Thursday, April 22, 2010

Cause I need another hobby

I don't remember when or how I first stumbled upon Passing Down Crazy , but it was love at first sight. I loved her knitting, I loved her pictures, I loved her kids, I loved how she referred to her husband as her "Hero" and I loved her blog title. LOVE!

I stalked her relentlessly. Admiring her snow, her backyard, her humor, and above all, her knitting. Her lace shawls are perfection. Makes me want to knit loads more lace!

And then she published a post with a quilt!

It was all over from there. I was powerless against her quilts.

Can you seriously look at this, or this, or this, or this and not feel inspired?

It didn't help when Marie Grace started showing off quilts too. Suddenly I found myself in the tight grip of a new obsession. I NEEDED to quilt something NOW! Once upon a time I amassed quite the collection of fat quarters and other various pretty fabrics. There was simply no room for it in the great move of 2006 and we gave it all away to a woman who made baby quilts for all the babies at church. If I wanted to quilt something I was going to have to start fresh and go shopping.

And if we think about that for a second, is that really a hardship?

I decided it wasn't.

Now when I first learned to quilt I was taught by a Quilting Nazi, with a capital Q and a capital N. All quilts must be made with 100% cotton, and be pieced by hand. All batting must be "Warm and Natural" brand only. And all quilting must, Must, MUST be done by hand. Or it simply wasn't a quilt. The. End.

I'm not exactly sure what she thought the resulting item would be if one of her rules were broken, but her mind it most certainly would not be a Real Quilt(tm). I guess that would make it an Imitation Quilt(tm).

Once upon a time, being young and foolish and eager to please, I followed her rules to a T, and I think it was all the hand sewing that eventually led me to abandon quilting after Pork Chop was born. That, and all the pins I kept leaving on the floor. I decided that machine quilting was absolutely without a doubt the way to go this time. The Greatest, being The Greatest, and knowing me so well, knew that resistance was futile and bought me a set of quilting feet for my sewing machine.

I practiced meandering with my darning foot on old pieces of paper for hours. I'm still not sure I have the hang of it yet. I do have a baby quilt top just waiting for me to get the courage to try it out. Maybe someday. But not today. I've already moved on from that project. I think I must secretly like have UFO's hanging around. A little guilt is good for the soul.

Once the quilting bug took hold I started to haunt other quilting blogs. I became completely obsessed with, I mean I was inspired by this quilt. I knew I had to have one of my very own. But not in orange. In pinks and red.

And my Valentine's Day Quilt was born


Now don't look too closely at my quilt. It's full of mistakes.

I actually think my piecing is pretty fantastic. I still remember a few tricks from the old days that translate well to machine piecing. I just love how the red and white stripes line up perfectly in the diamonds. I'd like to say I planned that when I cut the pieces, but that was the result of a happy accident of cutting, and a bit of care when piecing. And I'm simply in love with my 1/4 seam foot. I wanna kiss who ever created that right on the lips. Seaming Perfection!

Now it was when I decided to try my hand at machine quilting that things took a turn for the worse.

First off, they should really include a picture of the walking foot and how it is supposed to look. In case you're wondering it is supposed to look like this...


with the little arm thingie on TOP of the thingie that holds your needle in place. That accounts for one of my broken needles.


Now it also turns out that when they tell you to roll the unused sides of your quilt they know what they're talking about. Because if you leave it loose, and just try to shove the unused side through like this


You end up with this


no matter how carefully you've pinned it.

And when you stop to shove the loose side through to make it easier to keep quilting you should really leave the needle down in the fabric. Otherwise it tends to shift like this


yeah. I'm still not sure I've mastered this one.

And it is also a good idea to match the thread color to your binding, even if you've used white thread on the rest of the entire quilt.

I also discovered is not a good idea to set up shop at one end of the kitchen table and let your children eat at the other end of said table. Unless you want to quilt a quilt that already has a spot of dried yogurt and a kool-aid stain on it.

So there's a ton of mistakes in this quilt. But I think that's alright. I know I learn more from what I do wrong, than I do from the things I get right. In the meantime I love my quilt.


I couldn't resist a little bit of piecing on the backing.


And I had to make a striped binding with my leftovers.


Although I think if I had to do it all over again I might have bound the entire quilt in this fabric


I just love the polka-dots. And the unexpected blue flower.

I think the reds and pinks are all 100% cotton, but the white on the front is of unknown origin, and the white on the back is a cotton/poly blend. The top is machine pieced. The batting is polyester. And the actual quilting of the quilt was done by machine. I did sew the final binding seam by hand. I have made myself a genuine Imitation Quilt. And I'm in love!


Unfortunately Sweet Pea is also in love. The entire time I was making it she kept poking it and telling me "Sweet Pea Quilt." I would tell her in a sing-song voice "No, this one's for Mommy." And she would sing-song back to me "No, Sweet Pea."


Looks like I'd better make her gingham quilt soon.

I still managed to sneak in some face time with my quilt the other day.


I'd like to thank whoever is in charge of the weather for dropping the temperature enough for me to lie outside and enjoy my quilt.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Friday Lovin'

So last week I was driving home after dropping the children off at school. I was in my jammies, no bra, unbrushed hair, and no shoes. I know. Could I get any sexier? In my defense...well...actually I have no defense. There is no rational explanation for why I couldn't take five minutes to make myself presentable. I've just been really tired lately.

Anyways, I was driving down the road looking at all the identical tan plastic trash bins lined along the road. I was thinking to myself how cluttered they make the tiny roadways look, and how much I hated trash day. I had a brief fling last summer with running, and I hated running on trash day. The street just smelled so bad from the rubbish rotting in their HOA approved containers. That's when I took to running alongside the canal. It was peaceful, and beautiful, and there was no smelly garbage. Perfect. Until the day I was a mile from anywhere and I met two feral dogs. I stopped running after that. But this is all neither here nor there. The part relevant to the story is I was driving along looking at all the trash by the road.

I only saw it because I was looking at the trash. Any other day I would have driven right by it without a glance. Between two trash bins was a small pile of dirty faded boxes. I wouldn't have given them a second thought, but taped to the boxes was a hand-lettered sign featuring the two most beautiful word in the English language:


"Did you see that?!!!!!!" I asked The Greatest (who was riding in the car with me, fully clothed and wearing shoes. to this day I'm not sure why he didn't just take the kids to school and leave lazy jammied me at home) (and yes, I do speak in that many exclamation points!!!!!)

He had not seen the sign. I explained to him that there was a sign that said "free hammock." I pulled into our driveway and promptly pulled back out facing the direction from which I had just come. I was headed for that free hammock.

Now The Greatest does not understand trash day. I once found a coffee table I wanted on the side of the road on bulk trash day, and he insisted we knock on the door and ask the people who lived there if we could take the coffee table. They helped us load it into our car, happy to be free of the huge rectangle monstrosity. A couple of cans of black spray paint and we've got a fantastic coffee table in our family room. It is ginormous and perfect. But it still did not convert him to the joy of trash treasures.

As I pulled up to the dusty pile The Greatest did his best to discourage me. The boxes were faded and dirty and looked like they had gotten soaked and dried out several times. The only thing suggesting this pile was anything other than absolute garbage was the sign. And the only thing suggesting this unassuming pile was a hammock was also the sign. The Greatest told me I didn't need a hammock that badly.

But I did, I really did.

Growing up my Aunt had a hammock in her back yard. It was down at the base of a hill, under a huge shady tree. It was the perfect place to lay and read books. The fondest desire of my tiny childhood heart was to have a hammock of my very own, so I could lie in it and read books whenever I wanted to. The Greatest has a knack for fulfilling all my childhood dreams. He's tall, dark, and handsome. We live in a place where it is warm all the time and I can lie in the sun like a lizard and just soak up the heat down to my very bones. I've got a houseful of children. We have a pool. He planted me an orange tree. And now I was determined he was going to bring another dream to fruition and get me that hammock.

After all, he was the one wearing shoes.

He knows me. He knows when to just give it up and do what I want. So reluctantly he got out of the car. He stared of the dusty pile, not wanting to touch it, because touching it would surely get him dirty as well.

"I don't think its any good" He protested.

"Just put it in the car! Even if it is rusted and ruined we can fix the frame up and paint it, and having a hammock frame is one step closer to having a hammock."

Rolling his eyes, but indulging in my whims, he tried to pick up the boxes, but they were to awkward in shape for him to manage on his own.

So I got out of the car to help him, on the hot asphalt, barefoot. I really wanted that hammock.

The boxes smelled bad.

Like garbage.

Maybe this was a mistake.

I HATE it when The Greatest is right. I was starting to suspect he had not picked up the boxes because he loved me so much he can't deny me anything I want, and because he finds my crazy determination endearing. No. I was starting to suspect he had picked up the boxes because he wanted to tell me HIS favorite words in the English language:

"I told you so."

Sometimes he really isn't The Greatest.

Together we manhandled the boxes into the back of our SUV. I drove home grateful that The Greatest had to go to work later that morning, and figured I could deal with the rubbish while he was gone. If it turned out to be ruined beyond repair, or worse yet, not in fact a hammock but instead just a random pile of garbage that we had stolen and put in the back of our car, I didn't want him around. If things went south, I was lucky ,I could have the stuff back on the curb in front of our house, and quietly picked up by the garbage truck before he came home. He would never have to know how this all played out if it ended badly.

To my surprise, the moment we pulled into the garage, The Greatest hopped out of the car and started to unload the boxes (which I'd like to point out, he did by himself, no barefoot wife in the streets required). He was going to find out right away what we were dealing with.

We cautiously opened the first box. Cautious on my side because it looked like it might be a haven for bugs and spider. The cardboard had indeed gotten wet and warped and dried. It was oddly stiff and plumes of dust came up as we opened the top. We peered inside to discover


Still wrapped in bubble wrap!

To quote Meaty "Booooo-yahhhhhhhhh!!!!!!!!"


We eagerly assembled the hammock using the pictures that accompanied the direction that were, of course, in Spanish (which neither of us speak). Then we spent the rest of the morning lying in it. When the children came home from school we took turns lying in it and reading together.


So this Friday morning, I'm loving my hammock. I've got a reasonably clean house, and a brand new book to read. It's going to be a perfect day.

What are you loving?

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Baby Cuteness

Oh, HI!

Did you know I knit?

And that this is a knitting blog?

Yup, it really is.

You wouldn't know it from looking at my side bar. From the look of it I haven't knit a thing all year. But I have, I really have. My needles are constantly clicking.

And to prove it, I've got some knitting to show you.

Nearly everyone I know is pregnant. The few who aren't? Well, I'm expecting announcements any day now. In theory, this is hard. I would like another baby. I can see where another baby would fit into our family. I've begun, as Mothers often do, to romanticise the quiet early morning feedings, and forget how tiring they are. I've covered my memories of newborn babies in a gauzy haze that camouflages the fact that I was covered in bodily fluids for weeks. All the bad, exhausting, stinky baby stuff is hidden, and nothing is seen but the sweet baby face. I could have another, or two. But The Greatest is done. And I can see his point. I'm just not sure I'm done.

But with all these pregnancies, I've got the perfect excuse to continue one of my favorite kinds of knitting: Baby Knitting.

A Dear Friend of mine recently gave birth to her fourth child, a baby girl.

I knit her a hat


(Ribbons from Itty-Bitty Hats)

and another hat


(my knock-off version of the flour sack hat from Baby Beanies: Happy Hats to Knit for Little Heads)

and some baby overalls


(Pepita, free pattern from Ravelry, modified to be newborn size)

You can't see, but the overalls have built in feet. It makes my ovaries hurt from the cuteness. And you can tell my friend is a very dear friend. Those overalls were knit on size 0 needle! Only true love knits on size 0 needles for other people's babies.

So yeah, I knit.

And while all these pregnancies should be hard on me emotionally, I'd like another baby but won't have any more. It should be sad, but they're not. I found visiting my friend and her newborn baby enlightening. It was fun to hold the baby, and then hand her back to her Mother. It is fun to sleep through the night. It is fun to hand the children over to their Grandparents for overnighters, something I can't do with small nursing children. Sweet Pea is almost done with diapers and I'm dreaming of a grown up purse again.

Maybe I'm done too.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Easter Rundown

Easter has come and gone and we've all survived to tell the tale.

The Easter Bunny was feeling extra bouncy this year and hid the Easter Baskets really high.


(yes, I know the picture is unbearably dark, but it was early in the morning. whatcha gonna do?) (and we had house guests, most of that stuff up there was not for my children)

But Sweet Pea had a plan


(yes I know the picture is unbearably blurry, but it was early in the morning. whatcha gonna do?)

Rats! They stretched and stretched, but they were still not tall enough.


Meaty tried to scale the wall using only the door hinges and the sheer force of his will to have chocolate.


Yeah...that didn't work either.

Daddy to the rescue! A tall chair and a taller Daddy and the baskets were ready for consumption.

Have you ever seen such happy children?





We had ham and potato salad and crescent rolls and deviled eggs and the requisite Easter Egg hunt.





The Greatest and I got our picture taken


(yup, I wore bunny ears on Easter, they're not just for Halloween anymore!)

And we might have even posed for a family picture.


The children have eaten their candy, and the leftovers have been all consumed. Easter has come and gone with nary a trace to show that it was even here. Except perhaps for the large bowl of chocolate I found hidden in my closet, safe from hungry children.

The Easter Bunny was good to me too this year!