Friday, July 31, 2015

Lucky Number 7

If my math is correct, this little quilt that I finished this week is the seventh kennel quilt for the veterinary surgery clinic.

Again, using recycled scrubs, the top is a low volume kind of thing, just squares, sort of a streak of lightning setting.  

Lightning is low volume, right?  Or at least until its sound reaches our ears, and then the thunder makes us sit up a little straighter.

And that happens on the back of this quilt, or, in the words of the rocker in the movie Spinal Tap, "This goes to 11."  The fabric for the back is thrifted.  Gotta love Goodwill!

I did some free-motion flowers and loops in the quilting.  Totally on a whim.  I had the needle down in the intersection of a block and started to make the first curve of a stipple when I changed my mind and went for a petal shape instead, and the rest, as they say, is history.

Kind of fun how it looks on the back down the center.  And I didn't even plan that!

My daughter, a CVT at the surgery clinic, directed me to a photo on Facebook yesterday of one of my kennel quilts in use under a snoozing patient.  Aw, doesn't that just melt your heart?

I hope Roscoe had sweet dreams and a speedy recovery!

Linking to:  Can I Get a Whoop-Whoop.

Monday, July 27, 2015

Mixed Media

What have you been reading, viewing, or listening to this summer? 
The HST kennel quilt, now finished!
I've been enjoying a few of the classics in books by Thomas Hardy and Charles Dickens.  These are things I hadn't read in my youth.  I was motivated to read the book Far From the Madding Crowd by Thomas Hardy after I saw the movie this spring, the one starring Carey Mulligan and Matthias Schoenaerts.  Loved the movie, had never read the book.  I found a wonderful free audiobook version on Librivox.  That led to reading Tess of the D'Urbervilles and Jude the Obscure, also by Hardy (all free audiobooks linked to the titles, should you wish to explore).  In between the latter two, I also read David Copperfield by Charles Dickens, which I adored.  Now I am making my way through Oliver Twist by Dickens, though I'm not enjoying it quite as much as Copperfield

I haven't been to see any summer blockbusters in the theater, but my peepers are getting their share of dramatic action thanks to Masterpiece's Poldark.  

And, oh my, Aidan Turner is enough to give a gal the vapors!  Or was that a hot flash?  Never mind, judge for yourselves:

Mm-hm, that's what I'm sayin'.  Who knew scything could be that kind of hot?

Speaking of Masterpieces, friends and I went to see the Dressing Downton exhibit at the Paine Art Center in Oshkosh, Wisconsin this past weekend.  Where photographs were not allowed, unfortunately.

On display were many of the costumes of the various Downton Abbey characters we've come to know and love.  The real deal, genuine article duds!  That I could not take pictures of! 

But, oh, they were exquisite.  Mary's riding costume, Matthew's army uniform, Lord Grantham's stunning red wartime uniform, and dresses, dresses, dresses!   The beading and stitching and other details were to swoon for.  The clothes were all posed elegantly on (headless but not creepy) mannequins throughout the rooms of the grand old mansion of the Paine Art Center.  What fun to see!

(Image Source)
Afterwards, we walked the impeccable gardens of the grounds outside the mansion and mooned over the flora and foliage.

Here we are below, ignoring the rules of photographic composition in posing the tallest member of our posse (that would be me on the left) next to the shortest (dearest friend Kathy).  But friends shouldn't let friends have to stare at your belly button.  This was not my idea, folks.  However, with a volunteer poised at the ready with my camera and my sister saying we should just "be bookends," I assumed my position on the end.  Do not do this at home.

Which brings me to a new show on TLC this summer that I have begun to watch, against my better judgment, but now I am sucked in:  My Giant Life.

I mean, as a woman nearly 6'3" myself, I basically live this show, so why do I need to watch it?  Well, because it's about people, dang it, and people interest me.

I watched Little People, Big World all those years, not because they were vertically challenged, but they were interesting.  The ladies of My Giant Life are no different.

But seriously?  Can they quit with the unflattering camera angles?  Here is Colleen, who is 6'6", and they are shooting her from the view of Lilliputians.  Get off the floor, camera crew—and find that woman a decent chair!

Here too is 6'9" Lindsay, who is apparently being shot by poodle-cam.


Anyway, here's me and my lovely sister Nita below.  Do not call me a giant or I'll step on you.  Kidding!  I'll just pick you up by the collar and give you a little shake.  ;)

Totally kidding, I don't have that kind of upper body strength.

I am strong enough, however, to hold my grandniece Cali on her first birthday, as she explored the heart-shaped chocolate muffin her Grandma Nita made.  

She is such a cutie!  Most of that muffin ended up on her clothes and mine and whoever else came into her magnetic little tractor beam.

Now this...

This kohlrabi is a true giant.  Dad grew a row of this giant hybrid variety in his garden, and they were delicious!  Big as a cabbage, where normally kohlrabi are the size of a tennis ball.  Not woody either, but tender all the way through.

How does your garden grow?  Mine is looking kind of raggedy about now, but the potted coleus out front is showing off.  I just moved it to the birdbath/plant stand on the front porch so that trailing stuff (that I can't remember the name of) that I planted with it has a place to flow.

As far as what I'm listening to this summer, other than audiobooks, I'm enjoying some of the music of Florence + The Machine, Ryn Weaver, this song by Twenty-One Pilots, and for the orchestral jazz fusion king of thing, this song by Snarky Puppy.  Yep, that's a pretty random smattering.

Oh, and I've been meaning to share a video.  Earlier in the summer, my brother Russ flew his drone camera over the area where my dad lives and captured some footage of the surrounding marsh wetlands and farms, which he then set to music.  You can see it HERE.  I find it very serene and relaxing.  Perhaps you will enjoy it too.

As far as sewing, what's that?  Nah, I'm working on a little of this and that, but altogether not much.  I made another little kennel quilt top yesterday, from more scrubs.  Went with a simple low volume version this time.

And up top of this post, you see that I got the last kennel quilt quilted and bound.  I used some wild 1980s or '90s tropical yardage I found on a shelf while putting the basement back in order after getting rid of the damp spot a couple weeks ago.  Serendipity!

How about you?  When you look back on the Summer of 2015, what images will come to mind?  Will there be an accompanying soundtrack?  Any particular smells conjured up in memory—a smoky barbecue, your rose garden, suntan lotion, mosquito repellant?  Feel free to share in the comments!

Saturday, July 18, 2015

Scrubs HST Quilt Flimsy

Here's the latest kennel quilt top, for the furry postop patients at the veterinary surgery.  Made from repurposed scrubs, this one is all large half-square triangles.

I wanted to make a quilt to fit the largest kennel, and to get the most bang for the buck, I started cutting 8-inch squares from about eight different scrub tops that I had selected. Then I made HSTs from the squares, pairing a dark with a light/medium.

It measures 42 x 70, long and narrow, to fit the largest space.

It seemed to use up a lot of fabric, almost all of the eight tops, but I still have plenty of scrubs left to turn into quilts. 

We Interrupt This Program...
As I worked on this quilt, I kept noticing a musty smell in my sewing corner in the basement.  Yes, many basements are damp, but ours is normally pretty dry, so the musty smell was odd and something new.

I finally got down on all fours and crawled around on the carpeting, feeling for moisture.  I felt next to the walls and under the tables.  Nothing.  When you get down and crawl around on the sewing room floor, do you know what you do find?  Of course you do:  Threads, fabric bits, dust, cobwebs, dropped pins, ladybug carcasses, a stray peanut or two.  So I decided to vacuum.

And when I pulled up the antistatic mat under my sewing chair so I could do that, lo and behold, there was the dampness!

My theory is that it was caused by condensation happening underneath the mat.  The basement is quite cool and I sit with a space heater next to me as I sew.  Cold meeting warm, with the plastic mat acting as a vapor barrier, allowed moisture to build up in the area below it.

So I spent the next couple days on abatement, which involved spraying the glued-down carpeting with vinegar and water—which made my sewing room smell like a salad—and drying the carpet with box fans.  Then respraying with OdoBan and redrying.

On Monday morning, the tornado warning sirens went off at 4:00 a.m.  Not a fun way to start the day.  We had heavy rain and wind, and some small branches came down in the yard, but that was it.  I did go down to the basement to check the floor to see if things were still dry.  They were, despite the 2.5 inches of rain that had fallen in a short amount of time.

The sewing room is now back in business, but you know what I realized after moving everything out of the way and back again?  I've got too much stuff.  Let the decluttering begin.  

Linking to: Can I Get a Whoop-Whoop

Monday, July 6, 2015

Sunday Sundry 7-6-15

I know it's not Sunday anymore, but as I intended to post this yesterday as an installment of my irregular and random "Sundry" posts, I'm sticking with the theme.  Things like that happen when you procrastinate.  Sunday turns to Monday, the days to months, and so on.

It's amazing that we're smack dab in the middle of summer already.  I notice the stores are starting to get back-to-school stock on the shelves and that seems way too early.  But I'd be the worst retailer ever with my tendency to put things off.  Where are the spiral notebooks and pencil cases, you ask?  Oh, we'll have those out by Halloween.

Let's climb aboard the random roller coaster, shall we?

Dialing back a month or so ago, my chives were in blossom and around that time, I saw an interesting blog post about how to make chive blossom vinegar.  So I did.

HERE is the link to the instructions I followed, but basically I snipped a handful of blossoms, put them in a pint jar, and covered them with vinegar (I used rice wine vinegar, but I think any clear vinegar would work).  

Put a lid on it and set it aside for two weeks, then strain it, and voila—pretty pink chive blossom vinegar!  It has a mild onion-like flavor that goes well in oil and vinegar dressings, etc.

Some other recent snapshots of the flora and fauna around here include this pair of goldfinches having a breakfast of seeds from the spent purple-flowered spiky things in my garden, the name of which I don't recall.

And this little dragonfly resting on the hostas.

Last week, we took a mini-vacay to Galena, Illinois for a couple days.  It's an historic, once thriving old mining town whose downtown area has been nicely restored and features many shops, antique stores, boutiques, and restaurants.  It was also the home of Ulysses S. Grant, as well as a number of other generals and officers during the time of the Civil War.

We visited the local museum, which houses the famous 14-foot original oil painting entitled "Peace in the Union" by Thomas Nast, depicting the surrender of General Lee to General Grant at Appomattox.

A lot of interesting history, including that of the lead and zinc mining industries so vital to 19th century Galena.

The streets are steeply terraced from the river valley.  We learned that twice a day, at noon and after work in the evening, Grant would walk up these steps from his family's leather shop on Main Street to his house on the hill.  (We also learned that he stood 5'8" tall and weighed 135 pounds, and his wife wore a size 4 shoe, which was average in those days—wow, people were smaller then).

Later that day, I coaxed Norm into making the same trek.  We only went up the steps once, however, which was enough to make my leg muscles feel jittery for a while afterwards.

This view is somewhat deceiving, as we had already walked up one street level when I took this picture, and beyond the end of the steps you can see, there were another couple dozen we climbed to the next street level as well.  I counted 245 steps on the way down, give or take a few.

We drove up to Chestnut Mountain Resort a few miles outside Galena for a view of the Mississippi River.  

On the way back to town, Norm spotted these barn quilts, so I pulled in for a closer view.

As I was walking back to the car, I noticed these huge thistle blossoms, the largest almost the size of a tennis ball!  

Beyond the thistles, a few sheep grazed lazily along a stony creek bed.  Such a lovely bucolic scene.

Back home, I've started another kennel quilt.  I'm making big half-square triangles for this one, which will end up probably 42 x 70 inches, the largest one so far.

Did a little thrift store shopping this weekend, where I found a vintage paint-by-number to add to the collection.  A dollar ninety-nine, what a deal.

I took it out of the frame to clean the glass, where I noted the toy company and name and number of the panel.  This one probably dates to the late 1950s and is in really good shape.  The somewhat shaky execution of the paint job is all part of the charm!

Now it's back to a normal work week for us.   How's your summer going so far?

Friday, July 3, 2015

Another One to the Dogs

It's been a while since I made a kennel quilt for the veterinary surgery practice where my daughter works, but she reminded me recently that the ones I have made are in frequent rotation and holding up well so far. 

A while back, I had cut squares of various sizes and started piecing some strips together, stacked coin style.  Then the whole business sat off to the side for months and months while I got distracted by shiny things, like the sun.

So during this past week, I bent my nose to the task of getting a kennel quilt finished.  I built it out medallion style (kinda sorta) from the bits and pieces already cut.

Longtime readers may recall that I'm making these from my daughter's old scrubs.  In this one, the solids were all patch pockets from scrub pants.  The prints are from the tops.

I started out by quilting a spiral in one of the green corner blocks, which was surprisingly not crappy (beginner's luck, as it happened).  So I thought maybe it'd be good to practice some other quilting designs on this little thing.  HA!  That effort lasted all of five minutes and was immediately followed by 15 minutes of stitch ripping.  Those poor doped up post-surgery pooches don't need any more pain, y'all, and that business hurt my eyes.

Thus, a trusty overall meander finished off the quilting.  The back:

This one measures about 45 x 27 inches.  

I still have a lot of scrubs left, so more kennel quilts ahead.