Saturday, January 30, 2010

close to finished

A couple of things that have been hanging around for awhile have made significant progress towards earning a checkmark on the to-do list.
The Baby Surprise Jacket is what I consider, in my novice knitter mind, to be somewhat of a classic design. Meaning it has been around for a long time, you can find a gazillion examples of it on the web, in fact, on Ravelry alone it has been listed 10,294 times as a project and that doesn't count mine! So I had purchased the pattern and tucked it away for a rainy day, or in this case a snowy day. It uses sock yarn, and I had a skein of Red Heart's Heart and Sole (color 3955 Mellow Stripe) that was going nowhere else, so I decided to tackle it after Christmas. When I try something new like this, just like in designing a new quilt pattern, I tend to want to use my less-than-expensive yarn/fabric, so if it is a total loss I am not out any noticeable bucks. The "surprise" in this jacket is that it is knit all in one piece with carefully placed increases to create the miters, and actually looks like an amorphous blob on the needles. Then, like magic, it twists and turns into a too cute little baby sweater! In my picture, the shoulder seams are just pinned together and buttonholes are awaiting some kind of cute buttons, but in my mind, it's nearly done. Not sure who will wear it yet, but with the multiple young women of reproductive age in my family, it will not have to wait long to go to a good home!
This quilt just came off the frame a couple days ago, after languishing on my rack of projects-in-waiting. It was sewn by Beth, who works with me at Bear Patch, and earmarked for a charitable donation because apparently it was not a color scheme that Beth personally cared so much for after she put it all together. So I'm not sure if there is a pattern to direct you to, nor a source for the gradated hand-dyed fabrics, but I will check on that. I do know that the large floral is a print from Kaffe Fassett for Westminster Fabrics and can be purchased at Bear Patch. I have completed the quilting and now need to track down a suitable fabric for binding and hopefully a person to do that binding, and then it will be used at the store for an upcoming charitable endeavor. By the way, Beth is our Bernina techie/fix it up/repair person who does an amazing job with keeping those machines happy.
This reminds me that I need to get my own machine in for a clean-up, I found a bit of a sticky mess under the bobbin area which I can trace directly back to some wine spillage during my recent getaway. I know it might be shocking to you but yes, I do drink and sew!

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Preparing for the Olympics

I'm looking forward to the upcoming Winter Olympics in Vancouver starting Feb. 12, in fact, Bob and I have scheduled some Olympic-watching time on our calendars so we can keep up with the happenings. This stems from a serendipitous vacation 4 years ago that brought together the Olympics, a week in a northern MN condo, and record-setting cold weather that encouraged us to find indoor entertainment. We discovered that tuning in to watch someone else excelling at both indoor and outdoor winter sports was a good substitute for actually doing it ourselves! So this year, even though we aren't going away on an official vacation, we are going to squeeze in some special time to watch these wonderful athletes. A couple weeks ago, our man Dan was involved with a big snowboarding event at Mammoth Mountain, so got to see a preview of the Team USA athletes. If you want to see a bit of what they are doing as they fly through the air, you can watch them by using this link, click on the tab for video galleries, then scroll down a bit to the early January videos on the Grand Prix events. But it sounds like a couple of their top picks are sidelined with injuries this year, so I am keeping my fingers crossed that they can still come through with some medal-winning performers.
Now, what does this have to do with my world of quilting? Well, I am clueing you in to an up-and-coming sport that won't be represented in the 2010 Games, but maybe we should create a lobby to get it accepted in 2014 because it is close to the hearts of all of us. What is it, you ask? Well, it's Extreme Ironing! Not familiar with this sport? Don't worry, neither was I before I saw their calendar. And take a look at this Extreme Ironing website for everything you never imagined you would see happen to an ironing board. Makes my own ironing look pretty tame! It just might make you look at your ironing board in a whole new light.

Saturday, January 23, 2010


Nothing really quilt-related here, because I am talking about eye drops today, and in the end it is quilt-related because my eyes are all the better to see quilts with! I have had a frustrating problem of itchy, burning eyes for quite awhile, and never really getting a good solution. Seemed to be an allergy thing, although for the longest time I refused to believe that since I had no other allergy-type symptoms and it was pretty constant, not seasonal. My eye doc checked for dry eye, since that's what the commercials told me must be the problem. Remember the days before every drug had a commercial to tell us to use it? The best thing I tried was patanol drops, which was a prescription med with its own set of problems. They were expensive, even under my insurance plan. They were a problem to dispense because the teeny tiny bottle contained only enough for 1 drop per eye per day, and I don't know about you, but not every drop gets to my eyeball! And then my insurance changed their formulary so they were no longer covered and even more expensive, liquid gold. So I decided to go back to trying some over-the-counter remedies (which I now have a good assortment of sitting on the shelf never to be used again). And then I learned that Claritin and Zyrtec have put out some eyedrops that are also OTC, so I gave that a try, and lo and behold, I think I've got it!
This is the Target generic brand of ketotifen fumarate, which is even more budget-friendly than the brand names and contains the same ingredient. And my eyes feel great! Maybe now my eye rubbing can cease and I can even grow back some of my eyelashes! That insuppressible urge to rub my eyes resulted in the loss of many little lashes and the need to forego wearing any mascara, partly because it would smear but also because I didn't want to add another irritant to the picture. So here's to good health, and I think I'll go count my eyelashes!

Monday, January 18, 2010

Starring Leisl and Nancy!

My best friends and very good sports! Just a little sampling of what we did last week--

Baggy Bottoms

One of our favorite quilt-related projects is putting together all kinds of bags. These are some that we made last week on our winter wonderland getaway. Nancy made these 2 Sock Sacks from directions here by Terry Atkinson. Perfect for sock knitters or anyone else who needs a convenient little carry bag. A pocket with easy-to-insert zipper instructions and drawstring top.
A modified Snap Happy bag, pattern by Stitchin' Sisters, available at Bear Patch Quilting Co. Pattern includes 3 sizes, or you can custom design your own like Leisl did for these bags. The closure is the coolest ever use of a metal measuring tape.
Using up little squares and scraps plus one zipper creates a handy dandy Accessory Case from Indygo Junction.
And last, but not least, is my own Going Sewing bag made of the selvedge edges of fabrics I have used. Fun to put together, it's kind of like making my own fabric. Pattern for this and the coordinating needlecase, scissor holder and pincushion are available at Bear Patch.
And that's the bottom of the bag!

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

a little sip will do

I have been trying to add a post with pictures about my vacation week, but can't get the photos to upload yet so I will postpone that. But in its place, I am offering up a recipe for a tasty winter drink that I served last night and also over the holidays. It is for a mulled wine, which is really perfect for life on the tundra. Even appealing to non-wine drinkers, and I have found that men like it as well as women, so a good way to spread the wine love. I first tasted mulled wine when I was in Sweden, during a trip to Stockholm to attend the Nobel Prize Festival in December, 1971. So it always brings back some memories of that time. Good memories.

Mulled Wine
1 quart of cranberry juice
1/2 cup brown sugar
2 cinnamon sticks
6 whole nutmeg
6 whole allspice
1 bottle of red wine, I have used merlot and cabernet with equal success
Mix the juice and brown sugar in a saucepan. Place the cinnamon sticks in the pan, and the spices in a tea ball in the pan. Heat until it simmers and continue warming without boiling for about 5-10 minutes. Then add the wine and bring back to a simmer for 5 minutes. Remove the spices and serve. When serving to a group, I prepare it ahead of their arrival and put it in an airpot which keeps it nice and warm but easy to serve.

a working vacation

I'm enjoying the company of my friends, Nancy and Leisl, this week while we escape from our everyday lives and indulge our love of fabric and needle and thread. My timeshare ownership has proven to be very useful for this type of vacation, and we know what's needed to make a whole week a fun experience. We share the cooking duties and manage to cook up some fine meals and share some fine wine during our time away. This week we are staying at Lake Carlos Villas, near Alexandria, MN. I chose this place because it was not very far away (2 hours) and because it is fairly close to Nancy's office and she is involved in some things that need her attention there. We have been stitching on a variety of things, here are are some of them:
Leisl is making new quilts for twin beds at her sister's beach house out East. The first one is coming together and the second one is in piles.
Nancy is making a new wallhanging for her house, it's from Sue Spargo.
I made a couple little projects for the store, the one on the left is a Snap Sack kit, the one on the right is from a book of tablerunner patterns by Gathering Friends.
I am resorting to sewing up my selvedges to make fabric, it sucks to be so hard up for fabric! Honestly, this is going into my own little Going Sewing bag, so I will show that to you next time. We are having a great time with our sewing machines, good meals, beverages and lots of discussion.
There's more to come, stay tuned...

Monday, January 11, 2010

I love Dancing Matt!

Last week this video came to my attention and I have enjoyed watching it more than once. It's not new, I might be one of the last people on the earth to watch it, literally, since it has millions of views on YouTube. But even though I am hopelessly behind on this trend, I am not too proud to want to share it with you, too! There's something about this regular-looking guy and his goofy dance steps that makes life seem better just because he has danced around the world. Check it out...