Friday, August 26, 2016

artwork by grandsons that I'm sure Picasso would admire!

Not a lot of sewing has been accomplished lately.  Other things have been keeping my attention focused elsewhere.  I've been missing my sewing time, and when I've felt like sewing, there hasn't been much time.  I have found myself up in my sewing room, removing papers from half square triangle blocks that I have stacked up for a quilt that has been inching along slowly.  So at least I can do the papers and press the blocks when I need a fix of fabric!

I do have a fun little art project that I did with my 2 grandsons.  They are visiting for 10 days from their home in Charlotte, NC.  They are 2 and 4 years old.  My friend, Debbie, had done this with her grandsons, and although they were older, I borrowed her squirt guns and water color paints and gave it a try.  It's an outdoor project, but it was rainy the day we did it, so the garage had to do.  I draped a big sheet of plywood with a plastic drop cloth and leaned it up against the wall.  Make sure the drop cloth runs all the way down to the floor with a little room to make a "gutter" at the bottom.  Tape up some sheets of watercolor paper, pour the paints into squirt guns, and stand back!  They quickly got the hang of pulling the trigger, and I just helped with a steady hand to keep the paint going in the right direction!  They liked it, and any paint that got on our hands came off during bath time.

After drying, I cut the papers into pieces to fit on some blank cards.  I glued them in place and pressed them between heavy books to keep them from curling.  I have to say, I think they turned out great!  Without even trying or thinking of a plan, the painting was wonderful.

As soon as the rain stopped, we were outside.  So much energy packaged in these 2 little guys, especially when cooped up inside!  Digging in the garden was fun, I had planted some beets but had a crop failure with them, so we pulled up the tops that survived and dug around.  I did get 4 little tiny beets, and some greens, to add to our "Super Juice".  I don't know what I should have done differently with those beets to get them to grow better, most just had a fat root under the ground and not even nearly beet-like.

Jack did have one day feeling under the weather with a mild fever and attack of irritability that was only helped by being cuddled.  This followed a bee sting, so we aren't sure if it was related to that, or just one of his frequent little viral episodes that pop up.

Sad face when a little guy doesn't feel good.
Bob and I took care of the boys while their mom and dad went to a wedding in Lutsen, MN.  They had a great time up there, riding the gondola up to the chalet for the wedding and reception.  We had a great time back at home, in spite of the rainy weather.  Grandpa dook the boys out to pick kale during a shower.  They were wearing their little black hats that I got at an Amish store last spring.

The kale went into out Super Juice, and the boys got to help drop things into the chute.  We have been preparing the juice for a supplement to our normal diet, although sometimes I have it instead of a regular meal.  This batch included: 2 varieties of kale, beets and beet greens, romaine lettuce, apples, oranges, pineapple, carrots, celery and cucumbers.  I started this juicing after watching a documentary called Fat, Sick and Nearly Dead.  There is a short version of the video on that website, or a longer one on Amazon and it's free with Prime.

Just a few more days with these little boys before they have to leave, so we have many things to do!  I hope everyone reading this can feel the joy of time spent with little kids.  It's a good thing!  And then I'll get back to my sewing and quilting!

Saturday, August 6, 2016

out standing in the field

This is the best time of year to take a trip in my little area of the country.  It's many shades of rich green, crops thriving, everything's growing in the sun.  I love the long views whenever I am on a little rise.  Sometimes the best viewpoint is on a bridge at an interstate exit!  I was out at "the farm"-- it was owned and operated by my grandparents when I was a child, then my dad, and now my brother and his wife, Mary.  They do a wonderful job of maintaining and improving the land with their forward-thinking farming methods and conservation.  I caught this picture of the soybeans and the area set aside for wildlife.

And the roads are set out in neat grids, so they are often straight.  In this picture, I can see the trees way down the road that are a couple miles away.

Mary loves roses, and has developed a nice rose bed with several varieties, these are just 2--

They have to be very hardy to survive the wind, storms, snow and cold!

On another note, this is a quilt that my mom just finished.  It's about 80" square or thereabouts, made from 5" squares.  It's for her great-granddaughter, Aurora.  She has hand quilted it, with a shape or letter or number or object in each square.  The dark pink in the star and border is a paisley, which she quilted following the lines of the paisley shapes.  Now she just has to get it out to Washington for Aurora!

And I've done a little hand-stitching, too, working on a UFO that I wrote about here last year.  I basted the whole works to a background fabric, and I have been stitching the outside edge to the background, like an applique stitch.  I'm over halfway around.  Then I need to decide what to do.  I think I want it for the center of my dining room table, so I might put a very thin batting (or heavy flannel) under it with a backing fabric, then do some big-stitch hand quilting to hold the layers together.  I'm in no rush, so I will give it a bit more thought before I land on what I want.  The directions for the hexagon design were part of a sew-along from Sue Daley's blog over at  It was called the Forget-Me-Not Sew Along, and you can get the instructions there at no charge.  I only did a portion of the sew-along, deciding that I didn't need a huge project!

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

a correction and my apologies

Correction to my pattern "Ten":

On the back of the pattern cover, with the yardage requirements, add 1 1/2 yards border print fabric.
On page 1 with the cutting directions for the border print, cross off 6 1/2" x 72".  Change to 8 1/2" x 54".

I am very sorry for the errors, and I apologize for any problems that result.  If you have a problem or complaint, please contact me at or 612-750-1085.  I will make things right for you.  These patterns have only been sold at Bear Patch, so I can backtrack most of them via our computer database.  However, there are always some that can't be tracked down, so that is why I am putting the information here.  Again, my apologies, and I feel terrible about this since I found out yesterday.  Anything printed and sold from here on out will have the corrections made.

Sometimes the old saying, "Haste makes waste" is all too true!   Working on the Quilt MN fabrics for a pattern every year brings a firm deadline.  I am sometimes printing the patterns on the night before the deadline!  This year, I thought things were good because I was ready about 3 days early!  I do the printing myself, and collating and folding and packaging, too.  Because I am on that deadline, I never have enough time from the point that the fabric is available.  I usually have the basic ideas in mind or started on the computer, but I often change direction once I have the actual fabric in hand.  So that does not leave me the time I need to have test sewers work on the quilt.  I really like coming up with new quilt designs, and I like to be able to share them, but the part about getting everything down on paper in an understandable format is the bad part.  I can only hope that this is the worst it gets!

On a much happier note:
I completed a knitting project!  Another winter scarf, this time for myself, although the hot and humid weather makes it seem strange to be working on it!  I wrote about it in a previous post.  I like it posed on the deck railing!

 That means that I get to start a new project, and this one is by request from some young moms I know (that would be Brita and Molly!).  I'm giving it a try and we'll see if it turns out to be worthy of Miss Ada.  It's the Azel Pullover and I'm using a chunky yarn and large needles, so that goes fast.  It's multi-sized, and I chose to start with the smallest size because Ada is 1 year old.  I hope she's walking, because this would not be a good thing for a crawler!

I'm enjoying a few days with my mom and sister in Iowa.  My brother, sister-in-law, nephew and friend, niece and husband have also visited or been visited, so it's been a good time.  Jan, my sister, is returning to her home in San Francisco today, so that's no fun.  But we did something special every day, and made the most of our time back in our hometown of Lake Park together.

Mom's house is on the shore of Silver Lake, with a good place to relax on the deck and watch the lake life.  And here's a picture of her very self reliant hollyhocks, too.  They always re-seed themselves and take care of themselves all summer, too!

We took a little drive to the Round Lake Winery, (on the shore of Round Lake!) about 10 miles away.  It was a great afternoon to sit outdoors and share a bottle of their 2012 Merlot.  It was a very good year!  They are making some good wine out in the middle of the corn and bean fields!  Here's a toast to you....

Thursday, July 28, 2016

special delivery!

 I feel like I can take a deep breath and relax after stressing for awhile about creating a new pattern for our Quilt MN event.  At Bear Patch, I am given the opportunity and freedom to create something new each year with this special edition fabric collection.  This year, I decided to think back a couple of years and re-invent a row quilt design I have used before.  This is the result:
Ten by Emmaline Design
 Here's a closeup of one of the sections, including portions of the great border print that I used.

I had a couple of challenges to put together the pieced blocks that I used.  The fish blocks, shown in the picture above, were derived from another block that I found when I was looking for something to create a frame.  It actually included diamond shapes where the orange pieces are, but I was pretty sure that few people would really want to tackle little set-in diamonds with Y-seams!  So I converted it over to triangles and flying geese blocks to get a similar look.  
I think they look like fish fins and tails!

I also had to do a bit of head scratching to create this chain link row!  I had seen something similar somewhere, but needed to make it fit into the dimensions of 8" x 48".  And find a way to end it neatly without a partial link chopped off!  I like the way it looks now!

If you are interested in making this quilt, we can send you a pattern through Bear Patch.  (I don't do any direct retail sales myself.)  Call 651-429-1039 if you would like to request one.

Also, I put together some of the tools and supplies that would be most helpful in making this quilt:

Starting at the upper left and moving clockwise:
a square ruler 8 1/2" or larger
a rotary cutter with a sharp blade
good scissors
Companion Angle ruler
Strip Stick
Clearly Perfect Angles
a cute pincushion with good (not bent) pins
a chacoliner for marking
mechanical pencil
frixion pen
an awl
seam ripper, get a good one like this one from Clover
good thread like Aurifil
a 4 1/2" square ruler
2 1/2" x 6 1/2" ruler
new needles

If you put those all together, you are much more likely to be successful!

I will be posting some other tutorial-like information over on the Bear Patch blog.

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

not a lot of knitting

Knitting has not been at the forefront of my fiber life lately, but last weekend I did pick up a project that has been in the works since winter sometime.  

This pattern, Technicolor Scarf, and the yarn (sorry, I can't find the yarn label to tell you what it is, but the pattern recommends Liberty Wool by Classic Elite Yarns) were gifted to me.  By someone who also likes knitting, and knows that I do!  It's a fun present to open with pattern and yarn together.  It's made from 2 colors of yarn, in my project, one is lime green and the other is that purplish-green-blue mix that you see in the lower half of the picture.

The scarf is made with something called a Brioche stitch.  I've linked to a video about it.  Not sure where that name came from, but it has nothing to do with brioche bread.  Maybe because it leaves me hungry for more?  Each row I do makes me want to do the next one?!

Anyway, it's not a difficult pattern to do, just a rectangular scarf.  And the yarn looks and feels great, all soft and cushy.  The stitch pattern repeats over a set of 4 rows, and ends up making a nice reversible-looking scarf.  The stitches are basic:  knit, purl, yarn over and slip.  The yarn seems heavier than worsted weight but not as much as bulky.  I'm no pro at knitting, so some of these yarn variations in size and weight leave me wondering.

The only problem I have encountered with it is correcting mistakes.  Yes, I make mistakes!  Even though I always think I'm doing it right, I sometimes miss something and don't find it until the following row.  This project has 224 stitches in a row.  I have had to "unknit" more than once because unlike some other stitch patterns, this one is a bugger for me to repair as I go.  I get the yarn overs crisscrossed with slips and knits and purls, and it makes a mess.  Carefully removing 224 stitches takes some thought!
Here's an ugly tangled mistake that I thought looked OK on the reverse side.
Not so much.

Last weekend, I knit this while riding in the car to go to Nisswa to visit some friends at their lake home.  It's about 2 1/2 hours away.  On the straight parts I can easily knit without getting nauseous!  But it's not always the best positioning in the seat, a bit cramped, so it's easy to slip up on the pattern.  I now find myself at a mistake that I tried to fix, but it's not a good fix.  So there's some unknitting to do again before I can move on.  It probably didn't help that I also did some of this while we were playing 500 out on the deck at 9PM as it was getting dark!  I think that's where the mistake was made!

So I will have to set aside some time to focus on this in a few days.  Right now I am engrossed with a new quilt pattern that is on a deadline to be done soon, so knitting is on the way back burner!  Someday I will have a finished project to show you!

Monday, July 11, 2016

thread gone wild!

Here's something a little different for your Monday!

Black Books - Favorite Place from DaBrainkilla on Vimeo.