Closing in

Another eight logs have been added to the shawl.

I’m very happy with the length now, so I’m going to add just one set up the light purple (four more logs) to each end and call it a day. I hope to finish it up this weekend and have an FO post for you sometime next week.

We do have company coming this week, so that plan may go awry, but I’m going to do my darnedest to meet my goal!

Solstice stars

There’s another quilt project that’s on my Christmas deadline list.

Back when we moved, I mentioned that my brother’s friend Shawn joined the moving party and gave us an extra pair of very strong helping hands. Here’s a little background: Shawn actually lives with my brother and his family – he’s lived them a couple years now, and has pretty much become part of the family. Because I have a cousin with the same name, I usually refer to him as “new brother” Shawn.

Still, I didn’t really expect him to want to help us move. But he did. He, my brother, and Dave did all the heavy lifting. It was hot, humid, and generally a hard, miserable day. We gave them all a bit of money, but it wasn’t enough for the hard work they put in. (It worked out to about $11 an hour).

I decided he deserves a quilt. I didn’t have much “manly” fabric in the stash, so I asked Mom if she had anything. She still had a pack of fat quarters from the Stonehenge Solstice collection, as well as a few coordinating fabrics, and was willing to give them up to a good cause.

Like my brother’s quilt, I decided this one needed a little planning. It didn’t take long, because it’s basically similar to the baby top I just finished. But still, I needed to know how many squares I needed to cut.

They are all prepped and ready to go, so I can sneak in a throw a block together whenever I have a spare half hour or so.

And of course, I couldn’t resist making one right away!

And I’m happy to say, it passed quality inspection… onto the others!

* If these prints look familiar, it’s because I made Dave a quilt out of the same line a couple years ago. I’m thrilled to be creating with them again! *

Little things

Just some little things making me smile lately.

Little thing #1

It’s on our list (and it’s a really LONG list), but we just haven’t had time to address putting up a clothesline yet. Unfortunately, my dresses can’t be put in the dryer (they will shrink). I’ve been putting them on my little drying rack, which is ok, except they take a couple days to dry thoroughly that way. If it rains, it means the rack has to be on the sun porch, and it just gets in the way. But the other day, I had a brilliant idea. I went and got some hangers from my closet and …

I took advantage of the mesh on the catio overhang! I kept them near the poles so the weight didn’t pull on the mesh too much (it probably won’t hurt it, but better to be safe). There was a fantastic breeze and within a couple hours, they were dry! AND as they were already on hangers, putting them away was quick and easy!

Little thing #2

Although I am trying my hardest to focus on putting all our extra money towards the house, I HAD to get myself something clothing related.

We know winters here are going to be colder/harder than at the townhouse. Part of that is because the area gets hit harder, but also because this house is older, and frankly – the windows are crap. We aren’t going to be able to update them all before winter, but I’ve got lots of quilts and warm woolies. I should be ok. But just in case, I wanted to be prepared.

Last winter, I found a fabulous company in Scotland that not only makes merino wool tights, but they also make them in my curvalicious size. I got two pair from them last year (a black and a burgundy) and they are FABULOUS!!! Fit great, not at all itchy, and nice and toasty. While I got them to wear with my dresses, they also slide nicely under a pair of jeans to keep you toasty like long underwear without the bulk.

I thought it prudent to see if I could get a couple more pairs. And naturally, while on their website, I fell down the rabbit hole and started looking at their “Hallowe’en” tights. And there was a pair on that page I HAD TO HAVE. Can you guess which ones???

I mean, how could I not? Because the dresses I wear fall to my knee or just below, you don’t actually see the cats unless I’m twirling, sitting, or hiking my skirt up – and I love that! They look just like normal tights otherwise!

And they are going to look killer with my favourite Christmas dress!

Little thing #3

Orchids!!!!

Over the years, I’ve learned that orchids really like north or east facing windows. At the townhouse, I didn’t have a place that would work for them and managed to murder every orchid I owned. The only one I had that did well was the one I kept at the office in a north-facing window.

When we moved here, I knew I had several places for orchids and was determined to get one at the first chance! Unfortunately, all the orchids I came across were well over $20. With everything going on, I couldn’t justify spending that much on a plant.

But last week, I stopped in Giant Tiger to get some clothes for Dave and there they were! Orchids for just $10! I really should have gotten only one, but I couldn’t decide which one I liked better!

Little thing #4

I mentioned earlier that the butterflies are plentiful around here, and I know it’s only going to get better when I really get my gardens going.

Still, it delights me to no end when I can get pictures of the ones that are hanging around.

Including these two White Cabbage butterflies who I caught in an intimate moment!

What little things are making you smile?

Toilet humor

Here we are, mid-September. It’s time to start getting serious about the big C-word. It’s only three months away. So other than the Blossom quilt, the only sewing you’ll see here for a bit will be gift sewing.

You may remember that my brother and I like to exchange silly gifts that speak to our twisted sense of humor. Back in June, I showed a panel and coordinating fabrics that I bought to make him a special quilt. It was time to get working on it.

Though I recently said that I like to fly by the seat of my pants when quilting, because of the panel, this one really needed a plan.

It took a few tries, but I finally settled on something I liked. It meant cutting the panel apart, but that was ok. I started cutting and got everything prepped and ready to go.

This one will be a lap quilt, so it didn’t take terribly long. I even had time to put together some quarter square triangles (I’m getting better at them!)

And assemble them into the centre of the quilt top.

Now I have a pile of friendship stars to make, so things will slow down considerably. Still, I’m off to a great start!

Urban jungle

Ooops… I didn’t it again.

Once again, it wasn’t my fault. Dave had me looking up something on FB Marketplace again. And the ad for that local garden centre came up again (the one where I got the butterfly bushes). They were getting ready to close for the season and were clearing things out.

Dave needed to go into Strathroy the other day, and since the garden centre is on the way home… and I had $20 cash just burning a hole in my pocket (I rarely carry cash, but I had it leftover from the Pussywillow adventure) so I told him we were making an extra stop.

I kept to my $20 budget and came home with five lovely new perennials.

More Lupins were high on my to-get list. I brought purple from the townhouse, and I have seeds for some yellow ones, but I want Lupins in all colours! I was hoping they’d have some pink, but they only had white and purple, so white it was! I’ll find some pink ones in the spring.

I also got some Russian Blue Sage. I used to have a different sage at the townhouse, but I lost it over the winter. This one is a much bigger and more robust species.

Yellow Wild Indigo is new to me, though it’s been on my to-get list for ages. It’s a native plant, and apparently a big draw for pollinators of all kinds.

I got some butterfly weed for our little Monarch friends.

And finally, some scarlet red Bee Balm. I have a nice little compact pink one in the catio. This one should be much bigger, so I planted it near the fence.

I won’t get to enjoy blooms on any of these until Spring/Summer next year, but it’s something to look forward to.

In the here and now, I’m enjoying all these.

Clockwise from top left: The mini rose is thriving. The white bellflower is enjoying a small second wind. The purple Speedwell has many little bloom spikes, though they are somewhat stunted. And the mums I brought from the townhouse have started to bloom.

And last…

I finally found a plant for my little kitty pot.

A nice little two-toned African violet. I’ve been looking for a new violet for ages (since my purple one is doing so well) but none of the grocery stores around here seemed to have any – until the other week. This one was the only one of this colour, so I snatched it up!

Meet the neighbours

As I’d hoped, the toads have been very plentiful around here.

I suspect it’s because the crickets are also plentiful. There are thousands of them. And some of those crickets are HUGE!!!!

Most of the toads I come across are pretty small as far as toads go – around the size of a loonie. I’ve learned to push the lawn mower a little slower in certain areas on the lawn so they have time to hop out of the way. I have also stopped the mower a few times to move a few stubborn ones.

Burton has been loving the ones that hop in and out of the catio. He never does them any harm – just pokes them with a curious paw (claws in too!), and follows them until they leave the confines of the catio. He likes chasing the crickets too, but I think he really prefers the toads.

The other night, I was wheeling the garbage bin to the curb and a GIANT toad hopped across my path.

Okay – he wasn’t quite giant. I have seen bigger (having grown up a country girl), but he was easily three times the size of the catio toads.

As I was trying to get pictures of him,he hopped into the open garage and I had to shoo him out with the broom. I didn’t want him getting stuck in there. There is probably enough crickets in there to keep him well fed, but I didn’t want to take the chance. Life is much better for him in the yard.

And speaking of garbage cans…

This big (about the size of a twoonie) beautiful Wolf Spider was hiding under my garbage bin on the previous garbage day. Actually, I don’t think she was hiding, I think I interrupted her hunt, as several large crickets ran out when I moved the bin too.

Fun fact: Wolf spiders aren’t called Wolf spiders because they are aggressive, but because they run their prey down like a wolf. They don’t build nests. They also rarely bite humans – usually if they do it’s because they’ve been surprised (ie stepped on) or provoked. After posing for a few pictures, this gorgeous girl went on her way in search of dinner.

And while I’ve mentioned crickets, I’ve mostly been talking about those big black ones, and their smaller brown cousins. But have you ever seen a cricket like this?

This is a black-horned tree cricket (a female according to my google search). When I took the picture, I thought it was some sort of Katydid. I was surprised to learn it was a cricket!

And last…it’s also grasshopper season!

This Spur-Throated grasshopper found his way onto the sun porch the other day. Thankfully, the cats didn’t notice or I would have had broken plants everywhere as they tried to chase him.

After getting a few shots, I captured him in a tea cup and put him out on the lawn where he could go on his merry way without worrying about any feline interest. (Though I imagine he still has to watch out for birds)

We’ve also seen lots of butterflies, mostly monarchs and white cabbages, though I don’t have enough blooming in the yard to keep them around long enough for pictures. I’ve also seen several Fritillary butterflies, but they move too fast for pictures so far.

The other joy is hummingbirds. The neighbour has a huge orange trumpet vine arbour (it’s massive!!) and the little hummers pass through our yard frequently to get to it. Interestingly enough, they seem to like the catio fence. The holes are just big enough for them to perch in, and they often stop there for a rest. A few have also stopped by to drink from my Physostegia. Of course, never long enough for me to get a picture… but I’ll keep trying!

Sea-volution of a quilt

I’ve mentioned before, when start making a quilt, I have a tendency to fly by the seat of my pants. Sometimes I have a vague idea of the whole, but usually I’m just focused on the individual block.

That was the case with the star blocks for my latest nautical quilt.

I knew I wanted them to be similar to Kitten Cove (but with a slight twist). So I went ahead and cut everything for the blocks. Then I set them aside. When I got back to making them, I forgot that I had planned to make four-at-a-time HSTs, and ended up doing eight-at-a-time. This resulted in smaller blocks, but it also meant I would have enough for double the blocks.

No biggie I thought. Until I got them all done and started playing with layout. With four blocks, I would have had a 2×2 layout. But with eight, my only option was 2×4. It was too narrow, and too long.

Now I could have put vertical sashing and no horizontal sashing to widen it without adding length (like I did with Space Friends) but I just didn’t think it would look as good with this block. I started playing with other options, though they were limited, because I had a piece of fabric set aside for the backing – but I only had two yards of it. That meant I was limited on how wide I could go.

In the end, the best I could come up with was this:

But it still needed something for the centre.

Something that was NOT Burton!!!!

I toyed with a couple of ideas, and ended up using a little fabric from that backing piece (but not enough that I would not have enough for the back), and some navy stars I had set aside because I thought they’d work well as a border or binding.

As an afterthought, and so that the one different centre block wouldn’t look totally out of place, I went back and strategically snowballed some corners on the original blocks. That way when they came together at the corner stones, they’d create a little secondary pattern.

And I love the result!

Now it looks like it was all planned out that way from the very beginning! And nothing could be further from the truth!

Here’s a closer look at that backing fabric.

Little subtle grey whales! And there is enough of the navy stars for binding! I do so love it when a quilt comes together like this!

Lots of logs

The days are noticeably shorter, so our outside knitting time has been limited. We’re back to mostly knitting inside again.

Rupert doesn’t care where we are, as long as he gets my lap.

With his help, eight more logs have been added. I’m now on the second skein of the light purple. If I follow the pattern, I have 16 more logs to add. I’m not sure if I’m going to make it quite that long. I’ll decide after I complete the next eight.