Tuesday, April 27, 2021

Working On It

Over the weekend I had planned to start on the Blackbird Designs cross-stitch project, but somehow that never happened.  I did make a trip to Michael's on Friday night to pick up the poor man's Qsnap frame in a larger size...after spending an afternoon hour looking for a set I was sure I had.  Boy, going through my cross-stitching supplies turned up some old memories!  


I stitched these Southwest cacti so long ago that they are back in style now :)  The framing stage is always my hang-up, but the time spent stitching these really does deserve that effort. 

Lots of hoops, charts, and linens in this box, as well as some other half or nearly complete cross stitched pieces.  I have a wooden stretcher bar set in the box, but really like the snap type.  I bought an 11" set----reading reviews, it seems the QSnap brand sets are not interchangeable (as well as expensive), whereas the knockoff from Michael's I was able to combine with the 8" set I already had.  


While I took the photo with the frame set vertically, I will be stitching it held horizontally.  I agreed with many commenters that the clamps are hard to get off--my method is to pry the clamp gently from one end, not the middle.  Anyway, I am ready to get the floss wound on the cards and start stitching. I read on Patchwork Times that there is a Blackbird Designs stitchalong coming up this weekend so perhaps I can join in.

Saturday I took my mom to get her first COVID vaccine.  I took wrong turn and ended up having to backtrack to the unfamiliar clinic, but we were early and things proceeded smoothly once we got in the socially distanced line.  After visiting a while with Mom and Dad, I played in the sewing room with some leftovers in a baggie, which of course I found when I was looking for something else. Squirrel!


These were cutoffs from the Greenpiece quilt and the pinwheels finish at 2.5 inches. 


I like the mini pinwheels on the back too :)  It seems a bit narrow to go around a dolly, except maybe Malibu Barbie, and I'll have to choose some side borders from more Greenpiece scraps. 

Trying to get more finished quilts out the door, I texted my niece Hannah, who just moved to a new house, pics of a few finished tops.   She chose the Plaidish quilt top, which lacked a prepared backing. 


I thought this Comma print from stash was modern enough, but the backing needed to be wider.  It took an inordinate amount of time to audition stash pulls, but finally a solution was located. 

I don't recall where the red fabric came from, but since there is a lot of red in the top, it works for me!  Simple walking foot quilting will ensue when the sandwich is made. This is a free pattern from Kitchen Table Quilting, which is assembled block style.  My version is 6x8 blocks, roughly 60x80, a good couch size quilt.  I'm deep into planning a Bookshelf quilt with my niece Emma, as well.  The scraps and fat quarters need to get into a quilt!  I'm lucky to have such a problem with fabric wealth :)

My sister Kathy had asked me to help her on Sunday for a couple of hours with her own sewing room disaster, as it was so bad that she was not even able to make herself get in there.  I quickly began clearing up the cutting table, as the piles there were immediately in the doorway--that's enough to stop anyone!  We had a very entertaining time cleaning up together for a couple of hours and I left her ready to sit and stitch again soon.  

Friday, April 23, 2021

Friday Fun

I had Friday off due to the doc I usually work for being out of town.  Grant took me out to breakfast at one our local favorite restaurants, where we sat on the patio in our own arbor.  Afterwards I made the 45 minute drive out to Simi Valley to pick up my sewing machine.  I was so pleased they did the cleaning faster than estimated, in only 9 days rather than 2.5 weeks originally allowed for.  They replaced the thread cutter blade--$9.95--which I hadn't been using as it was dull.  I'll have to remember to push that button after stitching once again.  

A quick stop in the Quilty Pleasures quilting shop across the parking lot resulted in some purchases. 


The yummy cheddar is a Ruby Star Society print.  I love that color and it can be hard to find just that shade.  The fat quarters I picked up go pretty well with it too.  

Back home, I stitched on the label to the Humble Quilts doll quilt and got it mailed off to my swap partner. 


I included a fat quarter from stash, and the tin watermelon from stitching early in the pandemic shutdown--the pattern I bought today.  I hope the doll quilt pleases my partner.  The package was mailed today and expected to take about a week to be delivered to Wisconsin.  


Mini supervised from the box lid :)  The newly cleaned sewing machine got reinstalled in the sewing desk and I tested it out with zigzagging the edges of the linen for the latest cross-stitch project, and sewed up a few leader-ender 2" squares into twosies. Speaking of squares...


While cleaning up the cutting table again, the precut square drawers got a lot of pieces added!  These are all 2.5" squares in stacks about the same depth drawer...must.sew.faster....

Monday, April 19, 2021

Design Wall Monday--4/19/2021

 Design Wall Monday--see more great creative endeavors on Judy's Small Quilts and Doll Quilts blog. 

Following my last post about tea-dyeing linen, having diluted my tea bath to about 1/4 strength, I cut off a big piece of the white linen, wet it and put it in the pot after reheating.  However, it did not take up any of the tea color after an hour.  Perhaps I didn't wring out the piece of linen well, or the tea bath did not have enough salt. So I dumped it out and started over Sunday morning with fresh water and three tea bags.  I carefully wet and wrung out the white linen and left it in the tea for 20 minutes or so, checking periodically against the prior dyed strips.  I rinsed it in plain water and then in the water/vinegar bath, plain water again, rolled it in a towel and then hung to dry.  Finally I ironed it.


The white strip is the original linen, the smaller strip my first choice of  tea-dyed test pieces, and the background the final.  The gray background of my ironing board cover isn't showing the true color well, but you can see it is a little darker than the test strip, which is what I wanted.  

I used some colored pencils to color most of the stitching chart.  I may start with the House, as it is just below the center of the design.  I kind of want to get the overlapping pattern area out of the way so I don't get confused! I used some red floss to mark the center lines of the linen vertically and horizontally, but am considering adding a  couple more registration lines. It is a lot harder to count linen threads than Aida cloth!  The raw edges need to be folded and stitched too, to keep from raveling, but I'm getting closer to playing with the yummy floss.

We had a long visit with our newest grandson. Dane, and our son and DIL on Saturday.  Dane is just shy of 8 months and crawling everywhere, standing with help, and generally busy busy busy.


Proud Dada Nick with his charmer...


..and ever-attentive Mama Ashley helping him play and learn.  He loved crawling up the carpeted stairs in our house.


Mimi got in lots of hugs and kisses while playing with Dane. 

We're always happy to see our kids and grandkids and get in lots of play time.  Looking forward to more frequent visits now that we're all vaccinated and the state is opening up more.  Maybe in a couple more months we'll actually want to eat indoors at a restaurant--it has been over a year since that has happened.

Sunday, April 18, 2021

Slow Sunday Stitching 4/18/21

 Slow Sunday Stitching--see lots of goodies on Kathy's Quilts blog. 

Still working on the Humble Quilts blog doll quilt swap project, which lacked only the binding to finish.  I studied up on narrow bindings for little quilts and cut 1 1/4 inch strips from a dark gray plaid fat quarter. After joining the strips, I marked the wrong side of the binding with a 1/4 stitching line to avoid wavy edges while using the walking foot.  One hint I had seen was turning under 1/4 inch finished edge before pressing the attached binding away from the quilt top.  The impossibly tiny binding was then hand stitched down and behaved itself quite well. I love Clover binding clips for this job. 


I used gray Aurifil thread and am happy with the way it turned out.  This needs a label on the back and then will get mailed off this week to a far away state.  


Lots of other great doll quilts are being shown on the Humble Quilts Facebook group. I'll share the one I receive as soon as it gets here.  Always happy mail!

Thursday, April 15, 2021

Tea Dyeing Linen--Results Are In

As encouraged by some commenters, a tea dyeing adventure started with me looking up on WikiHow about tea dyeing.  Lots of water, lots of tea bags, and some salt were advised.


Recommended number of tea bags seemed like a lot, but I gathered 13 black tea bags and got a stock pot full of water boiling.  I trimmed a strip off the white Cashell linen yardage and cut it into 3 pieces.


The kitchen smelled great.  I let the tea bags steep for a while--and checked the color strength.


Seemed dark enough, so I took out all the tea bags as directed.  I wet the three strips of linen and put them in the pot.  I checked the color after just a few minutes and pulled the first strip out at about 5-6 minutes as it was getting dark already.  It went in a vinegar and water rinse and then got patted dry in paper towels; the others I let steep longer.  I cut off more strips; one I swiped through the tea bath for about 30 seconds and let it dry.  I let one strip stay in a couple of hours as an experiment.  


This piece was steeped for only a few seconds full strength, and once dry, still was much darker than the cover model.  While  a pretty shade, I wanted more contrast for this project. Upon reflection, the Wiki instructions were for dyeing clothing, which accounted for the many tea bags, and recommendation for steeping overnight. Given the small amount of linen I was dyeing, I then dumped out the pot probably to about 1/4 the original strength, added more water, and heated it back up. The dilution was much better for my desired linen color, closer to the pattern cover. It was a fun experiment.


The floss skeins are lying on top of the original white linen in the photo. It is quite a big piece of linen still. Whether I tea dye the whole piece or not, I am not going to want to start the stitchery on a piece that large.  I need to decide how many inches larger than the design I should cut the linen--the pattern gives the finished stitching size as 8x12 inches.   I'm thinking maybe 5 inches greater all  four sides around?  That should leave plenty of room for mounting, I should think.  Opinions/advice welcome! 

Wednesday, April 14, 2021

Old Sewing Machine and Doll Quilt

I'm making progress on the doll quilt for Lori of Humble Quilts' swap, which needs to be mailed off in another 10 days.  My newer Husqvarna Sapphire sewing machine needed a cleaning and after work on Tuesday I took a long drive to drop it off in a shop which sells the same brand machines.  It was good to get out of the house on a nice day, even if I did miss my exit and have a 15 minute rerouting adventure I hadn't planned on!  The place is very busy and I was told to expect a two week stay for my machine, at a minimum.  I'm confident they know the brand so it is worth the wait. 


I had constructed the doll quilt backing with the newer machine, but had to get out my older Husqvarna machine, a Lily, to do the quilting.  Fortunately I had the insert for my sewing table as well as all the accessories and instruction book easily accessible so it was not too much trouble to get set up.


I had bought a walking foot for this model and a different one for the newer machine, and I am glad I did, because the original walking foot was not feeding properly.  


Simple straight line quilting in the ditch around the blocks and border, and Xs marked with the Hera were soon completed.  I sure missed my automatic presser foot lifter! I may add some hand stitching to the block centers. The binding has already been made and I just need to come up with a label before sending this off in the mail. 


I sewed up a bunch more four patches from the neverending 2" squares.  My cutting table is once again a disaster requiring a good hour to clean up.  The problem is my storage is getting maxed out once again and I need to sew up larger pieces faster--especially since I just bought a fat quarter collection of Kim Diehl's Gratitude and Grace, and some extra yardage of favorite prints :)

Thanks for all the feedback on the linen/tea-dyeing dilemma on the last post.  I'm going to cut off a piece of the linen and try dyeing that before committing to the whole piece. 

Sunday, April 11, 2021

Slow Sunday Stitching --Decisions

Slow Sunday Stitching on Kathy's Quilts blog comes round again--lots of lovely things to see. 

I've been ignoring the cross-stitched sunflower I was working on since I made a counting error, and turned to a Blackbird Designs booklet I've wanted to stitch since I bought it at a thrift store several years ago. I've shown it several times on the blog before. 


While I like the Alabaster linen color in the cover photo, I have not been able to buy any matching linen locally and have been thinking about tea dyeing this white Cashel linen I was able to find at Hobby Lobby.   Having never tea-dyed anything, I'm a bit hesitant as I don't want it to be too dark, or blotchy, or too brown rather than creamy like the cover photo. Sigh. The embroidery thread has been purchased and waiting for some time to be stitched up, and seeing it in the photo, I think it might be just fine on the white, after all!

I did find this Maman Chat  kit at my local fabric store...


The scarf and glasses--too funny!  I may have to go back and get it after all 😊

Tuesday, April 6, 2021

Doll Quilts Underway

 Lori of Humble Quilts has again invited us to swap doll quilts.  It is a big job to match up signees and get us all connected, and I so appreciate her efforts.  I showed the parts for the doll quilt I'm making in my last post.  It is all sewn up now. 


I haven't decided yet on backing, quilting or binding, but will get this off to my swap partner by the end of the month.  These stars were from Barb's (Fun with Barb) last swap.  My block is in the center there, with the chrome/black and red--some readers may recall that my blocks exploded from the mailer and were saved by a postal worker, but got to Barb after the swap.  She mailed them all back to me, along with HER blocks. I told the sad story here.  

I put together a few of the swapped blocks many months ago, and stalled at one point in a design decision. I didn't put one of my stars in the quilt, as I insisted Barb keep one. 


Quilt Math is the hardest math, isn't it?  I decided would cut sashing for the corners, and that was done quickly.  Then the dreaded corner triangle math needed to be done. I always turn to Bonnie's helpful hints on Quiltville.com for these problems, and cut an oversized piece.  Naturally when I added this it was very late at night and after trimming one section, wisely decided to wait til morning for the remainder.  A border fabric was also chosen and I'm happy with  the results. 

The cornerstones are the same brown print as the four patches. 



I love this border fabric, have zero recollection of where I got it, though!   The stars were all such yummy fabrics, I had to take some closeups. 








There are many more swapped stars in the box with my returned blocks.  I'll look forward to petting and playing with them again. 

Saturday, April 3, 2021

Sewing and Remembering


Playing with options for Lori's Doll Quilt Swap on her Humble Quilts blog. 

I've been sewing some while remembering our dear Uncle Fred, who passed away last weekend--just over a month after his severe frontal stroke. Sadly, no one was allowed to visit him on his last night, as a staff member of the nursing home had tested positive for COVID.  I visited three times the last week, and he was the same, nonverbal for the most part, though did make some sounds.  He remained unable to swallow, but could move his right side and turn his head, rub his face and chest, and look out the window.  He offered his hand to hold at times, and looked at us.  

Our brother Kevin has been handling most of the heavy work, setting up for burial and in contact with staff at the nursing home and his senior living home.  My sister and I spent most of one day boxing up all of Fred's belongings from his studio apartment.  Not much was organized--we found odd things together in drawers, cupboards and closets.  Some boxes had never been opened since he moved in.  His grade school and high school report cards were in three different spots.  I found his Navy bonnet in the nightstand...



Fred was in the Navy for 3-4 years after one year of college.  I always thought he was stationed in Alaska, and our Dad reported he sailed to the Kodiak Island station from Pearl Harbor, which I had never known.  In another place I found a Navy manual. 


This must have been their father's, as it was published in 1944.  Grandpa joined the Navy during the last part of World War II and was a Cook on one of the first ships to reach Japan.  


Fred saved this bear plaque he made in grade school.  There were tons of slides and photos from many trips, and a vintage manual typewriter in its original case.  We were very very tired but got everything ready for our brother and nephews to load up and take away.  On our way out, one of the residents greeted us and said how well-thought of Fred was there, and that he will be missed.  We are all glad that he spent his last few years among so many folks who liked and appreciated him. He will be interred in a National Veteran's Cemetery here in California.  We hope to have a celebration of his life when COVID eases.  Our Dad and brothers will always cherish memories of all the card games, backgammon, and chess games they played and lost to Fred!