Tuesday, January 31, 2012

going amish?

I encountered an interesting story this morning and thought I would share it with you here.  After you watch the video you will wonder about the irony of learning about the story via your computer screen.

I was glad to learn that he had some of the same experiences that I had, along with many of you, prior to the pervasiveness of electronic media.  You know, back in the good ol' days.  Like passing notes in class!  And writing letters!  Even though I love to receive letters in the mail, I find it hard to get myself to sit down and write a letter to someone.  Does this happen to others?  I feel like it takes too long, I think.  But even writing an entry for this blog takes up a lot more time than I ever imagined.

I definitely use a lot less "social media" than people of the next generation, which I think is pretty common.  I limit my email to mostly individuals, having unsubscribed to most business-related messages except for a choice few.  I started my facebook account to primarily find a way to see what's happening with my kids, but they are pretty good about keeping in touch above and beyond anything they would put on facebook, so I 'm not sure why I continue with that.

I started this blog sort of as a form of journalling, and connecting with people with similar interests.  I have looked at the trackers that tell me about the viewage (not sure that's a word) of the blog, but have changed from wishing it would attract more followers to just putting it out there anyway.  I realized that I like doing this whether anyone reads it or not!  I have always enjoyed a bit of writing, and this is one way to do it.  I do love to look at the blog stats about the location of readers, I love it that people from all around the world are looking at these words and pictures.

You can read more about this young man's experiment here.

And now I should probably get on with some things around here, like writing a couple letters that have been put off!

Sunday, January 29, 2012

new things

I'm so lucky to have a son-in-law who's mother is a fabric lover, just like me!  Mary creates wonderful bags like this:
carpetbag available at Mary's website
And now she has been busy designing fabric and very kindly sent me a towel made from the exact print that is my favorite from her collection.    I love it!  Every time I look at it I picture Mary busily creating.

Wonderful fabric from Mary Kaiser
And Brita and I did our own bit of creating last week to prepare their nursery for the little guy coming along in a few weeks.  The color theme is brown and green (there seems to be a pattern here, this was the color scheme for their wedding, too!) and the walls have been painted green on the upper part and brown on the lower section with a white chair rail.  The crib and dresser/changing table are in place, along with a very comfy rocker/recliner that is going to see some action.  I found some decorator weight dark brown fabric with white polka dots and purchased enough for drapes and bed skirt.
pardon my poor photo, it was night time!
I used the directions from Sew4Home as a guideline for these projects.  I hadn't sewn lined floor length drapes in a long time (maybe never!) so it took a little planning and plotting.  But I was very happy with the result.  Brita installed all the grommets and Ben installed the curtain rods.  The drapes plus the blinds do a good job of darkening the room.  The bedskirt has pleats in it but this crib kind of hides that, so I could have saved some time and eliminated the pleats.  Nonetheless, it gives a nice finished look to the crib.  I'm glad I had the chance to help with my sewing.

Thursday, January 26, 2012


I do admit to having a fascination with these little shapes.  Not sure what the appeal is, but I can be looking at a whole wall of quilt blocks, and my eye will go straight to a hexagon first!

Many little hexies all in a row--
don't worry about all the little corners poking out.
They will be on the back side.

I have been working on the early stages of a project that I plan to pull together as a class for Bear Patch, probably starting in the fall.  It will be set up as a series of classes and is based on a design I saw at last fall's Quilt Market in Houston.  It comes all the way from Australia, and is destined to be fun!  I will teach the English paper piecing method to create many assorted blocks.  I am working on samples in 2 very different themes.

Civil war reproduction fabrics
My favorite brights
 These blocks are 2 1/2" size, that is the measurement of each straight size.  The layout and combinations of blocks are up for grabs, so I am thinking of using the more traditional type of setting with the civil war prints, using a neutral colored triangle between the blocks.  

For the more contemporary-looking brights, I am experimenting with a setting that will create a ring of white around each block.  I have a way to go to make enough different blocks to work into a reasonable size.  It won't be a king size quilt, this I know for sure!

Monday, January 23, 2012


I love a quiet day at home alone! There, I've said it, and apologies to Bob, but sometimes don't we all just need a little quiet time? And today there can be no giving in to temptation to go to the store, coffee shop, bank, post office, library, etc., etc. because I am without wheels. My trusty little Saturn needs a checkup to track down the source of a suspicious odor of hot fluids emanating from under the hood after a drive. It drives normally and no puddle/trail underneath, so not sure what the problem is. Time for the pros, but I pray that it's not a big deal. That car now has ~277,000 miles on it and is like an extension of myself. But we are at the point of those tough decisions about when to pull the plug. Hate making car payments and would really like the satisfaction of seeing 300,000 miles on the odometer!

Time for an update on the grandchild status! Getting nearer faster! Saturday I attended a fun shower for Brita hosted by her friends, it was great to see them all again and watch Brita as she experiences these new things for herself.
She is looking mighty healthy and happy! And last Monday we saw Ben, too, and must say that I think he is looking steadily more fatherly! They are getting their home ready for this little guy and wondering what this is really going to be like but of course, you never know until it happens. I'm trying to do my share and spent yesterday making and finishing a few baby things--
Brita picked out some fabric for crib sheets and I made 2 of those yesterday plus one smaller one for the cradle mattress. I posted a tutorial about the sheets on the Bear Patch Blog yesterday, so if that interests you take a look over there. I put it there because it kind of turned into a commercial for Bernina!

The crib above is set up in our spare bedroom so we will be ready for any visits from Jr. We were lucky to pick up the crib on a giveaway, we hadn't really planned on it but now that it's here, I can foresee lots of potential.

I finished up the edging on this nice little knit blankie-
from Booties, Blankets & Bears by Debbie Bliss. Alternating stripes of grey, gold and white, edged in blue, all CottonEase by Lion Brand, all rows are knit.

Here is a little leftover Christmas that hasn't been packed up-
I had a moment of inspiration and made this oversized candlemat back in December. The battery operated candle is handy for a little touch of candlelight without melted wax on my fabric!

This simulated flame and the warmth from my wood stove bring to my mind all of the good we know about fire, as opposed to the scene I witnessed Saturday night as a nearby house burned to the ground. The owners were home and got out safely, but had to watch helplessly as everything burned. We live in an area that is not serviced by city water nor professional fire crews. So there are no hydrants, but thankfully, volunteers to come out on a cold dark January night to do what they can. That means that the response time seems dreadfully long, and water has to be trucked in to operate the hoses. The house was completely engulfed in flames by the time the fire fighters could even begin to do their job. Big lesson learned for me is that I need to organize a simple box of important information that could possibly be saved if this house lit up. I realized that I wouldn't even know who to call about insurance! Bob probably would, but I need to know for myself. Would you know what to do? I never want to feel helpless about those kind of things - (lightbulb goes on here as I realize this ties in nicely to my control issues!) - so I better do something about that!

On another topic, I find myself stalking Dan's website for new pictures and info about his bike trip! What constitutes cyber stalking? Once a day seems reasonable, but what about hourly? Maybe not so good! Yes, he does call every few days so we can catch up on what has been happening, but part of me just wants to be there!

Sunday, January 15, 2012

bring on the cold

I have been waiting patiently for a package to arrive, and wouldn't you know, as soon as I am away for a week, the package shows up. So today when I arrived home, I was eager to find out if the new winter coat that I had ordered was everything that I had hoped it would be. I am not in the habit of buying clothes sight unseen from online sources. I came upon this coat through The Clymb, a company that gathers sources for shopping deals and sends out email notices of the current options. They have a focus on outdoor sports gear, a lot of which doesn't apply to my needs, but there have been some attractive offerings even for me. I bought a pair of shoes, a messenger bag, and now this coat. All have turned out to be good prices and good products, so if you want to take a look at their website I don't think you will go wrong. But back to the coat, it is from Lole, and turns out to be a very well made garment that will be keeping me happy until the spring flowers bloom!

I love the attention to detail with pockets, plackets, tailoring and materials.

A couple of other sewing/quilting projects to share with you--
this is called Lover's Lane by Villa Rosa Designs. An easy pattern, just 1 yard each of 3 main fabrics.

Some snazzy little shoes for my future grandson--

And this one is Nancy's little baby quilt from an Aardvark Quilts pattern. The stripes make it a winner. Finding a good assortment of nice homespun stripes in these colors is not easy, but Nancy is a fabric collector extraordinaire, and her storage bins are like a treasure chest!

One last thing that I wanted to share with you, but have been forgetting about--
This was the sunrise on Christmas day as we drove along the highway. It was truly beautiful. A gift in itself. No wrapping paper required.

Friday, January 13, 2012

settled in

We are really settled in here at Nancy's house, we pretty much have everything at our fingertips or very nearly. The dining area is where our 3 machines are embedded and the large kitchen island is perfect for our cutting area. The living room with TV and comfy seating is right next to us, so we can keep up on what's happening in the world or in our favorite shows. Nancy has a fully loaded kitchen, fridge, pantry, freezer and wine cooler, so we are good to go! Last night we cooked up 2 big pans of roasted root vegies seasoned with olive oil and herbs, accompanied by a brown rice mixture. Yummo! And some summer peaches were brought out of the freezer and turned into a great peach crisp using a gluten-free yellow cake mix, butter and cinnamon. The perfect ending!
We gained one more in our numbers last night, my daughter, Brita, drove up from Minneapolis for an overnight. She is now 33 weeks pregnant--oh my!--and we think it's wonderful that she could join us. She curled up on the couch with some yarn and crochet hook to make a little baby blanket. We both talked awhile with Dan as he was sitting on the Pacific coastline watching the sunset. He was camping somewhere in the Big Sur area, I think. His biking is going well, he is in good physical condition and is learning the ways of the long distance road trip. He sounds very happy and the pictures on his website certainly look happy, too.

Some more reports on our sewing time--
I finished making and attaching the 4 border sections to my previously mentioned hap quilt. That feels like a major accomplishment for me, and I love the way it looks. I am toying with the idea of making it a little larger by adding a border all around, but I might just be happy calling it done.

I completed a little baby quilt, for a girl this time, from the Vintage Baby Quilt pattern by Yoyomama.

I used a pale yellow for the background and used a bunch of girlie colors. It is quilted as you top stitch the squares, raw edges exposed. Put on a nice striped binding, wash it up, and voila! (Pattern available at Bear Patch)

Here's a fun and easy project for you:

These are coasters and trivets are easy and quick and doable with random fabrics. The pattern is Amazingly Simple Coasters & Hot Pads by Tiger Lily Press (also available at Bear Patch). I can't find a website for Tiger Lily, but the designer's name is Nicole Chambers-Kaya. Her instructions use several layers of heavyweight fusible interfacing and batting to get a stiff material. I cheated a little and used just plain fusible Timtex instead, with nearly the same results and a lot less messing around! There are 3 sizes in the pattern, what you see above are the small and medium.

For the last feature this morning, I am sharing a group accomplishment. Leisl has taken on the completion of this quilt for a dear friend and she doesn't know about it. She is in a nursing home in Chicago recovering from heart surgery and I am pretty sure that she is not following the great literary work on this blog. In my quilt group, the Ham Lake Piecemakers, we celebrate decade birthdays (30-40-50-etc.) by asking everyone to make a block that the birthday girl can put together into a quilt. This was the one we worked on for Dianne, so each block has the maker's name on it. Dianne put them all together and put the floral vine border all around.

Then, since she wanted to hand quilt it, she marked a cross-hatch grid over the whole works. And then her life changed, she moved to her daughter's in Chicago area, and the quilting took a back seat to other things. Leisl managed to sneak this quilt away and was determined to get it done. Some of the pencil marks had gone astray, and we used Sew Clean by Bear Thread Designs to successfully remove some lines and then mark new lines. I mounted it on my quilt frame and basted it with the batting and backing. Leisl started the hand quilting, and then I took it to my mom and she got the quilting finished. I took it back to Leisl and she put on the binding. The areas that had been sprayed with the Sew Clean had yellowed, so it was soaked in Vintage Soak and turned out nice and white. Now it is just a matter of getting it back to Dianne, I wish I could see her face when she receives it! It has been fun to see it all come together, and even more fun to imagine Dianne's surprise.

Not sure what today's projects will be, but I will keep you posted!

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

and the fun continues

Yesterday we took a field trip so not so much sewing was accomplished. We drove to Perham, a little over an hour away, to Bay Window Quilts. We have been there before, and will go again. A large stock of fabric, notions, books and patterns. Friendly people working, and make sure you get a coupon for a free beverage at the Wild Goose gift and coffee shop, my hazelnut latte was delish!

Then we drove another hour (roughly) to Fergus Falls. We stopped at Crates of Yarn but didn't find any treasures there. Then we found the Quilter's Cottage and shopped a bit there. It's a pretty big store with lots of nooks and crannies so it took awhile to see everything. Better lighting and a little more heat would be the only things I found lacking. Not a huge downfall, and I know from experience that sometimes you just have to work with what the building can offer. The space is shared with an appliance store, so you can browse the stoves and fridges at the same time as the fabric. So convenient! Nancy and Leisl were on the hunt for assorted homespun stripes and plaids, and they found some good ones in the sale area at this place. FYI, any of you MN Shop Hop fans, they have a fair amount of the 2010 and 2011 fabrics on the shelves here.

Back at the ranch, we settled down to an evening of sewing, guacamole and TV movies. I put together another border for the hap quilt. I'm thinking this should become a new pattern for Emmaline Design. I found I really needed a worksheet to keep this organized, and this is how mine looks:
I would have to incorporate this into the instructions. The block is simple to construct--

but the layout is what is key, and that is what the worksheet helps with. Each side of the block has to match up to the same fabric on the next block, so keeping it organized was easy with all my little fabric squares pasted down.

Also put together a little quilt top for a Quilts For Kids donation, this is made from pinwale corduroy that was mostly donated by Kwik Sew and supplemented with some coordinates from Joann's.

More sewing in store for today, it looks like there might be some white precipitation in the air so a good thing we did our driving yesterday and today we can stay cozy inside!

Monday, January 9, 2012

fun with nancy and leisl

It's time for some serious creativity in this little house on the prairie. Watching last night's full (or nearly full) moon and this morning's pretty sunrise over Big Swan Lake is sure to be inspirational. And here are a few finishes to share with you:

binky leashes and bags

directions found here

binding done on a little donation quilt for Twin Cities Quilts For Kids, it is a pattern by Villa Rosa Designs

I usually finish my bindings on these donation quilts by machine instead of hand. For one thing, they get done quicker. For another thing, they probably hold up better through repeated washings that might be needed. I start with a 2 1/2" strip, sew a scant 1/4" seam allowance on the right side of the quilt, then press and fold it around to the back of the quilt. I use a little wavy stitch on my machine, stitching on the right side of the quilt right next to the binding seam. In the photo below you can see the fold edge of the binding is caught in the wavy stitch on the back of the quilt, and the stitch on the right side blends right in.

I have made progress on my hap quilt. I was so happy to finish the last of the 36 blocks that I needed, and I have the border blocks added to one side. Most of the hap quilts that I have seen end with half blocks on the edges, like you see on the right and left sides below:
I decided that I would like it better with finished blocks all around, so I came up with the dimensions to extend the blocks and fill in with some background fabric. I'm not yet sure if I will add any more border around this, I will wait and see after I get the other 3 sides done.

Besides all this creating with fabric, we cooked up some pizza last night. Not your everyday pizza. We have some special dietary needs (well, Nancy and I do, and Leisl has to share in the joy) so we ate gluten free, dairy free, soy free and meat free pizza! So even if there was such a thing as pizza delivery in Grey Eagle, MN, I don't think they would have our special pizza on the menu! We tested out 2 types of gluten free pizza dough mixes, and both were acceptable but Bob's Red Mill brand was preferred over Chebe brand. Also tried a new cheese substitute, Daiya, and it was more melty than any other product I have tried. Even a little bit stretchy like the real thing! Tonight will probably bring more culinary adventures, I'll let you know what develops!

The other really important development is the start of a new adventure for my son, Dan. He is embarking on a cross-country bicycle journey, and you can follow his progress on his website. Please check it out and leave a comment to keep him motivated!