Thursday, October 8, 2015


Months ago I bought a crepe paper poppy kit. It was on clearance at Joann's for just a few dollars, but it's the exact same as this set on Amazon. I was overtaken by a sudden whim to put them together, in that Shia LaBeouf sort of way. So I did. And now I have nine gigantic poppies. I should have ten, but some of the papers stuck together and I didn't realize it until the end and then felt kind of "Eh whatevs." So nine.

I need to fluff them up a little bit more, but they sure do add a nice pop of color.

I think it took me about ten minutes to make them all. You layer up the papers, poke a screw down through the top, which screws into that green petal looking thing, which pops onto the stem. Finito.

Poppies have become a symbol of remembrance for soldiers who have died during wartime (In Flanders Fields). Last year, in the moat surrounding the Tower of London, was the beautifully sad (in the most poetic way) art installation of Blood Swept Lands and Seas of Red in commemoration of the centennial of the start of World War I. Here in the States poppies are probably most popular for putting Dorothy and her friends to sleep in The Wizard of Oz, unless you've seen the 'Buddy Poppies' made by veterans for fundraising purposes:

I remember seeing these when I was younger and not knowing what they were for (but had adults who certainly knew to explain it to me). I'm pretty sure that kids today would have absolutely no clue the meaning behind this simple flower, and I wonder if their parents would either... As Veterans' Day nears I'm going to look a little more pointedly to see if I notice these anywhere.

Monday, October 5, 2015

The Sore Fingers Wreath

Fall has been teasing us with cooler temperatures, but I'm not convinced it's here to stay. The past week, however, has been chilly, wet, windy, and a bit lethargy-inducing. I've also been fighting off a cold/sinus infection/possible allergies, so I haven't felt much like doing anything. However, with a proper cup of tea, some crafting supplies, and a pot of gravy and meatballs simmering away with that amaaaaazing aroma filling the air (seriously--Yankee should sign a contract with my mother to get that scent into a candle), I felt a little like pottering around at the kitchen table.

A few weeks ago my mom came home from the dollar store with these stiff but gauzy leaves that had a little bit of sparkle on them just because she felt like we could use them for something. I've been wanting to make a burlap wreath for a while so I bought a wreath form (like this one) and a roll of jute/burlap ribbon (like this), found some pipe cleaners, and set to. After what was waaaaay longer than the ten minutes this video said it should take, I had a cute fall wreath for the back door. I also had very sore fingers, glitter everywhere, and a full swear jar.

I bought a ten yard roll of burlap, and had just enough for this wreath. Like that perfect amount that rarely happens kind of enough. I used pipe cleaners (cut into three) to secure it better ever few inches, and took care to fluff it and arrange it how I liked (which is probably what took so long).

The bow is actually a piece of silk (not the expensive stuff, but the stuff I think might be polyester masquerading as silk even though the website says silk) that I had bought for another project but never used. It's not something I would use for anything (and there wasn't much of it anyway) so I tied it on here and trimmed it, and it worked a charm.

I didn't plan anything, so getting the leaves on was a bit of a hack job. I am very against hot glue as I usually burn myself with it and inhale glue strings, so I took the stems and pushed them under the wire of the frame. It was pretty tight with the burlap in there, so I'm confident it will hold. The burlap ploofs right back into place to conceal it all.

So that's it. I feel like I haven't made anything for a long while, but I always start to feel very inspired when the cooler weather descends so we'll see. I'm off to try and finish a pair of socks that just do not want to exist.

Thursday, October 1, 2015

Giveaway Winner!!

Hello you lovely people! I wanted to announce the giveaway winner before I forget (which I find myself doing a lot, lately). I've got the package all ready to go once I have the winner's address, so without further ado (someone tried to tell me once that it's 'without further adieu.' It took me two other people and about fifteen minutes to explain why that was not the case)...OK, ahem. Without further ado, this is the winning comment:

Lori, I'm going to send you an email but if you see this before you see that let me have the address you'd like these shipped to and I'll get them out to you right away.

Thank you all for your delightful comments. I really wish I had piles and piles of fabric to ship to each of you. BUT while we wait for that day to come, if you fancy some crafty doo-dads I've done a shop update recently, and have lots of baggy fixins' in there for decent prices. Use coupon code CLEAROUT for ten percent off of everything until October 3rd.


Friday, September 25, 2015

Shop Update and a Coupon Code!

I have been trying lately to make a concerted effort to only buy what I need as opposed to amassing a tremendous stash of various things that makes me feel overwhelmed with it all. Which means making the decision to let go of some of my goodies to a good home. So this week I spent sorting and bagging and photographing and writing up descriptions, and now everything is up in my shop (including a few bits of fabric). 

I've posted purse rings, magnetic snaps, swivel clips, zippers, and a few other things that I'm so bleary-brained I can't even remember right now. But there's quite a bit of it if you're interested in helping me feel like I'm not a hoarder. I've even got a discount code for you. Use the code CLEAROUT from now until October 3rd to save ten percent off of anything in my wee shop, from the new hardware listings to quilted bits to pretty trims and my crocheted pot scrubbies.

And don't forget--my giveaway is still live--link at the top of the sidebar!!!

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Want Some Fabric?

'Allo! Anybody want some fabric? Silly question, I hope. I have a decent-sized stack of fabric left over from my recent quilt. I am not going to use it. Most of it I bought for the quilt, and while I love it I would truly be hoarding all of it because I have nary an idea of what I would use any of it for, so instead of waiting for inspiration to strike I'm writing a really long run-on sentence to let you know I'll be offering it up to a good home.

So let's see what's on offer, eh?

These cuts are all different sizes, and I couldn't even begin to guess what's what. Some are a true fat quarter, some less, some more, but all are an amount that you could use for something. The little pile in the upper right corner consists of small scraps that are still enough to be used, and a pile of extra five inch squares that were left over from the border piecing. Some didn't get used in the quilt but I'm including them, because hoarding.

As far as quality goes--most of these were ordered from online quilt shops, some came from Joann's, some were in bags of scraps I was given so I have no idea from where or when they came to be. However, I've used all of them (or their equivalent), but if you have higher standards than me you might want to weed through a little because some of them do feel a little different. 

I was a little disappointed that I didn't have more left over to give away, but some were so fussy cut and choppy it seemed ridiculous to pass them on. It felt akin to asking you to hold my trash and then running away. 

SO, the rules are easy. Leave a comment on this post, saying anything you'd like. I'll randomly choose a winner and notify/post here shortly thereafter. I'm leaving this open until 11:59 pm ET on September 30th, so that gives you about two weeks. I'm super sorry for this last bit, but due to weight/postage costs this giveaway is open to US residents only (I hated writing that--it makes me feel quite Scrooge-like). 

Good luck!

Sunday, September 13, 2015

What's This Decision Quilt - Ta-Dah!

Thusly we shan't speak of this quilt again. Quoth. Nevermore. It has been washed, dried, color-caught, and snapshotted. It smells delicious. It has great crinkle. It is finished.

It's also pretty big (it's a full-sized bed quilt) and pretty busy, but oh-so-scrappy and bright. I laid it out on the grass (the brown grass that is desperately seeking rain) today, a very cloudy overcast day that looks like rain but might just be teasing.

I hurried nonetheless, taking just a few pics since you've already seen so many. It hasn't spit down a drop yet, by the way...

Everything is straight. Probably the straightest quilt I've ever made. I just have a fabulous knack for making straight things look crooked.

There are so many pieces and so many prints that there is nary an ounce of cohesion to this quilt, except in the abstractness of its theme. The center blocks don't stand out amidst the scrappy patchwork border as there is nothing to break them up, but I knew that. I wanted that "look closer" thing to happen. 

I pieced the first two rounds of the border randomly methodical--I made sure the prints weren't near each other and it worked well. Then I went full on random and a few things ended up near each other that weren't necessarily planned, but I only picked and restitched if the two prints were smack dab abutting each other.

I kept the quilting pretty loose, which is unusual for me. I used the central blocks as the reference and did double-lines straddling the seam. I stuck with that all across the quilt, treating the four-patch blocks the same as the larger story blocks. I pondered for a while adding some extra quilting, but kept what I had. I spent about an hour looking up suggestions for quilting density and different battings and so on, but decided what I had would hold up just fine without extra stitching being too distracting (which now that I'm thinking about it is kind of silly considering the helter skelter of the rest of it).

I was looking for a cute backing fabric and found one that I absolutely love and is just as "me" as the rest of the quilt. I don't remember what it's called but it's an extra wide backing fabric. The binding fabric I bought at the most perfect quilt shop I've ever seen out in Lancaster County (aka Amish Country) a few weeks ago on a day trip. Even that is a memory.

The binding job is not my best, but the bluster of the print conceals anything amiss. For the whole thing I used machine quilting thread and had no issues. I had read an article by an "expert" who said you must-must-must-no-question-about-it use quilting needles to quilt your quilt. I dumbly sat there nodding in agreement like "Yes, that's a great idea" and picked a few up. I'm glad I used a coupon and the loss is post-facto only a few dollars, because they were rot. Skipped stitches, broken thread, feed problems, you name it. I switched to a universal and danced along happily. It took me four nights to quilt and bind this. I'd still be on the first row if I hadn't switched needles.

Obligatory rolled up quilt photo that I took hastily because I swear I felt raindrops, but nay.

OK, I do have one block to show you that I didn't share before. It makes no sense on the surface. I showed it to my mother and it drove her crazy that I wouldn't tell her. An idea that seemed grand a few weeks ago now seems kind of silly, but it's the center block of the whole thing and kind of fitting that way.

"Huh?" you're asking. The outer pieces (with the words love, laugh, family, and memories) are metaphorically hugging the hard wood and the soft sheep. Because that's life, isn't it? Hard and soft, difficult and easy, unyielding and pliable, all rolled up and wrapped into one, embraced as part of our existence on this rotating marble we live on. We are every age we have ever been, every experience we've ever had (good or bad), and everything we remember. From afar we may look at things and think nothing other than 'hot mess,' but when we look closer we see so much more. We understand. And we see things more perfect than not. I consider myself lucky that I get to lay under such a quilt, literally covered in good memories and happy thoughts, knowing that there are so many more I could have added if the fabric companies would only read my mind. So a hot mess? Yes, and I'll gladly have it called that. Because in my secret heart I know it's perfect.

Here are the links to all the block posts (in case you need help falling asleep).

What's This Decision, Blocks 1-4, Blocks 5-8, Blocks 9-12, Blocks 13-16, Blocks 17-20, Blocks, 21-24, Blocks 25-28, Blocks 29-32, Blocks 33-36, Blocks 37-40, Blocks 41-44, Blocks 45-48, Blocks 49-55, Blocks 56-62

Linking up here:
The Inspiration Board at Homework
Craftastic Monday at Sew Can Do
Submarine Sunday at the USS Crafty
Your Whims Wednesday at My Girlish Whims

Friday, September 11, 2015

W(hat's) T(his) D(ecision): Blocks 56-62

Are you happy? This is the last block post. Next up is the ta-dah, because tonight, after dinner, I attached the binding to my quilt. Tomorrow it gets washed, and that's it. I feel so relieved to have such a big project totally finished. Now I can knit socks (due to self-imposed restrictions I could not start anything new until I had finished the quilt and nearly finished the afghan). It's a special kind of geekery when you get excited about knitting something like socks, but I received this yarn for my birthday and set it out where I could see it for motivation all week. It's delightful.

Anyway, here are the final blocks (there's actually one left but I'm leaving it for the final reveal).

Road trip. Before any of us were old enough to stay home from road trips to Pittsburgh to visit family, we all crammed into the station wagon and ignored each other. That lasted about halfway, and then we realized we had to talk to each other to pass the time. We played the license plate game (in later years Z and I found every state but Hawaii and Alaska) and tried to get people to wave to us (people don't like to do that). But the thing we liked the most, probably because it bugged my dad the most, was singing every television theme song we could think of. When those ran dry, we would sing the commercials for those music collections they used to air on TV. Sometimes there were Christmas carols (at Easter). My mom didn't care because we weren't fighting and punching.

Eighth grade. Cassette tapes. Neon socks. Lisa Frank everything. Z just started eighth grade this week. He also went and got a deep voice. It makes my heart feel twisty.

This green print reminds me of my Grandma's house--a big yard, trees, and a washtub of flowers on an old tree stump. We all gather on the porch and talk and talk, every which way we can. And then we head over to the VFD fair and play bingo with dried corn as the markers. One year my sister wanted to drink (which she very rarely does). Her choices of beverage were Iron City Light and Zima. She had too many Zimas and called out a few false bingos. You want to see old ladies get mad jump the gun on yelling bingo.

I like to knit socks. Soooo.....

This one is for my woodworking dad. He's been working on a hutch for my mother for a million billion years. He works mostly in spurts. I bet him a few weeks ago that I could finish my quilt and my afghan before he could finish the hutch. Since he's retired he's clearly got a time advantage, but I've got one done already.

I just really liked that center fabric and not much else matched well, and I couldn't think of a story, so this is pretty much all there is to it. What you see is all there is.

This block makes zero sense to anyone but me. Not long after my parents' moved into their house, my mom's cousin was supposed to get married. For whatever reason they called the wedding off, then decided to get married but would have had to wait a really long time to re-book everything. So they had the wedding at my parents' house in the living room and in the backyard. I remember my brother and I had these old cameras that didn't work anymore and we were walking around pretending to take pictures. Right at the start of the ceremony it started pouring, so everyone ran inside. Coincidentally the living room carpet was the exact shade of green as the photo. As soon as the ceremony was over it stopped. This very same thing happened in her son's wedding this past May. Since his mother passed a few years ago, it was quite eerie, but confirmed her 'presence' to us. Seriously, it was uncanny. Because I was so young, the only other thing I remember is that we had these wooden folding chairs that were rented for the reception. I was a skinny little peanut then, and I remember falling right through the back of the chair. My dad would probably say 'So that explains it!' upon reading this...

Phew. I must say I'm quite glad to be finished with this, so you must all be turning cartwheels to no longer have to read about it. Except for one more. But that's a finish post and those are always more interesting.


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