Thursday, November 28, 2013

Le Grande Thanksgiving

In November, 1952, Art Buchwald wrote a column in which he–tongue in cheek–attempted to explain Thanksgiving to the French.

It would later be re-run each year, around Thanksgiving.  I would discover it for the first time, 35 years later, when I was living and working in France, when it appeared in the International Herald Tribune.

It is full of mangled English-to-French translations, for example, Miles Standish becomes Kilometres Deboutish, but it's hard to deny one of his conclusions about this American holiday:

And so, on the fourth Thursday in November, American families sit down at a large table brimming with tasty dishes and, for the only time during the year, eat better than the French do.

You can read the entire column on the Washington Post website, here: Le Grande Thanksgiving.

Bon appétit and Happy Thanksgiving! 

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

This and That and Some Work in Progress

The winner of the Fairytale tea towel–my giveaway in the Blog Party is Tammy.  Here's what she said about what she collects:

Tammy, it's on it's way to you.

Detail from Fairytale Tea Towel When I cut the tea towel yardage from Spoonflower yardage, to share with Tammy, I had the same experience that Glen blogged about here this morning.

Upon a closer look, the colors were quite different that I thought.  The shades of brown are much warmer than the grays I imagined I saw in this print.  I'm surprised, but actually happy to work with the ACTUAL colors.  Another detail I didn't notice until I saw the print in person is that the text in the background is FRENCH. I love it!

Yesterday, the snow stopped, the sun came out and I thought it was a good day to go out and about. I can't believe that winter is here, but it's hard to deny when the landscape look like this.

Winter Skies

During the snow storm, I had pulled some flannels out of my stash and put together a quick quilt using the December Lotto block, using white and red solids and a green tree print. I did some quick math based on how much of the white flannel I had.  I didn't make a decision about borders until the blocks were made ... then I decided it needed a narrow white inner border, so a trip to JoAnn was on the list of errands.  I noticed that their "deal of the day" included "50% off All Batting" ... I didn't notice, until I double checked when I was in the store, that it was a "web exclusive."  I wasn't the only one that missed it ... apparently quilters had been asking about it in the store all day long.

Turkey TamalesAfter a break for lunch–there are turkey tamales under all that cheese and green chiles on that much bigger than expected plate–I braved a quick trip into the grocery store.

 I could tell that the frenzy to collect ingredients for Thanksgiving delights had already begun.  I was happy to pick up what I needed and to get away from all those distracted shoppers wielding grocery carts.   While I was standing in the cashier's line I remembered the knitting needles I needed and forgot when I was at JoAnn.  Michael's was nearby.  I wasn't sure if they sold knitting needles, but they did and even had the size and length of circular needles I need.  Yay!

I braved a trip to the big box store and told myself that now, I would have no reason to have to shop until weekend was over.  I was a little surprised to see a display of an 80-inch TV with many boxes of them at hand–ready for Black Friday ... has that really become the norm?  I cannot imagine a room with a TV that large in it looking like anything but a movie theatre ... but who knows? Maybe I'll decide I "need" one one of these days.

6 Strips of White FlannelOnce home, the flannel fabric went into the washer.   This morning, I cut the strips and finished the top.

Here's a sneak peek - I'll share the rest after the December lotto block is announced on December 1. For now, it's my secret work in progress`.

Borders on!

Tonight, I'll be piecing a back and getting ready to finish this big snuggly flannel oversized throw.  It will be 80 inches square--big enough for two ;-)

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Peter Peter Pumpkin (Stew) Eater

As I was preparing this pumpkin stew, baked in a pumpkin, that children's nursery rhyme popped in my head and–maybe for the first time ever–I wondered what the heck it means.

McDougall's Festive Pumpkin Stew

If you look, you'll see there's some discussion about it, but no consensus.  From the Wikipedia entry: 

Freshly roasted pumpkin seeds
Peter, Peter pumpkin eater,
Had a wife but couldn't keep her;
He put her in a pumpkin shell
And there he kept her very well.
Peter, Peter pumpkin eater,
Had another and didn't love her;
Peter learned to read and spell,
And then he loved her very well.

It's a terrible photo–aside from the kernels of corn, which you can see, there's also sweet and white potatoes, carrots, onions and peppers in the stew, from the McDougall recipe for Festive Pumpkin Stew at the top of a newsletter on this page.  I used fresh jalapeño instead of canned green chiles and didn't have seitan, didn't want to go out in the cold to get some, wasn't sure I wanted to add gluten (which I mostly avoid) anyway, left it out and didn't miss it.   I made a half-recipe (4 servings) and baked a little less than half of it in a very small pie pumpkin.

After my experience last year with the Veggie Turducken, I was wary of baking anything inside a vegetable like that again, but I would make this pumpkin stew cooked in a pumpkin again, make it for a crowd and serve it in a large pumpkin tureen.  Next time I'll take a better photo :-)

I reheated the left-overs, adding black beans, chopped kale and cumin.  Even without the pretty pumpkin presentation, I liked it.

Another first for me, I saved and roasted the seeds–that little pumpkin was chock full of them.  I used this process and they really did come out perfect.

Monday, November 25, 2013

Orphan Blocks, I Have Few

A suggestion for a "dud" block lotto had me pulling out my orphan blocks from 10 years of leading the Block Lotto.  I found a few ... now living on my design wall for Judy's Design Wall Monday.

Orphan Lotto Blocks on my Design Wall

When Julie (aka Joe Tulips) suggested a "dud block lotto" for the blocks we have made that came up too small, too large or otherwise not right, I thought it was a great idea, but I wondered would anyone besides the two of us want these orphans.  After floating the idea on the Block Lotto, it seems there's enough interest to move forward.

One of these–the paper pieced star in the upper right–is 10 years old. It was the last block I made during the second year of the block lotto ... the month that no one besides me made blocks and I decided to give it a rest :-)

A few of these were made by others and mailed to me too late to be included, back in the days when all the blocks came to me and I sorted them into sets and sent them on to the winners.  Probably half were leftover lotto block patterns made by me in different colors/fabrics than those we used for the lotto.   The big block with four split hearts was my experiment in using the divided 9-patch technique as setting idea.  (You can read more about how I did it here: Disappearing 9-Patch)

Even if you're no longer part of the Block Lotto community, if you have participated in the Block Lotto in the past and have some orphan blocks of your own and want to participate in our "Dud" lotto, check out the Block Lotto in December.

Now I just have to narrow this group down to the maximum of 12 for the bonus lotto.

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Two Days Later

2 Days Later

That first frosting of snow has turned into a real winter storm.   Under it's influence, I pulled out some flannels and started making a quick, snugly quilt ... which I cannot share with you for at least a week because I'm using the December Block Lotto pattern in it's design.  (Any sneak peekers may get a sneak peek email with my progress soon ;-)

For a Knit Hat ...The dramatic drop in temps also inspired me to knit a warm wool hat. I've been knitting much longer than I've been a quilter, but this one is knit using a new-to-me technique and I'm a little intimidated. Sometimes I can be a bit of a scaredy cat.

It will be my slow stitch Sunday project today.

Friday, November 22, 2013

First Frosting of Snow

Blog Hop Party with Give-Aways
If you are looking for my Giving Thanks Blog Hop Party post and Giveaway, you'll find it here: 

November 22 - First SnowWhat is it about the first winter storm of the season that turns grown TV weathermen into giddy little kids hoping for a snow day and sends everyone to the grocery to stock up, lest they be snowed in?

I confess that I was one of those, stocking up and preparing myself to stay snug inside for the weekend, cooking warming, comfort food and quilting.

By the end of the day yesterday, the forecast had changed to freezing rain, with a "big dump" of snow to arrive later today.

The rain and ice arrived, with a light frosting of snow.  Here's the view from my front porch ... curiously, this morning, the cats weren't all that interested in joining me out there ...

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Torn Between Two Tea Towels

If you are looking for my Giving Thanks Blog Party Post and Giveaway ... it's HERE.

  Vintage Tea Towel

A number of people have shared with me that they're looking through their tea towel collection to make their choice for the 2014 Tea Towel Challenge.

While my own collection is only just beginning, I have narrowed down my choice to one of two: the Fairytale calendar I posted earlier and this vintage  Arizona-themed tea towel.

They couldn't be much more different.  Moira sent me the link to the eBay auction for this one.  It is EXACTLY the kind of thing I wanted for the previous challenge on 15 Minutes of Play.   I hope Moira didn't love it because as soon as I saw it, I had to have it.

I noticed a couple things when it arrived.  The cloth must have been woven on a very narrow loom--there are un-hemmed selvages on both sides of the 17-inch-wide tea towel. The top and bottom edges are hemmed.

Before it arrived, I had thought about cutting out some of the motifs and appliquéing them onto my quilt, in the style of broderie perse, but the fabric is quite loosely woven from thicker threads than I expected.

The fine printing is impressive, especially given the coarse, loosely woven nature of the fabric.

Detail Photo of Vintage Tea Towel

Whichever tea towel I choose for the challenge, I see two tea towel-inspired quilts in my future ... unless Moira tells me that she really wanted this one ...  because as much as I love it, I'm also feeling more than a bit guilty about grabbing it for myself.

I've asked everyone interested to blog and link their commitment.  This is mine.

The 2014 Tea Towel Challenge and How I Became a Collector

Blog Hop Party with Give-AwaysWelcome to my blog stop on the Quilting Gallery's Giving Thanks - Quilter's Blog Hop Party.

I am thankful for the support of quilting friends and strangers and the way interesting things happen when you share a little idea on the great big internet ... which is how the 2014 Tea Towel Challenge began.

It was this post on the Spoonflower blog and this lovely Tea Towel Calendar design by Julie that got me thinking about how much fun I had using a tea towel as a design element in a quilt earlier this year and how maybe I should challenge myself to do it again.

Then I began to wonder if anyone would like to join me. I sent email to a few quilters and casually mentioned it near the bottom of a blog post last week.  The response was very encouraging ... and then, the great tea towel hunt began.  My email has been filled with messages containing  links to beautiful tea towels, new and vintage and announcements of, "I've found my tea towel" and "My tea towel is here."

Although I had already ordered the fairytale calendar, I found myself wanting more and bidding on eBay auctions ... which is how I became a tea towel collector in spite of myself. All my tea-towel orders arrived, in one fell swoop, yesterday.

And that's how my tea towel collection began.  It includes some of Julie's Fairytale yardage which I will share with the winner of my giveaway for the Blog Hop Party. To enter the drawing, leave me a comment by Saturday night and tell me what you collect–either by intention or ... accident. If you are a No-Reply blogger, make sure that I have a way to contact you if you win. I love this panel as a Tea Towel, as an element in a quilt or maybe as a tote bag. I'll choose a winner on Sunday.

If you're wondering what happens when you make a quilt from a tea towel, here are two wonderful quilts made by two of the challengers from earlier this year.

Read more about Tea Towel Tess (on the left) here:  Tess Waits No More.  Miki's quilt for her pink-loving daughter, Bella, is blogged here: Update on my Tea Towel Quilt.  They started with two very different tea towels and made two very different–both fabulous–quilts.

Join me for the Tea Towel Challenge 2014 If you are inspired to join the challenge and make a quilt from a tea towel, I hope you will follow along and share your project.

I have put together some suggested guidelines, a timeline and a few check points ... and a blog badge with a handy link back to my Tea Towel Challenge 2014 tab that contains all the basic information and will track our progress.

Suggested Guidelines

  1. Your quilt must include a tea towel–it can be new or vintage.
  2. The colors in the tea towel determine the color palette for your quilt. 
  3. Try something new. Since this one is defined by you, it can be anything and is an opportunity to add your own personal guidelines to the challenge.

Timeline & Check-ins

End of 2013 - Decide to participate, blog your commitment and join the linky list below.
January - Tea towel and fabric selection
February- In-progress report
March - Finished project show & tell

Are you in? Blog your intention, link back to the Tea Towel Challenge 2014 page (or add the blog badge) and enter your link below.

Remember: to enter the drawing for the Fairytale Calendar tea towel, leave a comment. To join the Tea Towel Challenge next year, ALSO join the linky list.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Getting Ready to Quilt

If you had a hard time visualizing what my quickly sketched, black and white, simple medallion idea would look like made from real quilt blocks, here's one example, using this month's Banded Basket blocks.  It's a 30-inch square, a good size to center upon my small dining table.

I used the bonus triangle squares left over from the basket blocks to create the "boxes" in the corner and center squares.

Sorry for the badly lit photo.  It's a rare, gray, overcast day in Santa Fe–a good day to stay in, layer and baste quilts and begin to quilt them–but not so great for taking good photos ...

Holiday Baskets and Boxes

I don't think I have ever marked a quilt for quilting, except maybe in a workshop, but I like the idea of repeating the shape of the skinny round basket handles and so I see a marking adventure ahead for me today. 

The Banded Basket block pattern can be found in the set of 2013 Lotto block patterns at the top of my Block Patterns page.  Any of this year's 6-by-9 inch blocks could be used in this simple medallion idea. Now that's I've tested my little idea and can see it in the flesh (and fabric), I think I will use it again for a quick quilt. 

I'm joining the WIP Wednesday list on Freshly Pieced and Esther Aliu's WOW.  I think I enjoy seeing and reading about the works-in-progress as much as enjoying the finished quilts. 

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

It's My Own Fault ...

Johnny Be Good & MeOne day I was headed outside with my morning latté and, on impulse, picked up one of the cats and held it in my arms while I sipped and walked around and enjoyed the sun, the sun, the view and the fresh air.

My cats are eight years old and have always been indoors only cats.  They go out on the roof deck, where they are safe from the coyotes and other critters in the backyard and the arroyo beyond.

But since my one impulsive act, both cats have decided this is a habit worth practicing and will insistently nag ask for a trip out and about in my arms.  I have no one to blame but myself.

This is me, this afternoon, juggling Johnny and my iPhone to grab our shadow on the wall outside the studio.

Pumpkin Butter ... Mmmmm

Pumpkin Latté ... mmmmI've never been a fan of those Pumpkin-Spiced Lattés (PSL) at coffee shops across the country. They always seemed to me to taste more of artificial flavors than pumpkin pie.

But then, on impulse, I brought home some pumpkin butter in a jar which led to the idea of making my own, less sweetened version.

I am always surprised when it occurs to me to look online for recipes for something in my head ... and I find them.  I made the Smitten Kitten's version of Pumpkin Butter, found here, along with Pepita Granola.

I have made it a couple times, starting with a pie pumpkin or a can of organic pumpkin. Last week, I made a half recipe, using a 15 oz can of pumpkin and ended up with these two jars of pumpkin-y goodness.  They will probably last through my Fall cravings for these flavors.

It does makes great PSLs with the flavor of pumpkin pie, not artificial flavoring. At my house they are made with almond milk, espresso, a big spoon of pumpkin crack butter and cinnamon sprinkled on top.

It is also good as a spread on toast or apple slices, stirred into oatmeal or yogurt,  added to smoothies, or as part of a cheese plate after dinner.  I haven't tried it (yet), but I'll bet it would be tasty blended with bananas to make an ice-cream like desert.  Lately, though, i've felt more like building a fire in the fireplace than making ice cream ... winter is definitely on the way.

Monday, November 18, 2013

Baskets and Boxes on my Design Wall

The basket handles are handled ... and this weekend project might have been finished except I decided to rearrange the triangle squares. Here's where I am,  with my holiday basket table topper, along with the scrappy banded basket blocks for the November Block Lotto on my design wall.

Design Wall - November 18

Follow the link above to see what other quilters have on their design walls today. 

If you're wondering what changed, you can see my original idea for those bonus triangle squares here.  

I like the combination of basket blocks and boxes (squares).  I'm thinking maybe the squares should be put on point ... with appliqué bows added to turn them into gift boxes.  What do you think? 

I've been receiving excited email message from quilters who have received the tea towels they ordered (or won on eBay) for the tea towel challenge 2014.  Some lucky people, like Nann,  already collect them and now have the task of choosing ONE for their challenge quilt.   

If you're interested in joining the Tea Towel Challenge, check back Thursday for the official announcement (and giveaway!)  I am hoping my tea towels will arrive by then and I'll be able to share–a new one on the way from Spoonflower and a vintage southwest-inspired one from an eBay seller. 

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Restful Appliqué for Slow Stitch Sunday

I love the quiet content feeling of being curled up with some handwork on Sunday afternoon or evening. I am almost always sitting in front of the TV on Sunday night and when I don't have a project to work on, it isn't nearly as pleasant ... I start fidgeting.

Basket HandlesTonight, I'll be continuing to work on the holiday baskets, with some hand appliqué to stitch down the rest of the handles.

I've finished 2 of the Banded Basket blocks and have 6 more to go.

I'm excited to put the blocks and squares together and decide about what's next?  Maybe a little more appliqué ...

One Finished Basket, one Not
Yep that flower print is upside down. I decided to leave it that way, but if you see it turned right side up next time, you'll know I just couldn't stand it ;-)

I'm joining Kathy's list for Slow Stitch Sunday. Click over to read her post about the health benefits of a day of rest ... or to add a slow stitch Sunday project of your own.

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Saturday Morning Progress Report

Eight Holiday Basket Blocks - in ProgressA funny thing happened when I went to pull some fabrics out of my stash to make the table quilt in my head:
  • I couldn't decide on what color I wanted the background to be–I finally decided on white-on-white. 
  • I kept changing my mind about what fabrics to use for the band and handle for the basket blocks.
  • I decided the time was right to fold and put away a basket of left over fabrics and scraps from other projects ... before I did anything else. 
It doesn't necessarily look like a lot of progress during my Friday Night Sew-in, but it's all good.  All those fabrics and scraps are put away and I moved forward making the bottom of the basket blocks and allowing myself to wait until later to make the decision about handles and bands.

Maybe I'll find some clarity, cut some fabrics and be ready for some basket handle appliqué for Slow Stitch Sunday night?

Friday, November 15, 2013

I NEED a Friday Night Sew-In

I know I probably seemed ungrateful to some in my post about those birthday fireworks.  I have politely left out some of the facts and tried to put a happy face on events.  Plus, I guess I have come to prefer the French tradition where if you're the person with the birthday, anniversary or other reason to celebrate, you throw the party ... if you want one.

Inn at AbiquiuMy uninvited visitor continued to push and insist and push some more that we go to Abiquiu.  I thought he meant the tour of Georgia O'Keefe's home there, since we had talked about it at my birthday dinner–and we did come dangerously close ... but his only goal was to eat a meal at a restaurant where he had once travelled with a friend, and found closed when they arrived.  The cafe was located at the Abiquiu Inn, which also contains the tour office for the Georgia O'Keefe house/museum.

I should have kept my mouth shut as he hopped back into the car after our lunch, but instead, feeling some disappointment at the bait-and-switch tactics of my visitor, suggested we might wander around the area that inspired O'Keefe ... since I still believed that was the point of the trip. He took my suggestion as a cue to drive, drive, drive some more ... first to the historic hot springs in Ojo Caliente–where we might have enjoyed a soak, but didn't, because we had to race to go to Taos.  The road winds through the Rio Grande basin–I wanted to take photos, but only when a pair of big horn sheep blocked our path, did he slow down.

Big Horn Sheep in Rio Grand Basin

The sunset was spectacular, but it took a traffic light in Taos before the vehicle stopped and I was able to capture the last of it.

Taos Sunset

Maybe it's a Mars-Venus thing?  He joked a little too much about having me captive ... and it felt a little too much exactly that to me.

Our afternoon together ended at 10 PM when I finally got home ... because my pushy acquaintance wouldn't take me home until I had dinner with him–an Indian meal that didn't sit well.  I woke up violently ill after 3 hours at 1AM and was miserable all day yesterday. 

Handmade by HeidiI'm so happy my visitor has moved onto his next victim surprised hostess and that I finally feel well enough to eat ... the Friday Night Sew-in couldn't come at a better time for me.  

A week ago, on the Block Lotto site, I shared this simple sketch of an idea for for a quick project that would work with any of this year's lotto blocks in a simple medallion.  

Follow the link for measurements, if you're interested. 

Using 6 by 9-inch blocks and 9 and 12 inch squares (finished sizes), the result is a 30 inch square. 

My plan for FNSI tonight is make some of this month's Banded basket blocks and pieced square blocks and arrange them like this for a holiday table topper.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Some Unwanted Attention

Birthday FireworksAn old acquaintance came into town earlier this week and insisted that he take me to dinner to celebrate my birthday (which was last week.)

And then, despite my firm objections, he insisted that I enjoy the fireworks that the restaurant provides for birthdays because while he waited for me to arrive, he had seen another birthday celebration.

And so, along with the apple crisp ala mode that we shared, this was also served.   (That's the insister on the other side of the table, taking an especially unflattering photo of me with his phone while trying to stay out of the shot I was taking with mine.)

For me, birthdays have become a much more intimate and introspective event. And while I'd never say no to a birthday party–for me or anyone else–and I really don't think anyone should be forced to have a party they don't want ... or indoor fireworks.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Simple. Healthy. Good.

I collect lots of interesting-looking recipes, but it's usually the simplest ones I go back to again and again.  What's better than fresh ingredients, simply prepared that taste good?

Kate blogged a tart that sounded so good ...  and I turned it into pizza with a gluten-free crust.

Pesto Pizza with Zucchini and Mushrooms

The original recipe is on BBC's Good Food site here: Courgette, Mushroom and Mozzarella Tart. I used Chebe All Purpose (gluten-free) Bread Mix for my crust ... and when I was done, I cut up the box and made the templates on yesterday's blog post.

Monday, November 11, 2013

My Design Wall and a Challenge for 2014–Want to Play Along?

I've got a few things going on, on my design wall today.

Design Wall - November 11

Clockwise, from the upper right are my banded basket blocks for the November Block Lotto.  All the blocks we're making this year are 6 by 9 inches finished size. I made these using 4 different approaches, including paper foundation piecing.  You can find all the details in the Banded Basket block pattern and links to all the block patterns for this year so far and many others on the Block Patterns page on this blog. If you are a basket fan–it seems quilters either love them or loathe them–and want to make blocks for the block lotto, you'll find details here.

Below the baskets is the reverse appliquéd feather using fabric made from small scraps.  Victoria's latest challenge on the 15 minutes blog has inspired me to pick this back up and finish it.

The red & white block will become the label for my sampler quilt.  I began piecing the backing over the weekend, but got distracted ...

Making Cardboard TemplatesBefore my little distracting idea completely took over, I made the two Window to the Sky blocks. A quilter from a group to which I used to belong died recently. The blocks are for comfort quilts for her husband and children.

The Quilter's Cache pattern for the 12 inch block is partially paper-pieced, but when the GIF images didn't print correctly, I decided it would be easier to make templates. It's been a long time since I had to deal with the printing-GIFs-on-a-Mac problem.  For templates that will have limited use, I use the lightweight cardboard from food packaging. The little box of non-gluten bread mix was just big enough for the task.

So that's my design wall and here's what's distracting me ...

I have been thinking about the joy I find in quilting and the types of projects that are pure fun for me and I decided I wanted to challenge myself to design and make another quilt starting with a Tea Towel.  While this thought was in my head, I saw a blog post with the top winners in the annual Spoonflower tea towel design challenge–one of the winners grabbed my imagination and I was off and running (in my head).

Cock-a-Doodle-Tea TowelI thought some of my quilting friends in blogland might like to join me, so I sent email to some of those that I had connected with during my journey with my project, Cock-a-doodle Tea Towel. I was glad that I wasn't the only one who liked the idea ;-)

If the idea appeals to you, too, here's what I'm thinking.  The suggested guidelines are pretty basic:

1. Your quilt must include a tea towel–it can be new or vintage.

2. The colors in the tea towel determine the color palette for your quilt. I honestly learned so much by limiting myself to the 5 colors in that reproduction rooster.

3. Try something new. It doesn't have to be a big thing and since it's defined by you, it can be anything.

Although things won't really kick off until January, I know from personal experience that unless you happen to collect tea towels, finding one you like can take time.  I stressed last year because I couldn't find anything like what I thought I wanted ... and of course now, I see tea towels everywhere–even Amazon.

Uh oh. I just did a quick search on Amazon to make sure that was still true and found this one. I really have to stop looking :-)

I will post something more formal later this month, on the 21st,  as part of the Quilting Gallery's Blog Hop party ... and there will be a give-away.  There will be a linky (open until the end of the year) to sign up if you want to play along. The timeline I envision is:

November-December - decide you want to play and find/choose a tea towel for your quilt
January - share your choice of tea towel
February- share your work in progress
March - show & tell - finished quilts

To see more examples of the quilts made for the Tea Towel Challenge on the 15 minutes blog - Tea Towel Challenge Posts

Sunday, November 10, 2013

The Thing About Knitting

A long time ago, a co-worker explained to me that she chooses to knit, rather than sew because if something doesn't fit or you don't like it, you can unravel a knit garment and start over. I was recently reminded of Miriam and her attitude, when I picked up a long-forgotten sock project a couple weeks ago, thinking it would be a good one to take along on a trip.

Knitting on airplanesSocks are a perfect for knitting on planes, both because of their small size and because no one feels threatened by the toothpick-sized needles you use to make them.

The patten was an easy one to pick up again: Jaywalkers by Grumperina. The Zig-Zag pattern is really pretty ingenious, easily remembered and quick to knit.

I had to laugh at the archeological clues in the project bag of the origins of the project: a business card from someone I met on a train from Lansing to Chicago (to attend the Spring Quilt Festival when it was there), a package from some tea I had enjoyed during a sleep/nap study and the original wrapper that identified the yarn and the shop where I'd bought the interesting hand-dyed yarn.  I didn't really think about why I had stopped knitting, but happily picked it up again on the flight from Santa Fe to Dallas and Dallas to Houston.

A completed pairI finished up that first sock during Quilt Festival and cast on stitches for the second at breakfast on Sunday, to prepare for the trip home. While the first sock literally took YEARS to finish, the second was completed in 4 days.

And then I sort of remembered what soured me on the project way back whenever it was. As much as I loved the yarn and the knit patterns, I didn't like the socks on my feet.

And so while I might count this as a finish, I'll be spending some time slow UN-stitching them this Sunday.

I'm not sure if they'll become socks in a different style or perhaps a scarf or little shawl.  I did fall in love with the subtle color combinations in the yarn and have started to look at pattern ideas so that I can pick it up and start knitting something with it again soon.

Detail of yarn colors and stitches

This yarn has always said autumn to me ... maybe I'll actually finish something that stays finished before winter arrives. 

Saturday, November 09, 2013

It's a Little Intimidating

Like a blank page, there is so much open white space on my red & white sampler, made from this year's lotto block patterns, it's a little intimidating.

Sampler top with December blocks covered

The black rectangle is hiding the 4 blocks made with the December block pattern–don't want to spoil the surprise.

If any of the blocks appeal to you, you'll find links to all the patterns at the top of my Block Patterns page

My plan has always been to make a sample quilt using the 6 by 9 inch lotto blocks for this year, leaving lots of open space for quilting: some of it will be very traditional and marked; some will be unmarked free motion; some will, I hope, have a modern feeling.  I'm excited to get started ... and a little intimidated. 
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