows exactly who Katie is, her best friend who left home twenty five years earlier and was never heard from again. This was a fast paced read, dealing more with the way that various family members reacted to the murder than the murder itself. Until it came to a satisfying ending, it kept me wondering just what had happened.

This post is linked to Patchwork Times and Small Things. The publishers provided me with advance review copies of both books.

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

{The Bed Turning} Flower Pots

I don't know much about this quilt. It came from my dad's mom's estate and we think it must have belonged to Aunt Molly. (That's her steamer trunk up in my sewing room.)

All of the flowers and pots are the same prints and the stems are embroidered.

What really blows me away about the quilt, aside from that gorgeous mint solid, is the hand quilting. Those circles add so much texture, and I love their placement and how they don't cut through the flowers.

It's hard to get good pictures of hand quilting and the individual stitches, but luckily this quilt doesn't have a white backing.

Be sure to come back tomorrow afternoon for the next quilt.

What's the Difference Between a Doll Quilt and a Baby Quilt?

For me, it's whether or not I plan on keeping it for myself. This little black and white cutie is destined for the sewing room wall. It would've  made a perfectly good baby quilt if I hadn't backed it with white muslin, but since I knew I wanted to hang on to it I went for the least expensive option.

I was in the mood to sew and grabbed the left over black from the nail polish quilt and my bolt of white muslin. The original plan was to make it smaller, but I wasn't in the mood to work with one inch strips, so I cut them wider...  Have you noticed that I don't put a lot of  careful planning into my quilts?

I'll  be linking this post to Crazy Mom Quilts.

Monday, September 21, 2015

The Quilts I Grew Up With

Before I really fell in love with quilts and started quilting, I had some definite ideas about what "real" quilts were -- double wedding rings, baskets, and Dresden plates. There were some tied polyester quilts that Grandma had made for my sister and I, but even though I knew darn well that they were quilts (okay, technically comforters, since they were tied, but she thought of them as quilts) they sure weren't what came to mind when I heard the world "quilt."

There weren't any quilters in the family when I was growing up, except for Grandma and her polyester squares. That's in no way a criticism of her sewing skills -- her talent was for clothing, which she was absolutely amazing at.

We might not have had active quilters, but we had quilts, the ones that formed my understanding of what quilts were and how they should look. When Mom called and told me that she'd taken all of them out of the closet to air on the guest room bed, I headed over to take pictures.

And now I'm going to show them off to you. Each quilt deserves its own story, so starting tomorrow I'll be posting one a day until I run out.

Black and White Appliances

Apparently, the secret to productive embroidery time is to get up really early in the morning and start with the fiddly parts so that I can get through them before I fully realize what I'm doing.

I got the cord of the telephone done.  We had a telephone similar to this one (ours had buttons, otherwise the shape and style were the same.) I had to give up on it when it stopped ringing, but while it worked it was my favorite phone ever. You could actually  hear it from across the house! That's why I replaced our cordless phone with the old one. My last cell phone had a ring tone that sounded just like it, which was wonderful unless I was watching old movies or Perry Mason reruns.

With this block, I started with the fiddly stuff -- the knobs and screen and speakers. The whole thing was done before I had a chance to get bored with it. This is the block that convinced me to buy the others. My family owned an appliance store when I was growing up and I love the look of old television sets -- although this one is way before my time.

Now that I've got all four blocks done, it's time to start piecing. I think I've got a good idea to tie it all together, if I can make the math work.

I'm linking up to Super Mom - No Cape!, Slow Sunday Stitching,

Sunday, September 20, 2015

Weekly Stash Report

I didn't buy anything at the thrift store this week, not the cheap yarn or the really pretty blue sewing machine, but I did splurge on a pair of sock blockers and two skeins of sock yarn.

Heart and Sole has pretty new colors out and, with all of the socks I've been knitting, I thought an addition to my stash was in order. I've already made socks with Congo, Rustica, Green Envy, and Mellow Stripes, so it's safe to say that I'll use this yarn up too. There was another color I liked just as much. I'll be back for that one when I've got another coupon.

Fabric Used this Week: 0 yards
Fabric Used year to Date: 4 3/4 yards
Added this Week: 0
Net Added for 2015: 41 1/4 yards

Yarn Used this Week: 0 yards
Yarn Used year to Date: 6800 yards
Yarn Added this Week: 374 yards
Yarn Added Year to Date: 9539 yards
Net Added for 2015: 2739 yards

This post is linked to Patchwork Times.

Saturday, September 19, 2015

Let's Knit a Pair of Socks

let's knit a pair of socks

Who wants to knit a pair of socks with me? 

If you're a regular reader of my blog, you probably know that a little over a year and a half ago, my husband was in a head on collision with a drunk driver and laid up for quite a while. I coped with the stress by digging into my sock yarn stash and knitting endless pairs of socks. Thirty-four pairs and counting since the accident.

Every time I post pictures of a finished pair, it seems like at least one reader comments that she'd like to learn to knit socks.  If you're tempted, why not take the plunge and give it a try? I'm making these instructions as beginner-friendly as I can. If you can comfortably knit and purl and want to learn some new skills, I think you can do this. If you knit hats, you may even have suitable worsted weight yarn and dpns in your stash.

Over time, I've found a toe that I like, a heel that I like, the number of stitches that I need to make socks in my size. If I want to make a pair for another family member, I can adjust the numbers and still use the same toe and heel techniques. Or I could add a stitch pattern across the instep and around the ribbing.

Over the next few weeks, I'll be walking you through my sock pattern that isn't one and knitting a pair of toe up socks with short row heels.  My plan is to post a new step every two weeks so that hopefully everyone who wants to participate will have time to keep up.

Here's what you need if you want to knit along.


I'll be including instructions for both a worsted weight and fingering weight version of the socks.

For an adult pair, you'll want 100 grams (about 400 yards) of fingering weight. I've made short-cuffed adult socks with 100 grams of worsted weight, but I'm going to suggest that you start out with an extra skein. Knitting is more fun when you aren't worried about running out of yarn.

There's some nice sock yarn available at Joann's and Michaels. I like Lion Brand Sock-Ease, Patons Kroy, and Red Heart Heart & Sole. Sock yarn comes in 50 or 100 gram skeins, so check the label to see if you need one or two skeins.

For worsted weight socks, 100% wool is a good choice, as long as you don't accidentally run your socks through the washer and dryer in the leg of your jeans. I've used Lion Brand Wool-Ease and wear those pairs happily with my sneakers. I've also used Red Heart Strata (very similar to Super Saver) and don't recommend it. That pair literally squeaks. But the stripes are pretty!


You'll want a set of 6 or 7" (that's the length) double point needles in a size that gets the gauge you want (more on that in a second) I strongly recommend wooden or plastic needles because they hold onto the stitches a little better.  For the fingering weight socks, you'll want somewhere between size 1 and 2. For worsted weight, I've used between 3 and 5. The wrapper on your yarn skein will suggest a needle size. Don't pay attention to it. For socks, you'll want smaller needles to get a much tighter gauge than you'd use for a sweater.

Next Saturday, we'll talk about what kind of fabric you want for your pair of socks and on September 26th we'll measure our feet and start to knit. If you plan on knitting along, please leave a comment so I know I'm not doing this all by myself!

Getting Started
The Toe
The Foot 
The Heel 


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