Wednesday, April 26, 2017

project report

Even though I haven't shown much proof here on the blog, I really have been continuously sewing and quilting and knitting behind the scenes.  It kind of goes in little bursts and doesn't feel like I get much traction on any one project when there are too many in the works.  But here's some updates!

This lacy scarf is a long overdue completion, using a very special yarn.  It's called Quiviuk and it was a gift from my son, Dan, as a souvenir from a trip to Alaska.  What a great son, on his business trip and he finds yarn for me!
This has had some starts and stops since I first posted about it in 2012.  Sometimes it's like that.  I was frustrated with the pattern I was working on then, and I unravelled it and tried a couple other patterns before landing on this one.  A simpler lace.  I knew I would make something lacy with it for a couple reasons.  It would stretch the little pack of yarn further, with the open stitches.  And it is so lightweight, it feels like a feather, and will be fine for a simple dress-up for a shirt or dress.  And won't be overly warm!  I love the way it turned out!
I don't actually remember where I found the directions for this stitch pattern, but it's pretty simple and therefore, easy to pick up and put down on short notice.  Here's the stitch pattern:
K4, (YO, K2tog, K2) repeat between () across the width of the scarf.
I cast on 28 or 32 stitches (can't remember which), it just has to be a multiple of 4.
Knit 2 rows at the beginning and before cast off.

 And another knit that I hope is quick:

A simple little baby hat that with a little luck will be done in time for a Saturday baby shower to go along with this blankie--

 My niece, Nora, and her husband, Shane, are expecting their first baby, a little boy.  I get to attend the shower on Saturday back in my hometown.  This blankie was made from a square of plush double-sided cuddly fabric.  The binding is about 1" wide, and is sewn on by machine.  If you have ever tried to hand stitch a binding to plush stuff, you will understand why I chose to do this one by machine.  I think my mom sewed the binding for this when we were at a retreat last fall, before I even knew about this little baby coming our way!  It's good to plan ahead!

And a fresh finish!  The binding is done on my Mini Rings quilt and it's in the bag ready to go to Bear Patch.  It will be offered as a class this summer and on display at the store soon.

So that's all for now, folks!
And let's all sing Happy Birthday to my little sis, Jan, today!

Sunday, April 23, 2017

sewing and other stuff

I've got some random stuff to share with you, since I haven't been posting regularly it is a hodge podge.  I often do things, or take pictures, with the thought that I want to blog about it.  In fact, I kind of compose part of the words I want to write in my mind.  Then the moment passes, I get wrapped up in stuff, and it doesn't happen.  Today I'm clearing out some of the backlog!

Last summer I had a nice big outdoor planter dish full of thriving succulents.  By the time fall came, I brought them indoors and started a few smaller plants from the cuttings.  Part of the main plants still did well indoors, others not so much.  With the weaker light and short days of winter, they weren't real happy, but most survived.  In the picture below, that big healthy jade plant in the middle is from the last summer growth.  I uprooted all the rest and replaced them with all the little ones around the outside of the bowl.  As soon as we get more warm days, they will go outside again.  And I have more pots started with more cuttings.

When we cleaned out the garage, one of the more nostalgic finds was our original old tent, purchased in 1976, I think.  Still intact, and we even set it up in the yard to see what it looked like.  It brought back lots of nice memories.  Now it has gone to Goodwill and will hopefully bring more memories to someone else.

Yesterday was an exceedingly good weather day, plus Earth Day!  So I did a little digging and started getting rid of some of the old winter scum of dead leaves and even new weeds popping up.  I found a little bit of asparagus showing up!  Yum!

On the sewing side of my life, I am working on finishing up 2 things that will be offered as classes this summer.  One is called Mini Rings, and I don't have a picture here but if you look at the Bear Blog tomorrow you will see a bit of it.  And I'm nearly done with it, just finishing up the binding.  

The other is the big star quilt shown below.  I saw this on display last fall when I attended Quilt Market in Houston, and I was very impressed by the use of color and design.  It's called Star Storm and is by Victoria Findlay Wolfe.  The fabric is also her design, called Meadow Storm.  We have complete kits and the patterns for this at Bear Patch.  Now to get it quilted!

Since you had a bit of grandson overload on the last posting, I'll toss in some info about things that I made for little Leo's nursery!  I found some fabric that pulled together some of the colors that Brita wanted to use, and here's what I made:

A "boppy" pillow cover--it gets a lot of use with just about every feeding time!  With the first grandson, I bought the pillowform and it had directions on the wrapper to make the cover.

A little pillowcase (travel pillow size) that matches,
but for decorative purpose only at this stage of Leo's life. 
Matching crib sheets to spruce up his crib.
He's still sleeping in a little cradle in mom and dad's room,
 but will eventually move onto his own mattress.
Use this link to learn how to make them.

And his name banner, not finished in this picture but you get the idea.
You also get the idea of how many threads are stuck to my design wall!  

Last Sunday, Easter, Bob and I had the afternoon to ourselves and decided to visit someplace we had never been before but not far from home.  The Mississippi River is maybe 10-12 miles west of here, and there is a big dam and park that we have never visited.  It's called the Coon Rapids Dam Regional Park on our side (the east bank) of the river, and we walked across the dam to explore the trails on the west side, too.  The dam was much bigger than we expected, so I'm glad we went there.  We came upon an area that has had a lot of recent beaver activity, in this picture you can see all the trees that they have been gnawing on.  Lots of carefully made wood chips!  We saw lots of people walking, some folks fishing in the river, and some osprey watching us!

Saturday, April 22, 2017

this is all about the grandkids

I spent the last 2 weeks of March in Charlotte, North Carolina, (actually Ballantyne, a southern suburb) at the home of my daughter and son-in-law, Brita and Ben.
But primarily, it's the home of my 3 grandsons, Ian (5), Jack (3) and Leo (1 month).

It is such a busy, lively, happy house!  There's a lot going on within those 4 walls, and it takes a whole lot of energy just to keep up!  I got to do so many fun things with the little boys!  Here's a sampling:

Leo the Lion in his full regalia!

We celebrated Jack's 3rd birthday!
Although they don't always get along (typical brothers),
there are moments of clarity
when the brotherly love really does happen.

I had the privilege of being the "Mystery Reader" and surprised Ian at his preschool!  It's been a long time since I had to read a book upside down and show the pictures.  Then I got to answer questions from his classmates.  Such friendly teachers and kids!

Tree climbing with Papa--this was as high as it got, but I know there are some nervous moments ahead as they grow up and tackle bigger trees!

And here's the 3 of them on Leo's 1-month-old day.
I just want to cuddle them!  Ian and Jack like to know what's going on with Leo at all times.  Or Buster, which is what he was called before his birth.  I tried to squeeze in as much time to help keep up the house as I could during those 2 weeks, helping with meals, sweeping floors, doing laundry, walks to the playground, driving to/from the Y for preschool, getting groceries, etc., etc.!  It was hard to leave there.  It's such a happy but stressful time for Brita and Ben.  Brita has had to cope with postpartum depression after each baby, and that can be rough for both of them.  Things seem to be on a pretty even keel now, and I know they are more than capable of raising up these children.  But I can't wait to see them all again!

Monday, April 17, 2017

mother nature never fails

I've been putzing around with growing succulents indoors this winter.   The plants that had flourished outside last summer mostly became weaklings during their period of meager sunlight.  A few, like the jade plant shown below, didn't seem to mind.  So a couple days ago I rounded up my various pots and plants and did some dirty work.   I should get my fingernails dirty more often!  I'm always poking around stores for some new and interesting shapes and colors in succulents, and I had stumbled across some good ones, although itty bitty pots, at Lowe's last week when I was supposed to be looking at garage shelving.  Here's one of the re-potting samples that I put together:

There are several more specimens to accompany this one, and it won't be too much longer before I can put them outside again.  New plants and fresh dirt always make me happy!  An appropriate activity for the Easter holiday.

Just 2 weeks ago, I was in Charlotte, NC, for active-duty grandparenting.  And it was fabulous to be in an area that was actually in full-bloom-spring-mode!  These were a few of the plants and trees that brightened my days there, and gave me hope that once I returned to the tundra, spring would happen again!

On my last day there, we participated in an Easter Egg Hunt organized by neighborhood volunteers for all the kids.  It turned out so nice, with a lot of families present at the little playground area, just mixing and socializing.  It really is a good community of people.  My kids have lived there a little over 2 years now, and have become familiar with many of the people in the few blocks around them.  I was impressed with the friendliness and support I saw and felt.  When little Leo was born March 2, he had a bit of a struggle and had to stay in the NICU for awhile.  This was a lot to handle for 2 young parents already working to keep up with the other 2 boys at home.  The neighbors rallied to help them with keeping Ian and Jack happy and entertained while mom and dad were needed at the hospital.  They even went as far as organizing some meal deliveries, which extended through the whole month.  That's the kind of neighborly response I would maybe think to expect after living somewhere for several years, not just 2 years of residence!  I'm really happy they have a good community there!
The Easter Egg Hunt was a treat for me, because that's not something we normally do back at home.  The day was warm and sunny, a sharp contrast to many Easter holidays in Minnesota.  We probably had indoor egg hunts more often than outdoors.  And cute little spring outfits were generally worn under a winter parka!  But now, back in MN, the leaves are starting to show green and the yard is changing from brown to green rapidly.  The rhubarb is pushing bright pink stalks through the dirt, and garden plans are being discussed.  As for that garage shelving I mentioned earlier, it is still in the planning stages but we did actually find a good day to haul a lot of stuff down from the old garage shelves and sort and clean out there.  Plenty of stuff found its way to the garbage, and some things to be donated.  I'm still pushing for a garage makeover, it could really use some "sprucing up"!  The temporary rough construction steps leading from the garage into the house have lasted 30 years now, and I'm aiming for an upgrade!  Wish me luck!