Wednesday, December 11, 2013
Notice the ice all over this snow person. And the little bits of white around him - those are flecks of paint that have come off with the freezing/thawing.
I moved the figure out so it wouldn't be under the gutters that desperately need to be cleaned. Do I have a big tree that dumps tons of oak leaves in those gutters? Nope.
Then I turned around to go down the steps and promptly slipped and fell, despite the Ice Melt I'd been putting down all day. The Universe was good to me, though, I was able to pop back up, shakey but ok. I have a feeling that I turned just enough that my butt hit on the wallet I keep in my back pocket, and of course I also had a coat with a liner. My arm got bruised and swollen, but, not knowing what else to do, I sat down after a bit and started picking stitching out of a mending job and that calmed me down and allowed me to keep ice on the arm while I kept working. And soon, the swelling and bruising started to go down. Today, it's almost gone.
So, it's ibuprofin for my butt, but I can start tapering off. I'm going out now to do some errands, and I'm going to be careful.
Tuesday, December 10, 2013
I think that we already have more snow this year than we had all last year, but maybe it just seems that way.
There are a few snowflakes starting to pile up inside my house, too. Don't you love those antique-y snowflakes that someone actually crocheted with fine thread and then starched? I can't imagine how to actually do that, I have visions, not of sugarplums, but of tangles and frustration.
These machine-embroidered snowflakes, though, are so easy, following just a few little tips. There are lots of designs out there, too.
Your regular rayon embroidery thread won't work well with these because it's just too soft. Cotton works great, but to be economical I usually just use polyester Maxi-Lock serger thread on the big cone, sitting on a thread stand behind my machine. I have no idea how many snowflakes you can get from one cone, but it has to be a lot. I use a regular NEBS prewound bobbin and that works fine even though it's lighter weight than the Maxi-Lock. I usually clean out my machine after every three or four snowflakes becauser the serger thread is less smooth than my regular thread.
You'll need a very sturdy water soluble stabilizer, and Sulky Ultra Solvy is the only one I know in that category. Because there are lots of stitches on a small area, you'll need to hoop it VERY tightly. If you have a single-hole stitch plate, use that to help keep all those tight stitches from going down under the stitch plate. (Take my word on that one.)
When your snowflake is finished, trim it to within 1/4" from the design. Hold it under hot tap water until the stabilizer starts to wash away, then move it to a bowl of hot water. One minute in the bowl is about right, you don't want to see any stabilizer but you do want some still in the threads so your snowflake will be stiff once it dries.
Blot the snowflake on a fluffy towel, then lay it flat on a towel to dry. Once it's dry, you can press it if it isn't completely flat. I just love these things, they can easily go in a Christmas card for just a teeny extra touch.
Sunday, December 8, 2013
Saturday, December 7, 2013
This is a different kind of Saturday morning than I'd planned. I thought there would be a grandboy waking up and wanting to play Chopped and watch videos and ask a million questions about Minecraft, none of which I could answer. With the snow yesterday, he didn't come and instead partied it up at Nora's birthday party. From the report I got, he had a very good time and didn't torment the girls. And five little girls braved the weather and showed up.
So, this morning I could do what my heart has been longing for: some little mindless holiday projects. I've been doing some labor-intensive sewing projects in the past few weeks, including making a dress just like one someone already had and altering a Mother of the Groom dress. So this morning it was nice to just press a few flour sack towels (where did I get these? They are really nice, wish I had more like it) and press the Start button on my machine.
Lesson for the day: I almost never hoop anything any more, just hoop the stabilizer, using a temporary basting spray, and place the item to be embroidered on top. The lines around the design in the picture are basting lines that will be cut out. If you have this feature on your machine, pull your bobbin thread out to make a 6" tail, and don't skip the basting step. And if you don't have a basting feature, consider carefully placing a few pins OUT of the embroidery area. Placement is so much easier using this method.
I was admiring a new machine the other day and was especially envious of the undo button in the embroidery edit screen. How nice would that be? And last night, when I glanced down at my machine, there it was, right above the hoop size.
I looked at the manual and it wasn't there when the machine was new, so it must have been an upgrade. I was so happy that the upgrade featured an easy way to set up for free motion quilting that I didn't look much beyond that, other than to admire the new stitches. SO, lesson number two: do your machine upgrades, if they're available, and pay attention to the goodies you're actually upgrading. I'm always surprised at the people in classes who haven't upgraded, which is often just about everyone. It isn't hard and you get some cool new stuff.
Friday, December 6, 2013
Tonight is Nora's birthday beach party sleepover, and her mom made these adorable beach-y cupcakes for the big event. There are a few other equally beach-y games and treats as well.
Only thing is . . . it's snowing, really snowing, and Nora and her mom are wondering how many girls will be able to come.
I remember sitting in Christ Hospital on the day Nora was born, rocking her and looking out the window at the snow flurries. I guess snow can easily accompany a December birthday.
Aaron and I had plans for a sleepover here. There is ham in the refrigerator for that little meat-eater and a big new package of clay and some appropriate tools on the table. Plans for having the tree decorated when he comes.
We'll see how this day turns out. I just got an email from Duke Energy outlining how to be prepared for the storm.
Thursday, December 5, 2013
Last Saturday at the Grove Park Inn, the view from the window showed these bare trees with the sun coming from behind just right to make tree shadows on the ground. Still a lot of green from summer and fall. With a little snow remaining from earlier in the week.
It would make a lovely art quilt, but this isn't my personal season for doing that. So, maybe, you can.
Wednesday, December 4, 2013
I just finished making this Christmas pillow, designed by Viking's Marie Duncan. Her projects are ALWAYS nice.
The pillow has lots of piping, which gave me a chance to get out my piping foot and review how to use it. And a triangle "ruler" came off my wall. Have I ever used it before? Ummm, probably not. And, there was the matter of embroidering using programmed sewing stitches, for the sashings. I'd never done that, and it's wonderful for those wide stitches, they stay so nice and straight. Marie has great instructions for all of it.
I asked my coworker which colors were big for Christmas this year - she always knows these things. She said turquoise and fushia, so the pillow has a fushia backing. And, the piping has a red/fushia stripe.
The white areas have a white tone on tone pattern and mine ended up with the pattern a little crooked, plus they weren't flat after the tree triangles were quilted down. Some free motion fixed both those little problems.
This isn't a quick project, but it's pretty darn awesome. And Marie has a great tip for making a smooth, flat pillow form.
You can get the instructions for the pillow here: http://new.husqvarnaviking.com/en-US/Be-Inspired/Blog/December-2013/FREE-Monthly-Project-Christmas-Tree-Pillow