Practical Makes

Practical projects and crafts

Author: Louise (page 3 of 4)

Christmas in July

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July has gone by crazy fast.  There was getting back from vacation, working on the garden, work projects and all sorts of things going on.  And of course various projects and craft things and goals to be achieved!  July is also a planning month for me.  It’s when I start to think about what I want to get or make friends and family for Christmas.  It may seem a little weird to start so early, but some craft projects take a long time.  And it’s much nicer to be able to do them a little at a time rather than a rush at the end.  It’s never good to end up frustrated and sick of presents when you want to feel happy about giving them to people you care about.

So!  July is my holiday planning month.  🙂

I have several different gifts I’m planning to make this year.  My father-in-law has requested more wool socks, like the pair I made him two years ago.  Or as he put it, “who gets only one pair of socks?”  So my goals is to make at least two, hopefully three more pairs of socks this year.  I have about one and a half socks (out of a potential six) done already, so that’s off to a good start.  And this is worthwhile, it’s nice to make things for people who enjoy them.  He’s also told me that the pair I already made are the warmest and most comfortable socks he’s ever had, so more of them should make for a good gift.

The biggest holiday project for this year is another quilt.  I’ve made four quilts so far, so at least I know what I’m getting into!  The pattern I’m going with is a flexible one, and I’m able to take advantage of some pre-cuts for part of it, so hopefully it will go well.  By which I mean I will be able to finish it in a sane amount of time!  I’m really happy with the fabric I found.  I picked bright colors with themes that remind me of the person the quilt is for.  It looks like I’ll also have some extra to make something fun.  Maybe I’ll make a pillow cover to go with?  We’ll see.  I have the first round of pieces cut out, so next is to sew them together into strips, and then cut those strips into other strips and sew them together again to make blocks, and then sew those together again.  And then of course make and add the border, make the backing and then assemble it and hand sew the edging to the back.  I’m going to tie the quilt the old fashioned way.  Or at least the way I was taught to make quilts.  I think tying the quilt rather than ‘quilting’ it makes for a fluffier quilt which in my opinion is the best sort of quilt.  And I got some nice wool batting from Nancy’s Notions so fluffy is the way to go!

Quilts are funny things.  They’re amazing once they’re finished, and working on them can be relaxing (there’s a sort of zen state when you’re tying a quilt or sewing together endless squares) but they’re probably the most challenging craft project I’ve worked on.  They take a lot of materials that have to be matched for fabric content, quality, weight and color (as much as possible).  The cutting and assembly portions take a high level of precision.  And unlike knitting you have to be paying attention while wielding a sewing machine or very very sharp rotary cutter.  And then there’s the fact that when you assemble it, there’s the need to move all the living room furniture to get a space just barely big enough, so assembly and tying the quilt had better be done fast.  Still, despite the challenges, making a quilt is a lot of fun, and with any luck you end up with something warm and awesome that can last for years.  So as presents go, quilts are up there on the list of things I like to be able to give.

I’m also planning to try making some things for Patrick, but I need to finalize those yet.  So that should give my plenty of holiday projects, while still leaving enough time for other non-holiday projects, which seems like a good balance to me.  🙂

For the non-holiday projects it will be a mix of sewing, knitting, gardening and preserving (like usual).

For sewing, I’m still determined to make myself some sleeveless button down shirts this summer.  Since we’re in the hottest part of summer I should get on that…  I have the fabric and everything  ready to go after all.  And there are plans for shirts for Patrick.  Again the fabric is out and waiting, so I just need to get started.  I also have some pretty fall fabric to make a new pillow cover (awesome though my Halloween cats are, it’s a little weird to start using them in September…).  And in other required sewing there are two work shirts and a skirt waiting for me.  And in fun sewing I’m hoping to make a wool Anna dress for wearing this winter.  I think the Anna dress is probably my go to pattern now.  It’s pretty, comfortable, and is very easy to add pockets to (yay insulin pump storage!).  I’ll probably need to line a wool dress which is a consideration…but the pattern itself is pretty straightforward so I should be able to manage this.  And I have two pieces of nice wool fabric waiting to be used.  Oh, and I need to make my second pair of winter PJs.  For those I’ll need to track down some fabric though.

So upcoming sewing includes:

  • Summer tank tops (B5526, have seersucker fabric already)
  • Patrick work shirts (Kwik Sew pattern, have shirting fabric already)
  • Pillow cover (envelope style, have fall fabric already)
  • My work shirts (B5526, have shirting fabric already)
  • My work skirts (self drafted, have wool suiting and rayon lining already)
  • Wool dresses (Anna, have wool fabric, need to consider lining options…)
  • Winter PJs (KW3553 + Tofinio, need to find some flannel)

Knitting is less decided.  I have the Christmas socks, which will be my commuter pattern for the foreseeable future.  But I just finished my holiday cardigan, so I need to decide if a shawl or a sweater is up next.   On the one hand, a shawl is easier to knit in summer since it’s not bulky (hot humid summers around here…) on the other hand, sweaters have lots of stockinette which is relaxing and I have several sweaters worth of yarn that needs to get used up.  We’ll see.  It’ll probably be either a grey tweed Rook sweater or a very dark navy lace shawl.

So knitting is:

  • Commuter project – Christmas socks and more Christmas socks
  • Home project – Rook sweater or navy shawl

And then there’s gardening/preserving.  We’re headed into the end of July, which is always when my gardening challenges show up.  I’ve decided though that as long as my garden gives my enough for fresh eating I’m not going to get worked up about it.  I’ve had the usual squash casualties (some from vine borers, some from what seems like some sort of squash disease).  But my back up zucchini’s are just getting going and look healthy and I’m probably going to get at least some winter squash.  Maybe I’ll pull the rest and plant some more beans or something over there this weekend.

My tomatoes are making tomatoes, but the slicers just can’t overcome the tree shade (I didn’t realize that corner got as much shade as it does).  So far I’m getting enough for fresh eating though, so we’ll see how it goes.  And there’s always the farmer’s market if they fail, and the pick your own place for canning.

 

I do have some canning I want to do yet this year though, and some more dehydrating too.

  • Can peach jam and peaches
  • Can raspberry jam
  • Can pears
  • Can pickles
  • Can salsa
  • Can tomatoes
  • Can applesauce and apple butter
  • Dry herbs (oregano, mint, catnip, sage)
  • Dry cherry tomatoes

I’m also going to try making sauerkraut this weekend.  I’m excited about this one since it’s tough to find good sauerkraut around here and if I get good at it, hopefully I’ll be able to do a big batch and can it later.  (Though I’ll have to convince Patrick to let me ferment 25 lb of cabbage…)

Oh, and one more fun garden thing.  We aren’t the only ones who have been enjoying the garden (see below).  The cats are also super pleased about our visitors.

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Pickle Season!

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We now have our first batch of pickles!  These are fridge pickles using my Grandma’s recipe.  They’re some of the best, and they usually last about 3 months in the fridge (if we don’t eat them all before then).  This time I made them with one pickle from our garden and some others from the farmer’s market.  I had one really early cucumber, so I needed to supplement from the farmer’s market….

They’ll be ready to eat tomorrow!

 

Cicadas and Summer

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I heard cicadas this week, so it must be officially summer. It’s also July so that makes a certain amount of sense!

There are other signs of summer, the corn has tassels forming, the potatoes are dying back and we just pulled up a huge amount of garlic. There were even nice big heads on most of them (a few got shaded out by other important plants like catnip…). I’ve even been able to pick a couple of tiny tomatoes.

We still have some semi-bolted lettuce, and it seems like the beans might be slowing down so I may need to plant a new round of those soon… I did get two gallons of them (measured in gallon freezer bags) plus some meals, so overall I think my little section of the garden did well. Especially since cut worms got all the pole beans again…

I’m also drying some herbs (catnip, oregano, sage and mint), so hopefully that will work out this year too. Last year was just too wet and nothing would dry.

This weekend I’m going to cover the tomatoes to keep the mocking birds out. I’ve read that they only go for tomatoes if there’s no water around, but we’ve had tons of rain, and I have a full bird bath, and they still got one. So it’s time to get out the netting. I think being able to drape it over the cages will make it easier this year. And it will have a side benefit of not getting in my hair. Getting netting in your hair after you’ve been removing horn worms from tomatoes is hard to handle with dignity…

I’ve got flowers now too, which is awesome. The impatiens despite all the hassle of getting them going are beautiful and fill in the space at the base of the porch. They have expanded nicely, and I’ve got a few Morning Glories climbing above them too. The zinnias and cosmos are also getting going which is nice. And the pansies have held on surprisingly well given that I fell behind on dead-heading them a long time ago… And we have some Black Eyed Susan’s/rudbeckias too. And given the number of those I’ve seen around the neighborhood it looks like most of my neighbors also planted the little seed packets they got in the mail. I wonder if the realtor who sent them ever drove around to see all the flowers their ad resulted in? Either way, it’s pretty neat.

The white marigolds are sort of a mix, they look awesome when they’re blooming, but less so after they’re done when they get a bit messy. I think they’re actually part carnation, because they smell like carnations not marigolds. Maybe I’ll go back to the regular red and orange ones next year…

I’ve made some progress on summer crafts too. Patrick has new seersucker shirts and I have this year’s 4th of July dress. Maybe this weekend I’ll use my extra day to finish my sleeveless button down shirts (I’m taking advantage of leftover fabric from the earlier seersucker projects). That will leave only a couple of projects left on the list of planned projects for this year: a holiday dress, work shirts for me and a proper apron…

I also have some projects for Patrick too, but those come up as he requests them. At the moment, that’s mostly going to be work shirts (luckily I have the fabric already so that makes it easier). There may also be work pants in the future, but those are less fun to sew than the shirts, so I’m going to do the fun projects first!

Visiting the Sea Shore

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We have successfully visited the ocean! That may not sound very big to many people, but for us it’s a major life goal accomplished. And more than that, we had the chance to spend an entire week just being happy.  So it was also a mission accomplished in terms of going on a vacation.  It’s been a long time since we had something work out well (and moreover to do something without anything horrible happening), so I’m still a little bit stunned that everything went so well.

We were at Cape May for a week, so we rented a cottage.  The people we rented from were very nice, and the cottage was awesome.  It had a tiny 1950s kitchen (with original stove!) that I wish I could recreate at home and you could hear the ocean with the windows open.  They even had a tiny pond with koi fish in it.  Patrick figured out how to hook the laptop up to the TV (yay HDMI cables!) and we had our movie back ups with us so we could watch movies in the evening and play board games.  And the cottage was only a few blocks from the ocean so we could walk down whenever we wanted.

It was also only about a mile from the little pedestrian shopping area.  That was fun because the entire town was only about 10 miles in diameter so we were able to walk everywhere.  Next year hopefully we can bring bikes since there are lots of bike paths too.  Most of the houses near the town center are very old, with the gingerbread/Victorian style, so it was fun to just walk around and see all the neat architecture (and pretty flower gardens…).

They also have a lighthouse and several protected beaches for wildlife so we saw lots of interesting ocean birds, and dolphins catching fish only 30 or 40 feet off the beach.

Luckily the garden behaved itself while we were gone.  When I got back the zucchini were still reasonable size and the beans hadn’t gone crazy.  If I’m lucky I will get to pick zucchini this weekend.  I’m also going to be trimming back some of the ‘bush’ beans that are now about 5 ft tall and climbing the tomato trellis.  I need to trim them back to keep them from taking over the poor tomatoes.  Amusingly enough the happiest tomatoes are the volunteers in the compost bin and the cherry tomatoes by the back door…

Still the garden is doing well this year.  I’ve already frozen about a gallon of green and yellow beans and a whole bunch of wax and jalapeno peppers.  We’ve even got three tiny ripe tomatoes.  I’ve also got some lettuce that’s still going despite the heat.  Hopefully there will be zucchini and cucumbers soon.  And hopefully when we pull the garlic this week we’ll have good results!

Welcome to Summer (Almost)

 

We’ve made it to June, which for me is always the start of summer. Even if it’s not official until the end of the month, the pools are open, it’s hot enough for sun dresses and we’ve gotten the bikes and the grill out. Therefore it’s summer.

May was officially the hottest May we’ve ever had, so my spring vegetables are well and truly bolted. The summer ones seem to be enjoying the experience though. I have tiny tomatoes that are almost egg sized, and the corn is already knee-high (I think it’ll be plenty tall by July 4). I don’t know if we’ll get corn, but I’m enjoying the experiment.

The strawberries also did great this year. I got a year’s supply of jam (which doesn’t take much for us!) and some to freeze too, so I’m happy. I think Patrick’s also happy to escape lots of trips to the pick-your-own place. Maybe I’ll save that for pumpkins or Christmas trees this year… I think I’ll get a few currants and raspberries, but next time I try planting those I think I will do a more careful job with the prep work which should make things easier.

I’m also looking forward to a day where I can put a big (read: deer proof) fence around the yard and have nice spaces between my garden beds, picking the strawberries requires some interesting balancing and while that builds muscles, it doesn’t make for good motivation to go out and take care of the garden properly.

Overall though I’m doing pretty well this year. Having a careful (and rigorously followed) plan has kept things a lot more organized this year. And that’s even with the early swap out of the spring vegetables. This weekend I’m going to finish cleaning things up since I still need to do the cress that’s gone to seed and train the tiny cucumber plants and morning glories so they climb nicely. I’ll put in some more lettuce. So far the second round of cut-and-come-again lettuce looks to be getting to a good size. And the stumps of the lettuce that I cut the whole head from (it was ready to bolt) are actually putting out new leaves. Score one for an internet rumor!

I want to get everything set up real well so it can survive on it’s own for a week. We’re actually going on a vacation, for an entire week at the ocean.  It’ll be the first time we’ve done this, and I’m looking forward to it.  I have finished almost all of my seersucker sewing projects and I’m going to bring along a couple of relaxing knitting projects, so I’m really looking forward to it.

 

Summer Produce

It’s summer!  Or at least it really feels like it given that we’ve apparently had the warmest May on record.  The garden appears to be enjoying it overall though.  My squash and beans are growing really fast, and my potatoes are taller than I am in their grow bags.  Unfortunately it means an early end to some of my spring plants.  My cress bolted first, followed by the radishes (Note to self: easter egg radishes bolt super fast, I should stick to the little round red ones, they’re the only ones that worked out.) and even the broccoli gave up this week.  Amusingly enough it was the “heat tolerant” broccoli that bolted first…  It last long enough for me to get a decent head from each plant, and we’ll eat the stalks and greens in stir fry next week.  I’m planning to plant more Waltham broccoli in fall, so I have another shot at it.  And I can use the bed to grow more zucchini and yellow beans.  I already have row covers up I can use for the zucchini.  The radishes and cress will be replaced with more lettuce.

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I usually feel a little anxious about planting things, since I know I don’t always space things correctly.  So far I’m doing pretty well this year, so hopefully I’ll be able to keep that up.

I’ve also been productive with my indoor projects.  I made lots of burger buns for Memorial Day and froze a whole bunch of them.  And I’ve made Patrick two shirts.  With any luck I will also finish a dress and PJs and another Patrick shirt this weekend (it’s an AWS weekend so I’ve got an extra day!).

These are all using my Kaufmann Cape Cod seersucker.  I hope they make more, it’s great fabric, comfortable, light weight and in decent colors…

Oh, and we got our first big batch of strawberries.  The first round became jam (using the classic recipe this time) and a strawberry-rhubarb pie (using our first rhubarb harvest!).  The next round is getting frozen this weekend.  I stuck to a more reasonable volume of strawberry jam this year.

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Summer Storms

It looks like we’re really heading into summer this week. On the upside I won’t have to water the garden!  Summer is usually like that here.  It will be hot and humid and then thunderstorms will roll in during the afternoon.  I’m fine with this as long as there’s no hail or crazy wind!   And weird though it sounds I’m also ok with it being warmer.  It got cold again at the end of last week, and for whatever reason this year I’m looking forward to hot weather.  Maybe it’s because of how intense this year has been?

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So far I’m pretty happy with the garden.  I picked lots of strawberries yesterday.  I think I might try making scones with the alpine strawberries, or maybe pancakes…  For the big ones they’re either going to be pie or jam, depending on how much I have.  I really look forward to being able to say I made jam from my own fruit.  It will feel like I got all the check boxes or a full score or something.  We’ll see…

I’ve also gotten to eat a whole bunch of lettuce and cress from the garden.  The cress is bolting sadly, but I plant to fill that space with more lettuce and plant more cress again in fall.  These are two more garden success stories, starting lettuce inside worked amazingly well, my Ice Queens are even making heads this year!  And my buttercrunch is huge and beautiful.  (I love buttercrunch, it’s my favorite!)  The cress was also really good.  I mostly used it in sandwiches and sometimes a little mixed into salads, but I really liked the flavor, so it’s going into regular rotation, at least whenever the weather will cooperate.

For the rest of the salad bed, the radishes are ready to harvest (and are starting to bolt…) and there are a few carrots, but as usual, carrots remain a challenge.  Maybe I’ll just plant more lettuce?  And the cucumbers have germinated (or rather 4 out of 5 have, slot 5 refuses to cooperate even after 2 tries, so I guess cucumbers aren’t meant to grow there?).  Also given the recent comprehensive demise of the chard (and I was so looking forward to trying it!!!)  I’ve planted bush cucumbers in that spot because I really love pickles, and this year I’m going to get a decent amount.

As for the rest of that bed, the broccoli is coming along nicely, though I’m really hoping it will make nice big heads before the heat gets to them.  The Pacman broccoli plants are maybe 1/3 or 1/4 bigger than the Sun King ones, but both have heads about the same size.  Unfortunately I’ve been having to make a daily squishing of cabbage loopers (my mortal enemies).  I used to pick them up and throw them, but that took extra time and there’s always the chance they’d make it back, so now I squish them and wash my hands after.  I figure 90% of what ends up on my hands is liquified broccoli leaves…  (Note to self: pick up Bt at Johnsons today, put it on the broccoli and then actually put up row covers like a responsible person).  The eggplants are still there too.  They’re holding out with the recent cold weather, and flea beetles that have covered their leaves in tiny holes.  (Second note to self: see if Johnson’s has an organic gardening solution to flea beetles and cover the eggplants like a responsible person!).  Yeah, so as is obvious my major failing with that bed was not putting up row covers like I had planned.  Also there’s whatever killed the chard, which suddenly wilted.  It couldn’t have been cold since the eggplants next to them were fine, and I don’t know of any chard diseases, and there was no insect damage…  Some morning doves did ‘decorate’ them right before they wilted so maybe morning dove droppings are deadly to chard?

I also need to do some thinning.  My bush beans are all up and growing nicely, so I need to go out and clip one for where they all came up.  Putting in two seeds was the right choice given that they were older seeds and in a lot of places only 1 came up, but now I need to thin them.  Their neighbors the slicing tomatoes are doing ok, they aren’t as happy as the cherry tomatoes in the grow bags, but I think that has to do with the extra shade from the neighbor’s oak tree and the fact that the ones in the grow bags have the best soil ever (yay gardener’s gold!).  The Early Girl in the grow bag (my back up in case of another tomato apocalypse like last year) is also doing reasonably well, but I need to get another bag of soil to finish filling up the bag.  (Note to self #3….)  The only big gardening fail here is that I broke the growing tip on the Hartman’s Yellow trying to adjust it to keep it in the cage.  It has a big offshoot right next to it, so hopefully it will be ok?  But yeah, that was a major fail, and I was trying to be really gentle!  New rule for me: don’t touch the tomatoes!  Unless it’s a major issue, leave them alone!  Or if absolutely necessary move it incredibly slowly.

Hm…who else…the garlic is doing well.  We even had scapes for breakfast yesterday.  Getting scapes is almost better than the actual garlic.  They’re so good!  And my marigolds are blooming.  They’re more a creme than a pure white, but I still think they’re pretty.  My catnip or rather the cats’ catnip also appears to be getting established, which is a good thing.  And the potatoes are huge, they also have pretty white flowers, which I think is a good sign.  The bad part is I caught a squash vine borer on them.  So Note to Self #4, cover up the squash seedlings.  Hopefully none of them are infected, especially since they’re so small right now, but we’ll see how it goes.  Worst case scenario I’m going to be replanting in July.

On the upside, it looks like most of the basil, and more peas than I expected survived the cut worms.  And the pole beans are starting to climb too.  So I have high hopes for pesto, at least 1 meal of peas, and a summer of beans.  Oh and my container corn is growing, I lost one seedling that got shadowed by the potatoes, but the rest seem to be doing well.  I really need to thin them too.

Other than that, the peppers are doing good.  It looks like they might like a little extra fertilizer, but they look happy and are producing some nice wax peppers.  The other berries are mixed.  My currants are actually doing really well, except for the fact the deer has pruned them again for me.  The raspberries are mixed.  But I didn’t do a great job planting or weeding them so that’s probably why.  I have rhubarb, but even though I thought I got a red cultivar most of the stalks are green which weirds me out.  I should just be brave and ignore that…

So I’d say so far I’ve got more successes than not!

Ready to Go

All the plants are officially in the garden now.  Which is a nice feeling!  Actually, everything is even bigger now than in this picture which I took a little over a week ago.  The potatoes have been all hilled up and are huge.  Still no garlic scapes, hopefully soon?

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Here you can see all my nice neat rows.  This will be a fond memory during the jungles of August!

 

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May Day

Welcome to May! It’s a nice feeling, very much spring, and not quite summer yet. It’s also an excellent time of the year for projects.  Just being outside feels nice, whether it’s working in the garden, knitting outside with a good book in the sun or sewing and enjoying a breeze through the window.  It makes working on things very pleasant.

Which is good since I’ve got a long list of projects to work on!  The biggest one of course is planting the garden.  We are now officially past the last frost date (50/50 day is April 16, 90/10 day is April 29) so it’s time to get all the plants outside.  This even includes the eggplant and basil seedlings since it’s supposed to stay above 50 degrees for the next 10 days.  By the end of next week we’re even looking at highs in the 80’s and lows in the 60’s so I should enjoy the feeling of spring while it lasts.

As such, everything is going out this weekend: tomatoes and peppers (the important producers!), the ground cherry (experiment year 2!), basil (purple and green pesto this year!), zinnias (since direct seeding was hard…), eggplants (the new experiment!) and lots of seeds (bush and pole beans, zucchini, acorn squash, butternut squash, buttercup squash, cucumbers, corn and maybe some nasturtiums).  So that’s going to be my morning tomorrow.  In all likelihood Patrick will wake up and everything will be planted.  Hopefully it all goes well, I’ve been trying very hard to do everything properly and not put in more than I can handle.

I will have to wait and see how it turns out in a couple weeks when things start to get going.

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I also have some sewing and knitting projects to sort out.  I just finished my first set of spring/fall PJs.  I used a combination of KwikSew 3553 for the top and Sewaholic’s Tofinos for the bottom (short sleeves and long pants).  I’m really happy with how they turned out.  The advantage of PJs is you can use cute prints that you wouldn’t be able to get away with wearing outside the house.  The next set will be with the same patterns but using a little blue with small white flowers.

After I finish my second set of PJs I need to decide how I’m going to use all the seersucker I ordered this spring.  Kaufman had a really awesome set of seersucker plaids in bright colors, so I ordered as much as I could find since most seersucker seems to only come in pastels for some reason.  I’m planning to use it for a dress and some shirts for me and Patrick this summer.  It’s hard to beat seersucker for staying cool and it doesn’t matter if it gets wrinkled since it starts out that way!  These should all be patterns I’ve used before so sewing them should be straightforward, even if shirts are more complex.  And I like sewing shirts (despite all the buttonholes…) and dresses.  I should also finish sewing up the second black wool skirt for work.  I’ve got the lining done, I just need to cut out and sew the wool pieces.  I should also make up the couple of shirts for work that I have fabric waiting for.  But work clothes aren’t half as fun as summer clothes.

I’m not sure why it’s so fun to sew summer things, but it is.  Maybe because the fabric is light and airy and feels wonderful?

Speaking of summer sewing, I also should probably get around to figuring out how to edit my shorts pattern.  I’ve been using the Thurlow pattern from Sewaholic which is comfortable, but I don’t think the flair on the shorts works well on me. So I need to figure out if I want to edit the pattern or try a new one…  I’m thinking about trying Kwik Sew 3614 (despite the terrible picture) they’re described as “fitted shorts” which might work for me.    I will have to find a copy though.  It’s out of stock at the JoAnn’s and on Amazon.  Maybe I’ll have better luck at G-Street.  Even if it means going to G-Street. .. 🙁    This area has a class problem in some places that if they don’t think you’re “fancy” enough they’re going to ruin your day.  G-Street is one of those places, and as an engineer who lives frugally because it seems prudent, and who sews her own clothes because it’s practical and fun, I’m very much not what they think of as fancy.  Though when I buy the nice wool suiting (yay designer lengths on sale!) and know to get the good lining fabric they will at least be polite.  Maybe I can get my invisible zipper foot while I’m at it.  The fact that Bernina will only sell feet for their machines through their dealers and the fact that the only local dealer (G-Street) is both rude and is always out of stock of half of them is not a good time.  Oh!  I could bike there on my day off when it’s nice out, that makes it more appealing!  Then I’ll have my zipper foot, my pattern and maybe something cool from the remnant pile.  We’ll see…

I also have to decide what I want to knit next.  I finished my cropped cardigan so I need another big project.  My “Summer Flies” shawl is my current portable project.  I have a couple of sweaters in my queue and  I want to make my father-in-law more socks at some point.  Or I could start working on my vest again…hm… It’ll probably be the vest or the socks, spring is to new for me to want to think about sweaters right now!

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Weather Surprises

So last week it felt like summer and this week it feels like winter again.  Well, it’s a lot warmer than that, but after last week it feels cold.  I got out my summer dresses (and even got to wear my new Anna Dress that I finished this spring!) and now we’re back to night temperatures in the upper 30s.  The worst part is I need to bring in all my seedlings every night.  Since there are six trays of them plus the three big ones in pots, this is an adventure.  The forecasters are saying this will continue through next week too, so there’s no chance I’m going to get to plant anything early.  I’ll just have to look at pictures of the garden from last summer to console myself…

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If I’m lucky though things will warm up next weekend and I’ll be able to plant almost everything the first weekend in May (not this weekend, but next weekend).  I think the tomatoes, marigolds, impatiens, zinnias, ground cherry and probably the peppers will go out next weekend.  The eggplants and the basil are going to have to wait until the week after.  I can still plant a lot of the seeds though, I’m looking forward to planting the beans, squash, corn and cucumbers!  They’ve got nice big seeds so they’re easy to plant generally.

Having all the plants being almost ready to go out makes things feel half finished to me, and I have a hard time leaving things as only ‘almost’ finished.  Therefore it’s really tempting to just stick them all in the ground!  Maybe I’ll cheat a little and plant the marigolds and impatiens this weekend since based on the forecast they’re going to stay out overnight ever night for the next week (starting Saturday night) anyway.  I think I’m going to start hardening off the basil and eggplants this weekend too.  They can’t get planted until the second weekend in May in all likelihood, but at least getting them out of the basement during the day will really cut down on the gnats!  (I will never ever be getting the Miracle Grow seed starting soil again, ever!)

At least since it’s cold it should be easier to focus on sewing and knitting, so I have plenty of indoor distractions.  I’m almost done with my cropped cardigan, and I’ve just stared my “Summer Flies” shawl.  And I have my spring sailboat PJs all cut out and ready to sew together (I even have buttons and remembered to cut out the interfacing!  I’m extra prepared this time!)

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