Monday, July 4, 2022

Settling...

 Happy Fourth!


So I had promised myself to do a weekly journal entry this year-- I SO wanted to have (52) for 2022 listed on the right column of the blog there-- but you have to settle in life many times and this is another of them.  Struggling for once a month posting  now! (12)



Who knew that the decision to oil my kitchen cabinets would lead to then cleaning them out, painting the kitchen, then starting a bathroom refresh, then basically redoing the whole house, realizing that it’s too big for us with our now empty nest, and maybe in a year or two we’ll think about moving, to maybe that the market’s so great we should do it now.



I suspect that this was Mr. SFOs intention all along, but he gently brought me a long. So there it is. We hope to be out of here by the end of the summer.



I do HATE change-- this house is a treasure with its woods and water and I dreamed of keeping it in the family. It’s much easier to cross a bridge when you have a sweet landing spot and between painting and packing we found a new home-- I’m just going to tease you-- it’s WEST again for San Francisco Stitch Co. and it’s in the mountains. (I married and mountain man and knew this would eventually be the case.)  Woods and water abound. Also-- it’s a quilter’s home-- when we toured the house I saw the tiny log cabin quilt hanging and my heart skipped a few beats. The space for the longarm, the design wall are all there-- it already felt like home! Let’s just say there are more than a few places for gorgeous quilt photography once we get settled.


Meanwhile, mom is physically doing well, but her mind continues to slip. It’s been a challenge, but my sister is with us for about a month and her help has been amazing. We are taking it, truly, one day at a time while we clean, pack, and plan.




You might or might not be surprised but I have been doing 20 minutes of sewing a night! I finished this cute personalized  gift with a Carefree Highways design-- oh, sew appropriate for Fourth of July! I plan to make a few of these for Christmas for my family and friends with new homes or a lot of state pride. I had hoped to do a tutorial on how to make this but again, we will have to settle for nothing. It’s easy to figure out--just make the 4-1/2” design, make a star using the sizes in my free quilt pattern (link below), and the stripes are 2” finished. I embroidered the town name on a white stripe for some extra personalization. The finished size of the pillow was  a generous 20" x 20"-- perfect for an Adirondack chair! 



Then I’m also making another gift with one of my Baltimore Album designs. It was sew fun to stitch this design out from 2016, like an old friend. I am adding a flying goose border with fabrics from Fancy That Design House's first collection for Moda. They matched perfectly, and then I swapped up some of the thread colors for an even better match! You should feel free to make thread colors your own--once you buy an SFO design, it is no longer my design-- IT IS YOURS!



The Autumn Sampler is finished! I was slightly over my year anniversary of starting-- June 22. I’m hoping to bring it to my favorite Michaels for framing before we leave these parts. I stitched my name in tiny, invisible letters in the corner. At some point, I'll chart a free alphabet if you'd like to do this. 



Is it more vain to sign, or NOT to sign your work? Such was the famous argument between two impressionist painters. I sign mine-- because I, myself, am so curious about the makers behind the makes.



A Ribbon Runs Through It is unfortunately on hold. I got to 15 of 16 interior blocks before I was ALL IN on the move and packed it away. I will advise you that boxing up some stuff away from the cluttered disaster my sewing room had become really freed up the creative space in my head! So maybe I will just pull out one UFO at a time when eventually we are settled again.  We’ll see what happens with that, but A Ribbon Runs Through It will be FIRST! I have loved this stitch-a-long, and now, with this great story of adversity surrounding it, it is even more special.




Hope you are having an amazing summer! Never assume that your tomorrow is going to look exactly like your today-- enjoy every minute of it.


xox

Carol


The Carefree Highways quilt pattern is HERE.

The Swallow embroidery pattern is HERE.

Saturday, June 4, 2022

A Happy Memorial Day!

     A little late on this post... it started as "Happy Memorial Day," so I changed it to "A Happy Memorial Day" to update it-- clever, huh!

     The huge spring cleaning has progressed nicely, again, to the detriment of sewing-- I'll show you what little I did accomplish this week, before the cleaning news, so you can tune it out if you want to.

     Block 14 of A Ribbon Runs Through it is complete-- it took three weeks to get this done instead of one, so I'm left with two blocks, and two weeks behind. I'm giving myself a deadline of June 15th-- it's kind of exciting, because that would complete the center portion of the quilt. All sixteen blocks are different coloration, some I love, some not-- thank goodness I decided against changing them up!

    This one has just way too much gold for me:


     Now that we have all fifty Carefree Highways stitched, I started making some gifts for people with individual states. This is for someone in Maine. I'm turning it into an American flag pillow, and I need it Monday-- LOL-- so I will definitely have a finish to show next week. (fingers crossed)


If it comes out, I'm going to make three or four more for Christmas gifts. Who doesn't need a fresh pillow-- a personalized, nice fresh pillow at that! I'm customizing it with a town name.


     And last, here I am, slogging through the last of the Sandy Orton Autumn Sampler! 


I got through the dreaded ruler on the right there, then completed the dreaded top, above the ruler, which had 2 or three stitches each of 100 colors. All that's left is a little bit of dreaded back stitch, and it is COMPLETE! I'll just note that I absolute HATE getting up in the morning lately-- such a shame since the summer has finally arrived, but I think this morning stitch is a big part of my malaise. I am done with cross stitch for quite some time, thank you.

     That's all for sewing-- here's what I really did work at this week.  

Before:


and after:


     If you are ever searching for a new home, and the realtor mentions "plenty of cabinet space," do yourself a favor and leave the premises immediately! I have a SICK amount of cabinet space, and when I realize how fully packed out everything got with God knows what in it, I finally tackled a bit of cleanup. The last straw was when I realized my husband and I were really only using the top two plates of a stacked up service for 12.

     This represents only three of dozens of cabinets that I methodically sorted into: donate, box up, and keep, then rubbed and buffed with the magic RESTORE Golden Oak oil. So the kitchen is looking fantastic, so much so, that Mr. SFO is going to have a battle on his hands if the time comes to put the old family house on MLS listings in a couple of months.

    I'd totally encourage you to tackle your similar cabinet problems now, and enjoy your kitchen, instead of feeling like you are doing it for something else. This is my all-time favorite mug my girlfriend, Anna, gave me and certainly sums up the effort. It's a keeper.


Then, for Memorial Day, we pulled the Gypsies off the Appalachian Trail (you can get on and off the AT as many times as you like, and as long as you finish in a calendar year, your hike is still considered "official," if that sort of thing is important to you) and my brother drove 22 hours from Minnesota to visit.


Why? Well my mom is really failing, and the hospice people encouraged us to open our doors for last family visits. It is strange to say, we all had a great time considering the circumstances and Mom was well enough the entire visit. This is so much better than getting together for a funeral.


    I pulled out all the stops with displays of fine quilting on Memorial day-- hee,hee, we grilled out, and the artist-in-residence baked what is most likely her last cake in this establishment. Evan and she will not be off trail again for three or four months, I believe.



    So that is the strange mix of emotions for the week-- happy/sad, hellos/goodbyes, change/constancy. Just riding the roller coaster that is my life for right now, with you, my dear bloggy friends.

xox
Carol


Sunday, May 22, 2022

Spring Cleaning

     Regrettably, not much to show in the way of sewing this week, but I did get a little digitizing and embroidery done.

     Drum roll please... the release of the final set of Carefree Highways states is imminent! In plain English-- all fifty states are done, with state birds and flowers, state shape and capitals, and ribbon nicknames! I am super proud of this work-- it has taken about two years to work through them and I thank you all who cheered me along. Look for this on Tuesday.

    The last states were heartland states, probably because I sadly know nothing about these states. But after researching each of them, I realize they are all amazing in their own way. Have you been reading the fun facts I gather on each instruction sheet? I guess I have been blessed with a lifelong love of learning as I truly enjoyed learning about our nifty fifty.

     I have not been able to motivate myself to start the big quilt yet, but still hopeful the inspiration will strike soon. I plan on working on it exclusively until it is finished, like some of the wonder woman quilters on Instagram do. This is the box of "parts" which is very hard to get started to. The journey of a thousand miles...


     I also want to make some pillows with a single state set into a US flag as gifts, to show the possibilities if you are not inclined to make them all.  Do you know a person with a lot of state pride with an upcoming birthday? Stay tuned! I used to think state pride was reserved for people with really cool states, like Texas or Colorado, but after learning about each state-- they are all cool! I can even say I do have a lot of fondness for my own home state of NJ--yep, the poor state that has been the brunt of jokes for years. Like when you say you are from NJ, people will ask, "What exit?!" Heehee-- I lived happily at Exit 22B for many years. <3

   The June birth month mug rug is already out-- June is a special month-- the birthstone is the Pearl (is that even a stone?) and the flower is the queen of all flowers, the Rose. I am very partial to this month as it is the artist-in-residence's month-- the artist is no longer in residence, and is now "Fern" of Gypsy Trails and won't be home for her birthday-- but they made it to Virginia. I can't send it to her, because she will really resent the extra 4 oz. of weight to carry, but I'm sure a nice mug rug would be a nice touch of civilization to have under your granola bar while hiking.



So the cleaning of my sewing room kind of inspired me to go through the entire house, and that's where the bulk of time went last week. Below-- a rare view of the San Francisco Stitch Co. lounge area as it currently exists! 

    We have been in this house for fifteen years and a change may be in the air... it's way too big for us now that the kids are gone and the real estate market is so strong everywhere. Before that happens, there are a few projects that need finishing... I knew when I married an architect, I'd have a beautiful home, but I didn't realize what it would take to get it. Mr. SFO changes things around like a writer crosses out and rewrites with his pen.... hence this closed off door opening, now library.

   We have some built-in cabinets to finish, then some bathroom bead board to install, and french doors that need painting and hardware. I'm hoping all of this takes quite some time as I'm not really ready yet to let go of this wonderful place. Does anyone else out there struggle with change as much as I do? I have seen other people just decide to move on and they are up and out with no remorse or sadness-- it's kind of inspiring in a way.


    Of course, I have my job list, too-- I used a product called RESTORE to freshen up our oak cabinets in the kitchen. (Mr. SFO wanted to paint them white-- BUT YOU DO NOT PAINT WOOD. I spent 17 years in our first home stripping painted wood. So yes, we're a bit out of style, but that's who we are! When he saw how great they look, he now pronounced himself a believer. Despite losing most of my sewing time this week to that project (I was too physically tired to even sew at night) I still have about 75% of rubbing and buffing to go! Here's hoping the added arm strength will get me motivated on the long arm.


     Now for what little sewing I did get done... Block 13 is finished and I have started the 14th block of the Ribbon quilt. 


     Block 14 should have been finished by the 15th for me to stick with my made up schedule. To add insult to injury, the Fat Quarter Shop's shipping delays are now apparently starting to resolve. So I received the Month 5 shipment right after Month 4! 



     The good news is, Month 5 is all four of the same block-- the same four blocks of Month Six, too. So I'm going to wait and make all 8 at one time when Month Six comes and hopefully catch up. I chuckle as I write-- isn't is sew fun to make quilt-y plans in your head, and of course, I have no idea if I will be able to do that! I do love to "think" about sewing... do you?



     The Autumn Sampler edges, oh so closely to a finish-- I have started the dreaded ruler, a solid fill-- and more good news-- it's not as big as the city block I had imagined in my head. Could this be finished by its year anniversary-- in my mind, I'm envisioning YES! Did I mention I despise this project now.



    And last, I will give you the Gypsy Trails update, if you aren't watching on YouTube. But first, I will admonish you, because Fern's videos are really artistically beautiful and produced every night from their tent on the trail. (As I write that, I feel ashamed I have been too tired to sew at night when I haven't backpacked 15 miles that day!) Her partner Gypsy, has a great sense of humor and we have been laughing every mile of the way. The videos come out at 5pm, they are about 15 minutes each and we just watch them at dinner time.


     Fern and Gypsy are doing really well on the Appalachian Trail-- some initial knee problems, sunburn, and insect bites have resolved and their daily mileage is up around ten a day, and now even 14 a day which is where it needs to be to reach Mount Katahdin in Maine before the trails official close on October 15th. They just reach Virginia after starting in Georgia, and I believe they are near 500 miles, or the 1/4 way point. Virginia, in and of itself is another 1/4 and the biggest state to cross. I looked at a map, and it's because you aren't hiking straight South to North, but following the ridge line of the Shenandoah which runs diagonally across more of the width of the state. Mr. SFO and I used to visit the Seven Bends area frequently back in the day, and I'm looking forward to seeing it again on film. 


    Every night after the video, we stick a pin in a map to document their progress.  Every step they make is a step closer to home, and that's keeping me happy and optimistic as well.

     Last up-- the weather report! Nature has finally "flipped the switch" and we went from 50s right to 80s yesterday. Some of the home improvement projects are outside, and for this I can't wait!

    Tough times for all of us right now-- some serious stuff happening in the world and here at home as well, but when I put it aside to write the blog, I see that there is much to be grateful for. Have a great week!

xox

Carol

    


Friday, May 13, 2022

Dusting out the cobwebs...

     So when we last spoke, I was considering cutting my Pioneer Woman fat quarters into more usable squares... which I did! Some I cut 4-1/2", but that seemed a little big, and some I cut 3-1/2," which seemed "just right." I already made up my mind, unlike Goldilocks, to skip trying the 2-1/2" size which would have been too small. Any of these sizes will make great 12 inch finished blocks, if you ever decide to chop up fat quarters! I do have an abundance of ideas for them, but...

    before I even finished cutting them, I got mad at myself for starting yet more projects and I put everything away for now! It has come to my attention that the general MESS my sewing room has become is one of the main reasons my creative juices are dried up. I mean, I can barely walk in there, let alone know or find anything I have.

    I decided to box up some of my unfinished stuff and relegate it to the cellar for now-- until my life gets a little less crazy. So this includes many, many unfinished small pieces-- like the small My Christmas Album piece, both Once Upon a Time, Winter pieces, all three "Twist" projects, and binding only on many of my yearly series from Sept- Dec when I ran out of gas on getting bindings on! And that is only about 5% of what I boxed!

    I do have a bit of a fatalistic streak, and everything time I box something up, I wonder if I will ever be unboxing it-- or who will eventually unbox it-- hee,hee-- and what they will think! But year after year, three boxes of Christmas ornaments still get unwrapped by me, myself and I- so let's knock on wood these dear things will eventually be unboxed by me, and finished by me! I can see myself pulling one out a time, from the top down, and completing them in some future place.

    This is the "after" picture of the closet and many hours of work, in case you think it's the "before"! It's not very glamorous, but I can now see what I have-- notice TWO EXTRA IRONS, haha!


     Then I boxed up some kits-- the remaining Frivols, some Sew Sampler boxes, my Dessert Quilt, and a couple of other large kits that I will not be getting to this year. Won't it be fun to unbox this stuff, when I forget what's in there-- what delightful surprises!

    Next, I'm going to box up some fat quarters and other untouched fabric that I just don't want to break open for now. All of this has really given me the room to at least navigate around in there and hopefully organize what's left and what I do want to work on.

    Here are two things from the "unfinished pile" that are SO CLOSE I'm going to try to just winch them across the finish line.

     This is a little wall hanging I made (or was making, LOL!) for my figure skating daughter about ten years ago. I actually sat during her ice time and worked on it. It's a Fig Tree pattern-- well before the day I knew who Joanna Figueroa was, or what Moda was, or Grunge fabric. So I was delighted to rediscover it! 

     My daughter will still love this-- all it needs is about 50% more free motion quilting and it's done. I even did the binding before the quilting-- haha. A real breach of quilting etiquette there-- what a novice!


     Here is my "applique" work-- it speaks for itself! I love it-- perfection has eluded me for many decades, so why make it a priority now?  The loose strings are quilting threads, waiting to be buried, for so very long now-- they will get their due!


I guess this was also from the free motion quilting pile--


     This is a slightly younger piece-- back in the days of Craftsy. It was Lori Kennedy's class-- her free motion is very unique and folksy-- look her up. So this was a practice piece-- it looks like I was going to make six of them. So five untouched quilt sandwiches went to the donate pile, and this one just needs the binding stitched down. Again, I love it, and I can just use it as a little candle mat or something. I hope to continue to just box up and get control of my space for the next couple of weeks.

     I didn't get any sewing done on Mother's Day as I had hoped-- and I'm falling behind on A Ribbon Runs Through It. This is Block 13 of 16-- to stay current, all 16 need to get done by the end of the month. Gonna try my best! Then Phase One of this project is over.

  

Flying geese are such a problem for me-- after twelve blocks, you'd think I could do it! I tried stitching a little to one side of the drawn line-- then a little to the other side of the line-- then I just stitched RIGHT ON THE LINE for goodness' sake-- but I still end up with a little scant-ish seam in one corner. I'm just going to let it go-- I'm using a little shorter seam length, and I don't think the quilt will fall apart over it. I already checked, and Phases Two, Three, and Four have more opportunities to not get them right.


My cross stitching project is getting very exciting and very, very close to being finished. My mom and Mr. SFO have made a running joke every day of saying-- "Are you going to finish that today?!" I'm still laughing along, and one day, maybe within a month, I will put the last stitch in right under their noses!


     And here are my Gypsies--


This is a Facetime snap when they exited Smoky Mountain National Park. Watch their YouTube Channel, Gypsy Trails-- it is way better than anything on TV! I am pleasantly surprised that they have been able to get in touch by phone, Facetime, or even text for all except a couple of days. Still, I miss them terribly. If I had realized when they drove away in April, how a happy part of my life was ending, I definitely would have cried more! 


But as they say, you can't go back, you can only go forward, so I will keep on clearing out cobwebs, both real and imagined, and take a day at a time.

xoxo

Carol


     

Tuesday, May 3, 2022

I'm almost there!

      We are finally starting to have some days in the low 60s. In the spirit of spring, I've summoned up my optimism and found joy in the distractions that are keeping me out of the sewing room for the most part right now. Here are some pictures of what the deer left of my spring bulbs while I blether a bit.

     On the weekend, we decided to go over to my son's house-- he lives just ten minutes away. So I'm ashamed to say, we hadn't been over in a couple of years-- LOL. The closer a thing is, the less likely you'll visit it. I recall as a kid living ten minutes from Niagara Falls, and we NEVER made a trip to the falls, at least not until we lived 8 hours away! Anyway, we see our son frequently here and also at his shop which is closer than his house, in my defense.

     Anyway, it just felt so weird to be doing a thing just for the fun of it-- it made me realize how I've strapped myself down in front of the computer and sewing room for quite a few years now, bowing to the god of productivity. I got to hold one of my "grandchickens," see the garden he's planting in the yard, and just connect. I didn't even take pictures which I am always doing for this blog-- so you'll just have to take my word for it-- his rooster was BIG and DANGEROUS!

    I've often thought that the desire to sew might not always be the first thing in my mind or that circumstances might not allow it... I'm still not sure how I feel about it and hope to "goof off" a bit more this summer to explore life beyond the quilts.

    (This is actually a "Thai Basil" flower from my Aerogarden-- more on the Aerogarden next time, but it continues to give me endless joy.)

    Sew... let's not forget this is a sewing blog-- heehee. And, of course, my day is still not complete until needle and thread meet, even if it's only for 20 minutes.

     So the next business item in the works is the last set of Carefree Highways states-- South Dakota, Nebraska, Iowa, Kansas, and Missouri. At the end of a thing, your mind always goes back to the beginning-- the pandemic was just starting, and I wondered if I could complete a set of fifty! Some kind person emailed me, "Just do one every two weeks," which sounded so reasonable and so kind, and in the end now that's just about what I did! The first five were alphabetical as I tested the waters, and I remember someone else lived in Wyoming and was pretty upset with me. So then I decided to skip around-- my apologies to the people of these last heartland states. I am ashamed to admit I have never been to any of them, but when I do my little bit of research, they are incredibly beautiful and all deserving of a visit! I do need to at least Google what the Western Meadowlark's call actually sounds like. <3 

     Isn't Mount Rushmore so cute!

    I am about to launch into a serious chain piecing event as I try to get this quilt together. When I re-read my instructions-- it says you need 200 flying geese-- my eyes glazed over (this is an incredibly humbling moment, to have your eyes glaze over while reading your own writing) but I'm thinking I may just tackle a couple of rows at a time. I know it's quicker to make them all at once, though. Let's see what happens! I forgot to put the finished size on the instructions, but even using the smaller size design gets you a hefty 80" x 100" quilt!

     Then, I got the missing fabric from the supplier for blocks 9-12 of the Ribbon Runs Through It quilt. OK, I will just stop protecting the guilty-- it was Fat Quarter Shop. So the irony is, you know how much fabric they give you for a Block of the Month-- it is seriously twice as much as needed. But this one fabric was one that was not used before. I'd guess most people are behind on this BOM and didn't even miss it! Each block is 127 pieces,  I think, because it's hard for me to count that high!

     So I just about have 12 blocks done, (or 1,524 pieces), as soon as I complete Block 9 with the missing fabric. I have everything needed to finish the next four blocks now and that is the end of "Phase One" of this project, The colors in the first sixteen blocks are all different and they had to be made individually. The next three phases as I am calling them in my head, all involve repeated blocks with the same fabric-- chain piecing heaven again. So as long as my eyes don't glaze over, I'm hoping to spend less time on this each month and get on to some other things.

     This picture I took from Sew 'n Wild Oaks, the designer.

    I really need to stop going to Walmart-- I got seduced into buying more Pioneer Woman fat quarters! I washed and starched them, and I think I am going to cut them all into 4-1/2" squares and piece them together willy-nilly just for some fun table toppers. I'm really curious how far 24 fat quarters will go-- maybe I'll even have enough left for a throw! This type of easy project is super appealing to me after the intensive piecing I've done on the Ribbon quilt. I'm going to tag the Pioneer Woman in Instagram when I finish and see if I can get a mention! I am obsessed with these patterns, and let's just hope I don't start buying lamps, shirts, dresses, and slow-cookers cuz she's got a big product lineup!

     Finally, the morning sewing is going with a vengeance-- am I still enjoying this project-- I'm not sure! When Mr. SFO and I were newlyweds, fixing up a fixer-upper home-- we would work on a project and he would always say "We're getting there!" or "We're almost there!" I would get so angry, because we were never "there," always just "getting there." (Happily, I concealed my rage and the marriage lasted.) And I do admit when we sold that house, there was still a window in the back of a closet that never got sheet rocked in--heehee.

    But this project is definitely at the "getting there," phase-- I had hoped for ten months, but now I'm racing to get this done in a year. I remember starting it around the end of June. So I'm almost done with the little red schoolhouse, but then there are apples, a pencil, a top (that has 3 stitches each of about thirty colors in it) and the dreaded ruler-- on that very extreme bottom right edge-- that is filled in solid. This is the picture from the pattern.

  So you can see, I'm almost there!


Wishing you a happy spring spirit today whatever your actual situation or season may be.

xox 

Carol