I was in a quilting mood

 Rob came back from his visit with his Mom this week and I could tell that we missed one another by how cheerful our banter was the rest of the week.  Saturday morning brought us different priorities and while he mowed the yard, which practically needed a hay baler because of all the rain we got, and I got started quilting.  

I'm not sure why I felt so intimidated to sit down and quilt, but I was putting it off and picking up multiple other projects to avoid it.  But quilt, I must.   I pulled out the arc quilt and got started on some echo work.  I had a different plan, but as I executed it, I realized that there was a better plan, so I switched to that.  On Saturday, I got 7 rows of echo quilting all the way around the arc quilt.  That took several hours.  

At first, I was just going round and round the whole quilt and that was kind of a pain to drag around and I realized that I could have the overlapping intersections if I changed to quilting one arc at a time.  All the quilting around the arcs uses this overlapping  outline to create a beautiful effect that accentuates the piecing, and it worked perfectly to apply that around the outside the arcs as well.  I had gone around twice by then, so I went to the corners and added the short bits to the ends of the lines that created that effect and then started working them that way in round three.  

Still making plans for the corners.  I have an idea that will give me just a little space to fill and I'm working on ideas to fill it.  

I also did some hand quilting.  This has been in the standing frame for a year, and it's been in the spare room where I do my yoga, so I've seen it nearly every day for a year, taunting me...hellooooo!  over here!  I'm unfinished....helloooo!  

I put it in a smaller hoop and now I can work on it while I watch TV.  I've come up with a plan for quilting it, too...I was in a very creative mood.

Idle hands are the devil's workshop, right?

While Rob was gone, I had planned several vegetarian meals and had stocked up on fresh veggies.  I was using a relatively new cookbook that I'd only cooked from once before, the last time Rob was out of town.  I spent hours making these delicious sounding dishes.  And, none of it was fit to eat.  I threw all the leftovers away, and because this was that cookbooks second shot and still no good food, I put the cookbook in the goodwill box and gave vegetarian a try with what I know.  I ended up making a leek, tomato, and spinach quiche, a peach pie, and a sweet potato casserole that I'm eating like a snack (Rob and sweet potatoes are like Dracula and garlic).  All before work on Friday morning.   Of course, that didn't include washing dishes, which I spent most of my lunch hour doing, but that's the cost of doing delicious business.

It's easy to take pictures of individual flowers in the garden, but it's hard to get shots that show the variety of bloom.  I took this one three times yesterday and this was the best of the lot.  The sun was about to set, but there was still plenty of backlighting to get the shot.  You may have to blow it up to see everything.  It's just a cacophony of leaf shape and flower color.  Lots of red, pink, blue and lavender going on out there right now.  It's come out just how I intended it, even tho there was never any official planning of where things should go.  It was about finding the spot the plant was happiest in, without much regard to who it's neighbors would be.  Now, it's just maintenance.  And water.  It looks this way because we've had so much rain, but that's ending now, and the garden will suffer a little until autumn when it will rev back up.  

Syd came for a visit last night.  We all enjoyed it.  We heard how well things are going between her and her boyfriend and we heard about work and now she can start looking for a new job.  Rob brought in Chinese and she stayed for dinner.  There were lots of laughs.  We carefully curate that relationship, using agreement, approval and silence.  We give feedback and suggestions, but we don't complain.  She's turning into an interesting adult and we are getting to enjoy it.  

We're in a crunch at work.  We need a document by end of day today.  We found out about it Thursday afternoon.  I worked several hours Saturday morning, doing competitor and legal research (no, I am not a lawyer, but I do pretty good legal research...I was trained by lawyers).  Yesterday, the bosses reviewed that work and I got feedback about how helpful it was.  Of course, I also got another research assignment, so I need to get logged in early.  On Friday, they were thanking me for saying I'd work on Saturday and my response was "it's all hands on deck.  I'm a hand.  And, I'm one deck."  They don't ask me to work extra hours often, so when they do, I'm glad to do whatever I can.  

Everybody have a good week!  I hope the rest of the week isn't as busy as my Monday is going to be.  I enjoy what I do and most of the time, can see the challenge instead of the "have to" of work



Too much time on my hands

 Rob's been out of town.  He's visiting his Mom, and even took a side trip to visit friends in Colorado.  I took a couple days off because if I don't take some time off soon, PTO will start to expire and that would feel like handing the company part of my salary back.  

Rob sent a picture of.a quilt I'd sent his Mom, when she moved from Colorado to Nebraska.  It was called Topsy's New Neighborhood.  He told me she was moving while I was finishing up this BOM (sorry, but it was several years ago and I can't remember who to credit, but it was not my design.).  His Mom had it draped over the back of her sofa.   Always nice to see my work.  

I spent some time thinking about how I was going to spend my time.  I did a good job of it, too.  I made sure not to make too many plans, so I'd have some time to just sit and relax.  I don't take on painting projects and things like that anymore.  What I forgot was that I was going to also have all the chores to do, so I haven't spent too much time relaxing.  I planned a sun catcher with some glass pendulums as a craft project.  Then, I tried to figure out where I was going to hang said relatively large craft project and realized that might not be how I wanted to spend my time.  I wanted to binge watch a lot of TV and I didn't do that either.  The third thing I wanted to do was some organizing and I did the heck out of that.  I sorted through my closet, doing it quick and asking everything whether I loved it.  I didn't let myself think about how I COULD wear this again and there's NOTHING wrong with it.  If I didn't love it, I told it goodbye.  I ended up with a really big box of clothes for Goodwill.  Who knew I felt that way about so much of my wardrobe?  

I did not go through my shoes.  I love all my shoes.  Even the ones that hurt my feet.  

I also sorted through parts of the pantry.  It wasn't about getting rid of food, but about organizing it to optimize space.  My post pandemic pantry needed a refresh.  I also took a long look at how I store my dishes and despite how I'm always trying to make the stuff I use the most more accessible, It feels like I  can never get to anything.  One of the things I did was pack up Linda's wedding crystal.  It is beautiful!  But, I'm never going to use it.  We're holding onto it as a wedding gift for Syd.  It did not need to stay in my cabinets.  That freed up a lot of space for the things we do use.  And, while I was at it, I found that dang butter knife that we lost last Thanksgiving.  I knew we hadn't thrown it away.  

And, I cooked.  Rob being away was no reason for me to exist on sandwiches.  I baked bread, made Chinese, roasted vegetables with couscous (first time I ever cooked with fennel), and made pepper jelly.  I enjoy cooking and it's always nice to have a little something new to try.  I get stuck in a rut sometimes with the classic triangle plate (meat, veg, starch).  I like to try new things when I can and if I experiment while Rob is out of town, I'm not having to watch him eat it if it's no good, with that pained look and the fake smile plastered on.  God love him for doing that, but when it's just me, I can throw it out if it's not good and start over again.  Or have a sandwich.  

I don't know what I did different with that bread, but it came out especially nice this week.  I sliced a hunk off last night and buttered it and had it with dinner.  

I tried to think of all the things I did, and can't.  I reorganized the cookbook shelf to bring the cookbooks for two to the front and I sat on the floor and reorganized the bakeware cabinets and hung cedar in the coat closet and I went next door for cocktails with friends last night.  I cleaned a section of carpet and I dusted our bedroom and vacuumed the house.  I did laundry and bathed the dog and watered the yard.  And, I did a lot of shopping in Amazon's craft and organization departments.  I even bought some new clothes.  

Now, I need to go back to work so I can get some rest from my paid time off.  

Everybody have a great week!  Do something you love, but do it  in moderation.  And, enjoy the doing of it.  Lane


It is finished...

It's the last time you're going to have to hear about the sweater, at least until Fall...or maybe the dead of winter, when I can wear it again.  I started it on January 1, and I finished knitting on Saturday and had all the loose ends tucked in yesterday morning.  I put it on and got Rob to take some pics.  

I decided against the shawl collar.  I was half done with it when I realized I've never had a shawl collar sweater before and wasn't sure I was going to like it.  Then, I thought about how rough this wool yarn is and how that was going to be up around my neck and face and I had visions of Leonard Hofstadter in the sweater of punishment that Sheldon made him wear and pulled it out and started over again.  I like this collar better.  

And, the back.  I love how the back looks.  It's my favorite part of the sweater.  

 All that's left is buttons.  I have an extensive button collection and was sure I'd find something there.  But, everything was either too bright or it would have been 4 + 1 that was a close match.  I had about 5 sets that I could have used but none of them was "the" set, so I headed to Amazon and found a couple that I think would work very well and they should be here tomorrow.  Most sellers on Amazon wanted to sell me 50-100 identical buttons and I only need 5.  Part of the search became finding sellers that would sell me a reasonable number that didn't become a burdensome bag of buttons hanging out in my studio closet until Syd inherited them.  I decided 10 was all I would buy and I found a set of 10 and a set of 6.  

True confession...when I pulled it off the needles, my sweater did not fit.  It was very big.  It hung low on me and bunched up in the shoulders.  

The back looked fine, but the front was kind of a mess.  

So, I took my 6 1/2 months of work and put it in the dryer. It's not the first time I've sized a wool sweater this way.  And, it is not for the faint of heart.  I studied before I did it and learned that it's the banging around in the dryer that causes wool to felt.  While I knew they pounded wool in the past to felt it, it never occurred to me that's what causes wool to felt in a dryer.  I sprayed the sweater with a mister bottle until it was damp and put 4 large fluffy bath towels in the dryer first and got them hot, then I arranged them so the sweater was in the middle and I turned it on.  Making sure the sweater was in the middle was a waste of time because every time I opened the dryer, it was not in the middle, but it did keep the sweater from felting.  I set a timer for 4 minutes and started out only being able to let it go for 2 the first round, but after that, I played solitaire on my phone to keep me busy and was able to let the dryer work it's magic.  The first few times I pulled it out, you couldn't see the difference, but then the sweater began to look smaller, so I started pulling it out and putting it on every couple cycles.  I even decided to dampen it again at one point and that really sped things up.  And, the last time I put it on, I knew it was right.  My little balls of yarn were all grown up into something I love (or will love when the weather gets cooler) and am very proud of.  I can't wait to show it off.  

This is what's left of the poor pattern.  Six and a half months of being used almost every day has worn it out.  Spilling water on it didn't help.  I'll lay it flat and staple it together and put it with my other patterns as a reminder of that year I made this really crazy sweater that took forever!  I filled those two pages of notebook paper up with handwritten notes, especially after I decided to go "off pattern".

Last week, my new manager asked me to do something that shouldn't have been done, but he's new and inexperienced and didn't know it shouldn't have been done.  The first day, I did it like he said to do it.  It was a diz-ass-tah.  The second day, I logged in early and wrote the plan I'd made the night before in an email to him.  I even said that what I'd been doing wasn't working, but it allowed me to learn about the topic and make a new plan.  Long after my work day was over on Friday, he and I continued to chat and I think I was a little surprised at how grateful he was that I'd taken an idea that no one had done before and created a plan and made it work.  But, hopefully, he won't ask me to do that again.  

Everybody be well.  This week's themes are "Never give up!  Never surrender!" and "If you can't love yourself, how in the hell you gonna love somebody else?"  Now, I'm going to go practice those.  



Seasonal focus

I could also have titled this post 'things I'll do to get out of feeling obligated to knit.'  I can be kind of obsessive when things aren't going right.  Work the problem, solve the problem.  But, I also get bored easily, so too much working the problem and I'm ready to move on to something new.  And, I don't want this sweater to turn into a multi-year thing.  

We had a really nice 4th.  Yesterday was also our last anniversary of the year (thank goodness) and Rob gave me a very sweet card and we both said Happy Anniversary at the same time, which meant neither of us had forgotten.  Syd and MM (the boyfriend seems to be sticking around, so needs a name I guess) got there late, so the barbecue chicken was kind of dry.  But, we had some really good queso made with smoked brisket and spicy pico de gallo and baked beans and the very best coleslaw I ever made and potatoes salad the way my Mom made it.  I even made an apple pie.  We ate and watched an Independence Day movie and The Tomorrow War and had a nice visit (we talk through movies, but seem to need something there in the background).  I think he enjoys our sense of humor as we joke with Syd.  He's a little more relaxed and that must mean we're doing something right.  

Since I was avoiding my needles, I decided I could try something experimental in the kitchen.  I made macarons for the first time.  They seem to be a staple in any baking competition and they look so good and why not, right?  A macaron is basically a meringue cookie, made with a little bit of almond flour.  It made a very light and crisp cookie.  But, then you sandwich frosting between two of those little bits of puff and it makes a crispy sweet bit of lemon flavored sugar (and butter and cream cheese).  What's not to like?  I didn't have the right frosting tip, so had to substitute, which made a really pretty cookie.  The recipe said to make the cookies an inch in diameter.  That's very small and I'd have been there all day piping out cookie dough so I decided to make them larger.  That left me with cookies of all sizes, so I paired them up and put half on one cookie sheet and half on the other.  I would pick them up from one, pipe a little frosting on, then hand it to Rob and he'd pick up the corresponding cookie and stick it to the other end.  It was very Lucy and Ethel and we laughed, but didn't eat all the product.  

I worked on the plants on the deck to get them like we wanted them.  When the weather changed, I had some stuff getting too much sun and some stuff getting too little.  The deck looks really good.  Too bad we can't spend any time out there without dipping ourselves in mosquito repellent.  We've had two companies come out to measure for the replacement fences.  We've picked something really nice and in about 8 weeks, we should have it all replaced.  I can hardly wait.  

This is a little Iris that we picked up on vacation a few years ago.  I mean, like literally bent over and picked it up out of a field.  I didn't think I had any of them left, then last week, it started to flower unexpectedly.  The flower is about an inch and a quarter in diameter and you can imagine a field of these in a shady spot on a mountain side.  

The swamp lily is blooming.  It's kind of a poor bloom this year, but that's okay.  I lost a couple of these in the big freeze this year, so I was glad to see anything from them.  

I took a picture of this crape myrtle.  I've never seen one so big.  You can see how it towers over the house.  There are a couple of these in the neighborhood.  One is pink and these are white.  Every year, they give a beautiful bloom cycle and they make very shady trees.  (I have screen porch envy of these people).

I haven't bought fish in a couple years and the aquarium was looking pretty sad.  I've been working on it, getting it cleaned up so I could bring in new fish.  We went to the really good fish store on Saturday and I picked up a few.  I hope to go back next Saturday and pick up a few more.  It's not good to put too many new fish into a tank at one time.  This picture was to catch that one that's just left of center with the long fins.  I can't remember what it's called anymore, but I want more of them.  They live a long life and they're very active.  They give quick flashes of silver in the tank.  

Okay, that's it for me today.  Time to get moving.  It's been very busy at work.  Not only am I doing my job, but I'm having to explain how, why and when to my new managers.  They're doing well, but they ask really hard questions and sometimes I'm like 'well, we've always done it that way.  And, if you'd like to make a change, just let me know.'  I keep encouraging them to tweak my work to make it meaningful to them, but so far, they're just in observation mode.  I'm cool with that.  I hate change.  There have been a couple times I've wanted to say 'you're spending too much time on this, you need to move on, there's too much needing to be done' but it's not the time for that.  

Be well.  Enjoy your loved ones, and enjoy yourself.  Lane