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!

C7FD45CF-BA43-4BB0-89E6-9EEC86C52DDD

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.

C324D101-5C19-4334-A9FC-A567C9FF1724

EC9DAB81-8185-4BDC-AC4B-D6FD3B74C055

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!

25CD8847-715B-4A9F-81CC-936DAD2E7576

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:

401FAE1A-2F37-48E4-85FB-C68E5074AD4E

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

FD5D11A9-97A6-44E8-958D-6653A2EF0B7E

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

673A5F6C-A799-4CF9-BECA-807076096D88

Maybe too much warm?

B7CC4A57-B081-4635-9CFB-87E58F10E9C5

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.

16EF7749-2958-4271-B4E4-82A1C12EED20

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.

B3784562-F792-4316-ADA6-F202CB9D4411

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

8223546B-79FD-40A7-9CEE-1DF0EB6C6EA2
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.

48BDBF06-716C-4DAA-A5AF-C64F4FCFA0CF

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.

3DC0033E-9048-4F0F-8277-6C9DE9240E88

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

40C01AEF-007D-440C-BF79-D732160411F3

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.

D8D6D369-B9A3-47F4-889B-595F7E08A60E

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.

 

National Quilting Day

04805261-984C-4D84-A2C8-94BCFDC16D1B

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.

ACDBBE0E-5F99-4BC8-A30B-D6E98FB10F4A

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.

C48CB9B5-5542-4C51-81B9-EBD5E0B81FCA

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.

1844E6C9-65F8-4934-AD27-B361CB5BB86C
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:

52DBBFB0-98B0-4AF7-BF89-3388D224121D

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.

FAE4912E-518F-456F-B1F2-D675D2C4E4AD

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

38271602-DBB9-47FC-B714-3A031E8010A2

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.

Ewe and I

I spent the day yesterday at a wonderful new-to-me yarn shop in Chehalis with my fiber friends – Ewe and I.

B8FB179D-79D3-4DB7-B074-B20B7A17C4EB

It is both yarn shop and cafe, so we used it as our landing spot and drank many cups of tea while we split off in small groups to check out other nearby businesses.

I highly recommend the Sisters quilting store as well.  Maybe wear sunglasses – the fabric is bright!

43B751EF-9564-4B13-9DA9-5D8AD0CAB276

So much Kaffe Fassett.  The choices were mind boggling.

Lunch back at the yarn store was as lovely as the fiber choices.

737B8C03-B97B-4AA3-A147-C7C5BC48C21F

Definitely a town to return to.  It is already on the calendar.

Summer blues

A3B5334B-79F5-4919-9C34-610F6652B72D

A sudden urge to sew came over me and I actually made enough progress to have something to post about.

There hasn’t been a lot of time spent on the machine this summer, spending more time camping, in class, or hanging out in the hammock reading, but in the last couple of days I’ve picked up my modified crossroads blocks again and got the top finished.

The original block puts the emphasis on the center 8 point star.  I changed it up to make smaller X blocks in single shades which makes that part stand out more.  If I’d stuck to a single X color or made the bars of the X random shades the stars would have stood out more, but as it is, this is an X quilt more than a crossroads block.

 

 

I finished up all the 16 patch and X blocks a few weeks ago. I dug out my Hera marker which made sewing the corner lines go faster, although it was still the slowest part of the block.  Chain piecing sped things up again.

ECEF7A9F-06D9-4FFB-B218-5FE365F7F202I spent a lot of time trying to get the mix of blocks so that the different blues were scattered and the low volume blocks didn’t have any duplicate fabrics touching, and had the blues and yellows spaced out.  Inevitably I missed some with the background fabrics and didn’t notice until seams were sewn.  Eventually I had to let go and just not care.  I’m the only one who is really going to see those duplicating squares when it is all done, so I am reminding myself not to care.  With mixed success, but I will keep trying to not obsess.

C0FF84AB-9B6F-4B2C-A7F1-08C62C3D21FE

Laying it all out is also when I discovered that apparently I can’t count.  Back to the sewing machine to make four more 16 patches.

 

4AD0C71A-B77F-45F8-AF77-C6DE6015981B

There are eight blues and 50-60 low volume fabrics in this.  It made only a small dent in my 2 1/2 inch squares, so I will be searching for the next scrappy pattern to use them with.

The top is 56” x 80”, so a smallish twin or a largish throw.  I’ll piece together a backing from more of the stash fabric one of these days.  I lost my usual places to pin quilt sandwiches as both my sister and I have changed schools so I no longer have the library tables or her classroom floor.  I think there will be spaces in my new building, but they don’t know me yet so it seems a little weird to go in this summer and commandeer floor space.  I will let them get to know and love me before I start crawling around with handfuls of pins and tape.

Linked to My Quilt Infatuation and Oh Scrap

 

Design wall, without design

After two years in this house, I finally got around to putting up a design wall.

I have been using the floor for the most part, but after laying out my blocks for the latest quilt top, I got a lot of pushback from my family who apparently felt that completely blocking access to the kitchen was “unreasonable.”  Not a quilter among them to sympathize with my need to make sure that the Xs in different shades of blue were distributed attractively across the top.

So at long last I got a 4’ x 8’sheet of foam board and put up a design way.

It isn’t a complicated process.  I cut off a foot as our ceilings are barely 8’ up, and with the trim I needed more wiggle room.

I had the flannel still from the last house’s design wall; I just sewed the two lengths together and then spent a minimal amount of time ironing it.  A lint roller cleared off all the threads from previous quilts.

87C264C4-2325-4418-8584-A125ECD7F423

It was a quick task to trim and tape the flannel around the board.  I kept the writing side to the back so the words wouldn’t show through – the other side of this board is a reflective silver.  I pulled it taut, but didn’t worry about perfection.

What I should have worried about was the wall it was going to be hung on.  I forgot about the wall socket.  It is our only nearby electrical outlet for the room’s main lamps, so it couldn’t just be covered up.

448FD1BD-C2FC-40E1-AA04-2BD3FB740649

The solution involved a box knife and more duct tape.  Not attractive, but it worked.  I may get white tape and recover it in a more aesthetically minded way in the future.  Or, I may just not think about it ever again.

A few finishing nails to hang it on the wall and now I have a design wall.  A little narrow, but it will keep the path to the kitchen clear – most of the time anyway.

B6357BEB-33B9-4452-9ACB-582F9663CB03

 

 

On vacation

4EE585A9-6D3B-4374-BBFA-2B9170EA3D13

Summer vacation finally got here, and I’ve been spending a lot of time trying to arrange camping trips.  We recently bought a little tent trailer, and I’m discovering that it is very difficult to just spontaneously go camping on a weekend.  People apparently start booking the reservable camp spots months in advance, way before we realized we were going to be able to get a trailer.  My husband, sadly, doesn’t get summer off, so if we want him to come along, it has to be on the weekend.

But I’ve cobbled together a few reservations for various locations over the next couple months.  We may have to switch spots every night – and we will know better for next year to plan way in advance.  But we will be camping!

We did a couple of test runs in nearby parks to make sure we knew how everything works.  We’ve learned how to turn on the propane heater, attach the side mounted camp stove, and made lists of things we need to organize the very minimal storage.

And saw some pretty beautiful scenery.

5094FDB7-97FF-415D-9C74-7047A8530F4A

5AE3F751-5FAA-44ED-883C-242A36FB1A75

2E4D2A6D-C795-41FE-AB77-023A3F4AC22C

Our dog, Theo, who is rather a neurotic and barky mess, has proven better at camping than we thought he’d be.  He hates strangers and cars and bikes, but it turns out he is a big fan of woods and nature walks, and he’s been willing to keep a little quieter so other campers aren’t bothered.

7FD2C106-9E1E-4451-87E5-3991F53EDA67

6D49E47F-0A57-41EC-9524-58925E425F56

So I think this camping experiment is going to be a success once we work out all the kinks.

When not endlessly searching through the Washington and Oregon state park reservation systems, I’ve been sitting down at the sewing machine and am making more X and 16 patch blocks.  Nights in the forests get chilly – we are going to need a bunch of quilts!  It is motivating to get back to the fabric.

455EAF89-2F53-4C91-90AE-DC5F8C9BF2FA

F108F8D3-5636-472F-8C6D-9E729F151A9D

(P.S.  That is Mt. St. Helens in the mountain photos above, our local volcano.  The visitors’ center at Johnston Ridge is wonderful – we’ve been going for years to see the recovery proceeding since the eruption. But it turns out no dogs are allowed in the national monument. Yet another thing we’ve newly learned about camping – check ahead where and when pets are allowed.)