Sunday, January 1, 2017

Snow this morning - just a light dusting over everything, enough to soothe the eye.

I went out for a (very brief) walk and found that the snow sounded slightly crunchy underfoot, but it was firm enough that my footprints did not show on the sidewalk. It won't last long. I thought it might stay below freezing all day, but the snow is already melting away from the trunks of the smoke bush outside the living room window.

Still, it's Sunday and it's hardly what anyone would call warm out and having made my morning foray to Rosellini's for hot chocolate and a slice of quiche, I am planning an indoor day. I am finally learning to make socks, and I have a long backlog of podcasts to watch and listen to, and no obligations to anyone that need to be addressed before I go back to work on Tuesday. Not a bad way to start the year, I think.

Sunday, March 8, 2015

Blame it on DST

I was so careful.  I changed all the clocks (furnace thermostat, microwave, bedroom, living room) last night and made myself go to bed early, and even fell asleep pretty easily - not the usual outcome when I get in bed before midnight.  I woke up at the new 6 am, and did not curse the fact that my body was convinced it was still 5 am.  Admittedly, I was dragging a bit, and didn't manage to get out and do the weeding that was on the plan for this morning, but I made it to knitting group on time and did not drop any stitches or otherwise screw up the pattern for my current shawlette. 

Came home, did a bit of weeding and cleared away the dead foliage from the Japanese forest grasses in the sideyard -- so nice to see the bright spring green shoots poking up through the soil! - but didn't do too much else because it's never a good idea to spend too much time weeding the first time I'm out there for the season.  Went back into the house, and decided to work on the drawstring project bags I cut out earlier in the week.  New project bags for new projects, coming up! 

I cut out the corners for the boxed bottoms, stitched up the side and bottom seams, pressed all the seams open, la la la la la....  I do these assembly line fashion, so I had four all stitched up and ready to turn before stitching the lining bottom close.  I turned one, stitched the bottom, pressed the top seam, picked up the ribbon for the drawstring, and realized...

I forgot to leave an opening and stitch a channel for the drawstring.


And of course, I had left the sewing machine on the very small stitch length that is its default...  And the bag is lined, so that seam allowance is not easily accessible.  Grrrrr.....

I knew what I needed to do.  I did it.  My project bag now has a drawstring installed.

It's a cute project bag.  I like it. But I am Not a Happy Camper.  Daylight Savings Time, thief of sleep, I hate you.

Monday, March 2, 2015

Meteorological spring - I'll take it

There was much talk around Seattle last month about how early the ornamental fruit trees started blooming.  I have wanted to believe that it wasn't incredibly early for all of this, but when I look back at my out-and-about photos from the past few years, the start of the flowering seems to be as much as 3 weeks earlier than usual. 

These ornamental plums down the block always get my attention when they start blooming.  Here they are in 2013:
March 11 2013
Same trees, 2015:
February 15, 2015

In 2013, my Ogon spiraea started blooming in mid-March and hit its peak arounnd April 1st:

Here it is on February 22nd, 2015:

(Don't ask me why I don't have photos of either of these from last year.  I seem to have been fascinated with plants in other parts of the neighborhood last spring.)

The thing about plants blooming this early is that one can't help but be afraid that some nasty weather system is going to swoop down out of Alaska and smack the flowers into oblivion.  We had snow on February 9th last year, and it's not unheard of for us to get snow in March (2009, I'm scowling at you.)  But once we get past March 1, the chances for really nasty cold weather get more and more slim every day.  The equinox is days away, but we're now in meteorological spring, and I can stop feeling anxious about an Arctic front ruining my inner happy dance.  Along with the spiraea in my garden I have crocuses (croci?) and daffodils, and I can see the very beginning of the purple lilacs (the white lilacs hold out a few more weeks.)  Around the neighborhood, the usual early bloomers have been in evidence -- heaths, pieris, daphne odora, hellebores, camellias - but now the star magnolias and brilliant yellow forsythias are claiming their spot in the landscape.  And the new leaves!  I love that early spring green, which is starting to be everywhere, but I also love the brilliant red of the first new leaves on the photinias:

Mind you, an early spring also means an early surge by weeds in the garden.  I had commitments that kept me away from my dirt this past weekend, and the dandelions and shotweed I see every morning taunt me with the reality of what happens when rainy days are interspersed with warm ones.  Guess I'll be spending a lot of time on my knees this weekend.  Cross your fingers and hope the current weather forecast holds up!

p.s.  This is what those pink flowers look like close up:

and they smell good, too!

Monday, February 23, 2015

Making Pink Lemonade

The Artquiltmaker is collecting fabrics for her Blue Lemonade quilt, and musing about the design process.  Since she's taking my Pink Lemonade quilt top as a jumping off point, I thought I'd describe my design process for this quilt.

This quilt is part of a series I call "My Scrap Bag Runneth Over" - which is nothing more than a realistic description of what's going on my studio at any given moment in time. 

I like multi-fabric quilts, the more fabrics the better, and despite the fact that my yardage collection has long since reached the point of SABLE (Stash Acquisition Beyond Life Expectancy), I am happiest when I am figuring out ways to put existing small bits of fabric together to make bigger pieces of fabric. 

That being said, I don't do random.  At all.  Ever.  I just don't have enough faith that the universe is going to make things go together in a way that is harmonious, or at least pleasing to the eye.  That idea of putting patches in a brown paper bag and pulling them out and stitching them together as they come out of the bag?  Gives me hives just to contemplate it.

For Pink Lemonade, I was using pink, orange, and yellow and I had two design rules.  I wanted to make sure that a) I spread the colors/prints around fairly evenly, and b) that I didn't end up with the same fabrics right next to each other.  So I laid fabrics out in 6 x 4 sets of patches, figuring that if I got a good distribution of prints within each 24-patch unit, I'd manage to get a good distribution overall.

I started with a box of squares that had been cut/accumulated over a couple of years.  There weren't a lot of duplicates in there, which helped.  Once that box was well into being used up, I started cutting squares out of other scraps, and eventually from fat quarters and yardage, though I didn't have to do much of that. (This is where it helps to be a constant accumulator of scraps -- lots of fabrics to choose from.  Not for nothing do I scavenge scraps from friends...) I made sure not to cut more than a few of each print, again to make sure that the same fabrics didn't end up next to each other.  I mixed in the newly cut squares with those left from the original box so that the newer prints wouldn't all be concentrated in the same sections.

I knew before I started what fabric I was going to use for the sashing and border, so I was also working to try and make sure that I didn't put anything too pale on the outside of the units, since I didn't want to have the edges drop out because of lack of contrast between the foreground and the background.  I didn't always achieve that, but I managed enough that I was happy with the design in the end.

Bottom line: My quilts are always designed, even if they look like I spilled a box of squares on the floor and just grabbed them up as they fell.  I'm pretty happy with how this one came out.  It's actually been quilted now, but not bound yet.  I'm sleeping under it occasionally, though, even unbound.  My house, my rules!

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Flying Geese Exchange, week 3

Time flies

... when you're busy celebrating.  This past weekend was my birthday weekend; I took a couple of days off from work and went to Portland to play with friends.  Very casual playing -- nothing too structured, not much planning.  The weather cooperated -- well, it poured rain on Saturday, which was, of course, the day we were all over town shopping, but it wasn't raining sideways, and it wasn't snowing, and I call that a win for January.  And a lot of the time, there was sunshine and blue skies:

My kind of weather.  Didn't even need my gloves the day I took that picture.

Since I was going to be there for several days, I decided to rent a little cottage in the Alberta Arts district, about 3 blocks away from the friends I was there to play with it.  It was a lovely space -- lots of light and clean lines, which made for a very peaceful experience.  


At home there is a lot of stuff that demands my attention when I get up, but at the cottage I found myself starting the day with a peaceful hour with a cup of tea and my journal.

Can't replicate the light and clean line at home (yet -- too much stuff) but I'll work on the hour with tea and journal.

It was a very easy weekend.  There was cat visiting with the very handsome Henry:
Also, yarn shopping, fabric shopping, dinner out, dinner in, walks around the neighborhood, a very strange movie, a very small amount of football watching, and lots and lots of knitting.  I cast on Piper's Journey right before I left, and it grew from this
to this:
I also made a lot of progress on the tubular stripey cowl - I'm into the home stretch with the medium and dark blues.  
At the end of this section I'll graft the beginning to the end, which means I'll have to break out the Kitchener stitch tutorial,  I might be procrastinating a little about that.  That's OK.  While I procrastinate on that, I'm into the lace section of Piper's Journey and am having a lot of fun.  I wasn't sure I was on the right track, but now it's beginning to look like lace, and I am Very Happy.

I like what happens when I decide to dedicate myself to celebrations.  I need to find room for more of those in my life.

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Flying Geese Exchange, week 2

Decided to use the same background fabric for the month of January.  That'll give me time to dig through the piles and find my other gray/white prints!