Friday, November 25, 2011

anything look familiar here?

Not washed & blocked yet, and loose ends inside need to be dealt with. Still don't recognize anything? Here's a hint:

Yep ... wool from my sheep, now socks. I have a ton (literally) of wool spun into yarn. I decided yesterday to try it out. With a little practice, it is destined to become my favorite. The dark wool seems to be a bit finer than the white, so I'll need to figure out how they work together the best way possible. My goal is to make sweaters for everyone in my family from our home-grown wool. But I'm already old, so I'm not sure how that will work out.

Should I start with the smallest size, figuring that working from the smallest up will yield the highest number of finished products in shortest amount of time? Or should I work from the largest down, figuring they can be passed down as people grow into them? That might be the best plan. Then everyone can take a turn wearing the sweater, pass it along to the next in line, saying "Your turn to pretend you like hand-knit wool sweaters."

Maybe I should just make one for myself and see if anyone asks for their own. Yeah. That's the ticket!

Friday, November 18, 2011

She'll be ...

… wearing hand-knit stockings when she comes …

* * * WARNING: rant follows. You DO know where your delete button is, right? * * *

Is this the new marketing trend? I keep getting messages from the big online book store, letting me know that books I may be interested in are available for pre-order. The first week of September I saw a quilt kit I thought was beautiful. After a couple of days of telling myself I didn’t need yet another project on the shelf, I caved and decided I really REALLY want it. So I went back to the website and saw that, not only was it a pre-order item, but the price had gone up by about $30. Well, that didn’t sit very well with me. It had only been a matter of about two or three days since I’d first considered it. So I went to the website of a major quilting fabric retailer and found it was there, as a pre-order item at the first price I had seen. So I ordered it. My heart’s desire became a gift to me. It was to be available mid-October. Perfect.

I also needed something to make for a baby friend, and found another quilt kit in a magazine and decided to order it online from the company who advertised it. Wow! It was on sale for half-price. My lucky day! So I ordered that on the same day as the first, but from this second company.

So forward to November 1. No packages arrived, so I called to find out why. The first company said that they were waiting on the manufacture for the pattern that goes into the kit. (Oh … please, take your time!) The second company said they were waiting on the manufacturer for the fabric that goes into the kit. (I do hope they’ve at least picked the cotton at this point, lest the baby be full grown by the time I make his crib quilt!)

It’s now past the midway point in November, and still my packages have not arrived. Yeah … I know … I could just cancel my orders to express my unhappiness with both of these companies. (Mind you, these are NOT small companies – they are the industry leaders. Otherwise, I’d be a bit more understanding, fully aware that stuff happens and things don’t always go the way it’s hoped.) I’ll try to wait it out, but trust me, I won’t be doing the pre-order thing again any time soon.

I recently read someone else’s rant about how the J-I-T method of managing inventory is not good for the economy. (It might have been on the Drudge Report.) I think they’ve now pushed the process even further. I’m opting out.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

What's THAT about?!? ...

Walking over to the studio for a day of quilting, I glanced down into the pasture and saw this:

King of the Hay Bale? Go figure. (There's always something nutty going on for my amusement.)

The day before, all the cows decided to hike over to the neighbor's farm for a visit. I managed to round them all up and bring them back home without much of an issue. The electric fence that is supposed to keep them in had been knocked down, probably by deer in the night. I thought the wire had been snapped because it was stretched across the road and dangling over a welded wire fence. My guess was that a deer got caught on it, and jumped the welded wire fence to escape, taking the electrified wire with it on it's hoof. I grabbed ahold of the wire, intending to re-attach it where it belongs, and ZOWIE! I found out it was still a live wire. Sparks flew. From my mouth.

I put the cows in the upper pasture because I had no desire to repeat that little scene. DH could take care of it, and I told him about it when he returned. He said he would fix it, after he came inside for a cup of tea and a snack first.

By the time he went back out, the cows had found their way out of that pasture by way of a gate that opens into the woods where he gathers firewood. He had left it open the day before, not thinking I'd put the cows back in that pasture for a while. They all headed down the road and paid the neighbor on the opposite side a visit this time. DH and the dog rounded them up again. Now we've all had some good exercise, a chat with the neighbors. I'm telling you, it's as good as a three-ring circus most of the time.

Pat still has some more work to do on her quilt, so no photos yet. But here's a glimpse of Shannon's Minkie Monkey quilt. That minkie fabric is incredibly soft, stretchy, and with deep pile. I had not quilted any before so was a bit apprehensive about working with it. It worked up without any problems caused by the fabric's characteristics. Nice surprise. See the monkeys? They're swinging in banana trees, and that design coordinates with the fabrics on the front of the quilt, which I have no photos of to share with you.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011


And here we have Leftovers:

Looks like socks, to me! I couple of years ago, I knitted a sweater for GS1. I've never seen it since, but I'm sure he's outgrown it by now. I remember that the yarn was soft and squishy -- the way I like my socks.

Pat C is coming back today, and we hope she'll get her starry quilt finished. Stay tuned for photos.

Monday, November 14, 2011

She's absolutely right!

Brenda S commented that when she was in school, those experiments were done with plenaria. She's absolutely right -- that's what they were (not euglena)! (google it if you wanna see some regeneration images ... they will grow a second head if you split them. Ugh! Who thinks these things up? And how did someone ever discover those odd little things to experiment on?!? I guess I'd better go google it some more to re-remember).

Well, Brenda came and got a couple of quilts done Sunday. The first went without a hitch; the pawprint quilting pattern was just the ticket for the cat print.

Although you cannot see the print on the back of this, it’s got little toy vehicles, and we found a pattern with the same theme for the quilting. Very cute.

Tip for the day: if your scissors go missing, find them before you proceed.
Sock progress: when I get to this point (closing up the toe), “She’ll Be Coming ‘Round the Mountain” starts running thru my head, over and over till I finish it up. So finish it up I must, lest I go completely crazy from the repetition in my brain.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

a what?!? ...

DH uses this tool when caulking. I saw it lying in the bathtub during one of his recent projects and asked, "Doesn't that thing look like a euglena?"

"A what?"

"A euglena. You know, those things that you can cut the head in half and it will regenerate so it has two heads."

"What ARE you talking about?!?"

Okay, so is it just me, or did anybody else have to do that in first level biology class?

Here are some pics of the two quilts I mentioned in my last post -- note the dates, etc. Handquilted antiques (owner accepting offers).

Dated Sept. 07, 1888

That edging is either tatted or crocheted. (How does one tell the difference?)

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Like riding a bike ...

Yesterday, in the studio, Becky did a "test drive" of my binding instructions while she waited for me to give Pat a quick refresher on the Avante (longarm quilting machine). Becky's never done a binding before, so she was the perfect candidate to try to follow the directions. I'm glad she was able to figure it out -- makes me more confident that my upcoming demo for the quilt club will be okay. While Pat quilted, Becky and I made some progress on her quilt. It's coming out nicely, and we're nearly ready to put it on the machine and let her have at it. It's time to choose a quilting design. Decisions, decisions!

So here's Pat's accomplishment for the day:

It's been a year since she's been here, but I only had to remind her how to get started and then off she went. It's like riding a bike ... you never forget. I've gotta tell you: this quilt is 97x114 inches and by choosing a simple yet pretty pattern, she got it quilted in a day and didn't even have to skip lunch to do it! Nice job, Pat!

I've got some quilts to show everyone. They belong to a fellow I used to work with many moons ago. His home along the river was ruined in the recent flooding, but thankfully, these quilts survived unharmed.

Two of them are antiques. I'll get some photos later today and post them for the viewing pleasure of all. That will have to wait until after I take some time to scare the socks off Dr. L again this morning. Oh, the power I have in the dentist's chair!

Sunday, November 6, 2011

She's done it again ...

Penny came one day last week to quilt one she's put together for the shop that is collecting quilts for flood victims of Owego, NY. She made it from scraps of others she's done, using a simple pattern that goes together quickly but is still pretty. She chose a swirl pattern for quilting that was just the right touch to make it fancy, and was finished in less than three hours.

All she has left to do now is the binding, and she expects to have it done in an evening. I hadn't heard about the effort to collect quilts, so had nothing to contribute besides time in the studio. How did I NOT hear about it?!? I need to get out more.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

A good read; a new sock ...

I finished reading Killing Lincoln ... (Bill O'Reilly and Martin Dugard) last night. It tells the story of Abraham Lincoln's assassination, beginning six weeks prior to the event. It was a good read. Reviews I read say it's not always technically accurate in details, like which room what happened in at the White House, but I'm not sure that's important. At least not to me. I'm not a researcher nor an investigator trying to solve any controversy. I was just looking for something that could hold my interest for a couple of nights. This book fit the bill, for sure. I couldn't put the thing down.

They say O'Reilly was once a history teacher. If all high school history teachers had his knack, school could be much more interesting for American students. A teacher can make all the difference in the world, according to how well they can bring a subject to life. That brings to mind a few of my history teachers when I was in school. My American History teacher in HS had to be the absolute worst. (Sorry, Mr. F, but it's absolutely true.) He was lazy. And full of himself. He spent more time bragging about himself than doing any teaching. He had a "policy" of giving out a certain number of As, Bs, Cs, etc. He doled them out more according to how well he liked/disliked a student more than anything else. This teacher didn't TEACH anything. He assigned reading every day, then gave quizzes whenever he ran out of stuff about himself to talk about in class. I'm telling you, he was THE worst teacher, ever!

One of my best friends in that class openly flirted with him to "earn" her A every marking period. I usually got a B. One day I confronted him about his grading system. He admitted that it WAS ridiculous, but said he had no intention of changing it. So, being the bold brat that I was and probably still am, I told him I wanted an A on the next report card, indicating that unless I got it, there would be trouble. I got the A. How gross is that?!?

In college, I had the same professor for sociology and Russian history. After several weeks that semester, I received notice that I was to meet him in his office one day. He asked me why there was such a discrepancy between my performance in sociology and that in Russian history class. Asking him to pardon my bluntness, I had been wondering the same thing about him. I explained that the way he taught sociology put me to sleep. Literally. I used to ask my friends sitting nearby in the crowded, too-warm lecture hall to poke me if I dozed. No joke. The class was crowded only because it was a required course. I suspected he got stuck teaching something he didn't have any interest in. (They had a problem filling all the teaching positions that year.) His presentation of Russian history, on the other hand, was a thrill a minute! Seriously. Full of mystery, intrigue, facts I'd never heard before, and I marveled at his amazing knowledge.

I thought that I was certain to have the Riot Act read to me, but his comment was, "Fair enough." And in fairness to him, he did make an effort to keep me awake in sociology class after that. I managed to get thru the class with an average grade, while I got what they called "high honors" in his Russian history class. I'm telling you, it's all about the teacher.

And with that note, I'll quit my rant about teachers and show you what I'm doing to continue my effort to reduce the stash:

I have just a couple of balls of this yarn. It's 100 percent wool and will make warm, cozy socks. One can never have too many of those! There's enough yarn to make both socks to match, but I'm pretty sure that wouldn't matter to me. I intend to use up odds and ends to increase my hoard of sockage while decreasing the stash of yarn around here. If that means I have one of a kind, all the better! Whoever made up the rule that socks must match ought to have been ousted from rule-making right at the beginning. How much more interesting the wearing of socks would be today!

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Red Bull, of a different sort ...

Red Bull with mama, Little Red :

-- November 1: a sunny day for his debut.

New Red with mama, Big Red:

she refuses to stay inside. She is bigger than I am (a little, at least). She wins.

Becky came yesterday to work on her quilt, and brought this beauty for Show & Tell:

It is a generations-old quilt made by the womenfolk of her family and recently given to her by her grandmother. It is in beautiful condition, having been cherished by the ladies in whose hands it has been for so many years. It actually skipped a generation, and I'm guessing that's because it is obvious Becky is one who will appreciate the gift. Lucky girl, that Becky!