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. 

Saturday, March 11, 2017

Randomday, with Latin Quote Detection

"Men are most apt to believe what they least understand." -a quote by Pliny the Elder, who died in the eruption of Mt. Vesuvius in 79 AD

Or was it?

This quote came up today on, where I can frequently be found. I love it when the quotes are classical, not so much when the quotes are by Jack Handey, Justin Bieber or Homer Simpson. In fact, because I'm weird this way, I have taken it on myself to be a bit of a quote detective for any quotes that come up as English translations of Latin authors. I will google and try to find the Latin source quote, and then paste it into the "comments" box that the site provides for the entertainment of its users. In this way I feel I am contributing a bit to the sum total of human knowledge, and not just wasting hours trying to once again reclaim my position on the top 100 solvers of all time (get distracted for a month or two, and the world passes you by. Story of my life).

So I opened another few tabs on my browser and started googling. The English came up quite easily, but many quote sites are inaccurate and just paste other quote sites... you really have to verify. (Quote research is on my mind lately because the Kindle First book I chose this month was on just this subject). This quote was a little more interesting than many I've done because it is also attributed to Michel de Montaigne. I tried translating through Google and did a search for Pliny and words like "aptissimi intelligere minime credere." I googled Naturalis Historia (Pliny the Elder's magnum opus) and some of these keywords and still found nothing. Eventually I found a fuller version of the original: "Men are most apt to believe what they least understand, and through the lust of human wit obscure things are credited." However this traced more likely to Michel de Montaigne, and eventually I found HIS Latin version: Majorem fidem homines adhibent iis quae non intelligunt. Cupidine humani ingenii libentius obscura creduntur.

At this point I figured I was home free and would soon find the quote and its source in Pliny. I assumed Montaigne had borrowed the quote verbatim from Pliny, so I searched those Latin words. It was quite confusing, but turns out that the second half came not from Pliny but from Tacitus, the Histories. And the first half, the one that cryptograms had as Pliny? Well, I finally found the original Pliny, not exactly as Montaigne had given it: "minus credunt, quae ad salutem suam pertinent, si intelligunt." Or, people believe less, in things that pertain to their health, if they understand them. This turned up in several treatises on ancient medicine written in the last hundred years. Montaigne had crafted his take on it himself, not using Pliny's Latin words at all and with the sentiment turned around.

So, armed with this fruit of over an hour of painstaking research, I clicked on the tab of my browser for the Cryptograms quote that started it all... and I missed it by that much. In other words, I ended up collapsing that tab altogether. I was going to note the original Latin by Montaigne and suggest that it should be credited to him rather than Pliny, and also give Pliny's Latin for comparison. But once you collapse a Cryptogram solve screen, it's gone forever, or at least until the next time you get that exact quote out of the randomized umpty-thousand quotes on that site. So here I am, pouring out my Randomday woes to the blog. Such is my life: I am drawn to arcane disciplines that require inordinate amounts of time and painstaking attention to detail, and that nobody else really cares that much about.

What would Donald Trump say? "Sad!"

Maybe I'll just go knit something.

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

WIP Wednesday and Yarn-along

That's what I used to call it, right? WIP for works-in-progress, and there used to be a little linky-up thing? Wow, blogs are just so five years ago. Everybody else has probably switched to Instagram. But here I am, still plugging away. It's easier this year, not teaching. I am not regretting not teaching. My house is cleaner than it's been for a long time. Which is not to say it's, you know, CLEAN or anything. I have a series of pictures to share today.
 Here is my friendly nemesis, the Megaquilter. I have finished quilting all the blocks in the main section of my Farmer's Wife Quilt. This is the first time MQ has been bare of the FWQ since 2013, when I started off with quilting this epic project.
Seriously I don't know why I waited so long. I finished the bulk of the quilting (about 80%) in the last month, just by working half an hour at a time, 3 days a week. Though not perfect, it's some of the prettiest machine quilting I've ever done, with lots of free-form vines and feathers. I had a method for those little sashing strips and just kept at it. Everything else went much faster and I learned not to sweat the minor imperfections.
 But now we come to the part I couldn't figure out. The borders are wavy. Not so much the top border, which I quilted long ago and it stayed rolled up on the take-up bar for 3 years (below). It's okay, I think. But the other three borders are wonky, too wonky to lie flat and be machine quilted. I was going to try it with the bottom border (and take off the quilt and remount it so I could do the side borders in one pass at a time), but that bottom border was going to have so many little unintentional pintucks quilted into it it would have been a disaster.
 See, here's the (slightly compressed) upper border, next to the unquilted side border, which just had too much ease, just like the bottom border. So I took the whole thing off the frame. and I am in the process of unpicking and resewing those long side seams.
 Again, it's not perfect, but rather than struggle with feeding all this bulk and keeping the batting out of the seams on my machine, I decided to hand-stitch those long seams. It's not so bad. I got one long seam done today while watching 2 1/2 episodes of Call the Midwife and blinking away tears. I remember piecing my first ever quilt by hand, and I actually liked that a lot. I can ease in the fabric better as I go this way. And by sitting at the dining room table I can distribute the weight of all that bulk fairly well, and it looks like it will be lying much flatter when I re-load it back onto the MQ. It will need to have the white setting triangles quilted on the long sides, and the big feather border on the three borders that are being re-sewn. I'm okay with the occasional pucker on the white triangles, but I am optimistic that this will fix the problems with the blue borders and make quilting so much easier.
Wow, this shot came out blurry. But stitching by hand wasn't so bad at all. Memories of Ohio Star, my first quilt.
My most recently finished project in knitting is this pair of socks for Steve, from almost all of the "Bog Fritillary" Skinny Bugga yarn I bought at Sock Summit years ago. Fun fact: the last 8 knitting projects I have finished (in almost 2 years) have been socks. I'm glad the socks are popular, with the family, but I want to knit something fun for me now.
So, my solution is 4 skeins of Madeline Tosh Merino Light in "Cardinal" and a pattern for Manu, which I've wanted to knit for a long time, like, ever since it came out. I should really finish up my long-hibernating Mint Chocolate sweater to clear up some room in my knitting bag first. There's only the buttonhole band and some finishing to do. But if I get tired of hand-sewing long quilt borders, tomorrow I might find an excuse to wind yarn and make a swatch. 

I'm linking up to Ginny's yarn-along, where many other knitting projects can be seen. And I should talk about the books I've been reading lately: finished Hillbilly Elegy by J.D. Vance... highly recommended. I've been reading the Penderwicks series of children's books, which are delightful and I keep asking myself why I never discovered these earlier, and then realizing they haven't really been around that long, they just seem like sweet vintage books about wholesome kids. 

Saturday, February 25, 2017

Randomday, after a Brief Desert Interlude

 Last week, last minute, I was able to fly down to Arizona. If you fly out of PDX you are kind of supposed to take a foot selfie on the backdrop of the carpet, so I did.
And this picture of my Dad came out rather nice,
This little bird - a Grackle? - was missing its left leg and kept hopping around the patio at AJ's gourmet grocery store, hoping for food.
She even jumped up on the chair next to me and posed quite nicely. I'm still learning the ropes of photos on my new iphone. Later when I got home, Quarta noticed the bird moving its head when we scrolled through the photos. Apparently this is a thing iphones do. It's like Harry Potter pictures. The fire flickers, hands and heads move.
Beth took this picture... she flew all the way in from Scotland and I didn't get a face shot of her. But after she and Deb and I got pedicures I took this:
Foot selfies, with Aunt Carol animatedly talking to Dad in the background. She was telling the story of Grandpa crawling through the burning appliance store next to the burning  paint store, to retrieve the customer records, sometime in the early 1940's. That sounds very like Grandpa, and it explains a lot about risk-taking behavior in my family when you think about it.
Back home again, it was really rainy for several days in a row. It was so rainy this giant slug sought refuge from the out-of-doors and found its way to the ceiling above the front door. It was moving slow enough that the moving-picture iphone effect didn't kick in. I used a table knife to pry it off the ceiling and it fell onto the front mat, so I carried it outside and dumped it in a puddle. In Arizona they have to deal with scorpions and rattlesnakes, so I guess this isn't so bad... but still. We at least are having some blooming crocuses.

The project this week for me has been working on Russian. I finished the Swedish tree on Duolingo a month or so ago, and finally I decided to tackle the Russian course, with the help of the Memrise course which forces me to get the spelling right and take it much slower. So far I can understand the first few lessons, and it's getting easier to say things like Я ем хлеб, Моя кошка, спокойной ночи.  (I eat bread, my cat, good night). I like how they have so many letters that aren't even in our alphabet. Maybe I will eventually progress to more.

Today I did some shopping erands with Tertia, helped Steve prune the grapevines, and made pizza dough for Quarta, who took it from there. We just watched a lovely animated movie, Song of the Sea, about an Irish boy and his little sister, who is a Selkie.

I need to have a blog post for book reviews. I feel like I've let that slide. Also I need to start a new knitting project because I finished Steve's socks last night.

Saturday, February 11, 2017


Randomday, once again. A 10-minute blog limit. No media analysis to be attempted this time!

Yesterday evening and today we attended a lecture series by Ken Myers of Mars Hill Audio, formerly of NPR, on Christianity and Culture. Or something in that vein. It was a little more philosophical and cerebral than I was completely comfortable with on a weekend, but it was very stimulating. I got about 3 inches of knitting on Steve's socks.

We checked out an Indian restaurant called Maruti, on Hawthorne, yesterday evening. All vegetarian, and really delicious.

Steve and I just watched the first episode of Man in the High Castle. I'm hooked, Steve isn't. It goes like that with tense thrillers in our house sometimes.

Quarta made devil's food cake with fluffy chocolate frosting this last Tuesday, I think, just because there was a chocolate deficiency going on.

We had some of the hardest rain I've ever seen Thursday, I think. It was bucketing down and bouncing off the pavement at least six inches. But this weekend has been nicer.

I'll be making a quick trip to Arizona next week to see family, including Beth who is flying in from Scotland. It was fun arranging this and I hope I can soak in some warm weather to last me until July. Our winter weather in December and January has set the spring back by a few weeks, I think.

Okay, time's up. Going to bed to read.