SEW I SEE!

quilts, treadle sewing machines, crochet, watercolor, dogs, & other fun stuff

Always Playing Catch-Up!

Gosh, I knew it had been a while since my last blog post, but I didn’t realize it had been that long!  

For more than a year, now, Donald’s been sole owner of his web-design business, and I’ve been pitching in where I could, originally with small, sporadic jobs.  I’ve been depositing checks, mailing invoices (before everyone switched over to email), copywriting, emailing reports to clients, occasionally doing some of the simplest parts of building websites and filling in the content– that kind of thing.  As time has progressed, the work has become more consistent.  I still handle the monthly checks and assist with the occasional data entry, etc. for new sites, but my primary focus is on copywriting– specifically, writing for SEO (search engine optimization).  I usually enjoy it when I have an idea.  When I don’t have any ideas (or the idea involves researching and writing about health problems and medical procedures 😱), it’s somewhat less enjoyable!  Still, there’s satisfaction in doing the best I can on each assignment and scratching it off my list.  Every task I do saves us money we’d otherwise spend to hire someone else to do it, or takes some of the burden off Donald so he can focus on other parts of the job.

Even at the present level, I’m not working that many hours a week, really, but it does add up over the course of a month, and it’s no longer just sporadic writing tasks, but a monthly list of recurring jobs that have to be fitted in around everything else.  Even very part-time work still takes time (not to mention mental bandwidth) that previously would have been free.  I’m happy to contribute toward the business where I can, but I suspect I’ve become less productive in some other areas of life as a result.  

Work is just one factor out of several, though.  If I want to accomplish more, I need to re-evaluate where my time is going and possibly make some changes.  I have jury duty coming up toward the end of January (~SIGH~ not looking forward to it, this time…), but once that’s past, I think I should implement some changes in how I allocate my time, energy, and mental resources.  I am very much a creature of habit, so the key to success will be getting into better habits and routines.  I’m ready to get back to doing more of the things I love (and wasting less time on things I don’t)!

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I’ve finished another diamond painting.  There was a two-pack of them.  One was a spring/summer scene with birch trees, shared on an earlier blog post.  The other picture is a fall scene with trees in autumn colors.  I took a break from this one for a while, but it’s finished, now.  

It’s a pretty picture, but there’s not much to say about it.  (Is there ever much to say about diamond paintings?  As long as you don’t run into problems, probably not.)  I was glad to finish it.  The leftover drills are stored away, and I’ve started on the next one, which is a gift from my youngest sister, Kimberly.  It’s a fox and a dandelion.  I’m enjoying it and just taking my time and working on it when the mood strikes.  

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I crocheted some snowflakes for Christmas, to put in with a few gifts.  I made a few for Mom, and a few each for Carrie and Kimberly.  There was one left over to keep, and I plan to make a few more for myself, over the next year, to have ready for next Christmas.  

I’ve made crochet snowflakes before.  Looking at my notes, it was 2018, apparently, though I’m not sure if that’s when I crocheted them or when I finally got around to blocking them!  This time, I used a few patterns from designer Julia Hart, who designed the doily “Oculus of Stars” that is my current doily WIP.  I really love her designs, and her patterns are written very clearly, with step-by-step photos and diagrams to make everything as clear as possible. That said, I did find one of the patterns a bit more challenging than the others!  I think it was “Wintertale Snowflake”.  I only made one of those, though I plan to go back and make more, now that there’s no time crunch.

The patterns I used are “Wintertale Snowflake”, “Inscribed Snowflake”, “Frostvale Snowflake”, and “Frostarra Snowflake”, all designed by Julia Hart.  She has other snowflake patterns, as well.  Eventually, I may try some of the others, but those are enough to keep me busy for a while!  Some of her snowflake patterns are free on her website (such as the ones linked above); others are paid patterns (available on Etsy and elsewhere), but they’re very affordable.  ($2 per pattern, as of this writing.)  You definitely get your money’s worth in her patterns, in my opinion– especially if you make several snowflakes!)

I couldn’t remember how I blocked the snowflakes, last time.  Some people use watered-down glue for snowflakes, but I think I used the same starch I typically use for doilies, just not nearly as diluted.  That’s what I did this time, anyway.  I only barely added water.  Hopefully they’ll hold their shape.  If not, they can always be blocked again.  (With glue, if desired.)  

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In November (I think…), Mom shared a link to a pattern for crochet-covered Christmas ornaments.  I went as far as dyeing some wool, but I didn’t get around to crocheting the ornaments.  Maybe I’ll work on that sometime during the year and have some ready for next Christmas. 
The wool is some I had on hand, from Donald’s mother the last time I visited Sweden.  It’s a bit of a rustic type of wool, too scratchy for wearing next to your skin, so I thought this would be a good use for some of it.  The yarn colors came out more pastel and Easter-ish than originally planned, but I guess that could still be okay for Christmas.  They’re pretty colors, anyway, and if I don’t use it for ornaments, I could always make some felted pot holders.  We’ll see!
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While blocking the snowflakes, it seemed like a good time to block a doily that has been sitting and waiting for its turn for months.  Once I was finished with the snowflakes, I further diluted the starch and turned my attention to the doily.  It’s “Monaco”, by Kolesnikova Tatyana (translated by Svetlana Vyugova).  I’m satisfied with how it turned out.  I used up some remnants of thread from previous projects– something I need to do more often, really.  It’s so often that you have a decent amount of thread left over after finishing a project.  You can always make tiny doilies with small amounts of thread, but many patterns for full-size doilies lend themselves well to a multi-color approach. 

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A handful of photos from the last few months:

I got the urge to make a cowl with some chunky yarn I had in my stash.  It ended up being yet another “Wham Bam” neckwarmer, which I put in with Kimberly’s gift for Christmas. 

I wrapped it in this silly DIY “fake product box” (because I have a juvenile sense of humor 😉 and am easily amused):

A gift for Dad went into this box (which I’ll admit was based on an actual “fake product box” I saw available for sale online):  

I didn’t take photos of the sides of that box, but I do still have the original images saved, so I’ll share those:

We had a campfire and roasted hotdogs, one night this autumn.  There’s something magical about a little fire in the darkness of night… The shifting glow of the embers is so mesmerizing!  

In the lead-up to Christmas, Donald made the traditional, saffron-flavored Swedish “Lussekatter” (“Lucia cats”).  He also made soft caramels, and we had homemade sugar cookies and other goodies.  The food for Thanksgiving and Christmas was also great, as always. (We celebrated with the maternal side of my family at Grandpa L’s house.  Granny W. was able to come and eat/visit both days with us, too, and it was good to see her.  We also had a smaller gathering before Christmas at my parents’ home, so we could celebrate with K.  Her work schedule as a weekend-shift nurse made it impossible for her to come to the larger Christmas gathering.)

We’ve had a very mild winter, this year, and it was particularly warm up to and including Christmas.  I don’t really like it when Christmas is balmy, but at least it didn’t rain or storm!  I took this photo of a gloriosa lily at Grandpa L.’s house on Christmas Day.  It looks more appropriate for a tropical summer than for Christmas!

Donald and I took a walk after lunch on Thanksgiving and saw an owl perched on the stump of a satsuma tree behind Grandpa’s garage– just after hearing stories about multiple recent owl-sightings elsewhere in the vicinity.  Funny coincidence!  No photos, unfortunately…  Here’s one of some pretty ghost plant succulents, instead:

A couple photos of the dogs, next.  Here’s Luna, looking a little crazy in her excitement over the newest fetching balls.  She’s started to lose her sight, but she holds her own, sees well enough in bright light, and still loves fetching and sprinting at insane speeds.  

And here’s goofy Mister Frodo, who is less intense in his fetching.  He prefers to spend most of his play-time walking around holding a toy in his mouth and playing keep-away, though he can be an expert frisbee-catcher when he so chooses.  Trixie (not pictured this time) says she’s pretty much retired from the fetching game.  Very rarely she’ll fetch a ball, but for the most part, she leaves that to the younger dogs and spends her outside time digging holes, instead, or basking in a comfortable spot.  

I have a couple of progress photos of the latest quilty WIP, but I think I’ll save those for another post, another time.  Here’s hoping that 2022 treats us all well!  

Welcome!

I’m Michael (a female Michael, to remove any doubt).  I live on the Alabama Gulf Coast with my husband, Donald, and our crazy American Eskimo Dogs. 

I love to fill my spare time with various crafts and other hobbies, and this blog is where I share photos, record my progress, and ramble endlessly.

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