Saturday, May 30, 2009

Diet and Exercise

Not much going on today- I have more cleaning to do, and company coming this afternoon, and grandkids staying for the week following (which gives me the perfect excuse to go and see UP, which I want to see anyway). I got another row done on the Firefly mitered square socks, but it looks like the earlier rows and isn't worth scanning.

So, what to talk about...hmmm.... okay, I haven't mentioned diet and exercise lately. I weigh about 8lbs more than last summer but am still wearing the same clothes, which tells me that most of that 8lbs is muscle (and the rest went to the proper places- I don't look quite as cadaverous as I did last August). And here's a mystery for you- my summer capris (which I bought last year and am wearing now) are all size 12, but my winter jeans are all size 8. The capris are all a little loose, a couple of the jeans are a little tight, but all of them fit mostly the same, and they're all comfortable. The jeans are all Lee Riders, the capris are different manufacturers. My guess is that Lee sizes down, and I'm really a size 12 (down from a 24) not a size 8 (which is a little bit of a blow, but I'll survive).

Regardless of jeans size, I don't obsessively measure or write down everything I eat and I seem to be maintaining pretty well. I allow myself a treat once in awhile if I'm at a Starbucks in the afternoon (their lemon pound cake is amazing), but mostly I stick to the 3 meals, 3 snacks (still prefer chocolate chips in the evening to any other dessert), no second helpings ever, moderate servings, potatoes OR bread-not both, and just being sensible. It's habit now, not something I have to think about or agonize over. The reason for the change (diabetic husband) is doing most excellently on the regime- his doctor was thrilled with his numbers and all is well.

The summer exercise routine is as follows: 6 days a week run/walk 1 1/2 miles, swim laps for a total of 300m (takes me about 20 minutes, and believe me, I'm winded afterward). It's less running/walking than in the winter, but the swim makes up for it. I'm not doing any weight work because I figure I'm getting enough upper body stuff with the swimming.

As the weather warms up, and with grandkids visiting, I'll be in the pool even more often. I love swimming, and I love splashing around with the kids.

I worry about weight creep- I will always worry about weight creep and denial, but it's going on 2 years since The Change, and I think I'm finding a balance between living normally and maintaining while not obsessing. I didn't mind being the size I used to be, but it took a lot of work to get to where I am now, and I'd like to stay here.

The real trick will be to keep up on vacation this summer- 2 weeks in some very good food places... but we'll figure it out.

I haven't posted any recipes for awhile, because we've settled into a meal routine as well- eating mostly recipes I've posted already. But I just discovered Carbquick ( ), a low-carb baking mix (like Bisquick), and have been trying some wonderful things. including strawberry shortcake, which I am making tonight, and will try to snap a pic so I can post a recipe tomorrow. We also like Dreamfield's low-carb pasta (which seems to work for my husband- no glucose spikes at all). I buy both from Netrition ( ).

Anyway, it's an adventure.

Friday, May 29, 2009

The Field Report, and... wait for it... Knitting!

It is starting to warm up (we've had a couple of afternoons in the 80's, and we're past our last frost date finally), but outside of a brief rain squall last night, we haven't had any rain lately, so the corn that was planted last week, has only barely sprouted. But I bet the tiny baby corn plants be pretty visible by next week.

And here's Pheasant City Drive-In Theater, which opens for the season tonight, with Monsters and Aliens. No, I'm not going, but I believe several Grands will.

... and... We have company coming for the weekend, and grandkids visiting for the week following, so though I am going to try to do some marathon piece cutting today, I am putting the sewing machine away for the duration. Which means... Knitting! Again! Finally!

I finished the handspun waffle socks (Twisted Fiber Arts BFL/Kinky roving, Braider colorway, 2 ply) and love how they came out. They're soft and cushy, and yet they feel durable. The color in the scan is closest to *real*. And I cast on another mitered sock- this one Twisted Playful (heavy fingering weight) Firefly. I'm going to do a mitered cuff, and then pick up the heel and foot and knit them in the round.

But mostly, I'm going to clean. Believe me, my house needs it.
p.s. I took a short road trip yesterday and forgot to take the Zune along, and so was forced to listen to the radio. I don't think that Taylor Swift realizes that the whole Romeo/Juliet scenario ended badly.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Wednesday, May 27, 2009


(thanks for the heads up, Bunny)

Sock and Awe, More Lessons

Yesterday was registration day for the Sock Summit. I knew it was going to be a feeding frenzy. The amazing organizers knew it was going to be a feeding frenzy. The amazing organizers told the IT people that it was going to be a feeding frenzy. It was a feeding frenzy. Unfortunately, the IT people did not believe in the power of sock knitters, and registration turned into an exercize in stress and frustration and many bad words as the site continually crashed, stalled, and otherwise foiled knitters' attempts to sign up for classes (on my first attempt, my 15 minute window for class-holds was down to 18 seconds as I hit the enter button with my credit card number when the whole thing froze and I lost it all). But I persevered, and waited a bit, and muttered bad words (directed at the IT people, not the organizers, who did everything in their power to see that this would not happen), and tried again. And again. And again. And finally, got through.

I had modest expectations for my Summit classes. I knew that there were many more people who wanted to go, than could possibly fit. And I knew that classes taught by the most famous names were going to disappear instantly. So I prepared my wish list from classes that featured techniques that I did not already know, wanted to learn, or needed help with, paying no attention to the teacher's names. My flight was booked already, and I was going, whether I had classes or not, so the class roster wasn't a life or death thing for me anyway. And still, it was traumatic. Luckily, from my first choices, I got 5 of the classes I wanted (including the podcasting class, which was at the absolute top of my list), and one of the other classes was my 2nd choice. I am delighted.

So, Sock Summit Thursday, I'll be taking: Basic Crochet Socks in the morning, and Cabled Crochet Socks in the afternoon (both first choices). Friday Morning will be Podcasting for Amateurs (be afraid), Friday afternoon is the booksinging, where The Big Book of Socks will hopefully debut, Saturday morning it's Hip Hems for Him and Her (a 2nd choice but it looks like great fun), in the afternoon it's 2-1 hour classes: Darn It, and Grafted Bind Off for 1x1 Rib. On Sunday, I signed up for Turkish Stitches, a 1 hour class that is a total mystery to me, but it should be interesting. I also snagged tickets for the Sock Hop, the Opening Night Banquet and the Luminary Panel.

I am totally happy with this schedule, and beyond excited to attend.

I finished the Whatever Quilt and I love it. And I learned even more things:
#1. Premeditated snark is sometimes a wasted effort because invisible thread actually is
#2. To the extent that you can sew another 6" before realizing that the bobbin thread ran out
#3. Invisible thread is as fine as a spiderweb, and as strong as steel.
#4. I love invisible thread.

And I learned something from making the Christmas Theme table runner (fabric from Moda's Frosted Memories line) from the On A Roll book:
#1. Slow the hell down. Amazing how my corners meet when I'm not trying to run a race.
#2. See above.
p.s. I miss American Idol...

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Spin Your Socks

Drum Roll Please: Interweave now has a downloadable (PDF) sock spinning book available, called, appropriately enough,
Spin Your Socks.
In addition to excellent advice on spinning yarns specifically for sock knitting (which applies across the board, as far as I am concerned- ALL yarn is sock yarn), there are 8 sock patterns from back issues of Spin-Off magazine, including my own Spindle Spun Christmas Stocking.

It's a gorgeous book, downloadable (about 8mg), and eminently affordable. I am very proud to be a part of this lovely book. Check it out.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Lessons on the road to Whatever

I learned several important things as I assembled the Whatever Quilt top (and of course, real quilters know all of this stuff already):

#1. I will never be more than an enthusiastic amateur quilter. Even when I start with my blocks all exactly 8 1/2" square, I still end up with misaligned corners.

#2. Sashings are sort of like painting hallways- you look at them and think, "well, it's narrow, it won't take long to finish", forgetting that it's not the width that matters, but the length. Adding sashings vertically and horizontally doubled the number of seams while only adding 10 1/2" to the width and 15" to the length, which I could have done with a plain border with less fabric, and 4 seams.

#3. It takes all day to assemble 54 blocks with sashings.

#4. Sashings are, however, really pretty, and worth the time, effort, fabric, and thread. Even when my corners don't meet.

#5. The color of the sashing totally affects the perceived color of the quilt itself. Before sashings, the quilt was a jumble of bright colors and patterns. After the sashings, it's still a jumble, but it's a Country Jumble, a much more subdued riot of color and pattern. I like the look, but it's different than I expected.

So, now I get to find out if invisible thread really is.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Oh my lordy...

Check out the web counter on the lower right of the page.

I am astonished and delighted and humbled. Thank you all for checking in, and for coming back, even when I ramble interminably on odd tangents.

As soon as I can figure out some good prizes (which may have to wait until the sock book comes out- everyone already has the other ones), we'll have a real celebration.


Since I'm machine quilting my own quilts (rather than sending them out to be done), I've scaled down the size of the finished projects. I'm not aiming for bedspreads- I'll be happy with accent quilts. Snuggle quilts. Decorative while still being functional, but not huge quilts. Which means that I don't need nearly as many of the 8 1/2" square blocks that I've been assembling out of fabric scraps (using whatever pattern that amuses me at the moment, or no pattern at all, or a patch pattern cut off kilter... you know... whatever). In fact, I only need 54 blocks, and guess what! I have 54 of them.

So I spread them out on the living room floor last night, and learned that with this many patterns and fabrics, there isn't any *right* way to arrange them, which makes this whole process easier. I decided to expand the project a bit with sashing (not only to increase the size, but to showcase the blocks a bit more). I'm using pieces cut from the backings of other quilts for the sashings. I'm assembling them chain-style, and will cut the rows apart horizontally when I get the vertical sashes in place. I may have to use another tan print for the horizontal sashes, but that's in keeping with the spirit of this quilt. Since the border will be pale, I think I need to make a highly colorful binding- from lots of pieces.

And I will begin assembling squares for Whatever II.

In my spare time... heh... I cut pieces for this table runner from the On A Roll book, using the Moda Frosted Memories scrap bags that I bought. It should be pretty (I had to trim the pieces to 2 1/2" width, and then cut them as though they were jelly roll strips), and I'll get a chance to find out if invisible thread actually is.
p.s. Now that school is out, little girls will be in and out, often without much warning, so the Ladybug Quilt has been put on hold until I can work on it without being surprised.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Is the cow named Mini Moo?

The Field Report

Every summer, I think, along about August, that I should have taken a picture each week, of the field in front of our house. This year, I'm actually going to do it. Dustin, who farms that land, plants soybeans and corn in alternate years. If he follows true to form, this will be a corn year. We'll know by next week, when whatever he planted on Thursday sprouts. I'll take a pic every Thursday and post it on Friday (or thereabouts) for the two people who might actually be interested in seeing corn grow. Oh. Just me?

Side note- you can't see it in this picture, but just to the left of the Crab Apple tree, up along the highway, is one of the few remaining functional drive-in theaters. We rarely go to it (my interest in sweltering while being devoured by mosquitoes, surrounded by squealing teens who are torn between getting drunk or making out- or sloppily attempting both- while trying to watch 3rd run movies, is surprisingly low). But it's fun that the place is still open and hopping.

Anyway, corn (or soybean) pics every week. Watch for them.

On the hook and needle front: I finished The Crochet Project That Cannot Yet Be Named, so I'm back to sewing and knitting again, though school is out now, and one granddaughter will begin her summer long-visits, and 2 other grands will visit for a week fairly soon, so mostly I'll be playing Gramma and loving every minute (not to mention a vacation to the west coast this summer too, and The Sock Summit!!!)

On the quilting front, I bought the book On A Roll, from Anka's Treasures ( which has some great patterns for Jelly Roll strips, that I want to try immediately. And Fons and Porter's Love of Quilting May/June issue's Daisy Doodle quilt is calling me. So much so, that I bought a fusible bias tape maker. I will probably make a baby quilt, just to practice the block assembly method, which looks very interesting. I'll keep you posted.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Thursday Tab- Pattern Catalog Doll, Delaney and Her Dolls

These files have been removed at the request of the original pattern catalog artist, Maggie Raguse. My apologies to the artist for using the images without permission.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

AI Season 8 Finale

Hype! Excitement! Declarations! Zoom! Sweep! Shout! Massive Audience! Ryan with flashlight under the chin lighting. This. Is. The. Finale.

The huge audience is studded with semi-luminaries. There’s Janice Dickenson, for starters.

Nearly 100 million votes last night, and 624 million total for the season. But how about the ratings, Ryan? AI is still the 624million vote gorilla, and the top show in the country, but ratings are falling. Not that it matters because: top show in the country.

For some reason, Randy’s channeling his inner Oscar Wilde with a floppy red velvet bow tie. Ryan teases him with a montage of catch phrases: for you, for me, for you, for me, didn’t work, for me, for you…

Kara has poofy hair and a black strapless formal with a tulle covered bodice. Her clips are all sweetie, honey, sweetie, no honey, sorry sweetie…

Paula has messy hair and a dress that looks like it’s made from beaded metal. Her montage is purple monkey dishwasher.

Simon is in an almost buttoned white shirt and a black jacket. I can’t believe they didn’t go with If I’m being honest, and picked huh? What? Say what? Huh? instead.

Carrie Underwood is in the house.

Adam and Kris are in white on white, except for the army boots (into which are tucked Adam’s parachute pants). Sound glitch- neither microphone works for the mini-interviews.

In Conway, AR, Kris’s hometown crowd is worked into a frenzy by Mikalah Gordon, makeup gun still set on stun, with an extra side of tanner.

Carly Smithson, wearing blue satin and hair tumors, screams for Adam with the rest of the screamers in San Diego.

The Top 13, all in white, are singing (and they may actually be singing tonight, not syncing) So What. I don’t know this song, but it’s very Disney, with lots of sideways jumping going on. It took me awhile to remember Jasmine’s name. How soon I forget. And there, for the last time this year, is The Pointy Pose.

David Cook takes the stage to sing his new song, Permanent. He gets the green alien spotlights. Except for the frosted tips, he looks just the same, and he sounds like Daughtry with hair.

Is that Justin Guarini?

Ah, we’re doing the Golden Idol Awards again. That’s too bad. For Outstanding Male, from Wil Kunick (oh my), Michael Gurr (warbling in an alien tongue), Dean Anthony Bradford (in lethal plaid) and Nick Mitchell- who do you think is going to win? Normund Gentle, of course. Nick, looking mighty mainstream, takes the stage, declaring no advance knowledge of the award, and he has me convinced until he rips away his hoodie and jeans to reveal Normund. He’s a better actor than I thought, and since there’s no chance that I’ll be stuck watching him for the next 3 months, I am actually kind of amused by this bit.

I am even more amused by Ryan wearing Normund’s headband and glasses (though the complaint about greasy specs has been recycled a couple of times already).

Lil sings a duet with Queen Latifah (who has the most gorgeous, flawless skin). Lil is wearing a black and white outfit that flatters her unique shape. I’ve resisted commenting on it all season, but I will say tonight, that Lil has a truly heroic butt. I celebrate Lil’s rear end. Queen Latifah (I tried to shorten it, but it felt wrong to call her Queen. And Latifah was out of the question), does not fare as well in a skin-tight, black, one-shouldered jumpsuit. The song is not to my taste, but they sound good together (and tomorrow, I’ll listen to The Dana Owens Album again, just to remind myself what a lovely voice QL has).

Anoop, in a seersucker jacket, and Alexis Grace, in a sparkly mini with an uneven hem, and big boots, sing something with Jason Mraz, backed up by the rest of the Top 13.

We see a bit of Kris’s journey, and then he sings with Keith Urban (if Nicole is in the audience, we don’t see her). I would never have paired Kris with CW, but he sounds absolutely great on this song. And they sound fantastic together.

The girls are on now. Oh lordy, Megan is wearing a pink satin romper. A. Pink. Satin. Romper. Lil’s shirt hem has many pointy bits. They all dance around, and seem to be spelling out ROUSes (and who knows, maybe we ARE in the fire swamp). Oh- it’s Fergie, singing that song from my granddaughter’s Kidz Bop album that I had to listen to for 5,000 miles to and from the coast a couple of summers ago. She’s dark and dirty, and her shiny legs hint that she had to be oiled up to slide into that black plastic dress.

Now the Black-Eyed Peas (one of them in Hammer Pants) join Fergie, and she loses most of her dress but gains leather gauntlets. Were they bleeped, or was there a transmission glitch?

And it’s time for another Golden Idol Award, this time for Best Attitude. Contenders are Bikini Girl, crazy Alexis Cohen (though I will grant her craziness a dollop of self-awareness this season), and Tiffany Shedd, with no talent and a delusional mama. And of course Bikini Girl, with brand spanking new implants (and a huge side of tanner- must have been a sale on it), wins. She begins to sing with a voice that is even worse than I remembered. Then Kara joins her, and either Bikini is a much better actress than I gave her credit for, or she is truly not happy about this development. Whaddyaknow? Kara can actually sing. And even more surprising, she looks amazing in a bikini.

Allison, looking very pretty tonight, sits onstage with Cyndi Lauper, and they do a lovely, understated version of Time After Time. It’s quiet and pretty, and they sound great together. Is that a zither?

Gentle suggestion to Kris’s mama: sleeves.

Danny sits on the steps and sings Hello, and by now, we’re not surprised to find him joined by Lionel Richie himself. As with all of the duets tonight, they sound good together. Lionel is wearing a black trench coat, and his leather pants look stuffed.

Hey! It’s Ruben!

Adam’s journey involved lots of eyeliner, laughter, and black fingernail polish. He takes the stage in Thunderdome Shoulder Cages (how much you wanna bet that Rhianna will show up on some red carpet in them next week?). And here is Kiss (not Alice Cooper, as I bet our friend Rich just moments before Simmons, et al, took the stage). This is a total hoot- and Adam is rocking the house in Munster Boots. In fact, they’re all wearing the platformiest platforms that ever platformed.

Omigod! It’s Carlos Santana! Playing Black Magic Woman, one of my all time favorite songs. I love it so much that I almost forgive Matt’s stupid hat. And then they segue into Smooth, which always makes me think of my friend Jody, gone too soon and deeply missed, who loved this song. She would have loved this performance.

Camryn Mannheim! David Cook giving Adam and Kris new cars!

And Steve Martin! On the banjo, playing a lovely bluegrass tune called Pretty Flowers. Which is he wrote. And is on his new album. Which I will have to check out. Immediately. Matt Sarver and Megan sing along, and for the first time ever, I actually enjoy listening to Megan sing (though if she caws, all bets are off).

Now the guys are singing If You Think I’m Sexy (no, I don’t. And this show is wearing me out. I'm running out of exclamation points). For some reason, I am surprised when Rod Stewart takes the stage.

Gentle hint to Rod Stewart: Clay Aiken stopped spiking his hair. You might want to think about it as well.


The last Golden Idol Award, for Outstanding Female, and it takes absolutely no psychic ability to predict that Tatiana is going to win. Yup. There she is, singing that song again, still with the uber annoying personality and totally lovely voice. She pretends to run away from the security folks, and Ruben is evidently not in on the joke, because he looks horrified. (or maybe he’s part of the performance as well).

Kris and Adam take the stage to sing We Are the Champions, and by now, I would not be surprised if they dug Freddy Mercury himself up to sing again. They do the next best thing by assembling the remains of the group, and finish with fireworks and explosions and an audience that must be nearly spent.

Okay, finally. After 2 hours of spectacle and filler and singing and nonsense, and amazingly enough, some pure entertainment, it’s time for the reveal. The journey is always fun, but this is the payoff. This is the culmination of giving up Tuesday and Wednesday evenings for 4 months. What I’ve hijacked the blog for (to the dismay of that one anonymous poster who complains about the AI coverage every year). What I’ve loved from Season 1: The Reveal.

It’s been an amazing year, jam packed with talent. I am totally expecting Adam to win, but it doesn’t really… WHOA!

Oh my God! It’s Kris!

I never expected this. Simon never expected this! Adam looks genuinely delighted, and Kris looks shocked. Stunned. Steamrolled. He apologizes to Adam.

And then he sings that piece of dreck, and manages to make it sound almost like a real song. About halfway through, I think he realizes that he actually won, and he turns it into a performance of triumph and joy.

What an amazing moment! What an amazing season. I’ll think about what it all means tomorrow (though, mostly I think it means that Danny’s votes went to Kris). But for now, I return you to your regular programming.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

AI- Top 2 Performance

We see bits and pieces of Adam’s and Kris’s auditions, and a synchronized “I am the next American Idol” (they must tape all of the Hollywood-bound saying it because while someone might have predicted that Adam would go the distance, I’ll bet the farm that no one saw Kris coming).

There is a huge studio audience tonight (did I ever tell you all how I nearly won a trip to the Season 6 Finale, courtesy of the Washington State Lottery?). I wish I was there right now.

Randy, in a plaid jacket, purple gingham shirt, and purple polka dot tie, looks like my 8th grade science teacher. Kara has very pretty curly hair and an elegant one-shouldered black dress. Paula is overtanned in unlined lime green satin (we'll see shortly, just how unlined the bodice is). She has the unfocused look of someone who ought to be wearing glasses. Simon is sort of Studio 54 in a half-unbuttoned white shirt and dark jacket.

Carly Smithson is in the house. So are the rest of the Top 13. Some of them look positively underwhelmed (I’m talking to you, Matt).

Tonight Adam and Kris are going to sing three songs apiece- their favorite song from the season, a Simon Fuller choice, and the coronation song (written by Kara). Ryan mentions that the 2-hour finale, will not, in fact, be over in two hours, so we should set our DVRs accordingly. I, personally, don’t have a DVR (and would not miss the finale anyway), but I appreciate the heads up.

Kris won the toss and elected to go second, so Adam is up first.

Adam’s parents are attractive and mainstream, and very proud of their son, who used to be noisy, hyper, and sleepless (I had one like that. It’s exhausting.)(He’s not like that any more. Well, okay, he’s still occasionally noisy). Adam has very wisely chosen to reprise Mad World. He’s wearing a black wool trench coat, fingerless gloves, lots of fine neck chains, and a black boutonnière. They’ve trotted out the smoke machine, and ramped up the drama (neither of which are necessary). For the first time, I notice that Adam has gorgeous eyes, though mostly I’m listening to his flawless and beautiful performance. Wow!

OMG! Anthony Hopkins! Hannibal Lechter is in the house!

Here’s a shocker: Kris was an adorable kid. His parents are still adorable, and adoring. Kris is singing Ain’t No Sunshine. He’s sitting at the piano, in a short-sleeved white tee, a black vest, and several braided leather bracelets. This is also an excellent choice and a lovely performance. Once again, Kris proves that he deserves his spot. And since it’s my night to notice things that everyone else likely saw long ago, I suddenly realize that Kris has some guns.

After the first song for both, Simon calls it for Kris.

Simon Fuller chose A Change is Gonna Come (the song that made me fall in love with Taylor Hicks), for Adam. Despite the earrings, Adam looks very 50’s in a gray polished cotton suit and blue tie. Again, wow! I would never have paired Adam with the blues, but this performance is wonderful.

Simon Fuller selected What’s Goin’ On for Kris. I love this song, and I love the bongos and the arrangement. Kris is wearing a ratty t-shirt and bleach-spotted jeans, and accompanies himself on the guitar. It’s not as strong a performance as Adam’s, but comparing them is like comparing apples to telephone poles. At least this is the last time this season that I’ll have to hear Randy complain about song choice when the kid didn’t choose the damn song.

Simon calls this round for Adam. So, is that cute little blonde girl Kris’s daughter?

Next up is Kara’s coronation song. Adam is wearing a black jacket with an oddly textured shoulder, and confusing pants. I can’t decide if they’re metallic and vaguely MC Hammerian, or if that’s an optical illusion. The boots look like they came from a galaxy far far away.

The song? It’s hard to tell. I can’t make sense of the lyrics, and the melody eludes me completely, but I’m pretty sure that it involves striving and overcoming and rainbows and puppies, wrapped up in a tidy, screaming package.

Kris is going to sing the same song. Ah, the title is No Boundaries. Kris is wearing a wrinkled black jacket with epaulets and big patch pockets. And yep- rainbows and puppies and optimism- all the usual coronation song schmaltz in a schmaltzy coronation song. Thanks, Kara. The judges damn Kris with faint praise, and Kara admits that the song wasn’t written for him. They very carefully do not say that they expect and want Adam to win, but it's obvious just the same.

Lookie here! It’s Carrie Underwood, in all black, with a bustier and sparkles, and boots that are definitely made for stompin’. She’s singing Home (or whatever the title of the song that they’ve been playing all season). They show clips of the famous and infamous. The loved and reviled. The good and bad. I have an enormous affection for all of these kids (well maybe not for Megan. Or for Normund Gentle. Though I admit to a small hope of seeing Tatiana tomorrow night). It’s been an amazing season, and I am glad I’m not voting tonight. A couple of weeks ago, I would have said that Adam had a lock on the title. But tonight, I’m not taking any bets on the outcome. I can’t wait to find out who’s going to win this sucker.

Spring Sprung

It took awhile to get here, and our leaves are not fully popped yet (and it's going to hit 90 degrees today, so it's been and gone before we even had a chance to enjoy it), but Spring has finally sprung. There are hundreds of blossoms on our crab apple tree. It smells heavenly. And I found a surprise tulip, peeking out among the weeds in the overgrown iris patch (they're so crowded that they don't bloom any more. I need to do some landscape work stat).

I took a break from the Nest quilt, to work on the Pink Ladybug blocks. These ladybug prints are far less subtle than either the bee or froggy squares, but Pink Ladybug Girl is not a subtle chick, and she's young enough to love the excessive pinkness and bugness of it all. These are half of the blocks. The other half will have a different pink sashing on the outer border. I'll alternate them in the final arrangement.

But at the moment, I'm working on a deadline for the Crochet Project That Must Not Be Named Yet, so I won't be at the sewing machine for awhile.

And tonight, of course, is the American Idol final season performance. I'm not even hazarding a guess as to how it'll go. I just know it'll be interesting.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Pincushion Win

Take that, pattern!

Mods: My sewing machine was state-of-the-art fancy schmancy when I bought it, and since the invisible thread hadn't arrived yet, I used one of the bazillion computer chip decorative stitches to attach the hexes to each other with black thread. If you can't go invisible, might as well go very visible. That worked really well- I just pinned the hexes to the batting and sewed them directly to it and each other. I arbitrarily decided that the pincushion didn't need to be 4" tall (partly because: duh, but partly also because I didn't have enough safflower seeds to fill another tall one and The Farm Store was closed by then). I just used 1 row of squares for the side, which makes for a nice, compact pincushion, though turning it through the side opening was a little like birthin' babies.

Otherwise, I made it to the pattern specs (still using the 6" circle, because 6" is plenty big for a pincushion), and this one wins!
p.s. my husband still laughed out loud

Saturday, May 16, 2009


So, I cut the Prairie Flower Pincushion apart, and revamped it. It turned out much better on the second try. I had to trim a good 2" from the side piece, and I modified the pattern so that the cushion was stuffed from an opening in the side seam, not from the bottom (it's hard to mattress-stitch a curved seam smoothly). The nice man at The Farm Store (that's the actual name) didn't laugh at me when I said that I wanted to stuff a pincushion with some sort of seeds. He said that Crafty Ladies were using safflower seeds for bean bags and other weighted items, so I bought a couple of pounds of the seed.

And it worked out well. The UnFailed Pincushion has nice straight sides, the Prairie Points stick out the way they're supposed to (or the way I think they're supposed to, since the pattern picture doesn't show them on the bottom of the pincushion), and pins and needles go in it just fine. It's big enough to hold every pin and needle that I own, plus about 2,000. As long as I keep it dry, the seeds shouldn't sprout (though it's definitely potential mouse bait). It's also heavy enough to cause some damage if I ever feel the need to lob it at someone (it weighs nearly 2lbs). The pattern suggests appliques, buttons or beads as decoration, so I appliqued some hexes to the side (before the first assembly). If I'd had some suitable vintage buttons, I would have added them as well.

All in all, a good learning experience (measure circles before cutting them, measure sides before sewing them to circles, and for Heaven's sake, stop stuffing if it looks goofy. Quilter's Denial works exactly the same way Knitter's Denial does). Good enough, that I'm trying again with some other fabrics from recent quilting adventures. I don't know if I'll use safflower seeds for the stuffing, or if I'll try the commenter suggestions of wool (clean or not-I have plenty of both on hand). I do know that I'm going to zig-zag the hexes together this time (as the pattern suggests)- just hand sewing isn't sturdy enough for the strain of heavy stuffing or use.

And in the quilt-size quilting news- I'm still plugging away at the Nest quilt. The blocks aren't difficult to assemble, but they do involve a lot of slow and precise steps that don't lend themselves to any kind of production-line sewing. It's going to be very striking. I have 16 blocks assembled, which is what the pattern recommends. Unfortunately, 54" square isn't big enough for my purposes, so I'm going to add 2 more rows to the length. Whether or not I make the whole thing 1 row wider depends on whether I'd rather have a wide border or more blocks (right now, I'm leaning toward the border, but that's pure laziness talking). This is not the final arrangement of blocks, btw. I just laid them out for gazing purposes.

And in swimming pool news- I've been swimming laps every morning for a week now, and it feels wonderful. However, the air temp is only 30 degrees at the moment, and the wind is blowing. I think I'll wait just a bit before jumping in.
And in case you're wondering: no, we haven't eaten at the dining room table in weeks.