Adding shade

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Around 20 years ago, my sister bought a hammock and frame at a garage sale for $25. When they moved she wasn’t able to take it with her, so she “stored” it at my place and I’ve had it ever since.  (I’m still obligated by the terms of the transaction to refer to it at all times as “my sister’s hammock.”)

It has survived four or five moves with me, being left in the rain, being abused by children who used it as a play structure, and it is still going strong. I love my sister’s hammock.

However, lately I haven’t used it as much, because there really isn’t much shade in our current backyard.  It just gets too hot lying there in the sun.

With our new patio area, there was potential for an improved hammock placement. I had a couple of shade sails that we used to use over the old patio. The equilateral triangle I tried first was too small and had the wrong angles for the posts, and the right triangle was way too big. But too big can be solved with scissors.

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A new hem on the longest side, and a pleat to shorten the opposite point, and we now have a hammock in the shade.

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That hexagon area is supposed to be our fire pit seating area, but since we haven’t purchased either the fire pit or the seating yet, it will make a great hammock spot in the meantime.

Sewing cute

My sister, who is one of the few people that I let inside of our isolation bubble, decided it would be a “fun project” to sew a baby quilt for one of her colleagues.  Actually, this time she turned out to be right. It really was fun.

Slightly to her dismay, she did most of the sewing. The baby decorating scheme is apparently forests and mountains.  I found examples of quilts with trees and mountains and she picked the birch tree look. Their school mascot is a hedgehog, so that definitely had to go into the forest.  Then we both cut and she sewed all the straight lines.  Fairly straight even!

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This quilt was our inspiration.  We went with raw edge appliqué for the hedge hog, and strip sewed a bunch of black, white, gray and cream to speed up the trees.  A little slicing, reversing, and occasionally seam ripping a slice to insert more to mix up the lines made the tree part go very quickly.  I sliced up the background to insert the trees and she sewed them in.

A few sloping forest floor lines later, and there was only the hedgehog left to make.

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That is just pure adorable in my opinion.

The sandwiching, quilting and binding were all my jobs, though she did come back and learn how to bury thread ends.  I will make a quilter out of her yet!

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It was pretty simple quilting.  Mostly stitching in the ditch around the trees and the bark stripes – I occasionally lost the ditch, but it went well overall.  I outlined the hedgehog and added some internal stitching to really anchor it – we know the raw edges will fray a little over time, but that is supposed to make it more like hedgehog — Fur? Hair? Spikes?  At least that’s how we are going to explain it.

Here it is pre-washing machine:

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And straight from the dryer in full crinkle. The hedgehog survived!

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It was off to the baby shower 5 minutes after it came out of the dryer.  Finished just in time.

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Maybe too much warm?

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I finished up the quilting and binding of the baby quilt I’m making for my teaching team member.

I also knit a colorful sweater for the soon-to-arrive baby boy.  As I was knitting and sewing from stash to avoid leaving the house, the colors of the two presents don’t go together, which sort of bothered me through the whole process.  But I doubt the baby will care.

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Blankets and wool sweaters for a baby due to be born in the middle of the summer heat.  Maybe not my best decision making?

I did try to make the sweater a size for a slightly grown baby, hoping it will fit when winter rolls back around.  It was 91 degrees here yesterday, so the sweater is definitely going in a drawer for some months.

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But first it is going on their front porch, while I ring the bell and then dart away, masked, to avoid spreading viruses.   The world is so weird right now.

 

Top finished

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I’ve finished the baby quilt top for my friend who is due next month.

It’s definitely not traditional colors for babies, but she is very much a natural tones person. The baby’s room has pale gray walls and white furniture, So these colors will fit in. I was originally going to make it all neutrals, but I couldn’t stop myself from adding in the coral and gold. I love how it turned out!

It’s a little busy, which is part of why I love it, so I made the back just four big rectangles. They can flip it over if they need to rest their eyes.

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I hope to get it quilted and in the mail this weekend. Normally I would just give it to her, but these are not normal times.  It’s weird to think that I may not even see this baby in person for months.

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I have a couple of quilt tops now in the line to be quilted, but I’m hampered by a lack of a place to sandwich and pin them. I don’t like to do it on the hardwood floors for fear of scratching. Usually I do them at work on the concrete floors there but that isn’t an option now. Maybe the garage floor? During the stay at home isolation my son has really cleaned up the garage so that he could use it as a workout area. So the floor in there is probably clean enough to pin on now.

Approaching deadline

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It suddenly dawned on me that if it’s almost the end of May, then logically that means it’s almost June, which means I need to get cranking on this baby quilt all of a sudden. The baby is due in mid June.  I went from feeling like I had all the time in the world to wondering how I could’ve wasted so much time!

So I am back to jigsawing pieces of fabric together. It’s rainy and quiet and my family members are all cocooning  in their rooms, so it gives a lot of time to think about Memorial Day as I sew.

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There are a lot of veterans in my family, but we were lucky enough to not lose any during active duty. I’m so grateful for that, and I’m thinking a lot about people who weren’t so lucky today. It is a very grim situation that much of the country finds itself in this Memorial Day, which makes it hard for people who have to mourn alone.  And there is so much to mourn right now.

I hope everybody is staying safe, and healthy, and finding people who they can connect with.

 

No drama llamas

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My sister’s new house needed kitchen curtains.  Searching thru the fabric possibilities, she liked some llama tea towels I had saved for a future project, so curtains they became.

The towels were a set, but one of them had just the mountains on it, and one had three rows of llamas.  A little slicing and ripping out of old seams and adding in others, and two curtains were created where towels once were.

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They look pretty cute in place too.

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Life goes random

It’s been a week of great difficulties and a very few random small accomplishments.  Since the big troubles are outside the scope of this blog, here are some of the random things I accomplished this week.

I sewed some fabric masks for my nieces to wear in grocery stores.

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I repotted my window cacti, something I’ve been meaning to do for a long time, but I feared the spines.

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I bought the metal pots a while back at IKEA and then drilled a hole in the bottoms for drainage.  A very heavy duty gardening glove saved me from the spines.  And I used a technique I learned on Gardner’s World, where you put the old pot inside the new one and fill dirt around it and then it leaves the perfect sized hole for the plant when you take it out.

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And yet I still got dirt everywhere.

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I also used an egg carton to start some pepper seeds.  I’ve never succeeded at growing peppers, but maybe this year?

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More seeds still to plant.  It needs to be a bit warmer.  I had to put chicken wire around the new raised bed where these seeds will end up because the puppy (who is now 35 pounds!) keeps digging all the nice loose dirt out of it.

.And I did more work on my slippers, which were developing holes around the patched areas.  I don’t know why I don’t just knit new ones, but I’m entertaining myself with different techniques to stretch out their lifespans.  This time I tried needle felting.

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I didn’t have foam or a felting mat so I used my fingernail brush.  Other than the awkwardness of fitting it into the heel it did the job.  I used some of the multitude of fiber I have on hand for the spinning I never seem to do anymore and stabbed away on the inside-out slipper bottoms. It seems to have worked, and it doesn’t show from the outside.  A little more time added to extend their lives.  I’m running out of techniques though, so this might be their last chance and then I will have to pick up the knitting needles.

Other random accomplishments this week:  I ate a lot of cookies, got into zero fights with my housebound teenage sons, and reread a huge number of comfort novels.  All good things.

This is Spring Break week for three of us according to the school calendar.  Kind of meaningless under the circumstances.  My husband is still going to work, but has a furlough week next week as his company cuts back on payroll as orders are drying up.

My high school is going to attempt online school starting next week.  We had an exploratory Zoom session on Monday to see how that would work.  74 of 90 teenagers showed up for it, which was an encouraging sign.  It was so good to see them again, even if only in little squares on my tablet screen!

All but two of the 90 have signed up for the Google Classroom my teaching team has created, so we are hopeful.  We have an integrated project planned that isn’t overwhelming to get started, and a special ed teacher involved to add extra support.  Fingers are crossed.

Hoping you are all safe and healthy, wherever you are.

National Quilting Day

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Until today, I didn’t know there was a National Quilting Day.  Amazingly, considering I haven’t been working much at all, I actually worked on a quilt today. I must’ve sensed something in the air.

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I’m scrap piecing together a baby quilt for one of my team members. I’m not sure that the colors really look baby quilty, but she’s not a pastel person so I think she’ll like it.  And I’m having fun with the randomness as I build blocks and puzzle out combining the odd sizes.

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I need to decide soon if it’s going to be a square or a rectangle.

Well, this changes things

Sometimes the world makes a sudden sharp turn and becomes very bewildering.

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Around here we are all feeling a little like our puppy Maxx right now.  Things are all upset.

I think I’ve mentioned before that I work for a school district. Work is apparently no longer the correct word. The governor of Washington has ordered all schools to be closed, and now we are awaiting guidance from admin about what that means for our students and ourselves.

My particular school is very online. The students all have Chromebooks, and are very used to using Google Classroom on a daily basis. However, that doesn’t mean everybody has access from home, and students who need special services to be academically successful also can’t just open their Chromebook and go for it.

A lot of students also rely on the schools for meals, but I’m happy to report that my district has a plan to continue availability of food. They’re going to run the buses on elementary school routes and at each bus stop people can wait and be handed their food.  They’re also going to have a couple of schools open where students can stop and pick up food.

While what I can only assume are fairly frantic administrative meetings are happening to decide how to deliver education as well as food if (when) this stretches out, the rest of us are at home waiting to hear the plan.  My teaching team and I have been having video meetings and brainstorming possibilities.

And as of now, I’m also self-isolating with two middle school sons, while my husband still has to go into work.

I want to say that I know we are very, very lucky. The state is going to continue to pay my salary while the schools are closed, and so far my husband’s company is not talking about layoffs. Compared to other people, we are going to be just fine. The hair salon my niece works at closed with just 20 minutes notice yesterday, my sister’s second job just laid her off, and with the new notice to close all restaurants and bars and allow only take out, a lot more people are going to suddenly lose their jobs.  So we are grateful for what we have and ready to offer help where we can to others in our community who are less fortunate.

My sister and I visited my mom today.  She lives in one of those active retirement community buildings, where they are highly discouraging visitors. Locked doors and signs everywhere levels of discouraging. So our visit looked like this:

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We’ve told her that we will get her a bucket on a rope so we can keep her supplies of coffee creamer and chocolate topped up.

Luckily, during this sudden downtime, crafters can always come up with things to do.

I’ve started sewing again for the first time in a long time.  Baby quilts must be made!

And then there is the high volume soup making.

And, as long as the sunshine holds out, garden improvements. My new raised bed arrived recently so we put it together today.  It is steel and designed to develop a rusty orange patina very soon.

I also have supplies to make a lot more panels like this wire one that will go up on posts around the yard for vines to grown along.  One down, six more to go.

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And then there is the new puppy.  She is thrilled to have us around all the time!

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So, keeping busy isn’t a real concern. Keeping healthy is, but we’ve got plenty of soap and social distancing.  I know the boys are going to get bored a lot faster than I will, but one likes to play basketball in the street, and the other one sees his friends just as much in video games as he ever did in person, and I’m letting them ride their bikes all around as long as they avoid people. Eventually they’ll get desperate enough to read books and remember they used to like those.

And, as I’ve explained to them, I am certified in this state to assign them homework!

Hoping you all stay safe and healthy out there.