Sunday, March 30, 2014

Weekend Miscellany

A little about a lot of different things.


Today, I finished the "first" sock of the pair I was knitting for Tim. Now there are two.

I finished the knitting part last night. That just left stitching up the toes and weaving in the ends.

He reports that they are very warm. Well, they should be. Have you ever seen a cold alpaca? (I stole that. He said it first.)

I'd like to start another pair, because I really like knitting socks. But I should get back to my sweater instead.


Today, we planted the seeds for what we hope will be our summer garden. Two kinds of lettuce (red and green), zucchini, pumpkin, and leftover California poppy seeds.

I could have posted a photo, but there's nothing to see yet. Just potting soil in little planter cups.

I also have a bunch of sunflower seeds that I harvested last year, that I will just plant in the ground. And the raspberry canes are leafing out nicely. I hope their output is better than it was last year.


After a week of mostly rain, it cleared up this afternoon. That prompted me to suggest that we head down to Green Lake for a walk.

The turtles have been out of hibernation for a few weeks now. I thought there would be more of them out sunning themselves, but only a few made an appearance.

However, on the other side of the lake, we did see something a little out of the ordinary.


I managed to get out to the studio for an hour or two. The project I am currently planning involves using leftover strips of fabric that I have collected over the past several months. I am sewing them into longer strips and trimming them to various widths.

I have drafted a larger version of this block, as well as a diagonal version, and will sew the strips together to make a quilt of a size yet to be determined. It will be unplanned, spontaneous and random. Very different from what I usually do.


This has been a good spring for flowers. It seems like there have been more crocuses and daffodils in our front yard than in years past.

The dark purple crocuses showed up first, followed by lighter purple and white crocuses.

Then came the daffodils.


Soon, there will be tulips.

Last weekend, we enjoyed the warmest day so far this year. It was a beautiful spring day — the warmest day so far this year with a high of about 65 degrees. We were out and about around Capitol Hill and took a stroll through Volunteer Park. Many flowers there to see.

Lastly, inspired by our visit to Vashon Island a couple weeks ago and the Seattle Distillery where we purchased a bottle of their coffee liqueur (scroll down), I found a recipe for homemade coffee liqueur which I will try out, with some adjustments.

Today, I prepared the cold brew coffee and purchased two vanilla beans and a bottle of vodka. Stay tuned . . .

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

A Little Something

When I had finished the cutting for my next Craftsy project, I had a fair number of small triangles left over from the strip-pieced sets.

It seemed likely that they could be turned into something useful, and indeed this turned out to be true.

I suppose if I did some research, I might discover that there is a name for this block. However, I just noticed that it looks like a variation on the Spools block. How appropos!

Since I took this photo, I have sewed the blocks together. The assembled piece now measures about 13-3/4" square. Eventually, it will become a pillow. I think I will be able to fit a 14" square pillow form — I think the form will be just squishy enough!

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Back to Vashon

Today, Tim and I took the ferry to Vashon.

We first visited the island last summer. Today was a good day to go back. It was one of my days off, and work has been light for Tim, so he had some free time as well. Plus, the weather forecast was promising — partly sunny with high temperature in the 50s.

And, I admit I had an agenda. Primarily, I wanted to go back to Island Quilter to see if they had one particular fabric that was in the fat quarter 10-pack I purchased last July that I recently turned into a quilt top.

I wanted to get it for the binding, and also see if they had a good fabric in keeping with the coffee theme of the quilt for the backing.

And indeed they did!

The diamond print is what I plan to use for the binding, and the word-y fabric is for the backing.

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Half a Pair of Socks

This is not an indication that I suffer from One-Sock Syndrome, also known as Second Sock Syndrome.

Rather, I offer it up as a cure for the condition.

I have knit the second sock of the pair, and will next knit the first one.

The yarn is alpaca yarn that my husband gave me for Christmas, the green yarn two years ago and the blue yarn this past Christmas. I made him a cap, and then got distracted with other projects.

But I decided it was time to use it. I had originally intended to have just the heel and toe in the blue, but ran out of the green . . . well, you can see where I ran out.

Friday, March 7, 2014

A Good Day

Yesterday was a good day.

Any day where I get to spend a good length of time in my studio is a good day. And yesterday was better than most.

Even though I work just part-time three days a week, I commonly have what feels like a kajillion tasks that need attention on my days off.

Yesterday started off that way, but as the day unfolded, I was able to spend about a total of three hours working on my next Craftsy project.

It's a quilt using this fat quarter pack that I purchased last summer at Island Quilter on Vashon Island.

I finished up the cutting and started on the sewing, and made some good progress.

The design task I had set before me was to use only what was in the packet for the top. I succeeded, and I think my solution is quite fun-looking.

Stay tuned to see the final result!

Thursday, March 6, 2014

A Book Reading by a Favorite Author

An activity that my husband and I like to do from time to time is attend book readings, sometimes called "author events" on a bookstore's web site.

These can range in quality to really interesting to really dull. Sometimes, if an author we've seen once and enjoyed hearing comes out with a new book or a paperback edition, we'll go see him or her again.

Last night, I saw a particular author for the third (or was it the fourth?) time. My husband came with me; I believe it was the second time for him.

Were it not that I follow her blog, I might have missed it, because I don't regularly check the author events page at Third Place Books. Had that been the case, I would have been thoroughly bummed.

What I have always liked best about Stephanie Pearl-McPhee's presentations is that she gives a completely original talk. And it is always funny.

Last night, she departed somewhat from this format.

After her introduction, she took the customary photos of the audience with her current sock project in the foreground.

You can see what it looked like from her perspective here.

She then proceeded to talk about why she writes (it's a job where you don't necessarily have to wear a bra, particularly if you're a freelancer), the merits of wearing brown pants on airplanes (so they don't show the coffee stains that you habitually apply to them), and the advantages and disadvantages of being the only person writing humorous essays about knitters and knitting, getting many laughs from an audience that was admittedly predisposed to laughter.

This time around, however, she also read two essays from her book.

I'm not saying the selections she read weren't interesting and humorous, because they were. But it was not what I have come to expect, and I hate to say it, but I felt a little disappointed. It was so . . . conventional. And unnecessary, given Stephanie's dedicated following (as indicated by the SRO crowd and the fact that if you want to get a good seat, best to arrive as early as possible).

I had already bought the book, as undoubtedly many other attendees had. I expect that when I read it, it will amuse me. I don't need to have it read to me to sell me on it.

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Sew Expo 2014

Today, I attended the Sewing and Stitchery Expo (aka Sew Expo) for the first time.

I've kind of known for awhile that it was out there, but just never felt the urge to check it out.

Well, that changed this year, because it's a really big deal where I work now. The past several weeks, we have been working up to a big crescendo of planning and preparation, which hit a high level of crazy-busy last Monday and Tuesday (at least so far as I was involved).

Anyway, my friend Julie and I drove down this morning to Puyallup and spent about 4 hours and a bit of $$$ perusing the show.

It really is a venue where you can see (and buy) things that you might not otherwise come across.

My first purchase was at the Shibori Dragon booth. Julie told me that they have closed their brick-and-mortar store and gone to online-only. If that's the case, their website does not reflect that.

Anyway, I spotted this ginkgo leaf print fabric in the 1-yard cuts section. After a bit of dithering, I decided, if you're gonna buy one yard, just go ahead and buy two.

A little later on, I saw some ginkgo motif ceramic buttons. I thought about buying a few, but at four dollar EACH, I just couldn't quite justify it.

Another item that caught my eye was the mink yarn at the Great Yarns booth. It was so soft . . . and so expensive! $25 for a solid-color skein, $35 for hand-dyed. As with the buttons, I took a pass; I already have a fair bit of yarn bought on impulse that has yet to be turned into something usable. But I will keep it in mind.

At the Thimblecreek booth, I spotted a fat quarter bundle of 4 red fabrics.

There is the polka dot, the plaid/check, a solid, and in the back where you really can't see it a red-and-white stripe. What caught my attention is that these looked to be more "true" red than what I've been seeing in the store the last few years, where the reds have an orange-y cast to them.

Some time ago, I complete one of my hand-pillow fronts using some red-and-white prints that had been in my stash for awhile. The problem I ran into, however, was finding fabric for the piping and the back that matched the front in hue. As I said above, what was in the stores was too orange.

I don't know if today's purchase will fit the bill. I haven't retrieved the pillow front from my studio to compare it. But when I do, I will let you, my faithful readers, know!

My final expenditure was The Big Splurge. This was one of those situations where you see something, it's really cool and you want it, but it's kind of pricey. But after thinking about it, you know that it's not something you can pass up, so you say WTH and just do it.

I saw these hand-marbled fat quarters at the Marbled Arts booth, and they were just gorgeous!

Some years ago, my mom gave me a small piece of marbled fabric. It had been in my stash ever since. Every time I sift through my stash, I come across it, and every time I look at it and think, how could I ever cut this up? It's just so beautiful. Well, maybe now it will have some company, and I will do something special with it.

At the end of our visit to Sew Expo, we came to the Vogue Fabrics booth. This could be a real gold mine. Julie bought two one-yard cuts of silk dupioni in a couple of neutral tones. What caught my eye was a different dupioni where the color alternated between lavender and pink depending on how the light hit it.

I was sorely tempted, but did not buy any. I may yet regret my decision.

Saturday, March 1, 2014

Early Signs of Spring

Yesterday was a rather pleasant day, weatherwise, for the last day of February.

The high was in the mid 50s, but it was bright and sunny. In the afternoon, the breeze picked up as a colder front started moving in from the north. But if you were able to get out of the wind, it was pretty darn warm in the sun.

Warm enough that Tim and I were able to have a late lunch on the outside balcony at a Bolivian restaurant called the Copacabana that we like to go to sometimes near the Market.

It's nice being up above all the activity, and the planter boxes along the balcony always have flowers in them. Right now, the daffodils are in full bloom.