3/26/17

Coming Up...Spring!

Smitty, do you want to go outside? You never have to ask him twice. He's always up for a good meal of mouse. Since building the catio, he's mostly limited to going outside when we are out with him, and he's not very happy about it. Also, he hates our weather. He wanders around whining and crying and looking for the door that leads into summer.


The past week's deluge stopped for a while yesterday morning, and so the two of us went out to fill the bird feeders. While we were out, we saw definite signs of spring. There are tulips growing in the whiskey barrels.


Also, the first white daffodils are beginning to open. I've been seeing them in the valley for at least a week, but ours are just getting started.


Also, the heather started blooming this past week. It was looking pretty scraggly after its rough winter, but it's a hardy thing.


The poor daphne has lost most of its leaves, but it is covered in blooms right now. When these open all the way, they are very fragrant. This was a gift from my daughter-in-law, Mae.


Even the potted Asiatic lily is making a comeback. This might have been the biggest surprise of all. 


Mike brought this orphan home last year. He saw it in a grocery store for $2. It had already finished blooming and was on its way to the trash heap. He picked it up thinking he would plant it and hope for the best. Right, I thought at the time. As you might guess (since it's still in a pot), it never got planted (as expected), but there it is...ready for this year's bloom. With retirement looming, maybe someone will actually stick it in the ground this year.

Oh yes, and the catnip in the Gracie Memorial Catnip Garden. The catnip doesn't always come back, and so I'm happy this has survived the hard winter.


Before getting outside yesterday morning, I moved the hoop on the Hocuspocusville block. At this point, I've actually stitched quite a bit beyond what you see here.


This one should be finished in the next couple of days.

After the birds were fed, I got back to work in the sewing room. My goal for the day was to make the next Solstice block, and catch up with those. This next block is called "Honey Bee." The center was supposed to be a 9-patch, but I left it whole so that I could use the lighthouse fabric. It marks our trip last weekend to Cape Disappointment, Washington, and the North Head Lighthouse. The yellow and blue petals represent the blue skies and sunshine we enjoyed. North Head Lighthouse wasn't pictured on the fabric, so I picked the Yaquina Head and Haceta Head lighthouses in Oregon. They kind of look like the North Head Lighthouse.


As I was finishing up the top-stitching, Mike came downstairs carrying an extension table for my ironing board. He was planning to build one for me when he retires next month. This item has been on his honey-do list for about six months. Then, I saw this one on Massdrop, and so I showed it to him. "Buy it!" He practically ordered me to do it, and so I committed at the lowest price. You gotta love a man who knows what he wants. Even more, you gotta love a man who knows what you want.


So it arrived last week, and it's been sitting at the front door all that time. It was too heavy for me to carry downstairs by myself. It folds in the middle and has a handy carrying handle...not that I could actually carry it. It also came with a pad and cover, and it works great! I worried that it might be wobbly or not fit over my regular ironing board. No complaints, and it was great for getting to work on the next section of "And On that Farm." So that's one honey-do item crossed off his list, and he hasn't even retired yet. He's very efficient that way.

Next up, he cut the riveted buttons off the little OshKosh overalls I'm parting out to use in the Snips and Snails quilt. We studied the buttons together and decided that cutting them off was the best approach.


There's really no way to reuse them with riveting, and they don't have holes, so they can't be sewn on. He used a rubber mallet to pound them flat after cutting them off. I'll use a hot glue gun to glue them onto my quilt when it's finished.


Also, I considered using the actual fasteners on the quilt, but I've kind of decided against that. Instead, I'm going to use them as models and then use some metallic thread to quilt them onto the quilt. That will be a better option, I think. I'm afraid these would be too bulky and distracting.


Finally, there's this label from the back. I'll probably use that somewhere on the back of the quilt, most likely in the quilt label. For now I'm leaving it attached to the overalls. These labels aren't hemmed or finished in any way at the edges, and so it'll probably be safest to leave it attached until I'm ready to sew it someplace else.


When that's removed, there won't be much left except the denim. I figure I got my money's worth out of this purchase. 

Next up, I was ready to get started on And on that Farm. Section 2 is a Triptych of three roosters.


The first step was to cut the three backgrounds. Each is 8 1/2-inches square.


Say, thanks! Don't mind if I do!


From there it took me about an hour to trace, cut, and fuse the pieces for "Rooster A."


The pieces were a little tedious to cut with so many little nooks and crannies, but take a look at the scale of the eye. I've laid my tweezers there in the image below so that you can see how tiny the little black section is.


Not small enough for you? Well, don't worry because another of the roosters has a piece even smaller.

So that was my sewing day. I'm hoping to get the other two roosters finished today. If not, then tomorrow for sure. This is my goal for OMG this month, and I didn't think I was going to get it finished. Now, it looks as if it will be smooth sailing.

3/25/17

Lazy Friday

Yesterday was a continuation of my stretch of sloth days. After quilting into the early morning hours Friday morning, there wasn't much energy left for Friday afternoon. I don't know about you, but I can never catch up on a night of missed sleep, even with an afternoon nap. No worries though. I made up for it with a good night's sleep last night. Today, I'm raring to go. If, by "raring to go," you mean putting on my slip-ons and filling the bird feeders. That's probably about all the energy I'll muster today for anything other than sewing.

Fortunately, I had my feline friends to keep me focused. Actually, Smitty is only interested in the catnip.


Sadie looks like she could use some catnip too.


No thanks. I tried it once, but now, I never touch the stuff. How do you think I ended up with this one white whisker? Yeah, I've learned my lesson...and here's the purroof. Look at Smitty's whiskers: All white. It's a cautionary tale.


So, if only for the catnip, I did make my way into the sewing room yesterday. When I finish a quilt top, I like to finish the back too. There's nothing worse than having to make up a pile of backs for a quilt sandwiching session. At this point, I have four quilt tops ready to be sandwiched. A couple of them are small enough that I can do them in my sewing room. I might get started on that because I'm wanting to get back to some quilting on Eliza. 

For the back of Snips and Snails, I'm using one of the oldest fabrics from my stash. This shoe fabric was picked up from a remnant basket a long time ago. 


I'm using this same green stripe from the snake for the quilt binding, and so I cut the strips for that.


There was enough width, but not enough length of the shoe fabric for the quilt back, and so I used some of the green stripe to give me a little more length.


And there's my quilt back ready to go. By then I'd sewn exactly two seams. How much more could I accomplish on a lazy Friday afternoon?

Well...I turned my attention to Block 13 of the Solstice Challenge. This block is called "Studio Time." Mine is made for St. Patrick's Day. Yes, I am a week behind, but I'm catching up.


Today I'll make the next block, and that will bring me up to date. I'm torn on whether to make a block for the first day of Spring or whether to honor our trip to Cape Disappointment. I picked up some lighthouse fabric while we were visiting the Great Lakes a couple of summers ago,


but the block choice for this week's Solstice Challenge isn't going to work for the scale of my fabric. I haven't really looked at the fabric, but I don't think the North Head Lighthouse is one of the choices. Nevertheless, it's a good thought, and so I might just make the block to accommodate the fabric.

When that's finished, I really am going to get to work on the next section for And On that Farm.


At long last, it's day has come.

3/24/17

A Late Night/Early Morning Finish

For all that Wednesday was a productive day, Thursday couldn't have been more slug-like. There was just one small housekeeping task to accomplish, and I did it early so that I could spend the afternoon sewing. Then I headed off for my monthly pedicure, making a couple of stops along the way home. When I got home, I had some lunch, and then sat down in a chair. After that, there was little movement, but a whole lotta sloth. Finally, I made my way to the sewing room at around 4:30 p.m., but Mike arrived home early, and so I didn't get very far.

When I got into bed last night, I couldn't sleep knowing how close it was to being finished, and so I got up and worked on it. It was finished around 2:00 a.m.


With so many seams and so many little pieces cut every which way from larger pieces of fabric, it was easy for little errors to add up. Also, many pieces are cut on the bias, and so there was some stretching involved as well.

When I started sewing from the bottom up, the bottom section (with the green background) was too long. You can see that there is just a small triangle of cuff above the outer edge of the shoe on the left. That seam needed to match up to look right, and so I pinned it there and worked my way to the outer edges. When it was pinned for sewing, the right edge was about 3/4 inch too long. The remaining sections went together just as they should, and so I just cut that puppy off. No harm done, and no one will ever know the difference. It ended up at 32 x 46 inches. Of course, it still needs quilting and binding.

The only other thing I accomplished yesterday was a little more stitching on Hocuspocusville. When it was unrolled to move the hoop, it looked like this.


It's more than half finished now, and I'll pick it up there again this morning. 

The only other thing to happen yesterday was the return of Bob the bobcat. Actually, we have no idea if this is a Bob or a Bobbi. He likes hanging out at the bottom of our field where there is plenty of mole, gopher, and squirrel activity. 


Usually, we don't see him this early in the year, and so it was surprising to spy him out in the field. He's camera shy, and so it's hard to get a good shot of him. This picture was taken through the living room window. It's zoomed in close, and I was able to brace the camera on Smitty's scratching post for stability. He looked right at me, and then hurried off.

It's another slow day here at the Three Cats Ranch. With Snips and Snails finished, I can get caught up on my Solstice Challenge blocks, and then...just maybe...I'll get going on the next section for And On that Farm. I can hear you saying, "Promises, promises."

3/23/17

Eight Seams Makes a Finish

Yesterday was a fairly productive day on the domestic front and in the sewing room. Some days are just that way. One housekeeping chore was dispensed with fairly quickly, and then I was able to get into the sewing room. I wanted to sew together the sections for the arm and shirt and then move along to the pant legs. That didn't take long.


From there, it didn't take long to get a good start on the legs. Soon the next section was sewn together.


From there, I told myself I'd go finish up some more housework. On my way out the door, I spied the little OshKosh b'Gosh overalls, and decided to remove the label and pin it in place. 


My neck was bothering me from the sewing I'd done already, and so it was tempting to quit for the day. Still, I thought, the cuffs on the pants are only a few pieces, and so I decided to finish those off.


It was late in the day by then, but the shoes were so tempting. I had to finish those too. This is what I love about quilting...the quilt itself propels one forward.


There is still one seam to sew in that bottom section. Now I have just three pieces in the upper background section to sew, and then just the long seams between the sections: a total of eight seams. Looks like this will be finished by day's end.

Today I'm getting my monthly pedicure, and I'll pick up some bird seed on the way home. Other than that, it's nothing but sewing. I'm looking forward to having this all stitched together.

3/22/17

Quilt Shop: Homespun Quilts & Yarn; Astoria, Oregon

It's good that I have a quilt shop to share with you today since yesterday was a boring day of laundry and grocery shopping. It was a nice little shop, and I enjoyed my time there. My Quilt Shop app failed me this time because I was certain there was at least one quilt shop in Astoria. The Quilt Shop app identified none. Undeterred I went onto the internet and found Homespun Quilts & Yarn, just a few blocks down from the tall scary bridge.


Before I go on, I want to say just a bit about Astoria. It's named for the Astor family. John Jacob Astor (the first) was a trader who was hired in 1810 by Thomas Jefferson to establish a Jamestown-like colony on the Pacific Coast. Using information from the Lewis & Clark Expedition, Astor set out on an expedition beset by hardship, starvation, and tragedy that was ultimately unsuccessful. As it turns out, there is an entire book written about this, entitled (unsurprisingly), Astoria: John Jacob Astor and Thomas Jefferson's Lost Pacific Empire: A Story of Wealth, Ambition, and Survival. I always thought Astoria was named for the man's great grandson, John Jacob Astor IV, who went down with the Titanic. Here's my take on this whole story: Never travel with the Astor Family.

History aside, let's get back to the quilt shop, shall we? It's located on a very narrow street. There's on-street parking that was all occupied on the day we visited. Fortunately, we found a spot one block over. Also, there is a public lot just across the street. The shop appears small, judging by the storefront.


Step inside the front door, and you see a store that reaches far back into the interior of the building. It didn't have a huge inventory of fabric, but what they had was very nice. There was probably something for everybody here. This was a pretty wall full of batiks.


In this corner were some very fun novelty prints.


Look at these sewing fabrics. The one with the spools of thread was so yummy, and I was very tempted.


Yarn people, I need to apologize to you here. There was a whole room of yarn, but since I'm not a yarn person, I didn't even step inside. Later, I realized that I'd missed an opportunity for you guys. Mea culpa. I won't let it happen again.


They had so many cute patterns available from artists I've not seen before. This guy made me smile.


The pattern is by Chicken Soup Designs. Cute, huh?


This was a nice long wall of solids, polka dots, and stripes.


So many pretty colors. This is why I love to visit quilt shops. It's a feast for the eyes...like walking into Oz.


In this old wringer washer, you could grab handfuls of scraps and stuff them into a bag for $8. I like seeing these kinds of deals in a quilt shop.


They had a good selection of florals and patterns for bags.


The fabrics on these shelves were all flannels.


This was a cute little bag. I looked around for a pattern, but didn't see one. Possibly, it was just for display.


Nothing to see here...I just liked this quilting motif.


There was an interesting shelf of books. I picked up this one, but then set it down again when the templates on the pages within nearly burned my fingers. I just say "No" to templates.


This adult coloring book caught my eye.


The first page I flipped to was this one:


Makes you wonder if it was some kind of trap, doesn't it?

Look at these pretty metallic threads. I might have bought the entire basket just so I could set it in my own sewing room to gaze upon.


This bothered me a little bit. There was a sign above that said "kits available". I looked around, but didn't see any kits. This pattern is available for free on the internet. Since I didn't see any kits nor any associated prices, I decided to let it go and didn't inquire further.


Besides...just to the left were these little samples, and they distracted me. This was a larger one.


There was a smaller one, nearly identical, right beside it.


It was so cute, and I was thinking one could make a whole quilt from these. Wouldn't it make a good Rainbow Scrap project? I decided to purchase the pattern. This one is from Patch Abilities.


Of course, I needed that beach ball button, didn't I? And so I picked that up too.


Also, I picked up a fat quarter of this regional print for the Quilty 365 in my future:


Since the scrub jay quilt was on my mind, I picked up these three fat quarters. Possibly they can be used when I make the bird.


The women working in the store were so friendly and polite, it made the whole experience that much more enjoyable. One of them actually encouraged me to photograph the samples hanging on the walls, something that rarely happens. As I was checking out with my purchases, I resisted these impulse items located next to the cash register.



And look at these pretty seam rippers hand made by a local artist.


They were very tempting, but I resisted, realizing I really had no use for something like that. (Ha!) The woman who took my money observed that, even if one doesn't need a seam ripper, they'd still look good next to the sewing machine. Hard to argue with that.

So, I thoroughly enjoyed this quilt shop. It's definitely worth stopping in if you find yourself in Astoria, Oregon. Here are the particulars:


And here's a screenshot of their website:


I rate them 5 out of 5 rotary cutters:


Today I have a stay-at-home day, and I'm hoping to get well along on the Snips and Snails quilt. I had about an hour to sew yesterday, and so I was able to finish sewing the right side arm and hand together. 


Now the larger section is nearly finished, and I expect to sew it together today. From there I'll continue making my way down the legs. The fingers and hands were the most complicated part of this quilt, but the shoes will be a close second. Also, I'm now officially a week behind on the Solstice Challenge, but I'm afraid it'll have to wait until Richard's quilt is finished. He has all of my attention just now. There are just a few housekeeping chores to do. Aside from that, it's going to be a NBS day (nothing but sewing).