Sunday, March 29, 2009

There's a Reason

There's a reason I call this blog "Incremental Victories" -- that's the story of my life. What I accomplish is mostly done by the three steps forward, two back method. Overall it's progress, but I won't win any productivity awards.

This week the issue (one of them) has been the total chaos created when our internet service provider did an "upgrade" -- boy, is that a misnomer! We still have problems even after three trips to the Apple Genius Bar -- even the Geniuses there haven't been able to fix the mess. So tomorrow we take two computers and two iPhones back in for more work. I hasten to add that none of this is Apple's fault; the fault is entirely with our internet service provider. May be our former service provider before this is over.

The computer problems have been huge time-wasters, and I haven't been able to get a lot else done. However, I started this baby sweater for a new grandson:

I love these wonderful "cheater" sock yarns, and wish they would design some for adult size sweaters. I suppose there's a lot more variation in adult sizes than in infant sizes, and that's why we haven't got it yet.

I've made progress on the rag rug from selvages:

Right now it looks like a dog's dinner, but I'm not worried -- if it looks too bad, I'll overdye it when it's done. It cups a tiny bit, but I've convinced myself that when it's been walked on for a while it will lay flat. Long way before it's big enough, though, and now I have to stop until I have some more selvages. I have four quilt backs to piece, which will provide some, and I'll ask my quilting friends to save for me too.

Last night we got three of the six inches of snow predicted, and there was a raw wind this morning. But it was sunny this afternoon, and most of it's melted.

The goldfinches are turning yellow.
We can always go back to paper and pens.
Goblin is healing well.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Onion Skin Socks

I've been making Claire socks with Koigu yarn , a color called Charred Wood, if I remember correctly. I had to break into the second (and last) skein before finishing the first sock. That means I'll run out of yarn before finishing the second sock. What to do? Seems extravagant to buy another skein just to finish a toe. I had this orange fingering weight yarn from Dale of Norway -- a little too pink and bright, but . . . I wondered about dying it with onion skins. So I've been saving brown and red (mostly brown) onion skins for a few weeks. Tonight I put them into a glass bowl and poured boiling water over them, then let them sit for an hour or so. Now to experiment: I tested a short length of the orange yarn which I had 'cooked' in the onion skin soup. It's lying across the brown sock -- can you see it?

Looks like it will work. I rolled an estimated two toe's-worth of the orange yarn into a circle and tied it several places with twine. Then into the bowl of onion skin soup it went, and both went into the microwave oven.

I cooked them for seven minutes on high, until the yarn had absorbed much of the color in the water.

I rinsed the yarn until the rinse water ran clear, then hung it to dry. When it's dry, I'll roll it into a little ball and finish the first sock's toe. I hope there's enough to do both toes, as it might be hard to re-create the exact same color again!

This is another way to waste not, want not -- use it up, make it do. I'm feeling quite pleased with myself!

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Much ado about very little

What a week! The cat on the left, Goblin, had extensive exploratory surgery Tuesday, without uncovering the cause of her distress (I hate having put her through that!). Glenna, the cat on the right, jumped up on the open hot tub and fell in Saturday evening, soaked to the bone.
I had to take both sewing machines to Waukesha for cleaning and tuning -- they were overdo and running rough. Now I can get back to work on Coplan's quilt.

It is Lent, with all the extra church activity that entails. And Lent reminds me that the mysterious Christmas cactus, one side of which blooms at Christmas and the other around Easter, is blooming. This conjures up memories of the Glastonbury thorn legend. Someday I'll write about that.

The only progress I've made on much of anything needleworkish is what I'm calling my "Depression Project." It's using up miles and miles of selvages left from cutting quilting fabrics, mine and donated by friends.

Very utilitarian, colors are whatever piece is next in the roll without planning. It makes me feel good to know that I'm making use of something that would otherwise be thrown away. Learning to waste not, want not can be an upside to the current economic situation.

Monday two bluebirds perched briefly in a tree outside the dining room window. I checked my 'arrival date' record: They used to arrive in late April or early May. The last few years they've been arriving in early to mid-April. March 16 is alarmingly early. More evidence of climate change.

nothing serious wrong with Goblin
Glenna survived her swim
snowdrops blooming along the walk

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

The origins of my header

Leslie, at Pieceful Moments asked about the quilt in my header. It's a bull's-eye. Here's the story: My great-niece Sarah, age 6, was diagnosed with an aggressive form of cancer, and was facing chemotherapy and radiation. As soon as we heard, my daughter-in-law Claire (also a quilter) and I got together and cut all the pieces for background and 'flowers,' then each took half and made them up, met again a few days later and put it together. Next day I sewed little green leaves on and took it to the long-arm quilter, who said she could squeeze it in right away, and she quilted the whole thing overnight! That night Claire and I put the binding on, and the next day (exactly seven days after the news) I took it to the post office and mailed it to Boise, where Sarah lives. I put in a note saying that the more the quilt was washed, the more the flowers would 'bloom' so it was ok to throw up on it. That was a little more than a year ago. Sarah went through a hellacious year with all sorts of complications, but today she is in remission.

Nice Weather for Ducks

[Someday I'll figure out how to get photos on here in the order I want!]

Yesterday I went to Quilt Sitters' Circle, a bi-monthly meeting led by Judy Hasheider, quilter par excellence. Here is the new one she showed:

It's a knockout. I have so many want-to-make quilts, in my head, in my fabric stash, and when I see one like this the list keeps growing -- I won't live long enough!

It was a puddly March day here. Friends in the parking lot:

One of Judy's other recent quilts looks like an Italian Renaissance terrazzo floor, another stunner; I wish I had a good photo of it. I dug through my stash and put these together. What do you think?

cold better
shoulder better (very gradually!)
Olivia's 3rd grade math scores were in the 99th percentile!

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Ant Latte?

This morning, when I dumped the coffee dregs from the pot into the sink, seven drowned ants fell out. It's March 5, for heaven's sake! How have they survived this cold winter? (Not to mention those blasted Asian beetles which never go away.) In some cultures, ants are considered an acceptable protein-based comestible, but I'd at least like to have washed them first. How would one go about washing an ant?

Yesterday I thought my cold couldn't get worse, but sure enough, it did. I didn't get much done yesterday, but today I will take a stab at finishing this postcard:

Although the leaf is a subdued batik, both it and the black background are more vivid than they appear in this anemic photo. I have some beads and a tiny acorn charm to sew on, then we'll see how it looks.

I had hoped to get the top of Coplan's quilt put together yesterday, but didn't. And my head is too clogged up today to be leaning over picking up and putting down blocks. Here it is to date:

hot tea
hot showers
no cold lasts forever

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Another Postcard

Less successful than the first. I wanted this to be simple and classic looking, for the birthday of Myra, who does amazing nature-themed quilts for the Audubon Society in Milwaukee. I had a beautiful bluejay feather, and now I've learned when using real feathers, sew them on after all pressing is finished!

I didn't finish Coplan's quilt today, my cold is even worse, and I'm even grumpier.

good husband fixed dinner
didn't have to accomplish anything today
found a place to service my sewing machines (now that all the Madison dealers have gone out of business)

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Sick and Grumpy

Wonderful retreat at the Jones Mansion in Mineral Point, WI last week, but two of the people had bad colds, another got sick while there, and now I am too. I had avoided getting a cold for more than a year, mostly by staying away from sick people. And it seems very unfair that a well person should have to forfeit the fee and stay home to avoid sick people who don't. So now I am sick. And grumpy.

However I got most of the piecing done for Coplan's quilt, which I'm anxious to finish so I can send all three children their quilts (including a brand-new grandson). If I felt better I'd probably have finished today. Maybe tomorrow.