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

Open-Window Season

Last time I wrote, Donald and I had colds.  Unfortunately, we did have to miss seeing anyone else for Easter, but at least now the colds are completely gone, and we’re enjoying beautiful open-window weather.  I love being able to hear birds calling, airplanes passing overhead, windchimes, and leaves rustling in the breeze as I go about my day indoors! 

There’s something about having the windows open that takes me back to my younger years.  I don’t know why, but it definitely does, just like the smell of Scotch tape can carry me back to my 1st grade classroom—incidentally, also with open windows and the sound of an airplane in the distance. I think we were making some sort of arts and crafts project for Easter.  

mountain laurel in bloom

I’m trying to soak up all the beautiful open-window weather while it lasts!  This is why autumn and spring are the best times of the year.  It’s so much easier to be happy when the weather isn’t too hot or too cold.

Selvage Quilt Project Slow-Poking Along

Last time, I explained that I was planning to bring the selvage HST quilt to an early end because I had run out of that exact shade of white.  All I needed to do was make two last HSTs, but because they needed to be two different colors, I couldn’t use the same construction method I’d used for the bulk of the blocks.  

That kind of put me off working on it for a while.  Plus, with the cold and not sleeping well, I worried I’d be more likely to make a mistake, so that was another excuse to let it wait.  

But finally it was time to get back into motion, because I’ve missed sewing!  

I cut my last remaining “old white” square in half, then built up half a block of the selvages in blue, and another in green.  Here’s the blue one before topstitching, just glued together with washable glue:

And here it is sewn into a finished HST block and trimmed down to size:

I did that again with the green selvages, and then it was time to put them on the design wall in their final layout:

As usual, there wasn’t enough room on the wall, so I put the remaining rows on the table, instead:

Now I just need to sit down and sew the blocks together, then I’ll be free to work on something else!  

I made scarcely a dent in the selvages, so I could try another selvage quilt in a different pattern.  If not now, then soon.

Watercolor Doodles

I guess I wasn’t feeling up to much for a while, thanks to the cold, but I did make some more simple, retro-style watercolor doodles, following on from the birds in the last post.  Still using the cheapo paper and cheaper watercolors for especially low-stakes doodling.  I skimmed through Terry Runyan’s watercolor books and took my cue from them.  

One of the exercises in her books is painting a woman with a LOT of hair, then adding a cat’s ears/head/face poking out from the hair.  Yeah, it sounds crazy, and if you don’t know where this comes from, it probably looks weird, too.  

My attempts are a little odd, but it was something to do while I listened to a podcast and sniffled through the last day or two of the cold.  

(This paper is really not very good at all.  But I guess I’m still having fun playing with it.)

Then I saw a cute painting of apples in one of her books, so I thought I’d try that… Drawing and painting food is always fun!  I especially enjoyed painting the green apples with little touches of yellow. 

And after that I saw some birds, so I made birds, too.  I think I’m happiest with the birds, out of this group of doodles.  

One more: 
I felt inspired to try negative painting, where you paint around the subject, leaving it white (unpainted) while you tint the background.  Then you go back in to add details to both background and subject.  

I made two—one with a blue background that I haven’t finished yet, and one with a green background.

My inspiration for the green one was one of Terry Runyan’s cat wearing a “spring sweater” (decorated in flowers and leaves).  I almost feel like mine’s wearing a “mewmew” (muumuu), rather than a sweater. 

I’m still fighting the feeling that I’m an elementary school kid and instead trying to just go with it.  “Elementary” is actually kind of the intended style, and anyway, there’s nothing wrong with just having fun!  (Why do I always feel I need to defend myself against imaginary or inner critics?! Still haven’t mastered that “don’t care” attitude.)

Moveable Palette Swatches

I’ve been slowly building a new watercolor palette of nicer paints, adding a color or two at a time.  (Buying some with Microsoft Rewards points, for instance.)  I didn’t know exactly which colors I’d end up selecting and just swatched as I went along and added new colors, resulting in a swatch card and pan arrangement that didn’t follow any logical order.  That might not be a problem for some people, but if you want your swatch card to serve as a key to the paint in a palette, the swatches and paints need to be in the right spots to match up.  And I really prefer colors be arranged in a certain way.  

There were two choices: Make a new swatch card or cut up my old one and rearrange them.  I could have just glued the paint chips to a new piece of paper, but there are still empty pans in my tin, so I’m not 100% sure how I’ll want things arranged when it’s full.  

This particular palette is just a tin with no real mixing area.  The pans have magnets stuck to their bottoms, so they can be rearranged, yet stay in place.  The lid is the same material, so I decided to make a moveable, rearrangable swatch set.  


I got my thin sheets of magnet off the front of old phonebooks, but I’m sure you can find it other places or at the store. The stuff I used is very thin and easy to cut.  You can even break it by folding it.

My watercolor swatches are mostly filled in, but a few are blank for future use.  Just cut a piece of paper to the right size to fit in your tin’s lid.  

Label Your Pans of Paint

Before moving things around, I recommend labeling your pans of paint if you haven’t already done so.  If the pans ever come loose or if your swatch key gets mixed up, you’ll be able to easily rearrange things without having to re-swatch.  You can also remove just a few colors at a time from your tin and slot them back into place without effort or confusion. 

Apply Double-Sided Tape

There are a variety of ways to do this, but I started by putting a strip of double-sided tape on one edge of the magnet sheet.  

Attach Swatches

Next, place your swatches down on the tape and gently press down to adhere.  

(Note: You could trim down your paper before sticking it down.  I didn’t, then needed to trim some of them afterwards.  No biggie, but a bit messier than if I’d done it beforehand.)

Cut 'Em Loose!

Cut off that strip of the magnet sheet with the swatches attached, then cut each swatch off the strip.  Trim up as needed.  

Stick 'Em Down.

At this point, the swatches are ready to position in the lid of your tin.  If you’re worried about keeping them clean, you could cover each with a piece of plain, clear tape.  

Rearrange as Desired

The benefit of making this type of swatch key is that you can easily rearrange them as many times as you like.  Change your mind; change it back again!  It’s easy to stick a new color in between the old ones and shift your key to correspond.  

Recent Reading and Listening...

I haven’t really been reading any books on my own, lately.  I think it’s because I tried re-reading something (the first Lucia book by E.F. Benson), and while I enjoyed it whenever I made myself pick it up, I just never felt compelled to start reading.  So I stopped starting, but never moved on to something else.  Maybe I’m not in a re-reading phase. It’s a shame, because there are some books that are well worth re-reading, but at the moment I want to not know what’s coming next.  

Donald and I have been reading things together as part of the 372 Pages We’ll Never Get Back podcast/book club we listen to, as well as fill-in books between episodes (Wodehouse, lately), and I spend way too much time reading things online, so plenty of reading is happening—just not books read solo. 

For listening, there have been no audiobooks recently, just some nondescript podcast episodes and a little music.  Here’s one that’s from the soundtrack of a horror movie, though I don’t think the song itself screams (ha ha) “horror”.  It’s more melancholy than frightening.

“Suspirium” by Thom Yorke:


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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