The Covers

While waiting to be caught up in the next project, I’ve been turning out a few interim FO’s (finished objects) that loosely fit into the category of “covers.”

The main thing they have in common is that they’ve used up larger pieces of fabric that have been lounging in the fabric stash.

These are mostly cotton lightweight lap quilts we sent to the non-profit organization that is closest to our hearts, plenitudpr.org .

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The tops of the quilts are cotton flannel remnants pieced together, and the backs are cotton remnants in sizes of about 2 yards. The solid yellow one above possibly has some polyester in it. But the idea was to have a smooth, bedsheet-like side and a warm, flannel side. The edges of the backs extend over the tops, and are folded over and sewn down with a machine featherstitchto make borders.

img_2460This one is a lap quilt made from the selvedges of fleece fabrics. A few  years back, I was making fleece blankets a lot, and trimming them with packaged Wright’s fleece binding. First, Wright’s discontinued the royal blue fleece binding that went perfectly with Florida Gator trademark pattern fabric. Now, you’ll be lucky if you can find fleece binding on eBay in any color other than black or white. Normal people, I guess, would trash the selvedges, but I threw them in a box, and this is the end result. This little quilt of sewn-together selvedges can also be turned around and used for light non-fiction reading if we get tired of watching TV in the La-Z-boy. Fun for the whole family.

Next, if you’ve seen my Pinterest page, you might find that I’ve gone nuts pinning tablerunners. These little projects are wonderful for expressing creativity, but not getting bogged down in a big, long, quagmire of obligation like you would get making a full-sized tablecloth or a queen-sized quilt. It’s just a little slice of a quilt, the slice with all the good stuff in it!

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As soon as we put a covering of any size on a flat surface, a cat’s bohunkus is right on top of it.

This tablerunner was an experiment, using remnants. The top is 5-inch squares pieced together, and the back is one whole piece, about a yard of 44 or 45-inch wide cloth, cut in half lengthwise and pieced together on the short sides. I longarm quilted it, loading the short sides on the frame and rolling out the length. I used the meander stitch, and although I thought I had the tension right from the previous project, it came out with some of those spidery-looking ugly  stitches on the back. When Lorraine came over and did a little project, we decided that one problem with the tension was the cheap-o thread I had loaded up. Without even thinking, I got a cone of thread that I normally use in the serger and threaded it up, bobbin too. Next time, we will try thread designated for machine quilting.

 

 

 

It was a Mushroomy Monday

Now it’s almost dark at the beginning of the morning walk. For a few days it was cooler. Now it’s hothouse-hot again, and the humidity is above 90% every morning. Sigh.

Mushrooms are flourishing in our neighborhood.

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white dish mushroom

Almost every yard I pass by has a few.

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UFO-looking mushroom

Ooooh…fungus! Even though I like the kind of mushrooms you can buy in the store, I wouldn’t have a clue about how to forage fungi that you can eat without keeling over, poisoned to death (see Death Cap article–says people who ate it found it to be especially delicious!)

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cute as a button

This one looks like some that grew in a ring-shaped formation at my mom’s house. Whenever she saw mushrooms growing in the yard, she would make haste to go kick them down. I didn’t see any fairy rings in the neighborhood as I walked. Apparently only certain varieties grow in the ring formation (see Wikipedia Fairy Ring article.) 

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yellow mushroom
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lacy mushrooms
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puffy blimp of a mushroom
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thick yellow crusty mushroom

One of my memorable scared-half-to-death moments was watching the 1960’s Japanese-dubbed-into-English horror flick “Attack of the Mushroom People.” After a walk in the 97% humidity, scratching No-see-um bites and scuffling through lichen-encrusted twigs that fell onto the lawn, it’s easier to imagine the fate of those poor shipwrecked folks in the movie!

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looks like a human ear mushroom
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mushroom bud

I wanted to go to a gazetteer online and possibly identify these varieties, but after looking, I found so many! Even some of the more seasoned researchers put disclaimers on their sites, because they might misidentify some varieties. So I won’t even attempt to post the correct names of these guys here. I never realized there are hundreds of types of mushrooms. They are beautiful, but also a little creepy, too. Maybe in the future we’ll discover amazing medicinal properties in some of these little gems.

 

Display Cabinet Build #7

The display cabinet is finally (almost) finished! It’s been a long project, slowed down even further because of personal injuries, a hurricane, and multiple design changes during the construction, but we’re so happy with it.

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display

We ordered the glass for the shelves and mirror, and originally planned to pick it up ourselves with the help of our friend Ray and his truck. Then Skip wrenched his ankle, and we decided carrying glass around might not be a good idea, so we rescheduled the delivery and asked for the Glass Company professionals to install it.

Then—wouldn’t you know it—Hurricane Hermine blew in, and the delivery was postponed again.

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Once the mirror was epoxied in, we were able to mount the shelves on the brass rods.

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display glass

We ordered the mirror backing to be 1/8 inch thick, and the glass shelves with a 1/2-inch bevel on the front edges.

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case

We’re going to place felt dots on the undersides of the shelves at the points where they sit on the brass rods. And then Skip will add some molding to the outer perimeter of the mirror.

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displaying quilts

Shown above are some tentative display items. We’re enthused that we can vary the items we decide to display. According to proper fengshui, you shouldn’t place a mirror directly opposite a door, but I’m hoping that the friendly, creative, familial Qi of the objects we’ve chosen to feature  on the shelves will be retained in the home. Currently, nothing is on the lower shelf, because the kittens have been jumping up there and lounging on the shelf with great delight. They are able to reach their little paws up into the next shelf, so we must favor kitten-proof display items there.

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close up of display items

The lower shelf has two quilts my grandmother made, and an antique glass service plaque (see more about the origin of service banners and plaques here). BTW, we saw an awesome video recently  about making a wooden service banner, from Opa’s Workshop (click to watch!). As for the two quilts, the one on the bottom is chronicled here in a prior post. The top one is a Dresden Plate quilt that was probably originally made in the 1950’s or 60’s. I can see places where my mom tried to mend it with fabric that I recognize from my own stash, part of which I inherited from her stash!

The middle shelf has an antique quilt that my great grandmother made (see a prior post on this quilt here) to the left, and a woven pine needle mat that was made by my grandmother, circa 1960.

The upper shelf has several quilt mats hand-sewn by my mother during the last few years of her life, when much of her precise quilting skills and abilities were stolen by Alzheimer’s disease. But it is heart-warming to me, that she enjoyed piecing beautiful fabrics together into practical projects, even up to the end.

Here’s the You-tube composite of the whole process.

 

 

 

Early Morning Walking Before and After Hermine Made Landfall

Didn’t want to let a hurricane keep me from my morning walk, did I?

Yesterday morning as I walked in the neighborhood (Central Florida) it was sort of misty and drizzling–“mizzling” as they call it.

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walking in the pre-Hermine mizzle September 1

We did all the usual hurricane preparedness things: (1) stocking up at the grocery store (other shoppers  were buying gallon plastic jugs of water and batteries, my cart was full of BOGO Klondike bars… #thugmormon) (2) making sure we had plenty of pop-top cans of Fancy Feast, the cats’ preferred food, and Super Clump litter, (3) located the car cell phone charger…

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pre-Hermine morning sun

Usually it’s a false alarm in our area, as we are sufficiently inland. But the power went off at two-something AM, and it’s still off at almost noon Friday. Rain bands are still swirling across the state. Right now it’s sunny; two minutes ago rain was pelting our roof like a barrage of bullets.

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tree debris this morning, September 2

We drove around town charging our cell phones and checking to see which McDonalds’ were open, and saw lots of tree fallout and a fallen tree blocking a side road.

The mirror and glass shelving were supposed to be delivered today to finish the display cabinet, so we don’t know if the glass company will chance it.

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display cabinet waiting for its final accoutrements

Hoping everyone is safe and weathering the storm as it makes its way north and east.

 

Is it Time to Start Knitting Yet?

It’s been a long time since I posted anything about knitting…

Temperatures in the 90’s and 100’s, egregious humidity, dog days of summer…are a few reasons why knitting isn’t on my mind lately.

However, that doesn’t mean I haven’t been knitting!

I’ve tried a few projects, but they just didn’t work out for me. So I decided I’d work on a hat, at my leisure. I have a feeling it’s going to fit a very big-headed person, since I didn’t consult any pattern but cast just a whole bunch of stitches on to a circular needle. Tired of starting patterns, goofing up, and not knowing where or how I went wrong. There’s pretty much no good TV on at night, so we’ve been binge-watching Netflix shows.

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Sheenah and big-head hat

I came across a Netflix show that offers the best of both worlds for me: Slow TV National Knitting Night. It’s national for Norway, that is.  Wonder how that would pan out with an American TV producer:  hours and hours of knitting on TV?  Apparently, when the knitting episode originally aired in 2013, it was a very popular program in Norway. See more here from the Craftsy blog.

I started watching it, and every time I got ready to get up and do something else, a new, interesting scene came up. [I haven’t finished it yet. For some reason, Skip didn’t find it as compelling as I did! Maybe the same reason I don’t thrill to watching hours of woodworking shows and listening to the soundtrack of a saw blade.] The TV stars of knitting  got a project going (knitting a sweater for a tricked-out Harley), a contest going (beating the record for making a sweater from scratch; that is, from the sheep’s hide to the finished article), and all sorts of sidebar activities featuring historic knitting patterns, viewing the gorgeous seascapes the country offers, meeting enthusiastic knitters, touring a knitting museum. All with beautiful music and English subtitles. It’s a great show!

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Pony boy lounging on the quilt I’m trying to sew a border onto

 

Meanwhile..

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More inspiration for the onset of knitting season

What’s on your needles lately?

 

 

 

Family History in a Quilt, c. 1980’s

When we had lots of family members descend for the Beach Weekend, we were dragging out bed linens from the closet to accommodate folks sleeping on the beds, couches and floors. I found this quilt my grandmother had made. Part of the crazy-quilt patches had come unsewn, so after everyone left, I took it to the sewing machine to mend and repair it as best I could.

I’d forgotten that my grandmother wrote on the back of it. She had a whole set of these little tubes of “embroidery paint”  similar to this modern-day product (click the link to see).  For a time period, she was very prolific with the embroidery paint, making pillow cases, sheets, all sorts of things. She had been in the habit of stamping a design or motif onto a piece of fabric, then embroidering (or drawing with the tube paint) over the stamped designs.

This is what she put on the back of this quilt:

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For John, made by Gran in 1985

Here, on the backing (which looks like it probably was an old sheet, so thin here it is almost transparent) you can see the underside of some heirloom quilt stitching, all hand-sewn. In the next photo, you can see the top side of the feather-stitching, probably done in a few strands of contrasting-color embroidery floss.

The quilt top itself is remarkable too.

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double-knit patch quilt

It’s made of patches of double-knit fabric, which was an innovative fabric type for those of my grandmother’s era (she was born in 1906). See this article at Seamwork about the differences between the double knit fabrics available then vs. now.  John said, “I remember it [the quilt] was really scratchy, the sort of polyester material that leisure suits were made from.”  Hence, the soft cotton sheeting on the back of the quilt, which side would go next to the tender skin of a little 4 or 5 year-old great-grandchild.

I’d like to say that I matched the embroidery thread and repaired the blanket in the style and manner of the original–but for me to do that would involve quite a learning curve. I picked a decorative stitch on the sewing machine and put the pedal to the metal. For any curious posterity, it will show obvious mending by machine.

Meanwhile, how enlightening to have this information!

Creativity on Island Time

The Family Beach Weekend of 2016 has come and gone; the flurry of activity in planning, purchasing, and preparing has now evaporated into the vivid orange, pink and purple Gulf of Mexico sunsets…but we have great memories of our creative pursuits.

Photography: it’s not hard to get a beautiful shot in this place! Everything is incredibly photogenic.

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Captiva sunset

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Creative posturing at the pool     (photo by Gabriel M)

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Tiny hermit crab
Sewing/quilting/knitting: We always try to scout out creative hubs when we travel around, and we happened upon a great little shop on Sanibel Island called Three Crafty Ladies. This unassuming little storefront opened into a treasure trove of art yarns (at very affordable prices!), a wide selection of fabric and notions, specialty patterns, artisan beads and jewelry-making supplies, paints, charcoal, pastels, brushes, lots of art supplies, shells, and all arranged in a very organized and gorgeous display. I picked some things for future projects.

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some fab fat quarters from Three Crafty Ladies

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San Clemente bag pattern designed by Stephanie Prescott of A Quilter’s Dream copyright 2008

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“Late Night Traffic Jam” Row by Row Experience from Three Crafty Ladies
This little kit is a cute reminder of sea turtle nesting at the beaches this time of year.  A Row by Row Experience is something like a Shop Hop, where you can visit quilting shops in a circuit and get each shop’s kit, then assemble all of the kits into a quilt made up of each row. Or you can just make a wall hanging or table-top quilt from the single kit.

Three Crafty Ladies has many cute little designer kits, featuring beach and Florida wildlife motifs, all fabulous!

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signature fabric plate from Three Crafty Ladies
This little cotton sateen fabric plate, also from Row by Row Experience, can be incorporated into a quilting project or sewn onto the back of it.

Art: Creativity abounds in these beach towns (Sanibel, Captiva, Fort Myers). Everywhere we looked, we saw paintings, sculptures, all sorts of arts and crafts. The ceiling fan paddles were painted with tropical fish, and murals and wall art decorated the whole interior at Rosies’ Cafe. Every restroom had a whimsical seaside theme. Displays of shells and wildlife showed up in lobbies and hallways.

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painting of Blue Heaven in our hotel living room
Creative Cuisine: Even the humblest of eating places had great, creative food selections!

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Shrimp and grits from Doc Ford’s Rum Bar and Grill at Captiva
We had our family dinner at the Doc Ford’s in Sanibel. Both had gourmet offerings, and the one at Captiva even had a book signing event going on, with the prolific author (and restaurant owner) who created the character Doc Ford, Randy Wayne White.

Improv: was a surprising highlight of the weekend — surprising because they pulled together a show on the last night without any planning prior to the trip! All the kids and grown-ups enjoyed this fun and hilarious stand-up show with plenty of audience input.

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Improv Show
Family members who came from far and wide have gone back to their homes.  Some are already starting the fall school semester or will start next week, while others have the whole month of August left of summer. We had a great, creative family beach weekend!

Oops, Mama Look! A Quilting Boo-boo

by jeny

After a noticeable interval of time since the quilt frame and Qnique quilting machine were set up, I decided to quit ruminating about whether I was ready to quilt a real quilt (as opposed to practice swatches) and I just loaded one up.

Probably I should have kept working on practice swatches a while longer…

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sigh–right down the fairway

The top looked pretty decent, but when I took it off the frame, there was a big long pleat across the back. If the big pucker was near one of the edges, no problem to rip away and redo. But since this is in the middle, I’d have to rip and redo fully half of the whole quilt.

Oh, I found several other bloopers and blunders in the quilt top too. This quilt top has been lying around in plain sight, to the point where I was just a bit sick of looking at it. The pattern is Irish Chain, which I dearly love, especially in shades of green and white. I can see myself doing rather many more of these in the future. But this one? It’s going to UFO land for now. I can’t give it to anyone in the shape it’s in.

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Oops

Part of the problem here was the way I rolled it onto the take-up rail (see photo below),

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take-up rail, in mode of being rolled from top, under

Because of the direction in which the quilt was rolled onto the take-up rail after it was quilted, the rolled quilt became so large in diameter that the ruler base–a flat, hard plastic panel that is attached to the bobbin case under the throat plate of the machine with magnets, bumped into the big roll and got shifted off its magnetic perch. Then the needle went down onto the hard plastic, which had shifted onto the top of the throat plate, and got stuck in the plastic, breaking off a chunk. And I couldn’t get the needle unstuck without trying lots of different tools and strategies, but of course, finally I did.

Now, if I turn the take-up roll the other way, the surface to be quilted will remain flat, but rolled over like I did it, an angle is created from the top of the rail to the ruler base on the throat plate. In this angle, the stitching got distorted.

The frame has a fourth rail, upon which a roll of batting can be installed; then you can just roll it upwards, pin it to the take-up rail leader, and then cut it off when you get to the last section of the quilt. I am not sure how the big pucker got there. Possibly because I used a roll of batting that was wrapped double on the roll. As the batting unrolled, one side was pinned to the left edge of the quilt, and the double wrap was unfolded and the other side was pinned to the right edge of the quilt. And since the batting was actually way wider than the quilt top, unintentional ripples got rolled up. Unless you climb under the frame and look up, you cannot easily see the underside, which was the territory of the big pucker all the way through the center. Next time, I think I will try to cut the backing and batting to more closely match the dimensions of the quilt top before installing the 3 layers on the frame.

Meanwhile, see that window back there? I was getting extremely hot quilting back in that room, even with the ceiling fan and AC on. In our locality, the summer glaring heat and heavy humidity usually abate somewhere around October. If I keep practicing, maybe by then, longarm quilting will become easier and I’ll be happier with the results!

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quilt top turned out mostly ok

Even though I looked at tutorials and pictures of many stitch patterns, I went with the tried and true simple meandering, stippling type stitching. Practicing on swatches is good to do, but I learned lots of lessons by practicing on a real quilt top that I don’t think I would have had drilled into my psyche as deep, with a throw-away swatch!

Display Cabinet Update #5

by Skip

Another display cabinet build update!  I’ll be so glad when this thing is done!

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major design changes

From our last update, there have been some major design changes. First, I decided to add lights to the underside of the cabinet top. I used a combination of LED light strips and LED puck lamps. Using a remote control, the LED light strip can be turned on and off, dimmed and can change colors. The pucks are controlled by a switch but I plan to add a remote control to these.

I then installed glass keepers on the inside perimeter of the cabinet upper rails and cut and installed a plastic lens from a fluorescent light fixture.

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lighting in the top of the cabinet

Second, I added foam weatherstripping to the top edge of the cabinet so when I added the top and fastened it down, it provided a light tight joint.  Third, I decided to add additional brass trim on the top rails and add corbels at each corner of the top. Fourth, I decided against adding glass to the cabinet sides. As I mentioned before, the design of this cabinet evolved during construction, bad idea usually.  Looking at the support rods for the glass shelves, it was going to be just too tight to try to install the glass panels with keepers in the existing 5/8 inch space.  Using 1/8 inch thick glass over the vertical span with no muttons was risky, in my mind. This change was also reinforced by the fact that I have many (emphasis on many) young rambunctious grandchildren.  Not sure the glass would survive a visit. So I punted and decided to go mission style and add vertical slats to each side of the cabinet, pinning them top and bottom with brass pegs. Maybe too much brass!?!

The cabinet has been moved to its new home where I will add the slats over the next few weeks. I’m going to wait to add the glass shelves and mirror after the grandchildren visit next week.

Using current technology to create 19th Century crafts