Friday, July 28, 2017

Doing the Math!

If you have a child who asks 'what will I ever use this for?' when it comes to math, tell them if they ever want to become a crafter, especially a quilter (or knitter or spinner or woodworker) they need to 'do the math'! (Ms. Montana will be all a-quiver at that statement - she tutors math!)

So let's start at the top.

First, I 'discovered' Chris Jurd quilts via another website a couple of years ago and purchased a couple of her patterns. However, they didn't make it through the fire. So I ordered them again and added in a third pattern

We WILL NOT discuss how many of her other patterns I want/need.

Secondly, some of the best stuff (well, things in line with my taste) are coming out of Australia, like Chris Jurd and Kathy Doughty of Material Obsessions. Bold colors, non-traditional quilts, rich and yummy. While I like the modern quilts coming out of the United States, they seem a little 'bare' to me. I want rich and luscious!

Which brings me to this...


The fabric is one I purchased in June during the local quilt shop hop. And I knew I wanted to use the design as the 'center' for something. And when reordering my patterns from Chris, I came across the Noodle Box design and knew that's what I wanted to do with it. Sort of...

To begin with, I wanted a queen size quilt. The pattern is for a 45 x 45 inch quilt. 

Then, when discussing my idea with Quilt Scientist in her studio earlier this week, I came home with a HUGE bundle of Japanese metallic fabrics to use. (Will be going back to raid her stash for fabrics for the Pride Quilt soon!)

Anyway...

Which leads to this...


Yep, math!

And planning. And organization.

It seems to make it the size I want, I must make it five times as large!

After going through the fabric Quilt Scientist so generously donated to the project, I need 7 more 'centers'. (I haven't gone through my stash yet, but don't think I have any at all that aren't committed to another project already.)

Then, if I am making it 5 times as large, I need 5 times 1.5 meters of the cream fabric for the background. That makes it 8 yards, which seems like an awful lot. (Thank you computer for having easy conversion tables!)

So...

  1. This will be an on-going project over time.
  2. I have to make a 'trial' and see if I want cream or black background.
  3. My trial will also let me see if I would actually need that much background fabric.
  4. The pattern calls for paper piecing. I am going to do paperless piecing on it.
  5. The original quilt has a narrow sashing. I am making mine a bit wider and need to decide if I want it 'solid' or if I want to put a cornerstone in each junction.
  6. This is also a 'quilt as you go' pattern which I am not going to do.

This means...

  • Making a list of supplies, like template plastic to make a template for the center medallion in each square and freezer paper.
  • Getting another 'box' to put my project in
  • Looking for fabric for 7 more centers
  • Deciding black or cream and if I want to go scrappy on my background or all one fabric (leaning toward all one at this time)

Bottom line...

I am trying to be more 'organized' on my projects and not just 'winging' it. Spontaneity is all well and good, but it can be costly in the long run. Sometimes planning has it's place in creativity. 

Thursday, July 27, 2017

And Yet TWO More Good Books!

I have been (quite fortunately) coming across some really good reads this summer. These are the latest two I have devoured.


The first is M. J. Rose's The Library of Light and Shadow which is a continuation of The Witch of Painted Sorrows series.

I started the book, not putting two and two together that I had read the first book in the series, which sets up the Daughters of La Lune. That said, I do think you can read them out of order, but knowing about La Lune does help.

Anyway, it's after WWI and Delphine is becoming known as an artist. But an artist with a twist. She paints secrets, using a blindfold over her eyes when she paints. She has also fled her family and France and is living in New York when disaster hits and it's back to France. Not only to face her fears, but also to face her own secrets.

Really good read with a lot of mystic practices woven in. Long with big names in the 1920's in art. 

Now I have to read the book about her sister!

But the real prize is Kathy Reichs' new book, Two Nights.  This is a departure from her Temperance Brennan (Bones) series and it grabbed me from the very first.

Sunday Nights (yes, her name and it's explained in the book) is living in a small house on a small island in the water off Charleston. Her only companion is a squirrel named Bob.

Unfortunately, her talents in the armed forces, and later, the police, have brought her skills to the attention of one of the Charleston elite who wants her to search for the people who killed her daughter and grandson and apparently kidnapped her grand daughter. Money is no object.

Reluctantly, Sunday takes the job, more as a favor to an old friend, than any real desire to change her life. By doing so however, she does her job very well, and soon there is a hornets nest buzzing from Chicago to L.A. to Washington to Louisville.

In between, there is an 'aside' where you are getting a side story from another character, which lends itself to the tension of the story. (Or are you?)

This is a book I started and put down all quilting and knitting until I finished it the next day, reading in parking lots while running errands and waiting after swim lessons.

Hopefully, Ms. Reichs will continue this character in future books.

Now to find another good read!
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Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Mandala Monday - On Wednesday


Due to a delightful Sunday (and two posts because of it), Mandala Monday was postponed until Wednesday!

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

What a Lunch! - Poor Orphan Creamery

While the Copper K Fiber Fest was a delight, it was topped off by a fantastic eating opportunity!

My lunch plate


At one end of the barn, there was a 'bar', onto which was loaded an out of this world experience.



First off let me explain something which will help with understanding why this is so exciting. 

I was an adult (or close enough to being out of my teens) before I knew there was something other than Kraft Singles and cheddar cheese. Even growing up in Dallas in the late 60's and early 70's. Luckily, Savvy discovered 'different' cheeses early in life and we have expanded our palate a bit. 

But the bar was set up with dozens of different cheeses, along with salami and prosciutto.





There was some fresh fruit and salad with different dressings and toppings.

 

I basically stayed with the cheeses, a bit of meat and some delicious jam to pair with the cheese.





They also had a selection of wines you could buy a glass of, which I passed on since (a) it was warm and (b) I was going to have to drive home shortly.

A beautiful and tasty set-up and a nice change from the usual offerings at a festival. I felt positively sophisticated eating this lunch (and that's a hard thing for me to feel most days!).

The crowning touch in my estimation was this...


A panna cotta!

The lunch was sold by the ounce, so you could get as little or as much as you wanted. They weighed your plate without the bread on it, which I thought was super smart and super nice (and the panna cotta was extra).

The whole time I was eating I kept thinking about Savvy, who would be over the moon with this lunch. This is right up her alley. She and I would have gotten different cheeses and sampled from each other's plate and compared notes.

Luckily, Laurin, Montana, where they are located is only a couple of hours away. And near Virginia City, Montana where I would like to do a day trip to anyway. So lunch (or dinner) is on at The Tasting Room.
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Monday, July 24, 2017

Spinning in Circles at Copper K Fiber Festival

"Me-time" has been in short supply this summer with Texter and Lady K out of school. There are swim lessons (going great) and T-ball (Texter is her coach!) and lots of other 'stuff'. But I had made a point of enrolling in a class a couple of months ago at the Copper K Fiber Fest and am so glad I did.

I have wanted to learn to properly use a drop spindle. One, I can make my own yarn. Two, I think I really want a spinning wheel and this is a cheap introduction to spinning. Three, it's portable. Four, there are a lot of people spinning these days, or needle felting, and the options for roving are out of this world. And five, I need another place to spend money I don't have!

Located just outside Whitehall, Montana, it is a little over an hour drive from my house. Since my class started at 8:30 a.m., I loaded up on coffee and left early to get there. The grounds opened at 8:00 a.m., so I would have a chance to look around. I really needed to try and find a 'lighter' spindle as the one I had purchased at the Big Sky Fiber Fest in June was twice as heavy as the recommended spindle for the class.

Hardly any traffic on my way and several chapters into the book I was listening to, I neared the venue with views like these surrounding me.





Bit of a disclaimer here....

It was one lane highway in each direction until I reached Whitehall (the majority of the trip) and didn't turn into blacktop/gravel until the very end.

Secondly, Montana is on fire these days, so there is a haze over everything from the smoke!

Finally, I came around a curve to see the 'barn' where the festival was being held.




There were plenty of campers for vendors and visitors who wanted to overnight during the festival and plenty of parking in the field surrounding the barn area. 

But what was dry and brown outside the barn area was...



Lush and green on the inside of the fenced area!

Dozens of vendors outside and there was also a couple of awnings set up for people to sit and knit, spin or crochet. Or spouses to sit while significant other was taking a class or shopping.


Once I came through the gate, I was greatly very warmly and handed a packet for my class and pointed in the right direction. 

(Note: as you entered the door there was a mister set up to help combat heat later in the day.)


Several vendors where set up inside this GORGEOUS barn!


I found out they offer up the barn for weddings and parties and I can see why. It is beautiful (with equally nice bathrooms inside!) There is also a small dance floor at one end of the barn.

But lots and lots of fiber goodies to fondle and poke. Everything from fleeces to roving to yarn. And the nicest people ever who were willing to take and answer questions.

I stopped and picked up a new spindle in a 'kit' for the class. This is a kit from Ranching Tradition Fiber (also one of the hosts for the fiber fest).


I could have gotten a 'purple' bag, but went with this one. Calling it my 'Distant Mountains" colorway. (I have a quilt and shawl idea.)


I headed over to the area where my class was going to be and was greeted by the lovely Julie LeeSong  Norman of The Pieceful Ewe.

I then got to pick out a bag of colorful roving for myself before the class started.


The roving kits were from Mountain Colors Yarn which I am familiar with having used them on some fingerless mitts and my circle sweater (all of which still need to be completed!)

And away we spun!

Julie carefully explained different spindle types, how to get started (and how to stop) and we practiced drafting our roving, spinning and then plying yarn. While we were spinning (or attempting to spin), she gave us information on different fiber types and how they would be a bit different from the wool we were spinning. 

After 3 hours we were saturated with information and hands-on practice to take home and use. I love the fact we had such colorful roving to 'play' with. I don't think it would have been near as much fun if we just had natural wool colors to work with. She also encouraged us to contact her if we had further questions after the class. Now I'm sad I didn't take her knitting class! Julie is a delight.


It was now 11:30 a.m. and I was hungry and decided to take advantage of The Poor Orphan Creamery. This was such a wonderful lunch there will a whole post on it tomorrow! 

After indulging in my lunch, I headed outside to take in the vendors there.


How could you not want to live here with views like these?


There was a TON of items I wish I could have purchased, but I limited myself to the spinning 'kit' and this lovely skein of yarn from Blue Savannah Yarns.


I saw this piled up on the end of the table and pounced on it. This is Kristin's 'Eclipse' colorway as a nod to the eclipse occurring in August. She's from Idaho which will see (or not see as the case may be) more of the eclipse than we will here in Montana. This is the second skein of her yarn I have purchased and I'm not sure what I am going to do with it...yet. But it is yummy!

And I love her little 'thank-you' she hands out with each purchase. A tiny nibble of some of her other yarns (and a tea bag and candy).

As I had snuck out of the house before Lady K was awake, my 'me-time' was coming to an end. I was starting to get pictures of where she had 'cut her hair'.


Once home, and a hair repair trip made, I settled in to watch the last stage of the Tour de France I had recorded and this week's episode of 'Game of Thrones'. I finished sock two...almost. Just the toe and some weaving in of ends and they are done!

I have to say I am going to be sad when next year rolls around and I am back in North Carolina in July. Unless they hold the festival earlier in the year, I'll miss it. But this experience now has me wanting more! I can't recommend the venue or the festival more highly. It was great!

Now off to finish my sock and start spinning!





Sunday, July 23, 2017

Week of July 16 -22

Boy, once again a hot and busy week.

And I think I am becoming a true Montanan. I described the 'wind' we had the other day to someone as a 'nice breeze'. 

But this week I managed to get my blocks done for the Almond Country Quilt early.




My ginger, which finally shoved it's little head above the soil line last week, is now growing by leaps and bounds.


I need to report one of my orchids to see if it 'helps' it or not.

But the highlight of the week was this...


A wonderful Saturday afternoon, sitting on Ms Oklahoma's patio in her beautiful garden, chatting and pass the day. Ms Montana has just started a new dream job and we had to get all the details after a tour of the garden.


Beautiful flowers (and plans for more) and lovely hidden treasures.



And some cherry lemonade to beat the heat. It was really nice though on the patio as it was shady and there was a 'nice breeze'.

Otherwise this past week...

  • Worked on the design for Savvy's Pride Quilt
  • Finished 5 books
  • Watched the last week of the Tour de France (sigh...no more dedicated knitting time)
  • Lady K finished up her "EEL" swim lessons. Will have to repeat (but it seems they all do)
  • A visit to the BIG POOL
  • Two T-ball games

The coming week brings...

  • A drop spindle class at the Copper K Fiber Festival (more to follow on that!)
  • The last T-ball game (huzzah!)
  • A "yarn tasting" at Pam's Knit and Stitch 
  • Working on the Disney Villains quilt and the Week 8 of the Almond Country Quilt
  • Finish up the orange stripey socks
  • Practice with the drop spindle
  • Try and get through some of the HUGE pile of books I have accumulated over the past few days
For now...

Off to get Lady K's hair cut where she started on it herself!

Saturday, July 22, 2017

Obsessed And Planning

Not that I don't have a ton of quilting (and knitting and crocheting and...) projects already, but making the Pride Afghan for Savvy started something.

She asked if I could make her a Pride quilt. And she asked if I could include other flags with it.

"No problem", said I.

Courtesy of Live Loud Graphics


She pointed me to this graphic by Live Loud Graphics to use as reference for all the different flags. And that's when the 'trouble' started.

First, let me state, my philosophy is, as long as it is between two consenting adults - no children or animals involved - it's your business. Have fun. I figure the world is hard enough to navigate at times, if you find someone you love, go for it. We need more love.

Secondly, I worked for over 30 years in the airline industry. I have seen about every conceivable lifestyle you can think of. And have found, those living 'outside the norm' were the first ones to offer the shirt off their backs when you needed help. (I'll save my rant on so-called Christians for another time). 

And once again, who they want to hold hands with, who they love, that's their business. I don't judge them, they won't judge (at least not too harshly) when I overspend on yarn and fabric.

However, having said all of that, doing some research on the different flags was a real eye opener. I did spend some time going 'hmmmm....' and trying to wrap my head around some of the terms and meanings. 

You have to understand, I'm old! "Why, back in my day..." it was all black and white or you didn't mention it. In fact, the biggest shocker would have been a black and a white together.

So it was very interesting to read up on how different people view themselves as far as gender and sexual preferences.

But back to the quilt.

I had a tentative idea in mind and started trying to get my head around the concept.


I wanted to get an idea of sizes if I made the stripes a certain size, etc. Playing with colors and did I want to go with solids or batiks or prints. Making notes on how many times a certain color might be used in the different flags. Just basic thoughts on the project.

I had originally thought of going with squares/rectangles for the flags with the LGBTQ flag much larger in the center.


Then I had an 'ah-ha' moment and squares became circles with points around them, much like the Almond Country Beauty I am currently working on. 

And now I have a whole quilt top (and back) pictured in my mind. And am waiting for a book from the library to solidify my idea. In the meantime, I might make up a sample or two using prints, batiks and solids to see which I like best.

Oh, and work on those other projects already on the sewing table!




Friday, July 21, 2017

Picture, Picture, Who Took the Picture?

Lady K often gets my phone. Especially if we are having to wait somewhere. She can listen to her songs if we forgot to bring along her iPod or iPad.

Only problem is...


I go to download a picture for myself and find there are over 300 pictures now on my phone.


It probably wouldn't be so bad, except for two things.

One, I really hate taking pictures of people. Even Lady K. I prefer non-people pictures. Weird, I know, but deal. 

So all of a sudden there are 300 pictures on my phone of faces. It's a bit disconcerting for me.


Secondly, and probably the biggest issues I have, is I forget how to remove a ton of pictures at one time from my phone!


I have to spend most of the time trying to remember what things to 'touch' to remove the pictures. I guess I should write it down.

But I would much rather just hand the phone to Texter and have her do it. After all, it's her fault!

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Magpie Murders - Another Summer Read

Couple of things before I get to actually reviewing the book.

First, growing up in Duncanville, Texas in the late 60's meant once I had finished all the children's books (which occurred in early middle school), I had to move onto adult fiction. The librarians carefully let me read a lot of Gothic novels and Agatha Christie mysteries. And what better introduction to murder mysteries than Agatha?

Second. I had read about magpies but had never seen any until I moved to Montana. We just don't have them in the South. So I was thrilled to finally see some. I'm now over my excitement of them.

However...


when I caught sight of this book, I couldn't resist. And boy, am I ever glad I didn't!

Horowitz writes Magpie Murders as a book within a book. Kind of a Neverending Story approach.

The premise of the book is fairly simple - to start. Alan Conway is a best selling author and Susan, his editor. Problem is, he is more than a bit of a jerk, but a huge money maker for her publishing house. Susan settles down to read his latest manuscript. And then the trouble begins!

The 'book' within the book is a great tribute to the Christie style. Set after WWII in a small village in England, it comes complete with the lord of the manor, the village busybody, a foreign detective with troubles of his own, and a couple of murders. That story alone is worth reading the book for.

At the end of the book (or is it), Susan discovers fiction is mirroring life and is soon on her way to solving her own mystery.

Since the page count is different based on which 'story' you are reading, I can't tell you the page count, but it's  probably about 500 pages. So not a one day read. Which is just fine. You'll want to draw this out. The book within the book makes me want to go back and reread Agatha this summer if nothing else. 

Of course, a cup of tea would be required.

Sunday, July 16, 2017

Week In Review - July 9 - 15

It has been a long week.

Texter was helping to run the last NaguCon, so was out of pocket from Thursday to Saturday night. Therefore, I was the babysitter of Lady K for three full days. A four-year-old is exhausting!


Which worked out pretty well. Savvy joined us Friday for a dip in the 'big pool' and lunch out at Fiesta Mexicana. Filling up on chips and queso helps a long way to coming home and taking a nap (for all of us!)

Other food related activity involved 'remembering' that Just Tapped has a Tuesday lunch to either eat in or take out. We opted for take out after swim lessons.


Even though it's now within walking distance, I tend to forget about Just Tapped. It's in one of those locations you have to plan your entrance and exit, as it's not easy. But I resist going in because I want one of everything. 

This past week's lunch was a meatball sandwich and a Strawberry/Blueberry/Walnut salad. And while I am normally not a meatball sandwich fan, I ate this like a starving person. At $8 it is about what you would pay for a meal driving through somewhere, but a ton better. I am proud that Texter, who is normally not adventurous with her eating, loved it. We are planning on this as a weekly treat now.

I have basically been playing catch-up with my Almond Country Beauty squares and picked up Week 6 instructions Tuesday. So I am now halfway through. And loving the new iron.


I love it's little 'push-ups' it does and the fact I can just move it over and iron and not have to pick up and put down all the time.

I received my 'kit' for this month's Year of Techniques Antirrhinum Socks. The technique focused on is heels of socks. My Achilles!


I started, had a cuff done and then dropped some stitches which I could pick up, so I frogged the entire thing and moved back to my plain vanilla socks, pouting. But I am starting again.

I finished the rainbow afghan for Lady K which has disappeared somewhere into the bowels of Texter's room


The majority of the week has been spent avoiding the heat and Tour de France watching.

Otherwise...

  • 3 posts written
  • 4 books read
  • one t-ball practice and game in the heat

The coming week...

  • Get back on my routines!
  • Two t-ball games and swim lessons
  • Savvy on vacation and we are doing a detox 
  • Cleaning off my desk and getting my Montana scrapbook updated
  • Pick up Week 7 of the Almond Country Beauty quilt
  • Finish watching the Tour de France (ends next Sunday)
  • Get back into meditation and vitamins
But for now, more coffee and men in spandex!

Mandala Monday - It's All Material!

It's all about the fabric!



After catching up on my Almond Country Beauty blocks and the accompanying companion Batman quilt, I pulled out all 18 blocks made so far (9 per quilt).

I finished up Week 6 of the 12 week project and am staying caught up. So I thought, since they are round and 'mandala-like' I would combine a post on my progress with my Mandala Monday post. (The heat has fried my brain, so I couldn't think of two separate posts!)


Since I am using fabric from my stash for this quilt, I am using yellows for the background on the arches and then the white/blue fabric for the outer arch and center of the circle. I only have a limited amount of it and need to stretch it out to the end.

I also love how the black and red on the split spikes really looks good. 


While this is not how they are assembled in the quilt, it's going to be a really bright quilt and a fun one. Texter is loving it. But I can see where I will need to do some juggling and planning when it comes to laying out the quilt and to remember to mix up my yellow background more. Once again, the yellow is from my stash and trying not to have to go look for 'more'.

But not to be forgotten is the Almond Country Beauty itself.




Every week I wince at the fabrics as I pull them out of the bag to be used. By the time I finish the block I am in love with them. I guess one of the big advantages to participating in this BOW is using fabrics I wouldn't ordinarily pick for myself. I do try to separate the purple/blue fabrics from the orange ones and use those together. It will be interesting to see the final quilt top. 

I am saving the scraps (of course!) from the quilts and will probably figure out how to make some kind of string quilt with them. Or just through them into my scrap bin for a future string quilt.

So nine blocks made so far and 6 more weeks of making them. Staying on track will score me the border kit FREE! Incentive if nothing else.


Note: pictures were taken on my 'design floor' as I don't have a design wall these days. With the assistance of Lady K.