Sunday, November 20, 2016


Snowflakes and Swirls
A finish!  Yes, just the quilting but it is remarkable because I challenged myself to learn a new quilting design.  Running a longarm doesn't come naturally to me and I don't have much experience in the art of free-motion quilting or embroidery on a standard sewing machine.  I have taken a class and tried a few projects but they just didn't turn out to my satisfaction so each new pattern I learn to quilt on the HandiQuilter 16 takes a few hours of practice on a white board with a pen and eraser in hand.

With this new pattern I am confident to try it on a quilt that is a must finish for Christmas project.  Since my DH is on duty for Thanksgiving, it will be my project for the day instead of dinner since our family members have commitments elsewhere.
Snowflake Baby Quilt Top

Monday, October 24, 2016

The Main(e) Attraction

Portland Head Light in Maine
We don't travel much.  DH does his mountain climbing and I prefer to stay close to home, making an occasional trip to visit family and friends.  I often comment that my summer vacation is 4-H quilt camp.

A couple years ago my East coast cousins started a girl cousins' reunion on Columbus Day weekend.  I had not seen any of my cousins for 56 years including the other West coast transplant.  Only two of us live outside of New England and we just happened to be in the same state of the great PNW so it is an easy trip the others to get together.  When I mentioned the possibility of the first reunion becoming a yearly affair, my niece made me promise we would go sometime.  Last year was the worst possible timing but this year looked possible so I bought airline tickets and 4 of us went; myself, my husband, our daughter and our niece.  It was an epic trip and it took a huge amount of planing to plot our whirlwind tour of four New England states, making sure everyone had some stops of interest.

After landing in Boston, I had the driving notion we had to make it as far as Portland, ME.  After all, my memories of New England only went as far as Hampton Beach, NH, and it seemed that 4 people flying out of PDX just had to say they had crossed the nation from Portland to Portland.  Little did I know that my Uncle Sonny always brought me a bucket of sand from Maine when we were living in New Hampshire.  My dear Aunt Pearl gave me a picture of him collecting the sand.

We were pleased to have fantastic weather as we went up the coast out of Boston.  I wanted to spend more time on the beach but our schedule was tight.
Hampton Beach, NH

Of course no trip is complete without a few stops for memorabilia.  LL Bean in Freeport, ME, makes for great shopping and a few pictures, too.

On our way back into New Hampshire, a quilter and knitter just has to stop at Keepsake Quilting and Patterworks in Center Harbor, NH.  The location on the shore of Lake Winnipesaukee is scenic and historic if the fabric and yarn doesn't do it for you.  Too bad our visit was on an overcast day.

As we made our our way across New England and back, all our accommodations were with Airbnb hosts.  This was a new experience but one worth repeating.  All of our overnight stays were great but some were memorable because the hosts had a special touch.  Rich and Ina's was one that has a beautiful and unique setting in a once goat barn in rural Vermont.

Note Ins's little sign to the left of the door.
Now did I say there was a main attraction, not just Maine?  Well, after our night in rural Vermont, we made it to Winchester, NH, where mom and dad intended to settle down and raise our family.  That didn't pan out but my fond and vivid memories of my aunts and uncles and their children start in the small towns of Ashuelot and Winchester, NH.  My cousin Marcia and her husband Jim still live next door to the house she grew up in on the hill just above our old house.  Marcia was our hostess for a memorable and wonderful reunion.

Tasha with Cousin Sheri
Me with Aunt Pearl (Sheri's mother)
Amy with Cousin Maralyn

The day of the reunion was rainy but the next morning was a perfect fall day in New England.  We had beautiful blue skies for our pictures in Winchester and Ashuelot.
The first home my parents owned in Ashuelot, NH
Grampa and Gramma's house on Broad Brook Rd.

Ashuelot's covered bridge

When I lived in Winchester, the Protestants had two buildings and we alternated between the brick church and the white church, depending on the season 

My love affair with turrets began with the one on Conant Library
Five Ryll brothers went off to WWII and all returned
Our house, a little less majestic without the wrap-around porch
The field once Dad's large garden
Our family doctor lived 3 houses down on Richmond, he delivered my brother, Tim (Amy's dad), at home
After our Monday morning photo session in Ashuelot and Winchester, we went on to Harrisville, once a thriving woolen mill community set among lakes and trees with more opportunities for great photos of historic landmarks in rural New Hampshire.
Lake from the Harrisville Cemetery
Harrisville General Store
Harrisville Mill #1
Tuesday took us to Amherst, MA, and tours of the Yiddish Book Center and the Eric Carle Museum and a great lunch at the Atkins Farms Country Market. 

The Yiddish Book Center resembles a shetl in pre-WWI Eastern Europe 

We finished up our week with a stop at the flagship Yankee Candle store then on to Boston to leave Tasha at the Hi Boston Hostel and a quick Thai lunch downtown.  After dodging in and out of city traffic we left our car in Chelsea and made back to Logan for another night flight across the country.  

Our epic trip came to an end all too soon.  

Twice as Nice and All Wrapped Up

Next weekend is the next to the last visit to our CSA farm for organic produce.  This is our second year supporting a CSA farm in the this area.  I wanted to do it in Walla Walla because one of my son's classmates and her husband started one but I wasn't sure we would be able to use all the produce.  Last spring, when I started the 30 Juice Challenge, I knew it would be worth our investment.  We joined as half-share members picking up produce every other week rather than every Saturday.  It's a nice Saturday morning outing to beautiful farmland, something I miss seeing as I looked down my street to the wheat fields on the rolling hills surrounding Walla Walla.

This year our farmer and her helper who checks us in are getting a little gift in appreciation for a great season and the beautiful Holy Basil plant I now have on my patio.  Two aprons are ready to be gifted on Saturday.  The perfect fabric just happened to be hiding in my stash.

Sunday, September 11, 2016

A Little Something. . .

A dear friend has been very thoughtful and helpful.  She visits my special needs sister and has even offered to take my my mom shopping at the mall or run errands for her.  That is a chore I avoid.  I don't have the shopping compulsion.  Somehow it skipped a generation.

I made Shannon two aprons from a yard of decorator fabric, one for Christmas and one as a sort of wedding shower gift because her daughter was threatening to run off with the first one and my friend recently celebrated her marriage in Las Vegas.

There was one last scrap of fabric that didn't get used because it was really a pocket I cut along the wrong grain.  It made a perfect pocket potholder.  The dishcloths will go in the pocket.

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Killed the Microwave, Again

I have killed 3 microwaves in 5 years, all since our Great Move.  My first microwave made it 25 years, plus some, so it has to be my cooking methods in the new environment.

This house has an enclosed space for the microwave we call The Cave.  According to 2 of the manuals for 3 of the microwaves, the air space clearance was sufficient.  One would conclude the same for the other model that came with the house as it was of the same brand and appearance.

So, what would kill a microwave?  Too much heat and no overload switch for the turn table motor or the magetron (the heating element of sorts for a microwave).  Regrettably, no more giant bowls of granola, microwave dried almost fat-free potato chips, popcorn, or significantly for a fiber artist, no steaming wool yarn to set the dye.  I'll be sticking with a crockpot for Kool-Aid dyeing.
Kool-Aid dyed Sea Urchin Pincushion from March 30, 2016

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

It's Got to be Easy!

Knitting dishcloths has never been my favorite project.  Everyone has a pattern they either like to knit or use.  My hands are small and most dishcloths are too big.  Also I like them tightly knit and I like a pattern that doesn't end up with lace holes in the wrong place or not at all.  I have never gotten along with the bias knit dishcloth pattern that has lace holes on the border.  With function, speed, and size in mind, a new version started falling off my needles.  Here is the pattern for all of you who like freebies.

  • Cast on 3 stitches with worsted weight cotton yarn, size US 6, 7, or 8 needles (I use size 7 mostly) 
  • Knit one row
  • Increase in the first stitch of each row by knitting in the front and back of the stitch
  • Repeat increases until you have the desired size, I like 44 stitches but DiL likes her dishcloths small so hers are 33 stitches
  • Now decrease at the beginning of each row by knitting one stitch, slipping the second stitch knitwise, and then knitting the third stitch
  • Pass the second stitch slipped stitch over the third and knit until the end of the row
  • Continue decreasing until there are 8 stitches on the needle
  • Repeat first decrease sequence above, then knit two stitches together twice, knit the last stitch (5 stitches remain)
  • Repeat first decrease sequence (4 stitches remain)
  • Knit two stitches together twice (2 stitches remain)
  • Bind off by knitting the two stitches together, cutting a 6 inch yarn tail and pulling it through
  • Weave in ends
This is not a glamorous dishcloth but fully functional and fast, guaranteed to fall off the knitting needles at lightening speed.  

Knitting, More or Less

Knitting becomes my fiber diversion in the summer.  With small projects in hand, I can knit in the car while travelling or comfortable in my favorite easy chair in front of a fan.

In April, I panicked.  I realized that making 20 pincushions for the quilt camp volunteers would not be the idea for appreciation gifts.  Some of the volunteers really don't sew or quilt much and would have little use for a pincushion.  I went back to my standard gift, 2 hand knit dishcloths, despite an allergy to cotton fibers contributing to itchy eyes, sinus issues, and a chronic cough.  

Since April, more than 100 dishcloths have fallen off the needles.  I have a good start on dishcloths for 2018 quilt camp.

On Again, Off Again

Sitka by the Sea in I Spy with a Twist
This quilt top has been like my blogging efforts of recent years; on again, off again.  It finally made it from cut blocks, to completed blocks, and finally to a completed top in six plus years of contemplation and sewing.

The pattern, I Spy with a Twist, is not difficult.  It just takes some thought and planning.  With labels and folders for organizing, the piecing will be easy and straight forward.  The finished Celtic circles look more complicated than they really are.

With some simple quilting, this top will become a wall quilt that will hang over the Murphy style bed in our guest room.

The guest room is the sight of sewing efforts from earlier this year.  Tab curtains from my mom's house needed longer tabs to fit the handmade wood rods.