Wednesday, July 26, 2017

{Books and Yarn} Texture

I must've gone through my entire Ralvelry queue trying to find the perfect pattern to use with this yarn...and in the end I'm making those same lace rib socks I've made twice so far this year. But instead of doing two purl stitches between the rows of lace, I'm doing a purl-knit-purl. It's just different enough to keep me entertained, and I love the way it looks.

The Marriage Pact by Michelle Richmond.

Alice and Jake don't intend to join The Pact, it just sort of happens. After he says that he loves weddings, Alice invites a new client to her own upcoming celebration. Soon after that, a wooden box containing a smaller locked box is delivered to their house.  Once they return from their honeymoon, a Pact member comes and explains the significance of the gift to Jake and Alice. It's an invitation to join an elite group dedicated to strengthening the marriages of their members. What could be wrong with that? Plenty.

I absolutely loved this fast-paced thriller. It is dumb of Jake and Alice to sign on the dotted line in the first place, especially since Alice is a lawyer and doesn't take the time to read the entire contract, but real people sign up for predatory time shares and multi-level marketing companies all the time, so I was able to understand how they slipped into the group's clutches. As far as fictional married couples go, these two seem to really care about each other. They're three-dimensional characters who actually communicate with each other. Alice's background as a lawyer and Jake's background as a marriage counselor give them plenty of insight into what's right and what's very, very wrong with the group they've fallen in with. The entire book is told from Jake's point of view, so there's no bouncing back and forth between multiple characters. We know what he knows, and what Alice tells him and, except for a brief teaser at the beginning, things happen in order.

Anything But Simple by Lucinda J Miller

I picked up this one because I was curious. I enjoy the glimpses that memoirs give me into lives different from my own and I always worry that I'm breaking some unknown rule when we're shopping at the local grocery stores owned by Mennonites. Maybe, I thought, this book would help me figure out some of those rules. I came away from reading it with the thought that maybe I've been worrying about nothing. The author's life was interesting to read about and not nearly as different from my own as I would have imagined. She's open about her thought and feelings, but I never felt like she was sharing too many intimate details.

Tangible Spirits by Becki Willis

The dead stay dead. Gera Stapleton is convinced of that fact and not at all pleased to be sent to report on a murder in the ghost filled town of Jerome, Arizona. Everyone but her seems convinced that Mac, the most well known of the local spooks, is the killer.  (They also blame him for problems with the local wifi.) There's a strong romantic element to the plot that reminds me of the Harlequins I used to read and I've never been so concerned about a heroine's driving ability. Tangible Spirits combines an intriguing murder mystery with some really fascinating local legends. I'm not sure I correctly separated the real ones from the author's creations, but I definitely enjoyed having a different view of Jerome than we get when walking through the gift shops on our annual trip down to Sedona.  

Disclosure -- I was provided with advance review copies by the publishers. All opinions are my own. This post is linked to  iknead2knit, and  Frontier Dreams  

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

I'd Forgotten Why I Gave up on Cross Stitch Kits

I used to shy away from cross stitch kits. Given the choice, I'd always buy a pattern and floss. 

Over all the years of not stitching, I'd forgotten about that. Now that I've splurged on so many kits from that estate sale, I remember why I felt that way.  

Unlike the brand new kits I've added to my stash over the past couple of years, this one came with a bundle of unidentified floss. I'm not good at telling the difference between light lime green, dark lime green, and light green. Or light blue, royal blue, light slate blue, and dark slate blue. (And no, I'm not making those color names up, they're all in there.)

So last night I pulled up a chart to convert the Bucilla floss numbers to DMC and used my DMC color card to make sure that  I was matching the right shades to the right color names. I still wound up making some educated guesses, but I think it's close enough, especially for a sunset.

Monday, July 24, 2017

The Challenge of Working With Precuts

I enjoy working with precuts, but they can present some real challenges. 

I thought I'd use this Moda Candy bundle to make a project bag. It's been sitting in my stash for a while, too pretty to actually use in a project (or that's what I'd convinced myself because the ruler print is so absolutely perfect. Last night the solution finally hit me. Sew the squares into two panels and make a bag -- can't mess the fabric up that way, right?

I was going to divide the squares into two piles and arrange the fabrics so that the colors were evenly distributed. Once I got started, it was like a particularly vicious math problem. There are sooo many of those tiny checks. And a bunch of the prints are directional. And the whole thing just started to make my head spin.

I thought I was close to figuring it out, putting my favorite prints on one side of the bag and the others on the back...except for all of those tiny checks. Some of them even have duplicates! Looking at the pictures as I type this, I can see lots of poor choices with the fabric placement, then I think of sewing them together and keeping every square in the right order and facing the right direction and I think I'll just take the boys down to the river instead of struggling with it.

I do love the fabric collection (Moda Potluck) and could do amazing things with a jelly roll or some yardage, but these little 2 1/2" squares may be the death of me. Or may go back into my drawer of fabric that's too good to cut into.

Sunday, July 23, 2017

{Estate Sale Tempations} ALL the Cross-Stitch Kits

Do you drive past garage sales because they don't have much stuff spread out on the lawn or driveway?  I do that all the time, but maybe I shouldn't. Because I never ever would have stopped at this one if I hadn't seen the Craigslist ad with a box of what looked like old cross stitch kits with "$3.00 Each" written across the front. 

And I would have never known what I missed out on. 

There were several boxes of kits. The ones for three bucks each, the ones for five bucks each (supposedly because those were more expensive kits, but I couldn't see a rhyme or reason to which was where), and the ones for fifty cents each. Those are the ones in the top picture.

In the box of five dollar kits was a plastic bag full of little kits. I could see one of the Mill Hill Halloween kits and what looked like a bunch of the smaller beaded kits. All for five dollars. (That worked out to thirty-five cents a kit, in case you're wondering.)

I looked through the boxes of three and five dollar kits and almost bought one before realizing that it was embellished cross-stitch, which isn't my style at all, and then bought the stuff from those first two pictures, all for ten dollars, and went off to do the grocery shopping.

All the way through Winco and Costco I kept thinking about the yarn. It was a dollar a skein, which is probably the least expensive way I'll ever be able to try that ruffled novelty yarn...and the sale was due to end soon, so maybe they'd be negotiable on the prices. The ad did say "Everything must go!"

When the lady saw me looking, she said I could have the yarn for two bucks if I took the whole bag. At that point, I wasn't even sure any of the ruffled stuff was left, but for two dollars I'd happily knit scarves for the library's annual mitten tree.

And then she told me that the kits were marked down to two dollars each...

Instead of asking myself what I was absolutely sure I'd get around to stitching I went through and picked out all of the kits that even sort of fit my taste. Did I mention that none of these have been opened?

The whole haul only cost me twenty-six dollars and I doubt I took half of the kits they had, not to mention whatever was there on Friday. I doubt I'll ever stitch them all, but I can always pass them along or resell them or, for what I paid, use the  fabric and  floss for something else.

As for those other sales I've driven past.... I doubt they had anything like this!

How about you? Do you judge yard sales from your car window?

Saturday, July 22, 2017

Blue Sea Socks and Busy Days

Here's another pair of completely uneventful socks... 

Yarn: Drops Fabel, Blue Sea 

The yarn and needles and not-a-pattern all did exactly what they were supposed to do and there's not much to say about these except that they're pretty and I assume they'll fit since I used the same number of stitched on the same needles that I've used for the past half dozen pairs or so. 

Within minutes of binding off these a few days ago, I cast another pair onto the same needles with a different color of Drops Fabel. It keeps my hands busy while I'm waiting for other things to happen. Or watching television. And it soothed my nerves while I was waiting for the appliance delivery guys to show up. 

If you live in a 1920s farm house, measure the doors before ordering appliances or you'll be taking off the door frame. Which I guess we would have done even though we measured, because going with a smaller fridge isn't really an option with soon-to-be-three teenage boys. I need all of the shelf space I can get. 

Today's post is late because I've been shopping for stuff to put in the new fridge, after a couple of weeks of making due with the tiny fridge in our travel trailer. I'm going to have to get used to the arrangement of the shelves in this one. Now that I'm putting food in there I'm kind of convinced that whoever designed it didn't use actual groceries in the process. How can there not be room for 2 liter bottles without moving shelves around? (I'm also thinking I vaguely remember taking a shelf out of the old fridge to make it work with real food.)

Now that Hubby is done with his vacation and I've got a functioning kitchen again, I've got all kinds of plans. Mostly for sewing. Did I mention that the door from the front room to kitchen is only thirty inches wide and that we had to take everything out of the dining room corner that I use for my sewing so they could bring it through there? The past few days have been a huge, not very fun, adventure.

But I found an estate sale that made up for it all and I'll post my haul tomorrow. Hopefully with a video and giveaway, if I can pull it all together. 

Friday, July 21, 2017

Let's Make Baby Quilts! {7/21/17}

Let's Make Baby Quilts Linky Party Rules: 
Link directly to your post or specific Flickr photo. Your post can be about a baby quilt that's finished, or in progress, or you can be writing about what you have planned,  as long as it's about baby quilts. You're welcome to link to baby quilt posts that aren't brand new, but please don't submit the same post or picture more than once. I'd love it if you linked back to my site, either with a text link or the Let's Make Baby Quilts! button.

Thursday, July 20, 2017

{Junk Store Temptations} Where My Husband is Likely to Stop

My husband isn't  big fan of thrift shops. Junk stores are more his style. Especially if it's a place like this one... 

That's only half of the front. When I pulled up, they were adding a still to the collection of stuff. That was priced, but not much else is. Plates, furniture, appliances...all sitting out in the elements with a few tarps thrown over it all when it rains.

There are even a couple of sewing machines buried in that mess...

Inside, there's slightly more method to the madness. This was my first visit in years and it definitely smelled better than it did last time.  I've been down these aisles with toddlers in tow, but I don't recommend it.

One electric mixer and dozens and dozens of sets of beaters...

And lots and lots of tools...

Honestly, I don't think I'd buy anything from this store that I couldn't bleach. But I've found a couple of treasures over the years and there's a food chopper I'm going to take my husband back to look at. It's not exactly the one he's after, but it might be close enough.

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

{I've Been Reading} Watch Me Disappear

Watch Me Disappear by Janelle Brown

Billie Flanagan never returned from her solo hiking trip. Search parties found her shattered phone and one hiking boot, but no one knows exactly what happened to her out on the isolated trail.  Her husband is writing a memoir of life with his wife, trying to deal with his grief and keep afloat until Billie is officially declared dead and he can collect on her life insurance policy. Their teenage daughter has started having visions of her missing mother. Those could be symptoms of a concussion. Or it could be that Billie wants to be found. This book had me literally holding my breath through the entire last chapter.

Girl Last Seen by Nina Laurin

When she was ten years old, Ella was abducted and held for three years. She escaped, but her captor was never found. For a decade, she's lived under a new identity and watched reports of missing girls, wondering who took her place in that basement.  Now Olivia Shaw has vanished. Ella (who now calls herself Lainey) can barely take care of herself. My heart was absolutely breaking for Lainey. The book doesn't reveal many details about her captivity. Her current life is frightening enough. She's hanging by a thread  even before she's dragged into the investigation of Olivia's disappearance. No one seems to understand that she can't help the missing girl, or herself.

Each Little Lie by Tom Bale

Maybe I should stop reading books that are described as having a "heart-stopping twist," because I'm not sure which revelation the cover copy is describing. There are twists here, some of them unexpected, but none was that dramatic. Jen Cornish is a single mom who does "an impulsive good deed" to help a neighbor...and that's where she lost me. What she saw as a helpful act, I saw as something else. Watching her fall down a rabbit hole of consequences was intriguing, but not nearly as suspenseful as the cover copy promises.

Disclosure -- I was provided with advance review copies by the publishers. All opinions are my own. This post is linked to Crazy Mom Quilts , Wrap up Friday iknead2knit, and  Frontier Dreams  

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

The Shoes

You know how Pinterest is filled with cute pictures of everyone's shoes all lined up by size? That's not how it works at my house. Our current situation looks more like this: 

Four pairs are the same brand because when you need sandals for everyone in a hurry, that's what happens. And because Costco doesn't carry women's shoes in size 11. Two pairs, mine and my husband's, are exactly the same size. Heath's are a size larger and Quinn's are a bit smaller...but not enough that I didn't try to stick my own foot in them once or twice.

I needed an easy way for everyone to pick out their own shoes that wouldn't be painfully obvious to the rest of the world and would be either semi-permanent or easy to replace as needed.

So I grabbed my embroidery floss and tied a double loop around the tab at the back of each sandal. Except for Hubby's. And Leif's, which  are both small enough and different enough to stand out from the bunch.

For the most part, it's worked. My husband and have I switched shoes once or twice, but the boys have kept theirs straight and the floss has stayed on.

Monday, July 17, 2017

Do You Save Your Bonus Triangles?

Sometimes I do. Mostly I leave them buried in the seam allowances of my quilts. My mom, on the other hand, saves hers and actually uses them. Look at this adorable little mini quilt: 

The half square triangles finish at 2", so I'm guessing with the border it's 16"x18"  The bonus triangles and the border fabric came from this project:

The half square triangles in this one are even tinier, finishing at 1"

Think I should start actually cutting those triangles off?

Sunday, July 16, 2017

Washed Ashore

Litter is bad. Plastic on the beach is extra bad. We can all agree on that, right? But I'm still drawn to the photos that The Dainty Squid takes of the colorful plastic bits she finds on the beach near her home. And when we saw Washed Ashore featured on the local PBS station, I knew I wanted to take the kids to see it in person. 

All of this plastic stuff was picked up off of Oregon beaches and now it's part of travelling art exhibits. The colors and amount of this that and everything else are kind of overwhelming.

I thought the teeth were impressive, then I looked down the fish's throat --

The salmon inside is just as impressive.

I can't get over how expressive the facial features are, especially the fish in the top picture and this turtle. That's a comb and abandoned shoes creating that eyelid!

If you're near one of the travelling exhibits (or on the Oregon coast), go and marvel at the creativity. You'll be glad you did...and probably also saddened by the message of the exhibit. There's a quilt shop in Bandon, too, with a Row by Row Experience pattern. Which had absolutely nothing to do with the planning of this family road trip!

Saturday, July 15, 2017

Halloween in July

That should be a thing, Halloween in July. The old time radio station is playing Christmas episodes and I'm convinced that they use the same ones every year. Either that, or Jack Benny always makes the same jokes when he's shopping for presents. 

I think the fun part is behind me. There's just that last stretch of orange to stitch and then the back stitching. That's never been my favorite part of cross-stitch projects, but it's worth it in the end.

Friday, July 14, 2017

Let's Make Baby Quilts! {7/14/17}

Apologies to everyone who has the Let's Make Baby Quilts button replaced by that ugly Photobucket image. They've changed their policies and what used to work no longer does. I'll figure out a better option soon, but it won't be today. Please go ahead and delete the button and I'll let you know when I find a solution.

Let's Make Baby Quilts Linky Party Rules: 
Link directly to your post or specific Flickr photo. Your post can be about a baby quilt that's finished, or in progress, or you can be writing about what you have planned,  as long as it's about baby quilts. You're welcome to link to baby quilt posts that aren't brand new, but please don't submit the same post or picture more than once. I'd love it if you linked back to my site, either with a text link or the Let's Make Baby Quilts! button.

Thursday, July 13, 2017

{I've Been Reading} If the Haunting Fits, Wear It

If the Haunting Fits, Wear It, the latest in Rose Pressey's Haunted Vintage mystery series, is a fast fun murder mystery. This time there are two unrelated deaths for Cookie Chanel to figure out so she's got two extra ghosts to deal with. The spirit she picked up in an attic full of vintage clothing follows her to the Kentucky Derby, where a dead jockey needs her help. This one was fast paced and a lot of fun. While Cookie works to solve the mystery at the racetrack, her friends and family at home try to figure out the other murder. I enjoyed this one more than the previous book in the series.

Advertising agency owner Tobi Tobias is back again in 30 Second Death by Laura Bradford. She thinks she's doing her friend Carter a favor by casting Fiona Renoir in the commercial she's filming for a local salon... then Fiona winds up dead and Carter is the main suspect. When I wrote about the first book in this series, I complained that Tobi complained too much about her financial situation. The writing was great, but I wasn't sure I liked the main character very much. In this book, Tobi's circumstances have improved considerably. Her life is still a bit complicated, but she's happier and a lot more pleasant to read about. The mystery was intriguing and kept me guessing and I'm looking forward to the third book in the series.

Disclosure -- I was provided with advance review copies by the publishers. All opinions are my own.

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Pretty Yarn in Need of a Prettier Pattern

I desperately want to cast on with this yarn. 

I have 487 sock patterns in my Ravelry Queue, so how can it be so hard to decide what to do with this gorgeous yellow yarn? I want to do something toe up. Hawthorne is only 357 yards to a skein and I'm not in the mood to play yarn chicken. So I filtered my queue to show only the two up patterns, and the only ones that appealed to me were written for sport weight or dk yarn (and too complicated to easily change by adding more stitches.)

Suze asked if I have a favorite sock pattern, something that's interesting but not too complicated. Socks on a Plane and Express Lane both meet that criteria, at least for me. Both of those are free downloads from Ravelry. Sensational Knitted Socks by Charlene Schurch has lots of great stitch patterns that you can add to the socks you already know how to make.

As for my pretty golden yarn, I think I'm finally leaning towards My Favorite Sock Pattern, from the blog purliekay. I'd do it toe up, of course, and with my own favorite short row heel. But I do really like that stitch pattern, which is a little fancier than those lace rib socks I've done twice already...

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

{Antique Shop Temptations} At the Quilt Show

There are a couple of antique shops in Sisters and on Saturday, we managed to duck into both of them. Shade, air conditioning, and neat old stuff to be tempted by -- how could we not take advantage of that?

I was drawn to this picture even before I realized that it was embroidery. I'm awed at that skill. From any distance at all, it looked like a print. 

Garter stitch squares with embroidered flowers... I don't think I've ever seen a baby quilt quite like this one, which was definitely intriguing.

And the vintage Tupperware coasters. I'd forgotten those were a thing, but we had a set of them through most of my childhood.

Someone please remind me that I don't need (or particularly want) a set of vintage pastel coasters, no matter how nostalgic they make me feel.

Monday, July 10, 2017

{The Row by Row Experience} Quilt Show Weekend

I was trying to get pictures of every shop's exterior but it was hot on Friday and my minivan doesn't have air conditioning and I kept forgetting. So no exterior pictures this week except for the Stitchin Post which I got because it's impossible not to get a picture of that place on quilt show weekend.

BJs Quilt Basket
Homestead Quilts and Gallery
Paisley Fabric and Quilts
The Stitching Post
Material Girl Fabrics

The quilt show itself is always a lot of fun and, more than anything, it motivated me to pull out my copy of Farm Girl Vintage and start piecing some of those blocks. I was making myself crazy, trying to remember which blocks were in the book and which were the companion blocks. I kind of want to purchase every last one of Lori Holt's patterns.

What are you excited about lately? For me, it's suddenly cross-stitch and Hawaiian applique and cute little blocks with vintage things on them.

Sunday, July 09, 2017

Look -- I See a Cat!

It turns out that the little black cat wasn't scary at all. I've still got paws and back stitching to finish, but she only took a couple of evenings to get through. Now it's back to the safer but less exciting stretches of orange pumpkin.

If it seems like I'm randomly jumping around this project, I am. Depending on the time of day and how alert I'm feeling, and who else is in the room, I opt for an easier or more difficult part of the project. And I deliberately leave big stretches of one color for those late night or early mornings.


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