Thursday, July 17, 2014

Summer Book Trek 2014


I'm hopping on the handcart a little late this year, but it's time again for the Summer Book Trek.  It's a fun time to read fiction by LDS authors, and win more fiction from LDS authors.  I picked out two such books at the library the other day:
  • Winning Mr. Wrong, by Marie Higgins
  • Enna Burning, by Shannon Hale
I read the first one yesterday, and it was fun.  You can play, too.  Check out the challenge, pick out some books, and win!


Update:  Enna Burning was pretty good, too.  Now I'm on to Wednesdays in the Tower, by Jessica Day George.  It will probably go too quickly.  After that, I guess I could start on The Way of Kings, by Brandon Sanderson, but I definitely wouldn't finish by the end of July.  Maybe it will be time for Josi Kilpack's Banana Split.  Mmmmm...

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

First Tomatoes

Ripe tomatoes in June?  Hooray!  They're called Gold Nuggets, and they are tasty.  Some of my Golden Sweet peas are ready to eat, too.  And the squirrels haven't eaten all the cherries yet.  What are you picking?

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Handkerchief Sampler, or Owen and the Paisley Skirt



One of our favorite storybooks is Owen, by Kevin Henkes.  Owen is a little mouse who is ready to go to school, but not quite ready to leave his favorite blanket behind.  His parents, egged on by a nosy neighbor, try increasingly desperate strategies to induce him to give it up, to no avail.  Finally, his mother has a brilliant idea--turn the blanket into handkerchiefs that Owen can carry with impunity.  I love stories with sewing solutions.
Of course, Owen didn't have a paisley skirt.  That was me.
It was already faded when someone gave it to me, years ago.  A button was missing.  A couple of pleats were coming unstitched.  Thinking back, I wonder, what was she thinking?  But I stitched it up a bit and wore it on many a Sunday afternoon.  It is softer and more faded now, but also more ripped, and I can't wear it anymore.  What to do?

I thought of Owen, and his mother, and the dwindling stack of handkerchiefs I share with Dandelionslayer.  We use them often, and gratefully.  And they disappear.  Usually they turn up again, in a pocket that hasn't been used for a while.  But the total has been diminishing. 

I also thought of the serger, and the cool presser feet that go with Grandma O's Duetta.  I decided that the edges of paisley handkerchiefs would be a perfect place to practice using them.  So I ripped up the skirt, and made four handkerchiefs.
First I tried the narrow hem foot.  The little curly part folds the edge so it can be neatly stitched down.  I learned some things.  For instance, the instructions in the foot package (which were the only way I identified the thing in the first place) are woefully inadequate.  I found some better advice online, but not until I'd blundered my way all around the perimeter.  Corners are tough.  And sometimes I let it fold too much over, so the hem is not as neat and narrow as it could be.  I'll do better next time.
I also used the 3-thread stitch on the serger, which turned out perfectly.  I tried a picot foot, which looks a lot like the narrow hem foot, but turns out a rolled hem.  And I turned a (not as) narrow hem under myself, and secured it with a decorative stitch.  The corners are not pretty on any of them, but I think they'll work.  My nose is certainly happy with my soft, new paisley handkerchiefs!

Monday, May 19, 2014

Musical Monday

When Scoot was assigned to recite a poem in his English class, he chose "The Man in the Moon Stayed Up Too Late," by J.R.R. Tolkien.  It's the sort of piece that would most effectively be sung, while dancing on top of a table, so the Caterpillar searched for some music for it.  He found this:


The Fellowship recorded an album of music inspired by Tolkien's work, and it is all rather nice. 

Scoot usually doesn't seem like the dancing-on-the-tables type, but he did earn 175% on his presentation.  I may have to inquire about the details!



Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Just Ducky

 The baby boom at church is banging along.  Dandelionslayer and the Caterpillar talked to a couple who was expecting a girl for their firstborn. They showed the guys a pile of pink things that others had given them, and a smaller pile of other colors that they had acquired themselves.  We decided to help augment their non-pink collection.
I started with this towel, on which Grandma O had appliqu├ęd a duck.  Cute pattern, isn't it?  I wish I could find it in her files.
 I used some decorative stitches to add coordinating waves to a washcloth.
And then, since Dandelionslayer had boasted to this couple about my amigurumi habits, I had to crochet a duckie to match.  I've searched for a pattern like this before, and didn't find anything quite right for me.  So I made it up.  And it worked out pretty well!

D2 likes the duckie, too, so when I make one for him, I'll try to write down a pattern for it.  Have a ducky day!

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Rollo is 11!

Rollo turned 11 in April.  It was a good day.  He spent most of his school time playing jazz at a couple of other elementary schools, and went out to lunch with the band.  He had ice cream at lunch, and we went out for more ice cream after dinner.  And in between we gave him a few presents.
Rollo loves the Ranger's Apprentice books, and wanted a "mottled gray-green cloak" like the rangers use.  When Scoot asked for the same thing, I sewed this:
Oh, dear.  Did I never post the Halloween pictures last year? Well, here you go.  Ranger Scoot, in reversible mottled gray and mottled green.
The Caterpillar sewed his own cloak, right before (and during) the Trunk or Treat.  We used McCall's 4139, which turned out to be quite large.
Much too large for Rollo.  But my copy of Simplicity 5512 (sadly out of print) seemed too small.  I used it anyway, increasing the size 8 to something that fits just fine.  I found some mottled gray-green corduroy, but not very much of it.  So I used it for the hood, shoulders, and hem binding, with plain gray for the body of the cloak.  This cloak is reversible, too, with black inside for when Rollo feels Phantomish.
He wore the cloak for his party the next week, where he led his friends in making and dueling with foam swords, archery, and capturing the flag. 
Rollo decorated his lemon-flavored cake himself with a Lego ranger fighting bad guys, Lego foliage, and cake ball boulders (they finally worked!).  I believe a good time was had by most.

Happy Birthday, Rollo!


Monday, April 28, 2014

Serging Ahead

This month I decided it was time to try out Grandma O's classic serger.  Little did I know that it was National Serger Month.  How appropriate!
2014NationalSergerMoLogo1 (2)

I checked out a book from the library, which was good for general serging information, but my first attempts didn't go too well.  So I ordered a user manual from Singer.  It didn't give much more detailed information, but I loaded up four colors of thread, adjusted the tension more carefully, and came up with some perfect samples.  It was time for a real project.
I'd found some decorator fabric in Grandma O's stash that seemed perfect for replacing my beat-up grocery bags.  I decided to start with the print on the right, which reminds me of alien olives.  (Grandpa O thought it had green and orange circles.  They're pink.  Pink!  Men.  Honestly.)
I used my own measurements with instructions from this site.  I also added a layer of denim in the bottom.  I switched the thread back to all white, and serged up the interior seams.  This time the serging was not so perfect.  The stitches were pretty even, but would skip in some places.  Or one of the needles would unthread itself.  I still don't understand what happened.  But the seams are neat, and hopefully strong.
I added a loop at the top to hook onto the bag stand during loading, and top-stitched the seams on the outside for more structure.  By making it myself, I was also able to ensure that the handles weren't too long.  Here's one of the two alien olive bags in use.

There wasn't as much of the green plaid material, so I'll need to change the design a bit.  I can't say I mastered the serger during National Serger Month, but I'm glad I got started with it.