Sunday, February 28, 2010

More Crochet

I've been doing some more crocheting. The pattern for this dish cloth was on the inside of the wrapper of the yarn. I was casually reading it and realized that it used only the stitches I have learned so far! I was curious to see if I could follow a crochet pattern and I think it turned out fairly well. Talk about a low pressure project. I'm going to use it to clean with so if it didn't turn out well, who cares!

I also crocheted a blanket for Stuart Little, who is now Stuart Weathers. According to Parker, the Little house in New York City blew up and Stuart needed a new home. He has been busy designing and making items for Stuart who has moved onto the shelf above his bed.

Below is Stuart's bed (it's part of a large box of matches and some batting scraps) and some books Parker has created for Stuart to read.

Saturday, February 27, 2010

What's in a Name?

If you are reading this you may notice that I have changed the name of my blog. I never really liked "the Last Homely Quilt." It is an obscure Lord of the Ring and The Hobbit reference. If you haven't read the books several times, you probably won't get it. The name came about because I had been thinking about blogging for some time before I started. One day the quote "it's the job that's never started that takes the longest to finish" popped into my head. The quote is from The Fellowship of the Ring (first book in the Lord of the Ring series) and is made by a character called Samwise Gamgee. This got me to thinking about the books so when I had to name my blog I couldn't think of anything else. Why didn't it occur to me to just name it the same as the blog address? I don't know! This blog may end up being something like Bilbo's Red Book in that respect. He gave his book several names over the course of writing it. In the end Frodo finishes up most of the book and gives it a new title before passing it along to Sam. If you haven't read the books, you should.

Pajama Day

Yesterday was Pajama Day at Parker's school. They never had fun days like this when I was in school!! Parker took his Teddy for show and tell. I had to drive him to school because his morning bus is pretty full and I didn't think there would be room for Teddy on the bus. The afternoon bus is not as full so he rode it home. Notice his friend Jamie right behind carrying Parker's coat. (Jamie comes over every Friday after school.) Parker is only just recently taller than Teddy. I couldn't quickly find the adorable picture of Parker "reading" to Teddy when he was one year old. It will have to be for another post.

Before school Parker asked me when he got Teddy and who gave it to him. An old boyfriend gave Teddy to me and I kept him because I thought that someday my child would enjoy him. I'm so glad I did. I glossed over the boyfriend part for Parker but told him that Teddy was waiting for him when we got home from the hospital. So Parker didn't "get" Teddy, Teddy "got" him. He seemed to like that.

Friday, February 26, 2010

Make Your Own Cross Stitch Patterns

As promised, the program I found for designing my own cross stitch patterns is called Artopik. Click on the name and it will take you to the home page. Towards the top of the page you will see the word "download." Click on this. At the top of this page it says "Artopik 1.50," click this and follow the instructions to download and install it. You can use this for cross stitch or embroidery or anything that can be made up of little squares. You can print your patterns out in color or black and white using various symbols. If you do plan to print out your pattern I suggest you set your printer to give you a preview before actual printing. I found that I needed to adjust the print size and/or change from portrait orientation to landscape orientation in order to get my design all on one page. It would probably be pretty easy to tape your pages together if your design doesn't fit on one page, but why do this if you don't have to.

Parker is just making designs and printing them out in color then cutting them out and using them for various projects. He has become obsessed with Stuart Little. Stuart is now living with us and he has made him a bed, some books and a bookcase, so far. He is using some of the designs he has made with this program to decorate things for Stuart. It is really cute but also exhausting because I have to be the voice of Stuart and Snowbell and Margalo and Darth Vadar and Luke Skywalker (obvious what movies we have seen lately), in addition to myself, all at the same time!!! He and I went to the grocery store recently and I was being the voices for all these characters while shopping. I'm sure people who overheard our conversation must have thought we were crazy, but I couldn't worry about that. It took all my concentration to just do my shopping and keep track of who I was from minute to minute. But I digress ...

Happy Designing!!

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Blog Crafting

You may notice a few changes to the blog. Yesterday I spent some time figuring out how to put the links of some blogs I follow along the sidebar. Maybe some of you will enjoy them too. This is kind of a weird format, blogging I mean. I've only been doing this for a short time and only have one follower who is not even a quilter, just a good friend - Hi Julie! I have no idea who actually reads this besides a couple of friends (Hi Alison!) unless you leave a comment. And yesterday I had such a nice surprise when someone whose work I enjoy and respect left me such a nice comment about my stitched crop circles. It made my day, so thank you Jude, if you are reading. If you are so inclined, check out Jude's blog - Spirit Cloth. The link is on the right hand side of my blog. I've had a similar experience a couple of other times so I assume that people are reading, at least occasionally, and maybe some of them are following anonymously, which is totally fine too.

Because I worked yesterday, I don't have any photos to show you today. I have, however, created a cross stitch pattern. I'm working on stitching it up and I'll post a photo when I'm done. It is a stocking ornament. After making those cute Navajo rug inspired stockings for last Christmas I started thinking, how hard is it to make my own patterns? Turns out, it's not that difficult. I found a freeware program called Artopik that I used and if this first one turns out half as cute as it is in my head, then I'll be doing more pattern making. As I am stitching I have thought of a couple things I would do differently next time, but I am making myself stitch this one exactly like the pattern. Instead of changing the pattern mid-stitch, I'm making notes of my ideas for next time.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Stitched Crop Circles, Part 5

As promised, here is a current photo of the "little" stitched crop circles quilt. The center, the actual stitched crop circles piece, measures about 6 1/2" square. I have added some wooden beads, some glass beads, some buttons, and little french knots on the center part. I really like the french knots! I had planned to add beads where the french knots are but after sewing a couple of beads on I realized that this was not what was needed. I tried a few other things, buttons and different beads, but nothing looked right until I tried a french knot.

I've got to go to work today. I have 5 or 6 assignments to grade for my Extended Studies class. It is Basic Arithmetic Skills (MATH 095), the lowest developmental course offered at Adams State College. I have some administrative work to do for my two on campus classes. Then I will help students with any questions they may have.

Before I began working on campus I tried to grade my MATH 095 assignments within 24 hours of receiving them. Once I started working on campus, this policy was taking up too much of my time. I get paid very little per student considering how much time it takes for me to grade their assignments and exams. I realized that I really couldn't afford to continue grading things within 24 hours of receiving them anymore. How sad is that! I'm glad to have a job (some would say "lucky" considering the current economic situation) and any money in addition to my husband's salary is helpful. I just wish that Adams State valued it's adjunct faculty more than they currently do.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010


At the December guild meeting Parker won some yarn and he wants to learn to knit. I have bad memories of knitting in Home Ec. class in 8th grade so I'm trying to convince him that crochet is better. I think that, for him, learning to use one needle effectively first will make for a more enjoyable learning experience and better success with whatever project we do. But ... before I can teach him, I need to learn myself! I found some great videos on YouTube and learned to do a single crochet stitch. The sample I made turned out pretty large mainly because I was enjoying practicing but also because I didn't know how to stop!* LOL* I'm going to try to learn another stitch tonight.

On the quilting front: I got my baby quilt basted together this morning. I'm not sure how I want to quilt it but I have a tight deadline so it may just have to be an all over large stipple or loops. Nothing very inspired, but done is better than not done. I have also been working on my stitched crop circles. I'll post a photo of it tomorrow.

On the home front: I'm a ski widow again today. My husband filled in for another math faculty member last month so he is cashing in his favor today so he can go skiing. He only teaches one class on Tuesdays and Thursdays and today they had an exam. Proctoring exams can be quite boring but it isn't hard so I think the other person is getting off pretty easy. He had to actually teach their class.

There was also a bit of milestone at our house yesterday. Parker walked home from the bus stop by himself for the first time. Here in Alamosa the bus drivers will not allow kindergarteners or first graders to exit the bus unless there is an adult waiting at the bus stop to claim them. Some drivers are stricter than others but Parker's driver for kindergarten and first grade always followed the rule. For second grade through fifth grade, they encourage parents to be at the bus stop, but it is not required. Until last weekend, Parker wanted me to meet the bus. On Sunday, he said that he wanted to walk home by himself. So I agreed. I did stand on the front porch to watch him cross our street but he did a great job. Actually, it couldn't have worked out better. Yesterday it snowed like crazy and was windy from about 3 pm until 3:30 pm. I have stood on the corner in all kinds of weather and am really not sorry at all that I don't have to do that anymore. He still wants me to walk him to the bus stop in the morning, but I don't expect that will last much longer. My baby is not a baby anymore.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Top Done

I finished the top yesterday. I was a bad parent and let my child watch more TV than I normally do on a Sunday in order to get this finished. My husband has been skiing several weekends in a row. The weekend before last he left Friday afternoon about 2:30 and didn't get home until 11 pm Sunday night, then was no help on Monday (it was a holiday so no school/work for either of my boys). This past weekend he only went on Sunday but he is also planning another trip this weekend. With all this skiing, I feel like a "ski widow!" I don't really have much room to complain. He can only ski a few months of the year and he loves it. I can quilt all year and it doesn't matter what the weather is like. But all this skiing is cutting into my weekend quilting time. Between the two classes I'm teaching on campus (the ALEKS courses), the one I'm doing for Extended Studies, then I'm going to be President of my PEO chapter starting next month for two years, and all the cooking, cleaning, laundry and shopping/errands I have to do ... This skiing is really cutting into my sewing time. If I have to allow my child to watch a bit more TV occasionally so that I can sew and retain my sanity, so be it.

Back to the quilt: I got the backing pieced this morning. It is just a tad too wide to fit on the width of the fabric. The center panel comes as yardage and on the yardage there is a red and black checker board border running down both sides. This is not used in the pattern so I just cut the backing fabric (black, white and red dog print) down the middle and inserted the checker board strip to make it wide enough. I think it's pretty cute and more interesting than just a single piece of fabric back.

On the baby stuff front: I sold the crib today and the toddler safety bed rail. My friend is going to ask her daughter if she wants a few of my other items and get back with me later this week. I hope to find all the baby stuff new homes within a couple of weeks.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Another Baby Quilt

I'm making another baby quilt for yet another cousin who is expecting. This one is pretty simple. Just a center panel with 8 borders. I have fussy cut the dot fabrics which took a bit of time but the rest weren't too bad. I still have three more borders to cut out and sew on, then quilt, bind and mail. The baby is due in March and I've had the pattern and fabrics and batting (purchased by my mom) since Thanksgiving. Honestly, I haven't had much time to sew lately and when I do, I want to work on an art project or my king size mystery quilt (which is almost done, thank goodness!) or one of the other already started projects cluttering my sewing room right now. But I promised my mom I would make this before the baby comes, so I really need to get it done this week. Unfortunately that will mean that I probably won't be painting my laundry room this week and then shopping for flooring. **SIGH**

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Future Quarterback?

I'm having too much fun looking through my "favorite photos" file. This one was taken February 29, 2004 at a playground in Macon, GA (before we moved here). Doesn't he look like a quarterback in training?! I'm not sure where Parker found the football or who it belongs to, but I have several pictures of him taken that day and he's holding this football in many of them.

Thursday, February 18, 2010


The blogs I like to read all post photos so I feel like I need to post one every time too. This one is of Parker and his cousin Isaiah. Aren't they cute! It was taken in late 2002 or early 2003, so they are both about 7 or 8 months old.

I spent 4 hours this morning priming the laundry room walls. It's a pretty small room so I just bought a gallon of primer figuring that I wouldn't even need all of that. Wow! The walls just soaked up the primer. I was afraid that a gallon wouldn't be enough! I didn't have to dip the paint brush in the paint can to scrap paint off the sides to finish cutting in, but a gallon was enough, barely. I was tempted to run to the paint store and buy a gallon of the color I have picked out for the walls, but decided not to kill myself all in one day. My right wrist is sore as is my back, shoulders and neck. Nothing a couple of Advil, a cup of tea, a few pieces of chocolate and a short rest can't cure. So I decided to save the painting for another day. In a little while I will have to put the washer and dryer back in their places and hook everything back up. One of the hardest things about this project is that it is the laundry room - a much used room in our house. I can't be without a washer and dryer for more than a day or two. I don't want to have to lug everything to a laundry mat. I'm sure there is a laundry mat in town, but I don't know where it is! And this is a really small town! I can't do laundry and paint in the same day because I am a wet paint magnet. If I just walk into a room containing wet paint somewhere, I will get some on me. With my luck, I'd get paint on the clean clothes coming out of the dryer. I don't know how I would do that ... but I would.

By the way, the color I have chosen is called Sea Salt. It's a grayish green color. I think it will look nice against my white metal cabinets and the white washer and dryer. It is going to look horrible with the dark green painted floor, but that will be remedied as soon as I get new flooring. I'm going to get something neutral that hopefully will hide dirt. Maybe I should take some dirt from our yard with me to the flooring store!

While painting this morning I listened to several old episodes of a podcast called Within a Quarter Inch. Yes, I've started listening to podcasts. I am enjoying it much more than I thought I would. Pat Sloan got me started. I've been following her blog for a while and she recently started a podcast called Pat Sloan's Creative Talk Radio, so I thought I would give it a try. The good ones are really fun to listen to and there are podcasts in all genres.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Stitched Crop Circles, Part 4

I haven't been doing a weekly art project because I am still working on this little stitched crop circles. The last time I posted about it, I had just put a muslin backing on the little stitched circles using the pillow case method. It sat like that for a few days but I was not happy with it, so I took the backing off. I felt like it needed a border. I enjoyed working on it and wasn't ready for it to be finished. I attached the muslin backing by machine and somehow felt that this was wrong having spent so much time doing the handwork on the front. I ended up attaching the stitched crop circles to this larger piece using a satin stitch, by hand of course.

I'm not really sure where this project is going. I'm just enjoying the process. I plan to add some more Xs to the area between the two large circles. And I am auditioning buttons and beads too.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Letting Go

My baby is not a baby any more. I'm sure all parents understand this bittersweet feeling. Today I got out the remainder of the baby items we have saved in hopes of having another child - crib, stroller, bouncy seat, swings, toys ... I gave away all the clothes I had saved about a year ago. I had piles of stuff! I set up my basting tables (6' by 6' square) and set out the clothes on it. I organized items by size and invited my friends with younger children to come over and take what they could use. The clothes completely covered the tables and there was not room for two bins that I had to put underneath. I gave away clothes to six different families and each family left with armfuls of items!

Anyway, I have several friends who are new grandparents or soon-to-be new grandparents and a neighbor with a 1 month old. I hope to be able to sell or give these folks all of this stuff that is now cluttering up the room outside my bedroom. It's not doing anybody any good in our attic and it's in the way of our insulation project, so it's time to find this stuff a new home where it will be used. Just like the clothes, I'll be glad that it is being used and not taking up space in my house, but it is still sad to part with these things that have such personal meaning. It is also hard to finally let go of the hope of another child. But they are just things and I have the pictures and memories. The one child we do have is a really great kid and we are very fortunate to have him. It's time to move on.

The photo above was taken in September 2004, shortly after we moved here, at the Great Sand Dunes National Park located here in the San Luis Valley. Parker was 2 years old.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Making a Firefly

Parker and I made this firefly craft yesterday afternoon. It requires a water bottle, some construction paper, pipe cleaner, packing tape and something for eyes (we used buttons), to make the firefly body. Then you put a glow stick inside. Here is a side view and a glow shot.



The pipe cleaner legs didn't work very well. I followed the directions and cut a length of pipe cleaner into thirds, bent them into legs, and taped them to the body. The tape doesn't prevent them from twisting so when we put it down the legs just twisted flat against the body. Parker didn't seem to care so I didn't worry about trying to fix it yesterday. If we make more, I'll have to give it some thought.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Happy Valentine's Day

I made this little quilt in 2008 as a homework assignment for my art group. I think it was the assignment where we had to use found objects on a quilt. The keys were found in a dresser that my parents gave us. It was one of the first pieces of furniture they bought after they got married. We were moving it and pulled out the drawers and I found these as the back of one of the drawers. They look like old luggage keys. I called this "Keys to My Heart" and gave it to my niece that year for her birthday.

In our old house in Macon, GA, this dresser was in our sewing/guest room. I stored fabric in it. When we moved it and found the keys, I also found a fat quarter that had fallen out of a drawer and got trapped at the back of the dresser. Sometimes it pays to rearrange your furniture!

Friday, February 12, 2010

Jump Rope for Heart

Wow! What chaos this event was. Three hundred something kids in a gym jumping rope for an hour. They all received a ribbon, a sticker and a popsicle. Parker didn't do that much jumping. Mainly he ran around waiting for his class to be called to come get their popsicles. I did manage to get him to jump for a few minutes so I could take his picture.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Warm and Cool Exercise

My art group met yesterday. We did an exercise where we each created two versions of the same design. One using warm colors and one using cool colors. I cheated a bit by using only muslin backgrounds for both (is muslin warm or cool?) and I used black for the "trunks" of my trees because I didn't have any scraps large enough in any other colors. I don't know if these will get any more finished than they are now, but it was a fun exercise. The idea came from Lyric Kinard's book Art + Quilt: Design Principles and Creativity Exercises.

Killing Time

I'm sitting in the computer lab on campus monitoring my students take an exam. I brought some grading to do for one of my other classes, but forgot to bring my answer key! I'm too lazy to rework the problems, so I'll just wait until I get home to grade. So I've been killing time catching up on the blogs I follow and just general surfing.

We've had a busy week at my house. Everything comes to a head tomorrow. I have 12 ladies coming over from my PEO chapter for our meeting. Parker has Market Day, Jump Rope For Heart and a Valentine's Day party at school. Then Parker has his weekly Cub Scouts meeting in the evening. All of this happens tomorrow! We have been drowning in craft supplies all week from all the Market Day and Valentine's Day preparations. I'll be so glad to get all that stuff put away.

There is no school for Parker Friday or Monday and Tony is going skiing this weekend in Durango, leaving Friday returning Sunday late. So I'll be a single parent this weekend and will be glad when school resumes on Tuesday.

Back to work!

Monday, February 8, 2010

Rio Grande in Winter

A couple more photos from February 1st. These were taken from the foot bridge over the Rio Grande, looking north.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Frosty Pine

Another photo from our recent fog/frost fest. There is a new storm coming and we may get more snow from it this week. The fun begins tomorrow according to the forecast. We shall see.

Friday, February 5, 2010

Pottery Shapes, Part 2

This morning I picked fabrics, made patterns and assembled the pottery shapes. Now I am auditioning background fabrics. Above are the four finalists out of 20 fabrics auditioned. I tried both light and dark backgrounds in solids, tone on tones, subtle prints, and hand dyes. I have settled on a light background in tone on tone or hand dyed. I'm leaning toward the third one, but if I use it the final piece will have to be quite small since I have very little of this fabric. I think I need to go do something else and think about it for a while.

As a follow-up, I finally got the bamboo blind hung in my sewing room! It looks nice.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Pottery Shapes, Part 1

I'm finally getting around to starting the homework assignment that was due in January for my Art Group. I've got my shapes cut out of paper and arranged.

I'm also trying to hang a bamboo blind in my sewing room. This room is one of the last rooms in the house that hasn't even been painted yet since we moved in. The sellers had just primed most of the walls in the house. Let's just say that they weren't afraid of color and made bold choices of wall paint. For the past 5 years I've just had a sheet pinned over a tension rod as a window treatment in my sewing room. Today I'm upgrading!

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

More frosty photos

Two more photos taken yesterday. These were taken about 7:30 am at the bus stop.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Winter Wonderland

We had three days of unusually overcast and foggy weather. Yesterday afternoon the clouds moved off and the sun came out. So did the photographers. The white trees against the blue sky was spectacular! I took lots of pictures yesterday and will be posting the good ones here as time permits.

Yes, the sky is really that blue here. The only thing I did to these photos was resize them.