Saturday, December 24, 2011

Merry Christmas!

A very quiet and calm day here at the Hansen house on this Christmas Eve day. Time to catch up on a few things, like sharing some projects I have been working on--

This is a portion of a tablerunner from a book called Sizzlin' Sixties by Heather Mulder. It's on the quilt frame ready for me to start stitching. It will be a class over at Bear Patch. I used a new specialty ruler for the accurate cutting of those 60-degree shapes.

I showed you the next quilt previously during the assembly, and I really love the finished product. It is a design from a book, Strip Smart Quilts by Kathy Brown. All the quilts in the book use strips and another Creative Grids specialty ruler, the 90-degree Double Strip ruler. This quilt will also be a Bear Patch class. Can you tell I'm having fun with rulers?! There is one more to come, but that project is still in the very early stages. Like the stage where I have the ruler and the fabric laying together on the cutting table!

The next quilt is one that I quilted for Debbie, and it is going to her niece's 2-year-old son. It coordinates with the Cat in the Hat theme of his room. The batting was a poofy polyester because it is to be more of a bedspread than a traditional quilt. That's also why I used that repetitive squares quilting design.

This morning I have had a little time to do some reading, I love my Kindle and get plenty of books on it to keep me busy. Mostly for free from an Ereader News site. I get daily notices of bargains and freebies. But today I did a library download from the Anoka Co. Library for the first time, so I have a great new James Patterson novel for my reading pleasure over the next 2 weeks.

I also looked up something on one of my favorite sewing websites, Sew 4 Home, and discovered that they have a great freebie booklet for learning lots about basic sewing.

Here's something else I have been intending to put up here for awhile now. If you love quilts, you need to know about the International Quilt Study Center in Lincoln, NE. I have been lucky enough to visit there, but even if you can't make it to Lincoln, you can definitely make it to their great website. The link I placed here shows you the Quilt of the Month, which shows up in my inbox. A whole quilt in my little inbox! I have also searched in their collections, for example, looking for mosaic quilts. Turned up some great things.

So now it's time to get a few things done around here! Wishing you all a Merry Christmas!

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

happy holidays

This holiday printable is available free here. Maybe I could get it printed and framed in time for Christmas 2012!

Saturday, December 17, 2011

nearing solstice

As our hours of sunlight grow increasingly shorter, we are all wrapped up in the Christmas holiday festivities. This made me wonder if there was any direct connection between these 2 significant events, so I looked it up to try to figure it out. But the explanation didn't really clarify it for me, a lot of references to really ancient times, actual number of days in a year (more that 365) and variations in calendars. I did learn that Leap Day helps correct for that fracture of a day greater than 365. That happens to be the expected date of the appearance of my little grandson, so I'm wondering if we are looking at a lifetime of adjusted birthdays for the little guy!

We have trimmed back on the trimmings this year, guess we are going the minimalist route. A little greenery on the stair rails, ascaled down tree, and of course, stockings hung by the chimney with care. I did get a package shipped off to #1 son since he won't be traveling home for this holiday. I only hope that it gets to him and his housemates before the 25th, so they will have our presents on the appropriate day.

Still working on a few little gift things--Brita had asked for some of these zipper bags to replace the old ones I had made, they are great for travels. The white mesh can be purchased at fabric stores like Joann's. The red mesh can be purchased at your local produce market, along with fresh fruit or vegies! I hadn't sewn on it before, and found it less wonderful to work with, but as long as it holds together I am happy!

A little knitting has been snuck in during a few hours on the couch, continuing with a baby afghan that had been on a break while I searched for some more of the gold yarn. It is Cottonease and that happens to be a color that is either being phased out or just plain unavailable in the stores around here. I tried something new and searched on Ravelry for someone wanting to sell it from their own stash. I lucked out and connected with a nice woman who sent me 2 more skeins, so I can make this blankie big enough to last. Also starting a new scarf from the Noro Silk Garden Sock yarn purchased last summer in Bishop, CA, at Sierra Cottons and Wools.

Baked scones for the first time from this recipe-
Not 100% sold on them, although you would think there is enough butter and sugar and spice in them that I wouldn't be complaining! I guess they just aren't as good as some others that I've had.

This brings me to the subject of Pinterest. Because I have that recipe on my food board there. If you haven't heard about or visited or tried Pinterest, check it out. But I am warning you, it can suck up some time! It is like a bulletin board of my favorites and bookmarks, sorted into categories, and accompanied by a visual cue to remind me what my bookmarks are! There are a ton of interesting ideas that can be gleaned from one another's boards, all with a link back to the origin. Kind of cool.

My family has been asking me what I want for Christmas, and all I can come up with is a new bathrobe since the one I am using is a raggy hand-me-down from my daughter. I think it was a gift to her for a Christmas past and wasleft behind on a hook in her bathroom so I claimed it! Not a very excitingwish list, so I think I will add something else that I want:

a lovely tattoo! Which, by the way, I found on Pinterest!

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

fancy pants sweater

I have been very bloggy lately over on the Bear Patch blog, so a bit absent from here. We are working on a 12 Days of Christmas promotion that involves daily emails, blogs, facebook posts and website updates. It is all a new venture for us and more successful than we had anticipated. Very good news, but keeping us scrambling to keep up. FYI, if you still want to get in on any of the deals, you can go back through the days on the blog and email or call us with your order. How fun to stuff your own stocking!

I encountered a very fun video that I have inserted for your viewing pleasure--

This looks like so much fun to make!

Monday, December 5, 2011

works in progress

Time to share some things I have been working on! You can see from these pictures that very few things are actually done, but mostly they don't have to be done in the near future.

English Paper Pieced blocks from Patchwork With Busy Fingers in 2 different fabric groups. I am preparing these for a class for Bear Patch starting next fall, which might seem like a long ways off, but I need to get a lot of these done BY HAND and put together before then.

More little hexagons, reconstructed from an antique quilt. 4 of 100+ blocks. Long term project!

Even more hexagons, this time sewn by machine and using a special ruler that I will incorporate into a winter class at Bear Patch.

And a little gift for our employee Christmas party last night, a table mat that I made to go with the candle wreath and battery candle. I decided that since not all people like a scented candle and the hazards of a burning flame, I would go the safe route with this one.

What have you been working on?

Saturday, December 3, 2011

holidays and health

It seems like we talk a lot about how much we have to do and how busy we all are during this month of December. Often I think we have an attitude that it is just all too much, and we get very little enjoyment out of what is intended to be pure enjoyment! So I am focusing on the big 4: family, friends, faith and fun! I do what I can with what I have, and keep reminding myself that it is all good.

We always do some outdoor lights, but simply done. A couple strings on the front porch, maybe a small tree near the road, and that's enough. Then we light up the tree in the house, and depending on my mood and time, we might wrap the log beams with garland and lights. Altogether, they create a nice glow and a noticeable bump in our electric bill! We have decided to convert over to LED lights for their low-energy consumption, but we don't want to shell out the money for a total light makeover. So we started with 3 new strings for the porch lights this year, and will add more as we go. They do seem to have more light output, I hope we don't have any wandering aircraft mistaking our front yard for a landing strip!

We had a little excitement this week and a reminder of how lucky we are to be living in the 21st century. My sweet parents had a bad scare when my dad's heart started acting up a bit. Here's my mom and dad from about a year or so ago--

Normally healthy and happy, this pair just seems to keep on ticking. They really are those people who are "young for their age", and although they have slowed down a bit over the years, they keep plenty active. This really is the first experience of this type for him, and was distressing at times, but overall things went smoothly. He developed a very slow heart rate, which brings with it additional problems. A heart rate of 35 might be desireable for a marathon runner, but not so much for an 85 year old guy! A quick helicopter ride from Worthington to Sanford Medical Center in Sioux Falls, pop in a pacemaker, and voila! Looking and feeling much better! These little devices seem routine and commonplace to someone like myself who has worked in the medical field for many years. But when I step outside of that perspective, this can seem much more amazing. And if this had happened 50 or 60 years ago, my dad would not have had such a good outcome from this heart problem. In fact, his life would have suddenly become severely limited and shortened. So THANK YOU to all those medical researchers, past and present, who work continuously in some lab somewhere, doing a job that might be considered boring and tedious.

When we found out early Tuesday that we would be taking an unplanned trip to Sioux Falls, I needed to quickly get not only some clothes packed, but a project or 2, of course! I had started out a pair of socks not so long ago, using the technique that lets me knit both socks at once, so I tossed that in the car to keep my hands busy. I am using a nice yarn called Noro Silk Garden Sock, which I purchased early in 2009. I would have liked to work on it sooner, but ran into a little problem. To make these socks, I needed to divide the one skein of yarn into 2 equal balls. But then one ball disappeared, and I had no idea what happened to it. I looked high and low, and resigned myself to the fact that it was permanently gone. I occasionally looked at the one sad ball remaining, and wondered what to do with it, but never was able to pick it up and do anything with it. Lucky for me I didn't! Because 2 years later, when I am removing couch cushions to clean underneath (yes, I know I should do that a little more often than once a decade) I find that missing ball of yarn way smooshed down in the crack! So I finally was able to cast on for those socks, and was making a bit of progress during waiting room and drive time this week. Until I looked more closely at what I had been creating, and realized that the cuff was going to be too small to fit over any ankle that is not emaciated! So time to rip back, and recalculate. These socks are a long time coming! Maybe I will eventually have enough to take a picture of and share, but no guarantees!