Sunday, May 31, 2015

Six on Sunday - Week 4

I cleaned out my closet some more.  Decluttering is getting easier instead of harder.  The only thing that gave me a bit of a twinge is the robe.  My Grandma made it for me 25 years ago and I wore it forever.  It has giant holes in it, as well as dozens of little holes throughout the fabric.  I have lots and lots of other wonderful stuff to remember her by, and Grandma, herself, would have thrown it out two decades ago.  Bye bye robe!
Three Sweaters, a Robe, a Top, and a Purse - 7.75 Pounds
 Electronics day for Larry.  The printer was replaced a year ago when it started to smoke - scary that!  The scanner has not worked for about five years, and I think the PC ran Windows 95.  We brought the electronic bird home from Shreveport a few years ago; it can completely fly the coop now.
Two Computers, a Scanner, a Printer, a Router, and a Parrot - 61.5 Pounds
Look at how much weight we have gotten rid of already in only four weeks.  I added it up, 111 pounds of stuff.  The clothing in my closet is already hanging more freely.  Someone asked earlier what we are going to get to replace what we are letting go.  The answer is nothing!

Happy decluttering.

Saturday, May 30, 2015

Singer Restoration Saturday - Bentwood Case

I think the bentwood case is just about finished.  A little buffing, perhaps, and then begin putting the hardware back on.

Model 99k Bentwood Case
Along with the bentwood case, I have been refinishing a small table that we brought home from my father's house.  It had sat on the patio exposed to the elements for quite a while, and then I used it as a support for painting.  As you can see, the original varnish was essentially gone, and several scratches had been gouged into the top, Then I dripped paint (regular interior wall paint) on it.

Table Top View - Before
Table Legs - Before

Using an orbital sander, I removed the paint splatters, old varnish, and weathered wood. I also sanded out the scratches, as much as possible without leaving dips and valleys in the wood.

Next, I rubbed on a Minwax stain and varnish product to put some color back in the wood.  
Table Top - Progress

Table Legs - Progress
I would like to get the table nearly as dark as the bentwood case, and use it as a display table.  But I don't think the table is taking the stain quite as strongly as the case. When it is as dark as I can get it, I will put on a nice tough polyurethane to protect it.  And then not leave it on the patio any more.


Thursday, May 28, 2015

Dear Jane G-2, Mohawk - Lesson Learned

Jane got me again.  After I had completed all four paper-pieced strips I tried to put them together according to the picture in the book. No matter how I shifted the pieces, it would not work. Uh oh, this block was supposed to be mirrored.  Rats!  I wish I could tell just by looking which blocks require mirroring, but I do not seem to have that skill.  I guess I will have to consult my favorite Dear Jane resource more regularly.  This block stays; after all, I am not making a replica quilt and Mohawk turned out nicely.

I made Mohawk out of long strips of a red batik that Larry pulled out of a scrap basket in Wisconsin last Christmas.  Yesterday's Kaleidoscope was from yardage.  Just look at this crazy batik.  I love it so much!  I had to really work at it to locate the best brown veins, but it was lots of fun.

I want to do a blue block from this fabric as well.  Just look at all those yummy blue sections.  It would showcase really nicely in a block having a strong central focus like C7.  The C row is right around the corner; progress is being made.  

Happy quilting,
Susan in Texas

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Dear Jane F-2 Kaleidoscope

I was a little sorry to see that one of the most fun DJ blocks, F-2, Kaleidoscope, turned out to be one of the brown blocks.  I only added a brown trip around the world to add depth to the quilt to keep it from being too wild.  I selected the jolliest brown batik I have to keep it from being too, well, ... brown.

F-2 Kaleidoscope
It took me almost as long to fussy cut this colorful batik as it did to paper-piece the block, but I love how it turned out.  Putting the final two halves together was a different story; alignment took forever.  I had to take a single stitch by hand at the very center, and it still did not line up perfectly.  I find centers like this notoriously difficult to work with.  I did manage to spin the seams at the back to reduce the bulk, so the block stayed nice and soft.  

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Tatting Tuesday - Crocheted Granny Squares

Since the crochet pattern I attempted first was too hard, I have taken up granny squares as a simpler pattern to learn the art of crochet.  My first attempt:

First Granny Square - half my work
After I tried to get one started several times, this granny square was started by my wife Susan and I finished it.  She said that crocheting into the first few stitches was the hardest (and, of course, she was right).

The next one, I did from start to finish myself:

Second Granny Square - all mine
The most obvious problem is that I am still crocheting too tight. There is barely any room to see the pattern that was clear in the first one.  And, of course, it makes it much harder to make a stitch when you can barely pull the yarn back through the loops.

More practice! That's what I need.


Monday, May 25, 2015

Harlequin-Johnny - Ironing Completed

The one hundred "ears" of Harlequin-Johnny are now all put together, and my DH, Larry, has taken it upon himself to iron them for me.  I started to add the centers to make the fifty "bow-ties", but I decided to move on to Dear Jane instead.

Ironed pieces for Harlequin Johnnie (and Leaders and Enders)
I got so many half square triangles completed while working on the "ears" that I had to cut some more black fabric to make more leaders and enders.  Larry very kindly ironed those too.  I am so lucky, not only is he becoming an accomplished cook, he says he does not mind doing the simple, but time-consuming, ironing tasks that I hate either.  I guess I chose well 30 years ago today!

Sunday, May 24, 2015

Six on Sunday - Week 3

Tomorrow is our 30th anniversary.  Thirty years!  Hard to believe it has been that long.  My Mom and sister sent us these beautiful flowers yesterday.  Aren't they gorgeous?  And today is Cindi's birthday too.  Happy Birthday, Cindi, you are now three years older than me instead of only two.  I always like that.  :)

We are still harvesting our Six on Sunday selections from the master closets, though I think Larry has let go of all the clothes he plans to donate for the time being.  I still have lots more clothing to cull through.  For sure none of these pieces sparked any joy.

5 sweaters, 1 pair sweatpants: 5 lbs
The Neat scanner is leftover from when our home was burglarized two years ago.  Everything we had scanned was in one of the stolen laptops.  That is when we decided scanning was definitely not for us.  Talk about not sparking joy; quite the contrary, that dang thing brings up nothing but bad memories.

2 pair shorts, 2 polo shirts, travel iron, Neat scanner: 10.5 lbs
I hope everyone is having a terrific Memorial Day weekend.  Larry and I are really enjoying just hanging out here at home.

Take care,
Susan in Texas

Saturday, May 23, 2015

Singer Restoration Saturday - Bentwood Case

I have been working on restoring the bentwood case for "Dollie", my great-grandmother's Singer Model 99K.  Now I am applying a satin polyurethane clearcoat to protect the stain applied earlier.

Bentwood Case - Top and Bottom
The clearcoat went on nice and shiny, then the gloss 
relaxed into a nice satin finish.

In about an hour, I can gently sand it smooth and apply another coat.


Thursday, May 21, 2015

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Tatting Tuesday - Furnace Replacement

Doesn't look much like tatting, does it?

New Furnace
I scheduled our furnace replacement starting yesterday, for some crazy reason. With all the disruption that caused, I didn't get any tatting done :( . And the installation will continue today, so I probably won't get any done today, either.

Also, my lovely wife has decided that I started learning to crochet with too hard a pattern.  Apparently I don't even know what I don't know.  So I am switching to a beginner granny square pattern, and getting personal instruction on how to do it right.  First lesson: don't try to make it so tight!  Hopefully, I will soon be able to crank out a granny square quickly, and can think about what to make with them (an afghan, or maybe a scarf).


Monday, May 18, 2015

Grandma likes her new Chair

We visited Grandma in Shreveport again this weekend so I did not get too much done on Harlequin-Johnny.  When we peeked into her room, we found Grandma snoozing (very soundly) in her new chair.  Do not let the sleeping frowny face fool you, she actually likes her new chair just fine.

They replaced Grandma's bed with a hospital bed a while ago and put her bed in storage.  Recently they told us we had to get it out of there, so we rented a Home Depot truck and moved it to the old house right before the rains started.  Perfect timing. 

Grandma said she wanted her old chair removed too, but we convinced her that she needs to keep it around to have a spare lift chair available in case one breaks again.  I promised her I would work my redecorating magic to make the chair fit in her bedroom after it is repaired.  What she does not know, is I am planning to have all her dolls sit on it.  She loves her dolls, and they are currently all on a corner table; this will be much better.  All in all, it will be the perfect end to chair-pocalypse.

Sunday, May 17, 2015

Six on Sunday - Week 2

We are still harvesting stuff from our master closets.  I was surprised that my clothes weighed more than Larry's "stuff".  I read an article on the Japanese method of closet cleaning.  You are supposed to look at everything in your home and ask yourself if it "sparks joy" in you, if not, thank it, and let it go.  I think I will try that method after all the obvious clutter has been removed.

Lunch bag, Sweater, Tote Bag, Backpack, Flashlight, Aqua-Shoes - 4.75 pounds
I really should thank those shorts.  They were my favorite shorts; sparking joy for years, finally giving up the good fight with the material splitting down the front of one leg. Thank you, favorite shorts! Bye bye.

Shorts and 5 tops/sweaters - 6 pounds

Saturday, May 16, 2015

Singer Restoration Saturday - Bentwood Case Progress

Continuing to restore the bentwood case for "Dollie", the 1992 Model 99K that belonged to my great-grandmother.

Front of case top
The first coat of stain went on rather unevenly, and it seemed to raise the grain on the top.  Not too surprising, since it had seen some damage over the years.  

Before restoration
I sanded gently to even out the darker areas, and then very gently overall to smooth out the raised grain. The second coat went on much better, although I can still feel the grain raised again here and there.

Front of case bottom
The big scratch on the end, as expected, remains an issue.  I doubt it will improve much.  I'll have to see what can be done to camouflage it. 

Big Scratch - Before

Big Scratch - Current
The wood filler I've used to fill a couple of gouges is not taking the stain as much as the wood of the case.  I will have to touch it up, or even try a darker flavor of wood filler to get a better match.

More later,


Friday, May 15, 2015

Harlequin Block Complete

The test harlequin block came together nicely, which is good because I would be lying if I said I was completely unintimidated by inset seams.  These insets were easier than expected.  A large block with a big, soft center like this creases very easily to allow the inset seam to be sewn.  I barely had to pin, except at the harlequin points.  None of the inset corners had that nasty "pull" that happens when you oversew the inset seam, for which this novice is deeply thankful.

Counting the four corners on the completed block, I have fifty-one corners completed, and nine already pinned.  The pinning is still the most time-consuming part, but I think my harlequin points would be all over the place without it.  Instead, I am getting a nice square block, which I will have to trim down the full quarter inch I allowed for "shrinkage".

Thursday, May 14, 2015

More Harlequin Progress

I am almost half done with the "ears" for Harlequin-Johnny.  I have fifteen more sewn, which, when added to the 28 previously sewn, makes 43 corner ears complete.  I also have six more pinned.  I need to do a Big Bang marathon and get them all done.

I have come to the conclusion that I really enjoy cyclical stitching, though I would prefer to have some shorter term projects in the mix.  I am still cycling though Dear Jane, Grand Illusion, and Harlequin-Johnny, with the half square triangle quilt as my leader and ender project.  When I finally have a finish, I am going to add Pierre Lapin into the cycle; it has been languishing for a long time.

If I keep plugging away, I think Grand Illusion will be the first flimsy completed, then Harlequin-Johnny.  I only have 40 Dear Jane blocks completed, so as you can see, that one is a long way from completion. 

I think I have 700+ HSTs completed in my leader and ender project, but it takes over a 1000, so that completion is also in the distant future.  I really need to do some quilting too, since I do not want to just accumulate flimsies.  I have been lusting after a long arm for a long time, but that is on the back burner for now.

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Harlequin Progress and a Funny Video

I am making slow, but steady, progress on the 100 Harlequin corner "ears".  I sewed twenty-four together, for a total of twenty-eight corners completed.

I pinned another nine corners together while watching Flip or Flop on TV.  I love that show!  Even when they have disasters, they make remodeling look SO easy.  Christine on the show makes design choices seem so simple.  Whenever I go shopping for tile or flooring, I am always completely overwhelmed by the choices. 

You always hear me talking about my family in Green Bay, right?  My sister, Cindi, called me last night.  Her grand-niece was the little girl who wrote into Jimmy Fallon this week from Green Bay.   This video of Jimmy reading Phoebe's letter is hilarious!   (She was right about her baby brother too.  lol)

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Tatting Tuesday - Hearts Bookmark

After some struggles, I finally completed the Hearts bookmark from Tatted Bookmarks - Needle and Shuttle (Handy Hands)I think I still need a lot of practice, and a lot of work on my consistency. 

Some of the hearts came out very nice (I think the second from the right is the best), and some are just odd.  The little ring with picot at the bottom/point of the heart was particularly tricky; it never wanted to work in neatly when starting on the arc that followed it.


Monday, May 11, 2015

Harlequin Johnny - Giant Harlequin Bowties

I want to complete a Harlequin block to verify the best way to do the inset seams.  I believe that making a giant bowtie first is the most uncomplicated method, and will keep the inset portion of the seams nice and short.  It looks like the giant clown tie at this point.

There are 100 of these ears to put together.  The ear sections go together very well, as long as I use nine pins on each ear.  Two pins for each join, one for either end, and one in each of the three flat sections to keep the papers aligned.  Lots of pins!

I pinned through Mad Men and Game of Thrones on the sofa last night and only managed to put nine ears together.  Of course, both shows are very engrossing.  I could probably pin twice as fast through Big Bang reruns.

One advantage to taking forever to make this quilt is that I had time to think up the perfect setting triangle for the on-point block arrangement.  I am going to paper piece piano keys as setting triangles.  It is a good thing I enjoy the process, because this quilt is nowhere near done!

Sunday, May 10, 2015

Introducing Six on Sunday - Week 1

Like many people, our house is crammed full of stuff that we do not need.  In the interest of minimizing the hoard, Larry and I created "Six on Sunday".  Every Sunday for the indefinite future, each of us is going to select six items that can either be donated, easily sold, or thrown out in the upcoming week.

I decided to start with six old pairs of shoes.  I wear tennis shoes every day to work and I have to get a new pair when my feet start to hurt.  I kept one old pair for gardening and my current new pair; the rest can go.  The slippers and the flip flops are completely worn out junk.

Six pairs of shoes - 7.25 pounds
Larry has a more eclectic mix of items.

Pair of shoes, 2 pair too-wide jeans, 1 pair too-short jeans, lunch bag and water bottle 8.25 pounds
An uncluttered environment is supposed to help release creativity. If the growth of storage facilities is any indication, "Six on Sunday" should become the next national passtime.  Make the commitment! We are working on a "Six on Sunday" badge that you can grab and put it on your blog.  Help us make the world a better place.  Join us in eliminating clutter!  

Saturday, May 9, 2015

Singer Restoration Saturday - Bentwood Case Restoration

I have removed the old finish and most of the scratches from the bentwood case for "Dollie", the 1922 Singer 99K that belonged to my great-grandmother, Dollie Dunn Henderson. 

Model 99K bentwood case - front, old finish removed
The case used to be really beat up.  It was surprising and gratifying to see how many of the ugly scratches sanded right out.

Before - all scratched up

A little more sanding, and it will be ready for staining and finishing.

I am still not sure what to do about the big scratch on the top of the end of the case.

Before - scratch on end
It got much better, but it still highly visible.

Sanded down end

The scratch is so deep, it will be hard to sand all the way out.  I am afraid I might accidentally go all the way through the veneer to the base wood below.  I am considering placing a label there to cover the mark.  That is probably a better idea than further sanding or wood putty.

More later,


Friday, May 8, 2015

Grand Illusion - Clue 4 Complete and the Great Chairpocalypse

Finally done.  Larry helped me tremendously doing all the pressing. He says he likes to iron.  (I warned him how picky I am, but he was very brave.) 

We had a massive crisis in Shreveport today.  Grandma's lift chair, which she lives and sleeps in, broke.  They had to pull the plug to get her out of it.  We ordered a new chair, since she cannot be without one for more than a few hours.  Her wonderful friends, Edie and Tom, picked up and delivered the chair.  All is good, right?  Wrong. Larry called Grandma, she hates the chair. Apparently it operates too fast for her.    

To make matters much worse, ten minutes after Larry got off the phone with Grandma, I get a call from the nurse.  The new chair broke.  Just kill me now.  Grandma is fine, she just slid out of it unhurt.  La-z-boy in Shreveport agreed to send someone out right away, (thank you Jesus).  Robert, the repairman, was able to fix it, (thank you again, Jesus).  Apparently something just has to be pushed back into place.  I made sure Robert trained the nurse and Grandma on how to make this fix before he left.  God willing, chairpocalypse is over.

So much for the quiet weekend at home in Fort Worth.  I feel like a limp noodle and it is not even Saturday. 

Thursday, May 7, 2015

Grand Illusion

I have been plugging away at clue 4 of Grand Illusion.  The first set of broken dishes make for a very long chain.

My units are coming out nicely, though they all need to be pressed. They might look a bit wonky, but they are all very close to the right size.  All that sliver trimming counted for something!

I have started work on a paper prototype of a stand-up needle case. I still have to determine how tall I want it to be, then figure out how to make the top work out correctly so it comes together nicely.  I will have to put my thinking cap on for that part.

I started the needle case with a hexagon base because I have six types of needles that I regularly use:  embroidery, sharps, betweens, tapestry, chenille, and millinery.  I think it would be nice to have a separate place for each needle type.