Friday, September 30, 2011

Believe it... or not

You know it's time to clean and change the cats' water when you find a little green frog in it. Primigenitus has "pets" chore this week, but Tertia had it last week (and doesn't usually go downstairs) so there's no telling how long this little guy was in the basement taunting the kitties.  We gave him his freedom outside in the bushes.
We hosted Bible study tonight.  Isaac M. showed up with this massive potato he grew.
I'm always amazed at how many people crowd into the kitchen during Bible study...
...and how such a relatively small number of kids can fill a house with so much noise and energy.  Many of them see each other several times a week anyway, but there's something about the post-Bible study time that brings their energy up several notches.  Maybe it's the sugar.
I made a pot of Red Rose tea... it came with a little ceramic collectible Uncle Sam figurine for July.  But consider the irony... Red Rose is a Canadian brand.  Uncle Sam is obviously a beloved American figure; but he was made in England.  There's something a bit wrong about that, I think.  Uncle Sam looks vaguely leprechaun-like to me.  Make him green and he'd work for March.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

"The Revolt of Mother" -- a tribute to farmers' wives of the past

While reading blogs and not quilting today, I came across the link to this charming story from a bygone time, by Mary E. Wilkins.  I loved it!  Go ahead, spend a few minutes reading it.

I found the link on Starwood Quilter's blog... she's doing the Farmer's Wife quilt along and sharing entries from her grandmother's diary as a young woman.  Even if you're not making the Farmer's Wife blocks from Laurie A. Hird's addicting book, you'll probably enjoy reading along for the slice of life in rural America in 1916.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

WIP Wednesday #13: You Can't Win 'em All

Not all WIP Wednesday posts can be like last week's.  About all the sewing I did in the past seven days (other than helping Primigenitus sew on a button) was on these four blocks for block #5 of the Happy Quilting STARS quilt-along.  I'm not going to meet the deadline on that one, but it will get done.

The school year has started in earnest, and I'm remembering why I call myself Carpe Lanam... when these exhausting days are finally over, I just want to crawl into a comfortable seat, grab some wool, and start knitting.  The hyper-frenetic creative activity of quilting just does not nourish the stressed soul the way knitting does.  If I wasn't teaching every day, I'd probably be quilting every day AND have a much cleaner house.  As it is, I'm knitting about every other day, quilting a tiny bit, and the house is better left unnoticed.  I did finish some socks this week, and immediately cast on another pair.
Someday maybe I will be retired and have as much time to work on quilts as my mother-in-law, who brought this quilt top over for me to pin.  Cute, isn't it?  It's not mine.  Sigh.

Link-up party going on over at Freshly Pieced.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Grapes and socks

These are seedless grapes from our own vines.  They are fabulous.  We have a few yellow-green ones too; equally fabulous.
I finished the Stashbuster Spirals for Secundus and he seems to approve.  I was able to do a Sherman Heel for them, but it was too easy to lose count of the stitches so one of the heels is slightly askew.  Oops, I see I missed trimming an end.  I've cast on a pair of these for Tertia now, in girly colors.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Buddy Walk

I took my favorite sixth grader to the Buddy Walk in Portland today.  This is the first time we've ever made it -- it's always on her birthday weekend.  But it seemed like a good time, since every other member of the family had other plans, and this is her last weekend to be 11.  How could you not love the t-shirts and balloon hats?

Her 5th grade teacher was there.
And a bunch of Star Wars people.
She got to show off her uncanny prowess at hula-hooping.  She made friends with the entire cheerleading squad from Central Catholic, jumped in an air-compressor inflatable play structure, and ate a hot dog.  It was a good day.  I had tears in my eyes a lot.  Happy tears.  I got to be her buddy and held her hand the whole time.

On the way home she said, "We are lucky."  Well, some of you know why I couldn't let that go, so I said, "God is good to us, isn't He?"  And she said "Yes!"  And the next thing I heard from the back seat was, "Thank you, God!"

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Schlepping Day

Some people do their shopping weekly.  Mine is more like schlepping, that wonderful Yiddish description of what my life is like.  If I'm not schlepping $304 and slightly more than my body weight worth of food home from Costco, I'm schlepping kids and just slightly less than their body weight in books and sporting equipment to cross-country practice.  I have avoided having a complicated car pool routine thus far in life, but my days are numbered now.  I may even have to learn how to text.  And I swore I would never do that.

So let's make some salsa.  I improved my salsa recipe last week (above).  I put the hot peppers (stems removed, seeds left in) and onions (quartered) and a half a bunch of cilantro in the blender and pureed it - because chopping hot peppers and onions is no fun, and because I like the heat and flavor distributed fairly evenly.  Then I chopped the tomatoes by hand, because chopping tomatoes IS fun, and added them until the bowl was full.  And I stirred in about 3/4 t. of salt, and we schlepped it right up so there's none left and I have to make more.  Because no matter how much time and energy you spend schlepping -- it's never enough!

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

WIP Wednesday #12: Progress! Real Progress!

No linkup party, but I do have a finished object to show this week.  At least, it's finished for me!  This is my MIL's Japanese Lanterns quilt which I've been working on quilting on the Megaquilter, finished and ready to be bound.  It's a QUEEN sized quilt.  I worked on it several hours on Saturday and finally got it done.  I'm pleased with my work on it overall, but at the time I was working it was frustrating because I simply COULD NOT stay on the marked lines.
A closeup of the squiggles I quilted (in variegated colored thread, no less) on those massive white blocks.
Here's a process shot: I used water-soluble marking pen and a homemade template (inspired by the store-bought one) to mark the corner designs, I eyeballed the little squiggles in the bands of the lanterns, and I quilted through the designs marked on tracing paper for the center medallions.  Removing the tracing paper afterwards was a little harder than removing the marking pen, but I saved a bunch of time in the marking process, which I hate.  It will be a long time before I do any quilting that requires special marking again.
This is Grandma's next quilt, loaded onto the frame now.  It needs to be done for a charity event this fall... fortunately, it's only lap-sized and the quilting should be simple.
I'm (almost) finished with block 4 of the Happy Quilting STARS quilt-along.  I have blocks 5 and 6 still to go, four of each block, and then assembling the finished top.  I seriously begin to doubt I will have the top finished by the 29th of September which is the deadline for the drawing for free fabric, but I hardly need more fabric.  But you never know... nothing inspires me like a deadline.
Farmer's Wife Quilt block #43: Garden Path.  I played with the purple and green color combination, which I like but would probably never make an entire quilt of.  This is primarily a 6x6 grid, so all the squares and triangles are based off of a 1" or 2" finished size - except the strips, which were cut 1 1/4" wide and unfortunately, I had to miter those corners with the Y-seams.
Block #44: Gentleman's Fancy.  I happened to be piecing this one on Sept. 19, which as you no doubt know is International Talk Like a Pirate Day.  And what could be more to a gentleman's fancy than piracy?  So I used scraps from previous boxer shorts projects to piece it, and I hope it blends in with all the sweet and nostalgic blocks I've made when the quilt is all done.
Block #45: Grape Basket. Back to the sweet and nostalgic with scraps from my grandmother's vintage apron.  Based on a 5x5 grid, the basic finished measurement is 1 1/4" (scant).

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Book Review - Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets

Okay, so if you took my advice last week and read the first book of the Harry Potter series, you are now breathlessly eager to press on and read the next book.  In fact, like some young people of my acquaintance, you may have shown up on the doorstep of a Potter-friendly family less than 24 hours after borrowing the first book to request the second.  (We will only lend it to you if it's okay with your parents, and if we aren't reading it ourselves.) These books really are that good.  J.K. Rowling has virtually singlehandedly created a generation of readers.

The second book does not disappoint.  Again we have the memorable characters, fleshed out a little beyond mere archetypes now, undergoing typical pre-teen angst in ways that are just different enough from reality that we can safely laugh at them, but that also advance the incredibly complex story arc of the seven book series.  The trio of Harry, Ron, and Hermione are central, of course.  The Dursleys who oppressed Harry in the first book are even more oppressive, and his school nemesis, Draco Malfoy, has a father who makes him seem congenial by comparison.  Professors Dumbledore, McGonagall, and Snape are joined by the new Defense Against the Dark Arts professor, Gilderoy Lockhart, an image-obsessed celebrity with a talent for self-promotion... and not much else.  We meet Dobby, the excessively self-deprecating house-elf, and are treated to a visit to the enchanting Weasley residence by means of a flying Ford Anglia.

Harry must deal with the distrust and fear of his own fellow students in this book, as an ancient evil lurks the passages of Hogwarts, and Harry is suspected of collusion with the forces of darkness.  Students, ghosts, and pet cats are being Petrified, and ultimately only Harry's courage and determination can solve the riddle and confront the source of the evil.

Themes: This book begins to flesh out the theme of class warfare in the wizarding world which will be important to the rest of the series.  Many of the aristocratic class of "pureblood" wizards have deep dislike for "muggles" (ordinary non-magic humans) and anyone who has very much to do with them.  In America we would probably see this as a jab against racism, but I wonder if Rowling didn't have the evils of Nazism or British colonialism in mind.  There are also general themes of loyalty, friendship, and the need for discernment in where one's trust is placed. 

Cautions: some dark themes, but not really more so than the first book.  However, some of the plot points may be more troubling for young children: the risk of death, a malevolent monster, unjust suspicion of Harry and Hagrid, and possibly creepiest of all, an innocent student being controlled by a sinister magical artifact.  Also, as in all these books, obedience to authority is never unquestioning.  Harry and his friends break school rules when they feel it is necessary, and they are frequently portrayed as right to do so.  Our kids have read this book starting at age 8 with no ill effects.  But, if they read this one, they will clamor to read the third book -- which is darker and might be more appropriate for ages 10 and up; and the fourth, which is much darker and should probably be delayed still more.  The best advice I can give is to read it before or with your child, and be prepared to discuss issues that come up in your own family.  And enjoy it for what it is, a modern fairy tale with a great sense of fun.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Quilts of the Past: Delectable Mountain Star

Since it's a busy Monday and I don't have time to create a blog post ex nihilo, I'll treat you to an instalment of Quilts of the Past.

This is a quilt I finished in 2008: Delectable Mountain Star.  It was part of the 4-quilt series I made from my late mother's clothing, one quilt for each of us kids.  This is the quilt that made me not love half-square triangles anymore.  The background was a bunch of old cotton sheeting that was in her scrap bag.  The colored fabrics were all sorts: old aprons, shirts, jumpers; some 100% cotton and others not.  Some were heavier weight than others.
I quilted feathered wreaths in the large white spaces.  This was before I had my Megaquilter, and actually, my old machine did feathers okay.  But I haven't done much with feathers ever since.

The quilt is queen-sized and lives with my brother Andy in Virginia.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Turn of the Seasons

I think a squirrel used our front step the other day to eat his picnic lunch while watching traffic go by.  All the walnut peelings in a neat pile.  Around this time every year, our yard becomes like the I-5 corridor for squirrels, as they fetch walnuts from our neighbors' tree across the street and bring them back to their nests in our trees.  Every once in a while they'll taunt the cats.
Blackberry season didn't really start this year until September, because of our late, cold summer.  When I was picking these I noticed one cane that was still in blossom, with only a few tiny green berries and one bee who had crawled into a blossom to die.  Our week of hot weather has changed and we are back to cool for the last few days.
There are only a very few of the precious golden raspberries, but they are wonderful.  Right now, Primigenitus is peeling our apples and making homemade applesauce while watching Morgan Freeman in Invictus.  Pizza is in the oven for dinner: I'm finally finished with Grandma's Lanterns quilt after working on it most of the day.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Book Review: Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone

Source: None via Katherine on Pinterest
It's been a long time since I did a book review, so I'll get back to it with one you've probably heard of.  Chances are good that the vast majority of my blog readers have already read and enjoyed Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone, by J.K. Rowling.  But, as I noticed when I first began teaching at a Christian school years ago, the Harry Potter series is one of the deep lines of division among modern Christians.  I would never endorse children reading something against the wishes of their parents, and if that is your situation, kids, I encourage you to cheerfully honor your parents in this.  But this post is designed to convince you, parents, that you should read this book and consider sharing its richness with your children.  Christianity Today recently published an article on the Harry Potter phenomenon and its enduring literary merit which you might find helpful.  No doubt about it, Harry has shaped our culture, and mostly for the better.  The common objections are still there, but have died down somewhat now that the series has been brought to a conclusion that remains faithful to classic ideals of what is True, Good, and Beautiful.

In this first book of the seven, Rowling creates a character who is almost a stock feature of children's literature: the neglected orphan, despised by his remaining relations, who nonetheless has a special destiny.  In fact, she almost overdoes it, exaggerating Harry's hardships (bullied by his cousin, forced to sleep in a cupboard under the stairs) for fantastic and comic effect.  A large part of Rowling's genius is in her ability to take recognizable literary archetypes and tweak them so that they are fresh and funny.  This is basically a school story, and we have the stock characters: the overindulged child, the aristocratic bully, the teachers' pet, the klutz, the class clowns (they're twins), and the adults who are coincidentally absent when the kids are in the midst of danger, so as to make the story more exciting and immediate.  The only difference is the setting, which just happens to be a school of magic.

Let me assure you, on my honor as a Latin teacher, that none of the "spells" in any of the Harry Potter books are capable of doing anything real, whether harmful or beneficial, other than perhaps making Latin a little more interesting.  Every once in a while I'll be able to tell exactly who in my classes has read the books, just based on their reactions to a single vocabulary word in the list.  Most of the spells are dog Latin rather than the real thing, but with enough similarity to start those kids who are so inclined down the path to classicism.  This would be a good point to mention Harrius Potter et Philosophi Lapis, the elegant Latin translation, which played a significant role in helping me improve my own Latin knowledge.

Themes of this book: friendship, loyalty, perseverance, kindness to the downtrodden, and a willingness to assume responsibility even in difficult matters.  Also love that endures beyond death, particularly the self-sacrificial love of a parent.  Good vs. evil, which is a theme of all fantasy to some extent, is of course present as well.  There are some characters who are completely evil, but they are not always the ones we expect.  Many characters are, just as in real life, deeply flawed but capable of rising to the occasion to do the decent thing.  While this is not a book that specifically inculcates a Christian worldview, there are redemptive themes in,with, and under it, and I recommend it for that reason.  And because it is a rip-roaring fun read that will inspire young people, especially boys, to pick up a book more frequently.  And because I'm convinced I'm a distant relation of Hermione Granger's, and

Cautions: Much has been made of the "occult" themes of witches and wizards.  If you would object to the Oz books because of the good witches, Casper the friendly ghost, or the Haunted Mansion ride at Disneyland, this is probably not the book for you... but the real occult is much darker and more insidious; this is implied in Rowling's books, despite what her detractors may say -- truly evil characters are truly horrible, and the good characters are repulsed by them.  I also felt that Harry is a very postmodern hero with regard to his attitudes toward authority: for example, the orphan Oliver Twist naively blundered into trouble just for asking, "Please, sir, may I have some more?"  But Harry dishes out wisecracks and insults as good as he gets from his oppressors, and frequently breaks school rules when he believes it's necessary for the greater good.  This is why I believe parents and children should read the book at the same time, or parents first, and discuss it.  Also, since this is the first of seven books, and since Harry gets older and the forces of darkness get darker with each book, many parents who had no objections to the first 2 or 3 books of the series will want to wait until their kids are teens before allowing them to read books 4 and beyond.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

WIP Wednesday #11: a friendly Farmer

I seriously cannot stop piecing these blocks.  They're like my daily sudoku now.
Farmer's Wife Quilt block #39: Friendship.  I chose fabrics from my late mother's clothing (and hey - a pink ribbon for breast cancer awareness too!) and from her daughters' and grand-daughters' quilts to represent friendship across the generations in our family.  Piecing was fairly simple: I made HSTs cut 3 7/8", then on the pink triangle I attached a 2" square as a "fast 45" - I marked a diagonal line across the square (actually I eyeballed it, but you're supposed to mark!) and stitched along the line, flipped and pressed back, and trimmed the extra off the back.
Block #40: Friendship block.  The sunflower fabric is from one of those circles of fabric cut with pinking shears to decorate the top of a canning jar with a make-a-mix kind of gift we received from friends.  The rest of the fabrics are from the scrap bin.  I had to do math on this one - good old Pythagoras told me that the hypotenuse of a triangle where the sides were each  3" long would be 4 1/4" long (or awfully close).  So I calculated 3/4" for each of the pale green strips (cut 1 1/4"), and the center square was cut 3 1/4" (for a 2 3/4" finished size).  The HSTs are cut 2 3/8", and the corner squares are 2" - base measurement for both of them is 1.5"
Block # 41: Friendship Star.  Easy peasy 9-patch.  Didn't even break a sweat.
Block #42: Fruit Basket.  The only tricky thing about this block is that it's based on a 5x5 grid, so you have to remember that 1/5 of 6" = 1 1/4" (scant), and that 2/5 of 6" = 2 3/8".  Then the magic quilter's numbers: for a square, add 1/2"; for a HST, add 7/8"; for a QST, add 1 1/4".   There's another basket block coming up soon that is almost identical.

I don't teach math, but I do like de-mystifying the process of language learning for my students, and the math that you need to make quilts is a little bit like a language, I think. I really like the mental challenge of figuring out these blocks.  And this week, with school starting, I have had SO much nervous energy that these little 6" squares have kept me sane.  I did manage to get my entire year's worth of lesson plans turned in, but that's small comfort when I think of how many loose ends there are this year.  The first week of school is very much a WIP right now!  I've also done a bit of knitting on those stashbuster socks, but precious little else.

Check out what others are doing over at Freshly Pieced.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

What I did on my summer vacation

Well, school is back in session and I have to account for how I spent the past summer.   Here's the obligatory essay.
  • Our old car broke down and we bought a new one.
  • I memorized the countries of the world, even Tuvalu and Kyrgyzstan.  And I can spell them.
  • I participated in the Tour de Fleece and went to Sock Summit.
  • We went on the Great American Road Trip, culminating in Disneyland.
  • I joined two quilt-alongs, the Farmer's Wife and the STARS, and have been obsessed about them, particularly the Farmer's Wife.
  • I read (or listened to) a bunch of books and reviewed them.  I need to get back to the book reviews; I haven't done one in awhile.
  • There was a lot more: a family reunion, Family Camp, cleaning, shopping, blueberry picking, house painting, a little bit of gardening.
It was a good summer and I'm more than a little anxious about adapting to the new fall schedule, but I'm pretty sure it will be a good fall, too.
Farmer's Wife Quilt block #37 -- Flower Pot.
I created this block with a decidedly awkward combination of paper-piecing and tem-plate-free rotary cutting.  The hardest bit was the Y-seam on the yellow triangles in between the flower points.
Block #38 -- Four Winds
This block was entirely based off of 1" finished size squares and HSTs, so it was easy to figure out how to piece it but a little challenging because there are so many small pieces.  I did all the HSTs without cutting the diagonal first, whether using a grid or just a pair of squares, so that helped.  It took a bit of trial and error to get all the stripes pointing in the same direction.

Monday, September 12, 2011

First day of school

Cedar Tree students returned to school today, and there are a lot of them.  Classroom usage is maxed out and teachers are multitasking. My classroom is no longer my own, but is being shared with 12th grade (homeroom and storage) and 7th grade (math and Bible as well as Latin).  As if to emphasize this, Primigenitus knocked down the Verb Land bulletin board before I got to school today for my 2nd period class.  Maybe it was because he never had the Flat Stanley unit back in 1st grade and wanted to experience it.  So a lot of my classroom decor is going to need fixing, fast.  Verb Land is essential for 7th and 8th grades. (And yes, "Verb Land is Fallen" triggered my choice of musical accompaniment for this post.  I'm sure many Latin students share similarly apocalyptic feelings about the start of school and especially about the downfall of verbs -- it really gives a new meaning to "deponent verbs," doesn't it?  Or even supines, which we don't cover in my class).

The biggest change from last year is that I will be teaching 6th grade in the 6th grade classroom, not in my designated Latin classroom, which is no longer quite so designated as it was.  That means I have to be an itinerant again, but there's no help for it.  Eighteen students will not fit into the classroom formerly designated for Latin.  So once I have all those names matched up with faces (imagine a class full of kids with names like Adam, Alan, Alex, Alice, Amos, Andy and Andrea -- although these are not their names -- and you about have it) I will only need to get used to a totally different set-up and a much higher student load, and commuting to class in the rain once the rain starts.

And the different schedule.  The schedule may well be the hill I die on.  I can't even wrap my mind around it today, so I'll save it for another time when I've had a few more runs to practice.  School is great, I love it, but wow.  Summer was over too fast.

If you happened on this blog and have a few thousand or million dollars to spare, please consider the Cedar Tree building project as a worthy cause.  We need those phases 3-5 sooner rather than later, in my opinion.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Shameless Stash Enhancement

Today I fell off the wagon big time.  I hadn't been buying new quilt fabric, remember?  I was using my scrap-rich stash exclusively and working on cleaning and organizing my sewing area.  But that was before the Connecting Threads warehouse sale.  You have NO IDEA what quilter's heaven it was, with boxes stuffed to overflowing with discontinued fabrics or mill ends and just waiting to be rummaged through by hordes of fabric-crazed quilters.  I was consciously looking for red, but my default setting seems to be to grab blue and green.  Lots of large pieces that can be used for quilt backs if nothing else, and lots of fun prints and colors I like.  That there is 11.1 pounds of fabric, $2.96 per pound.  I'll be using it up for a while.
Knit Picks was having their sale at the same time, except the yarn is $12.00 per pound.  I distinctly remember reading somewhere on the internet that sock yarn doesn't count against your efforts to not increase your yarn stash, and all but the red laceweight is sock yarn.  Most of it in manly colors, too. I know I can use this... sometime in the next decade.  Sigh.  I'm going to need to be careful.  Since starting this blog I have become a little more aware of the things I put in my stash, and they aren't all getting used up at the rate they are getting added.  There is a potential for trouble here.
I haven't even been forthright about all the stash enhancement.  There was an estate sale in our neighborhood a few weeks ago, and these vintage buttons were not the only thing I brought home.  Some vintage alpaca sportweight and some worsted wool found their way back with me, because they were "such a good price."  Maybe if I'd seen the moth damage first I'd have thought twice before being so aquisitive.  Truth is, I don't really think about the specific plans for everything I bring home.  Like the one skein of Tosh Merino Light I picked up at Happy Knits after picking up school uniforms at Dennis -- as a "treat" for coping with Portland traffic. I do make sure it's not an unreasonable amount of money I'm spending.  I am, after all, still Scottish.  But that practical streak doesn't seem to extend to keeping the stash to a reasonable limit.  Not SABLE (Stash Aquisition Beyond Life Expectancy) quite yet, but it could happen.
Of course, buying pretty things that make you happy is a well-known antidote to the severe depression brought on by the imminent start of school on Monday.  And then the vicious cycle of not having time to knit or sew because of teaching and grading will take its toll, and then I'll be tempted to buy more stuff to cheer myself up, and so on.

Friday, September 9, 2011

The Dog-Poo Days of Summer

Now that September is here and kids are going back to school, it has been hot.  For the first time we've had several days in a row of high 80's and low 90's, which for here, qualifies as really hot.  Just in time for not feeling like going back to school.  But we have to anyway.
Tertia on her first day of 6th grade, with our "Chapman Yellow" house with "Courtyard" trim in the background.  All ready by 8:35 when the bus was supposed to come... but it didn't.  Not at 8:45 either, when I called and they said they were running late the first day of school.  Not at 8:55 when I called again and they said they were running at least half an hour late (Vancouver School District special services, someone else can call and pester them about it because they aren't answering my calls anymore).  That's when I loaded Tertia and "Little Joe" who's catching the bus at our house too into my van and drove them to school.  They were late the first day but it will be okay.  There are lots of people there to help them and encourage their peers to be kind to them.  I'm not anxious at all about how Tertia will do in her new middle school.  Not at all.

The second day of school, Little Joe came to our house about 8:15, kissed his mom goodbye, and we took him into the family room to watch channel 10, which he likes to do while waiting for the bus. Then I noticed what I assumed was cat puke on the carpet and went to clean it up (a fairly frequent occurrence in our house).  But no, sadly it was the titular dog-poo, left near our front walk by an inconsiderate neighbor and unwittingly stepped in by Little Joe.  So there were little malodorous dots of the canine substance from the front door to the back room, and of course a big glob on poor Little Joe's foot, too, all of which needed to be hastily cleaned up before the bus arrived, at 8:45 this time.

Quarta is bored because school has not started for her yet.  Patience dear!  Monday is D-Day for us Cedar Tree folk.  The teachers have been furiously lesson-planning and room-preparing in the heat, and yesterday evening was the school picnic.  Primigenitus is off on the Upper School beach trip today, and Secundus is even now running in his first cross-country meet.  I wrote my students' names in my grade book today, my copies have been made, and my room is as ready as I can make it.  Come Monday, we'll all test out the new Fall schedule.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

WIP Wednesday #10: Getting serious with the Farmer

I avoided a LOT of lesson-planning this week by cranking out 6 Farmer's Wife quilt blocks.  This is block #31 - Evening Star.
#32 - Farmer's Daughter.  This is another one of those based on a 5x5 grid. Take 6" finished block size and divide by 5 and you get a base unit of 1 1/4" (scant), so depending on whether you want a square or a HST you add either 1/2" or 7/8". 
#33 - Farmer's Puzzle.  This is another one where I think I came up with a simpler way to piece it, but I had to draw it out on graph paper first.  Fabric choice on this one reminds me of an aerial view of a farmer's fields with woodlots in between.  So for cutting, I cut 8 green rectangles, 1 3/4"x3".  The brown triangles actually start as 16 squares cut 1 3/4".  Then I used the fast-45 technique to join the squares to each end of the rectangle - you just have to make sure half the rectangles are oriented in one direction and half in another.  Then the center cross pieces are 2 rectangles 3"x1 1/2", and one long one cut 6 1/2" x 1 1/2".
#34 - Flock.  As bird-themed blocks go, this was relatively easy.
#35 - Flower Basket.  I just think the polka dots with the gingham background makes this one of the cutest blocks ever.  I did a machine applique for the handle, so it really did not take long at all.
#36 - Flower Garden Path.  The piecing was tricky for this one but it worked out okay.  I'm not sure about the fabrics, even though I needed more red.  It will probably even out when all the blocks are together. Most of the pieces were based on either a 1" or 2" finished measurement: the chevrons were from strips cut 1 1/4" (scant) wide.

Progress was made on machine quilting my mother-in-law's Japanese Lanterns, but I have no photo for that.
In knitting, I started another pair of Stashbuster Spirals, this time for Secundus.  This is what's seeing me through inservice.  I really like this pattern, and I really like using up those odd little balls of leftover yarn that have been sitting around for years.

I'll be linking this post up to Freshly Pieced for the weekly party, so check out what others have been up to.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011


Steve and I celebrated our 19th anniversary yesterday.  Going to a gazebo wedding for a knitting friend was a great way to celebrate.  So is sharing these quilts from my mother-in-law, whose 50th anniversary is coming up soon.  The whole back-to-school thing? Not so much.
Fun colors on this one.  She said it took her a really long time... I wonder why?!  Those are some tiny little pieces.
I'm really hoping that I can be as productive someday.  But for now, I'm descending into the world of teacher training and getting used to the Fall schedule.