Tuesday, June 26, 2012

It Was A Making Day

I made stuff today, lots of stuff, and I'm going to show it all to you right now.  This morning after my walk I whipped up a batch of hummus.  Pesto hummus.  I found a recipe but I liked mine better so I just added a half cup of basil (from my garden), some balsamic vinegar, and some soy sauce.  Yum.  Pretty too.

For supper tonight I made, well, we made grilled shrimp with fruit salsa.  Oh. My.  The fruit salsa has red pepper flakes in it (well, my half of it does anyway) along with apple, orange, lime juice, green onions and mint leaves.  The recipe says it serves 8... yeah, well tonight it served 2.  And did it damned well.  We had parsnips and kohlrabi too.  *burp*


In sewing news, I finished making the bag I cut out and started sewing on Sunday.  It's big--17 X 13 X 8 inches.  Big.  And I only had to go buy 3/4 yd. of the stiffener stuff, otherwise I used all stash stuff.  Yay, me!

I've been knitting along on Bandwagon Block #8.  I was hoping to get more of it knitted at the movie Sunday night but it was pretty much impossible to knit while watching (and singing along and bopping to the beat) The Blues Brothers.  (Did I tell you I went to watch The Blues Brothers  with friends last weekend?  It was so much fun, I wanna do it again soon.  Maybe a different movie...)

It's week #26 of the Maple Tree scarf project.  It's getting long.  It's going to be warm.  Time to change greens again.

Friday, June 22, 2012

I Finished Something!

It's been a long time since I finished a knitting project and this week I finally managed it.  It was the work of only one afternoon at the dive shop to knit the four rows of garter stitch that finish the Wingspan Redux shawlette/scarf.  I like it.  It's longer than I thought it was (well, duh, it was all crammed on a 40" circ) and I'm glad I added about 4 more triangles.  Next time I'm using bigger needles, the Angel variation pattern (it's holier), and casting on more stitches.

Last night I unearthed the Bandwagon Afghan blocks and cast on block #8 (of 12).  I figure that since I seem to be on a garter stitch jag, I might as well take up a WIP that I have a fighting chance of finishing in the foreseeable future (I have 7 blocks already done, see?).  Maybe even before summer ends.  I like making the miters and I like the way the colors contrast. 

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

June Quilt Blocks & DIL1's Birthday Purse

Okay, this is the last "catch up" post of stealth sewing, but first I want to show you the June BOM Quilt Blocks.  I made one on Sunday and one this afternoon.  I like them both, but I thought long and hard about redoing the first one.  I noticed that when I cut out the pieces for the center cross I should have "fussy cut" them so more of the birds printed on the fabric have their heads attached.  (Fussy cut means to arrange the pattern pieces or the quilting ruler so that the design that you want is where you want it on the block.)  The main reason that I didn't redo it is that I like the fabric, only have a fat quarter, and don't want to waste what's left.

Last Christmas DS & DIL1 gave me a book I had on my list.  Once I'd opened it the gift and thanked them, DIL1 picked it up, opened it to a particular pattern and pointed at it saying emphatically, "June 7th!  June 7th!"  The book is a collection of zakka pattern.  Zakka is a Japanese way of making utilitarian items more attractive.  What DIL1 wanted was a messenger bag-type purse similar to one she'd nearly worn out.  Over the year I kept my eyes peeled for linen on sale, buying a yard here, a yard there, and a lining fabric I thought looked right for her.  It was easy to cut out and assemble and I couldn't wait until I could give it to her.  She loved it.  I was relieved and proud.  She let me know that she'll be glad to give a home to anything else I'd like to make out of that book.  Great girl, that one.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Prayer Flags for DD

Have you ever seen photos of the camps on the approaches to Mt. Everest that show the strings of flags all faded and tattered? Did you ever wonder what they mean? The premise of prayer flags is that you make them with intent, putting wishes and sentiments into them, and then they're hung outdoors for the elements to decay thereby releasing the wishes into the world. They are made in sets of 5 and the colors are always in the same order. My daughter has had a hard year with a lot of loss of all sorts, so when I saw an article in Cloth Paper Scissors magazine about making prayer flags I knew what to do. I dug out some plain fabric and began amassing scraps of different colored cottons, then got to work.

The first color is blue. According to Buddhists, blue stands for Space. I made a hug to give her the "Comfort" of the space encircled by my arms.

Next is white. White is for Air, so I made a puffy ruffly cloud of a scrap of eyelet ruffle and I tacked a small tassel with tiny bells on the ends in the center. In the upper left I embroidered "Breathe" to remind her that a deep breath will often clear away anxiety and give you space to think.

In the center is red, red for Fire. I layered flame colored fabrics, tucking a bit of batting under it for dimension, then I machine embroidered a key design around the edge and "Courage" to remind her of her innate fire and the courage I know she has.

Green is for Water. Since we're a SCUBA diving family, we spent a lot of wonderful family time in the water so I layered green print on green print (all of them purchased at the fabric store where she works so she will recognize them), machine embroidered a wave motif over them in pale blue and tacked on 3 little fish appliques. The word "Freedom" is for the feeling that being weightless in the water gives us.

Last is yellow for Earth. I'm a real map lover so I dug out some map fabric, "fussy cut" out North America, and embroidered "Roots" to remind her that we're always here for her.

Then I dug through the boxes of bias binding I have from Mom (one of those losses), stitched it closed, and tacked the flags onto it so she can hang it outside her house and have a piece of Grandma too.

Sorry this is so long-winded but it was practice for the letter I included in the package. This was a very satisfying project to do and if you're ever moved to make some for yourself contact me and I'll pass on the particulars.
P.S.  She got them Saturday and called to say that she loved them, and that they arrived at just the right time.  Now I can publish this post that's been waiting in the wings for almost 2 weeks.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Quilt-Block-A-Palooza! *photo added*

It seems I'm on a sewing jag lately.  I don't want to knit and barely want to write, I want to sew.  (D'you think Mom's perched on my shoulder whispering in my ear?  I wouldn't be a bit surprised.)  Last month I made a set of 5 prayer flags for DS that have finally arrived in her hands so I finally get to show them to you.  I'll devote a post to them later in the week.  Durwood hinted not very subtly that he wouldn't say no to another wild aloha shirt on Father's Day if one happened to squirt out of my sewing machine.  I gave it to him this morning and he loves it.  See?  He immediately put it on, and made plans to wear it to Festival when he went for a rib eye for supper and on Thursday to Pulmonary Rehab to show off to the nurses.  Makes me very proud.

In the last week, well, actually in the last two days I've made four (4!!) of the quilt blocks I'm behind in my quilt Block Of the Month online course.  I've been slowly working on the April blocks which involved hand-sewing hexagons into a strip for block #1 and figuring out another design for block #2 since I really didn't like the "official" design.  Once I decided what to do it didn't take long to whipstitch them together and then zigzag them onto the foundation blocks.  Piece o'cake.

Once I finished the aloha shirt I zoomed through sewing the hexagons onto the blocks and then segued right into making the Wonky May blocks.  I'd been looking forward to making those.  When I finished the first one it had way too much white for the amount of color, so I zipped off the offending sides (love that rotary cutter!) and sewed on wider pieces of fabric.  I didn't follow the directions exactly (of course I didn't, when have I ever?) by not making each of the printed "frames" one fabric, but I like how it turned out.  It's pale and pastel-y but I like it.

I was going to save May Block #2, the Wonky Log Cabin block, for today but I kept looking at the pile of deep toned and graphic fabrics I had put aside for it and couldn't wait.  So I just kept going and made that one too, finishing just before bedtime last night.  I gave some thought to staying up and doing the June ones right away but realized that then I wouldn't have anything fun to sew today, so I didn't.  (good girl, Barbara)

I took all the quilt blocks outside and posed them on our drought-brown lawn.  I'm halfway through making blocks.  I'm looking forward to the joining and quilting in November & December.

Saturday, June 16, 2012


I can't stop sewing.  Once I finished the March BOM quilt blocks, I tackled the April ones.  I didn't like the "official" blocks much so I cruised the projects in the Craftsy course gallery to see how others had dealt with the dreaded hexagons.  I had already decided to make the striped one using only the big hexagons to make a bigger statement and have less of the background showing, but I did not want to make the other one at all.  Just too cutesy for me.  I was surfing the gallery the other day and saw one that just had random hexagons on the block and another one with the hexagons arranged in a ring, and that gave me an idea.  I made 5 of the biggest hexagons and one of the medium size, then I arranged the five in a C shape and nestled the smaller one in the gap.  I like it.  I confess I didn't hand sew them onto the blocks either; I used the same off-white I've used all along to just zigzag them on.  What do you think?

First thing today I attached the sleeves, hemmed, made buttonholes, and attached the buttons onto Durwood's requested Father's Day aloha shirt.  He won't remember but he picked out this fabric in the Houghton Walmart when we were there in October.  I think he'll love it and I can't wait to give it to him.  I did make a tactical error waiting to go to the card store until this afternoon.  I got one of the last cards in the place and even then I had to troll through the birthday cards to find an envelope.  Way to procrastinate, Babbums.

Once the April blocks were done I seemed to be on a roll and segued right into making the first of the May blocks.  I may remake it, since it has way too much of the background, or I might lop off some of the offending wide strip and put a wider print on.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Finished March *dusts off hands*

On Saturday night after DS & DIL1's picnic party I went downstairs (because it's coolest down there, even with the a/c on) and because it's been calling to me ever since I finished its sister on Tuesday, and sewed the March BOM quilt block #2.  I think it's called Broken Spiderweb.  I ironed another lb. bag of strips (even though I had enough strips ironed from the first bag), cut my base triangles, and got sewing.  I had planned to just use each fabric in turn as I'd pulled it out of the bag but that didn't work so I did a little "cherry picking" and finished it in about 2 hours.  I really like it.  It's not perfect, the points don't all meet, but I like it a lot.  And I remember being more fascinated by the places where the pieces didn't quite match up when I lay under my grandmas' quilts as a child.  I figure I'm making entertainment for a future grandchild.  I also think I finished March because I've finally had a brainstorm or two about how to make the April handsewn blocks to my liking.  I can't wait to get to the May ones, they're wonky.  Watch, all my points and seams will match up or be too straight when I'm trying to make them not.  I'm looking forward to them, though.  The June ones too.  Hey, maybe I'll get all caught up this month.

I don't have any new knitting pictures to show you.  The Maple Tree scarf got a little longer and Wingspan Redux got another triangle.  I finished Zoe's Dragonscale mitts on Friday night and handed them right to her wishing her an early birthday.  I forgot to take their picture, but I do have a photo of the first one.  The second one looks just like it.  Go figure.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

It's Me Again--And So Soon

I need to show you the quilt block I made, or rather finished, yesterday.  I'm thrilled with it.  I've never made a quilt before but I come from a long line of quilters a couple of generations back, so I figured I was a natural.  I signed up for a Block of the Month class over on Craftsy.com and I love it.  It's free (who doesn't love that?) and it has excellent instruction videos you can watch over and over and over and over, etc. if you don't know how to do what she says to do.  I stayed caught up until March when a wave of sadness overcame me and all crafting came to a screeching halt.  For a while, like a couple months, it was all I could do to blog over at my writing blog and go to work.  I'm better now.  Lots of other projects have been going on, plus getting the garden in, and I haven't picked up the quilt blocks again.  I was downstairs sewing yesterday and just pulled it out, reironed the strips and knocked it out in no time.  I love it!  I'd love it even more if it was the right size, but I'm going to sew on some narrow strips of the background fabric and make it work.  Next block I'm cutting the foundation pieces 1/2" bigger.

Monday, June 4, 2012

Project Progress (Lots of Pictures)

I must confess two things:  A) I've been mostly playing with planting the garden and potted plants on the patio, and 2) a lot of my projects are for someone else (look at me being all unselfish, that's different) so I can't just slap pictures of them on here.  That said, I realized this morning that I haven't posted in over a week.  I don't want you to think I'm just lolling around here eating peeled grapes and reading trash on my Kindle (not all the time anyway), so I figured out a way to show you what I'm doing while NOT showing you what I'm doing.

First, the garden.  Weeks and weeks ago I planted lettuce, spinach, scallion, and basil seeds in two planters right outside the patio doors.  The basil has taken the longest but it's so cute with its first tiny pairs of leaves that I had to take a picture of it this morning.

Durwood and I went to Stein's and picked out 6 tomato plants (7 came home with us... hm, those darned greenhouse gremlins), 2 bell peppers, and a spaghetti squash for our garden.  I got those in the ground Memorial Day weekend and spread a thick blanket of straw around them to make them cozy and keep them moist.

To make things easier for the cook, I repurposed a lot of my flower pots (you're welcome, Dear) to make a patio herb garden.  There are chives and parsley on the privacy screen shelf, shallots, rosemary, thyme, bay leaves, sage, and one lonely,volunteer lemongrass in pots on the sunny edge.  Another rosemary and most of the basil are in the planters that get a little shade later in the day.  I put the 3 more basils I bought at the Botanical Fair on Saturday in a hanging pot stuck on a crook at the edge of the garden.  Yeah, it's a lot of basil but I have this idea to make basil hummus (and I might really like it and want to make a lot) plus some pesto plus have plenty to eat.  It won't go to waste, there's always the dehydrator to press into service.

Now the crafty stuff.  There is a sewing & embroidery project that's mere hours away from completion.  I can't wait to show it to you but I have to finish it and gift it before then.  Here's the last piece that needs a bit of embroidery.  I should get on it.  Maybe tonight.

Here's a sewing project that's all done except for the gifting.  Patience.

This is a knitting project that was nagging at me that might become a gift so this is all you get.

And, finally, stuff you can see.  The Maple Tree scarf enters its 6th month with a tiny scrap of red for the cardinal in the tree one day last week and shifting greens, which are pleasing me no end.

Wingspan grows and grows.  I completed the 8th triangle, the final one according to the pattern, but it wasn't long enough.  Plus I have plenty of yarn so I'm going on.  #9 is finished and #10 begun.  I wasn't as successful matching up colors when it was time for the 3rd skein to join in but as Great-grandpa Gerst said, "a man running for his life will never see it."  He was a wise old man, that Charlie Gerst.

And that's it.  See?  No peeled grapes. And I've finally figured out how to make Blogger put photos where I want them to be.  Took me long enough.