It’s the great Pumpkin!

Hi, all.  Well, the bright orange shirt is finished and ready to wear today in celebration of Halloween.  I’m calling my costume The Great Pumpkin.


Yes, after several incredibly unflattering photos were taken of me by my daughter, I had to go to take a mirror selfie.  Criminney, do I really look that bad?

The shirt mostly fits.  You can imagine my disappointment when I put it on and the only thing…yes, the one and only thing that I didn’t muslin before cutting the shirt was the cuffs.  The sleeve length and cuff diameter are off.  The sleeves are about an inch too short and the cuff about a half inch too small.  They are exact acording to the books on how shirts should fit, but they’re just not comfortable for me.

But, I’m pretty dang happy with it.  And, since I almost never wear my sleeves down and buttoned on a long sleeve shirt, it’s going to be fine.


And, because I can take more flattering photos than my ghoul, here is a pic of her in her costume for the day.  She’s Mother Nature.


Everybody have a great Halloween.  Peppermint is good for candy overload, according to one of my co-workers.  I intend to do my dead level best to avoid all the candy I can.  But, I’ll still find some.

Hope you have lots of treats and no tricks.  Lane


Don’t scoff at the old stuff

I work at a job where youth is revered.  Young, agile minds.  Young, agile, self-confident minds.

And, in my long career, I’ve watched so many of them crash and burn. 

So, I’m very open to the old stuff.  The tried and true stuff.  The stuff that was built to work and to do a good job and to last a lifetime.  I’ve made a whole career out of holding the new ideas up to the test of time, using my experience with the old ways. 

That’s why I switched from my newer machine to my good, old fashioned, big boy buttonholer from the 1930’s, mounted here to my 50’s era Elna Supermatic, to finish my shirt.


This model doesn’t use cams.  All the measurements can be adjusted in whatever way I want.  Bigger, smaller, narrower, wider, longer, shorter…you name it, I control it. 

Perfect buttonholes every time.


So, to all those young’uns out there that think the new way is the best way or the only way, I say…


And, the only drawback was that it took me 15 minutes and a half dozen buttonholes on scrap fabric to get it adjusted exactly the way I wanted it.  I spent more time than that, just reading the instructions for how to create a buttonhole on that newer machine.

Just six more buttonholes to go.  And, some hemming.  And, a bit of topstitching I forgot to do in the collar stand.  I plan to wear this very orange shirt to work on Halloween.  Perfect for the day. 

Everybody have a great Tuesday.  Be kind to one another.  And, respect your elders.  Syd was telling me about a country they talked about in Sociology where it’s rude to start eating before the oldest person at the table has started eating. 

I like that.  Especially here, where the oldest person at the table is also the cook.



Civil War block 10

Most of this weekend was spent making a shirt. 

Gotta tell ya’, not nearly as fulfilling as I thought it would be.  Hours and hours and hours spent getting a pattern to fit, then hours and hours and hours spent making the shirt…and we went to goodwill on saturday, where I got shirts for $6 each.  I have no incentive to continue to try to make clothes at this point. 

And, I’ve still got to do buttonholes and buttons.  The first machine I tried, a Pfaff from the 90’s makes an inconsistent buttonhole (half dozen right, but when I put my shirt in, it won’t do it.  Then, another half dozen right and I put my shirt in and it won’t do it again…needless to say I’m glad my Mother couldn’t hear what I had to say about that) and I can’t be bothered to keep trying with that machine, so it’s back in the closet and I’m trying one of my old fashioned buttonholers.

So, yesterday afternoon, I set it aside and did something different.

I made Barbara Brackman’s Civil War quilt block.


That’s number 10; just two more to go and I’ll have another UFO…

I’m doing something wrong here.  There should be more satisfaction from the things I do, especially if I’m going to spend all my free time doing them. 

Everybody have a good Monday.  Lane


Farewell, Beloved Friend

Today, we mourn the demise of our dear friend and devoted fellow quilter, Thomas Fal. 


T. Fal passed quietly at home, sometime in the last 24 hours, serving faithfully until he was found, deceased, this morning.  Mr. Fal was at least ten years old, and likely much older.  Nobody remembers the last time I needed an iron. 

When friends were asked to what they attributed Mr. Fal’s long life, they expressed that it was likely the fact that he had never had water poured into him.  Water was always spritzed onto fabric before Thomas was used to create steam. 

He survives countless spritzing bottles.  He will be grieved by his current partner, Blue Bottle.


Temporary quilting services are being provided by the aged and revered General E. Lectric, who has returned from retirement for this temporary duty.


Okay, so this is only partially in jest.  I’ve known for a while that my iron was not going to last forever.  But, it was still a surprise this morning when it wouldn’t turn on.  I am sad because I know that it is going to be hard to find another iron that will last as long as this one did. 

Have a great Thursday.  Thank goodness I’ve been looking around and know exactly where I’m going to go and what I’m going to buy next.  Lane


Broccoli moments

That’s what we call them.  And, it must be pretty common because there was a recent Simpsons episode that featured a broccoli moment between Homer and Bart. 

Thank goodness Sydney is not as stubborn as Bart.

Or as over-indulged. 

A broccoli moment is where a parent accidentally backs themselves into a corner that results in a stand-off that the parent must win. 

Ours happened soon after Syd came to live with us.  She didn’t eat green.  She ate chicken nuggets.  And, in the beginning, that was about it.  One place she’d lived fed her pizza almost daily.  Another fed her McDonalds, so she wouldn’t touch either of those.  She was very, very clear on that point.  The only other food she recognized was chicken nuggets. 

But, that’s not how Rob and I eat. 

Side note.  Rob’s Mom is coming to visit next month and she always tells Rob to tell me not to go to any trouble.  This time, Rob told her, it’s no trouble, Mom.  Lane really cooks for us that way every night.  Protein, vege, and a starch.  I guess that’s old-fashioned now, but everybody that knows us knows that we eat good.

Anyway, Sydney got exposed to a whole lot of variety.  I cooked all kind of stuff and I masked the vege in a way that she would eat it.  Until the night I steamed broccoli. 

I told her she had to eat it.  She said no.  That was my chance to find a way to back out of my position.  But, I didn’t take it.  I told her yes.  I told her she couldn’t leave the table until she ate it.  All of it.

She sat there and she cried and she looked at that broccoli and she sat at the table and she watched TV, but she could only get up to go to the bathroom and then she was back at the table. 

I did the dishes, cleaned up the kitchen, brushed my teeth and got ready for bed and then came back to the table with a book.

She recognized the sign of her defeat.  She ate that cold broccoli. 

Now, I can apologize for making her eat that cold broccoli.  And, we can joke about it.  It’s common for me to ask her if she wants to make something a broccoli moment.  And, it’s common for one of us to back down before it goes too far. 

Yesterday, we had a broccoli moment in the car.  It’s bound to happen between an adult and a person trying to spread her wings and become an adult, a person who is taking more and more charge of her own life and decisions. 

I get it.  I understand.  But, I pulled to the side of the road and put the car in park and we sat there for a minute before she gave in.  And, last night, when she brought it up, I explained that the only reason we got there was she tried to tell me how things were going to go down and as long as I’m paying the bills, that ain’t necessarily how it’s actually going to go. 

She and I are having a whole lot of playful banter.  I’m loving it.  I don’t know what’s brought on the change, but she’s less sullen and grumpy.  She’s more open and playful. 

And, yes, I do my part to try to foster that playfulness between us.  She has to understand that I have a certain amount of attention I can pay her and that can be good attention or it can be bad attention, and while she’s not completely in control of which one of those plays out, she’s in control of a lot of it.

Parenting…somebody called it the best job you’ll ever hate…or maybe that was the worst job you’ll ever love.  Either way, that kind of fits. 

Oh, and BTW, Sydney now loves Thai, Indian, Mexican, Chinese, soul food, pizza and burgers.  Like Rob, she will eat just about anything I put in front of her, and she’s clear about whether she likes it or not.  All it took was exposing her to it and getting her to try it.  She even willingly eats steamed broccoli now.  She likes it with lemon juice, so I always make sure there’s lemon juice in the steaming water.  Compromise. 

Everybody have a great Wednesday.  It’s halfway through the week. 



How not to make the perfect shirt

Like Edison, I think I have discovered 700 ways not to make the perfect shirt.  When I have eliminated all the ways not to make the perfect shirt, I will be able to make the perfect shirt.



If you’ve followed me for a while, then you know that I have failed over and over…and over.  Close, but no cigar.  Some, I can even wear out of the house.  Maybe not under bright lights, but out of the house.  I have tried a half dozen commercial patterns.  I have measured.  I have drawn.  I have cut out and sewn together.  But, not quite it. 

Last weekend, I tried again.  And, I accidentally ended up with a great fitting shirt.  Not perfect, but very close.


It started with some studying. 


And, a whole lot of thinking and planning.  And, then, I sat in the floor for two and a half hours and converted a commercial pattern to the dimensions of my favorite shirt.  I had an XXL shirt I had already disassembled.  I cut the seams out of most of it and picked out the things that had finished seams.  , but when I laid my newly drawn pattern on it, the fabric was already cut smaller than my pattern pieces. 

Uh-oh.  So, nothing to lose, I put it together for practice.  And, weirdly, it fit.  It fit very nicely.  The collar and cuffs are still too large, but otherwise, it fits. And, I added extras, like my name embroidered in the inside yoke and my initials on the cuff.



Hey, why not?  It was all for practice, right?  It was just the merest of coincidences that it actually fit and I can wear it out in public. 

Next, I cut a muslin out of the pattern I’d drawn and when I put it together, it was way too big.  Go figure.  I fiddled with it and cut it and added pieces back to it and cut it again and marked it with a sharpie and then I just got tired and threw it away.  There was no sense in continuing to fiddle with something I had fiddled with so much.  And putting it in the trash on trash day was the only real solution for my OCD.  I never blinked when Rob took it out. 

Then, I tried on my favorite shirt and realized that I like a really big shirt.  So, maybe the fit I’m trying to achieve isn’t what I really feel comfortable in.  Maybe I need to try a different fit.  And a different size pattern.  So, I took the shirt I had put together apart.  Not completely, but sufficiently to trace it onto paper.  I took off one cuff, opened up the side and sleeve, took off the sleeve, the collar and the collar stand.  Even if I didn’t end up with a shirt, I was dang sure going to end up with a pattern that fit.

And, after it was traced, I put the shirt back together. 

Unfortunately, that didn’t leave time to try another muslin, but I will.  Soon.  Like maybe I’ll cut it out tomorrow morning. 

I am nothing if not stubbor…uhm, persistent.  That’s it.  I’m persistent. 

Meanwhile, I have developed great skills at assembling a shirt.  I am really proud of the skill part.  So, if I ever get a pattern to fit, I’ll sure have the workmanship skills to get it together. 

Everybody have a great Tuesday.  No, I couldn’t wear the shirt today.  It still needs buttons and buttonholes on collar and cuff.  But, soon. 



A busy sewist…

I did get two quilts pin basted this weekend.  Plus other stuff. 

First, I completed the assembly on this top.  I think there is a a nice balance between the plain sashing and border and the applique blocks, which are the real focus of the quilt. 


Not quite what I expected.  The outer border changed colors on me as I was adding it.  The background red is the same red as the blocks. 


But, all the gold print on it makes it look like a tomato red, which is a more orange red, from afar. 

After that, there was a shirt making marathon that I’ll save for another post.  It’s kind of a tragic, happy story.

And, I got the two quilts pin basted.  Here is the first. 


I sat down and started quilting it yesterday and before I knew it, the center was done and I was out in the border.  That’s going to be a really quick finish. 

And, then I can move to Rob’s holiday quilt, which is pin basted and ready to go.  We can’t decide how to quilt it, so I’m just going to start out by outlining stuff and see where the quilt takes me.  


I warned him that it might end up like the little quilt that’s folded up in front of the black holiday quilt.  I took the same unplanned approach to it and it won’t tell me what it wants me to do next.  I am stumped.  Even Rob is stumped.  So, it’s folded up and waiting until some inspiration strikes.  Or dry rot.  Whichever comes first. 

Everybody have a great Monday.  Hi-ho, hi-ho, it’s back to work I go.  Friday was a nice day off, but I’m starting to realize that I work myself so hard when I’m off work that I need to get back to the office for some rest. 

They don’t expect so much from me there as I expect from me when I’m not there. 

And, they have pretty high expectations.



Coming together

I am very happy with how this quilt is coming together. 


Considering where it started, it has truly come a long way.  But, even so, it’s still a learning experience quilt and is therefore full of errors.  The biggest one I’m dealing with now is how the fabric pulled in when I did the satin stitch.  Maybe I should have read some instructions again.  Anyway, that will all quilt out, right? 

Remember that I want to make one of every kind of quilt?  This one knocks a couple off the list. 

I’m adding borders now, so soon I’ll have yet another UFO to add to the pile.  I need to put a concentrated effort toward quilting; just knuckle under and pin baste a couple more quilts and get started. 

Wouldn’t it be nice if doing a thing was as easy as saying a thing?

Okay, so wish me luck that at some point of the next three days, I get two quilts pin-basted. 

Now, everybody wish for me to have time, energy, and enough batting to get two quilts pin basted.

Everybody have a great Thursday.  If nothing changes, I might take tomorrow off.  Wouldn’t that be nice? 



A mighty wind

We’ve had wonderful rains lately.  There’s no more talk about escalating water rationing.  That’s good.  But, it has come with winds.

We had a limb drop a couple weeks ago.  Nice sized limb, but nothing significant.  This week, we had a large one fall.  When cut into pieces and dragged out of the flowerbeds, it covers the back yard.


But, it doesn’t stop me from being able to enjoy the blooms.  I just climb through it.  We’ll get it cleaned up this weekend.



I don’t usually deadhead the phlox, but this year, I cut them back pretty early; as soon as they weren’t pretty anymore, but there were still a few straggly blossoms left.  And, they came back with a second bloom.  I think they always have, but I couldn’t see it beneath the dead blossoms.


Everybody have a great Wednesday.  I have the dentist this afternoon.  Yuck!  It’s so hard to appreciate the fact that I have good dental coverage because it means I’m always at the dentist. 



Finding inspiration

I have a holiday quilt that is making fun of me.  Every time I walk into the sewing room, I hear it…nah-nah!  You don’t know what to do with me.  nah-nah!

Stupid quilt.

I really should just pull something else out and pin baste it.  But, I can’t.  So, I’ve planned and tossed out a dozen ideas for finishing the quilting in this project.  Sometimes, inspiration is just a long way off. 

Maybe it’s because I wasn’t really concentrating on it.  Because this morning, I wrote half this blog post and then went to brush my teeth and because I was concentrating on it, an idea just suddenly came to me.  And, I think it’s a good one.  Oddly not related to tooth brushing, but hey, I have had good ideas during less discussable activities.  Who am I to question where inspiration comes from and when.

But, isn’t it a lovely thing that it does? 

Thanks to follower Mari, I now understand why I couldn’t follow some of your blogs using my dashboard.  I have created a bloglovin account and am working my way through my followers list.  If you have a blog linked to your profile and have posted to it in the last three months, I am probably going to be following you soon.

It was odd to work through my old list and wonder what happened to so many people and why they stopped posting.

Everybody have a great Tuesday.  Lane


Another quickie

I did another one of those quick kit projects this weekend.  These were “learn to quilt” projects sold by JoAnn’s and there was a kit per month, each specializing in a different technique.  I picked up a couple from a clearance rack and this is the second one.  Cute.  Nothing I would have designed myself, but a great chance to enjoy some blanket stitch applique. 


I liked the blanket stitch better than the satin stitch and can certainly see me doing that again.  I even have a kit with several blocks that I would consider assembling this way, now that I’ve given up the idea of doing them by needle turn…Love needle turn, but it takes so loooooooong for me.


Anyway, we laid this little quilt out on the treadle machine in the foyer and can enjoy its “fall-ness”. 

That’s two knocked out of the park.  I also meant to get a Linus quilt pin basted this weekend, but it just didn’t happen.  We were so busy and there just wasn’t time to quilt. 

Everybody have a great Monday.  Lane 


The challenge block

I’m about to do my first public challenge block.  I’ve done challenges before, but never one that anybody else saw but me.  I’m pretty excited to give it a try.

The challenge is for next year’s Georgetown Quilt and Stitchery show, sponsored by Handcrafts Unlimited.  HU sells hand made items for seniors; a clearinghouse for them to display and sell their wares.  And, I think they all have to take a turn working at the shop.  Anyway, they do a challenge every year and you buy the fabric from them for next to nothing and make any block you want and turn it in.  They judge and there’s a first prize.  They keep the blocks and use them for a future fundraiser. 

I like that.  We’ve been attending this show for years and there are beautiful quilts and it’s always well attended.  The day we picked up the fabric was the first time I’d been in the store.  It was really nice.  I could have spent a lot longer, looking at the cool handmade items that were reasonably priced.  We will likely be there again sometime.

Here are the fabrics.


Maybe it’s just me being influenced by that Jubilee Quilt I started when I turned 50 and now can’t make myself work on, but whenever I see batiks matched out like this, I think Mariner’s Compass blocks.  And, I won’t even have to do any research because I have, like 36 patterns printed off that I was going to use in the Jubilee Quilt…and do we now understand why that’s so hard to pick up and work on.  Maybe this block will inspire me.

It’s Friday.  It’s a good thing.  I’m very tired.  I have a huge project that needs completing today.  Or, over the weekend and I really don’t want to do that. 

Go Malala!!!!  Youngest Nobel Peace Prize Winner!  What a wonderful and inspirational young woman.  I wonder if she’d come here and talk personally to my student about the importance of education.  Her book is next on my reading list. 

Have a great Friday and a great weekend.  I’m catching up on blogs I haven’t read this week.  And, speaking of, I’ve tried to follow some of my followers lately and there is no button to add you to my dashboard to follow.  That’s really handy for some of us old timers that still use that button to follow folks.



Home again

Well, I’m about to decide the airlines have something against me traveling.  Remember that in August, the closest I could get to Cleveland was Dallas.  Well, it was starting to look like the closest I was going to get to Tampa was Houston.

There was a rainstorm that messed things up at the airport.  That was fine.  I wasn’t particularly in love with the idea of bouncing through a storm.  I hate bouncy flights.  And then, when they did get us on a plane, we were speeding down the runway when the pilot put on the brakes.  I heard him later say his check engine light came on.  There was some playful banter about a check engine light that had been on for two years, and others expressed their happiness that not everyone thought that way. 

There was a whole lot of bad customer service and some very good luck.  I  did what I learned to do long ago, when I worked in customer service.  Keep talking to people until you get the answer you want.  The third rep I talked to got me on standby for a flight that I made as the next to last person allowed to board.  That was the luck. 

The meetings were good.  I felt very involved, even though the thing I was involved in wasn’t really a big part of my job.  But, you know, it’s nice to feel included. 

I did knit in airports and planes and a little bit in the hotel.  I forget how long it takes to knit a sock.


So far, there has been very little ripping, but I confess to working that heel more than once.  Socks are my version of warm woolen mittens as a favorite thing.  These are very thick and will serve me well if I end up in Indiana in January (heaven forbid!)

Anyway, now it’s time to head back to work.  No rest for the worker bee.  Everybody have a great…what day is it?  Thursday?  Yeah, that better be it.  Or, I’m really late.



The bachelor weekend in review

When they got home, Rob asked me if I had fun and I sad No.  Quick, no.  But, that’s not true.  I did have a nice weekend.  I worked my boohonkus off, but I had a nice weekend.  I enjoyed it, in my own way, even though it’s not going to sound like I had any fun at all. 

I got to my hard work early in the mornings.  I repaired the grout around my kitchen sink and in Sydney’s shower.  I’m still an apprentice grouter, so it has to be re-done once in a while, in small spaces.  And, I stacked up the furniture in the dining, living and bedroom and cleaned the carpet.  I repaired our showerhead, which had sprung a leak that was actually painful to the back of the head if you stood in the wrong place.  And, I restored Sydney’s laptop to its factory settings to get rid of some bad mojo that had downloaded itself to it.  And, surprise of all surprises, it worked.  That’s mostly kick something off and come back to it in a few hours and kick something else off, but it’s still time consuming.   

I spent several hours repairing and then using the new machine Rob brought home for me on Friday.  A Bernina 817 for $40, including its cabinet.  A bargain.  Well, I found out why the price was so low.  It sounded like it was shot to hell.  But, it wasn’t  It needed a lot of oil…a lot of oil.  Like I thought I was going to have to call someone in the oil fields of West Texas to ship me a barrel.  And, the belts were out of alignment.  One was too tight and one was too loose.  they shared a common pulley and when I moved that pulley, everything snapped into place and it started working perfect.  Almost silent, strong.  I did some practice FMQ and it’s going to be a great second machine for that.  But mostly, I pieced.


I assembled these two quilts from blocks made during Bonnie Hunter’s Easy Street mystery.  I added the borders and plan to quilt them on the new machine.  Hey, what the heck.  Why not?  I decided the leave the hexagon quilt in the shape it was instead of adding large triangles to finish the corners.  I like it.  A bit of whimsy in a donation quilt. 

100_7430 100_7432

And, Saturday night, I stayed up late and did a whole lot of the quilting on this one. 


I knew the motif for what to quilt into those trees would come to me, as soon as I sat down and got familiar with the quilt.  . 


So, that’s it for me.  I don’t know how easy it will be to post for a few days.  I’m in Tampa, Florida.  For training.  Something tells me I’m going to wish I’d spent more of the weekend sleeping and less time studying the right wrist angle for spreading grout.

Everybody take care.  If you see a guy knitting a sock on an airplane, say hey!  It’s prob’ly me.  I don’t run into many men sewing or knitting on airplanes. 



The bachelor

No, not the TV show.  I can't imagine any incentive that would get me to watch the TV show. 

This is about my own bachelor weekend.  Rob and (hopefully) Sydney will be at the coast for the weekend, leaving me at home with the dogs and the cats and the fabric and the sewing machines, including the Bernina that Rob picked up for $40 in a thrift shop today...I haven't even seen it yet.

We will not be discussing the machine count in this post, but I can say that I am very close to not being able to count them using all my fingers and all my toes.  People think there's a problem with that.  But, I don't.

Speaking of vintage machines, that National two spool I mentioned the other day went for more than $250, and another that posted soon after, and had a case and an electric motor attached sold FOR MORE THAN $400!!!  It's a good thing I already have mine because I don't think I could afford one now.

I have a list of things I want to do this weekend...tile that needs re-grouting and carpets that need cleaning.  I want to finish a Linus quilt and make me a shirt and clear up in the sewing room a bit and slice up some scraps into the scrap user's system.  I won't have a bedtime, so movies til midnight,  and I might just eat bread and pickles for the weekend.  Or maybe I'll order a huge pizza and eat it cold for meal after meal.  The weather is going to be nice, so I'd like to spend mornings in the sunroom with my knitting and an audio book and part of the time out weeding in the yard. 

I've taken tomorrow off, so I have three days.  I wonder what I will do with them.  Isn't the anticipation of things so much better than the actual having of them?  There is just the smallest chance that I'll string up the hammock and spend three days napping in the breeze, listening to the birds sing.  You just never know with me.

I do not know how she did it, but Syd got all her assignments turned in and her grades are up.  I don't know how she can live so close to the edge.  But, it doesn't bother her.  We're frantic "where is the assignment?" "why haven't you turned it in?" and she's just laid back..."I've got it covered." 

Makes Rob and I CRAZY!!!

Okay, all.  Have a great Thursday.  I'll try to post pictures of whatever I get up to this weekend, even if it's just the view into the treetops from my hammock in the yard.



Other goings on

One of the things I got done this weekend was adding the flower centers to the satin stitch applique blocks.


These four blocks really were quite dated and the fabrics shouted late 80’s, early 90’s.  But, the addition of some new fabrics and some nice stitching and they’re actually a very respectable job.  I don’t know if I’ll ever do much satin stitch.  But, if you’re considering it for a project, know that it wasn’t near as hard as I thought it would be.  And, it goes faster than I expected.  I wouldn’t hesitate to do it again, if the right project came along.


I’m also doing the ditchwork on this holiday quilt.  I have no idea what comes after that.  I thought I’d just start and see if inspiration finds me.  Sometimes that works. 


This week ends the first grading cycle for Syd.  We’re having our same old issue, not turning in work on time.  So, the whole family is focused on that right now, trying to encourage and keep her motivated, but really, I’d gladly do her a grievous harm right now because this happens over and over and over and over and our reaction to it never wavers.  And, she always manages to pull it off in the end.  I don’t know how.  And, it’s way more work and stress than it needs to be.  But there are some things we can’t change, and we just need to manage through them. 

In the meantime, I’ll keep sewing as much as I can because that, I can control.  Be well everybody.