Monday, December 31, 2018

New Year's Eve

Hope everyone had a good Christmas. I can't believe it's almost been a month!

So, quick updates:
  •  I found a way to fix the green spicy spiral!  The wedges need to be cut with the stratas going opposite directions, but I cut the first set going the same direction.  BUT, I had just enough fabric to create a fifth strata set and, double-checking everything, cut a new set of wedges in the right direction
and was able to get it finished!  Really, this is the best pattern EVER.  Here's a better picture of the one in purple for my friend,
which she loves. There was a time when I thought I would make quilts or shawls for each friend as they turned 50, but then I remembered how many really good friends I have.  So, it's table-runners!

  • The kittens have taken to sewing like pros:

and over the holidays we've made pajamas for both Andy and I, some new towels,

a new chiffon jacket for me.  Part of the reason for this sewing frenzy is:
I finally got a new sewing machine!  I've been researching this for a few years, actually, and since it's a 4-hour round-trip to get my existing machine fixed but the repairs aren't lasting even a year, I decided it was finally time and took advantage of a big holiday promo the first week of December.  The embroidery module is still on order, but I have so much to learn for just sewing that it's okay.

The new machine has a very big throat area for quilting, which was also a driving factor.  It also has dual-feed, which was amazing on the chiffon jacket.  Now I'm using it on a new quilt for some friends buying their first house,
and I'm trying to do a "scrappy" quilt.  I'm a very symmetrical/orderly sort of person, so I am struggling a bit with "scrappy."  I might need to rearrange things a bit, because it doesn't feel very balanced, and there's a whole menu of great quilting stitches on the new machine, so I think I'll be doing some decorative quilting in white on--maybe with a white border.  It's 3 small jellyrolls, so I might end up with white on the binding as well if I can't find a good solid fabric to match/accent this, but I think it's going to be a fun project.  I'm already loving the dual-feed with the quilting foot, so it's moving along very quickly.  Maybe I can actually finish a few big projects in 2019?

Happy New Year everyone!

Thursday, December 20, 2018

Happy Holidays 2017-2018 Letter

There comes a time when innocent people completely forget the horrors of moving, and in a moment of insanity--possibly brought on by noise, too many neighborhood rentals, high winds, and traffic congestion--decide to pack up everything they own and pay twice the estimate to large men who will scratch every stick of furniture and crush well-marked fragile boxes as they move it across town, where the gullible innocents will be so traumatized by the process that they will be unable to send out the annual holiday letter….

When I say that we moved in 2017, between cleaning and prepping the old house, selling it, finding a new house, all the negotiations and unpacking, it really does seem it’s what we did with the entire year.  Probably because it’s mostly true.  Toward the end of the year I was finally able, after 5 years of physical therapy, to return to outside sales, and I now sell business signs for an old client of mine.  We had to say goodbye to our oldest cat shorty after we moved, so adopted two kittens to keep our remaining cat company, but lost one of them to disease two months later, so we found another kitten right before Christmas.  There were some adjustments, but now the three of them get along and have united forces to keep the Christmas trees free of ornaments and tree skirts and to have wild dashes around the house at 3:00 AM.

After 10 years of telecommuting, Andy changed jobs this year and now works for a local company which is close enough to our house for him to run to work once each week.  He’s enjoying having an office again, and it turns out it IS easier to write software without kitty assistants crawling all over the keyboard.  Who would have guessed?

We are loving the new house and neighborhood, and we had a fun summer of “weed or plant?” in the yard.  We are close enough to the water table to not have voles, which wasn’t the main reason we moved, but it is a nice perk, though celebrating by planting 100+ bulbs might have been a bit overboard.  The previous owners were flower-lovers as well, so there was something blooming almost constantly from spring onwards.  Sometimes we even knew what they were.  We’re close enough to walk to the local bike path and nature walk, and have really enjoyed exploring our new surroundings, and the neighborhood is very much a community.  Two different neighbors brought us cookies when we first moved in, which we thought only happened in movies and urban legends.  The backyard is everything we were hoping for, and we spend lots of time out enjoying the birds and dragonflies and trying to figure out why our lawn is peppered with volunteer carrots.

There was much less time for sewing and woodworking during the move as both of them generate MESS, which is problematic when someone can call at any time to come view the house, but with the move Andy gained a window in the garage for natural light and I gained more space for the sewing room.  Much of this year was spent trying to unpack and organize, but we’re getting back into the swing of things and have large lists of new projects to make for the house. 

This year we had to say goodbye to some very special people: Andy’s brother, Mike, and one of our closest friends and (briefly) neighbor, Ron.  It turns out the price one pays for having great people in one’s life is how hard they are to lose, but fond memories help.

As we go into our second Christmas in the new house, we’re settling in, enjoying lots of holiday parties, and learning that very few things in life are truly kitten-proof, and hoping you’re enjoying a wonderful holiday season.

This year I have learned….
  • If you find yourselves crawling along the hall to double-check your paint touch-ups on the baseboards before listing your house, it’s time for an intervention.    
  • Bubble wrap is as fascinating for kittens as it is for humans 
  • Selling to first-time home buyers with a brand-new realtor is going to be expensive AND frustrating
  • It’s probably best to ask if a widespread plant is an invasive weed as soon as one moves in, rather than the next spring after it has really gotten ambitious. 
  • “What does this switch do?” is a game that can be played over and over in a new home.  Or a newish home.  Or, frankly, the house one is trying to sell.
  • Even if one is in a hurry, pack the containers and their lids in the same box
  • It sounds great to plan one’s own landscaping, but buying a house already landscaped is much easier
  • Just because a ground-cover looks cute and harmless in the nursery doesn’t mean that it won’t take over the garden and start colonizing the yard.
  • Early boxes get nicely-written content labels.  Later boxes just get weird.
  • When one has found a source for really sturdy boxes of just the sort one has been looking for, dumpster-diving is a great way to spend a Friday night when moving
  • The one who is going to have to do most of the digging REALLY should have veto power over spring bulb orders, or at least the third spring bulb order….
  • A successful plant coming up is a “win,” even if it isn’t exactly what I planted
  • One can get REALLY rusty at golf after not playing for 15 years.  Luckily, I wasn’t very good to begin with.
  • The house came with some weird iris that decided to bloom for Thanksgiving.  We’re pretending it’s on purpose.
  • One fast way to meet a neighbor is to lock yourselves out on your third night in a new house
  • It does only take once to learn to check the flowers for bugs BEFORE bringing them in the house
  • You know you’ve done a bad job labeling boxes when you’re celebrating finding underwear.
  • When one receives a call from the Nielsen television ratings people, it turns out that they want to know how many televisions can actually receive some sort of programming, not how many exist.
  • It’s relatively easy to find out which houseplants are dangerous to cats, but it takes trial and error to find which houseplants can survive cats.
  • We had to cover the cat door at the old house as one of the conditions of the sale.  A lot of sleep and frustration could have been saved had we done that much sooner.
  • It’s best to just admit that any furniture we buy is ultimately for the cats.
  • Kudos to the catalog company I ordered a gift from once which has now tracked me down to my third residence since that single order 18 years ago. It’s either impressive or creepy. 
  • While it’s nice to have a one-story house, there were some perks to knowing that guests weren’t likely to know if the bed wasn’t made or if the laundry wasn’t folded.
  • Sometimes one spends a long time looking at a house because it’s a possibility.  Other times, one does it because it’s indescribably filthy or bizarre.  While the first is more productive, the second makes for much better stories.
  • If it washes off, it was dirt.  If it doesn’t, it’s a bruise.  They are equally likely during yard work.
  • It takes carp a surprisingly short time to learn to beg for food.
  • There is literally nothing a kitten won’t try to chew. 
  • It’s amazing how much stuff can be found in the closets of a house without much closet space.
  • The appropriate time to figure out how a convection oven works is probably not when hosting the first Thanksgiving in a new house.
  • Moving is a great opportunity to sort through possessions and donate anything one doesn’t need.  We’re still never doing it again, but it is a great opportunity.

Sunday, December 2, 2018

It's Done!

 The 50th birthday gift for my friend was finished yesterday!
and I couldn't be happier.  I bought a set of 8 fat quarters from Craft Warehouse to make this, then ended up not liking one of the colors because it was just too jarring, so the ginormous fabric stash came to my rescue!  Yes, I did have other purple fat quarters on hand.  I don't think I'm learning good stash lessons here. 

I was sewing the next strata together while working on the first one to be ahead on big gifts, so I got the 4 strata done and ironed and ready to cut...
and totally messed up the cutting--to the point that it can't be a spicy spiral runner.  Oh yeah--it's in the Project Timeout bin right now and I am sulking with my knitting.  Sure, I make mistakes knitting as well, but frogging fixes almost everything......Too bad life isn't like that.

Saturday, November 24, 2018

Hope Everyone Had A Lovely Thanksgiving

We had a lovely Thanksgiving.  Last year had been the first Thanksgiving we've really hosted, and we were able to have a friend over who had missed the last few Thanksgivings with health problems.  We lost him this summer, and he was absolutely one of my favorite people, but his widow and some of the family were able to join us and my parents came down, and I think it was as nice a day as it could have been for our first holiday without him. 

Today we're decorating for Christmas,
with LOTS of kitty help.  We got Valentino right before Christmas last year, but he wasn't here for the decorating, which is entirely fascinating for kitties--as is embroidery:
We have 9 Christmas parties on the calendar so far, so
I might not be as far ahead with hostess gifts as I thought I might be.  This weekend I'm also hoping to get started on some spicy spiral runners.  One of my closest friends is turning 50 shortly, so I wanted to do something special for her, and this seemed a good fit.
 Having handmade-gift-worthy people in one's life is REALLY a good thing--it's just that sometimes life gets in the way.  And sometimes it's time to place some limits. One of my favorite Christmas traditions is a girls' gift exchange that a friend of mine started several years ago.  She said there was a year when a few of them weren't in very good places in relationships and she thought it would be nice to start a gift exchange so that, no matter what was happening in the rest of their lives, there was a moment when each woman knew someone was thinking about them.  Isn't that the loveliest idea ever?  Unfortunately, over the last several years, rather than just opting out if they didn't want to participate, two people on the list have started complaining about it, and will only participate if we make the gifts handmade ONLY.  I'm as big a fan of homemade gifts as anyone, and it isn't like people aren't free to give handmade gifts (I usually do, but sometimes I don't have time) or that they aren't always welcome, but I can't imagine what kind of ego it takes to insist that the only gifts anyone can give to anyone else must be a certain way.  Maybe it's just me, but I think that misses ANY point of gift-giving, plus I'm not even sure if everyone on the list DOES make things as we're not a craft group, and it's really short notice even if this were vaguely appropriate to require.  Going through this each year has kind of tarnished this particular get-together for me, so I've decided this year to keep what I love about it alive by focusing on people outside of this group who are maybe in a rough patch in their lives and could use someone thinking about them during the holidays.  Can you think of a nicer reason to make something?

Speaking of crafting, I've made progress on the dragonfly quilt,
and while I was originally trying to figure out a great free motion quilting design for this, I'm still new to FMQ and  thought maybe in the interest of finishing this EVER, accent quilting could also be nice.  All the lines on the sashing strips are done in both direction without a single pucker on the back, so I've still accomplished something REALLY new to me.  And I need some practice on FMQ on scraps first--like maybe gift bags?

Speaking of which,
I did make myself a new project bag a while ago,
and have almost finished a birthday gift scarf for next year.  I also might have purchased some grey yarn to make the Irish Moss sweater that I've always wanted to make:
and I'm in love.  I promise, I am still doing seams on the other sweater, and might even have it done later this weekend,
but I am just not a monogamous knitter. Which is okay--the scarf is too dark to work on in some light, I have a sweater for stoplight knitting, and Irish Moss lives in the sewing room for when I need to rest my back a bit.  But I am back into knitting! This is probably more knitting than I've done in the last several years.  It's good to be back!

Sunday, October 28, 2018

I've Been With This Cold Longer Than Some Ex-Boyfriends

Yep--the cold and I are still together.  I'm thinking a new bottle of Nyquil for our one-month anniversary later this week.

Last weekend we planted the obscene number of bulbs I ordered months ago when the threat of having to plant them was MONTHS away and meant nothing at all.  Next spring I am just going to turn my credit card over to Andy for safe keeping.  Our yard had better be beautiful come spring, and for hopefully a bit longer than a week or two.

Last weekend we also saw the touring production of The Lion King.  I took a lot of drugs to make it through, but it was great.  If you haven't seen what they did with the Broadway show, this is the opening from the 2008 Tony Awards (the show's 20th year):
After such a busy weekend last weekend, the cold was a bit worse this week and I ended up working from home quite a bit, and have spent this weekend resting with the vaporizer and the kitties,
and knitting when the youngsters were sleeping, except for when they slept ON the knitting.
While I am totally in love with the new yarn, I noticed the other day that the fall stashdash goes to the end of November, not October, so I could finish another WIP for the challenge....  (Aren't you amazed that I'm only working on finishing ONE more?  I am)  So, I have been knitting the sleeves for my bulky-weight sweater:
and they're just a few rows from being done.  Why am I thinking only one more project if I'm this close?  Because I have to rip back part of the last piece I finished, which I thought was the back and turned out to be a SECOND back because I don't always take very good notes, so when the sleeves are done, I have to rip back part of the second back and convert it to a front, and it's taken me two weeks to even be willing to admit that.  This is why I should learn to be a monogamous knitter.  Not that I couldn't still do it, but I think it would be infinitely harder to forget what pieces one has knit if the project hasn't been shoved into a drawer for two years....

Thanks to all the embroidered towels, I have managed to hit my 50 Finished Projects goal, but as I used to count 2 embroidered towels as a finished project, it feels a bit like I'm not really at 50, so a couple big finished projects would make me feel better.  I'm thinking next year maybe I need a goal for number of sweaters finished.  I tried once for one sweater a month and got crushed by swoopies, but I think a sweater every 3 months could be perfectly reasonable, so therefore I'm thinking of trying for a sweater ever other month.   Why start being reasonable now?

Monday, October 15, 2018

A Tale of Two Weekends...

First, there was the good weekend, with lots of time for kitties and sewing,
finishing a new pair of flannel pajamas,
and some quilting with Valentino's help.  He's discovered laps lately, and I think it's as much for the petting as the being in the way of everything--or at least close.  Luckily,
there's also a good napping chair.

Then the bad weekend--SICK AGAIN!  Thursday I had such a bad sore throat that it woke me up, and I spent the day at home gargling saltwater and sleeping to try to make it to some appointments on Friday, but ended up having to cancel.  I was so miserable that I just took Nyquil every 6 hours to either sleep through it or rest enough to get rid of the darn thing.  I didn't even knit until Sunday.  I know!!!!!!  Andy was QUITE concerned, as you can imagine.  The cats loved it. 

Sunday, September 30, 2018

Apparently, One Should Never Joke About Colds...

....because it guarantees that you'll get one.  Last Sunday was our 12th wedding anniversary, and I rounded out the evening by coming down with a sore throat and cold.  Clearly, celebrating milestones with wild abandon is a BIG part of our marriage.....:)

We had declared Saturday a DAY OFF, so I spent the day with the quilt
and went on a towel marathon:
My embroidery machine is having issues again, but I'm able to coax it through designs with only a few color changes.  I'm seriously thinking about getting a new machine in December as I'm now avoiding projects because of the machine's problems, but getting a few things made helps.  The fur-brigade was thrilled:
They're pretty certain the sewing room is just for them.  Isn't everything?

Being sick did give me extra knitting time,
so the birthday trip scarf is now done. Yay!  And before jumping straight to the new sweater, I spent some more time with the Kauni cardigan, then finished the scarf I've been keeping in the car--bringing me to FOUR knitting projects for the year.  Whew!  Watch my speed.....

I was seriously tempted to cast on the new sweater, but I ran across this over the weekend,
 and as I love this yarn, it would count as another WIP for the fall stashdash, AND it's on size 11 needles, I've been working on it.  I love fast projects!!!!!!!  The large needles do wear out my hands eventually, so I did end up checking gauge and casting on the new yarn
which is completely fabulous.  It's so soft--totally worth waiting three years for.

This weekend there's been more knitting than sewing as I've needed to rest still, and we're having some wonderful fall weather finally,
 so today was a walk, gardening, and rest.  And lots and lots of kitty time--isn't there always?