Saturday, December 31, 2016

Another Year Over

For the past few years, I have tried to compile a list of my finishes at the end of the year. It is a really good feeling to see what has been done, especially after it feels like I haven't managed to get anything finished.

First up, this week's finish (which is also this week's start).

I was told on Thursday that my sweet baby boy had outgrown his new born socks, so I made him a pair in size 6 months. Kate Atherley's wonderful baby sock pattern is my favourite. I realized that the six month size has all the numbers for an adult man's sock exactly halved. Meanwhile, his mommy says he needs more warm socks, so I will be reducing my ball ends.

This year, I tried very hard to shop my stash first. I am pleasantly surprised at all the diverse fabrics I found that actually went together.  My stash is going down and I am finding some treasures I had forgotten I had. I also learned that as I continue to explore bag making, I need to buy pieces that are at least 1 metre. I must resist those very tempting fat quarters, because they are only big enough to make the pockets of a normal handbag.

My Sewing Finishes

15 Tea Wallets (all sold at the church bazaar for $5 each)
10 Handbags or Totes
8 Sweet Pea Pods
4 Other Zippered bags
1 Pixie Basket
1 Christmas Stocking
4 Bibs
6 Receiving Blankets
1 Baby Quilt

My Knitting Finishes

4 Shawls
3 pairs of Baby Socks
3 pairs of Adult Socks
2 Baby Sweaters
4 Baby Hats
1 Adult Hat
1 Pair of Fingerless Mitts

As well, we fostered 16 cats of assorted ages, before sending them on to their future.

I have seen lots of people posting their goals for 2017. I must admit I spent many years working as the person responsible for sorting out crises. I tend to work in "interrupt mode" most of the time, so my goals are much more fluid.

I plan to continue to shop my stash first, both in sewing and in knitting. I will work on projects that delight me. Whenever possible, I will sew for 30 minutes, everyday. I will resist Fat Quarters. That last one is probably going to be broken!

Meanwhile, I will continue to work away on my Advent scarf.

Only 19 more clues of 30 rows to knit!

Monday, December 26, 2016

Christmas 2016

There was very little  shopping here this year. Unexpected circumstances hit all of us, so we decided that it would be very low key. Gifts were almost entirely consumables. However, everyone was happy, safe and warm, so that was all that mattered.

The tree did get decorated.

Lots of kitten and baby friendly decorations, mostly stuffies, filled the branches.

Because it was "Jett's" first Christmas, I made him a stocking.

I used Lindsay Sands Holly Jolly Stocking pattern. It is free if you subscribe to her newsletter.

The stocking is a nice size and goes together easily. The hardest part of the project was making the label.

This took almost as long as the rest of the stocking.

Food, chocolates, and family made up most of our celebrations.  Of course, naps by the fire were a highlight.

Early in the week I send gifts to distant loved ones. Ahead of me in the postal line was a lady who wanted Christmas stamps. She told the counter clerk that she didn't want "religious ones". When told that that was all that was left, she explained that she didn't have anything against them, but she didn't want to offend the recipients. Odd, I thought. In my stack of parcels, I had this.

In Canada, stamps never expire and you can use them for their face value. I have a stash of stamps from years past, so I just added up some to make enough for this envelope at 2016 rates. I think the stamps are from 2001. I am pretty sure the recipient wasn't the least bit offended, if the stamps were even noticed.  I know the gift was greatly appreciated.

May your Christmas be full of food, chocolate and naps by the fire.

Thursday, December 15, 2016

Life Gave Me Lemons

I had great plans for this week, but life decided to intervene. However, I thought I would give you my lemonade moments.

First up, the cat lover picture.

Every time we open the frig, Natalie jumps in. If we don't notice, the door gets shut and she moves to the shelf on the door. So when we reopen it (5 seconds later, we tend to realize right away), this is what we see. However, we have to lift her out, because she is intent on staying.

When I looked at the picture, I realized that the man who labelled the shelf JAM so he can find his marmalade in the morning, has stuck a can of  Guinness on that shelf. It puts a whole new dimension to breakfast!

My grandson, and his parents came to put up my Christmas tree. I guess I shouldn't have expected much from new parents.

The tree is up. It has two strings of lights and two ornaments.

And, of course, it had a cat in it before it was all the way up.

Nothing much gets in the way of knitting, even lemons. Actually, I think it helps with life's lemons.

 A hat, a requested Christmas present from a grownup boy, who no longer thinks hats are a terrible Christmas present. Pattern is Invisicrown.

The Flip Flop socks are nearly finished. See, there are 2. I just need to reverse the toe, from the first one. Luckily, I wrote down what I had done.

Yesterday, I started a new tradition. My grandson and I made Christmas cookies, to send to far away relatives. These are Fruit Cake Hermit cookies, my own recipe, created a couple of years ago, to use up the leftover fruit cake ingredients.  Here is the recipe.

Fruit Cake Hermits

1 cup butter
1 cup brown sugar
1/3 cup granulated sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp. rum extract
2 1/2 cups flour
1 tsp. baking powder, cinnamon, and mace
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 cup chopped pecans
1 cup raisins
1 cup of leftover fruitcake fruit (peel, citron, glace cherries, it doesn't matter)

Cream the butter and the two sugars. Beat in the eggs, one at a time, along with the rum extract.
Combine the dry ingredients. Stir into the butter. Fold in the fruit and nuts.
Drop by tablespoons on a parchment covered sheet pan. 
Bake @ 350F for 15 minutes. 

Try not to eat them all before they get send away!

Monday, December 5, 2016

The time has come. The time is now.

Go. Just go. I don't care how. - Dr. Suess

One of my kids' favourite books was Marvin K. Mooney, Will You Please Go Now?

Have you had a project on your UFO pile and wake up one day to say NOW, get it done!

This might have had something to do with it.

Yes, there is snow. Snow is a great incentive to finish off projects of Christmas's past.

So, yesterday, I pulled out my Christmas Tree Skirt.

I bought a kit in a January clearance at Connecting Threads. The selvedge says that the fabric is from 2009, so that was probably 2010. I got the blacks pieced one year. Then Christmas came, and it went into the hold pile. Sometime later, I put the top together. Then Christmas came and it went on the hold pile. The back went missing. It has been on my UFO list for my quilt group THREE times.

I ironed everything yesterday, pieced the back and made the binding.

See, nice bias binding, I made yards of it. It still needs to be folded, but it is made.

Today, I have found a piece of batting, my pins and my masking tape. The floor in the spare room is free of any debris. I should have it basted in a short time. I think the quilting will be cross hatching, simple and quick. After all, it is basically a quilt for the cat to sleep on.

This isn't my current batch of kittens. The tree isn't up yet. I have until Sunday to finish this!

Thursday, December 1, 2016


In the church year, the new liturgical year starts four Sundays before Christmas, and is called the season of Advent. It is a time of waiting, a time of contemplation, a time of getting ready for Christmas.  When my kids were little, we always lit the advent candles on Sunday night as a way of putting Christmas into real time. They had a visual way of knowing how far away Christmas was, which seemed to help downplay a lot of the hype.

This year, Advent started last Sunday. I was delighted to find a knit along that was an actual Advent knit along, and started on Sunday, not just 24 days in December.

It is mosaic knitting, and 30 rows are released every day. The picture shows the pattern up to the first 6 rows of Nov. 30. Not bad, I am only a day and a half behind! I am using stash yarn, a couple of balls of Chroma in black and Roller Skate. I think it looks pretty good so far.

I also received an Advent gift, yesterday.

Twenty-four pots of interesting teas, I don't think I will have to try very hard to keep up. However, I was more excited about the box.

Twenty-four little drawers, that I can store little things in.

And in each drawer, a tiny tin, with a screw lid, to store even smaller things in.

Now, what will I store in this?

Thursday, November 24, 2016

Busy Week

With a new baby in the family, I have spent a lot of time this week, running errands for the new parents. This has limited my artistic time. However, I did get a couple of non-baby projects done. Christmas is coming!

I finished a pair of lace fingerless mitts. This was the first time I have done an afterthought thumb. I had a little problem because all the tutorials on line assumed that the thumb was in stocking stitch, and this one is ribbing. I am not sure I got it right, but done is better than perfect! The yarn is a bamboo nylon blend so it doesn't block very well. However, I expect they will block with wearing.

In the silly department, this is a sock with a flip flop toe, for someone who wears flip flops all year round. Since the first sock used about 48 gm of the ball, I am not even bothering to try to make the second one match. I fear I won't have enough yarn, if I match the stripes.

Tomorrow, I am teaching the church ladies how to make a Granny Square block. I wrote a tutorial here, but I left out one picture.

So here is the missing picture.

Now, I just need to turn my first attempt into a pdf file for them. I cut 27- 2.5" wof stripes, that need to be turned into 3.5" lengths so that all the blocks have the same outside fabric. It reminds me of why I don't do quilts that start "make 95 half square triangles."

Sunday, November 20, 2016

New Adventures

Once upon a time, there was a little boy that I used to go on adventures with.

Our adventures were to the pool, to the shopping mall, to the farm to see the animals. Later, our adventures included camping trips, ghost walks, and geocaching. In time, we added university student and parent orientation, getting a driver's license, and stupid little things like trips to Costco to to taste the samples. He was much braver then I was, because I never try the Costco samples.

A few years ago, a beautiful princess came into my little boy's life, and soon, she got to go on the adventures, instead of me. Of course, just to drive the little boy crazy, sometimes I take the princess on adventures, and he isn't welcome. We call it "Girl's Night".

Today, a new adventure began for all of us. The little boy and his princess now have a little boy of their own.

I spent all day yesterday and half of today waiting for word that he had arrived. While I was waiting I do what I always do when I have to wait: I knit. Since my little boy was a big fan of Pokemon, when it first came out, I decided that he needed to have his very own pocket monster. So I made a Pikachu baby hat.

Welcome to the world "Jett". Your Nana has been waiting for you. I have some excellent adventures planned for us.

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Still More Baby Things

Monday, I threaded my serger, cut some flannel and made 6 large receiving blankets. I used  my serger all the time when I was doing more garment sewing, but I don't find it very useful in bag making. Luckily, somethings stick in the brain, so I had no problem figuring out how I wanted to do these.

I round the corners on my receiving blankets because I don't have to stop as I go around the edge. I also find that they always fray at the corners first, so the rounded corners prevent that, too.

The observant might have realized the picture only shows 5 blankets. The sixth one is here.

It has already been tested for softness.

I made a Newborn Vertebrae sweater from some Sirdar Snuggle. It still needs a couple of ends woven in, but it looks very good. It is a fast and easy pattern for a new baby.

This morning, they replaced the locks on our community mail boxes. The original locks were susceptible to freezing last winter, so they are testing a new design.

It is a big job, but fortunately we provided a couple of volunteer supervisors.

 You are welcome, Canada Post.

Saturday, November 5, 2016

For the Kitten Fans

As I am sure I have mentioned, here at Arts and Socks, we run a Resort and Spa for under weight and sick kittens (and adults, too). We are currently fostering our 166, 167. 168, and 169th fosters. Since we have 4, I haven't managed to get a picture of all four, so here are a couple of shots from this week.

It's hard to get a picture of an all grey kitten.

Tabbies are much easier.

You can tell the weather was really dull this week. Such is November.

Meanwhile, my friend Cheryl, another cat lover, has created a calendar for 2017, The Year of the Cat.

Here is a taste.

The proceeds from her calendar are going to the Lyndhurst Feral Cat Project. Don't you need one of these lovely calendars?

If you hop over here, you can see all the pictures and find out how you can order your own calendar.

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

What I Did on My Vacation

As I noted in my previous post, the weather on Retreat weekend was cold and grey. I realized on Sunday morning that I had no idea what the view was from my room, because it was always dark when I was in there. I popped back after breakfast to get my weekend bag, and took this picture.

I had a view of the St. Lawrence River, and this was the first I saw it. Of course, sewing until 10:30 at night might have had something to do with it.

I made a QUILT! I started Friday afternoon with flat fabric, and had it pieced, quilted and bound on the front side by Saturday night.

I sent this picture to my husband, and he had the idea that it was about 16" across.

Surprise, it is actually 30" by 36".  The pattern is Fancy Fox II by Elizabeth Hartman, and this is her gigantic block. All the fabric is from my stash. A visitor to our quilting room, from another quilt retreat told me the quilting was beautiful. Thank you. I was kind of stuck on my mistakes.

I also made a clutch to match last week's diaper bag.

It is Clematis by Blue Calla and is a free pattern. It is laying on the back side of the quilt.

I also made 3 bandanna bibs, from my scraps.

They still need snaps at the neck.

Fall Retreat

Why on earth would 11 normally sane women to pack up half their sewing rooms, fill bags, bins and rolly cases, and travel 170 km, to send the weekend together/ It's Quilt Retreat!

Look at all the lovely things that were accomplished.

Joanne was working on an embroidered applique design.

Anita pieced endless half square triangles, which became 64 Friendship Star blocks.

 In case she ran out of triangles to piece she also had some applique blocks to put together.

This looks a bit odd. Doreen was putting together her International Sunbonnet Sue.

She also had some embroidery she was putting together.

Margaret was working on these blocks. I think it's a scrap buster. The block at the lower right has Scottie Dogs on it.

Our organizer was making a Storm at Sea miniature. 

Diana was hard at work on this interesting piece. 

Pat was assembling these blocks.

Lots of inspiration, lots of laughs.  I seemed to have missed pictures of Lynn's and Joan's work. You will have to trust me that it was beautiful. The weather was cold, wet, snowing (we got 5 cm of snow), generally miserable, an excellent excuse for a weekend of uninterrupted sewing.

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Diaper Bag - DONE!!!

I often underestimate how long a bag is going to take me to make. I have been making the Highline Tote by Betz White, and I have been working on it for over 3 weeks. Most days I have been working for at least an hour, so I am guessing this bag took close to 25 hours to complete. If I make the bag again, there are some things I will do differently, but on the whole, I am quite pleased with this bag.

Want to see it?

The bag has  a zippered top, and two large outer pockets. These pockets can hide the handles or straps that aren't in use. It has handles to carry it.

Some clever straps that can be used as a backpack or zipped together to carry on one shoulder.

A zippered pocket outside, under the flap, and another inside.

A divided slip pocket for diapers and wipes.

And a carabiner, to hang keys from so they can be found in a hurry. The middle of the bag has lots of room for a change of clothes, bibs, snacks, a book for Mommie to read.

When I finished the bag I was doing my final ironing, and I had my hand inside holding my tailor's ham, to smooth everything out. I got up near the top zipper, and I felt a lump in the seam. I put down the iron and the ham, and felt again. I discovered I had left a Wonder Clip inside the bag. So, I had to open the seam in the bottom of the lining, and fish the clip out. Am I the only one these things happen too?

I love to go to craft shows and get ideas. I usually come away without buying anything. However, this weekend, I went to an Artwear show and sale. This is what followed me home.

This lovely jacket is much more purple then the picture shows. (why do cameras hate purple?) While I am quite capable of making the hoodie, I would not have managed those lovely embroidered feathers. I expect it is going to become a frequent choice this winter.