Monday, October 28, 2019

Fall Knitting

I've talked in the past about coordinating my yarn with the season. This time it was accidental -- I grabbed the skein of yarn to cast on a late night project and realized later that the shading is perfect for fall. I can still claim credit for that, right? 

Honestly, this colorway doesn't look like much inside and under artificial light. It was only when I was knitting in front of the windows at the convention center last week that I realized how pretty it really is.

Why do we fuss so much about Ott lights and perfect color choices if they lighting isn't that great where they'll be seen? Or on socks that are going to be hidden inside a pair of shoes?

Saturday, October 26, 2019

Less Like Ink Blots, More Like Skulls

Here's my current stitchy obsession -- 

Pyramid of Skulls was a Maynia start and at the time I had some serious concerns about it. I love full coverage pieces, love still life pieces, but oh my gosh the confetti on this one!  I really did think that was going to be too much for me. The projects I love most tend to come with a lot of confetti but this one is something else entirely with so many similar colors and so little definition between the different elements.

Now that I've stitched lot of the black blots, or at the least the outlines of what will be huge black blots, I've got landmarks that I'm using to fill in other colors and it's starting to look a lot more possible.

For a while, it was really starting to remind me of a Rorschach test. Remember those cards the shrinks would hold up in old movies? A couple of years ago I started to read The Inkblots: Hermann Rorschach, His Iconic Test, and the Power of Seeing by Damion Searls, which tells how the test was developed in a Swiss asylum in the early nineteen hundreds. It fascinating stuff, but the book explains it in exhaustive detail and it's kind of dry reading. I only make it about halfway through and although I keep telling myself I'm going to finish that day hasn't come quite yet.

Disclosure -- The publisher provided me with a an advance review copy of  the book. This post contains Amazon affiliate links. 

Friday, October 25, 2019

Let's Make Baby Quilts! {10/25/19}

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.

You are invited to the Inlinkz link party!

Click here to enter

Thursday, October 24, 2019

I Found the Pattern for Pearl and Earl!

Remember these two plates that I saw at an estate sale and didn't buy?

I  found the pattern! Or what I suspect is one of many versions of the pattern since the one I found was published in 1959 and I've seen a sources that dates plates like this to the 1920s.

It's honestly not much of a pattern at all, is it? I couldn't bring myself to spend a dollar for the plates I found, but now I'm wanting to make a set of my own. And a bunch of other things from the same book that would have been completely reasonable in their day but seem a bit silly now.

Wednesday, October 23, 2019

Knitting in Portland

Did I mention that I have a new shawl on my needles? It's a garter stitch triangle, using a skein of Shawl in a Ball that I picked up at the 2017 Hobby Lobby yarn clearance and it's a pretty decent project as far as mindless knitting goes. 

My oldest son and I spent the entire day Saturday at the Retro Gaming Expo in Portland. Early that morning, I knew I was over packing my project bag with knitting and stitching and books. Odds were that I'd spend most of my time reading on my phone's Kindle app or playing Clockmaker.

That was before I shattered my phone in the parking lot as we were getting out of the car. I spent ten hours knitting and stitching and people watching and read both books I'd brought from cover to cover...and I'm not complaining one bit about the long day. Hours of uninterrupted time to work on what I want to work on is not a bad thing at all.

I do wish I'd had my phone because I could've taken a  picture of my sock in progress with the Unipiper riding by in the background. 

Tuesday, October 22, 2019

{I've Been Reading} Lock Every Door

I read Riley Sager's first book, Final Girls, cover to cover on our flight home from Hawaii a few years back. It kept me entertained and turning  the pages until the end. As much as I  loved that book, somehow I managed to forget about it and not notice that the author had a second one out. So I missed The Last Time I lied. A couple of weeks ago, I saw Lock Every Door in my instagram feed and that reminded me of how much I'd enjoyed Final Girls...

I used to be much better at keeping track of which books I'd read. I also had access to far fewer books in those days before the internet when the selection was limited to what the library or bookstore had on their shelves.

On Saturday, I read Lock Every Door almost straight through, with breaks for knitting and pacing the lobby. The book kept me turning pages and guessing and holding my breath just a bit and wishing the description had give me more clues about what I was in for.

Jules moves into an apartment with strict rules. She can't have visitors, or be away overnight, or take pictures of the interior to post on social media. She can't disturb the other residents or reveal information about them. In exchange for following those rules, she'll be paid a thousand dollars each week for simply occupying the luxury apartment for the next three months.

As readers, and because we've seen the cover of the book, we know that the apartment is too good to be true and Jules quickly starts to suspect that herself. What the cover doesn't reveal -- and what I love most about this book -- is that Jules already has ties to the gorgeous old building. Her older sister used to read to her from a battered copy of Heart of a Dreamer, the story of a penniless orphan who finds herself living the glamorous Bartholomew with a spectacular view of Central Park. Now Jules is living there herself, in the same building as the author of her favorite book, beneath the spectacular gargoyles that adorn the roof. But she's not living in a feel-good book written for young teens.

Monday, October 21, 2019


I was being so careful to make sure that the headlights were off, that I had everything I needed, that the car was locked....and that's when my phone slipped out of my hand and landed face down on the pavement of  the parking garage. If you're going to break you phone obviously it's going to happen when you're a hundred miles from home and at the very beginning of a fifteen hour day.

If there's a bright side, it's that my phone was years old and far past its prime. And I didn't actually drop it on the floor of  the Goodwill Outlet while I was opening up that treadle sewing machine case a couple of months ago --

Watching myself fumble and catch that phone makes me a little sick to my stomach now that I know what would have happened if it had hit the concrete. Somehow killing my phone while taking my son to an activity doesn't sound nearly as bad as killing my phone while I was trying to film myself messing around with an old sewing machine I didn't even intend to buy. And I've still never left my phone in a puddle in the driveway overnight. 

Stupid little accidents happen to us all and this one will be fairly easy to recover from. I've switched my number to an old iphone my parents had in a drawer, but now comes the fun of getting it updated and downloading and setting up all of the apps. I guess that's my to do list for the week. 

I hear that other people enjoy getting new phones. This sort of thing really stresses me out. 

Sunday, October 20, 2019

Mixing Thread Types in Cross Stitch

All of my stitching time last week went to Crocuses on the Windowsill and I'm still loving it. 

This is the first Riolis kit I've done that combines the fuzzy wool/acrylic thread with cotton six stranded floss. I wasn't expecting that until I switched to the purple colors and realized that something was different...

I'm honestly not sure why they did this. Maybe it makes the flower petals reflect the light differently  or makes them look more delicate. I'm guessing that the more I stitch the more sense this will make.

Have you mixed fiber content in your stitchery?

Saturday, October 19, 2019

Stitchcraft: An Embroidery Book of Simple Stitches and Peculiar Patterns

I have a new favorite needlework book! 

If you've been reading my blog you'll know how intrigued I am by vintage crewel. Stitchcraft: An Embroidery Book of Simple Stitches and Peculiar Patterns by Gayla Partridge is exactly what I didn't know I was looking for -- a combination of those gorgeous botanical embroideries and the stuff you'd find in a curiosity cabinet.

Look at the botanical heart....

There are three different hearts to choose from, along with lungs and other flowery anatomical specimens.  I'll be honest -- one or two of these are too graphic for me to stitch. Just thinking about stitching a diagram of the inside of a tooth makes me squirm in discomfort. But I could see stitching the dissected frog.

And I definitely want to stitch these two...

To see my flip through and video review, click below....

Friday, October 18, 2019

Let's Make Baby Quilts! {10/18/19}

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.

You are invited to the Inlinkz link party!

Click here to enter

Wednesday, October 16, 2019

{I've Been Reading} Death of a Gigolo

Death of a Gigolo by Laura Levine

Freelance writer Janie Austen has been hired by Daisy Kincaid to ghostwrite a steamy romance novel. The heiress has already titled the book Fifty Shades of Turquoise. The setting will be a fifty room mansion, each room painted in a different shade of her favorite color and there will be a sex scene in every single room. Janie happily settles into her cushy new job and things are perfect (if she ignores the fact that her tempermental cat, Prozac, isn't at all happy she's back together with her ex.)

Then Daisy falls for Tommy and he moves into her mansion and takes over. Every member of Daisy's staff and every one of her circle of friends are horrified. They all want him gone, each for their own reasons. When Daisy announced her engagement and the creep is found dead with a knife in his neck, they're all suspects.

Death of a Gigolo is fast paced and funny with the most unlikable murder victim I think I've ever come across. Don't let that whole Fifty Shades of Turquoise thing concern you -- we don't have to read any of Daisy's bodice ripper.  Instead we get entertaining emails from Janie's parents telling the story of a disastrous haircut.

I absolutely recommend this one and I can't wait to go back and read some of the earlier books in the series.

Disclosure -- The publisher provided me with an advance review copy. This post contains affiliate links. 

Tuesday, October 15, 2019

We're All Sick Here....

I don't know what my husband brought home from work, but it involves lots of snot and coughing and sinus pressure and wobbliness and it's led to some of the strangest discussions with my sons. Mostly of the "this is not the flu but even if you actually did have the flu you'd recover and be absolutely fine" variety. There was also  the teenager who said he didn't  want any cold medicine because it wouldn't fix his stuffy nose or sore through or cough. I handed him the box and had him read it. This is the kid who never admits he's sick, he just stuffs a wad of tissues into his pocket and soldiers on.

Now I'm wondering if the reason our homeschooled boys so rarely get sick is that there's nothing to be gained or lost from it aside from occasionally quarantining ourselves so we don't share the annoyance with other people. If they feel like lying down will help, they lie down. Once they feel better they get up and get on with their day. There's none of that "if you're too sick for school you're too sick to do anything but stare at the walls" nonsense. It also takes a lot less energy to head into the living room to do some reading and math problems than it would to get up, get dressed and wait for the bus....all before even getting to school.

My own energy level is picking up a bit so I'm hoping to work on this later today. 

The plan is to patch those gaping holes with some eyelet lace, with buttonhole stitching around it.

Sunday, October 13, 2019

Slow Blue Lace Socks

It took me almost two months to slog my way through this pair of socks, despite the fact that I was actively knitting on them. I'd understand if I'd shoved them into a project bag while I was working on something else, but I was actually trying - and failing - to get these done.

I can't explain how or why they were such a hassle. I had good needles. I've knit probably a dozen pairs in this same super easy lace pattern. I've used this brand of yarn before and even though I don't like the placement of those dark stripes, that ugly detail shouldn't have messed with the physical act of knitting them.

I made mistakes. I dropped stitches. My hands got tired more quickly than they should have (a problem that I didn't have once I switched to that garter stitch shawl I posted last week.)

I think I'll tuck these into a drawer until I forget how much I dislike them. 

Saturday, October 12, 2019

I'm Obsessed With the Crocuses on the Windowsill

All of  the stitching I've done in the past week has been on Crocuses on the Windowsill. I'm seriously in love with this little scene and once I settle in to work on it, it's hard to put it down again. 

I think it's helping that I'm keeping my focus on just the lower right hand corner and not letting myself even look at how much more there will be to do once I finish this part.

Friday, October 11, 2019

Let's Make Baby Quilts! {10/11/19}

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.

You are invited to the Inlinkz link party!
Click here to enter

Thursday, October 10, 2019

{Estate Sale Temptations} The Ship in the Kitchen

I kind of want a picture of a sailing ship in my own kitchen....

I don't know what it was about this house that we visited during an estate sale last weekend, but I absolutely loved it. The structural issues were obvious and I know it would be totally impractical to live in, but it felt welcoming and the massive kitchen was its absolute best feature.

I only took the one picture because it was crowded, but the whole house was like that. Lots and lots and lots of clutter, but the floor plan was kind of amazing. And I have to keep reminding myself that I had a yellow kitchen for almost ten years and hated it for the entire time...but maybe mine was the wrong shade of yellow?

Earlier in the week, I found this at one of the local thrift shops and convinced myself to leave it behind. 

I've been wanting a little metal stove like this forever and ever (to replace one I had as a kid) and this one was only five dollars. The inside was totally rusted out and the top was bent out of shape so I  convinced myself that there will be another one. Or maybe there won't.

I don't absolutely need a little metal stove....

Wednesday, October 09, 2019

Caramel Me Away Shawl

I needed something mindless on my needles so a few days ago I cast on with a cake of self striping acrylic from my Hobby Lobby clearance stash. The plan was to knit a garter stitch triangle until I ran out of yarn and just look at how well that plan worked out for me!

I like this one a lot more than I thought I would. It took the tiniest bit of fiddling to keep the stripe pattern consistent because when I bought the yarn I didn't know there was a trick to selecting the cakes to ensure that the colors would end at the same point. To fix my mistake, I wound up using yarn from the outside of  the second skein to make the narrow reddish band wide enough, then going back to the inside of the skein to continue with the dark brown.

This was just what I needed as an antidote to those blue lace socks.

I used two skeins of Yarn Bee Sugarwheel in the "caramel me away" colorway, not quite 700 yards of worsted weight acrylic. Now I'm torn between using my other two cakes to make the exact same shawl in a different colorway or doing something different, like basketweave.

Tuesday, October 08, 2019

{I've Been Reading} The Body in the Gravel

All Hats on Deck by Sandra Bretting

This is the first book I've picked up in the Missy DuBois mystery series and I definitely want to read more of them. It was the alligator farm in the description that made me pick this one up. There aren't a lot of gators but there's a ton of atmosphere as Missy and her assistant venture down the Atchafalaya River to meet with a friend's grandson so that she can help him with the business plan. When the young man jumps into the water to show off his skills at swimming with gators, what he finds is the submerged body of his grandmother.

Lots of people wanted Ruby Oubre's riverfront property and Missy can't believe that the older woman drowned by accident. She's also not going to leave Hollis alone in the empty trailer, especially after he begins to receive threatening phone calls.

I enjoyed the mystery and spending time in Missy's world, but in the swamp and at her upscale hat shop.  I've obviously missed a lot by skipping the previous four books and Missy makes several references to "another story for another time." For me, that other time is going to be soon.

The Body in the Gravel by Jazzi Zanders

When the gravel for a driveway is poured and reveals the corpse of the man who was supposed to be making the delivery, house flipper Jazzi Zanders finds herself plunged into another murder investigation. Darby's wife and son vanished years ago and although bodies were never found, some people believe that he did more than just drive them off with his awful behavior.  Plenty of people might have wanted him dead and now he is.

I picked this one up thinking it was the second book in the series, but it's actually the third. The romance that I enjoyed in the first book has progressed into a happy relationship, although Jazzi almost  can't be bothered to pick out a wedding dress. I'm glad they're happy and that the author isn't playing around with jealousy and misunderstandings.

The mystery is interesting. I found myself caring about the people involved and wanting to find out what had actually happened. Jazzi accompanies a police detective on his interviews and never really does any investigating on her own. And there is so much food! Every meal is planned, and shopped for, and cooked, and eaten. I'll be watching for the next book so I can spend more time with Jazzi and Ansel and their family and friends.

Disclosure -- The publisher provided me with an advance review copy. This post contains affiliate links. 

Monday, October 07, 2019

The Second Week of October

We're moving into the second week of October and I really need to  get moving on my Halloween plans. There's the pumpkin patch to get to, and the gaming expo....and Halloween.

Why does October always fly by so quickly? We've got so many things to do!

To Do --
weave in ends and take pictures of finished knits
cast on a new project so I'll have mindless knitting to haul around
clean sewing machine
put up floss from finished projects
add more grid lines to Crocuses on windowsill

Sunday, October 06, 2019

The Peaches are Better Now

On Thursday I made the drive up to Acorn and Threads and spent six solid hours stitching with my friends. I took breaks to wander around the shop and breaks to listen to the conversation but mostly  I stitched a jar full of peaches. 

A couple of weeks ago I posted about the problem I'd run into with Canner's Kitchen. It was the first stitching I'd done in ages and I'd made a lot of progress and then I realized that a big chunk of what I'd done was wrong and I didn't know how to fix it. I was STUCK.

Some of us pulled out different shades of orange and compared them to the photograph and made guesses about whether those stitches should be darker or lighter than the other existing stitches. Then Michelle Garrette looked at the green skein and wondered if 772 was just a typo for 722 and we compared that shade of peachy orange to the other possibilities we'd chosen. It was so close that it just HAD to be the right color.

I sat down and picked out all of those green stitches and started replacing them with the new color and filling in the space around them. That can't not be the right color. Or if it is, I don't care because it's worlds better then the green.

If you're wondering how I got myself into so much trouble, it's because of my other project with lots of shading, Ripe Apples. That one has all kinds of colors that don't make any sense until they're stitched. If I'd been looking at the picture on the opposite page instead of just blindly following the chart, I would've seen that something was wrong. But I didn't.

When you think about it, it's amazing that I so rarely run into problems with these old magazines.

Saturday, October 05, 2019

{Sorting Through My Stash} Paula Vaughan

I thought I'd try to figure out how many Paula Vaughan cross stitch patterns are out there and I quickly gave up because it's all so overwhelming. There are the books, and the single pattern charts, and the magazines...

I think I'll just keep watching the thrift stores and see what I can find. There doesn't seem to be any duplication between these three books I've already got in my stash, but it's hard to tell because she uses to many similar elements with quilts draped over barbed wire and attic and porch scenes and old dresses. 

Do I even need to mention that I want to stitch them all? I hadn't noticed this wheelbarrow until I was doing my flip through video.

And this piano scene definitely fits in with my current still life obsession....

It's got an attic, and a quilt, and a spinning wheel. And none of her other designs, at least none of the ones I own, have spinning wheels.

I saw someone's pictures of this piece on Instagram and immediately fell in love with the pumpkins (along with just about every other chart in Quilts for All Seasons) and was lucky enough to find a copy at Goodwill after only a couple of weeks of searching.

I'd love to get my hands on Quilts from the Bible or Preserved in Time or The Best of Paula Vaughan Book 2 but it's going to have to be if I'm lucky enough to stumble across them because they're out of print and not cheap.

Are their certain designers you collect just because you love their patterns so much? 

Friday, October 04, 2019

Let's Make Baby Quilts! {10/4/19}

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.

You are invited to the Inlinkz link party!
Click here to enter

Thursday, October 03, 2019

Dollar Tree Crafter's Square

Have you seen the new Crafter's Square at Dollar Tree? One of the boys needed a USB charger so we  stopped by and I'm optimistic. That banner wasn't there last week and although the section isn't fully stocked yet I went looking online and it looks like they're going to have some fun additions.

The store I visited had the glitter and beads I've found there before (with a few new varieties), along with paint brushes and some wooden pieces. There was still lots of room the new craft section could expand into.

I'll be checking back later to see if they get the adhesive cork sheets and utility knives I saw on some of the haul videos. There were also some little wooden trays that I have an idea for. 

I wish that they'd had all of this when the kids were younger and wanted things for projects. These days there are so many fun little craft kids available.

Have you got a section like this in your local store? What are you finding useful? We left the store with only the cord we'd gone in for -- mostly because they'd stocked up on snacks the day before. 

Wednesday, October 02, 2019

Practical Thrift Store Shopping

When I go thrifting, I'm almost always looking for things I couldn't buy new. Sometimes I'm digging through the bins at the Goodwill outlet just looking for a warm sweater in a yarn that won't fall apart after two washings, but usually I'm after interesting vintage craft supplies or original text Nancy Drew books or stuff that's interesting enough to photograph and put into a thrift store post. 

My summer thrifting got taken over by the quest for shoes.... 

I needed three teenage boys to have presentable feet for the wedding. They didn't have to be brand new shoes, or like new shoes. They just had to be kind of nondescript and not garish sneakers. My oldest might wear his again someday, but the younger two aren't done growing and I don't expect another occasion that will call for fancy shoes.

We went to every store I know of, most of them more than once. There was a pair that were a size too big for my oldest but they were in perfect shape and dirt cheap so they came home with us (and later went to the best man who actually wears that size and also needed shoes.) There were a couple of pairs that were perfect except for the price.

I also called around to see what rental shoes cost. Yikes!  We bought all three pairs for less than my husband spent for his new pair....which was less than the rental place wanted.

As much as I love thrift store shopping, I'm glad that the endless shoe hunt is over. It's much more fun to just wander in and see what's there.

Tuesday, October 01, 2019

{I've Been Reading} The Farm

I can't remember where I first heard about The Farm by Joanne Ramos, but I checked it out from the library expecting a thriller. Golden Oaks, a luxury facility where surrogate mothers known as "Hosts"  are paid to remain for the nine months of their pregnancies, seems too perfect to be true. There has to be a catch and I was expecting a shocking twist that never came.

Jane came to Golden Oaks after losing her job as a baby nurse. It seems like an answer to her financial problems, a way to provide a better life for her infant daughter who she's left in the care of her cousin. Although Jane is definitely being exploited at times she's her own worst enemy.

The hosts avoid stress and eat nutritious food an keep to a strict schedule of exercise. Their movements are constantly tracked, but there's really very little in the books about the details of surrogacy or of pregnancy and there's absolutely nothing about childbirth. There's a growing sense of just how vulnerable the Hosts are to the whims of their clients, and of Golden Oaks. It's horrific, but in a slowly paced, very realistic sort of way.


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