Wednesday, June 21, 2017

The Three Quarter Bag

This is what I finished a few weeks ago, right before Mom Chapman went into the hospital. It is a kit called the Three Quarter Bag, by Susan Terpin for Connecting Threads. It's in the Whirlwind Romance collection, and I think has been waiting for me to stitch it up for about 6 years. I checked the Connecting Threads site and they no longer seem to offer it, either in kit or pattern form. I'm pretty pleased with how it came out, although the fusible fleece, heavyweight stabilizer and medium weight craft interfacing were additional things I had to buy before attempting the kit. The heavyweight stabilizer didn't stay fused very well when I was doing the fiddly bits with the bottom and lining of the bag, but I glued it with some spray-on adhesive and it seemed to work well enough. I blunted a needle and my walking foot came apart at one point, but I was able to replace the needle and put the walking foot back together.

 It also features a zipper, and I hadn't done a zipper in about a decade, so it was time. I really like this fabric collection; so much so that I bought the gray/yellow colorway fat quarter set, and some yardage, in the hopes of making a quilt someday. It's a little matchy-matchy for the way I've been quilting lately, but I could make a quick quilt, there's a thought!
 The trim is pretty. It may be my new knitting bag.
While I was conquering my avoidance of zippers, I made a zippered pouch and a zippered pyramid bag. Neither one took more than an hour or so. I still want to make a box-shaped pouch as well, in leftover coordinating fabric.

If I were still tracking UFO's (I never really started it for either 2016 or 2017) I could count this as one. When I hunt up my project notebook from under one of the piles in my sewing area, I'll be sure to note that the Three Quarter bag is now finished! I like it a lot, actually. I have another two bags in my long-term UFO list, and one that I really need to just cut and sew. Like this bag, it is a larger project that involves some advanced sewing skills and a lot of stiff interfacings and hardware that quilters don't normally use. But this project was a confidence builder, and I just need to get up the gumption to do it. Then I can tick off another UFO.

By the way, my mother-in-law was over here tonight for dinner, with Steve's sister who flew in from Phoenix, and she just bought a new motorized scooter for getting around at her retirement home. Combined with her new medication, it seems like a good solution to get her mobility back. I look forward to seeing her zip around on it! In the meantime, school is out for both girls now; Tertia's last day was today, and Quarta's was last Tuesday. The weather has finally improved and has been downright pleasant the last few days. I keep chucking snails that I find on my potted plants into the street for the crows, and I am enjoying my flowers in my hanging basket.

 I can't decide whether I like the magenta or the purple petunias best, so every few days I turn the basket around to get a change of pace. Variety is great!

Saturday, June 17, 2017


 It has been a wet week, no, year, here. And cold. We refuse to put the heat back on because, dang it, it's June... but I've regretted it every time I did not put a wool sweater on first thing in the morning. The good news: in the combat against the moss on the front porch, I have achieved a certain measure of success. Bleach water, plus scraping with the ice scraper, plus a whole lot of elbow grease did the trick. I felt a little sorry for the ant that ventured out during the process, so I commemorated it with a poem:

Six-legged creature stumbles across post-apocolyptic concrete -
Bleach-sprayed shreds of moss, dust, sand and bits of polymer scrub-brush litter the worn step.
Then comes the broom.

The rain started up again and I'm still waiting to finish the back porch. Quarta finished school this week and has been cleaning house for me. She seems to be channeling all the energy she was using on academics and she wants to clean and organize things. I'm not complaining. She has dusted the garage roof with de-mossing powder, thoroughly cleaned her room, the kitchen counters, and the family room, and scrubbed all the spidery stuff off of the sliding door and cleaned those windows. She will work for chocolate bars and videos.
 Snails love this weather. That's one way up on the garage wall, looking a bit lost.
 Most stick to the lower growing vegetation. I don't kill snails, but if I can find a large leaf to squish a slug under, I have started to be able to do that, with much shuddering. Still, if I unknowingly touch a slug, there will be squealing.
Tertia went to a birthday party for a friend in her class. At Chuck E. Cheese's. It has been a long time since I accompanied kids there. It's one of many situations that I could describe as "introvert hell." But Tertia and her buddy had a grand time.

 I have been slowly working through my fabric stash and cutting for my latest quilt project. The diamond-in-square blocks are multiplying. My design wall isn't big enough for my vision.
Daisies were blooming the last time Steve and I took a walk around the elementary school.

The shootings in Northern Virginia really shook me up Wednesday. It feels odd to hear local friends shrug it off, as if it's too far away to affect them. But I lived there for more than three years. It feels like one of my hometowns. I keep asking myself, with all the escalating divisiveness of politics and particularly the media coverage of it, if the whole world has suddenly gone crazy. I mean, I never liked Trump, but after seeing him beheaded in effigy in the name of comedy, and now members of his party targeted for assassination, I find myself much more sympathetic to him... so congratulations, Kathy Griffin and Bill Maher, you've won me back to supporting the Republicans automatically and hitting the mute button on left-leaning anything. I wonder if it's even possible for a couple to get married anymore, if they are from different political backgrounds.  Steve and I are both the products of such a mixed marriage. It brings a certain balance and richness to family life, or it used to. But I can't see how it could work now. Peggy Noonan's column is really great. People should read it and take it to heart.

Thursday morning began on a much funnier note. This is the dream I had right before waking up: Steve pointed out a man to me: he looked exactly like Steve Carell the actor, only his name was Willy Wonka. In the same deadly-serious voice the real-life Steve had used to inform me about the congressional shootings the day before, the dream Steve told me, "That man is Ivanka Trump's ex-husband." There was a beat as my subconscious treated me to the punchline. I woke up, shouting "Ivanka Wonka!" Oh my goodness. I wonder if my subconscious could write more material like this, and I could sell it.

Saturday, June 10, 2017

Randomday, Playing Catch-Up

It's silly, the things that keep you from blogging. Most recently it was trying to figure out how to access my icloud from my laptop, so I could use photos from my phone. Then earlier this week it was worrying about Grandma in the hospital. (She is home and comfortable again now). Going backward, we have had a number of momentous family events in the past 3 or 4 weeks: both Tertia and Quarta became communicant members of our church, there were appointments and social events and concerts and plays and sleepovers, and of course, Steve and I flew out to Virginia to see Daniel graduate from his Capital Fellows program and sightsee a bit as well. Basically, every time I was at home and physically able to get on my computer, I tended to be too tired to want to blog. So think of this as a kind of photo-dump without much more narration, to catch you up with our hectic lives.
Tertia got the biggest laugh of the evening in her walk-on in "Check Please."

 Sightseeing in Annapolis, at the Naval Academy and the Maryland capitol.
 It's impressive to see a painting that has been in the same place for centuries.

An impressive group of young people. We heard great things about Daniel.
 Daniel's host family, also old friends from our days at McLean. David played organ at our wedding, and I sang in the choir with Lena. There were lots of these, not coincidences, but maybe God's calling cards, that convinced us this was the perfect program for Daniel.
They have this re-enactment of a colonial farm in McLean, complete with turkeys to eat the tobacco worms.
Monday we took a day-trip to Monticello. Daniel ran into a friend from college in line to buy tickets. Yet another fascinating not-coincidence. I love the architecture of Monticello, and the fact that Jefferson taught himself. And I try to take pictures of all the flowers that grow as weeds in our yard, but are featured prominently at this grand home! Here, foxgloves.
 Rose campion.
More likely to be California poppies in our yard.
 It was right after graduation at UVA, just like it had been at the Naval Academy.
Tuesday before our flight home Steve and I took in the Postal museum and the Renwick Gallery, neither of which we had seen before. I decided to take pictures of the fiber arts exhibits at the Renwick. This one shows creative use of those old doilies and potholders some of us have by the bagful.
 Steve loved this quilt-map of Washington D.C. The red spots are properties that have been foreclosed.
 This is a quilt portraying a time-lapse photo of the night sky. It's political significance is that it's the night sky above the American Embassy in Saigon, January 31, 1968. I guess if it's to count as art it has to have political significance? None of my quilts would count as art by this definition.
 I would not have thought to make a quilt out of celluloid film strips, sewn together with polyamide thread.
 I think a glass spinning wheel would be terribly impractical if you tend to drop bobbins when you change them, like I do. But it is a functional spinning wheel.
 Detail of a much larger landscape quilt with lots of fabric painting, applique and threadwork.
 All of this at the Renwick, just up the street from Blair House,
 the OEOB,
 and the White House.
And back home, a photo of the newest communicant members.

Saturday, May 13, 2017


 Well, the two guys from Mr. Rooter came out yesterday to dig up the damaged sewer pipe and replace it. Here is what they found: a 40-something pipe, damaged at some point long before we bought the house (the AC installer would never have dug down that far) and covered with a little white plastic cuff that was cut lengthwise and wrapped around the damaged pipe, not even sealed. So it survived for at least 18 years before giving trouble, which I guess is not so bad. Especially since we only had to replace a 3-foot segment of pipe, and not the whole thing out to the street. On the sliding scale of homeowner disasters, this was at least marginally affordable.
The new pipe is much sturdier. The old one could be crumbled by the plumber's hands. And that's the phone line that they had to dig past, and possibly an old cable line.
 Look how neat they left the worksite!
 Right above the repair site is the bathroom window, and above that is the vent where a family of birds has taken up residence. They are very noisy, all the daylight hours. I'm sure they also keep the cats entertained.
 I went to an estate sale yesterday advertising "crafts." Came home with a brown paper envelope with some vintage knitting patterns - argyles, and another copy of the Red Cross sweater vest to knit for WW2 soldiers - my aunt already gave me one, and someday I want to find olive drab yarn and knit it up for Peter.
 Also in the envelope were a bunch of iron-on transfers in those fun 40's happy homemaker designs.
And I bought 2 large cones of thread at 25 cents apiece. Also some frames and some counted cross-stitch fabrics and a nearly full bottle of Resolve carpet cleaner, for a grand total of $4. I kept thinking of my grandmothers, who had many of the same kinds of things. And maybe a little eerie foretaste of myself as a little old lady. She had the same sewing machine as me, only about a decade older.

 Tertia went to the "Life Skills" prom at Skyview yesterday. Quarta did her hair. Both Quarta and Tertia had their doctor check-ups this week. Quarta is 5' 5 1/4" and might still grow. Tertia is at her full adult height of 4' 7".
She danced the night away, or at least until the prom ended at 8:00.

The other three of us had a Bible study group from 7-9, and only one car, so I did a lot of driving back and forth yesterday. I'm tired today and milking the whole Mother's Day holiday for what it's worth, so I went out once this afternoon to check out the quilt store, and it was closed! That happened a few months ago with the yarn store near me. I find that sad. But anyway, I ended up at Joann's, spending my birthday discount card (from October) and buying a quilt batt and about 3 yards of fabric. So I'll have something to add to my stash report next time. I have been spending a lot of time trying to tame my little tiny scraps into usable squares or rectangles, or cutting them into strips. This at the same time as cutting fabric for the latest quilt.

We watched Anne with an E, the first episode, tonight. After Quarta's play, it was a lot edgier, but very well cast. Look forward to seeing more of that. And I think Steve and I might watch another episode of Man in the High Castle. It's getting quite weird.

Monday, May 8, 2017

Design Wall and Stash Report

What was on my design wall is now all sewn together and has joined the to-be-quilted queue:
What is on the Megaquilter is still on there. I haven't quilted any since our plumbing problems.
 I dug out a long-slumbering project and have begun working on it, as I described yesterday. It's , the Frugal Patch from Quilter's Cache, but I'm amping it up by making it into a color study of sorts. I first printed out this pattern in 2006.
Now I have a new project on my design wall - you can check out others a the Patchwork Times link-up.
 I'm not sure how much I want to cut before sewing more together, so I do a little bit here and there. So far I've been working on the blues because there are so many of them. At one point I cut a rectangle of almost every fabric in my stash, but my stash has grown since then.
 It's the kind of quilt that needs to be played with on a design wall, so it will probably be up there for awhile.

 I haven't killed my orchids yet! Adding an ice cube once a week is a little difficult when the pots are so tiny. Some of them just get watered more normally. This one has two bloom stalks; the first one I bought has one, and the other four were discounted because they had lost theirs, or been damaged.
 The one on the far left is regrowing a bloom stalk, I think. Exciting times.
This is the first one I bought, still going well.

Stash report:

Since I finished the Tone it Down top, I'm counting an additional 8 yards of fabric
24 yards fabric used total, year to date
0 yards added to stash, but it's still overflowing.
24 yards net used, year to date

Knitting yarn:
Yarn used year to date: 900 yards
Yarn added year to date: 1700 yards
800 yards net added, year to date