Sunday, February 25, 2024

Why do I keep buying more projects?

       A little progress this week, but a lot of shopping-- that does not make for  a good start vs. finish ratio! Let's start with the shopping-- did I not say I was done with cross stitch for awhile? So I kitted up two new projects for myself. And no, the Lori Holt sewing icon piece is not finished yet.

     So this is the "Valentine's Day Quaker"-- Valentine's Day is special around here since it is Mr. SFO's birthday and yes, I have a year to make this. So the color floss was supposed to be "Ripe Melon," but I couldn't find it anywhere. I assume a lot of people are making this cute one color thing. So I went with "Crab Cakes," which is a little less pink and a lot more peachy-- that's an upgrade anyway according to my own color preference. We had seafood for the birthday party, so I may have been under the influence of lobster when I made that decision. It's definitely brighter than the picture shows and the Aida cloth is ivory-- I think it's going to work. So the only question I haven't answered yet-- when am I ever going to make this thing? I'm clueless on that.

     Not to be deterred by the mundane worries of time management, I went ahead and kitted "Heartland." I love this little land-- and I'd love to see what a handstitched version would look like. 

      The colors are beautiful and I can't wait to get started. When, you say? Good question. I just noticed I forgot white, so it won't be anytime soon! 

     You may have seen the Fat Quarter Shop's free gift with orders over $50 last week-- a $50 grab bag of Valentine cross stitch items. I guess I apparently needed more random cross stitch stuff, so I ordered. Here's what I got:

    Jokes on me! I already have all of these things-- a project bag, the floss colors and holders-- I do like the little XOXO charm. I can probably use doubles of these things. And I guess we can all be relieved that it wasn't another third Valentine pattern to make, whenever I get time to make them.

     I also had a trip to the big city, Augusta, this weekend-- and found some more Valentine stuff on clearance at Michaels. What all this proves is that I am just a sucker for cuteness, especially at low prices. But I do hope to get back to scrapbooking when my space is finished-- and I will be ready for all the Valentine birthday pages!

     Then, at Hobby Lobby, I raided the Aida. That's fun to say.

   $3.99 is a great price-- but these pieces aren't huge. We're set for more bowl fillers now!

     Then, I succumbed to the Lori Holt Vintage Christmas stitch-a-long-- that doesn't get delivered till July thank goodness. And I'm about to click the button on this:

    It is "Happy Christmas" by Maker Valley. I have had my eye on that pattern for a long time-- but I don't really have a variety of background prints you would need for it-- oh, wait-- I found a kit on Etsy! Problem solved. Click!

    Tomorrow, "Moonbeams," the Fat Quarter Shop Make-a-Wish projects arrives, and the Sew Sampler Box comes the same day. I'll definitely try to be the one to sneak out to get the mail tomorrow! Moonbeams comes with the complete pattern, I believe-- so that frees me to go at my own pace, I guess. Is part of the "pace" when it sits on a shelf for months? I hope not.

  And, oh so, unfortunately, I looked at a spoiler for the Sew Sampler Box, and I do like the fabric. It's Kim Diehl "Quiet Grace"-- such a welcome change from the bright fabrics you usually get and perfect for a leaf quilt-- I've always wanted one! Added to the list.

     Meanwhile the Cupid Box is still floating around somewhere, waiting to be noticed. And the Pressed Flowers stitch-a-long is almost done-- ready to be made into a quilt. Do I have a problem?

     I have an entire collection of UFOs from a past life still in storage after our move. But what has happened now, is that I have a whole new set of stuff from the past year and a half that's beginning to pile up. This summer, those two worlds will collide in a brand new sewing space-- YIKES-- stick around and see what happens!

     Wouldn't it be great if I we could have as much progress as we could buy each week? If we could say-- I finished three cross stitches, four quilts, and ten years of Valentine party scrapbook pages this week? So let's now take a look at what I got done...

    Half of a quilt block got stitched down...

    Then I figured out my plan for the Kona star is not going to work with a charm pack. I will expound upon that in a future episode-- but for now, I just realized something is very wrong when you can't get a 16 inch block out of a charm pack. Sounds crazy, but it's true. Imagine how justified I felt when Kimberly Jolly herself admitted on her YouTube show last Friday that she had to buy a second charm pack for the February block. My squares are presently starched and awaiting Plan B.

And that's everything I accomplished this past week!

    In my defense, I did complete this fabulous original thing which has sold well-- TYSVM, everyone. 

    I have also made tremendous progress on the dreaded T-A-X-E-S-- the earliest I have ever been with this awful task. Yes, that upside down part of the year, when you hope you didn't make too much and you are so glad you spent a ton on supplies! And it even looks like I'll be paying off some of those kits with a refund, fingers crossed.

     Then, I have been doing a major spring cleaning of the entire house. This is the little corner I have been crushed into for the past year-- I'm not complaining, it's quite cozy, and I can see everything that goes on around here from behind that computer monitor!

     Hopefully, you are not thinking that's the BEFORE picture, no, that's AFTER cleaning! "BEFORE" was totally APPALLING, trust me. Yes, I still have a little tidy up left to do. 

   After cleaning up, it is amazing how much more inviting it is to sit down and do a little sewing-- but all those projects aren't going to get much attention this week...

    We have visitors coming! Yes-- if it wasn't for company, housekeeping would never occur around here at all. An intrepid part of the family has decided to brave the temps, and the long journey, and come see us in February- I am so looking forward to a little change of pace, some good food, and some catch up with the outside world. All those kits will still be there when I'm ready, right?

     So that's the state of my little world this week-- now go enjoy yours!


Monday, February 19, 2024

Scrap Management

   It was a nice, quiet week here-- the kind you think you’re gonna have before all heck breaks loose-- but nothing happened here except a ton of sewing!

     The Haberdashery quilt is finished...

     The Fromage Tablecloth has been hemmed and delivered to the cabin...

     One of my long armed quilts has a binding (that still needs to be handstitched down)...

     and Block 10 of my Pressed Flowers quilt is done-- it is almost time to make this into a quilt!

     And not just sewing happened-- we had a beautiful Valentine’s birthday party for Mr. SFO.

   And I even did some tidy up-- the U.S.S. Constitution is saved! (As a side note-- I'd like you to know, there was so much stuff covering that countertop, that not one speck of dust was under there! :-)

     After finishing up the Haberdashery January Sew Sampler box quilt and block, I’m in a bit of a lull-- I really didn’t mean to commit to making all the Sew Sampler boxes this year, but I loved the hats. Next, I want to start working on some of my own projects. 

     There’s always a few designs each year I am especially proud of and would like to make into a larger, original piece-- this is what my "Coffee Art Mug Rug" turned into a few years back-- "DOT ZERO." It won a couple of show ribbons-- but even better, it is Mr. SFO's all time favorite quilt.


     In that category is my Heartland Quilt Block-- I do LOVE it. I’ve been thinking of making it into a pillow or maybe a wallhanging since I finished it. 

    I decided to look through my stuffy, outdated stash for coordinating fabrics. I have an entire box of Valentine fabrics-- I love the holidays, so of course, I do! I did a little fabric pull for my Love block. Good times-- I came across remnants of one of my all time favorite collections-- “Kissing Booth” by Basic Grey. I bet I have the scrapbook paper of this, too. I don't know why Basic Grey gave up their whole paper line-- I guess they saw that a lot of scrapbooking would go digital-- but there is still plenty of scrapbook paper being sold.

    Back to my stash. My stash is always such a crumbled mess as you can see in the photo above-- I am always reading about how to organize it-- did I hook you, too, with the headline on this post? Make 2-1/2” strips and store them in shoeboxes, take charm size squares and keep them in baskets, la-di-da. But no one ever tells you what to do in this situation:

File it in the oversized trapezoid bin?

   And how about this beauty, below-- like a diamond in the rough, it would take months of study to decide how to best cut it. I'm happy to just figure out how to fold it for now. Do your scraps look like mine, or is it just me?


     I lit a candle, pressed, and folded for a few minutes. Here’s my Kissing Booth fabric now, ready for use-- good job, huh!

   I’m going to just start adding borders around my cross stitch and see where it takes me. Did you know, the earliest quilts were medallion style, not sampler blocks? It make sense if you think that people who really needed blankets would take an ADD ON approach with what they could find--like a medallion quilt. A quilt made of blocks, like we make now, would take planning.

    Anyway, my Kissing Booth fabric has the perfect colors, and here's my first border!

    I am leaving my stabilizer in on this one for added stiffness-- you can see how I just cut the stabilizer out of the seam allowance before adding the borders.

     It looks like there is plenty of opportunity for a little fussy cutting my Kissing Booth fabric, too. Maybe some appliqued hearts?

    The February sew sampler box is on the way-- no one has done a spoiler yet, and I really hope I don’t like the project in it! I want to spend the month on this-- let's see if I can get some X and O blocks made for the next border this week.

     I'd also love to get my Kona Cotton star block for January done-- hee,hee. My charm squares are waiting patiently. So this quilt is a pattern, but I'm going to do some free-wheelin' with it. It's a different star every month-- I tend to like the more complicated ones, so I may go way off script. My current thought is to just take my favorite star and make them all that way. There's a ton of different colors in each charm pack, and I'm going to just randomly stitch them together. Look like fun? It's a free sew-a-long here. My favorite block is the aqua one-- third row, middle.

   I've been "good"-- starting and finishing projects-- I think I will treat myself to some new material-- pun intended!

    I’m also putting together the Zen of Thread Table Runner this week-- it matches the Zen of Thread Mug Rug that is already out. 

Finally, a table runner that can be left out ALL THE TIME in this establishment!

I'm using the new Pink Lemonade collection-- it has FIVE different greens and I just love it A set of fat quarters is way out of my budget for now, but I bought two charm packs. I also signed up for the Moonbeam Fat Quarter Shop stitch-a-long that starts later this spring. I'm disappointed in myself that signed up for another kit-- but it's just so easy to order stuff on a whim with the click of a button these days, isn't it? It does benefit Make-a-Wish, so there's that.

    The only kit type project I have going this week is the Prairie Meadow quilt-- I finally got my 11th block prepped and am really enjoying stitching it. I missed my appliqué! I am going to shoot for 16 blocks-- if I can get one done a month, I’d be done by early summer. Then I’ll make a decisions on borders. By that time, it will probably need a rest again. If it was all stitching, I’d be fine. But these blocks take a tremendous amount of time to prep!

     Someone on Flosstube threw out the question-- how do you stay motivated to keep moving projects along? One of the answers that resonated with me was-- force yourself to do at least two lengths of thread a day. If I do two shapes a day on this, it will be done in no time. The next one I do, I am taking Lori Holt's shapes and designing my own block-- that makes it more fun for me.

    So that’s what I got done last week-- this week also seems like it could be a good one-- fingers crossed, for that!

   We're over the hump of winter-- I checked the yearly temperatures here, and after the middle of February, they start to rise again. But not too fast-- I'm really enjoying these quiet days, to be sure.


Wednesday, February 14, 2024

Ten little things to love this Valentine's Day...

    Happy Valentine's Day! In the spirit of the day, here are ten little things I'm loving this winter-- maybe you'll love them, too! I'm not flying to Paris for dinner, looking at roses in a British country estate's greenhouse, or buying chocolates in Switzerland-- just blessed with the ability to recognize every day joys close to home.

1. Ryan Rose Horse Training Videos

     Did you know I always wanted/still want a horse? This is something my best friends might not know, but apparently YouTube has guessed-- one of my suggestions a couple of months ago was “Ryan Rose” horse training videos. I watch, thinking the information will come in handy when I eventually get my horse! In the meantime, it's occurred to me that many of the techniques used to retrain problem horses can also be used on people. For instance, if your horse refuses to load into a trailer, the minute it starts backing out, “help it” back out by pushing it back quite a long ways--- it will soon realize it’s easier just to to get in the trailer! Does hubby "balk" at the fabric store door? Make him walk over to grocery shop instead-- he'll soon catch on that the fabric store is cheaper these days!

2. Jackie and Shadow

     More YouTube! I promise, I am not glued to it all day, but if you haven't discovered the endless entertainment awaiting you from everyday people and places, you deserve to keep being disappointed by TV shows. 

     I forget how I discovered Jackie and Shadow-- it may have been on a Facebook post a year ago, but they are everywhere now and have hundreds of thousands of followers. Jackie and Shadow are two bald eagles nesting in front of a live camera on you Tube somewhere in California. (No, the camera doesn't bother them in any way.) Most of the year, they aren't even on the nest, but about two weeks ago, Jackie laid three eggs! I check in on them every day-- the tender scenes of them looking at their eggs, and readjusting sticks for the nest--Jackie has the final say--are both touching and comical. This could get hard, though-- it is extremely difficult for eagles to fledge three eaglets--in fact, last year, their eggs didn't even hatch. The disappointment they went through, then abandoning the eggs, was real. At the present moment, Jackie is currently buried under a snowstorm, and I get anxiety when the eggs are left unattended for a few moments. If nature gets too cruel, I may have to stop watching altogether! "Pip" watch-- (baby eagles) begins February 29th. Hoping for the best, Jackie and Shadow!

3. Walking on Water

     Now, just to prove I am not in front of a screen all day, we will move outdoors. There is no mention of temperature when Christ performed his miracle in the gospels-- but this feat is easily accomplished in Maine when the lake freezes in winter. Here's our usual view-- that’s a secret island over there and there's even a bald eagle that loves to sit on the top of a dead tree, all out of reach. 

     We tried to take the boat over to explore the island this summer, but discovered there’s no solid shoreline and couldn't get past the reeds-- the whole thing may be a marsh. It took a while, but after temps in the 20s all week, Mr. SFO, Eagle Scout, declared it safe to walk over there. We were rewarded with these beautiful mountain views-- and I do believe we even found the island's secret treasure-- our own eagle's nest!

4. Burpee Seed Catalog

     Brrrr... back inside! This 150 page beauty is the best read all winter. It used to come out very shortly after January 1st-- this year, we got ours before Christmas. If you’ve ordered from Burpee before, you probably have one-- if not, I’m sure you could request one online.

      Paging through all the veggies and flowers is a sure fire way to beat the cold weather blahs, even if you never intend to plant as much as one seed. I had my personal best garden last year and have even bigger plans this year. Because I'm trying to pay attention to the little things I like and do for this blog post, I noticed, as an artist,  I am drawn to all the most colorful veggies--- carnival peppers, kaleidoscope carrots, rainbow tomatoes. You can bet I’ll be serving "Ultraviolet Hybrid" corn on the Fourth this year. Are you down for that?

5. Christmas Stitching

     Gardening is still months away-- thank goodness we all share a hobby that can be enjoyed anytime of year! Yup, long after the big day, I really enjoy working on projects for this favorite of all holidays. The weather outside is frightful-- and still, oh, so appropriate for snowflakes and reindeer. Best of all, I have a fireplace to snuggle in front of! Even after Valentine's Day, I believe I could continue on with my jolly sewing-- I’m thinking of doing a Christmas stitch on the 25th of each month as I've seen some cross stitchers do on Instagram. Lori Holt has an upcoming Vintage Christmas quilt reprise coming up with Fat Quarter Shop in July of all times-- can I resist? Just look at that puppy and pink skate!   

6. String Lights

     No remote controlled fireplace in your home? Me, neither- ours requires a lot of hauling of wood!  Consider this. I noticed at Michaels before Christmas, they had all manner of battery operated string lights. I snagged a few sets at 40% off, mostly for the purpose of photographing machine embroidery sets. The star set pictured above has three settings-- on all the time, flashing, and sort of glowing, on and off, on and off. It's super relaxing and cozy to put them on my coffee table and watch them glow at night-- no TV allowed-- books or hand stitch only are invited. It sounds very silly trying to explain it-- but it's the essence of a simple joy for me. 

7. Sourdough Bread

     Here's the most self-serving gift I've ever bought and I don't feel a moment's guilt over it. A year ago, I got the DD a "sourdough" starter kit from King Arthur flour. I do remember my mother-in-law had something in the fridge which she took out occasionally, FED, and offered me a jar of-- I was disgusted. With age comes wisdom-- I know now that this bacteria filled goo is the foundation of all types of yummy baked goods. Even better, the DD has made some sort of religion out of it-- rising early in the day, kneading, baking at certain times... I rarely have to buy bread now. If you've ever been curious about sourdough starter-- I'd highly encourage you to buy it and start a new religious experience-- or better yet, buy it for someone who lives with you.

8.Yazy and Match 3D 

     Back to screens. I used to look down my nose at adults playing games like Angry Birds on their phones-- then I read it actually gives you a nice mental health break and increases focus. But the first time Mr. SFO caught me playing this, by the look on his face, I'm sure he thought I had a secret online gambling addiction! 

     This is "Yazy,"  -- it's just an app version of the old Yahtzee dice game. I’m the only game player in this house, so it’s pretty much my only option! For five minutes a day, it’s become a guilty pleasure. "Match 3D" is also fun-- you match up pairs of toys in a virtual toy box in a certain amount of time. As a graphic designer, the cute shapes are extremely appealing and the game also has a nostalgic vibe for me of what my floor looked like when the kids were little. This game's on a timer and is hard to win. I’ve had to limit myself-- this one is STRESSFUL!

9. Marden's

     I mentioned this Surplus and Salvage store, exclusive to Maine, in the past couple of posts. They have a fabric department. It's become a weekly run.

     They have all the designer collections with the highest price being $6.99/yd-- some are $2.99. This is last weekend's haul-- I got 3yds. of the cute Tula Pink teacups for a potential backing fabric. The oranges are because my sister lives in Florida. And the chickens, well, one of them looks like Buttercup. I promised myself I would only buy fabric that I had a reason for. So there you go!

10. A Little Poem on Facebook                                                                                                                                                                               Beware what you click on social media-- I was offered a video on YouTube about someone who got stuck in a cave and watched 2 seconds of it until I realized if I continued, claustrophobia would plague me for the rest of my life. Since then, all kinds of murder and mayhem is now showing up on my home screen. Luckily, on Facebook, I appear to be making better decisions-- literature is coming up frequently, especially poetry. I did not even know I liked poetry until AI pointed it out to me. Thank you, AI! So this beauty came up one evening--

     It reminded me of my mom who we lost last year-- she had the cottage by the sea, the kettle-- she probably would have had foxgloves, not sunflowers, in the little garden between her kitchen window and the sidewalk, but that doesn't matter. I just had a really warm and peaceful moment when I read it-- does it remind you of anyone? And I am totally confident I will find her in the future. I love and miss you, Mom. Happy Valentine's Day, with Dad, in heaven. <3

    So that's it for Valentine's Day! It's also Mr. SFO's birthday, and while you're reading this, I am probably baking a cake-- a very chocolate-y cake, his favorite-- and preparing a fabulous dinner. Wishing you a beautiful day, surrounded by all the people and things you love!


Sunday, February 11, 2024

This, that, and the other thing...

      Don't ever congratulate yourself for getting a lot done-- pride comes before the fall! So you can guess, I really don't have too much to show for the last ten days. The reason? One idea might be our fabulous new water filter system in the house. It turns out our water had uranium in it-- I wasn't worried, privately thinking it could be the source of my sewing super powers. (Say you're a Marvel Universe fan without saying it.) Mr. SFO has now "fixed" it... so no more uranium boosts for me. The other thing could be-- I got a ton of stuff over the finish line, without really queuing up the next things-- and as usual, there are too many of them.

     Let's start with fun sewing-- working on one thing at a time is a strategy that works-- but the trick is, you have to work on the one thing! I've been faithful to the January Sew Sampler Lori Holt hat quilt, but not faithful at working on it. It's adorable. When I saw the picture of the quilt, I thought the little flowers in the hats might have been appliqued. 

     No worries, people! They are made of a zillion little tiny pieces-- haha-- all of them requiring you to draw a diagonal line across the back.

     Awhile ago, I bought this Lori Holt accessory-- the woman is a marketing genius-- which you tape to your sewing machine base and simply hold the points of your squares on a line, then just sew across, instead of drawing a line. This has been taped to my machine for months-- it's cute-- I finally tried it.

     It worked well enough, was a time save-- I'd recommend it. So would the drawn lines work better? As always, in the quilting math, time equals better results. But I'm trying to differentiate between "perfect" and "good enough" for these types of projects which are meant to be loved, and will never see the white glove of a judges hand.

    All of the flowers are now done-- that's what I have to show for my week. And they look great. The rest of the quilt should FLY now. Should. These are big hats as you might guess, from the big flower. 

     In other Lori Holt news, I am moving, albeit at a snail's pace, on prepping #11 Prairie Meadow quilt block. This week I got four more pieces prepped and some flower centers stitched down. It was a nice change from doing cross stitch. These blocks take a tremendous amount of time to prep. That's part of what I got hung up on. After all the parts are ready, the backgrounds are all stitched out of 16 pieces as well. But I've really committed to working on this again over the course of the winter-- and I'm still enthusiastic about making four extra blocks and appliqued borders so let's see what happens!

     No progress on the Lori Holt sewing themed cross stitch. Wow! I really do like Lori Holt. I think it's because I'm so nostalgic all the time.

      My three quilts came back from the longarmer-- I love them! So quite a bit of binding to do as well.  Fortunately, you can see by the themes of the quilts-- there's no rush on two of them!

     I especially love the way this one came out-- there is every type of longarm pattern in the world-- multiples of each, even-- when I said "snowflakes with swirls," I was offered about 8 different ones. 

    And I'm sure I'm going to have a chance to try them all, by the time my own longarm gets set back up!

    Now, for an embarrassing photo.

    This is the current state of the countertop behind my desk. It's so tragic-- after 225 years of service in the Navy, the U.S.S. Constitution has sunk in a sea of fabric.

    I have spent some time over the past week cleaning up, and there's plenty more to be done. I went on a slew of ordering around Christmas, and the binding fabrics for the aforementioned quilts are in this pile somewhere, which even if I found them, I'm not sure I'd remember what they were for. My DD was in London for her honeymoon and she came back with a new favorite saying at our house. "We'll get it sorted." Best said in a British accent.

     On the digitizing front, I've had trouble picking one thing to work on, so nothing is coming along. I really want to make a bigger "Winter Twist" piece as I've said before, now that I live in Winterland. I'd love to have an original piece in the Maine quilt show this year-- it's so appropriate. So if I add more detail to the Winter Twist blocks and make them 7x12, I'd have about a 19" x 19" inch piece, with borders, could make 30x30, which is what you need at a minimum for a respectable quilt show quilt.

       What's holding me back? First of all, I have no idea how this would even come out-- if I'm going to offer something for sale, I'd like to know it's going to be beautiful! 
     Next, I'm already getting late-- by the time I finished it, it could be summer. Who's down for sewing a winter piece then? LOL. 
    Third negative-- the Maine quilt show has a deadline for entries of May, even though the show is in late July. You don't need pressure when you're trying to be creative-- at least, I hate working that way.      Finally, the instructions are always so daunting-- here we have four pieces to connect, and then a final middle stitch out to draw them all together-- then quilt instructions for borders? The idea is a creativity crusher! 
     I think what I will do, is just schedule in a half a day this week and see what happens. In spite of all the negativity-- I really want to do it. That's what counts, right?
     Then here's an easy fun thing I wish I had started sooner-- making the Zen of Thread into a tablerunner. I'm tempted to make a pillow this time too-- "Sewtopia," whenever it gets built, has room for a couch! Thank goodness there's no kitchen up there or I'd never be seen again.

    All the measurements on this have already been figured out on past projects I did this to-- so all I have do is just write over the squirrel borders with sewing machine things I can just lift from the mug rug.     And of course, make it, which will take some time. I have my Strawberry Lemonade Charm Packs and some background possibilities ready to go. Pink and I are the best buddies we have ever been-- but I'm taking a break from it! Yellow, anyone?

    And the last thing I'm digitizing is a "Winter Alphabet"-- it's high time to do another alphabet, San Fran Stitch style!

Don't laugh, but I started this a couple of years ago, and got stuck on the "S." If you know typography, an S has shapes that cannot easily be copied from other letters in the alphabet, which is how I got that far in the first place! But we now have an S. This is a ton of testing-- can you guess it-- 26 stitch outs to be exact, -- so I may hold it till the late fall.

     So that is this, that, and everything! I've also embraced winter and have not been stuck in front of computer screen all day, as I used to be, before I realized how beautiful it all is. Here's another embarrassing, but cute photo:

     This is me and Mr. SFO walking on our frozen lake when I thought I was taking a picture of the mountains, but the camera had flipped... Mr. SFO the Eagle Scout looks like he is forging ahead there ahead of me, and I look, well...


So let's just say 2024 has straightened out a bit, or maybe my attitude has, and let's forge ahead into a new week... whatever comes, we'll sort it!