Monday, June 13, 2016

again with the home improvement!

 Reupholstery is now on my list of unknown talents!  I tackled the 6 dining room chairs, and we are nearing the finish line!  I say "we" because I couldn't have done this without Bob's help.  The upholstery business takes some muscle!  These chairs and table were purchased in the early 90's and have been our every-day eating area ever since then.  The fabric was wearing very thin and started fraying on the edges.

This is the "before" picture.
I had done a couple very easy things before, like recovering a foot stool.  But this needed to be done as neatly as possible and look close to professional.  I did some reading and scanning through some videos to get started.   I picked out a fabric that I really liked, even though I have some reservations about the light color.  But I decided to give it a go and see how it turned out.

Bob removed 1 million staples holding on the fabric, piping and dust cover.  And they were tough to pull.  I know because I started out doing it, but it was really hard on my neck and shoulder.  The staples needed to be pried out with a pointed tool, then removed with a second tool.  Those staplers were very thorough!

I had planned to replace the foam cushion, but struggled to get it to shape around the edges smoothly.  At that point, I threw up my hands and abandoned the project for awhile to think about what to try next.  By this time, however, 4 of the 6 chairs were missing their seats!  So there was no going back!  Still, I procrastinated for awhile, toying with the idea of just giving in and paying someone to do it for me.  But at that point, Bob urged me on with promises of help. 

So, I ended up just using the old foam padding, since it already was shaped just right to fit.  While the seats were removed, I washed and scrubbed the nooks and crannies of the wood frames.  There was a bit of accumulated spilled milk, squished vegetables and who knows what else in those hidden spots!  
After we were satisfied with getting the fabric all stapled down, I went to work on making the piping (welting) to finish off the edges.  The picture below shows what that will look like when it's stapled in place.  I cut the fabric strips on the crossgrain of the fabric, so it could be aligned with the stripes in the front of the chair.  So I have a few (quite a few) more yards of piping to prepare and then see if I can staple it neatly in place.

We did make a couple of rookie mistakes, but this has been a "learn as you go" project.  
One lesson learned:
Although I was very conscious of measuring and centering that wide navy blue stripe in the center of each seat, I did make one big oops.  This stripe is an uneven stripe.  The color pattern is not mirror-imaged.  If you look at the "before" picture, that stripe is an even, mirror imaged stripe.  Well, one of the seat covers got flipped around and stapled on in the reverse of the other 5.  Big oops!  But our mutually agreed upon decision was to not remove and replace that seat cover.  We were tired!  That's going to be our Amish chair, bearing a mistake to remember us to be humble.  And either be more careful the next time or hire someone else to do it!

Meanwhile, we have had a good period for our growing plants outside!  Two quite different kinds of purple iris have been blooming.

And the garden seeds that we planted a week ago are sprouting up.  Along with the weeds!  We had 2 days of temps over 90, so that really gets things going.  The garden is in full sun, so that's very favorable for growing but also prime sunburning.  So I look for less sunny times for garden time!

Monday, June 6, 2016

mundane monday mending

I know mending isn't hip or cool.  But it's still practical, and sometimes necessary.  I'm lucky I have some of the know-how to look at a garment, or a pillow, or a curtain, or a pair of jeans, and feel sort of positive about what to do with it!  Some people hate the mending, but I think it's fun to turn that frown upside down, and salvage something!  I have to say, I think I got pretty good at mending jeans.  The kids gave me all the practice I needed, and I found out what worked and what didn't.

Sometimes, it's brand new stuff that needs some kind of alteration.  This example is a simple sleeveless white knit top that I found on the markdown rack at the Marshall's discount store.  I really liked the fit and shape of the shirt, but right away I noticed a problem with the armholes.  The little serged edge that is turned over to the inside would roll out and show.  Still in the dressing room, I thought to myself, "Self, can you tolerate having that rolled edge on your mind and still enjoy wearing this?"  The answer was NO!  After studying it awhile in the dressing room, I thought I would give it a go.  Plus, it was on clearance.

This picture shows the problem with the rolled edge.

This is the neckline edge, and it has a little row of topstitching along the edge which is just what the sleeve needed.  Why didn't they finish the job?!

So I finished the job with a little bit of careful stitching and matching thread.  And I used the #5  foot on my Bernina and it worked like a charm to keep the stitching straight and neat.

And now I can wear my new shirt without a second thought about those armhole edges rolling!

I think my can-do-mending attitude rubbed off on Dan.  He has one of my old machines, and can mend his own jeans, tailor his shirts to fit, and a few other things.  I bet Brita would mend, too, if those little boys ever gave her a moment to do it!  On my next visit, I'll see if there's anything I can mend for her if I can borrow a machine!

Monday, May 30, 2016

still learning my camera

A whole bunch of pictures taken today, as I learn more and more about using my DSLR camera.  Back in 1980 or 81, I took a course to learn to use my actual non-digital SLR camera.  It had film and everything!  I think it was in community ed.  I think I learned a lot faster back then!  Each week, our teacher gave us some homework and had us get our pictures printed on a contact sheet so we didn't have to pay to have them all developed and printed in full size.  Then we could do comparisons during our lessons.  Then, flash forward to digital, and they make it easy to practice because I can take LOTS of pictures and view them in larger sizes on my screen.  And I never have to buy film!

So, sorry if you came looking for quilts today!  There is one token fiber picture at the end!

A busy little iridescent insect scampered across the patio blocks.
If he would just sit still I would have a better shot!

Perennial geraniums and mosses on a short retaining wall.
We built this little wall by our backdoor in 1988, I think,
and it has retained quite well, with a little crumbling from age.
I guess I could say the same for myself!

This winter hardy shrub rose was planted at the same time as that wall was built.
It still blooms no matter how much I ignore it!

Hostas grow well in our yard because we have many
fully grown shade trees.  They thrive on benign neglect!

This little plant is a relative of the bleeding heart.  Its leaves are fern-like.
And that nasty thistle is doomed!  I love to pull weeds!
The sound and feel as those roots release gives me goosebumps!

One of the large sedum plants.  Beautiful big purplish flowers in autumn.

Your standard bleeding heart bush, near the end of flowering.
These bushes get so overgrown that we have to cut them back.

A little bit of asparagus still showing up in the garden,
but not for much longer.  My asparagus lunch was relished!

I have plenty of thyme, but no parsley, sage nor rosemary.

Rhubarb is on the chopping block!
 I need to harvest some more to freeze for later.

Not from my garden, but they are still beauties!  These are yarns I bought on vacation,
with some cuts of limited edition huckleberry batiks.
They are crazy for huckleberries in Whitefish.  Rightfully so, too.

Saturday, May 28, 2016

souvenirs with special meaning

One of our little side trips during vacation in Montana was to the Glacier Round House Pottery shop in the country near Columbia Falls.  We were there almost 2 years ago and liked their style, so this year we brought a few more pieces of Montana back to Minnesota!  Nice people designing and crafting their goods in a beautiful big yurt.  Actually 2 yurts, I think 1 is their residence.  I remembered that we had a common bond of Gustavus Adolphus College, too, so you know they are good people!

My souvenirs from Glacier Round House Pottery--
serving bowl, 2 glasses/mugs and a drip coffee maker complete
 with a cloth reusable filter.
 I used the drip coffee maker with cloth filter this morning, since I was making coffee for 1, and it worked just peachy!

Are you wondering what I've actually been doing for fabric fun lately?  Well, I did manage to visit 3 quilt shops and 2 yarn shops on the trip, so some fiber found its way into my suitcase along with the pottery!  But aside from that, I have spent a few evenings finishing up the blocks and assembly for this:

It was started last January on retreat and it took a bit to pull it together.  It's all paper pieced so ranks high on the list of putziness, but that's the best way to achieve these triangles and shapes without losing my mind!  Here's the pattern, available at Bear Patch--
 I used a gray "shot cloth" for my background fabric.  It gives a real nice finished look, but I have to admit I didn't like working with it so much because it ravels so easily.  But it turned out well in the end, so that's a good thing!

During downtime on our flight or while taking it easy instead of hiking, I had a simple little knitting project along.  The pattern is Sarah's Fingerless Gloves, free on Ravelry.  The yarn was Adriafil from Knitcol, an Italian company.  It's washable wool in a DK weight which is slightly heavier than sock yarn.  I finished them back at home and now they are drying after a bubble bath.

I've also started a new pair of fingerless gloves.  This is a pattern and wool yarn from the Polka Dot Sheep from Knit 'n Needle Yarn Shoppe in Whitefish, MT.  The shop is the home of Polka Dot Sheep goods.  I bought a yarn called Tenderfoot, in the Stillwater color.  It's 80% wool and 20% nylon in a fingering weight.  Would be great for socks, that nylon helps the wool last longer.  I learned early on that pure wool yarn looks and feels great, but doesn't last as long as the nylon blends when being walked upon all day!  I had great help from the woman working in the shop with figuring out what would work best for me.  They are very helpful by phone or online, as well.  This turned out to be my Mother's Day gift from Dan because he had gone to the shop and purchased a gift certificate for me.  Thanks!

I loved the chance to visit one of my most favorite quilts at Dan's!  I even got to sleep beneath it!  This is a New York Beauty quilt by Jan Stone, sewn in 2000-2001 for Dan's high school graduation gift.  He has taken very good care of it!  I just looked up the pattern so I could link it for you.  It's out of print but available on Amazon for a mere $196!  Guess I'll be hanging onto my copy!

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

more montana

Now that I'm back home and back in the groove, it's good to refresh my memory about some of the fun things we did.  And share them with you!

Here's an idyllic little spot in the Mt. Fernie Provincial Park in British Columbia.  We were walking a trail and I noticed jet tracks cutting across the sky almost like they were synchronized flights!  Right above this lush spot with a rushing river.  

On another day, back in the US, we drove from Dan's place up Big Mountain to the Whitefish Ski Resort area.  And there is a trail there called the Danny On trail, cutting across the snowless ski runs, under the vacant and still chair lifts.  We kept going upward for quite aways, but we didn't get to the end.  You see, I'm a fraidy cat when it comes to cliffs and things, and when there's very little but open air along one side of the trail, I have lots of second thoughts.  I'm doing much better than I used to because I have been pushing myself, but I was out of my comfort zone.  We talked to 2 girls that had started the trail just before us, they were coming back down because there was a fallen tree across the trail.  Plus it was time for our sandwiches and fruit!  So we sat down for a bit, admired the scenery and the bits of snow still remaining.  Keeping the trails clear, no matter where we hiked, was clearly a big job because we saw many fresh cuts of trees that had come down during the winter.  I have a hard enough time just getting myself up those trails, I can't even imagine doing it with chain saws and tools!

One very nice thing about visiting Dan is that I also get to visit some of my quilts and quilty stuff.  I wrote about my Yeti project before, but I had neglected to take a picture of the finished pillowtop.  The quilting was fun on this.  It's 22" square.

Bob and I did several day hikes while Dan was at work.  The tables have officially turned with parents goofing off and son slaving away!  Here's one of those less traveled paths--

If you are curious and want to know about current conditions in Glacier Park, they have several webcams operating and viewable by anyone with a computer.  When we were at the lookout tower on Apgar Mountain, we were able to get our picture on that webcam and timed it so Dan could snap a picture of it from his office!

I've been taking pictures of lots of different flowers, and this was a special discovery.  It was beside a trail near Fernie, BC.  When I saw it, I thought it was something rare because it was the only one I saw anywhere.  Now that I've had a chance to look it up, I found that it is Fritillaria, I think, but I'm not totally sure.  And it does seem to be something not frequently seen in the wild.  Guess I was lucky to spot it!

Thursday, May 19, 2016

vacation time!

One of the best things in life is new adventures.
This time, the adventure takes place in the northwest corner of Montana.  
And into British Columbia for a bit.  
We are enjoying our excursion to Whitefish, MT, thanks to Dan's hospitality.  
Every day brings new scenes that I try to capture and keep forever. 

Dan and Bob hanging out on a foot/bike bridge in Mt. Fernie Provincial Park in British Columbia.  It was a beautiful day outdoors.  Dan always takes off on his bike over hill and dale, while Bob and I walk along the trails that aren't really for bikes.  On this particular trail, I got a little nervous about the great big hoofprints that were left by some wild creature not far ahead of us!

We stopped at a little out-of-the-way brewery, HA Brewing, near Eureka, MT.
This fun French couple were very welcoming to everyone.  And I beat Bob and Dan in cribbage!  That is a rare happening!

I keep taking pictures of flowers along the trails, even if I don't know what they are!

We drove to the northwest area of Glacier Park, outside the park boundary, to the tiny town of Polebridge.  Gravel roads and solar power and composting toilets are pretty much the norm here.  They have a reputation for making fabulous pastries and desserts from huckleberries harvested around there, and we agree that the bear claw we shared was like a little bit of heaven!

Have you been watching or hearing about the "Tiny Homes" movement?  I've seen several examples on TV, and I was excited to see a business building and selling that type of home in Fernie.  I think I could enjoy living in a small place part of the time.  If I had it all to myself.  And if I had an additional tiny home for my fabric!  And if it did not have a composting toilet!