Friday, December 30, 2016

Wrapping up the year

It's really been a pretty productive year in terms of quilting and other sewing projects. I've focused again on finishing up some UFOs and trying to make most of my fabric purchases have a purpose.  I'll be putting together my numbers and figure out how many finishes I had for year, but that will have to wait for the weekend.
 
On Wednesday morning this week my husband had his disc replacement surgery, and yesterday I brought him home again. They kept him just barely 24 hours in the hospital.  The arm numbness has gone away, so I think the surgery will be considered a success. The rest of the healing will take time.
 
 
Luckily I work from home so I've been able to go back to work and still check on him periodically.  He is pretty worn out, and sleeps quite a bit, especially after taking his pain meds.  The neck area is stiff and sore of course.  And his throat is very sore which is something the surgeon warned us about.  He has some lifting restrictions for 6 weeks, and some "twisting" restrictions for 3 months. And he can't drive until he quits taking the pain meds. 
 
So I'm wrapping up the year with very little sewing, but looking forward to 2017 with excitement.
 
 

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Yesterday's progress


I got a lot done yesterday. Today I am sewing a binding onto a wall hanging while sitting in the waiting room. My husband is in surgery for disc replacement. Lots of wait time. 

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Needing some handwork

 
Monday was a day off and I spent quite a bit of time sewing in the afternoon. First off was prepping some handwork to keep me busy. Both of these table runners are ready for hand stitching the binding down.  (Bad picture due to the evening light when I took this photo.)  I'll need a bit of handwork the next couple of days while my husband has neck surgery tomorrow morning.  He will stay at least 1 night in the hospital and maybe 2 or 3 depending on how things are going.  Our oldest daughter lives about 6 blocks from the hospital so I'll be staying with them.  
 
Yesterday I also made a self-binding baby blanket for a baby shower this coming weekend. I love making these as they are so fast and easy, plus they are such practical baby gifts.
 
And I worked on the Bonnie Hunter mystery quilt clues.  I finished pressing the last of the Clue 1 blocks, and sewed the remaining few Clue 2 blocks.  Clues 3-5 are partially complete, with all of the pieces cut and about a quarter of the blocks sewn. I'm really not too concerned about "falling behind" since there isn't any kind of deadline.

Thursday, December 22, 2016

Holiday fuss and stress

 
Some years I've made a huge production of Christmas - decorations, baking, cards, presents, and whatnot.  And that was while working full time, and in years past being a mom of busy kids. And like most everyone I know there was all kinds of stress over getting everything done, attending every concert and party, and having my house looking perfect.
 
But this year I'm only working part time so had lots of extra time.  We have an empty nest and both work from home. So I could have made a much bigger fuss for Christmas preparations, but I didn't.  I now feel slightly guilty because I am not stressed about Christmas.  But only slightly . . .
 
The decorations are a bit less than most years, and it doesn't matter because no one will see them except me and my husband. We aren't expecting any guests. No one will be here for the actual Christmas holiday because my oldest daughter is hosting this year.  But the tree and the stockings are really for me anyway. They make me happy.  My husband on the other hand would not be bothered if I never put up another tree - doesn't help, isn't interested.  But I enjoy it so much!
 
It doesn't seem like Christmas without making my usual spritz wreath cookies. But I didn't make any.  I have made 2 big batches of spiced nuts and do plan to make one more batch tomorrow, but those take less than 30 minutes, so are totally stress-free. I bought 2 frozen pies that I'll bake tomorrow to take to my daughter's house on Christmas Eve. No "from scratch" cookie baking at all this year - which actually does make me feel a little guilty. But I'll get over it.  And my hips will thank me in January because I won't have eaten all of those things I usually bake.
 
We kept gifts for the grandkids simple and I actually had them all wrapped and under the tree 2 weeks ago.  That is definitely not like normal years as I'm usually wrapping things at the last minute.  Each kiddo is getting 1 thing to wear, 1 thing to read, and 1 thing to play with.  Plus they are getting new pillowcases.  The daughters and sons-in-law are getting a "family" basket with some fun and some useful surprises.  And the stockings are full of fun but small goodies, like socks!  We'll just pack it all up to take to our daughter's house on Saturday and then bring the empty stockings back home to hang up next year again.
 
The last of my Christmas cards are in the mail this morning. I so enjoy receiving Christmas cards and letters from friends and family living far away and living close by.  That is one of the best things about this time of year - MAIL. 
 
So, since I have completed my Christmas preparations, I'm going to go comb my hair, brush my teeth, and take myself out to a leisurely lunch.  I'm hungry for Chinese food.  

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Almost vintage nativity set

 
The last time this nativity scene was set up was Christmas 2005, right before we moved to this house.  So the past 11 years it has been carefully wrapped in newspaper in a box on a high storage shelf in my basement.  Every year I would look at that box on the top shelf and decide it was too much trouble to get it down. But this year I moved some things and climbed up.  I'll so glad I went to the trouble.
 
Unwrapping each piece brought back some wonderful memories.  This nativity was made by Nellie, a dear family friend from my childhood who was like a favorite aunt, and gifted to my husband and I the first Christmas we were married.  She made each piece in a pottery class and her husband made the simple wooden stable. 

 
I must admit that I had forgotten just how many pieces there were in this set, and just how large some of the pieces are.  Some of the faces are a bit scary too.  But I love it.  And this year when I put it away it's going in a new box, with bubble wrap, and going in with the other Christmas decorations where I can reach it easily for next year. 

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

And the stockings were hung

 
After a trip to visit with the ladies at The Pin Cushion yesterday morning, my Christmas stockings are now finished.  A huge thank you to Cindy for the great advice about needles and to Brenda for the gorgeous piece of lace (from her private stash) I added to Olivia's stocking.
 
Changing out to a top stitch needle while embroidering seemed to be the magic solution. No more shredded thread. My critical eye sees that I could have aligned the names a bit better - but overall I'm very pleased with the results.  And I doubt that the kids will care.
 
Hiding under the back of the cuff on each is a little ribbon with "Made By Grandma Fridley" on it.  The stockings are all lined with a nice smooth muslin.  

Monday, December 19, 2016

Vintage thread

 
How old do you think this spool of thread might be? It was one of dozens of spools of thread I inherited from my mother when she died over 25 years ago. And based on the labels, I'm guessing she had it for a long time herself. 

 
I was looking for a nice maroon thread to do a bit of hand stitching on a ripped shirt pocket for my daughter.  I dug and dug through my basket and big jar of thread with no luck. So I peaked into the old spools in a drawer, and I found this one. It's a perfect color match and the thread didn't feel brittle or weak. This was always a good brand of thread and proves to me that it's still good enough to use.  
 
Don't forget to visit http://www.patchworktimes.com  to see what everyone has on their Design Wall this week. Bet there are a lot of Christmas projects on those walls.

Sunday, December 18, 2016

Frustration has won

 
I spent a LOT of time on Saturday afternoon trying to embroider my grandchildren's names on their stocking cuffs. 
 
First up I cleaned out the bobbin casing area of my machine and put in a brand new embroidery needle with the exact specs my machine's guidebook suggested.  I bought embroidery thread and bobbin thread.  I worked on a practice piece first. The practice piece had lots of skipped stitches and broken threads. But I finally managed to get 2 letters "kind of" embroidered. 
 
But then I hooped up one of the cuff fabrics and things went downhill from there.  My thread broke every dozen or stitches.  I changed needles again, rethreaded everything, re-hooped the fabric and stabilizer.  But the whole process just kept getting worse.  After nearly 3 hours of frustration, I gave up and went to the movies with my husband. 
 
Today I just worked on piecing a few triangle-in-a-square units for the Bonnie Hunter mystery, mended my granddaughter's pants, mended my daughter's shirt pocket, and finished up the casserole hot pads I started earlier in the week as Christmas gifts. And I grumbled and growled over those stocking that are so close to being done - but yet are not. 
 
 

Friday, December 16, 2016

Progress on the Christmas stockings

I have all 4 stockings (requested by my daughter) quilted and put together with the backing.  All 4 linings are cut out and ready to sew. And the cuffs and hangers are cut and ready. What this really means is that the scary part is left - using my embroidery machine to add some names to the cuffs.  I plan to use white thread and do a practice one first. 
 
 
This one is going to be for Jonah.  I used a simple chevron design and decided to buy a teal Grunge fabric for the backing and cuff to match the teal chevron. Wish I had enough of the teal print to do the cuff, but the colors match nicely.

 
Mason will get the pinwheel stocking. I used up the remaining stash fabric from Jonah's stocking in this one. And I had just enough of the red in the stash to do the back and the cuff.

 
Olivia gets the Dresden Plate stocking.  I had a fat quarter of the candy cane fabric in my stash and enough of the dark red for the backing and cuff.  I may add a little touch of lace to the edge of the cuff to make it a bit more girly.  And maybe just a few red beads.

 
And this one is for my son-in-law Darin. These are all bits of a sparkly blue fat quarter pack that I used in a wintery quilt for myself a few years ago. I liked all the different shades of blue and the sparkles make it look like it's frosted over.
 
So I should have plenty of time over the weekend to sew since we are getting a winter storm and expect -25 below zero lows on Saturday night.  Thinking we aren't going anywhere, unless it's to a movie a mile away.  If I get them completely done before Tuesday morning I can drop them off after taking my husband for an injection in his neck. 

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Christmas stockings

This is the first of 4 new Christmas stockings I'm working on for one of my daughters.
 
 
She has a quilted Christmas stocking I made for her as a baby with her name cross-stitched on the cuff.  And she decided last week that she would really like for me to make her husband and 3 kiddos stockings too.  And to make sure I put a label on them to say "Made by Grandma Fridley".
 
She didn't really indicate a desire to have them for THIS year, but I'm trying to do that since I have lots of Christmas fabrics in the stash.  I did stop at my LQS this morning for some muslin to use as lining for them. 
 
I think this one will be for my son-in-law. It's all made from leftovers from a frosty winter quilt I made several years ago. I don't have his name on the cuff yet or the lining made so the cuff is just laying on top. But I think it will work.  I've pieced 2 others from other fabrics and quilted 1 of them. So I still have 1 more to start.  The kid ones will all be different patterns. One has pinwheels and the other has chevrons. I'm thinking the last one may be star blocks or maybe a Dresden plate block.
 
And I already know that embroidering their names on the cuffs will be the most time consuming thing because I'm still afraid of my embroidery machine.  Maybe I'll just applique an initial on them. 

Monday, December 12, 2016

More than just a mug rug

 
When a person signs up for an online swap you just never know what you'll end up getting from a partner you've never met. Well, I think I did really well on this swap.
 
This was a mug rug swap with a Facebook group that I joined, and I just received a box from Michigan with not just 1, but 2 matching mug rugs, a fun snowman mug, candy, and some yummy smelling soap.  It's so much fun to open up because the contents are a surprise.
 
Thank you so much Patti. I will enjoy it all.

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Sewing Christmas gifts

 
Yesterday was a fun sewing day with an emphasis on making a couple of small Christmas gifts for granddaughter Olivia.  She is a twin and has twin baby dolls that she loves to play "mom and dad" with. So I made her 2 sleeping bags for those dolls. I'm wishing I had added 1 more set of ribbon ties to these but didn't want to take anything apart to add more. Plus I had used up all of that ribbon.

 
Then I made her a purple pillowcase.  Each of the 5 grandkids is getting a new pillowcase and she requested purple. I think she's like the Kaffe print with the dots.  I already had the other 4 pillowcases done.  The boys are all getting the alligator ones I made a couple of weeks ago, and Sophia's is pink with pastel deer silhouettes.  She loves animals so I think that will be a winner.

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Mystery quilt progress

 
I was only going to make a half sized mystery quilt, but since I have plenty of fabric I decided to go ahead and do it full sized.  No one is surprised, right?  I am loving the colors that Bonnie Hunter chose for En Provence. And so far the units have been very simple ones. I just need to catch up a bit on the sewing part. The pieces are all cut and ready to go.

 
If you haven't checked out her latest mystery quilt, here is the link. One clue is released each week on Friday and so far we've seen two of them.  Clue 1 is the 4-patch unit done with neutrals. Clue 2 is the magenta and neutral unit using the tri-recs ruler. Wonder what color or colors she will have us play with next? Purple, yellow, green, or lavender?
 

Monday, December 5, 2016

It's December already?

 
As always, December has come way before I was ready for it. On Saturday our guild had our Christmas party and the committee did a wonderful job putting together a fun afternoon. They made these darling little gift baskets for everyone. They contained a Corn Palace popcorn ball and a Christmas cookie. Those Corn Palace popcorn balls are a gooey and yummy local treat. I had eaten my cookie already when I took this photo.
 
I didn't remember to do a stash report yesterday so figured I would add my November report here. I added a LOT of fabric to my stash this month, partly due to a little road trip shopping. But I bought plenty locally too. Luckily most of it had a purpose.
 
In this month:  31 yds
In this year:  164.75 yds
Out this month: 15.5 yds
Out this year: 151 yds
 
The stash has taken over once again, but now that I'm not working as much I'm optimistic that I can make some dents in the volume.