June 11, 2014

May's report

It's official: individual detailed reports of what I've been doing are completely beyond my capacity at the moment. So, here's the overview of what we did in May:

We joined some friends at LUCO's Chamber Music Cabaret. There was a piccolo trio, and Caitlyn got pulled from the audience to read raffle ticket winning numbers.

at Little Wing Farm
Caitlyn and I joined some of our homeschool friends for another field trip to a farm. This time we drove across the mountains to Little Wing Farm where we spent the day touring the orchards and generally traipsing around.
howling at Little Wing Farm
Caitlyn has been having a digression from her all-consuming cat interest to think about wolves. This means howling, which I generally don't allow in our urban settings (I worry about all the neighborhood dogs she'll set to barking). Out on the farm, she can howl all she likes, which she most definitely did.

Our farmers' market opened. This is always a good thing. And our weather has been so glorious so early this year that we've started our picnic dinners already.
at NW Railway Museum
Caitlyn and I joined in another homeschool field trip to the Northwest Railway Museum. The program skewed a little young for Caitlyn but she enjoyed the train ride to Snoqualmie Falls.

I quilted my disappearing nine patch quilt.

Wasabi went to the vet for the usual annual check up. Trimming his claws was suggested, only to have Caitlyn declare, loudly, "I like being scratched with his claws. You can't trim them!"

We saw Malificent. Caitlyn loved it. She came home and made a Malificent figure with her Legos and started building a castle.

Rock Club had a raffle-auction hybrid event. Caitlyn came home with a jar of raw opal pieces. I now have a large and shiny geode.

We dyed and stuffed 12 dozen confetti eggs for Solstice.

The homeschool Stewardship Squad had an event in our local woods. Caitlyn and I joined in the bucket brigade, moving wood chip mulch from the top of the hill down to the new plants. This is part of the continuing project to reclaim, restore and reimagine part of Seattle's urban forest, a part that's been neglected for far too long. We'll be at this for a while.

at Toboton Creek Farm
We had another farm field trip, this time to Toboton Creek Farm where we visited with goats (meat and dairy) and lots of free ranging birds. The kids all got to try milking and our hosts sent us home with eggs less than 24 hours old.
at Toboton Creek Farm
And we got to help bottle feed some of the babies! Awww...

I finally took pictures of some projects that have been done for a while:
fan shawl
This fan shawl, which was quick and simple and is just the thing to throw over my shoulders when I'm working at the computer.
touch of gray shawl
This shawl, which is a simplified variation on this one (I didn't do the tassels). Just another wear-it-around-the-house shawl. But both of these have used up my collection of Homespun yarn; I can start to think about some of the yummy yarns we have in the shop.
quilt repair
I think my grandfather made this quilt for me when I was small. It's binding had fallen apart and most of the hand quilting had broken loose. I requilted and rebound it, and it has returned to Caitlyn's room to be part of forts and other cosy constructions.
Lined drawstring bag for Town Square Fabric & Yarn
I made another lined drawstring bag. This one is a sample for the shop; I'll be teaching it as a class next month. I'm not at all sure this is a good idea.
new skirt
I finally finished sewing something for me. The skirt is Vogue 9850. I cut this out more than a year ago. Now that is finished, I'm not sure I like the pleats in the front, at least maybe not in this fabric. It's a little bulkier looking than I was hoping for (although maybe it's the photo, or the shirt I'm wearing?) Anyway, I think I may be ready to let this pattern go.

I'm giving myself permission to continue posting infrequently and irregularly. There may or may not be a wrap up for June, or any other month this summer. I'm trying to post more at Instagram because it's shorter/faster. Follow me there. And I'll post here again when I can. ::Waving::

May 29, 2014

Sew.Quilt.Give. News

Now that I've recovered (tee hee) from the Most Epic Quilt that was the result of me being "in charge" at Sew.Quilt.Give. in March 2013, I can move forward with the March 2014 quilt. I hope I've kept this one easier and smaller.
blocks for SQGMar14
I missed out on the Scrappy Trip Along that whipped around the interwebs last year, so that's what I asked for. I requested ocean blues and greens, referencing the Pacific along the Central California Coast as a color guide. I'm planning a Barn Raising layout, just as soon as I clean up enough of the floor.

If you want to see some of our finished quilts, check out this wonky cross quilt (from last November) and the Shattered quilt (from August). The big "slab" quilt from September is coming together, too.

The request for May was for Scrappy Sprout blocks.
scrappy sprouts
Nice and springy, don't you think? They are basically nine-patch blocks with a couple of artfully placed half-square triangles. Of course, I misread the tutorial photo and cut out squares enough for the sprout leaves to be nine-patches, with the neutral squares as an extra row (making the block 3x4). I made 3 extra blocks because wasn't that the best use for the extra tiny squares? I mean, they'd just get lost if I put them back in the fabric bins, right?

May 12, 2014

Things that Happened in April

Looks like posting monthly summaries is just about all the blogging I'm doing these days. Our days are filled so full, and sometimes there's not much to say about any one thing. Ebbs and flows.

I completely failed to do anything for Kids Clothing Week. I meant to sew for Caitlyn but then decided I needed to finish something things that had been lying around for ages first. That took way longer than anticipated. Pictures later.

Caitlyn sews.
On the other hand, Caitlyn actually used the sewing machine. We made 100 fabric grab baggies.

We saw the Broadway (touring) version of The Lion King. It was supposed to be an early birthday surprise for Caitlyn but I think she caught on before we got there. Oh well. She loved it, of course. I liked the mix of actors and puppetry.

Caitlyn the tiger Whirligig, a festival of bouncy houses, came to the Seattle Center. Caitlyn bought herself a painted face then bounced for several hours, sweating and smudging her face. She said it was totally worth the $8, even if we had to wash most of it off before heading home.

Hiking buddiesCaitlyn and I joined some friends for a hike on Tiger Mountain.

We saw an IMPulse Circus Collective performance at the Moisture Festival. The finale included toilet paper being flung at the audience... Caitlyn thought this was amazing.

Ian's latest shirtI finished this shirt for Ian. I don't have anything new to say about it. It's the same pattern as this one and the one I made in March.

National Geographic Live came to town. We saw lectures/presentations by Carsten Peter and Kevin Hand.

I've been spending my Fridays at Town Square Fabric & Yarn and working on their web presence during the rest of the week. Good stuff!

There was a Passover Seder, an Easter Brunch, my birthday, and a rock and gem show, all in one week. Caitlyn participated in the silent auction at the rock show and came home with picture jasper, peacock ore and other pretty things.

NW Trek BisonWe squeezed in a field trip to Northwest Trek before the month ended. Yes, that's a bison. Yes, he was that close.

We've already had two field trips in May Maybe I'll get actual posts written about them before I have to do another month-in-review post like this one. Maybe I'll just go take a nap.

April 10, 2014

Four Hundred Twelve Inches, Approximately

I know I've talked a lot about how big this quilt got. But, hello, 10 feet of quilt is a lot of quilt. There was a lot of binding to do. Someone is going to have more quilt than they know what to do with.
There are three of us holding that quilt up. It's even big enough for our local dinosaur.
Maybe I've learned to be a bit more precise about my quilt plans. Somehow the size of the thing never crossed my mind while I was dreaming it up. It probably wouldn't have hurt to do a sketch either. I was envisioning something more scattered, with more empty space. With that sort of layout, I could have made two, maybe three quilts. Thank goodness for my friend Marissa and her long arm machine.

But for all that it isn't what I was aiming for, it's going to be hard to let it go. Sew.Quilt.Give. is a charity bee; this quilt was never going to stay with me. Even knowing that I shouldn't get attached, somehow I still do. Finding a home for it has been difficult. I don't want to just donate it to the nearest shelter or something; I want it to go where it will be loved but not (too) abused. (Cue all sorts of complicated feelings about privilege, fate, standards, grace, etc.)
The mudslide up in Oso is less than 2 hours away from me. As of this morning, the official death toll was 36, with 9 people still missing. The slide is a square mile in size, with the debris measuring in at 1,500 feet long by 4,400 feet wide and 30 to 40 feet deep. (Thanks, Wikipedia.)

There were houses there, and they are gone now, with everything in them. Socks and toothbrushes are easy to replace and the Red Cross is all over things like that. What about the memories? The treasures? That tablecloth Great-Grandma embroidered, the one that is on the holiday table every year? The toasting glasses from your wedding? The years of photo albums, the ones you always thought maybe you should digitize but never got around to?

Layers of Hope - Quilting 911 runs a quilt-focused charity that delivers handmade quilts to 911 operators and other first responders. Because of her previous work and because she's based in Washington, someone asked if she'd coordinate quilt donations for the families devastated by the Oso mudslide. This isn't immediate need kind of donating; this is about giving something special and handmade to people who have lost all their own memory-laden special things. It's about giving something to the first responders, the people who run in when most of us would run away.
So, that's where this huge quilt (which I kinda wish I'd named something other than "SQGMar13", but I didn't, and there you go) is headed. Maybe I'll get a picture from Jean when she collects donations from Town Square Fabric & Yarn. Maybe the final recipient will Google me based on the label from the back. Maybe I'll just imagine this quilt on a bed or being hauled off to make The Biggest Blanket Fort Ever. Maybe I'll never know.

April 01, 2014

Marching By

Things that happened in March:
  • Caitlyn played two roles, Mellifleur and Maudlin, in Robin Hood, her latest theatre production at Youth Theatre Northwest. She's looking forward to Alice@Wonderland in the summer.
  • I finally managed to meet one of our homeschool goals, getting Caitlyn and I to SAM for Free First Thursday. This time we saw the Miró exhibit. Now, I just have to do it again!
  • The peas came up.
  • We saw a presentation of National Geographic Live: The Secret Life of Wolves. Caitlyn cried at the end.
  • I joined the Seattle Modern Quilt Guild, my first quilt guild membership ever. Either quilting is getting popular or I'm getting older. Last time I checked out a guild (in LA), I was the youngest person in the room. I don't think I can say that now.
  • I declined a bundle of free fat quarters since the odds of me completing anything for the guild's Modern Metalics Challenge are way long.
  • Caitlyn got to see PNB's production of Pinocchio.
  • I finished binding SQGMar13.
  • I joined Instagram.
  • The sun came out.
    Exploring knee deep mud puddles
  • I made another drawstring bag.
    camera bag
    It's all stashed fabric, including the remanent of fleece I used to give it extra cushiness for the camera that lives inside, which makes me happy.
  • I made a shirt for Ian.
    a new shirt
    The pile of fabric in the rocking chair is just a tiny bit shorter now.
  • Town Square Fabric & Yarn opened in Burien. I'm there on Fridays - come say hi!
  • I offered to crochet a sample for the shop. Could someone check that I'm feeling ok?
  • Stewardship Squad visited Cheasty at Mt. View. We mulched and moved some rocks.
  • I went on another Spring Cleaning binge. We've let go of some odds and ends that were just hanging around. I'm hopeful that this is the year we finally replace the light in our bedroom. I still think we should paint.
  • Caitlyn won the Juniors' door prize at Rock Club.
    Caitlyn's first thunder egg She has her first thunder egg.

March 14, 2014

Field Trip: Snow at Mt. Rainier

Caitlyn loves snow. That's a horribly brief and to the point sentence that doesn't convey the degree to which Caitlyn loves snow.

Of course, we live in a place that gets only occasional snow. When it snows here, it's pretty and it's fun, (usually) not enough to seriously snarl things up, although to an eight year old, I think the snarling is part of the fun. I've explained how more snow in Seattle wouldn't be a good thing, but I guess I've not been terribly convincing. I've made some effort to explain how months of snow might not be fun, but that's flopped as well.

I don't think our recent outing to the snow at Mt. Rainier has done anything for Caitlyn except reinforce her notion that Snow = Fun.
Caitlyn in a snow tunnel
Yeah, she looks like she's having a terrible time.

Actually, the weekend was a fine lesson in perseverance. We'd gone with friends (6 adults, 3 kids - perhaps the most ideal ratio possible) to do some cross country skiing, something most of us hadn't done in years, if at all. Our first time out, Caitlyn fell frequently. (I fell too, within 5 minutes of putting the skis on, and lightly sprained my wrist. I had taken a quilt for binding in the evenings and then couldn't hold a needle.) There were tears and so much frustration; at one point, she looked at Ian and me and demanded, "Is this supposed to be fun?" She'd fall, she'd struggle to get up, she'd fall again.

But by the end of the weekend, she was getting back on her feet more easily and doing better at keeping up with the other kids.
Caitlyn on skis
She invented silly names for all the different ways she could fall down, then demonstrated them all. She preferred skiing in the tracks of others but didn't balk much at the idea of forging her own path when it might get her somewhere interesting.
We had a wonderful time. It snowed while we were there, so we had fresh snow and the magic of falling snow. Our outings were short enough to be fun without being exhausting. We had good food, good company. It was quiet (except for the vuvuzela) and scenic and altogether lovely.
We probably haven't done anything to convince Caitlyn that snow is anything but a fantastic playground. She's been praying for snow in Seattle since we got home.
Caitlyn on skis

March 08, 2014

Sew.Quilt.Give Block Update

Wonky Churn Dash blocks
Sew.Quilt.Give. asked for Wonky Churn Dash blocks (tutorial here) in pinks and at any size for February. I'm super curious how this quilt is going to turn out. The Churn Dash is an old (traditional) quilt block and although I think of myself more as a "traditional" quilter (as opposed to "modern"), this one has never really appealed. I think the wonkiness helps, though.

The blocks we made last June have reappeared as a finished quilt. Check it out. I quite like how this one came out: it's scrappy but not overwhelmingly so; I like the diamond chains in the layout; and I even like the different background colors, something I don't like whenever I imagine it. Nothing like seeing it for real!

It's now been a year since I was "queen bee" for Sew.Quilt.Give. I'm so close to being done with last March's quilt, just one more side to bind, I think. (No, I don't know for sure since I avoid unfolding any more of the quilt than is absolutely necessary. I'll just bind it until I'm done.)

But it's my turn to lead the bee again, regardless of what's done or not. I've hopefully asked for something easier this year: scrappy trip around the world blocks (tutorial here) in the blues and blue-greens of the Central California Pacific. Washington's ocean is grayer than I'd like for this quilt, and I'd like no more than a hint of tropical blues. Think pelicans and surfers, sea lions and cypress trees, foggy mornings and mermaid hair.
Scrappy Trip block in blues

Scrappy Trip block in blues

Scrappy Trip block in blues
(I took these pictures in a hurry on a cloudy morning - I don't think reality is quite as dark as it appears!)

I plan to lay all the blocks out in a barn raising layout, so the final quilt should be only 5 or 6 feet square, depending on how many blocks I get. That's a perfectly reasonable lap quilt size and way less intensive than last year's epic undertaking!

Wish me luck!

March 04, 2014

Sew Grateful Winners!

Congratulations to the winners of my Sew Grateful giveaway!
Random numbers from Random.org
Fabric #1, the peach colored silk, is headed off to Commenter #24, Emily, who said:
Comment #24
And Fabric #2, the lighter weight bronze silk, is off to Commenter #11, Laurie, who said:
Comment #24
Congratulations to both of you! Your new fabric will be on it's way on Thursday, since the post office is right next Caitlyn's circus class.

And thanks to everyone who commented. I think 30 comments is a high water mark for this here little space on Teh Interwebs. Thanks for stopping by! Do feel free to stop by again for tea and muffins, quilting and sewing, gardens and randomness.

March 01, 2014

Field Trip: California, Coast, and Cousins

Welcome to March! I’ve got little daffodils blooming in the backyard to remind us that it’s not going to be cold and gray forever. It can rain some more, though. I’d feel better heading into summer with more snow in the mountains first.

Back at the beginning of February, to help my grandmother celebrate her 90th birthday, we took a week off from the chill of Seattle and trekked to California. We had a lovely birthday dinner with family, and Caitlyn got to spend time with her cousins, whom we don’t see nearly often enough.
kids in a tree
The adults managed to pry the kids away from binge sessions of Minecraft long enough to go for a hike or two.
hibernating ladybugs
The woods were still cold, although the kids caught some banana slugs in the act of reproduction so I guess it wasn’t that cold. These ladybugs were still hibernating, though. It’s really tempting to knock some of them into your hand so they’ll warm up and crawl around, but then you have to give them back and hope their neighbors will take them in and keep them warm after you walk away. I’d never seen ladybugs cluster like this. Monarch butterflies do something similar, although I’ve always managed to miss them.
Pacific from West Cliff
We took a couple of walks by the ocean. When I think "ocean", this is what I see: dark blues, rocks, sea lions, waves dotted with surfers. I guess that’s what happens when this is the ocean you grow up with.
On one of our walks, we saw dolphins, an otter, and a flight of pelicans in addition to the usual population of two-legged marine mammals.
cold seeps
And I got to indulge my inner rock geek! You can’t always get to these formations; tide and weather can sometimes make them dangerous or just plain inaccessible. They are Miocene era (7-9 million years ago) cold seeps. Carbon rich gases or fluids (like methane) find their way through the sedimentary stone (Santa Cruz Mudstone, in this case), then react with the sea water, causing a carbonate precipitate. The cold seep structures follow the direction of the cracks in the rock, so they are both horizontal and vertical; the vertical ones look a lot like toilets.

We missed the Super Bowl chaos while we were away. We aren’t very good sports fans, generally; we followed the game via Twitter only because Seattle’s team was playing. The day we came home, Seattle was celebrating with a parade and a high temperature below freezing. Fun times!

February 24, 2014

Sew Grateful Giveaway: Thai silk

Hooray! It's Sew Grateful Week, the annual event launched by Debi of My Happy Sewing Place, and today is Giveaway Day.

I'm grateful that I have time to sew, even if I sometimes don't think I do. I'm grateful for all the people out there who post tutorials, patterns, reviews, and inspiration. I'm grateful for the people who taught me to sew (that's you, Mom!) and the people who enable me to keep at it (that's you, Ian!).

And I'm grateful for these giveaways. See, a couple decades ago my grandparents did some world travel. My grandfather took an enormous video recorder to Australia, back when such things rested on your shoulder and didn't live in your phone. No idea how he did that. Somewhere along the way, my grandmother bought some fabric, silk from Thailand, a gift for my mom. The colors didn't quite suit, and the fabric has lived in its gift box for years. Eventually the fabric came to me (the colors don't suit me, either). Because of Sew Grateful Week and the annual giveaway, I can be sure that this fabric will find quality new homes with people who will know what to do with it.

Which is so much more satisfying than taking it to Goodwill!

The first fabric is on the crisper side - I don't know a lot about silk as I tend to work more in cotton. It might pleat well? Anyway, it's heavier than what I think of when I think "silk" - definitely not drapey blouse material. It's a peach color with flowers, and there is about four yards of it.

This one, on the other hand, is all kinds of drapey. It wants to hang in soft folds - no pleats here. It's darker than the other, more bronze than peach, with texture woven in and splashes of color. The black may be calligraphic characters or may be birds. The piece is roughly two yards.

As far as I know, both fabrics are silk, both are from Thailand, and both are circa late 1980s/early 1990s. And I'm giving them both away.

Which one speaks to you? What would you make with it? Not that it matters for the giveaway (I'm just curious), but have you sewn with silk before? I work primarily with cottons, both for quilts and clothing, so silk intimidates me.

Random.org will pick a winner on Monday, March 3. I'll ship international, so all are welcome.

Good luck!

February 19, 2014

Miscellaneous Little Things

Sometime the makes are small things. Fortunately, I'm not always working on things that are 10 feet long.

I've extended the stashbusting theme to the box of yarn. Thus far, yarn hasn't been as much of a weakness as fabric, and I've been pretty good about keeping the yarn contained. The box is full, though, so most of my crochet projects have been about finding uses for the things I already have. Thank goodness for Ravelry's search features that let you look for things based on the amount and kind of yarn you have!

Tula MittsThese are "Tula's Mitts" and I used up some more of the yarn left over from this cowl which I apparently never blogged (the pattern is here and mine is gray, too). The mitts were a quick project and one I might do again, although without the lacy bit. I don't really like how that part came out - too fiddly.

Happy Blue HatThis utterly-impractical-for-snow hat is "Gloria's Happy Hat" from a free download from CrochetMe. The yarn is left over from this blanket. Don't ask why I had a skein of light blue and a skein of gray left over from that project but absolutely nothing of the navy.

I'm not sure how much Caitlyn will actually wear this hat. It's more of a fashion accessory than a wear-it-and-be-warm kind of hat. She's always so enthusiastic to receive something (and has no problem requesting things - she has asked for her own version of this shawl which I made recently (no pictures yet)), but I wonder if the magic is in the receiving and less in the using. Also, I may have made the band a bit tight.  My skills at correctly sizing yarn things need work.

Tangle PocketI'm hoping she gets more use out of this: Caitlyn's very own "Tangle Pocket", which I made for her for Christmas.

Tangle PocketIt's a minor revision of the one I made for myself a couple years ago; this new one has the pocket added to the inside instead of sewn on the outside. It holds the recommended Micron pens and a pencil in the wide pocket and has two tile pockets, one for blank tiles and one for finished Zentangles. Caitlyn's been exploring tangling with me on occasion; it might not last but at least she's got a space to store these things.

I've got plenty of big projects, and always several things going at once. But sometimes it's nice to have a small thing that you can do and be done, yes?

February 16, 2014

Snow Day

snow on grass
Despite our general northiness here in Seattle, we don't generally get snow. Thanks to Ye Olde Pacific, we get rain, wind, and cold, but not much snow. When it does, everyone celebrates (at least as long as it hasn't shut down the city - we've done that, too).

snow angelLast weekend we had perfect Seattle snow: just enough to make it pretty, not enough to cause problems. Although perhaps a half inch more would have been good. Just so Caitlyn's snow angel wouldn't be full of wood chips.

sledding effortsShe did make a grand effort at getting in some sledding. There was just enough snow for a few runs early in the day. Sledding over emerging asphalt and peek-a-boo grass is, well, less than fully satisfying.

building a fortSince the sledding was substandard, Caitlyn convinced some other kids to help construct a snow fort. See that grass around the fort? We nearly cleared the park of snow cover to build fort walls. I don't know enough about snow to know why Seattle snow doesn't often (in my experience, anyway) clump into nice snowballs. It tends not to be sticky; squeeze it in your hand and it just crumbles.  This time, though, once you got a ball started it would hang together pretty well.

finished fort
Caitlyn oversaw a fort construction party that produced something probably close to 6 feet in diameter with walls about 3 feet high. Not bad, I say!