Reindeer all around

It was rainy and stormy and flooding on Saturday.  We got out and I got a couple of Christmas presents bought and some shirts for me…like I need shirts.  But, mostly, we stayed in and listened for the rain to stop so we could take the dogs out to do their thing.

I spent the time designing and quilting reindeer into the holiday quilt. 

First, I found my reindeer.


He’s a free downloadable piece of clip art.  I blew him way, way up and printed him.  Took me two tries to get him to come out the right size.  But, then, I cut tissue paper into strips as wide as the borders and pinned the deer to the strips and needle punched around him into the tissue.  I made the deer meet at antler and hoof, so they formed a continuous line of deer that faced one another, nose to nose or tail to tail.  I made 12 strips, and it was one too many, but that’s okay.  I’d rather over estimate by one than underestimate by any.

Next, I fit the strips to the borders.


I knew I couldn’t change the distance where two deer met, so to add length to the strips, I cut the deer in half, through the mid-section.  Then, I pinned them to the quilt, leaving as much distance as I needed between each piece and spreading the extra distance I needed to cover evenly across the border. 

The long sides needed less adjusting than the short sides.  The picture above is a short side.  So, the deer on the short sides are about a 3/16 inch longer in the torso than the deer on the long sides.  You don’t notice.  And, it was a whole lot easier than trying to size the deer so that I would get exactly as many deer as I needed, with a deer facing out at each end.  That’s just really complicated math I’d rather save for something I’m going to show than something that’s going to hang here for a month every year, then go to storage. 

Anyway, now, I need pictures of holly leaves and berries that I’m going to put into the corners instead of trying to make the deer match up there.  Again, a short cut, but an easy and convenient one.

And, then I can bind the quilt.  I’m pretty dang sure it will be ready to hang next weekend…if I can find a good binding. I’m thinking black, but am going to try a couple different things to see how they work.

Everybody have a great Monday.  It’s Thanksgiving week.  I’m already counting my blessings.

Be well.  Lane


Like a fairy tale!

This is a story of Thankfulness and Gratitude and The Kindness of Strangers.  So, get ready, because It’s Good People day on That Man Quilts.

I got to Minnesota, where it was freezing…no, not just freezing, but FREEZING!  Thank goodness for my nice coat, which impressed everyone that I told I’d made it.  The folks from Cleveland all said I had a nicer winter coat than they did.  And, from my observations, it was true.

Anyway, I was delayed in Dallas again…it’s becoming the story of my traveling life, I guess and I should learn to expect it and to be flexible.  One of my co-workers was also delayed and we got there at similar times and took a cab together to meet the rest of the group for dinner.  I paid the cabbie with a credit card.  We went into the restaurant.  I went to put the receipt in my wallet and there was no wallet.  No picture ID to be able to fly home with, no credit cards to check into the hotel with, very little cash in my pocket. 

And, there was panic.  We checked the street, we went through my clothes, and I called the cab company to see if the driver could check his cab.  But, I didn’t know the cab number, so all they could do was send a bulletin to anyone who’d had a drop where we were dropped. 

And, there was more panic.  I really don’t know how I got through dinner.  Part of it was talking to Rob, who was able to check the TSA website to find out what you do if you lose your ID on a trip.  Turns out that’s probably not as bad as it sounds, because they have other ways of proving you are who you say you are.  So, that made me feel better and I got through dinner.  When we got back to the hotel, my boss used her credit card to check me in and I filed a missing property report with the police department and found the cab number on my receipt and called the cab company again.

Now, the cab company was TERRIFIC!  They went out of their way to keep me informed.  They called my driver and he didn’t answer, so they left him a message and called me back to keep me updated.  Soon as they heard from him, they said they’d let me know.

The next morning, I put a block on my cards, just in case I never saw the wallet again.  It made me feel better that no one had tried to use them. 

A little while later, the cab company called to tell me they had reached the driver and he would check his cab and they would call me back.

A bit later, they called back and the driver had my wallet.

An hour later, the driver delivered my wallet to my hotel, and didn’t charge me a cab fare for it, though I gave him a nice tip.  He apologized to me.  Can you believe it?  Here I was, excessively grateful for all he had done and he’s apologizing to me, like he didn’t do enough.  Maybe he thought I was going to accuse him of taking it.  But, that was the furthest thing from my mind.  If he’d had nefarious intent, I never would have seen that wallet again.

Anyway, apparently, I tried to put the wallet in my coat pocket and missed, and it fell between the back seat and the door.  No one else could see it there, so it stayed there until the driver hunted for it. 

I was far too happy to cry. 

So, now, I will be making a list of my credit card company phone numbers.  That’s all you need.  You don’t need the credit card number to block the card.  You do need to know your personal info, and in my case, that included my driver’s license number, which I happen to know by heart. 

And, I’m thinking of getting one of those wallets that chains to your belt loop for when I travel.  Okay, maybe not.  No need to send the fashion police.  But, I did learn a very important lesson and I got lucky, lucky, lucky!  Keep my hands on my wallet at all times.  And, for the rest of the trip, I did just that, keeping it mostly in my front pocket, where it was uncomfortable, but I always knew it was there.

When, I called to reactivate my cards, the reps were very impressed and all three told me “that never, ever happens.”

So, that’s my fairy tale experience in Minneapolis this week.  Other than that, it was just a trip.  I stayed out of the cold as much as I could and when I was out, I was thoroughly swaddled in very warm clothes, so other than a couple of times my toes got cold, I remained comfortable by adding and removing layers. 

(Thanks Barb, for reminding me to do that!)

Everybody have a great Friday.  We’re expecting storms tomorrow, but otherwise, it’s warm here.  Yesterday, when I left Minneapolis, it was 1*.  When I got to Dallas, it was 59*.  And, when I got to my house in Austin, it was 75*.  Unfortunately, I can’t convince my body of that and I’m feeling cold all the time.  But, my brain will eventually wrap itself around the fact of my surviving the cold and I will hopefully start to feel warm again soon. 

Take care.  And, take a few minutes to study what you need to do in case you ever lose your wallet on a trip.  There are some things you can do to protect yourself and I will be doing them.



The hat pattern

Couple of people asked about the hat pattern yesterday. 


It came from this book


Men’s Knits by Erika Knight.  This is a pretty good book, but not my favorite for men’s knitting patterns.  The patterns are a bit complex sometimes, and the models are all so glum looking that the garments don’t just blow me away.  But, it had this great hat pattern that could be modified to knit in the round on dpn’s, or knitted flat with a seam up the back.  I chose to knit it flat because I didn’t have the large dpn’s. 

Today, I am off to Minneapolis.  I repacked last night, taking out some things and adding heavier things.  Less under clothes and more heavy outer garments that I can put on and take off in public.  I’ll be indoors most of the time I’m there, so I just need to be dressed for short car trips…and some unknown “fun event”…which could be anything…Seriously.  Anything.  This is such and unpredictable group.

The high today in Minneapolis is 16*.  WHAT?????  Yes, that’s right.  And, on Thursday, when I’m headed to the airport before the sun comes up, the low is going to be 1*. 

This is why I don’t usually travel north in winter.  That and the fact that my team is from the north and it’s a new team and I just can’t swear that they’re going to have my back when I say it’s too cold.

But, as Gloria Gaynor said “I will survive”.  The plan is to return with 10 healthy toes.  That’s the measure of success here. 

Everybody have a great week.  Between putting clothes on and taking them off, I’m not sure I’ll have time to blog.  Besides, I’ll probably be shivering, so I’ll be back later in the week.  If you see a man knitting a black sock in the airports today, it’s probably me.  Say Hey!



Snowflakes a flyin’

Okay, not outside snowflakes, thank goodness.  But, inside, quilted snowflakes that don’t melt when the heat comes on. 


I don’t know what made me think I could only do three snowflakes per hour.  Yesterday afternoon, they were flying by at three every half hour.  Combine that with the fact this took 6 fewer snowflakes than I’d calculated and I flew through them all and was picking paper out before supper.  It’s not my best quilting.  There were tension problems with the monofilament and some small portions might get requilted.  It happens.  But, for the most part, it’s time to think about the borders, which I think I can quilt during Thanksgiving break, so Rob better leave some wall space for a new holiday quilt.

Everybody have a great Monday.  I’m all packed for MN.  Last count was that I could pile on four layers before I put on my coat/hat/scarf. 

Oh, and speaking of hats.  I made two new ones this weekend out of a ball of nice gold wool.  Love these and they fit perfect. 


They were knitted flat and then sewn closed.  Each hat took about two and a half hours, so really easy.



I took it as a challenge

Rob didn’t mean it as a challenge.  I could tell by the way he looked up at me when he said it.  And, that just made me want to do it. 

That’s the good thing about loving the person you live with.  You’ve gotta do stuff for the people you live with anyway…it may as well be a pleasure. 

Anyway, he told his Mom he wasn’t sure if I’d finish this year’s holiday quilt in time to hang it.  And, that made me redouble my commitment to try to do just that.  Oh, I probably won’t be finished by Thanksgiving, when we put the tree up.  But, I hope I won’t be far behind.


I can quilt about three snowflakes in an hour.  I estimate there will be 54 snowflakes on the quilt.  Nine are finished.  Don’t do the math.  It’s daunting. 

I thought I’d take the chance to show off the other coat I made.  I’m going to be wearing it today.  (yes, I did just put the whole get-up on and then take it off so I could write this post and then I will have to put it back on in 15 minutes.  See how important you are?)  This is the Hudson Bay coat, made from a ratty Hudson Bay blanket that I bought many years ago, not realizing what bad shape it was in.  But, there was enough good wool to cut the pieces of this coat, so long as you don’t look too close at what’s turned under on the bottom hem.


Okay, that’s about it for me today.  Everybody have a great Friday.  We’re headed out into the cold to work and school.  And, I’m wishing it was a good day to work from home.  Oh, well.

Take care.  Stay warm.  Lane


Coat repair

If you followed me last year, you might remember that I decided to make myself a winter coat.  Read about it here and here and here. It’s a really nice coat, which made it more upsetting when I tore a small hole in it after wearing it about 5 times.  I wore it to move plants in the yard and caught it on a loose piece of metal.  No words were said, but I’m pretty sure I cried.

I did a quick whipstitch repair to keep it from tearing further, but it was pretty obvious, so I knew I would need a better repair.  But, I thought I had a long time until it got cold in Austin again to fix it. 

Enter a business trip to Minneapolis next week.  And, last time I checked, there were night time temps of 19*.  That’s awful cold for my very southern circulatory system.  Time to repair the coat.

I can’t believe I didn’t take any before pictures.  I took off the toggles and made two strips to run from the top to the bottom of the coat front, just along the front overlap.  I ironed them and basted them, and sewed them on first by hand.  That stabilized them and I was able to edgestitch and topstitch them down, before putting the toggles back on. 


The thing about the toggles is that the leather “thingies” that hold them down already had holes in them from their first application, so I sewed them back down, one stitch at a time, lifting the presser foot and moving the leather so that the existing hole was directly under the needle, lower the foot and make the stitch, then repeat.  Twice around each toggle.  It took some time, but the results were worth it. 

And, now I have a warm winter coat…that I might just wear today because it’s cold here, too.  This is my cat, who has found a warm spot in the waistband of my jeans.


Her name is Nirti.  She’s named after the Hindu goddess of destruction.  Not that she was ever destructive, but she can go to town on a scratching post when she wants to and doesn’t think anybody’s looking.

Everybody have a great day.  Stay warm.  Lane


What have I been up to?

Rob's Mom has been in town this weekend.  It's been a festival of food around here.  We've talked and watched movies and we went antique shopping.  We've cooked and eaten and Syd and Grandma have played board games.  Today, I go back to work, but Syd has a choir thing where they're going to sing patriotic songs at a nearby big box store.  Grandma will get to hear her sing with choir. 
And, I've kept myself busy in the slow times by working on a new Christmas tree skirt.  I can't take credit for anything but the sewing.  It's an adaptation of one that a blogger I follow made.  I'm pretty sure she follows me, too, so please pipe up and tell us who you are.  I was sure I'd get it finished and remember who to give credit to.  Ooops!  I printed a picture from her blog and used it to draft the pattern.  Hers has an additional set of points that point outward, made of red and green strips, but I decided to leave those off.  This is plenty big at 48" across.  The outer border is a print of wrapped holiday packages, which is perfect for under a tree. 

I drafted the pattern to the size I wanted and then sewed strips of green fabric together into two large pieces.  Then, I cut the tree shape out of my paper pattern and used it as a template to cut the trees.  I laid it on the strip set and then added a quarter inch around all the sides and cut it out.  I was careful to lay the template on different sections of the fabric, so no two trees are identical. 

Now, I just need to find something big enough to use as a back and I can layer this and quilt it and get it ready for holiday decorating...

Or, I could fold the edge under and hand stitch it down with big running stitches and let that be it for this year.  Then, I'd have a whole year to quilt it before we needed it again.  You can translate that as, next November, I'll be trying to find time to quilt it again, before holiday decorating.

Oh, well.  I am what I am and what I am is way overly ambitious.  But, I'm never bored.

Everybody have a great Tuesday.  Celebrate the veterans in your life.  At the choir concert last week, they sang a medley that included the anthems of all the branches of the military.  They asked veterans in the crowd to stand when their anthem was sung.  It made my heart swell to see them, standing proud, many with hands behind their backs "at ease". 

For a few minutes, it made me proud to be an American.  I could forget the terrible mess we're making and just be proud for people that were proud to have served. I mean, for God's sake, I'm looking for anything to be proud of... and it ain't in the news.



Tissue paper marking

There was some interest in my marking for this year’s holiday quilt. so I thought I’d talk more about how I do it. 

I love tissue paper marking.  If I’m making multiple copies of the same thing, then it’s the bomb.  If there is no repeat to the quilting, like in the silk house quilt I did this year, then it’s just as easy to draw onto the fabric.  But, if there is repeat, then this makes that very easy. 

It takes some practice.  Don’t expect your first efforts to be stupendous, so use that knowledge to help you pick the pattern you begin with.  Avoid straight lines or patterns that require an exact repeat.    The snowflake pattern I’m working now would have frustrated me in the beginning because there would have been no way I could keep the lines straight.  But, with some practice, I can.

First, before anybody gets excited, let me talk about the drawbacks.  The tissue paper tears.  Good giftwrap quality tissue paper has a shiny side that’s more like a plastic coating and that helps give it some stability, but the whole activity of tissue paper marking is putting holes in the paper and the more holes there are, the less stable the paper is and the more likely to tear.
The other drawback is that it shifts, so if you aren’t careful about holding it to the top of the quilt as you quilt through it, it will move and that star you were going to put over the manger will end up on a shepherd’s face.

Ask me how I know.

After you’ve got your pattern and needle punched through the pattern and into the tissue paper, you end up with something like this.  Be sure when you’re needle punching it to keep the stitches as long as you can.  The more holes, the less stable.  The more distance between stitches, the fewer holes there will be.  But, make sure that you keep the holes close enough together that you can see the direction you’re heading.  If my stitches are too far apart, then I won’t be able to see where to put the next stitch around my free motion quilting foot. 


The tissue gets pinned to the quilt.  For a small piece of paper, I’ll use straight pins, but for larger pieces, it’s my quilting safety pins.  Quilt along the perforated lines.  If you do tear the paper, pin it down to stabilize it quickly before it can tear more…a stitch, in time, saves nine.

In the picture below, I’ve started to tear it away.  I need to do that pretty early in the process, so I’ve quilted six snowflakes and uncovered the first three so I can get a look at the quilt.  I’ve torn away bits along the way to check tension and things like that, but I like to get far enough along that I can uncover a good sized section and make sure this is actually what I want to do on the whole quilt before I put too much work into it.


For this quilt, the big question was whether I wanted the snowflakes to extend over the lettering.  The hope was that the snowflakes would be there, but not interfere with the writing or the piecing.  As you can see, it doesn’t detract at all.  I used invisible thread, so when the light is directly on the quilt, you don’t even see the quilting.  It’s only when it’s lit from the side that the quilting pattern shows up.


It’s going pretty quick.  It would be great to have it finished before Christmas.  We’ll see.  I also am trying to make a tree skirt. 

So many things I’d like to do.

Everybody have a great Thursday.  It’s my last work day of the week.  Yay!! 

Be well.  Lane


The birthday girl

I can’t believe it either.  Seventeen.  She came to us two weeks before her ninth birthday. 


This is the kind of picture you get when you hand your phone to your seventeen year old and tell her to take a selfie.  I swear, she wasn’t surprised.  Or confused.  But, that look kind of implies both, huh?  Who gets girls? 

The black coat she’s wearing was her birthday gift.  She also is getting a pair of boots tonight.  And, a couple other things from Rob.  Underwear she chose for herself and I wish I hadn’t looked at to fold when I wrapped it.  This morning, she wanted to get to school real early.  The girls from cosmetology were taking her in for a birthday makeover. 

Who knows what she came out of that looking like.  But, we made sure she had the things she needed to undo anything they did.

She didn’t ask for anything special for dinner, but for breakfast, she asked for homemade pancakes, real bacon (not turkey bacon) and eggs over easy.  So, that’s how I started my day. 

I’m glad she’s here.  I’m glad she’s having a good seventeenth. 

I didn’t choose to have children.  But, I did choose to be a parent.  It was a hard decision to make and we made it in about two hours because it had to be quick.  Decisions that change your life are supposed to be hard and sometimes, you have to decide quick. 

I mess up a lot.  But, I get a lot right, too.  I guess I’ll keep doing it.  I’ve got nothing better to do with my time. 

Just one more year til she’s legal.  Lord help us!



Blowing it up

No, not with dynamite.

We’ve been batting around ideas for quilting this year’s holiday quilt.  I found a drawing of some snowflakes, which we agreed were appropriate.  We wanted the snowflakes to be really big so they would lay over and disappear into the piecing of the quilt.  But, if you look for them, you’ll be able to see them. 


I found the drawing on someone’s pinterest, then I traced it onto a transparency.  I put it on the overhead and blew it way up and traced it again.  But, that was pretty inexact and the lines were curvy.  So, I spent a few hours in the floor with a ruler and a sharpie cleaning that up. 

It’s big enough that six repeats will fill the center of the quilt, so I layered six pieces of tissue paper behind it, and using my machine and a needle without thread, I needle punched the design into the tissue paper.  Now, I’m ready to pin the tissue on top of the quilt and quilt through it, into the quilt.  But, before I do that, I need to get some of the safety pins out of the quilt and that means putting in some ditch work for stability.

At least it’s started and started is halfway there most of the time.

Everybody have a great Monday.  Lane