The project that never ends is finally done. I joined a block of the month group about five years ago. I participated three years until the group ended. In the second year, I found this fun train fabric and panel.
My husband loves trains. Granted he likes real trains and this fabric is a kid’s design, but either way, I decided to custom make a train quilt for my husband. With polka dots, because I love polka dots.
The top of the quilt took a few months to design, cut, and finally sew. My life just moves that slow. Then instead of sending the quilt off to a quilters, I wanted to hand top stitch.
I work with an oval hoop about 30 inches wide. Starting in the center, there were no major features on the front, so I turned my hoop over and started picking lines from the back trace. Twenty hoops through, I regretted finding a busy train fabric for the back. Maybe millions of polka dots would have been better?
Anyway, four years in the making, and it is finally done. Bound, stitched and ready to be used.
This has been an odd few weeks for me, but I have been pulling projects out of my sewing room and working on them one by one. This week I finished two smaller projects.
This is a basket I made out of a ripped up sheet. Here’s basically what I did:
1) Got a ripped up sheet (my sister’s dog nicely assisted this process by ripping the sheet one day and thus I inherited ripped sheets) I used a queen sized fitted and queen sized top sheet to make this basket.
2) Further ripped the sheet (I started a 3/4 inch cut at one end of the sheet then ripped until I had about 1/4 inch of unripped sheet at the other end. I then cut a start another 3/4 inch from the bottom end and ripped back up to within 1/4 inch of the top. This way I did not have to tie lots of small strings together. It made one really long string. Here is a website that explains my method better with pictures. Here is another website that explains the same thing in a slightly different way. Except where I accidentally ripped to far or where the original rip caused weakness in “string.” When I did need to tie two strings together, I used the slip knot method. I think this website explains it better than I can, and this website has pictures of the slip knot method.)
3) Crocheted a circle (I started with a chain of eight. The picture doesn’t show it well, but my circles commonly look like soft octagons because I start with chains of eight. I have found a chain of five or six often looks more round. I formed my chain of eight into a circle and then created eight single crochets around the circle. As of the first round I spiraled the project adding eight stitches every round to keep the circle expanding. — if you really wanted an octagon you’d need to add the extra stitches at the eight corners. I eyeball it and if I feel like a corner is getting to tight or undefined, I’d make three stitches in the corner instead of two. — Here’s a blog of someone who actually does make circles and soft octagons.)
4) When the circle was big enough, I kept crocheting but stopped adding extra stitches. This made the sides.
5) For handles, I used a button hole stitch. (I got to where I wanted the handle to start and instead of making a crochet in the next stitch, I made a chain long enough for my hand then stretched it along the basket and attached it at the appropriate spot. Then on the next round when I got to the chain, I counted the skipped stitches below the handle and made that many single crochets across the “handle” area. Every round after that was like all the rows before the handle: single crochet in every single crochet. Here’s a website that explains it better.) My basket actually has four handles.
6) Gave it to my sister.
Project 2: the rope bowl
This is my second project I finished. My sister read somewhere that a person could crochet around rope to make a basket. I only had a very small amount of laundry line and knew I would not be able to make a basket, so I made a bowl. This bowl is made from laundry line and purple crochet thread. The holes in the sides are actually handles. Below is a picture of the bowl without the top turned down. I literally just crocheted in an oval around a piece of rope until I used the buttonhole concept to make the handles. Here is a website with a tutorial on crocheting around a rope. I did not start with a base chain, but I think it would have made my start a little easier if I had.
What I am enjoying about this little rope bowl is how easy it is to shape. Here’s a few pictures of different shapes I made with the same bowl.
I am officially moving on. Tiny’s story has had four revisions, two complete betas, three rounds of chapter by chapter review. If the story isn’t finished by now, it will never be.
I’m working on Nik’s story now. It needs a good name, and I have been trying to figure out how to title it. In my review of books at the library, there seems to be a key word issue.
Fantasy stories tend to say things like “magic” or “elven” or “spirits” or “angel.” Nik is an alchemist so I could try and work that in.
Action stories tend to have an action or power word in them like “hunt” or “treasure” or “battle” or “revenge” or “exploration.” Nik’s running from assassins. I’m not sure if I’d like to focus on that for the title. Even though it is accurate, it seems like making Nik weak or focusing the title on the assassins instead of the MC.
Lots of titles refer to a place. “Space” or “Paris” or “Garden.” Nik’s story does take place in a cool cliff side town called Sealine Shores (of course, I could always change the name of the town; I am the author afterall.) I might be able to use the location to help.
I’m sure there are tons of other comparisons or commonalities I could have drawn, but I was really looking for my next read and not studying titles for how to name a book. I’m tossing out ideas like Cliff side Alchemy. Survival Alchemy. Brewing a Safe Harbor.
My next door neighbor is pregnant. Their baby is due sometime in the next two weeks. Somehow I decided the perfect thing would be miniscule booties and a baby blanket. Now if it only I can get the baby blanket big enough in the next few weeks. It is 36 inches wide, but only 18 inches long so far. I’ll see how much gets done before the baby is born.
Hamilton is the birthplace of J.C.Penny. They have a museum on the north end of the main strip. Its a quaint brick building that looks much like a library from the outside.
While I love and admire J.C.Pennys (because they sell bigger sizes in dress clothes and were the only place I could shop for a long time), Hamilton is now synonymous with quilts.
Fabric! I tell ya, they have fabric!
I quilt with a group of fine women at my church Fairmount United Methodist. You may have seen pictures of these ladies on my blog before. We quilt by hand and encourage each other to contiue quilting and to learn new techniques. Ruth is our resident applique expert. She taught me how to put together my first Sun Bonnet Sue. Viola started sewing when she was seven and does everything by hand. When the rest of the world has their machines out and are speeding through piecing, she methodically adds another octagon to her flower patch. Then we all sit down to top stitch, and she does three times as much as the rest of us. If it is done by hand, Viola’s our teacher. Mary is our master machine piecer. Over the years she has taught us wondrous techniques such as chaining and paper piecing. Two years ago, Mary started sharing videos with us that featured Jenny Doan, the founder of Missouri Star Quilt Company.
We were hooked, not only to the simple and easy instructions of the videos but also because these were not boring old quilts. Jenny uses bright colors and modern designs as well as the standards. When my sister and I started using pennants for scrapbooking and banners and everything else, Jenny already had a quilt design with strings of pennants. When my sister and I started looking for retreats and conventions, Jenny already had scheduled retreats/workshops where folks could go to Hamilton and quilt for a weekend.
So we went to Hamilton. First time we went was a year ago, and it was more of a shop hop type trip. Missouri Star Quilt company had just opened their seasonal fabric shop and we were hot on the trail of a religious advent panel. There was a holiday quilt store, we were going. We planned a route of three or four shops and started in Hamilton and visited quilt shops on our route back until we arrived home. (We never found the advent panel we wanted.)
This year we heard things were changing in Hamilton. Boy had it. Missouri Star Quilt Company has bought up most of the main strip. Instead of a good stop on a shop hop, Hamilton is now a quilter’s destination. There is the main shop, the civil war fabrics, the seasonal shop, the batiks, the licensed fabrics, and the solids. Each shop is brilliantly themed. It wasn’t until we walked out of seasonal and into batiks that Allison and I realized the music had changed to fit the style of fabrics. The window displays gave me great ideas. (I love a good display and particularly these sewing hoops.)
Plus my sister and I have been discussing getting a long arm sewing machine. Between the two of us we have over 10 quilt tops that need to be top stitched. It’s starting to get very expensive to finish these quilt tops and there are too many to accomplish by hand with our busy schedules. Missouri Star Quilt Company has a machine shop where they take orders and top stitch quilts with seven gorgeous Gammil machines.
We were allowed to walk in while they were working and ask tons of questions about machines and quilting. It would not shock me if some day Missouri Star Quilt Company opens up the front of one of their shops and has one of those ladies giving a regular presentation (like the blacksmith and glass blower in Silver Dollar City). It was fascinating. We appreciated their time and advice.
What’s a day trip without food? We by passed the main strip. There was a very nice sit down restaurant just as we entered the main strip, J.R. Burgers (which has an adorable facade and a giant outdoor eating area) and its neighbor Poppy’s Bakery, but we heard word there was a great BBQ joint passed all the action and on the very far north end. So we passed up the obvious options and started walking. And walking. And walking. When they said the far north end, they weren’t kidding. But by the time we reached the J.C.Penny Museum, our noses told us we were on the right path. Then the old advice from our mother kicked in. Momma always said if you are in a strange town around lunch time and want to know where to eat, look for the restaurant surrounded by work trucks because the working men know where to go for good quality and well priced food, and boy did Hank and Tank’s BBQ have a collection of work trucks around it. Don’t expect something fancy from these boys (other than the ability to take credit and debit 😉 ). You might be order number four if you get there early enough. They are serving meat sandwiches with beans and coleslaw. I can’t comment on the coleslaw because I don’t eat the stuff, but the beans were delicious and on the spicy side. The BBQ sauce was spicy and sweet. The brisket was good too. They are serving straight forward and honest food.
If you get a chance, visit Hamilton. We enjoyed it. The whole trip took us about 5 hours in town.
I was working through a book 90 Days to Your Novel. I was doing really well, even ahead of schedule, then I ran into the section that said write act 1, write act 2, write act 3. Ack!
It might have gone better at that point if I wasn’t working three rough drafts and a novel revision. So I fixed it. Now I’m only working through two rough drafts and a novel revision. It may not sound like much of a change, but I have been able to shift from getting nothing done to writing one to three chapters a week. Yay!
Enough writing. Pictures time.
What I am getting done is some of the crafts in my house. I might actually have a sewing room that is usable in a few months. Since my last post, I have:
Made curtains. It may not be obvious from this picture, but this is a roman shade my sister and I made. It will go in the basement. It is backed with blackout fabric and uses 3/16 dowel rods to make crisp folds. We got the pattern and instructions from Sail Rite
This is a quilt I have worked on for a few years on and off. My sister bought the pieces for me on a visit to Jamesport, an amish community. What I finished just recently was filling in the designs on the sunbonnets. Now that all the girls have hats, they must wait to be quilted until the rest of the other quilt tops waiting in line are quilted.
Good news there, too. Because I can now see my quilt frame and may be able to start working on the quilt that is in it.
This blue and pink quilt is a charity quilt. My oldest sister is a minister. At her church, a lady dying of cancer was given an unfinished quilt top. The person gifted it with less than a fourth of the quilt top stitched. I took the quilting out and machine quilted it ditch-stitching style. It was my first attempt to stitch in the ditch, and this quilt was big enough for a king bed. My little Kenmore protested. Its not perfect in any way, but it is done and in time for the woman to enjoy it. Kudos given to my sister who helped hand stitch the binding.
Here are a few more pictures. These are my brand new bench seat cushions that we made.
Don’t look at the wall beneath them too much because we haven’t put up the molding anywhere.
These cushions have been sitting in my sewing room for near four years. It is nice to have the giant rolls of foam out of my craft room. Each cushion has four inches of cushion inside. I managed to get a bead of trim around the edge of the cushion as well, making it the fanciest upholstery that I have done to date. Almost gives me the gumption to do other small upholstery projects I have sitting around.
Either way. Another big project out of my house.
Ok. Show and tell time over. There are still more projects to work on and more writing to do.
Amazing how plans always change. I intended to post evenly about crafting and writing. Turns out, I binge hobby, spending weeks on one thing and completely ignoring the rest.
My sister and I do most of the big displays at our church. It’s not that impressive because the church is small and we fall into the age bracket that can still climb ladders. In preparation for Easter, I experimented with making homemade glue and the best ways to soak yarn in glue
and then pull it out without creating knots. The result are the cute Easter eggs lining the aisles.
The alter is mostly fake flowers we already had at the church and table cloths attached to the ceiling.
Easter down, only 6 weeks to Bible School decorations. 🙂
On the writing front, I am falling behind. I wanted to be done with day 16 today. That would have kept me on target for a 45 day novel. I never realistically expected to keep that schedule, but a girl can hope. Between critiquing, editing, participating in my first query contest (which left me hitting the refresh button hoping for pointers on my submission), and Easter, I finished Day 14 and started Day 15.
As ever, Ms. Domet is cleverly having me pre-write the whole novel. Days 14-16 are particularly interesting to me. I’m a checklist kind of person. Ms. Domet has given me a checklist for what each section of the novel should do, the questions it should answer, and the goals it should obtain.
Friday, Saturday, and Sunday are taken by real world activities, but I’m lifting a cup of tea to getting back on track next Monday.