Friday, April 11, 2014

Spring! Sewing, Socks and So Forth

What is more beautiful than daffodils after a harsh winter?  Not much.  

Someday, I hope to have thousands of daffodils all over our yard, just like my grandma did.  She had all varieties, from tiny narcissus to jumbo all-yellow King daffodils.  Grandma would always send my mom home with a huge bouquet, and we kids would get smaller ones, wrapped in a wet paper towel and aluminum foil.  

Last October, I wrote "PLANT BULBS" on our kitchen chalkboard.  Then, one evening, our friend Blake came for supper and told us that he always plants his bulbs in "that thaw we always get every January."  So, since he's a smarty about all things horticultural, I thought I would follow his advice.  Guess what?  No January thaw.  No February thaw, either.  So, just a few daffodils in our gardens.  Next year . . . 

Meanwhile, I love the daffodils that are there, even though they might not be too beautiful by Easter:

The yearly photo of the star magnolia tree.  It is beautiful, but delicate, and a strong breeze or rainstorm will send white petals everywhere.

This quilt along I'm participating in really has me itching to sew more.  Since I am knitting socks now, and have plans for more, I thought I needed my own little sock knitting bag like the one I made for Christie a couple of years ago, over there on the left.  

You know I have this thing for matroyshkas and matroyshka fabric -- this bundle is called Little Matryoshka from Riley Blake -- so cute.  Once again, I used this easy-to-follow free pattern from Pink Penguin -- she had designed it originally as a lunch tote, using laminated fabrics.  I want to try that soon, too. 

 Drawstring top:
 And it holds all the sock knitting paraphernalia just right:
Almost to the toe!

I'm finally delivering a wedding present to a sweet couple who were married in November.  So many people helped to make this wedding so special -- all the friends of the MOB pitched in to decorate, cook, sew . . .   The prayer flags decorating the reception space were my contribution:

So I made Annie and Andy a pillow to match:
 It's that same easy applique technique I used on the Disney pillows last fall -- just use the darning foot and sew around and around till you get what you like.

I tried to sew in symbols of a happy marriage -- a home, rings, heart, cross.  Plus their wedding date.

I forgot to take a picture of the back, where there is a little pocket for love notes.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Layer Cake Sampler Quilt -- Blocks 9 and 10

Here are my next two blocks in the Layer Cake Sampler QAL hosted by Material Girl, Amanda.

I've seen this block called "Windblown Square" in quilt books.  I really like this one.

And  I found one reference to this one which names it "Octagon,"  but I'm not really sure why.
 I had big trouble with this one -- my points just weren't coming together correctly.  But I purchased a new ruler mentioned by one of the participating bloggers and I think my next two squares will come together much better.  (I'll let you know!)  Plus, Amanda has linked to some good sites for piecing advice, which I'm going to go read right now, before I start on 11 and 12.  Today, I am 4 blocks behind -- Friday, I will be 6 behind!

And here are my wonderful prizes which arrived yesterday:

The jelly roll is a beautiful spring palette, designed by Marjolein Baslin -- I love her watercolor greeting cards, but I didn't know she was a fabric designer, too.  I can't wait to make something from this bundle.  And, I can't wait to paint my nails, but I think I'll wait until after I get back from retreat at the CYO camp this weekend. Many thanks to Heather at CT for donating this prize!


Tuesday, April 8, 2014

A Small Thought for Today

I, like every other human (and most cats) on the Earth, like to think I am right.
And sometimes I am wrong.

But even if I am wrong according to civil law, church law or just popular opinion, I hope I err on the side of peace, justice and love.

Perhaps that will be my new motto and bumper sticker:  Err on the Side of Love.

Because that just can't be wrong, can it?


Monday, April 7, 2014

Tote Bag

 I made this tote bag for Michelle, an art teacher and jewelry designer, who is giving it to her soon-to-be optometrist sister.  Michelle wanted it large enough for a binder and small purse with lots of pockets.  On the outside, the bag looks the same front and back.  But I flipped it inside out to show the pockets inside.  I sewed some slots for pens, cell phone, etc., and a bigger pocket with a magnet closure.

 Inside, flip side:

The fabric is Echino from where else but Crimson Tate.  The pattern?  I just sort of made it up from what Michelle wanted.  


Saturday, April 5, 2014

Layer Cake Sampler Quilt -- Blocks 7 and 8

One of the best things about participating in this quilt-along is seeing what everyone else is doing, via flicker and blogs.  

Of course, viewing the other beautiful blocks and color choices makes me want to start some of my blocks all over, which I might just do before all is said and done -- for one, I wish I hadn't used any white in the blocks.  Or that I had used white in every block.    

Another best thing is that Amanda had a giveaway last week for those who posted their blocks to a group site -- I did, and I won!  Nail polish and a jelly roll of beautiful material from Crimson Tate!   I guess that means I need to start painting my nails and planning a jelly roll quilt.  

I am still a little behind (Amanda posted blocks 13 and 14 yesterday), but here are my #7 and #8:



Wednesday, April 2, 2014

A Little Spring Handiwork

Last week at Knit Night, our theme was strawberries.  I'm not going to show you the crocheted strawberry dishcloth I made because I have that weird texture phobia and this dishcloth gave me the creeps -- I ripped it out as soon as I got home from class.  (But, if you would be interested in the pattern, you can find it here at garn studios.  This is a fantastic place for free patterns, and the cloth really does look like a basket of strawberries.  Pay no attention to my weirdness.)

But just look at this cute knit strawberry hat!  The pattern is here, by a designer whose name, I think, is Ulla -- this site is in Finnish -- thank goodness Google Chrome translates!  If you need the pattern in English, I made it into a printable form for class, and would be glad to send you a copy.  

I worked this hat on #4 DPNs, and held together two strands of Knitpicks Palette for both the green and red portions of this hat.  You knit the brim first, then join it together and pick up stitches along the brim for the rest of the hat.
The size is for a 1-2 year old girl, but since I don't have any of those around here, my adorable Small World doll, Eugenie, is a good model. I think I might make up a simple 2-rectangle poncho to go with this, using the same stitch pattern with a green border, and then give them to a 1-2 year old girl.  Stay tuned. 

This is a pattern I handed out at the first session in March -- a bunny based on a granny square designed by The Green Dragonfly from New Zealand.   I worked this one up using kitchen cotton, but you could use any yarn.  Very quick, very cute.   

I gave Joannie a skein of yarn for her birthday last May, and promised her a pair of socks.  I almost have a pair of socks done now, but the first one was ginormous, so for the second one (and third one, once I rip out the first), I switched to this beautiful pattern.  It's called Katniss, and it's a free download if you are on Ravelry.

This is a very beautiful sock.  I learned the German twisted cast on -- very stretchy.  And, I turned the heel without holes.  I'm a girl on fire.  :)


Thursday, March 27, 2014

First Quarter 2014 Book Report

Aye yi yi!  Where is 2014 going?  And why is it going so fast?

So guess what?  I'm in a book club.  I was so happy to be asked to join this group of wonderful women -- some I knew, some are new friends.  Their book for February was The Husband's Secret, which I had read last year and thought would generate some great discussion.  It did.

For March, they had chosen The Book Thief.  No problem, I thought.  I had read this treasure several years ago, and had recommended it to others.  I thought I had a copy on my bookshelves somewhere, but apparently, I had given it away.  So, I ordered a used copy from Amazon for .95, and received it with a week to spare for a little re-read and review.  But when I finally sat down with the book on Friday (our meeting was coming up on Monday), I couldn't remember the story at all -- yikes!  That Saturday morning was a cold snowy mess, so Clay and I watched the movie.  Beautiful.  But I knew there was much about the story that the movie wasn't able to cover, so I re-read as much as I could before the meeting, and I want to re-read the entire book soon. If you haven't read this one, you should.

Our friend, Tim, leads a book group at our library every other month.  Bad Dirt, a collection of short stores by Annie Proulx, was his choice for March, and we had a great discussion, despite the fact that I wasn't crazy about the stories.  In fact, if I wasn't reading this for Tim's group, I would have abandoned it.  I really wanted to like this book -- Proulx is a Pulitzer prize winner, for pete's sake -- I was ready to be wowed.  I wasn't.  Tim and another gentleman in the group found the stories hilarious -- I just found them pretty sad pictures of the human experience.  Clay and I did go upstairs after the group and check out The Shipping News -- I just want to be sure I'm not missing out on loving a great writer, so I'm trying again.

 I had made some reading resolutions for 2014, and I am happy to report that I'm doing pretty well on those.  For the young adult novel, I read The Fault in Our Stars by John Green.

This is a beautiful novel -- not simply a beautiful YA novel.  It's sad, but you know it will be sad from the first page -- it is about cancer, so be warned.
It's just beautiful writing.  And it's full of beautiful characters you want to know.  And although it's set in Indianapolis, you will go on an amazingly beautiful journey.

It's worth the tears, I promise.

One of the resolutions was to read outside of your usual genre, so I decided I would read a horror or science fiction book.  My friend, Christie, recommended The Dead Zone by Stephen King.  It's not horrible, and just a tiny bit frightening, but it was thrilling, and I finished it in 2 days.  It's a love story, a father-son story, a teacher-student story and a "what in the hell would you do if you had this terrifying power?" story.  I probably won't read any more Stephen King, but I am glad to have read this one -- his storytelling is fantastic, and makes me understand why so many are addicted to his novels.

And I'm saving the best for last.  The first resolution was to read "something massive", and The Goldfinch, at 785 pages, certainly qualifies.

I saw this book on all kinds of "best of" lists at the end of 2013, but when Maureen Corrigan of NPR said it was her "book of the year," that was enough to make me download it onto the nook.  Because holding a volume of this book surely would have made my arms tired.  And since it's on the shelf of new fiction at our library, I would only have had 7 days to read it.  And it's just too lush to finish in 7 days.  There's too much about the museum world, the fine antique furniture world, the Vegas underworld and the crazy world of art theft to take it all in in just 7 days.  And by too much, I mean too much in a very, very good way.

I had to stop and breathe.

And, I'm still not done.  I have 50 pages to go.  I've had 50 pages to go for 3 weeks now.  I just don't want this one to be over.

So, I guess you could say I'm currently reading this one.

I am also currently reading Necessary Lies by Diane Chamberlin for my Tuesday book group, Runaway by Alice Munro for Tim's book group and listening to Amy Tan's Valley of Amazement in the sewing room.