Wednesday, December 24, 2014

book report

I just finished reading a fun new mystery book, rather, I just finished listening to it.  I think I simply found it while at the library browsing the recorded books shelves.  It is titled The Preacher and is written by a Swedish author, Camilla Lackberg.  (I don't know how to find it on blogger, so I had to skip the correct "a" in Lackberg.  It is supposed to have the 2 little dots over it, which means it sounds like a long A in our terms.)  It's not a lighthearted story, it is kind of morose and creepy at times, like most murder mysteries.  The fun thing about it is that the story is set in a village on the west coast of Sweden, an area that I love and visited many times 40-some years ago.  So I could really picture the scenes with certain locations in mind that I remember, making it seem much more real.  I have now requested another book by this author, since she has published several titles.

And, on a cheerier note, we are ready for our Christmas celebrations!  We aren't having anyone here this year, we are going to visit parents and family.  So we left the big tree and all the ornaments packed away, and brought out our little tree instead.

 And I was able to put together a nice display on the mantel without stockings this year!  This was a decorative box that I found at a furniture store, The Wood Shed, in Augusta, WI.  They have loads of beautiful furniture, much of it made by the local Amish community.  They also carry a lot of decorative accents, like this box.  And those candy canes and lights came from there, too.  The berries came out of my Christmas boxes, and the greens and hydrangeas came out of the yard.  All together, it looks fun and not totally dorky-homemade!

Merry Christmas to all of you!

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

finally some sewing (etc.) to share

I haven't put up much here lately about the creative side of my life, so here goes:

A young friend of mine, Molly, gave birth to her first little baby about a week ago (or so).  I had some fun making her pretty little crib sheets for the nursery and some pennants for her name (Ada) to decorate the wall.  When I first heard that her choice of colors for the nursery was gray and green and purple, I wasn't sure how that was going to work out.  I found out that the walls were painted a fairly bright limeish green, and the purple that she was going for was definitely not lavender!  She came into Bear Patch one evening and we picked out some bolts that fit into her color scheme.  After that, it was easy to visualize how it would look.  In addition to the crib sheets, I have put together this small quilt for Ada, although it isn't finished for the young princess yet!

One more touch that I added for the nursery was altering the curtains Molly had purchased to fit the windows.  And more importantly, add light blocker lining!  We know how precious a sleeping baby is, and sometimes the darkness is so important to calming and relaxing.  In the picture above, you can see the difference between the naked curtain on the left and the lined curtain on the right.  I highly recommend this little addition for any babies in your life!  I purchased RocLon Budget Blackout lining for this, cut a rectangle to fit and topstitched it across the top and down both side edges of the curtain.  I left the bottom loose and didn't turn a hem or anything because this stuff doesn't ravel.  Do use a walking foot if you are sewing this, and plenty of pins, because it tends to not feed through the machine quite like ordinary fabric does.

Just a couple days ago, I decided I wanted to make one more thing for a Christmas present.  I went for something made with bulky yarn and big needles so I have a hope and a prayer of getting it done in time, given the fact that my knitting time has been pretty limited lately.  I made this once before, it is the Gaptastic Cowl.  I gave it to Brita and she thought it was great, so I'm game to do another!  The pattern is a freebie, so maybe you would like to give it a try yourself!

And speaking of knits, Miss Penny of Whitefish, seems to have taken possession of the scarf I made for Lauren!  I guess Penny knows a good thing!

Another knit gift that is completed and in the mail is a neat pair of fingerless gloves.  In the picture below, I have one glove that is done and blocked, and the other (on the right) is done but unblocked.  I didn't know the value of blocking when I started out knitting, thinking it was just something that the really good experienced knitters did and that I didn't have time for such fuss.  Well, turns out I was wrong.  The process of blocking is simple--just soak the item in lukewarm soapy water (mild detergent), then rinse and roll up in a towel to squeeze the excess water out.  Then lay out flat on a smooth surface, and stretch and straighten to get it looking perfectly aligned.  When it dries, it looks neat and finished, plus any little bits of dirt or oil (or cookie crumbs?!) picked up during knitting are gone.  The knit stitches lay much flatter, even though you can't really see that in the picture.  But the edges and ribbing lay smooth and even, making a much more professional finish.  As far at the soap goes, there are several types of mild detergent soaps out there (dreft, soak, soaps intended for babies, eucalan, etc.) but the one I often use is called Show Paste Shampoo from the Fleet Farm store.  It is an animal shampoo, but really good to use on textiles, too.  Who knew?!

I whipped up a little sewing project a couple days ago to try out a new design from QuiltSmart.  It is called the Gadget Cushion, and is the perfect propper-upper for our favorite little hand-held computer devices.  Works great for my phone and I need to try it for my Kindle, too.

During the fall, I got addicted to making these little bags.  I think I made about 2 dozen.  It was just so fun choosing the fabrics and zippers!  I have a few more combos already in a box for the next retreat.  And a lot of these little guys are making some fun little Christmas gifts, sometimes even with a gift card inside!  The pattern is Bridget's Bagettes by Atkinson Designs.  Go ahead, see if you can make just one!

And that's about all for today!  

Saturday, December 13, 2014

a little trip

In the not too distant past, Bob and I made a trip to North Carolina.  Charlotte, actually.  The Ballantyne area, southern outskirts of the city, is where Ben, Brita, Ian and Jack are working on creating a new home.  It's a long ways to go for our babysitting gig, but so wonderful to visit them there.  It has been a big move, and it's not over yet because they are in an apartment temporarily.  That means there are a lot of boxes still packed and stored in the garage.  And one of them holds the Christmas tree stand!  We ended up sending Bob and Brita out to get a tree and new stand so the decorating could begin.  
We all got to go on an overnight trip to Asheville.  A great area, getting into the mountain region of the state.  Some beautiful scenery, good food and drink, and much more sightseeing than we had time for on this trip.  Here are Brita and Ian on one of the patio areas of the Grove Point Inn, a fabulous historic hotel.

And here's a good shot of little Jack, he had just learned how to get up to sitting from laying down, and started to get up on hands and knees, too.  A couple days ago Brita sent me a little video showing Jack actually making synchronized crawling movements!

We were eating out at a Mexican restaurant (excellent!) and Ian was trading hats around and gave his grandpa a smooch.  That puts a big grin on Bob's face!  Ben was a bit under the weather, so he had to kind of take it easy.  Mexican food, and most other kinds of food, held no appeal for him!  But about 48 hours later things were back to good again.

The Asheville area seems to be a gathering place for artistic and creative minds, so the town reflects that free-thinking spirit.  It was a young mindset that I enjoyed.  The "arts" extend to the craft of brewing, and we enjoyed a delicious local brew at the Wicked Weed taproom.  That name relates to the hops plant, sometimes known as a weed, that can transform into beer.  So clever!   
Jack thinks so, too!

Wednesday, November 19, 2014


Today things seem a little misplaced here in blogland.  My pictures won't line up like I want them to.  I am doing a little work-around to even get the pictures in here because the usual system I use is not cooperating, so I will just be happy that I even got the pictures to appear!
While I was just away on a fun quilting retreat, we started talking about the good places to find tools that help our sewing and quilting.  These are not items found at a quilt shop.  Let me explain.
These little paper clips/binder clips are from the office supply store.  They have a heavy paper tab added that can be written on.  I have used these not just for papers, but for groups of blocks or pieces that I can clip together, label, and then come back to later.
IKEA does hold a wealth of gadgets and gizmos that can be applied to our quilting hobby.  Even the button rug I wrote about not long ago!  This item below is a magazine or paper or letter sorter.  Now it is a ruler holder!  Hanging nicely on the wall, it helps tame the ruler madness.

Not every ruler fits into the wall holder, so the remainder sit nicely in this desktop letter/file holder.  This was a thrift store find.  If you are looking for one for yourself, be aware that some of this type of holder are wire.  That works, too, but not very well for the smallest rulers because they fall through the bottom.  The one in the picture is plastic and has a solid bottom to each division so nothing escapes.  I even put small cutting mats in here.

Again, from the office supply store, I landed on a stack of screw top containers meant for lunch or snacks.  Now they are a neat way to transport little necessities.

And lastly, these adhesive pieces can be found in your everyday discount store (Target, etc).  They are adhesive on both sides with a soft gel-like center.  Available in strips or squares.  I have used them when I need to make a seam allowance other than my usual 1/4" width.  I remove the cover from one side of the adhesive, then measure my seam allowance from the needle, and adhere the strip to the bed of my sewing machine.  It has a little thickness, so serves as kind of a bumper for the edge of the fabric feeding under the presser foot.  And when I am done, I just peel it off, replace the strip of clear plastic that covered the sticky stuff, and save it for another day.  The pack contains multiples, so I likely have a life time supply!

Another discovery to share with you--a new brand of oatmeal!  It is certainly the time for oatmeal here with winter upon us, but it can really be eaten anywhere anytime.  This particular brand of oatmeal is called Better Oats and comes from Malt-O-Meal.  Just down the road a bit from here!  I don't have a picture to share, and my attempts to "borrow" the picture from their website have been unsuccessful, but if you go to the website you will see it.  It is Oat Revolution Steel Cut Instant Oatmeal with Flax.  I purchased mine in the little Gordy's grocery store in Augusta, WI.  Mine is flavored with maple and brown sugar, but you can get them plain or in other flavors according to the Better Oats website.  It cooks a little longer than regular instant oatmeal (2 1/2 minutes) but comes out with more chew to it and I like that.  If you can find it in your area, give it a try!

That's the limit of my discoveries for today!  Have a good one!

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

bike boys

Here's a little history lesson mixed with a quilting lesson!

Friday, November 7, 2014


I just happened to find an interesting article about fabric design and wanted to share it with you.  

With my work at the quilt shop and related activities, the topic of fabric designers often comes up.  When a fabric company representative is showing us samples of 20 new designer groups, we pick and choose and critique freely.  We generally have an idea of what styles and looks will be interesting to our customers.  Most of the time we are familiar with the name of the designer and the concept she/he brings to the collection.  That can help a lot in referring to past sales of that designer's fabrics and how well the past designs sold in our store.  Most often, we don't really pay attention to the name of the designer as a factor in the final decisions.  But it is nice to know about the background of the person behind the designs.  And it's nice actually know some people who do the designing, and hear about their process.

Now, for a completely different kind of design, but quilt-related nonetheless.  Lauren is quite a connoisseur of beverages, and has a sharp eye for detail.  She brought me a 6-pack of special beer called Jubleale from deSchutes brewery.  She told me to take a closer look at the label and the package.  Wow!  It's quilted applique!  Isn't that cool?!

Cheers to you!