Friday, May 31, 2013

Lavender Blue, Dilly Dilly

 I've made a lot of lavender sachets lately.  It started with realizing that the lavender outside is getting to the point where I could harvest it, and I still had more than a gallon of dried lavender from previous years.  And so I took the blue, pink and green scraps that seemed appropriate from Grandma and made some quickie sachets.
 Grandma also had some little elephant rectangles in her scrap bags, so I used them.
 I had a few vintage scraps of my own to use.  Just a few!  You don't need a tutorial for these, but here's the basic procedure: cut squares about 3", stich with a 1/4" seam around all 4 corners but leaving an opening of 1" or so; turn right-side out and use a wooden iron or other tool to poke the corners out; spoon dried lavender flowers into the bag, and topstitch the opening closed with a neutral thread, backtacking to secure.  It's very soothing to make something repetitive like this that requires next to no thought.
And my old alphabet skirt got cut up and I now have just about every letter of the alphabet.  These were a little smaller than 3" and so were a little harder to stuff.  And I need help with the letters in the bottom row... I, J, S, T?
Last night I took the girls to see the play, "Dear Edwina, Jr." that Tertia was almost in, but then after she started bowling she couldn't be in.  It was cute.  "If you need advice in Paw Paw, Michigan..."  Then we came home and watched the semifinals of the Spelling Bee.  It doesn't get much more Americana than that.  I really hate how they changed the rules this year though, especially when there were a handful of kids who made it through all the rounds of the semifinals but were eliminated based on scores on the written test.  And they did this on national television.  Now, I'm not a big proponent of the self-esteem trumps all philosophy, and I understand it's a competition and you have to realize that only one person can win, but I have taught middle school for 13 years.  And it's just cruel to do that to middle schoolers.

Speaking of things that are cruel to do to middle schoolers... mine are taking their 4-5 page Latin final exams today.  I will be grading for the next eon or so and blogging will have to happen when it happens.  Enjoy the virtual scent of lavender in the meantime.

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

WIP Wednesday and Yarn-Along

 The composition book covers are finished!  I used this tutorial by Stitched in Color, and I was inspired by the fact that the graduates I will be giving them to come from Cedar Tree Classical Christian School, for which I made this quilt a few months back:
That quilt sold at our auction, but unfortunately not for as much as I had hoped. (Overall the auction raised quite a bit of money so I'm trying to focus on the positive side).  Still, I'm never tired of making scrappy trees.  The trees on the covers of these notebooks were also inspired by Bonnie K. Hunter's free mug rug tutorial.  Although I didn't really do much more than look at her design and eyeball what size and shape I wanted for the trees.  I've gotten a lot more confident at eyeballing and guesstimating when I make scrappy quilts lately.
 The notebook covers are pretty from the back too, I think.  We have one boy and 3 girl graduates, and the other notebooks were requested by Daniel and Quarta.  I just remember having to keep a journal and turn it in weekly for a couple of my college classes.  They probably do everything by computer now, but I kept thinking how nice it would be to just be able to pick your own unique notebook out of the pile.  Or good for a sketchbook or diary, or whatever.  I enjoyed these little projects and would make more of them.
 I'm somewhere between 1/4 and 1/3 way through the quilting of Orca Bay.  Squiggles, loops, and stars in black thread.
And speaking of Bonnie K. Hunter, I was ecstatic to receive the book I ordered from her in the mail yesterday: String Fling: Scrappy, Happy and Loving It!  I own one of her other books; this one focuses on string piecing elements combined with traditional quilt block design for a complete festival of scrappiness.  Orca Bay is one of the featured patterns- of course, I made mine as part of a mystery quilt-along before the book was published.  I am having a lot of fun with quilting rather than knitting at the moment, and even with all the scraps I am using up I still have a lot more.  I have made a small amount of progress on Steve's socks though -- about halfway through the gusset increases.  Poor socks, I just can't get up a head of steam on them.  I really hope I finish them soon, but those twisted stitches are a bit of a drag.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Political Tuesdays: Thugs vs. Lugs

I believe it was Peggy Noonan who introduced me to the idea of "Suits vs. Boots" in politics.  The idea is that politicians tend to be either "Suits" - rich city slickers with powerful connections, never completely to be trusted - or "Boots" - average guys who know how to work with their hands and enjoy an instant connection with the segment of the population that identifies as "from the country" or "working class."  The agrarian segment of the population is, apparently, no longer the majority in America, but it's still a powerful voting bloc.  And country people still innately distrust city slickers.

On this Political Tuesday, I'd like to explore, not "Suits vs. Boots", but "Thugs vs. Lugs."  I've thought for some time that most politicians break down to one or the other.  We all know what Thugs look like in politics: abusing the power of the IRS to harass and intimidate political enemies; abusing the power of the FBI to muzzle the freedom of the press; bribing a permanent underclass with payoffs of all kinds in return for political favors at election time; adroitly manipulating the people to come round to the opinion that all one's opponents are either hopelessly deluded or criminally malicious without ever letting the majority of them suspect the manipulation; and suppressing any criticism of one's actions or, if that fails, discrediting the network that publishes it.  That's what Chicago-style Thug politics looks like in America in recent weeks; third-world thuggery is much worse, of course.  Take a look at the brutal suppression of women pregnant with their second child in China, for example, or just about any headline from Africa or the Middle East.  A basic historical literacy tells us that Thugs have always been a force in politics; governments with checks and balances that limit their influence are a relatively recent invention.

So how can "Lugs" provide a positive counterbalance to "Thugs"?  Lugs are just ordinary guys.  They are my idea of Everyman, kind of like Sam Gamgee... and they're up against Saruman.  They may not be all that bright, and they usually don't come with a political machine attached, and wouldn't necessarily know how to use it if they did.  At heart, they just want to do their job, then go home and mind their own business and work in their garden.  Show a little toughness, and they get accused of cruelty to Sméagol.  Take an unpopular stand, and there's no one to suppress the mockery in the media.  Perhaps most frightening of all, it's easy for a Lug to turn into a Thug.  Stay in Washington too long, accept too many political favors, and you might be the one running the political machine before you know it.  I've heard many people say things like, "All politicians lie.  They're all crooked.  You just have to pick the one that's least crooked."  I have only ever heard this from Democrats when their guy has been caught in a lie, but there's an undercurrent of truth in it... politics is a business that tries to corrupt people.  Politics wants Thugs and uses its corrupting influence to create them.

But without Lugs, there is literally no one to stop the Thugs.  And no, not all politicians lie.  And it's not okay to lie, and it's not okay to abuse power, and it's not okay to suppress dissent.  Not in America.  Not anywhere, really, but especially not in America.

Every time I sit down to write a Political Tuesday post, I have self-doubts.  What if this is too hard-hitting for my mild-mannered audience of mostly fiber artists and quilters?  What if it's too partisan?  I suppose it's also quite possible that no one will be interested in it anyway.  But you know, that's the kind of thinking that lets Thugs run away with things.  In my own way, I need to fight for the rights of the little people vs. the Thugs.  I'll go back to the quilting news tomorrow.  This is still America, and we still have the right to free speech.  But I suspect it will only last if enough of us use it.

Monday, May 27, 2013

Design Wall and Stash Report

Still playing with scraps, this is what's new on the design wall.  I am making these:
using the tutorial for composition book covers here.  As you can probably guess by the tree theme, these are going to be graduation gifts.  And Daniel and Quarta have requested one too.  I have every intention of putting the scraps away and working on a color-coordinated project ... soon.  Just not yet.  This is about all the attention span for patchwork I can muster.
I'm still feeling "do-less" as my grandmother used to say.  There is plenty of stuff I should be doing: grading the quizzes I have to return tomorrow, cooking, shopping - but it's not happening.  Not much quilting done on Orca Bay.  I did unravel 2 sweaters for their yarn content and am adding them to my stash totals.
 Unfortunately it's raining so this first batch (Abercrombie and Fitch worsted gray tweed, 1200 yds) is not getting dry.  Another good reason for not wanting to go out and do anything.
 And the second batch (Norm Thompson, Aran gray tweed with colored flecks, 800 yds) is still soaking because there's no place to hang it.  It's a good thing we don't have a barbecue planned.

Stash Report:

Fabric used this week: About 2 yards for the notebook covers and sachets
Fabric used year to date: 39 yards
Added this week: 0 yards
Added year to date: 17 yards
Net used for 2013: 22 yards

Knitting yarn:
Yarn used this week: 0 yards
Yarn used year to date: 6000 yards.
Yarn added this week: 2000 yards reclaimed wool from thriftstore sweaters
Yarn added year to date: 3300 yards
Net used for 2013: 2700 yards

I was moved by a photo a Facebook friend posted today: her grandmother standing next to the Okinawa inscription at the WWII memorial in Washington, D.C.  Widowed at age 22 with 2 babies to bring up alone, this elderly lady stood, fierce, proud, and independent, the way Americans have to be when their loved ones paid the ultimate price for our freedom.  We have a rare thing going on in America; I hope we can be aware and appreciative of what it costs before it's too late.

Saturday, May 25, 2013


I've caught the thing that's been going around at school.  I don't have the fever, but there's this extreme lethargy and fatigue thing.  Tertia had it too, with some cold symptoms.  She stayed home yesterday.  I just wished I could, but I had to give pretest quizzes.  And I brought them home to grade over the long weekend.  I've been going to bed relatively early and this morning, I woke up at 8:30 and was still tired enough to want to take two naps during the day.  I can't remember the last time I slept in until 8:30.

"Thanks are justly due for boons unbought." -- Ovid.  This is the most challenging quote I have yet encountered while playing cryptograms.

Here are some other quotes I've liked well enough to copy down:

"There is not a more unhappy being than a superannuated idol. " -- Joseph Addison

"The task of the modern educator is not to cut down jungles, but to irrigate deserts." -- C.S. Lewis

And it really is a desert out there.  I think that is a good way to introduce some Latin bloopers, brought to you by 6th grade.  If various 6th graders are to be believed,
  • Virgil, not Vesuvius, destroyed Pompeii
  • during the reign of Antoninus Pius, Rome was at its greatest expense
  • Marcus Aurelius - the fall of Rome started at the end of his rein
  • Hadrian - he was educated by the Geeks
  • they will warn? - monebut
  • "The enemys' part is in the hill."
  • "On account of heaven Gaulls soldier's are in war."
  • or is it "soilders"?
  • Tiberius was the greatest orator in Rome.
Like it or not, it appears there is still a lot of work for me to do.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013


I'm not great at multitasking, especially this time of year.  I spaced out twice yesterday about "Mom" things -- I didn't make sure the kids were wearing their dress uniform for the assembly, but by gum, I did the calligraphy for the Math Olympiad certificates that were presented at the assembly!  And then in the afternoon I came home exhausted, napped a tiny bit, and then was entering grades diligently in the computer files when the phone rang to remind me that Tertia was waiting for me to pick her up for her orthodontist appointment.  We were 40 minutes late, but the grades are now done.  Anybody want to take over cooking dinner for the next two weeks?

I have no stunning progress to report on either the knitting or the quilting fronts, but I seem to be gravitating toward little mindless projects that use up scraps.  And I haven't finished reading any books lately, but I get a page here or a page there.  It's just that time of year.
 I started another rug out of scrap cotton yarn from recycled sweaters, like my previous one but a little smaller.  I'm reading The Story of English in 100 Words by David Crystal.  It's fascinating, with lots of little tidbits about "jail" vs. "gaol" and "shirt" vs. "skirt."
 Sunday Morning Quilts is inspiring, although I was just expecting another "modern" quilt book -- I want to reread all their tips for scrap organization, and I want to make most of those quilts.  What I am doing instead is sewing little lavender sachets with the gallon bag full of lavender from last year's crops and a bunch of Grandma's scraps.  Plus my old alphabet skirt -- people who knew me 20 years ago might remember that old favorite that I haven't been able to fit into since Daniel was born... now all cut up for sachets. It smells nice in my sewing corner!
 The Felted Box of Godric Gryffindor is now almost full of 3.5" string blocks, just as the design wall is slowly filling with 5.5" string blocks.
 Sock knitting on the brown Farmer McGregor socks is turning into a slog, so I started another pair that will be just plain knitting, out of some Tofootsies that Joyce gave me.  And I'm finally reading Suetonius.  About time, right?
A really cool book I found at the library, in the Geek-Out category: The Hobbit Chronicles II.  Everything you might ever want to know about how they have improved Hobbit feet, the proportion of Dwarf heads to bodies and prosthetic hands and head appliances, as well as snippets from the casting directors and actors.  Those are two different gray tweed sweaters behind it that I plan to deconstruct for their yarn soon.

I didn't blog yesterday because I was so tired and was planning to go to be early, but then a group of kids from church who play Frisbee regularly at the park down the street (and our kids bailed yesterday because it was raining) had an accident; one of the older boys broke his leg while they played soccer, and the rest of the crowd including the younger siblings turned up at our house as a waiting room until the ambulance left and other arrangements could be made for their ride home.  So they drank hot cocoa and played I Doubt It around the table.  I threw a sweater and slippers on over my jammies and carried on.  So poor Stephen's surgery is scheduled for this afternoon apparently, I found out at school this morning.  We'll be praying for him.

Monday, May 20, 2013

Monday designs and stash report

What I'm working on:
I enjoy string piecing, but it can't be an end in itself much longer.  I need to come up with a plan for my next planned scrappy quilt, or maybe I need to switch gears and make a very planned quilt from a pre-selected range of fabrics.  I haven't decided yet... right now I'm in a kind of holding pattern, just trying to get in enough creativity to stay sane during the stressful final weeks of the school year.
I did load Orca Bay onto the Megaquilter last weekend.  It will be quilted with black thread in my usual quick quilting pattern, squiggle-loop-star.
Grandma had me lay out and pin her "plus" quilt top.  She ties most of her quilts after they are pinned to a pre-quilted backing.
Here's another one I pinned yesterday.  These should keep her busy for a week or two!  I really like the scrappiness of both these patterns.  Take a look at some of the other designs at Design Wall Monday.

Stash Report:

Fabric used this week: About 5.5 yards for backing for Orca Bay
Fabric used year to date: 37 yards
Added this week: 0 yards
Added year to date: 17 yards
Net used for 2013: 20 yards

Knitting yarn:
Yarn used this week: 100 yards for a dishcloth!  woo hoo!
Yarn used year to date: 6000 yards.
Yarn added this week: 0 yards
Yarn added year to date: 1300 yards
Net used for 2013: 4700 yards

Saturday, May 18, 2013


Steve took the girls to the Hazel Dell Parade of Bands this morning... I took a year off.  I hear the Little League pitchers were pitching the candy a little too hard at the bystanders, and at least one injury requiring urgent care resulted.

Secundus ran a 5k this morning, and reportedly celebrated by jumping in a lake.  That and the lollipop injury have me reminiscing about all his various trips to the ER.  There was the attempt to pick kiwis off the vine by climbing the fence and hanging, monkey-style, over the pavement while picking.  That was about 2 weeks before his 3rd birthday and required a 911 call but not an ambulance trip, and the ER had to call in a plastic surgeon for the repair, and he lost his front baby teeth early.  That was our introduction to the traumatic injury ER trip.  The rest were relatively easy by comparison.  He followed it up with the injury from jumping/falling off a piece of furniture (I think it was a dresser) onto a Lego piece that imprinted on his scalp.  Then the time he fell off his chair during family devotions.  Then the time he was attempting to play Spiderman on the swingset and created his most interesting laceration, the one that the doctor used to train the intern on.  That was right before Quarta's delivery by C-section, and I remember using one of our 2 spare surgical staple removers to take out the staples myself while sitting in my hospital bed.  (I have no medical training, but by this time I was pretty close to confident that I could put the sutures in myself if they just gave me a pack of supplies to keep at home, and I can certainly take out surgical staples).  There was another one that Steve took care of while I was shopping one Memorial Day, and there was the foot injury when he was deconstructing some old drywall and boards and stepped on a board with a nail instead of around it.  I feel like there should be some others listed, but I've forgotten.  Here he is looking angelic as Pooh in the 2nd grade play.  This was right in the middle of those traumatic injury years.  Now, it's nice to see him considering a career in the medical field... possibly by way of giving back for all those challenges he posed the ER personnel.
The Orca Bay quilt is now mounted on the Megaquilter.  I'm planning a fast and easy, fairly mindless quilting pattern for it.  It has so many pieces it should really have simple quilting.  I keep coming around to Saturdays and thinking I'd like to go shopping, but then when I actually come around to it, I have so many projects and stash that I can't bring myself to add to them until I clear some things out.  Plus, I'm usually dead-bone-exhausted-tired on Saturdays after a full week of teaching.  So I guess I should be thankful I am not adding to my stash of fabric and yarn.  But I really wish I could learn Molly Weasley's trick of making the needles knit by themselves while I do other things.  And it would be nice to have a quilting or yarn shop nearby, too.  When you have to drive 30 minutes to get there, it's easier to resist the temptation.

Daniel is home and we are enjoying having his presence once again.  He is very appreciative of home cooking, but really enjoyed his freshman year.  He found a great time-waster game for Steve, whose fantasy has always been for someone to drop him in the middle of nowhere and see how long it took to figure out where he was.  Well, they made a game just for him, and it's fun for other people too, even if we don't come as close.  It's called GeoGuessr and I warn you, it's good for several lost hours.

A few weeks ago I was blog-browsing when a virus of some kind replaced the desired blog with a notification that my computer was under threat and I would need to clean my system by taking some sort of action, which was doubtless a bad idea.  I was suspicious enough about it that I wouldn't have clicked on the link they provided --hovering over it there was something about beer in the link -- but then I noticed the misspelling on the "Microsoft" alert - can you see it in the screen capture?  Potential threats that migth compromise your privacy?  My autocorrect even tries to catch that.  Nice try, virus people, but get a proofreader.

Friday, May 17, 2013

Blogger's Quilt Festival - Jack's Chain
For my 4th time I'm sharing a quilt in the Blogger's Quilt Festival hosted by Amy's Creative Side.  This time I decided to share Jack's Chain.  Many of you have already seen my tutorial on how to piece the top - it's the single most popular post on this blog.  I did, finally, get around to quilting that top, just before Christmas, and gave the quilt as a gift to my daughter Tertia.
So here it is in its natural habitat, complete with Disney princess poster and dirty glasses and homemade teddy bear nightgown.  I think she likes it.  Plus, she's always happy to pose for a picture.
These are the newest pictures -- since I've blogged about Jack's Chain so much there were lots of pictures at earlier stages.  Here are a few:

Jack's Chain was a UFO for a long time, until I resurrected it and finished it last year.  The quilt is 67x94", with scalloped edges.  I backed it with a vintage sheet and used another vintage sheet to make the bias binding (probably a mistake, the high thread count made it difficult to push the needle through, but I managed.)  I like the picture above which shows the detail of the feathered snowflake quilting I did on the center hexagons. It's hard to see in all the other pictures.
I go into detail in the tutorial, but I think Jack's Chain is a pattern that is visually fascinating and charming in an old-fashioned way.  It is well within the reach of an intermediate quilter and one, like me, who is too impatient to do English paper piecing but still wants to do hexagons.  You do have to be somewhat stubborn to finish it -- after all, there are a LOT of little 9-patches and Y-seams.  But I'd love to see more quilters bring back this pattern from the golden age of quilting.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

WIP Wednesday and Yarn-Along

 Progress on the brown socks is infinitesimally slow.  I did make the first increase row for the gussets.  But I should really have Steve put them on to make sure I guessed right.  Sigh...  I needed to make a therapeutic washcloth this week to overcome the sock ennui.

It's that time of the year in my 8th grade Latin class - we are reading Julius Caesar's de Bello Gallico, excerpts.  We just finished the part about the invasion of Britain; interestingly enough, although Henle Latin says it is book 7, it is actually contained in book 4.  My poor students are a bit overwhelmed by what they call Caesar's run-on sentences.  I don't quite have the heart to tell them that Caesar is considered one of the ancient writers with a clear, easily-understandable prose style.  We'll have just enough time left to peek into some of the bits about Vercingetorix, but I'm also quite behind in reading them the stories of the Trojan War, Ulysses, and the Aeneid from Myths of Greece and Rome.  Today I talked about the marks of an epic, and we read the account of Thetis' marriage to Peleus and Eris, the uninvited guest at the wedding.  There seems to be a Disney Princess/ fairytale reference in just about every mythology lesson I cover.
 Like rabbits, my string blocks are multiplying.  I want to keep making them until my strings can all fit into one container.  I hope my String Fling book comes soon.

And here is Orca Bay.  I got it out from the shelf, along with its intended backing fabric, to motivate myself to get it onto the frame to be quilted.

Linking up to the yarn-along and to WIP Wednesday.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Political Tuesdays: Pick a Scandal, Any Scandal

It's tough being a news junkie on a day like this, forced to sit in teacher inservice and not indulge in the schadenfreude that I freely admit would be my preference today.  I wasn't always a mild-mannered Latin teacher with a craft blog, you know.  I started out as a junior employee at the National Right to Life Committee in Washington D.C.  I guess you could say I was a "community organizer."  Steve's job moved us away after I had been there only 3 years, but I have remained a news junkie and political wonk ever since.  I've stayed in touch with my pro-life friends, and when Tertia was born, and had Down syndrome, I felt that at least part of God's purpose in giving her to us was so that I could raise awareness about these dear people, aborted at a rate somewhere around 90%.

For my new followers: I indulge my inner wonk some Tuesdays (and there is no way I could sit this Tuesday out).  If you have political persuasions strongly different from mine, the usual disclaimer is that you might want to skip today's entry and come back when it's just about knitting or quilting.  But I hope you won't be scared off.  My starting premise is that there is more that holds us together as Americans than most people give us credit for; and even though I am free with my historical allusions to the fall of the Roman Empire, I don't believe the barbarians have won just yet.

My long-time readers should brace themselves.  I'm about to post a complimentary reference to Ron Paul.  (Although I will say that I think the casting using the Mad Hatter was brilliant.)  Here is Obama as The Lord High Executioner, with "I've got a little list."

I was looking for a straight-up rendition of the song from the Mikado, but I couldn't find one single version that hadn't been altered with contemporary references... it seems to be a theatrical tradition. So why not use the one that is the closest to what Obama himself has actually done?  A tip of the hat to the Ron Paulites.  Wow, I can't believe I just said that.  I should probably clarify that I am much more hawkish on foreign policy than the mad doctor, and that I think the sparkly Liberace suit on the Obama doll is just plain tacky - Obama looks much better in a suit, give him his due.

So where to begin?  Here's the list of scandals to pick from:
  • The IRS targets conservative groups for audits and harassment; Obama's enemies list? Now, I'm well aware of the intricacies of political action, the need to keep a 501-C3 organization separate from a PAC, and transparency in reporting, etc., etc... but this is way too much coincidence.
  • In the hearings about the Benghazi attacks, it becomes ever clearer that Obama's administration doctored the truth to make himself look good before the election, and most probably failed to defend American diplomats in harm's way. No surprise to hear criticism from conservative columnists George Will and Peggy Noonan, but now even Maureen Dowd has joined the crowd: "unworthy of the greatest power on earth."  Well, I guess she better prepare for the IRS audit.
  • The Justice Department has been covertly spying on the Associated Press.  I'm having a very hard time understanding why anyone, no matter how incompetent, thought this was a good idea.
  • I think the Russians are sensing weakness.  Maybe this is what Obama meant by showing more flexibility towards Vladimir Putin after his reelection.
  • Abortionist Kermit Gosnell was convicted of 3 counts of 1st degree murder for severing the spinal cords of babies who survived his late-term abortion process.  They become "babies" and not "fetuses" once they leave the mother's body, apparently. NARAL blames the pro-life movement, saying Gosnell was a back-alley abortionist and committed "atrocities", while ignoring the fact that for decades he operated as a member in good standing of the abortion providers' club.  Gosnell provided cheap, unsanitary abortions to poor and immigrant women; presumably the proper way to provide abortions is to make sure they are performed in a more exclusive, boutique-like setting?  I will probably have more to say on the subject of boutique vs. back-alley abortions in a future Tuesday post.  Gosnell is responsible for his own crimes; but it is worth noting that President Obama voted multiple times against Illinois legislation to offer protection to babies who survived abortions like some of Gosnell's victims.  And it is also worth noting that some babies who survived abortions are adults now.
It will be an interesting week.  Enough to make the President cry.

Monday, May 13, 2013

Design Wall Monday and Stash Report

Grandma had some quilt tops to be pinned to their prequilted backing yesterday.  This one was made with batiks.
This one, about lap-sized, reminds me of the monsters in "Where the Wild Things Are," or maybe a really wild video game.  She said it wasn't much fun to piece.  There are several more tops waiting to be pinned underneath her bed.  And she keeps bringing over her bags of scraps for me.  Here's what I've been doing with them:
With the scraps and strings I've been accumulating and sorting, I have been piecing string blocks.  I'm trying some with "low volume" fabrics... that's what's on the design wall right now.
And some with more saturated colors.  These are 5.5" blocks, pieced onto paper from old phone books.
And there are several 3.5" minis.  I have no idea what I'm going to use them for yet, but they're fun and therapeutic to piece.

Stash Report:

Fabric used this week: About 2 yards gifted in the Sew Mama Sew Giveaway
Fabric used year to date: 31.5 yards
Added this week: 0 yards
Added year to date: 17 yards
Net used for 2013: 14.5 yards

Knitting yarn:
Yarn used this week: 0 yards
Yarn used year to date: 5900 yards.
Yarn added this week: 0 yards
Yarn added year to date: 1300 yards
Net used for 2013: 4600 yards

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Randomday - Post-giveaway, Pre-Auction

Well, a big congratulations to Needle and Nest, who won my giveaway hosted by Sew Mama Sew this week.  Looking around her blog, I'm glad she won -- this is someone who knows how to appreciate scraps!  Whenever I had time this week I cut 2.5" squares and strips; some were from recent donations by my mother-in-law, and some were from my own healthy collection of scraps and vintage fabric. I saved some for my own future quilts and am happy to pass along these, along with a 1997 issue of Quiltmaker magazine and a little lavender sachet.

I had a blast reading all the comments submitted in response to my request for memories of Latin.  They ranged all over - some people wished they had taken it, some loved it and shared fond memories of their eccentric Latin teachers (what's up with all Latin teachers being eccentric anyway?  Oh well, guilty as charged), some struggled when they had it but were glad afterwards, some have only faint memories of childhood Mass in Latin, several had it but couldn't remember anything.  Commenter 101 said:
I can sing 'Oh where, Oh where has my little dog gone' in Latin. You know, for emergencies.
Commenter 128:

Oh, boy, this is the giveaway for me. I took Latin for all 4 years of high school. My Latin 4 class consisted of only me! Unfortunately, I have forgotten much of what I learned, but I remember the Latin "insults", like Tacete caudex, caprimulgus & rurus. I also committed to memory the Latin dialogue from Braveheart, "Homo endomitus est et sepidicet mendacio. Ego nunquam pronunciare mendacio, sed ego sum homo endomitus." Vini, Vidi, Vici. Alia iacta est. Oh, I could go on and on. Thanks for the giveaway!  
Commenter 137:

I was JUST thinking about Latin this morning, I kid you not. I took 3 years of Latin in highschool, belonged to the Latin club (sigh) and I still use my knowledge to figure out words I don't know the meaning of right away. Oddly enough, random congegations go through my mind also...maybe I shouldn't have admitted that :) thank you! 
And commenter 139, just to keep me humble (apparently many of my students agree with this):

Ohh Latin yeah what a wonderful way to torture children ... sorry I guess the expereince isn't far enough in the past that I have forgotten all the studying and turned it into an idealistic "no better place then highschool" experience ...  
Commenter 151:

I like the way you roll, Kathy - are we related? My best memories of HS were Latin. Learning carols in Latin and singing them in the school halls. A young card of a classmate who first told me [from the seat behind me in class] that my eyes were like limpid pools of toilet water... which of course is what any brown-eyed girl wants to hear, but he was being silly not rude. We had a lot of fun in that class, and I learned more about Enlish in there than I ever did in English class. I went on to take two more semesters of Latin in college, for fun. It wasn't nearly as much fun though - everybody was too serious. And it's not easy to find classic authors who specialized in wit and humor.  
That's why we teach it in middle school!  And we try to have fun with it.  Some weeks are better than others, but that's true of most things.

Anyway, I now have a mostly cleaned up workspace and am working on piecing string blocks with my overflowing string barrel.  There's lots more spring cleaning and organizing of the stash that could be done but I'm calling it quits for now.

I ordered Bonnie K. Hunter's String Fling as a Mother's Day treat for myself.  Steve took me to Yard-n-Garden Land as a Mother's day treat for himself, a bit more than me.  I'm letting him plant and dig in the dirt, which is what he seems to like best.  I am being lazy today and not doing much other than blogging and sewing.  I really should be grading 6th and 7th grade papers, and doing my extra Latin lessons.

And in a few hours Steve and I plan to attend Cedar Tree's Belt Buckle Ball, the school's annual fundraising auction.  My signature quilt will be in the live auction -- which automatically means we can't afford it, so that's good for the school.

I close with this little bit of random wisdom, translated into Latin:

In Mordorem non simpliciter iter facit.

Friday, May 10, 2013

State of the Cake and other family updates

Wow, this week really got away from me.  I've enjoyed participating in the Sew Mama Sew giveaway day (see previous entry for my offering) but work has been kind of stinky.  I'm glad I can live vicariously through my children and Steve will cook dinner for me on Sunday!  And tomorrow I will draw for a winner in my giveaway.
Quarta's 5th grade class did state reports yesterday.  In the spirit of Cupcake Wars and last year's Boston Tea Party project, she recreated the state of Arizona in a funfetti cake (the colorful chips in the batter are the jewels underground) with marshmallows, mini M&Ms, sourpatch kids and colored sugar.  I'm pretty impressed with the neatness of the flag and the 3-dimensional cactus and orange tree.  She did all of the mixing and decorating with no help from me.  I wasn't able to see her oral report though.  Quarta is also busily practicing for the handbell choir, which will play at graduation.

Tertia's school choir participated in a district-wide choral concert last night.  It was exciting and fun to hear, and several complete strangers congratulated her.  (For my new followers, Tertia is my 13-year-old daughter who has Down syndrome).  She has a great choir director, Mrs. Hebner, and has come a long way.  I wonder whether she'll be able to participate in choir at the High School level, but we'll see.  At the moment I am more worried about whether she'll be able to get out of bed early enough to make it to High School on time, but that's awhile down the road.  And on a somber note, I am so absolutely shocked by the news coming out of Cleveland, not far from where I grew up.  One of those poor girls was Tertia's age and kidnapped while on her way home from her 7th grade special ed class.  Just horrifying.

Secundus is singing with the choir at the Cedar Tree auction tomorrow evening.  But choir isn't really his thing -- he's looking forward to training for his first marathon this summer.  Neither Steve nor I know where he gets it from, but he's an amazing athlete.

And Daniel, all grown up and finishing his final exams for his Freshman year at Grove City, enjoyed a highlight when he participated in the All-Campus-Sing with the AEX housing group, and they won for the 7th year in a row.  We are really looking forward to seeing him in person next week! Here's the video - he's always the blondest in every group.

Monday, May 6, 2013

Sew Mama Sew Giveaway Day!

It's a great time of year to be a craft blogger -- the Sew Mama Sew giveaway day has rolled around again!  It's more like a whole week of giveaways because it's so popular.  Welcome to those of you visiting and I hope you'll look around a bit.  I'm Kathy, I teach Latin at a Classical Christian School, I have 4 kids including a daughter with Down syndrome, and I knit and quilt obsessively whenever I get a chance.  I blog about all of these things and more, but probably mostly about quilting.  I especially love scrappy quilts with a lot of different fabrics.  I've been giving my stash and scraps a bit of Spring Cleaning lately and here's what I have to offer for a giveaway:
5 Vintage sheet fat quarters, and a stack of 2 1/2" squares for your scrappy quilting pleasure!  I keep cutting more scraps, so there are already more squares than pictured here and will probably be twice as many before I quit.  I will throw in an assortment of 2 1/2" strips and an older quilting magazine too, but they aren't selected yet... I still have more cutting to do.  The Spring Cleaning continues!

To win them, leave me a comment below and I will select a winner randomly after the giveaway closes Friday at 5:00 PST.  If you have a memory of Latin, I'd love to hear about it; otherwise you can share what kind of project you want to make next.  Please make sure you are not a no-reply blogger or else include your email in the text of your message, so I can contact you if you win!

Be sure to check out more giveaways at Sew Mama Sew!  And have fun!
Congratulations to commenter #75, Needle and Nest, who wrote: My next project will be a quilt for my son's bed. Thanks for the chance to win!
Contact me with your address so I can get your package off to you.