Wednesday, December 24, 2014

So - what's been happening?

I went off the blogging radar in September just before heading out to the Fallen Firefighter Memorial Service and since then life has been quite interesting.

Friends and family have been kept up to date and people who just come here to see quilting, knitting and cat pictures really don't need the whole story so all I'll say here is a quick up date. The day after the service for my sister-in-law (she was a Fire Captain- see older posts) my brother had a massive heart attack and passed away. We were in Colorado for the memorial so dealing with an out of state death was challenging. Since then, as the only surviving family member, I've been flying back and forth between home and California to handle the estate. Changing time zones and weather and life style so frequently has messed with my routine and things like the blog have been forgotten.

The past couple months I have NOT forgotten knitting and quilting. Knitting in an airplane works well if you bring something small. Luckily I've been flying with a friend and she is also a knitter so she understands my need to use those 3 hours to knit.

Here's some of my knitting the past couple months.

I decided to use up some old lace yarn and make some cowls. I made one and kind of got into a grove and before I knew it I had made 3. Then I changed up the stitch pattern a bit and made another one.

The pattern is Liquid Amber by Stacy Simpson Duke and the yarn is Knit Picks Gossamer. This yarn has been in my stash for several years and I notice its no longer available .

I made one in the Pink for a friend's daughter and one in blue and since there was some leftover yarn I made one using  both colors every other row.

Then surprise - I still had more yarn so I tried making a pink one using a Fan and feathers stitch (which I forgot to get an individual picture of). I'm guessing one of these days there will be another blue one. These are great for quick gifts.

Then I found some Knit Picks Chroma in my stash - 2 balls of Impressionist. Another yarn no longer available (colorway that is).  Because of my running back and forth to California, I wasn't sure I could host Christmas for the family this year. My cousin's daughter volunteered and as a thank you I spent a couple flights making a Molly scarf with the Chroma. It's a simple pattern with a different look.

I also grabbed a skein of Patons Classic Wool from the stash and started making a pair of gloves. The pattern I used is Treads  which is a fingerless glove but its easy to just keep going and making the fingers into a full glove. Being a design that isn't fussy looking and the yarn (gray) I'll be able to use these for a guy or girl gift when needed.

The pattern has a braid that requires a paying attention to that row and has linen stitch section to give a bit of interest. All in all I'm enjoying knitting these. (one done - one to go)

I also finished my Desert Star Rug that I was crocheting when I got around to it. It's a lot bigger than I thought it would be and I still need to block it but, here's a shot of the rug pre-blocking.

Finally, I started knitting a lace doily. For a long time I've wanted to to knit a Herbert Neibling pattern and never got around to it. Frosted Ferns has been translated into English and it's been an interesting knit. It's not your typical lace knit. There's cross stitches, large sections of solid knitting, double yarnovers and more to keep you interested.
So, that's the last couple months, at least knitting and crochet stuff. There's also been quilting and other things going on but this post has gone on long enough and its Christmas Eve and time to get ready to celebrate.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Just checking in

I had a friend contact me today saying she had a problem with my blog. So - this post is just to check things out. My life the past 1 1/2 months has been a bit hectic and I'll write some about it and about giving the quilt to my brother but right now is just not the right time for that post.

There were some adventures and some life changes but - that's for another time.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Jan Remembered

This coming weekend is the National Firefighter Memorial ceremony in Colorado Springs. Jan, my sister-in-law will be added to the wall. To add to the special weekend, I worked hard to finish the memory quilt to bring and give my brother. Last Christmas when he came I asked him to bring me some of her fire fighter t-shirts and I would make a memory quilt. Something of hers he could wrap himself in and remember.

Being one of the world's best procrastinators I rarely finish anything early but, the quilt is done and ready to bring to Jim.

Working with t-shirts for quilts creates special problems. You need to stabilze the knit t-shirt material so it doesn't stretch out of shape and cause problems for the quilt.


All the t-shirts were different sized pictures so making standard blocks didn't work. I ended up making 16 - 18" blocked and pieced it 4x4. So it wouldn't be too busy, I decided on one background material and because Jim loves baseball and he and Jan would go to many games together - the background material is little baseballs. The border is bigger baseballs on a navy background to frame the main quilt.


All in all I think it turned out pretty good and hope Jim likes it when he sees it.

One of my "oh my" moments making this was a few days ago on Sept 11 while I was quilting it all together. I realized I was quilting the 9-11 t-shirts from when Jan went out to NY after 9-11 to help out and go to funerals. They had lost so many fire fighters that day and had so many funerals that fire departments around the country sent representatives out there to help honor the fallen at their funerals. And now Jan's name will be added to the wall that contains the names of these fallen heroes.


Saturday, July 26, 2014

Catch Up Time

Summer finally came and it made me forget how to type on the laptop keyboard. At least that's my story....

Father's Day was my last post and so much has happened since then. A quick run down:

The godson's wedding took place. It was beautiful,  exciting, wonderful, all the things you want a wedding to be. New goddaughter-in-law is such a sweet person and I can't imagine anyone better for godson. They went on a cruise around Italy, Greece and other places in that part of the world. They went to the All-star game and events here. Godson was the Target mascot, Bulldog, in the mascot race and won! He also caught a ball in the homerun tourney. They are enjoying their summer and life together to the max!

I had my 15th anniversary at work. Holy cow! 15 years!! It seems like I've been there forever but it also feels like I just got there. So many people have come and gone over the years but also many people are still there from when I started. I got a jacket with company logo and an extra day off. Better than nothing and I'm glad to accept the "gifts".

Between the non-stop rain and the lawn needing to dry out after the rains it took forever to get around to mowing the back yard. Front looked OK but the back got better bad. It's looking OK now but about time to mow again.

I made a wall hanging because I needed to do something fairly small between working on the godson quilt. I've also been working on a few smaller knitting projects - hat, socks, and a crochet project.


Pretend other project pictures are here - I'll get my act together and take some to post later.

Someone at work just had a baby boy so I made a sweater with multiple fronts. Off white cotton with 3 separate front pieces (off white, blue and brown) that button on both the right and the left. I figured cotton would be good for a summer baby and the multiple fronts would be good for the "occasional" spit up and for being able to use the same sweater for multiple outfits.

The boys are enjoying their summer by doing a all of sleeping and eating and running around the house like crazy. Wait - that's what they always do. Guess no changes here.

Life is good, why should we make any changes?!

Go away, I'm busy sleeping!

Finally, I bought a new SUV this week. I loved my Saturn Vue but it was getting a little old and I didn't want to have a car that ended up in the shop all the time. I got a really good deal and talked them into a moonroof for only $300 because it was on the only one available n the color I wanted and I did the whole "love it but don't know if I can justify the extra price" thing and the sales guy was a brand new salesperson and really wanted his first sale of a Rogue. We both came out happy.


Sunday, June 15, 2014

Father's Day

Father's Day is such a different day when you no longer have a Dad living. But - no matter - I had the best Dad in the world. Even when he isn't here, he is. I have memories.So, today I will celebrate the person he was and remember all the great times, teaching times, loving times.

In live in the house I grew up in. That means it is filled with Dad. The clock he made, The basement he finished. His tools. The rocking chair he refinished. I can't go anywhere in the house without some physical reminder of Dad. But there's more.
In the kitchen I remember the time Dad was in his brown hoodie looking out at the back yard and our white cat was sitting on the TV next to him. Both were just looking out seeing something I couldn't see. He was often deep in thought.
In the basement I can see him in his workroom making the bench for my loom because I happene to tell him about one I saw and liked. Or when I was younger, practising shots at the pool table.
In the yard, he's there. Mowing the lawn, clearing out weeds, practising his horseshoes. Everywhere I go, he's here.
So, Happy Father's Day Dad. Thank you for choosing to be my Dad. Thank you for all the wonderful memories that will stay with me forever.

Sunday, June 1, 2014

The Quilt - Mostly revealed

Godson and future god daughter-in-law (J&K) have seen the quilt mostly done at their party last weekend so I can post a few pictures without worried that someone they know will see it and tell them.

Before showing a few pictures, a little bit of back story. You may or may not remember me talking about BFF in past posts. Laurie and I were joined at the hip for much of our school years and that friendship remained until they day she died almost 10 years ago. At the time the boys were in their early 20s so were grown up but they are such special boys we've always stayed close. J's older brother and J have come to our groups parties and kept us up to date on their lives. I've been so blessed to have them around.

Back 10 (ish) years ago when we cleaned out Laurie's house I kept a box of her shirts thinking some day I would make a quilt of each of the boys. Time passed - no quilts - more procrastination - no quilts. You get the picture. Then J got engaged. Perfect time to make one of the quilts. And this is what I can show you some of the pictures of now.

Back about a year ago I started playing with design ideas. I liked this but the border didn't work and having the stars go all the way to the border just looked wrong.

At Christmas while talking to J&K I found out their bedroom would have sage in it so I started playing with the colors and changed the border. I also added some background between the border center. Much better! 

Liked the colors but tried some different ones. The border seemed too busy and the center stars were going to be paper pieced and time was running out so I simplified the center stars. Also, I kept playing around with the brown edging of the center piece. One thing that's so great about EQ7 (Electric Quilt 7) is the ability to play around with colors, designs and everything until you like the final look. Much better to do that on the computer than with actual fabric!

Then I found out more about their colors and the lilac changed to a green/sage and I made some other color changes. That worked. The stars around the outside are not the pale color but rather the centers are made with pieces of Laurie's shirts.

Design settled on - time to get fabric. I tried buying fabric from an online source and they were wonderful. However, I didn't read one small word in the background fabric description - flannel. OOPS! It was also more orange/gold than I wanted so I've got 7 yards of orange/gold flannel sitting around. The brown was more orange and the pale green was bright and slightly sparkly. All of them match but they didn't go with my vision of what I wanted. Off to the store to get fabric in person, other than 2 of the greens. Oh well, all the fabric was good and it will be used for something else, someday. 
Bert has discovered quilting and the joys of helping out. He loves when I trim up the blocks. The stars and snail's trails block were made by paper piecing so there was a lot of Bert goodies after each block was completed.


The pale color in the center stars is a fabric I had and it worked out perfect. It's pale brown, sage/green and pale-pale pink. It gives a little something else to rest your eyes on between the other green stars. The border (green leaves on the right of the picture) was one of the original fabrics I bought. It's actually the center background and not the outer border. The light green matched the light green of the leaves fabric perfectly even if the picture doesn't quite show that.

Here's the center before it got the green leaves added. Everything blends well and the blocks mix to create and interesting look.

That's it for now. I'll post more pictures when I finish quilting. The border is done, the binding is on. The center stars have been outline quilted. Things are starting to look complete. But before I finish the quilt - I need to head out and find a new outfit to wear next weekend to the wedding. Nothing like waiting till the last minute!

Monday, May 19, 2014

Typical Day

Since I'm working on a project I can't post pictures of (yet) I thought I'd show what a typical day looks like around here when I'm home.

There's usually a little TV watching. I never have to worry about being lonely because the Boys like to watch TV too, Sometimes near the TV like other pictures I've shown and sometimes they like to hang out with me watching TV.

What!? Did you think I was actually going to post pictures of me?
We also enjoy dining together. Of course there are times when I think we share a little too much when dining.
After dining the boys usually like to take a little nap. You'd think with all his fur Chief wouldn't get cold but sometimes he need a little extra warmth.
Yes, that's Chief's tail under the covers and partly under Bert.

Finally, there are times the boys think I need a little extra exercise and they like to create special obstacle course for me to get from the TV room to the bathroom. Actually, this happens quite frequently and I always have to walk between the 2 rooms with a shuffle to be sure I don't step on cats or tails.

Well, there you have it, a typical day around here. As you can see I'm never lonely and life always has new adventures around here.
Pictures of the project will be coming in a week or 2.

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Mother's Day - the big picture

I grew up with a great mother. She was a person everyone loved. "You're so lucky to have her as a mother." was a common comment. I'd answer back something about she was great but living with her could be a challenge. Mom didn't make decisions well, she was always cared for by Grandpa or Dad and never lived independently. That was one of the reasons she would tell me the story about Grandma warning her not to let me lose my spunk. Mostly I didn't.

What Mom didn't have, she tried to cultivate in me like "spunk". But there were things Mom did have that I learned from her. Things like caring for others, a solid belief in God, the importance of family and so much more. She started me young in being creative and saw that was something built into me and something that I needed. I made my first machine sewn thing (a nightgown) when I was about 8 years old but I was already hand sewing and knitting before that with the help of Grandma and Mom.

My creativity came from more than just Mom getting me started on things. I had a second mother. The one that gave me life. In a time when being an unwed mother was looked down on, she gave me life and then gave me a chance at a good life by giving me up for adoption. I thank her frequently in my thoughts for not finding some back alley doctor  so she wouldn't have to go through 9 months of people staring at her. I thank her for believing in giving me my life that I've enjoyed.

I met my birth mother when I was 25 years old. It was not one of the meetings like you see on TV where everyone hugs and becomes instant family or where the child cries and wonders why they were given up. It was a one time meeting where we talked for a few hours and never met again. I learned she was a creative person, had a son 18 months older than me, married and had a good life. We just didn't make a connection that needed meeting anymore. We both got what we needed: I saw who I came from and she saw I had a good life. It was enough for us.

There have been other mother's in my life including my godmother/aunt, my other aunt, my knitting mother (friend of family who owned the first yarn shop I worked in), my best friend's mother and so many more. Each mother has given me lessons in life and helped to make me the person I am today.

I looked up the meaning of mother in the dictionary and found it to be more than just the lady we usually call Mom. It includes:

to be the mother of; give origin or rise to.
to acknowledge oneself the author of; assume as one's own.
to care for or protect like a mother; act maternally toward.
So, today I celebrate not only Mom but all the other's in my life who have given their time, love and wisdom. I also celebrate the people in my life who have cared for or protected me, the people who have given rise to my creativity - my teachers, mentors and life guides.
Thank you all and Happy Mother's Day!

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Dreaming big Dreams

The past few months Chief has really gotten into watching TV from about 2 inches away. As I said before Jimmy Fallon is one of his favorites. But - he also likes to dream big and watch his relatives in the wild. Chief loves Animal Planet and the big cat shows. He was very excited to watch the pride of lions and a dead hippo but I didn't think that pictures would be a good one to share here. (not into dead hippo pics)

I have big dreams too. Mine are currently revolving around getting the quilt project done on time and having it turn out totally awesome. Two big dreams.

Here's a little bit of the quilt but not enough to really show it off, just in case anyone is looking here who shouldn't be!

There are lots of the 2 different stars and the snail's trails and the darker green is part of an inner border. There's an outer border with other stuff going on. When it is finished and has been delivered I'll be able to show the full quilt. Until then this (and pictures of Bert buried in scraps) is all I'll be able to show.

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Quilting buddy

I thought I was going to get some trimming done on the blocks in peace.  I was wrong. 

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Fixin' Slippers

I have a pair of knit slippers that I put on as soon as I get home. They're made out of "last forever" acrylic yarn and have a double layered sole. I've worn them forever and unfortunately, the outer sole has finally worn through. I decided a few weeks back I needed to fix the growing hole but didn't want to redo the whole sole. A plan had to be made.

The plan I came up with was to crochet a patch on top of the sole hole. It turned out working really well so I decided to share my ugly but effective fix with you.

First the slipper and its sad hole.

As you can see the outer sole was done in garter stitch which worked out well for my repair plan.
I grabbed 2 yarns from the junk stash and picked up the toe stitches with a row of singe crochet. Once I got to the end I grabbed the first stitch of the next row on the sole with my turning single crochet. Now, SC back across the first SC row. Turn an this this row I grabbed the purl loop of the sole with each SC across.


I repeated this 2 rows until I got well past the hole and for my final "grab" row I did a slip stitch and grab instead of SC so the end row wouldn't stick up. I forgot to take a picture when I finished so here's one after its been worn for a week.  The fix worked out well.

Chief still watches Jimmy Fallon every night.

March 20th
April 2nd
I could have taken the same picture pretty much any night the past few weeks.
Bert in the meantime has been helping me with a special quilting project. I'm doing it using paper piecing so after the blocks are done the extra paper/material is trimmed off, That's Bert's favorite part.
He also still likes to hang out in the kitty cottage when we're in watching TV.

So that's been our last couple weeks - work, quilting, knitting and getting ready to do some yard work when the grass dries out a bit from all our snow. This weekend was officially snow-out in my entire yard. Let's hope we don't get any more this year!!

Friday, March 21, 2014

Week Off

I had the week off and totally enjoyed letting my body find its own timing. Not getting up because an alarm goes off is such a delight! The first few days Bert decided he needed to be my alarm but we got better about that and he just tries to wake me up for a minute (instead of 10 minutes of kitty whining) and settles down again.

We stayed up late watching whatever we wanted and didn't worry about having to get up in the morning. Not to say I don't usually stay up late but its nice to not think about how tired I'll be the next morning!

Bert has always liked Craig Ferguson and will even pet the TV screen but I think Chief has a new bromance started. Chief has recently discovered Jimmy Fallon (thanks to Fallon now being on at an early time). The boys are happy because they don't have to fight over who is going to be on late night - both shows are on different times.

But the boys have been tired because they stay up late watching TV so they end up having to take extra naps. (yeah, that's the real reason and it has nothing to do with the fact that cats sleep 22 hours a day). And- yes- the afghan they're sleeping on is their's and is THAT full of cat hair!


This week has had knitting, quilting, cleaning, dining with friends and watching some quilting shows on the iPad. Seems Bert wanted to watch too. Part way through one of the shows a little head popped up from behind the iPad.


But also getting some business taken care of including getting a new cable box (old one died Sunday) and getting a new garage door opener installed.

Both fix-it guys were very professional, gave me tight time frames that they would be arriving at and actually showed up at that time. They arrived within 30 minutes of each other and left about 5 minutes apart. It couldn't have been an easier situation. Now I've got a new cable box and remote plus he figured out a few other problems on my line I didn't know I had and fixed those. I also ended up buying a better garage door opener than I realized- the installer was impressed with it. It has all sorts of extra features on it. When I open the house door to the garage a sensor turns on the lights and some other cool things. I'm a happy camper.

Now, one work week day left to get a few business things done. It's been a good week! Unfortunately, every time I take a week off and stay home it gets just that much harder to return to work.

Oh - almost forgot. I have the give a shout out to Lean Cuisine. I eat frozen meals because they're easier for a single person and have a defined calorie count But I don't eat too many that I really enjoy the flavor. Most are just acceptable and that's it. However, Lean Cuisine has a pizza that microwaves well and has a great flavor. It's the Wood Fire Style BBQ Recipe Chicken Pizza. They've got some other meals that are pretty good but the pizza really rocks it and its only 340 calories!

Saturday, March 8, 2014

RIP Remote Control

This winter just seems to go on forever and has caused me more than one problem. With it, every little problem seems to be that much bigger. The latest house malfunction is one I've been expecting for a long time but I was hoping I'd make it to spring and deal with it then. Back in about 1852 my Dad bought a garage door opener. Maybe not that long ago but it is definitely headed toward the antique time of life. When I bought the house in 2006 (was it really that long ago!?!) I realized the remote for the opener was on its last legs. The button on the remote was taped on it looking pretty sad. When I checked with a garage door place they said this remote was SO old it couldn't be replaced. This style just wasn't made anymore. I kept it taped and babied it figured some day the opener itself would die and then I'd replace it all.

About a month ago the button started needed extra prodding to get it to signal the opener. I really hoped it would survive till spring but about a week ago the remote died. I took it apart and cleaned it, check the circuit board, changed the battery, did everything I could think of but - that puppy is dead. The opener works fine but  leaping out of the car to run in the house, go into the garage, open the door and then back into the car to drive into the garage while it's -30F wind chill is not a fun thing to do! I can't used the side door of the garage because its so piled up with snow that has settled and really frozen in place so its thru the front door of the house, stomping off the snow before walking across the carpet and dealing with it.

Guess its time for a new opener but I didn't want to make someone install it in the middle of a deep freeze! Now that it looks like were heading toward above freezing weather for a while I can go opener shopping. At least it will be cheaper than paying for 7 years of water in in month!

What all this extra running in and out to go anywhere means is I plan my trips carefully because ti just not convenient (man I'm spoiled! my last house didn't even have a garage!) Back to the story. Because I don't go out at the drop of a hat, I've been doing more around the house. This morning I decided to play with some fabric I bought on a shop hop. It's 5 Christmas fat quarters and I wanted to do something quick so I made a pillow case top to cover one of the couch pillows.

Time to play the ever fun game - What did Jill do Wrong?

I was going for an interwoven ribbon look. Check out the lower right. Everything is in the right place based on my striped order but - because I didn't put the right ribbon going downward on the left and the gold print on the right, the interwoven part of the lower right doesn't look interwove. If I decide to fix this it means ripping out the lower half or the right half of everything so I can switch the order of one of the sets of red/gold ribbons.
It took me a while to notice this but now that I've seen it I have a feeling this will bug me forever unless I fix it. Guess I have some hand work to do - rip-rip-rip.

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Snails eating tomatoes

I got some specially treated fabric to be able to print pictures on so I can add some pics of my sister-in-law on a memory quilt for my brother. Because I wasn't sure how the fabric would work I decided to  get help from our receptionist. She has twin 6 year old girls who like to draw. I asked her to get the girls to draw a bright picture each and I was going to "do something with them". Didn't tell them what because surprises are fun!

So they each went into a different room and drew. When I got the pictures they made me laugh. They are bright and fun and oddly the same. Both have a rainbow snail eating a tomato. Butterfly - sun - flowers and, well they're different but you can tell these two little girls think the same. The snails even have the same back end.

So, I took these wonderful pictures and ran them through the scanner and printed them on the special fabric. This fabric from Blumenthal is pretreated and has a paper back. You print as normal, let dry 15 minutes and then rinse in water for 30 seconds to get rid of the extra ink. After that let dry and press. You now have nice quilt weight cotton fabric with a unique design on it.
I made the pillow simple. Just 16x16 squares with an opening in the back to insert a pillow form. Their bedroom is yellow and purple and I wanted the pillow to be similar but not identical so I switched up the colors. They're not in pillow forms yet but even as they are, I think they turned out nice and the girls should be surprised.

One thing I did learn is the printing is not as bright and not quite true to color so I'll have to remember that when I get ready to print for my sister-in-law's memory quilt.
Now they can quit asking their Mom EVERY NIGHT when they get their surprise!