Monday, March 19, 2018

clutter flutter

It's been more hectic than usual around here lately.  We're running, running, running...

...working on home improvement projects and deep cleaning, and slowly getting rid of unwanted possessions.  It feels so good to simplify, even if it means living in a chaotic environment for a while.  Although we're busy, we always take time out to do a little hiking.  It is so invigorating to see all the new green growth!

The flowers just keep on coming!

Here on the home front, our pets remain completely unconcerned with our hustle-bustle.

They're a good reminder to indulge in necessary down time...although I won't be engaging in any twenty-hour cat naps any time soon, I am trying to be intentional about grabbing a few minutes to work on a puzzle or craft project every day.  As an HSP (highly sensitive person) I am very affected by loud noises, crowds, and especially clutter/chaos in my home environment.  So I'm trying to keep my eyes on the end result...much less clutter! 

Have a great week! 

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

this old house

We've had some odd weather here.  First in the 80s, then in the 40s, then rain.  Random warmer days pop up, and in those days, we've been outside working.

Even the cats have been getting in on the action.  Who cares if it's a one-story fall from the deck?  I want green grass!

The azaleas are just budding out...

...and the redbuds look amazing!

I have been so busy with house projects and work that my quilt pieces have sat, forlorn and ignored, on my sewing table.  At night, I've been knitting to relax.  First, a simple striped cowl that has been desperately needed on cold hikes.  So often cowls are wide enough to be looped twice or just hang open at the neck.  That seems to negate the purpose, so I made this cowl fairly narrow.

I've also been knitting a sweater.  It's been a real learning experience for me.  The sweater is meant to have zero "ease," which means that it's meant to be snug against the skin.  To get the correct size, the pattern says that I need to have 18 knitted stitches per 4 inches of fabric.  I managed that number with size 8 needles on my practice piece, and cast on for the sweater.

The arms were knitted first, and then the body, from the bottom up.  I "got gauge" (or had 18 stitches per 4 inches) in the first few inches, but I didn't measure again for 7 inches of knitting.  Then I discovered that instead of 18 stitches, I had around 16.  So each 4 inches of fabric was off by 2 stitches.  No big deal, right?  But when I measured the waist, I discovered that I had an extra THREE INCHES of fabric.  I thought about ripping it all out and starting over, but decided to keep moving forward.  Three inches will (hopefully) just give it a bit of room, but not cause bagginess.  I'll soon see.  I'm getting ready to start the yoke of the sweater, which will be a stranded star design in shades of purple and white, similar to the cuffs.  I still struggle with stiffness and pain when I knit, and I have not discovered an easy or pain-free method of knitting, so ripping out enough half of a sweater to switch to a slightly smaller needle sounds horrible.  But if I'm wrong, the entire sweater will have to be remade.  Fingers crossed!

Todd and I have been doing a lot of future-planning this spring, thinking about where we want to live, how we want to live, and the meaningful activities in which we want to engage.  I've been thinking a lot about my great grandmother, who lived close by when I was growing up.  She had a lovely white house with gingerbread accents and a front porch full of rocking chairs.  A big weeping willow tree, rose and grape arbors, and a special long bed for her 50+ varieties of irises.  The back yard was almost completely converted to garden space.  On one side, row after row of flowers, and on the other, vegetables. 

Incidentally, my grandfather sold the property and it fell into disrepair.  A flood in 2006 destroyed the whole neighborhood, which was converted into a public park.  Someone took a photo of the house before it was demolished.  Porch torn off, trees uprooted, walls sagging...such a shame.  Thankfully my great-aunt Ruth, now 101 (!), is going to send me some photos of the home in its heyday!

My great-grandmother, Grace, founded the first animal shelter in Anderson (Indiana), and continued to be involved in animal charities.  She was always surrounded by her cats and dogs.  She was very poor, but gave everything she could to the needy, from cutting old sheets into strips for leper colonies (apparently more prevalent in 1920!) to taking her famous vegetables and flower bouquets around to sick neighbors.  Her daughter, my great aunt Ruth, was a clever seamstress and regularly made over thrift store clothing to improve it and then donate to homeless shelters.  She and her family also brought their instruments to shelters and had singing time.  They were really inspiring women.  This is how I remember them both:

Todd and I have talked about wanting to have a similar life:  in a community of family and friends, downsizing, simplifying, beautifying our space with large gardens, surrounded by our pets, and engaged in social justice causes that are important to us.  I think the next year or so will bring some major changes for us...stay tuned!

Monday, March 5, 2018

in the pink

I have discovered a real love of building on precut fabric collections.  I feel much more comfortable taking what I want and putting aside less desirable prints to be used in another project.  This is Bayberry by Moda.

I bought this mini charm pack (40 2.5" squares) to "try out" the collection before committing to buying a sizable amount of fabric.  I love the cream, peach, and blue, but am not as crazy about the hydrangea-printed squares.  Those can be easily replaced with more light blue.  When this line came up on sale for $32 last week (for a layer cake, or 42 ten inch pieces of fabric), I bought it!  It's discontinued, but now I easily have enough for a quilt.  Hooray!

This is a 1930s Japanese reproduction line from Lucien.  I love the pastel colors and the fun prints.  It feels like spring!

But I wasn't crazy about the reds or the cat prints in pink, green, and blue - so I took them out.  I supplemented with a white-dotted grey cotton.

Actually, I'm done.

Seventy two 6.5" nine patch squares with no jarring reds!  I worked on this to give myself a break from the flying geese quilt that's crushing my will to live right now.  You might recognize the design.  I worked on the below-pictured quilt earlier this year and copied the pattern almost exactly.

I need to finish the top of quilt #2 and buy backing for both of them, and then I'll quilt them both before moving on to a new project.  My least-favorite part, but I've taken a couple of online quilting classes recently and have gotten some ideas for completing the dreaded quilting process more easily.

Meanwhile, it's sun and flowers outside, although thankfully in the 60s all week.  That 80 degree blast from a week or so ago was most unwelcome!  But it sure brought out the flowers.  So much pink!

Every few days I bring in armfuls!

It's nice having a touch of green - and color! - in the house.

The cats, of course, are enjoying the sunshine. 

Wherever there's sun, there's Clotilde.

Even Blackavar is getting in on the action!

He's no beauty, but he's got a very appealing face.  I like having them around!

My love of cats is appropriately reflected in my growing enamel pin collection.  My sister-in-law bought me a Star Trek cat pair and I supplemented with a few, but keep finding more that I love.  Thankfully I despise purses and have always carried some sort of canvas bag for books and my wallet.  The pins fit nicely on the front! 

Win win.  Have a great week! 

Monday, February 26, 2018

a "Little" goes a long way

Hooray!  Our scattered bunches of snow-in-summer have bloomed.

The magnolias, too, are magnificent...and they haven't even reached their peak yet!

And other beauties...

At home, it's all bouquets, all the time.  Bringing the outside in is a concept much celebrated around here.

I love seeing all the new growth.

Speaking of new growth, how much fatter can this cat get?

Clotilde is so sweet and she's got me wrapped around her paw. I love seeing her little face when I'm working outside.  I am never out for more than a minute or two before hearing her little meow.  Although she impedes my progress by wrapping herself around first one ankle and then the other, I wouldn't have it any other way. 

I'm also feeding a feral cat I've named Blackavar (from Watership Down).

At first he refused to come onto the deck until I'd closed the doors, but now he comes running when I bring food.  He still won't come too close, and thanks me with a series of growls and hisses, but he's definitely coming around.

The newest arrival is Rook.  I originally chose a Finnish (or Danish?) word for spirit (or smoke?) that rhymed with rook, but I kept forgetting it, so Rook stuck.  She's very friendly, but only comes at night.  She seems well-fed.  I wonder if she has a home?

I've been working on my quilt in my free time, and recently splurged for a new fabric collection.  It's called Little by Jenny Lumelsky.  I chose my five favorite prints from the line and ordered a yard each.  It's the most I've ever spent on yardage ($16/yard!) but the patterns are so dreamy that it made the decision easy.  Birds, deer, and rabbits?  All in that peach color that I like so much, with navy accents?  Sold, sold, and sold. 

I got an extra yard of the center blue fabric, since the color is an element of each print.  I'm also going to look for the perfect ivory white shade (Maybe Moda Bella Ivory?) to stretch this project even further.  Six to eight yards of fabric are needed for a full size bed, so I just need a yard or so of ivory (and the perfect pattern!) and I'll be ready to go!  After all, it's about time for a new quilt around here.

Have a great week!