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

Sunday, May 7, 2017


This is actually Sunday morning before church, but I spent Saturday taking Tertia shopping for dresses for Life Skills Prom next week, doing a bit of gardening, getting my Duolingo Swedish tree entirely golden (I'm switching languages to Dutch now because it's too depressing how fast trees get ungolden, and I'm declaring victory), fighting Charlemagne in the Holy Roman Empire in a Civ4 game, and watching SPECTRE.

Plumbing update: the estimator came out with a scope and determined the location of the part of the sewer line that needs to be replaced. Apparently at some time in the past, the PVC pipe was broken and someone patched it by putting a half-round of a larger PVC pipe over it, thus leaving a golden opportunity for tree roots to find the gap. It is 2 feet deep, slightly under the AC pad. We had the AC installed 10 years ago but no one told us of a problem then. So otherwise it would have been something in the time before we owned the house. Anyway, that part is a relatively easy and not-too-terribly expensive fix. We're still not sure about the flooring inside the house. That will probably depend on whether insurance would cover it at all.

 Another quilt top finished! This is a low-tone Burgoyne Surrounded, the APQquiltalong from 2014. I was on that bandwagon for awhile and then it fell into the black hole for awhile, and now it's ready to add to the quilting pipeline. Very pleased with the fun scrappy mix of colors.
 This block features Olivia the pig.
 New quilt project: Frugal Patch. Speaking of long-dormant quilting projects, I printed off  this from the Quilter's Cache in 2006. I have been cutting 1.5"x 2.5" rectangles and sorting them into color families, off and on, ever since. Mostly off. My concept for this quilt was to make it a massive rainbow-gradation color study, as you can see from my sketch above. Because, while I like scrappy quilts, I like "planned scrappy" quilts better. I've started finally just sewing some units together and seeing how they look.
 Some square-in-square blocks will have a dark neutral background, and some will have a light-neutral background. Originally I was going to use just one patch of each color in my stash, but I think that might drive me insane.
So far I have pieced a lot of the already-cut rectangles together. I've decided it's possible to use 2.5" strips to cut the triangles for the square-in-square pieces, but I will have to piece them very carefully.  I'm envisioning a twin-size quilt when I'm all done. Definitely a workout for my design wall.

Thursday and Friday I sub-taught Latin to 3rd-5th grades, and will again tomorrow. It is a fun reminder of how little minds learn. And wears me out completely, even just a half day!

Monday, May 1, 2017

Randomness by the Bucket

I really like doing my "randomday" posts on Saturdays. Trouble is, that hasn't been happening regularly enough to keep up with all the randomness. We get it Costco super-sized around here, and I haven't been keeping up. But in the blogging world, you kind of have to keep up. so here's my try.
Quarta, 14, played Anne of Green Gables in the matinee performance a little over a week ago. This was the before picture, taken the Friday before the performance.
And the after picture. It's a semi-permanent color, which means it will (probably, on a blonde) gradually fade. I'm unfamiliar with this whole world of hair coloring, but judging from the reactions of complete strangers as well as those who know her, she makes a stunning redhead and should consider being a redhead longer. I'm not sure how I feel about that. I might have to try being a redhead myself, since I have the same skin coloring. Also, the performance went very well. She had worked very hard on all her lines, but seeing the performance, she also nailed the vulnerability and sensitivity that Anne needs to have. And of course I'm not biased or anything! I was sad there was only the one performance for her (another cast was involved in the two evening performances. But it was also a relief to have the play and all the time requirements over.
This Mexico pic of the "3 monkeys" also features Quarta. Too fun!
A day or two after Easter I discovered this orchid for $3.99 at Grocery Outlet. I have since been mildly obsessing over orchid care, and I went back twice to buy more. There's a white one and 4 others that have been damaged and I am trying to nurse back to health.

There ends the positive randomness of the past few weeks. Last Tuesday evening we experienced a plumbing catastrophe when water suddenly started cascading out of the downstairs toilet. It was warm water, from the upstairs shower. Eventually as Steve and I were bailing and plunging and collecting every rag in the house to mop up the mess, it occurred to us that this was bigger than a plunger problem. And sure enough, thanks to Mr. Rooter 24-7 emergency plumbing service, it was confirmed: some as-yet-unidentified tree root had likely obstructed our sewer line. So no flushing or using drains all Tuesday night and most of Wednesday, and they had the rooter trucks with their high-powered jets at work.

We were really happy to discover (which we couldn't find at 10:00 Tuesday night) that there was an exterior clean-out access for the sewer line. It had been hidden beneath some landscaping fabric and behind bushes. There appears to be only one section of pipe that will need to be replaced. That is another appointment with another evaluator this coming Wednesday. We are at least functional in the meantime. Water damage experts highly recommend tearing out all the flooring, subflooring and some of the drywall in the bathroom to get rid of bacteria growth. We're kind of waiting to see how much we're in for on the pipe replacement, and since it's a tree root, there's little chance that homeowners' insurance will cover it.

We had water running through the floorboards into the basement as well: less worry there, but we did dispose of several decades' worth of National Geographics that suddenly became a whole lot less appealing to keep storing. Daniel's wine bottles were also near the line of fire, but the only damage there was to some of the labels.

Actually, looking back at nearly 18 years in this house, it's pretty amazing we haven't had a serious plumbing setback before this. I just wish money grew on some of those trees with the roots. Because I made a list of all the other things we need to spend money on before this plumbing incident happened, and we're nowhere near the halfway point yet. New washer and dryer are definitely looming.

Ah well. On Saturday I went to a Special Mom's breakfast which was a great experience and we are hoping to meet more regularly to strategize as to how to support our children as they become adults. Then I went on to Cedar Tree, where the Latin Olympika was being held. I was able to be scorekeeper for the very exciting final rounds (and I had written the Level 1 Certamen, and had to run out to the car to fetch some extra bonus questions at the very end!) Tertia spent Saturday with the Horticulture class, working at their plant sale. She was rewarded with "plant bucks" and so our garden will be the richer for her experience. Peter also made a fly-by visit home this weekend, before his finals and summer job.

I'm making some progress on sock knitting -- still no sweater knitting going on -- and quilting. The APQquiltalong from years back, the low-tone Burgoyne Surrounded, is almost a complete top, and I have started a quilt I have been planning for even longer than that, but no pictures yet. And the Farmer's Wife quilt is on my bed and is being enjoyed.

I'm thinking of writing a story about a post-apocalyptic world, where the plumbers rule. It would be totally believable. I already have the Latin short-short story version of our current situation: cloaca obstructa, pecunia maxima. (Blocked sewer, big money).

Saturday, April 15, 2017

Farmer's Wife - Finished

 I started working on the Farmer's Wife Quilt in July of 2011. That makes this almost a six-year project. Of course, I didn't know it would be when I started. Back then, I was just having a blast piecing little 6" blocks. I set myself a goal: use scrappy fabrics, and try to have something vintage or thrifted or upcycled in every block. I had a lot of little scraps and remnants from sewing projects, and I had a lot of worn/outgrown clothing that could be repurposed, and I had bags and bags of scraps... some my own, some given to me, some purchased at thrift stores or estate sales or quilt stores. It's hard to believe that when I started quilting I had very little in the way of stash. This quilt was the beginning of my realization that I need to be more intentional about acquiring fabric.
Almost exactly five years ago I finished the top, and styled it in a very similar photo-shoot.
Three and a half years ago I started the process of machine-quilting it, with the Megaquilter. I didn't force myself to work on it after the first few rows, and it sat almost entirely neglected for a full three years. This reflects my deep-seated anxiety about machine quilting and inner perfectionism, or something. Also that I was busy and stressed during those three years. But this year, as a kind of New Year's resolution, I began again, and rediscovered how amazing the progress is that you make when you work steadily!
From the back of the fence, this is the very first bit that I quilted. The feathers, Oh the feathers! I think they are lovely... but each individual feather is so very imperfect. Look at the big picture, though. When you put them together and step back just a little bit, I am very happy with the feathers. I did have to take the side and bottom borders off and resew them by hand, before machine quilting the feathers on them. I would have had major puckers and waves otherwise. I'm glad I did that, and the quilt lies flat!
Just because I have the sycamore tree in back and it has the branch that is perfect for quilt pictures, I took another batch of shots there. You can see the plum tree in bloom behind the garage roof.
I love these two blocks that ended up next to each other: "Gentleman's Fancy" with pirate and map fabric, both scraps from boxer shorts sewing projects: and "WCTU" (Women's Christian Temperance Union), with scraps from my WCTU-member grandmother's apron and her scrap bag. I love how the individual blocks have so many different colors, but "that blue" ties them all together. I love how, without really trying to, I incorporated many of the scraps from the Mom memorial quilt project (where I made a quilt for each one of us siblings with her clothing and scrap-bag scraps), so I've infused the quilt with memories of her. And it pays homage to my midwestern upbringing and the many farming ancestors who also passed along their thrift, their skill with their hands, and their love of family.

All that's really left is to make a label and put it on my bed.

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Quilting update and Stash Report

So yes, I have not been blogging as frequently as in years gone by. But this year I have recovered a bit of the will to stitch, and I am modestly proud of progress made in both quilting and knitting.
The Farmer's Wife Quilt (of many years' duration) is now off the frame, and I chose to put Allietare on, of my backlog of tops needing quilting. Rather than the fussy feathers and custom-quilting each block I used for the Farmer's Wife, I am doing my standard, very do-able "squiggle-loop-star" quilting pattern, which goes quite fast.
In fact, if I hadn't broken off for spring break I would probably be finished by now. It's a good thing I'm not, because I'm still stitching the binding down on the Farmer's Wife. Tonight we watched two episodes of Man in the High Castle and it's close. 
 Another hour of tv watching will probably do it. I'm going to go ahead and count the yardage for the backing of Allietare, and the binding of Farmer's wife, in my ongoing tally of fabric used, to keep myself accountable for using things up rather than buying new. I'm guesstimating 8 yards total for backing one, and adding binding and hanging sleeve to the other.
 I haven't tallied any yarn yet this year, and it's time to start, since I bought some recently, and finished these three projects.

Stash Report:

Fabric tallied this week: 8 yards
Fabric used year to date: 16 yards
Fabric added year to date: 0 yards
Net fabric used: 16 yards

Yarn used year to date: 900 yards
Yarn purchased year to date: 1700 yards
I'm in the red with net 800 yards added, but I hope to finish an old UFO soon to change that.

Let's see if I can keep up with the creative energy I've rediscovered so far this year. It feels very good to be making crafts again and I have at least the desire to de-stash, organize and have fun in the process.

Saturday, April 8, 2017

Spring Break Photos

Spring Break, that wonderful American tradition, has been subtly changing in our family over the past few years. This year Daniel is officially independent and living on the other side of the country. Peter is a sophomore at WSU and his break already happened. This past week we saw Quarta off with a group from Cedar Tree, bound to Baja California, Mexico, to build a house for a needy family and paint some local schools. That left Steve, Tertia and me to have a trip up to Seattle, where we took in the Kubota Japanese Garden, and attended a concert of the Baltimore Consort based on the music of Shakespeare. Then we took a leisurely drive to WSU, stopping at Cashmere to tour the Liberty Orchards candy factory and at Dry Falls, where the river currently known as Columbia once poured over perhaps the largest waterfall in the Ice Age world. At WSU they have some grizzly bears who can't live in the wild in an enclosure. We stayed at an Air BnB within walking distance of the campus and we walked all over on Tuesday. Ice cream and cheese purchase at Ferdinand's and eating out at some nice restaurants made it a really fun trip to see parts of Washington (and Moscow Idaho) that I hadn't spent much time in before. We were back by Wednesday evening and Quarta will be home tonight, then it's back to the school grind on Monday for the girls. As for me, I continue to be relieved every time I think about not having to teach school daily. I miss the kids, but not the constant stress that left no margin around the edges of my life. In some of those margins, while riding the miles of highways around the state, I finished two knitting projects.