Monday, February 26, 2018

I've Been Reading...and Knitting...and Stitching

My household is a busy place this week. We're all getting a lot done on a lot of things, but I haven't made much time to blog about it. Tonight I'm rushing to meet a deadline and hoping that the weather stays clear because if it snows again this week having the project finished in time won't really matter. 

Color Me Murder by Krista Davis

Her employer offers Florrie Fox a fantastic apartment in his carriage house, rent free. The catch is that she has to move her things in immediately so that his greedy nephew, Delbert, won't try to weasel his way onto the property. She immediately falls in love with the apartment and its lovely gardens, which are sure to provide all sorts of inspiration for the adult coloring books she illustrates, but Florrie worries about what she's gotten herself into...then Delbert is found dead and her boss is arrested for the murder.

I picked up this one because the adult coloring books sounded like an interesting element and quickly found myself caught up in Florrie's life and relationships. Her coloring books don't play a major role in the story, but the way she looks at the world and finds inspiration around her definitely make Florrie an enjoyable character to spend some time with.

The Pajama Frame by Diane Vallere

The Madison Night mystery series keeps getting better and better as the relationships between the characters continue to develop. Continuing the quirky ties to Doris Day movies (because Madison models herself after her favorite actress) this book has her inheriting the Sweet Dreams pajama factory, a building that was sealed decades earlier after the tragic death of a pajama model. Protesters want the building opened immediately so that they can discover the truth behind the young woman's death. The local historical society has its eyes upon the historic structure. And the estranged family of the woman who left her the building isn't at all pleased by the situation. The mystery is complex and intriguing, and full of those bits of mid century modern-ness that drew me to this series in the first place.

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

Saturday, February 24, 2018

Self Striping Blue Socks

Another single skein of sock yarn used up after adding a coordinating solid for the heels and toes. 

I was just throwing together what I had, so it was a pleasant surprise that the heels and toes go so well with the darkest stripes in the body of the socks. The ball band is gone, so I don't know what the yarn is, just that I probably bought it at the craft store ten years or so ago....when I thought knitting socks for little boys was a good plan.

Friday, February 23, 2018

Let's Make Baby Quilts! {2/23/18}

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, February 22, 2018

Playing With Dolls

There's a ton of shading in this little blue dress!

I think some of it is an apron that will materialize once I do the backstitching, which has to wait until the chair around the dress is finished.

There's a third doll to stitch, in that empty white space in front of the window. She's got lots of pink shading, which probably explains why she's not there yet. This project makes it easy to jump around and stitch on whatever seems appealing that day.

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

{I've Been Reading} The Ghost Notebooks

Can I just huddle up with my yarn and books until spring? We had some absolutely gorgeous weather and now its cold and bleak and we're under severe weather warnings. By the time this posts in the morning, they're saying we'll have three to eight inches of snow accumulation. I'll believe that when I see it, but I'd almost rather not know the predictions. 

The Ghost Notebooks by Ben Dolnick

When Hannah is hired as the live-in director of the Wright Historic House she and her fiance, Nick, are thrilled. It's a new start in a new place and at first they both enjoy exploring the drafty old building and its surroundings...and then things change.  If you've been reading my posts for long at all, you know how much I love books that involve hauntings. This one is different from most, and that's what made me enjoy it so much.  Those Ghost Notebooks isn't scary, but it's definitely suspenseful. Almost the entire book is told from Nick's point of view. He's an easy character to like and I really did care what happened to the couple.

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

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

{Thrift Shop Temptations} Vintage Needlework

Look, it's needlepoint! I'd absolutely love it except for the frame and mat and glass. Glass over needlework is one of my least favorite things.  And my budget is going, for the most part, towards things I can stitch for myself not things that someone else already made. 

Hopefully this will find a good home and a new frame. 

On the way back from the Frontier Heritage Fair on Saturday, the boys wanted to grab a pizza. Little Caesars shares a parking lot with a thrift shop, so I was more than agreeable.

And I'm glad I was! Just look at these little girls and their hair...

Judging by the price tags, these kits have been in a couple of different stashes. One was priced at $2.99 from Goodwill, ninety-nine cents from Goodwill, and $1.99 from the store where I found it. I'm sure there's some kind of logic at work there with that pricing.

You can't tell from the pictures, but I was actually picky this time. Half of the kits are still at the store waiting for another stitcher to love them. 

I would have looked for more neat stuff to get pictures of, but my phone was insisting that it was full and couldn't take more pictures, and I already had my basket full of these goodies. They wound up averaging $1.55 a kit, so I left the store a very happy stitcher.

Monday, February 19, 2018

Telluride Shawlette

I stayed up very late last night because there was snow predicted for this morning and I thought that, if it actually happened, it would make a pretty backdrop for the third shawl of 2018. 

Yarn: Knitpicks Shine, Melon, 5 skeins  

The rows in triangular shawls get steadily longer. Someone please remind me of that the next time I tell myself I "only" have another eighteen rows to finish the project. I didn't plan on staying up nearly so late, but it was well worth it. 

This project started with some Knitpicks Shine Sport that I'd picked up when they still had a tiny store in Vancouver that carried Connecting Threads fabric and occasionally some yarn. I counted four skeins in the bag and searched my Ravelry queue for every shawl that matched that weight and yardage, then changed my mind a couple of times after looking at the printed patterns and settled on the Telluride Shawlette

It's much easier than my first glance at the chart made it look. Every yarn over has to be in the right place to maintain the pattern, but its an easy repeat and I could find and fix mistakes on the fly. 

I didn't realize until the bitter end that I was playing yarn chicken. The pattern calls for 364 yards. I thought I had 440, which seemed like a safe margin until I started the fifth skein I hadn't realized was there. My shawl wound up taking just under 550 yards, which makes me think I either added an extra pattern repeat or was spectacularly of from the designer's gauge. Or, because of the way I bought this yarn in a bag without labels, maybe it was a return and all of the yardage wasn't there to begin with?

Whatever happened, I used it all up and made a pretty shawl and I'm happy.

The shawl, on the other hand, is extremely soggy. 

Sunday, February 18, 2018

{Museum a Month} The Frontier Heritage Fair

Last week we visited a building that "museum" on its sign but no actual exhibits and I picked up a flyer for the Fort Umpqua Muzzleloaders Frontier Heritage Fair. That flyer totally made up for the wasted trip because we went and it was the most wonderful fantastic educational experience we've had in ages. 

I was expecting more demonstrations. What we did find were about half a dozen talkative vendors who were passionate about their hobbies and willing to share that with my kids. 

We wrote with quill pens, which is considerable more difficult if you're left handed, and saw how they're cut with a fancy device from the late 1800s. 

All three boys got a chance to try the pole lathe, which is different from a treadle sewing machine because sewing machines use a circular motion and the lathe is reciprocal... 

There was also a guy who had a display of old powder horns (old in this case meaning before the signing of the Declaration of Independence) and made new ones.

It was an amazing afternoon and I picked up flyers for three museums that I hadn't heard of before.

Saturday, February 17, 2018

Floss Was on Sale

That's what everyone on Instagram is saying and it sounds like the price was amazing. I'm sitting here telling myself to stop looking at pictures of other people's floss and get my own in order. I've already got a complete set of DMC, or darn close to it.

All of this? 

That's left over from stitching I finished years ago. There are another eighty-four skeins in Sanctuary...which I'm still working on...close to fifty in Stonehearth Hutch, and another close to fifty in A Little Girl's Fancy....

How close to a complete set of 489 does that put me? Probably not as close as it sounds, because there will be plenty of duplicates between the three projects, but close enough to convince me not to do any floss shopping until I figure out exactly what I need.

Friday, February 16, 2018

Let's Make Baby Quilts! {2/16/18}

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, February 15, 2018

Tracking My Projects

I'm trying something new this month, a tracker for my projects and which day I work on what. 

In case it's not clear from the photo, the days of  the month run down the page and then across the top is the name of each project. I add the names as I start working on something new or pick up a UFO. Stars show either when I began a new project or finished an existing one, so the last day of the blue basketweave shawl is marked and so is the first day of the striped socks. (I'm awful at remembering when I started or finished things.) 

The goal isn't to work on every project every day, it's just to keep track of what I did when and make sure that things don't get completely abandoned...unless I'm abandoning them on purpose.

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

{Books and Yarn} A Grave Issue

I'm learning from my own mistakes here. Not as quickly as I'd like to, but I'm getting there. This shawl doesn't have a garter stitch tab start and I'd like it much better if it did...but I wasn't picturing that in my head when I read the instructions for the setup row. Maybe with my next shawl, I'll get that part right.

What I did get right with this shawl was to cast on before I finished the one that was already on the needles. Even though I had the yarn and pattern picked out, I wound up printing three different patterns before actually casting on.

A Grave Issue by Lillian Bell

Former journalist Desiree Turner isn't investigating the news anymore, but her name keeps turning up in the local paper no matter how little involvement she actually has with the story. All she wants is to pitch in at the funeral home her family has owned for generations and to forget the on-air disaster that ended her career.  When a dispute over a dead emu leaves one neighbor dead, Desiree gets to work both planning the funeral and trying to clear the name of the friend who's been accused of the murder. The setting is intriguing, without ever getting too macabre or creepy, and the mystery kept me wondering what was going to happen next.

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

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Can You Help Me with My Vintage Ladle Full of Hens and Chicks?

Anyone good with Succulents? I am absolutely terrified that I'm going to kill this old ladle full of hens and chicks and could really use some advice from someone who knows what they're doing.

This is how my banged up old ladle full of hens and chicks looks now.

I found it in Grandma's garden last spring, hanging from a birdhouse. At that point, it had been through at least two winters without anyone taking care of it. I hung it from our dying walnut tree and made sure to bring it in before the temperatures hit freezing.

This is how it looked when I found it.

A couple of months ago, it had started to completely spill out of the ladle. The dead lower leaves were pushing the living plants over the edge. I watched some Youtube videos about pruning succulents and got everything back inside of the ladle. That seems to have worked, but now I'm wondering if I need to remove the thick layer of moss that's under the plants...but there probably isn't much dirt under the moss. (I'm willing to buy soil for this project, but I need to know what I need.)

Were the leaves with the black tips dying or damaged? What I've got right now isn't as pretty as what I started with, but I think it might be healthier. 


Monday, February 12, 2018

Early Morning Stitching

For four days in a row, I was up before the sun (and before the boys) and been stitching almost before I was awake enough for my eyes to be fully focused. I've added a chair, and a hat, and the top half of the second doll. 

The more I work on this project, the harder it is to put it down each day. I've still got more than half of the stitching left to do, but I can actually see myself getting it done. That wasn't the case a couple of weeks ago.

See my new toy? I bought magnets to make a pretty needleminder, and while I get around to making the top portion I'm using the bare magnets. Now the trick is to keep reminding myself that the magnet is there and I don't have to put the needle through the fabric or in the arm of the couch.

Sunday, February 11, 2018

{Thrift Shop Temptations} Have I Told You About Alex's Roller Skates?

Do you ever go to the thrift shops looking for something impossibly specific? I've been on that kind of quest ever since I saw Paula Vaughan's Quilts for All Seasons on someone's Instagram feed.

Before you tell me that's ridiculous, you've got to hear about the roller skates. Years and years ago, we were headed up to the thrift shops in Portland and my daughter told me she wanted to find a pair of roller skates in pink wheels. Guess what she found in perfect condition, at a great price, and exactly in her size. She has that kind of luck. Did I mention that it was at the first store we visited that day?

Quilts for All Seasons took me a couple of weeks and a bunch of different stores to find, but look what was lying there in a pile of office supplies...

The price was more than I think thrift shops should be charging for second hand cross-stitch patterns, but it's out of print and I wasn't going to pass it up.

I saw the floor stand from across the store and was almost afraid to look at its price, but it turned out to be $4.99.  I did have one at one point and it might be up in the sewing room and might still have all of its pieces, but this one is definitely nicer than the old one was.

The more tole paintings I come across, the more I'm convinced that my mother was the best at it.
But this anonymous artist gets definite credit for using the back of a cabinet door.

This vintage kit was tempting, but I'm not even sure what technique it uses and what looks like an important part of the pattern is in pieces and it was really expensive. So I left it for someone who knows what to do with it.

Of course you know what wasn't the only thrift store we've visited in the past couple of weeks. There are another three in the video.

Saturday, February 10, 2018

Blue Basketweave Shawl

Maybe by the end of the year I'll have improved my shawl photography. The shawl itself is thick and warm and amazingly perfect, especially considering that the yarn was originally purchased to knit a sweater for one of my little boys. 

Yarn: Bernat Softee Chunky, Faded Denim, 4 skeins  

I knew I wanted basketweave, so I didn't even look at patterns for this one. I cast on seventy stitches, did seven rows of seed stitch, then placed stitch markers to keep the seed stitch border separate from the body of the shawl. (Okay, I did swatch first just to make sure that my finished shawl would  meet the width requirement for Twelve Shawls Forever. But it was just a little swatch and I didn't do it in the stitch pattern so it barely counts.)

If you've never knit basketweave before, it's ridiculously easy. This is five rows of k5, p5 ribbing, then p5, k5 ribbing for another five rows. I alternated that until I had just enough yarn left for another seven rows of seed stitch and cast off.

I didn't realize that I was playing yarn chicken, but I wound up with a little over ten yards of yarn left in my skein. If it'd been much tighter than that, I would've played it safe and left off a row or two of the seed stitch on one end.

The goal with these shawls, aside from keeping myself warm, is to use up stash yarn. Preferably with as few leftovers as possible.

Friday, February 09, 2018

Let's Make Baby Quilts! {2/9/18}

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, February 08, 2018

{Museum a Month} This Should Not be Hard!

Yesterday, I loaded up the kids and we drove to a museum.

Well...we drove to a building with "museum" in its name. They were open, but were in the process of changing exhibits and there was literally nothing to see except for a temporary art exhibit on the upper floors. Oh and there was a gift shop, but in the volunteer's words it was "just books about local history."

On the bright side, we saw a flyer for the 2018 Fort Umpqua Muzzleloaders Frontier Heritage Fair and I'm going to see if we can fit that into our schedule.

Wednesday, February 07, 2018

{Books and Yarn} Remember Those Single Skeins of Sock Yarn?

I'd completely forgotten about them until a couple of days ago. I think I found the last couple of skeins and both had the contrasting yarn for heels and toes.

Remind me if I do this again to buy the solid yarn in a lighter color. Picking up wraps with this shade of dark blue requires taking off my glasses and holding the project six inches from my face and paying way too much attention to the process. But it does look good with the self-striping yarn I'm using for the rest of the sock. 

Death and the Viking's Daughter by Loretta Ross

I've told you how much I love the Auction Block mysteries, right? The fourth book in the series has a lot to enjoy. The old abandoned supper club that Wren is helping prepare for an upcoming auction was designed after another club that went up in flames years earlier, which gives the reader some vicarious urban exploration in a building I'd love to see in real life. The house Wren and Death are hoping to buy has a dead body in the rose bushes, which the owners had buried there back in 1992 and everyone else in town already knew about. And one of the viking reenactors at the settlement next to the supper club is sure he saw the ghost of his missing daughter. Everything I love about this series keeps getting better and I can't wait for the next book in the series to come out.

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

Tuesday, February 06, 2018

The Old House is Gone Now

Ever since we bought our old farmhouse in the summer of 2005, I've been watching the steady deterioration of the old house on Honey Sign Road. First, the roof was just badly sagging, then the roof was gone and one exposed wall was leaning...

After each big storm I'd make a point of driving by to see how the house had weathered it. There were still drapes hanging in the windows and we'd speculate about whether there was still furniture inside and what the story of that place was. 

One year, they cut back the blackberries and exposed this side of  the house. The way it's situated along the highway, it would have been pretty much impossible to get good pictures without trespassing, although I was seriously tempted over the years. The place absolutely fascinated me. 

A few weeks back, we drove by and saw a truck from the gas company in the driveway. I thought that that was a bad sign. Now, the house is gone except for a chimney and a pile of stone rubble. 

I knew that sooner or later I'd drive around that curve and there wouldn't be a house there anymore. But I'm still mourning just a little bit. As my youngest son pointed out, someone owned it and they could do whatever they wanted with it. I imagine that it became too much of an insurance liability. It couldn't have been saved. 

It's not like cutting down three hundred year old fir trees just for firewood. That's what the previous owner of this place did, just before putting it on the market. 

Monday, February 05, 2018

The First Sock Yarn Sampler of 2018

With my goal of twelve shawls in 2018, I didn't think I'd be doing the sock yarn samplers. There are only so many hours in the day if I want to knit and do needlework and make quilts...

Obviously, this wasn't a well thought out decision and now I've got a brand new batch of yarns pulled and packed into my little train case. 

Even if my main focus is on the shawls, I still need something mindless to work on while the kids are doing schoolwork. It helps me keep my mouth shut while they're figuring out those endless word problems.

Sunday, February 04, 2018

Black and White Socks

This is my first stash-dived project of 2018 and if I'd known what fun patterns the yarn would make, it wouldn't have sat in my stash for nearly this long.

Yarn: Regia Ringel Color

I know from experience that Regia yarns can do some really fun things, but this stuff is ugly in the skein and I hadn't seen any pictures of finished projects to motivate myself with. My one previous pair with this yarn made boring and uniform stripes.

Saturday, February 03, 2018

Stitching in the Wrong Corner

My goal  for February is to finish the upper right-hand corner of A Little Girl's Fancy. It's a short month and that's the least complicated quarter of the chart.

So what did I do at the Pacific Northwest Stitchers meetup on Thursday?

I made a ton of progress on the bottom section of the trunk. It has big chunks of color and was much less likely to end in disaster than trying to stitch those white on white curtains while trying to follow the conversation.

I guess I'll appreciate that progress in April when I'm working on this section of the chart.

Friday, February 02, 2018

Let's Make Baby Quilts! {2/2/18}

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, February 01, 2018

That Thirteen Year Old Box of Kitted up Cross Stitch Patterns

Yesterday, I pulled out the box of cross stitch projects I'd kitted up but not yet started. A lot of what was in there turned out to be charts that I hadn't pulled floss and fabric for, but it was all stuff that I was very excited about at the time.

For the most part, I'm still excited about it.

I'd forgotten how extensive my sampler stage was. The two samplers I remember splurging on aren't in here, but I'm pretty sure I know where they another box with kitted up projects. I'll pull those out when I've got these figured out.

Floss and fabric that doesn't go with the specific projects will go back into my regular stash. Specialty floss and things like the red and white checked evenweave for Gingham Christmas will stay with the chart.  The charts are going into binders so that I can easily find all of the incredibly detailed houses and all of the Halloween charts and all of the samplers.

I'm having a lot of fun with this.  If you want to see everything that was in the box, there's a video.


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