SEW I SEE!

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

October Catch-Up

This blog has been quiet for the past month-and-a-half.  What with one thing and another, it hasn’t felt like the time to write.  Donald was away for a while to attend his father’s funeral and spend some time with the rest of his family in Sweden.  Now that he’s back home again and we’re returning to our routines, I think I’m ready to also return to blogging.  

I suppose there’s no better way to get back to blogging than to just write a blog post!  (Buckle in for a long one, this time…)

I had thought that while Donald was away I’d get all sorts of crafty things done.  Well, I thought it was possible.  I wasn’t really expecting an amazing spurt of activity, wise from previous occasions when I found myself ostensibly with all the time in the world to –insert crafty pursuit of your choice–, only to discover that I actually get less done, when my routine is thrown off-kilter.  

That’s exactly what happened this time, too.  I did spend a little time crafting, but there were no hours of tireless activity, no explosions of creative energy.  Picking up the slack of doing the things he would normally have done around the house in addition to my usual chores apparently wore me out.  That, and the extra stress of knowing that it was all on me, and if something went wrong, there was no-one else in the house to share the burden of decision-making and action.  (How do people who live alone all the time manage?!  I guess– hope– you get a bit more used to it, with time.)  And I wasn’t even that isolated.  I still have family living nearby who would help in a true emergency.  It’s just the little everyday wrenches in the works that I’d feel I should be able to sort myself, as a 40-something supposed adult.  (Good grief!  I’ll never truly feel grown-up, will I?  This is life.  It’s the same old sensation I felt at my high school graduation ceremony.  The feeling you get when you realize that you’ll always be the same person and you feel more or less the same at 40 as you did at 14– and you’ll probably feel the same for as long as you live, even if you reach your hundredth year!)  

Ah well, that’s life.  I just didn’t get that much done.  At least nothing too terrible happened while I was manning the helm on my own.  The water heater had the good grace to stop working before Donald’s trip, so we were able to replace that together.  The only thing that broke down or gave out during his absence was the living room TV, right after I’d turned it on to watch the college football game.  (Football is not something I usually care much about, but I thought the roar of the crowd and the chatter of the announcers might be cozy and cheerful background noise while I did some diamond painting.)  Anyway, the picture suddenly just went black, never to return.  Slightly annoying, but I’ll take a TV breaking over a pipe leak or malfunctioning A/C, any day!  

There was also the time that I accidentally programmed our newish robot vacuum to turn on at midnight, but really, that was entirely my own fault!  (And fortunately, I hadn’t yet gone to sleep when it came on, so it wasn’t nearly as startling or alarming as it could have been.

Time for a couple of random photos?
Frodo managed to roll in something disgusting while Donald was away…

And when Donald returned, Luna was very, very interested in the inside of one of his suitcases (where his mother’s cat had been lying while he was packing for his return trip).  She hopped right and and gave it a good, long sniff investigation.

…This is getting long, and I haven’t even really gotten started with anything craft-related!  Let’s get to it!

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A while back, I finished the diamond painting of a path through birch trees…  

It’s a bit more pixelated than some, due to the size of the canvas, but I still like it. 

Next up was an autumnal one.  This came as part of a two-pack that I bought mainly because I liked the one it came with.  (That was the I shared photos of in this blog post.)  I thought I might not like this one as much, but I actually enjoyed it very much, too!  The swirling design in the background of the top section came through more clearly than I was expecting.  

After that, I thought I’d start another fall-themed diamond painting.  This one also came as one of a pair– the companion to the birch tree path DP pictured earlier in this blog post.  I guess I needed a break from the diamond-painting at that point, though, because I haven’t made much progress on this one, in the past few weeks.  I’m starting to work on it again, now.  It’s more of a confetti-style diamond painting than the previous one.  I’m enjoying the autumn colors!  

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I’m still working on the same doily, “Oculus of Stars” by Julia Hart.  It is a large doily, but I’m taking it at a very leisurely pace, and I’ve also taken some long breaks in between crocheting on it.  

This photo is from several weeks back, I think.  I’m currently on round 66, out of a total of 79 rounds.  The rounds get bigger as the pattern goes, of course, so I’ll probably still be working on this one for weeks to come, at my current pace.  

I’m really enjoying crocheting this, despite my slow progress.  This designer really impresses me.  Her doily designs are beautiful, and I seem to enjoy making them more than I do some other designers (no names named 😅).  She has some very pretty snowflake patterns, and I was thinking of making some for the Christmas tree, this year, to go with the ones I made a few (3? 4?) years ago.  I’d still like to do that, but I may not get around to it.  I have so many things in the queue, and I tend to forget things like this… Too easily distracted!  I still have a knitted Advent scarf WIP from at least a couple of years ago that I should pick up, one of these days… 

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You may remember that I was sewing a bunch of pink string blocks, last time I wrote.  I’ve continued those and also made a bunch of aqua/teal/blue ones in the same size.  

I’ve spent some time thinking about what I would do with these string blocks, and I have a plan.  It’s not what I originally intended, but that was going to be busier than I’d like (and take more strings than expected).  I think the new plan will work out, but it’s going to take some time.  (Especially at the rate I’ve been going, lately!)  I’m keeping it a secret for now.  😉 Progress photos will be coming, eventually!

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I believe I mentioned that the Minnesota takes special needles?  They’re not easy/cheap to source, these days, but I’d found people discussing this issue on a forum or two, and someone had discovered that there are needles being made today that will work, though they’re not exactly the same as the original needles.  The main difference is that these new needles are round, whereas the old ones have a flat side, which helps you position the needle more easily.  

The needles, in case anyone needs the information, are industrial needles– MTX190.  The person who wrote about them had tried a variety of sizes.  I think they started at size 12 and went up to 16, possibly 18.  They all worked for them, but I’m not sure I’d go bigger than 90/14, myself, because– Well, the problem with a round-shank needle is that it sits differently than one with a flat side.  The point of the needle is positioned further to the side than it would be with a flat-shanked needle.  Whether or not this is a problem depends on the size of the hole in the needle plate and the presser foot (and probably other things, too, but those are enough to worry about for me!).  These size 14 needles work, but they’re close enough to rubbing against the foot and needle plate that I don’t really want to go to a larger size.  If anything, I’m tempted to go down a size.  

I found another person in a forum who uses a Dremel tool to grind down a flat side on each needle.  They say it doesn’t take long, and they go ahead and fix several needles while they’re at it, so they don’t have to do it very often.  Donald has offered to try that on my behalf, so we may do that sometime.  For now, it’s not the highest priority.  If you do try to grind down one side of the needle’s shank, you must be certain you do it to the correct side and that the ground-down side is very flat and even (or else the needle will tilt and not stand plumb). 

And if you use the round needles as they are, be very careful to position it just so, because there’s no flat side to make it easy.  After first putting in this new, round needle, I noticed the Minnesota developed a very slight problem with its stitching.  It was extremely infrequent, but every so often, it would miss a stitch or not form the stitch perfectly. (Can’t actually remember the details, at this point.  It just didn’t look right– just for one stitch out of very many perfect ones.)  I adjusted the needle, and the problem disappeared!

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While Donald was away, I spent some time tidying up the pile of stuff that had accumulated on a chair in my craft room.  This involved preparing a few old fitted sheets for future use in quilt-making and cutting down some flannel and batting scrap strips into small pieces for dusting/oiling.  Also in the pile was the “Tall Tales” quilt I made for myself.  

Remember that one?  It was a paper-foundation-piecing pattern, and I made one for my niece and a very similar one for myself?  My niece’s finished quilt went to her at Christmas, and I had quilted mine, but never got any further.  So I trimmed off the excess backing and batting (more scraps!) and applied the binding.  I had this binding already ready and waiting, the positive result of accidentally making double the amount of binding I needed, sometime in the misty past.  I still need to stitch down the edge of the quilt label before I can give the quilt its first wash, but it’s a step closer!

I had recently read a tip for applying binding, so decided to give it a try this time, and it was a huge success!  In the past, I’ve just wound the binding into a tidy, flat oval, and without fail, the “feed” from this oval gets twisted during the application, the whole thing falls on the floor, and it isn’t at all easy to work with.  This time, I saved the cardboard tube from a roll of paper towels, pinned one end of the binding to the tube, and wrapped the binding around the tube.  I then put this tube on a sturdy paper towel holder, near the sewing machine, and let it feed from there as I attached the binding to the quilt.  There was no twisting!  No falling to the floor!  It was great!  The only problem was that when I went to pick up the leftover roll of binding, I stabbed myself hard in the thumb with the straight pin I’d used to affix the end of the binding to the cardboard tube.  Ouch!  Maybe next time I’ll use a safety pin, if I remember!

Here’s the tube of binding in action:

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One other sort-of-craft-related thing happened in the past couple of weeks.  I was watching the local news while I brushed my teeth before bed.  I don’t watch the news that often, these days, except to occasionally catch the weather forecast, but for some reason, I switched it on that night.  

There was a story about a local arts and crafts festival happening in a nearby city.  As a woman looked through a rack of tie-dyed t-shirts in the foreground, the corner of a crocheted afghan crept into the corner of the screen.  My eye gravitated to the crochet.  (Duh! Of course!)  Then they cut to an interview with the woman.  From this different angle, you could clearly see the whole afghan flapping in the breeze on a line behind her, well off the ground– possibly hung there as a decoration for the booth.  

Are you saying, “So what?!” right about now?  Well.  I recognized that afghan, because it was one I crocheted myself.  Not just an afghan in the same pattern as one I’d made.  No, this was THE afghan I personally had crocheted!  Unmistakably mine, made in a mystery crochet-along using very distinctive colors that I chose primarily because I wanted to use up some vintage yarn I’d been given (and didn’t want to risk too much yarn I might really miss on a mystery pattern I wasn’t sure I’d like).  

Trust me, there is absolutely no way someone else made another afghan exactly like mine.  The only realistic possibility is that that was “my” afghan, unless this whole thing we call life truly is a simulation and someone’s messing with me.  (And I don’t believe in that simulation garbage!)  

Here are a couple of photos of my afghan– some I posted on my (redacted / They-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named) project page, back when it was newly completed:

It’s really not a mystery how this happened, because I donated this afghan to a thrift store a year or so ago.  I’d decided it wasn’t something I would ever use, and I didn’t think anyone I knew would care for it, either, so I just donated it to clear up some storage space.  I guess someone found it, maybe thought it was genuine vintage and not faux vintage, and bought it either for decoration or to resell.  (I’m choosing to take it as a compliment. 😁 “Vintage” was my goal!)

In any case, it was a hugely surreal moment to see my own rather fugly afghan on TV, with absolutely no warning.  It was such a fluke that I even happened to be watching when it was on-screen!  I wanted to get some screen grabs of my afghan’s 4 or 5 seconds of fame, so I tried to find the video online, but they’d used a different video clip for the story on their website, so it wasn’t to be.  Oh well, you’ll just have to trust me that this actually happened.  😄 

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That’s about it for this time.  Just a couple of garden photos to wrap things up.  

First, I noticed this weird-looking caterpillar on our back porch one day.  I looked it up, and it’s a saddleback caterpillar.  Apparently those hairs can cause stinging pain, if you touch them, and some people even have stronger allergic reactions to them! 

Most of this October was very mild and dry, and the late-season flowers just bloomed and bloomed.  So many butterflies– mostly Gulf Fritillaries and Cloudless Sulphurs.  Week after week of blue mistflower (wild ageratum), swamp daisies, cardinal climber, red passionflower, white butterfly ginger, and goldenrod.  A color palette of golden yellow, red, white, and bluish-purple.  The scent of the mistflower’s been magical, and every so often, the weather’s been just right to make the tea olive scent carry well, too.  I’m glad it’s finally cooling off, though.  It’s time!

Since I didn’t take photos of any of the above, here’s one of clematis that was also blooming in the past month.  


Until next time!

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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