Monday, August 14, 2023

Quilting and Handwork Projects

It continues to be a cool and rainy summer…that is typical weather for August. On one of the few sunny days, I washed the quilt from my bed and finished drying it outside.

I have done a tiny bit of quilting on my Nolting mid-arm…I’m still having a little trouble with my quilting mojo.

In mid July, I did a three-day retreat with a group I call the, “Sisters.” Three sisters set up 3-day retreats at our local quilt shop several times throughout the year and I am lucky enough to get invited to be a part of their family. Initially I said no way to their July retreat…no summer retreats of me. But our wet and dreary summer weather meant I was available.

Instead of starting yet a new quilt I pulled out a UFO.

I had fused all the pieces in place for this Nancy Halvorsen design in April of 2013, while we were living in Paris. 

I needed to do the blanket stitching around all the appliques.  I did it all on my Bernina 440 with foot  number 23 foot, which is a clear acrylic foot. 

I was able to finish five blocks in three days and finished the rest at home.  I need to add some simple embroidery to the blocks and then I can finish constructing the top. That will probably happen at my next Sisters Retreat in early October.

My next summer project, Chicken Salad, designed by Lori Holt. I've made all the appliques, now they need to be glued into place and topstitched. One block ready for topstitching.

Getting those feet in the right place was so tedious. 

My plan is to complete one block and if it all works out great I will get all the other blocks glued together and then topstitch all so I can minimize changing thread color a million times.

I completed the last two Mill Hill Christmas ornaments from 2022. Jim Shore's Gnome with Ornaments and Gnome Holding Holly. I made a major change to all the Gnome ornaments, the backstitching was supposed to have two strands of floss in most of the situations. I did the first ornament like that and hated it so ripped that out and did all the backstitching in one strand of floss. I never make changes to Mill Hill kits but that changed this year.

I just received the new Santa ornaments from Mill Hill...adorable Australia theme. Mill Hill just released the new Jim Shore series and it is again...gnomes...but in creamy neutral colors. No immediate plans to start the new ornament series. I like to work on those kits while traveling. 

I finished one more mantel series from Merry Stockings, their 2023 release.

Fire Station

Post Office

A big fancy house.

A cute red pickup.

And a Christmas Tree lot.

Adorable set. 

Now I am working on Halloween projects. I'm pretty excited about Merry Stockings July release, Halloween Village. I've started work on it but just a little embroidery on one piece.

And I also started work on a series of witches designed by Brooke's Books for perforated paper. I've had these patterns for several years and have slowly been collecting all the specialty threads.

This is Batty Belinda Witch. 

I am obviously an experienced cross stitcher on perforated paper but some of these specialty threads, like Kreinik #8 Fine Braid, were impossible to use with the paper. I couldn't even get the Kreinik thread through the eye of my needle. I bumped up to a larger needle and of course...that was too big for the paper holes. I had some Kreinik in the #4 fine braid that is a smaller size that I substituted. 

Some of the called for items were DMC Memory Threads which aren't available anymore. They are thread wrapped wire. The wires were used to make embellishments and part of the witch's broom. So...I'll have to figure out something else. I have some ideas for the broom...chenille stick in black as the broom handle...maybe some cute buttons from Just Another Button Company for embellishments. 

There are 14 more witches from Brooke's Books. I'm going to have to look at converting all the #8 braids to #4. Such a bummer. I didn't see any more Memory Thread used in the rest of the patterns.

I received so many nice comments about my landscaping.

 Thank You!

I did have a question about working with the metal tubs...yes...I do drill four holes in the bottoms of the tubs. I bought a half-inch drill bit for the job. Easily penetrates the metal. 

Sometimes I get a moose that strolls through my metal tubs when they are covered with snow. So far just a little bent edge that I was able to hammer into a decent edge which the plantings cover. 

I had a recent bone density test...all the weight bearing exercise I get with my "Rock Gym," has really paid off...I have nice strong and dense bones.

Sunday, August 6, 2023

Summer Finally Arrived

 It looked doubtful during the month of June but we finally started to have summer weather in July. August is typically cooler and rainy but the first week was great. 

Unfortunately the forecast for the rest of the month is typical August weather.  

I’ve made great progress on my rockwork around the hill constructed as our septic drain field. 

Here is where I am as of this morning.

For me, this blog is a way to journal about my projects so I'm going to get pretty detailed about my rockwork. Below is Day 2 of my rockwork for 2023. I started at the tree at the bottom left and met up with the tree in the center…where I ended my rockwork in 2022.

Day 5 of the rockwork got me past two venting pipes for the septic system.

Day 6. My process is to scrape off the layer of grass and then lay down cardboard to block out the weeds. I have a great pile of gravel that I use as the underlayment for the big rocks. I had a blog reader several years ago suggest using the gravel as the base for my rockwork. She changed my world! So thankful for that huge tip. 

My personal goal is to move at least 10 substantial rocks per work day. The hardest part is getting started so I almost always start by just's only 10 rocks. Of course...most of the time I move more than 10.

Day 7 and 8 involved a lot of pondering about how to add in a planting bed.

Just as I finished the rockwork for the planting bed my local garden nursery cut prices on perennials and annuals by 50-percent. 

This is a mostly shaded area and I wanted perennials here. I did a mass planting of coral bells. I had great success with this perennial at my last house...we'll see how it does here. 

The view from the bottom of the hill.

And another view from the bottom of the hill. This was all started just last summer. 

I set three tubs. I have a thing for using these metal tubs I get at Home Depot. These gorgeous hot pink impatiens are so fun and part of the big sale at my local nursery.

I don't have much rock left to work with this summer so my goal is to get what rock I have into place above the impatiens. 

And I just wanted to highlight a photo below from June 18th of one of my perennial beds.

This is the same area this morning, August 6th.

Maybe just one more plant photo. This is one of my planters on my deck. All of my deck planters are at their peak right now. Pretty spectacular. Our summers are so short but we get a lot of action during it.

Oh yes...I know you are wondering if we had any bear visits. But of course! I even managed a photo and a video.  I was sitting on my computer when I spotted this little black bear walking along the dog kennel that is outside my sewing room door.

My dogs were napping and had no idea we had a visitor. It’s so nice when critters cooperate for videos. 

I will do a post in a day or two that covers my progress on quilting and hand stitching.