Egg hunt

Our Easter is fairly low key.  We generally put more emphasis on Passover – our Easter celebration is about the egg hunt.

Saturday we dyed eggs.  There was only one fatality, and nothing permanently dyed that we didn’t intend.

Our eggs aren’t fancy – basic dye tablets and dunking.  The boys don’t have the attention span or artistic interest in fancier decoration options.  But we all like bright!

And the extra dye didn’t go to waste.  I used it to color some more of the gray merino/alpaca that I have so much of. (I’m currently on bobbin three of the bag I over-dyed red earlier.) The blue/purple dyes broke, but I always like that effect.

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I’m envisioning fair isle mittens or hat, mostly gray but with color bands.  More spinning to do.

In the afternoon the sunshine departed and the hail arrived. I left the sugar bingeing boys to their dad and Harry Potter movies and went to work on the purple floral quilt.  I’d already stitched along the edges of all the navy lines.  The big squares are too large to leave unquilted.  I tried some big free motion flowers in the middle – big fail.  The were off kilter and amateur looking.  I picked all that out and went with my usual loops.  I will practice the flowers for another day.

I’m always torn with the quilt backs with which color thread to use when they are pieced together with very different fabrics.  Although it looks white in the pics above, that part of the quilt is soft yellow.  The rest is a yellow green and two different purples. So what color should go in the bobbin?  I went with a purple, since that was the largest expanse, and it didn’t peek through with the navy thread on the front, but it shows up more than I like on the back.  I like my thread more unobtrusive.  On the front I’m changing thread colors depending on the fabric, but that wouldn’t work with the back given where the fabric changes fall.

I was only two and a half squares away from finishing when I ran out of the purple thread.  So close!  I ran to the store but it was closed for the holiday, so I’ll have to try again tomorrow.

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The half finished looped square where I ran out of thread.

An unusually full day

A lot of very varied activities packed into today.

The adults in the house were woken up this morning with the resumption of last night’s ferocious nerf gun war in the basement.  My ten year old had a sleep over last night and we are all exhausted as a resuIt. (I’m strictly forbidden to call in a slumber party.  Apparently that is a horror reserved for girls. Nothing like a macho sleep over.)

The warriors temporarily calmed by waffles:

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From the ruins of my war torn home, I moved on to my monthly mystery book club.  We were in absolutely unanimous agreement that this month’s book was a combination of boring, sexist, annoying and pretentious and generally one of the worst books we’ve read.  We were astounded that it got good recommendations online, much less published.  But despite the pain of reading it to its very unsatisfying ending, we had a great time trashing it over a tasty lunch.  This month we were at my friend Leslie’s, who is also one of my fiber friends.  Take a look at this corner of her entryway:

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This is just the blue and purple part of her stash!

Next stop after the book club lunch was . . . another lunch.  February 20 is the anniversary of our oldest son’s adoption.  We always go out for Chinese food and retell the stories of meeting him for the first time and all our adventures in Taiwan.  While we eat, he and his brother love to hear about meals in Taiwan – his obsession with jam packets, how messy it was to feed him with chopsticks when we were out touring, that there were green peas on the pizza and snakes being barbecued at the night markets.

Back at the house, the kids finally tired enough to be happy with quiet activities, I settled down at the sewing machine and finally finished my scrappy star quilt top.  Lots of partial seams required to Tetris the odd shaped blocks together.  With a lot more planning, or more regularly spaced stars, it would have gone together faster, but I rather enjoy the puzzle-like aspect of the sewing.

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It all came together and now joins the growing stack of tops that await the time when I finally get the craft room organized enough that the sewing table is cleared for quilting.  It may be awhile.

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Spinning

While the boys destroyed the kitchen making chocolate chip cookies, I dragged out the spinning wheel, dusted it a bit, and tried to remember how I used to be fairly competent at making yarn.

Fiber glamour shot:

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It is a polwarth/silk top that I kettle dyed.  I have another bundle that I dyed with the same greens but with a touch for orange in places.

I’ve gotten pretty consistent in spinning thin singles, but now I’m trying to relearn spinning thicker.  So far, my twist amount is all over the place, and it isn’t very consistent.  It is pigtailing some because I haven’t slowed down my treading enough, and it gets too thin in places.  But I’m still going to like the finished yarn.  I like somewhat thick and thin yarn – it makes interesting fabric when knitted or woven.

The first bobbin is the green with orange tints, and the second is the green with light sections.  Definitely over spun – see the curls?  But it will work itself out in the plying.

Meanwhile, the boys have discovered that it is a good idea to make sure the leftover pizza is out of the oven before preheating to bake cookies.

 

 

Warm stitches

I started a new knitting project this week.

The pattern is called Drachenfels, by Melanie Berg, and it is a simple knit, increasing on one edge while decreasing on the other, creating a sideways triangle.  I just have to remember not to do the decrease every 6th row, and other than that it is pretty mindless knitting, so I can keep reading or talking or watching TV or all of those in various combinations while it grows.

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Three yarns are all really different from each other in texture and content.  The dark cone yarn is a marked two ply wool in two different browns.  The dirty white coned yarn is a raw silk, very nubby and splitty.  The golden brown is Madeline Tosh merino light, a soft luminous yarn – Tosh merino light is one of my all time favorites to knit with.

I’m trying hard to knit from my stash, both as a money saver (though I just spend it all on fabric instead, so it is net neutral in the long run) and to reduce the sheer volume of stuff in my craft storage.  These three yarns wouldn’t normally go into the same project, but it seems to be working so far.

I was a knitter long before I started quilting, and though larger blocks of time are usually given to quilting, the portability of knitting can’t be replaced.  If I sit too long without having needles in my hands my fingers get itchy.

We also got our tree up this week, so I can knit in the glow of the colorful lights, with the Hanukkiah candles also adding in their flickers.

Those are my sons, post decorating the tree, and pre-redecorating it after the cat tried to climb it and pulled the whole thing over.  Sigh for my Swarovski snowflake ornaments.   We also went with two Hanukkiahs this year as it cuts down on the candle lighting arguments.

 

So many squares!

I hope everyone who celebrated had a good Thanksgiving.  It was rather crowded here in our little house with my sister’s family here for the first time in years, as well as my Cousin’s family and my mom.  We needed an extra table in addition to the extra table leaves.  And I see a need for floor pillows for the living room before next time.  Yay! More sewing projects!

We made lefse, which is traditional in our family for holidays – pretty much the only carryover from the Scandinavian ancestors.

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I also learned that 1) brussel sprouts come on enormous, thick stalks, and 2) I don’t like them.

In addition to hosting Thanksgiving over this holiday weekend, there was crafting. I did a lot of cutting.  Square after square after square.

Some of it was for an upcoming mystery QAL that starts in January.  The cutting list requires more than 600 squares ranging from 2 1/2 to 4 1/2, with lots of 5/8 and 7/8 variations inbetween.  It is the new Scrapitude QAL, in case anyone else wants to join in.

Scrapitude quilt squares

Looks like a pretty small pile for 600+ squares! doesn’t it!?  I went through my black and dark blue scraps, added some gold and yellows, and very pale neutrals for the rest.  I’m still debating the background color – white or medium gray probably.

While I worked on the fabric squares, my cousin spent an equal number of hours playing with my sister’s cricut machine, cutting out all manner of shapes.  I snuck in a few snowflakes.  (The boys and I hope that putting them up in the window will attract real snow, though the strong El Niño makes that an unlikely event this winter.)  That machine is so much fun!Cricut snowflakes

I cut a bunch more 2 1/2″ squares for my scrap bin as well, and then yesterday I got ichy for the sewing machine after all that family togetherness so I started making wonky stars with them.  I’m throwing in as many different fabrics as I can, so it is going to be very colorful.  Hopefully, the white stars will give eyes a place to rest from the bright mish-mash.

Making them is addicting – I was up this morning before I even got dressed, making more.

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The next generation of quilters


Scrappy Chains quilt

My niece, who lived in my basement with her family for several months this summer, has just moved out – along with the rest of her family and the dogs, but unfortunately leaving a cat behind – but before they left she told me that she wanted to make a quilt.  She hadn’t seen before, but she had been watching me and felt like giving it a try.
Scrappy Chains pattern

We found a fairly basic pattern in a quilting magazine I had – Scrappy Chains from the March/April 2015 volume of Quilting Quickly – and she spent the next two days cutting squares and rectangles from many pastels pulled from my stash and scrap bin.

Cutting for Scrappy Chains

Cutting for Scrappy Chains

She was really dedicated, which was impressive from a girl we have trouble shifting out of bed before afternoon.  When the cutting was done, the sorting and matching began.

Scrappy Chains squares

Sorting colors for Scrappy Chains

Next I gave her a quick lesson in sewing scant 1/4″ seams and pressing for nested seams, and she was off and running with the sewing machine.

Scrappy Chains - first block

Her first ever quilt block!

I went away the next weekend and by the time we got back, she had finished all her blocks. All 168!  And very shortly after that, the top was done.

Scrappy Chains top

It isn’t perfect – but then very few are.  There are some places where not everything matches completely, and some seams that had to be reinforced later.  But it is lively, and colorful, and she did it all herself.  Very impressive for someone who had never sewn before!

The next step was introducing her to the quirky locations that I have for pinning.  I’m sure many people manage this step without needing a push broom to remove maple leaves, but that is an integral part of the process around here.  Pinning is for sunny days at my house.Pinning Scrappy ChainsPinning Scrappy Chains

She wasn’t quite ready to quilt yet, so I took care of that step.  I went with curvy crisis-crossing lines, which is becoming one of my favorite overall quilting methods.

Quilting Scrappy Chains

The binding I pulled from a jelly roll my kids bought me – it made it so quick to have the strips already cut.  And the orange, yellow, pink, and blue fit in with all the many pastel colors she’d chosen.

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I trim and quilt and added the binding today. I so love the Wonder clips.  I wasn’t sure I really needed them, but they are much smoother and less painful than the pins I used to use.  I sewed the binding on both sides rather than hand sewing it. I’m doing that more and more often as it seems sturdier on quilts that will be washed a lot.

Scrappy Chains binding

And now it is done!   Fresh out of the drier and ready to be given to her tomorrow.

Scrappy Chains quilt finished

(All my usual quilts holders were either asleep or AWOL, so please excuse the bad photo shoot.)