Thursday, February 12, 2015

works in progress

You might recall that last summer we had a major overhaul of our kitchen and bathroom.  Turned out wonderfully, and of course, leads to other desires to update our home.  Like dominoes falling, so goes the home improvement projects!  In our second story area, there is still carpet in the bedroom (AKA sewing room #2) and loft/office that needs to go.  I'm tired of ignoring the stains, putting rugs over the worst spots, etc.  A couple years ago, Bob masterfully replaced the old carpet in my #1 sewing room (I basically have 3!) with DIY wood flooring from IKEA.  We would like to continue with that idea over the rest of the carpeted area, but there is an obstacle in our way.  When the house was built, we didn't have a good grip on what was going to happen with the log posts that support the railing, and the floor that they rest upon.  The carpet was installed and cut to fit around the posts and wrap over the exposed edge, which worked.  Now, however, when we rip out that carpeting, we have to go back to square one and modify the design.  
This is the way it looks now.

We need it to become more like this, with wood underneath the posts and covering the edge.

We have been pondering what would be the best approach to get this done and procrastinating because we either have to decide to bite the bullet and hire someone to take over, or figure out how we are going to do it for ourselves.  We are great DIY'ers, but we do have our limits!  Well, I couldn't wait any longer, and one night last week I just started prying and pulling until I could get the edge of the carpet loosened and pulled up.  This is what we found:

I remember when this carpet was laid, the workmen were not very happy about putting the carpet around the posts, and now I understand why.  They had to cut little pieces of that tackstrip stuff to fit around each post.  Then attach the carpet and bring it over the front edge to attach there.
Well, I guess we are committed now, because there is a chunk of carpet missing and bare wood that needs to be dealt with!

On to things I can handle more easily--

a little candlemat that I made from English paper piecing diamonds, along with wool and fabric.  It will be a little pattern for my Paper Pizzazz class at Bear Patch in a couple months.  It's an easy sew, and turned out well.  I especially like the fact that I found a cute little basket and candle to go with it!

And below is an arrangement of fabric stapled to canvas frames.  Like a fabric collage.  I want to hang these on the bedroom wall, they coordinate with the quilt on our bed.  Well, a couple of these are not actually stapled at the time I took the picture, because the stapler failed.  Not to worry, I figured out how to take it apart and free up the jam inside and I got the stapling done.  Now I have to get the spacing figured out and hang these up!

Thursday, February 5, 2015

the magic of machines

Many of you reading this blog probably have one or more sewing machines.  A fascinating machine that has intrigued me for a long long time as I tried to figure out how those 2 threads made a stitch.  Well, here's another cool machine that is essential to our sewing--the bolt winder!  Click on the link below to watch a little video.  It shows the full width fabric on the lower left feeding up and over to the right.  Behind the fabric there is another part of the frame that folds the full width in half and then it feeds down and is rolled onto a bolt.

Post by Robert Kaufman Fabrics.

As you can see, it happens pretty fast.  Most bolts hold 10-15 yards of fabric.  And if you have ever wondered why the fabric on the bolt is somewhat askew, this video should help you understand that even though there is a person running the machine, the fabric is not handled with TLC by someone who carefully and lovingly folds and rolls the bolt!

So now when you see a stack or shelf of fabric bolts, you will have an image in your mind of how that fabric ended up folded and wrapped on the bolt!

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

I'm Back!

Surprise, surprise!  My unintended blog vacation is over and done with, and now I hope I can get back to some regularity with pictures and writing.  I really do usually enjoy writing these posts, but at some times in my life it gets completely forgotten.

I have gone through a tough time since that last blog post over a month ago.  I have not shared this before and not because it shouldn't be shared but just didn't really know how to address it.  My dad, Bob, was on home hospice care since May 2014.  He had heart disease and dementia, leading to his inability to walk and stand.  My mom was his rock, directing all of her attention to making him as comfortable as possible at home.  The local homecare program assisted with many things, and the nurses and aides were exceptional.  I have been home as much as possible to help mom and dad with whatever I could, making that 3 1/2 hour drive seem more like a simple commute than a big trip.  Christmas was his last day up and out of bed.  After that he was just too weak to risk getting him into the wheelchair.  He died on January 13, comfortably in his own home.  He was such a sweet man and wonderful dad to me, and I found out that so many other people also knew him as a kind man.

We felt very lucky that almost all of the grandkids and great grandkids were present for the funeral.  Nathan was sick so Serra and Aurora made the trip without him.  This was the group with their grandma, who was so glad to have them all with her.  

So, now I am trying to get back into doing the things that I love to do!  A little sewing, knitting, reading, etc.
By Thy Hands - March - by Buttermilk Basin

English Paper Piecing for a folder or book cover,
my own design for the Paper Pizzazz class at Bear Patch.

The months of January and February often make me want to hole up inside, away from the cold and snow.  I stumbled upon this cross stitch picture that I made quite awhile ago.  I really liked it then and I still do, so I will hang it up to enjoy again.  The words really describe the best part of winter!

I hope your wintertime is equally as good!

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!