Sunshine in St. Kitts

Spring Break has been a great escape from the snow of Minnesota.

Day One: MSP – MIA – SKBIMG_3215

We left behind the snow in our front yard…

Day Two:

…and after settling into our villa, we awoke to sun, sand and beautiful landscape.

Day Three: Tour of the Island

Overlooking the Southeast Peninsula of St. Kitts

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Atlantic Ocean, Caribbean Ocean, Frigate’s Bay and Basseterre.

Basseterre’s sites and Wingfield Estate.

Romney Manor and Caribelle Batiks

 

Brimstone Hill Fortress

 

Convent Bay

Lots of Sheep

Day Four:

My Birthday – Time to relax in the sun

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Sunset Dinner in Frigate’s Bay

Day Five: More relaxation in the sun

And some really cute cats to play with.

Day Six:

Ferry to Nevis

First Hotel in the Caribbean and Bathhouse (the water was really, really hot!)

Montpelier Estate – really quaint hotel!

Hermitage Plantation Inn – another really nice hotel.

Lots of old churches – all still active.

Back in St. Kitt’s

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We have one more day of sunshine before heading to back to Minnesota.

Hopefully Spring will arrive soon.

Custom Thread Racks 2

My favorite thread company is Superior Threads.  They carry a wide variety of thread contents, colors and spool sizes.  Occasionally they have a sale and that’s when I like to purchase for my “collection”. Recently they had a sale on their “Try Me Specials”.  These are thread options that you select the thread content, but have no selection of the color.  Because the price was so good, I decided to purchase some spools of thread that I had been wanting to try.  I also purchased several spools of Masterpiece thread. This is my favorite thread to use for piecing and quilting.  It is a 50wt thread and does not add much bulk to seams or on the surface of the quilt.  I thought that if I received a color I already had  in my collection, that would be fine because I knew I would be using it.  But, if I received a new color, that would add to more options for quilting.

I order five spools each of Masterpiece, King Tut, Bottom Line and Metallics.   When they arrived the colors were beautiful.  But, when I brought them up to my sewing room, I realized that my thread racks were full.

So, I needed to figure out a way to store them.  I thought about making a pegboard thread rack (like I have done before), but wanted more flexibility in the location for mounting them.  So, I looked around at Home Depot for other options that I could try.  I really like these because I can mount them in any configuration and more easily sort my thread options rather than having them all on one large rack.

Supplies Needed:

  • 3/4″ x 1 1/2″ x 8 ft White PVC Trim. Purchased at Home Depot for about $6.  Unfortunately I could not buy this in a short piece, so I have some left over for other projects, or more thread racks.
  • 1/4″ x 12″ Plexiglass Rods, opaque white. Purchased from Amazon for $10.
  • E6000 Industrial Strength Adhesive – already had available. Can be purchased at Hobby Lobby.  Use a 40% off coupon and its only $3.
  • Total spent was $16 for four thread racks.

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1. Cut PVC trim to length desired.  I used 12″ to fit the space I would be mounting them. The trim cuts really easily with a circular saw.

2. Cut the rods to 2″ pieces. The easiest way to cut the rods is to score them with a hand saw and then snap the pieces apart. Use fine sand paper to smooth the edges of one end of each rod.
3. Mark the locations for the rods, making sure that they are space far enough apart to fit the thread spools.  My spools are spaced 2″ apart. Using a 1/4″ drill bit, drill holes about to about half the depth of the trim board.
IMG_30794. Fill each hole part way with E6000 adhesive.  Place one plexiglass rod piece into each hole.  They will be snug and may require a small tap with a hammer to fully seat them.
6. Allow to dry.  I mounted mine to the wall with velcro strips.

I now have space for 48 more spools of thread.

Birthdays, Weather and Walks

Very early this morning, I returned from Phoenix where I spent a few days with my parents.  My father’s 83rd birthday was last Thursday and I flew down to celebrate with him. Happy Birthday Dad!!

For his birthday, I made him a quilt to use when he is sitting in his recliner and/or sleeping.  Because he really likes eagles, I purchased two different fabric panels from Amazon and incorporated the printed eagle pictures into a pieced quilt. The other fabrics were pieces I already had in my fabric stash.

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By using panels, this was a really quick quilt to make.  I think I spent a total of 12 hours cutting, piecing, quilting and binding the quilt.  That’s certainly a lot quicker than most of the quilts I make!

To celebrate his birthday, we went to Thee Pitts Again in Glendale, AZ.  This restaurant has been featured on Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives and is well known for their tasty BBQ.

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When planning my trip, I was looking forward to some warm, sunny weather in Arizona.  Unfortunately, that wasn’t the case.  The news headlines while I was visiting my parents was all about the record levels of snowfall throughout the state of Arizona. While no snow fell in Glendale, where my parents live, it did rain almost the entire time I was there.

Poor weather seems to like to create havoc with my recent travels. My departure on Wednesday fell on the day of a snow storm.  All of the schools in the Twin Cities were closed that day due to the storm.  After working in the morning, I went straight to the airport, only to find out that my flight was delayed by about two hours due to the weather.  Again last night, my return flight was during a snow storm with another two hour delay.

Both of these were better than the flight I took to Tampa two weeks ago.  My departure flight for that trip also fell on the day of a major snow storm.  That time I was delay five hours.

Dealing with weather delays in an airport calls for creative ways to help pass the time.  Waiting for my flight to Tampa, I was sitting near the gate working on a hat.  Knitting was a good way to fill the time, but when another major flight was posted, I realized that I  needed to move around rather than sit for so long. So, I set out on a challenge to discovered the distance that a person could  walk in Terminal 1 of the MSP airport.  Utilizing my Fitbit, I discovered that if a person walks to each gate of all of the concourses (A-G) it involves 11,266 steps (4.6 miles) and takes  two hours and 15 minutes.

This was a great way to fill the time and do some people watching.  And, until setting out on my walk, I had never been to Concourses A or B. Now I know where they are if I ever need to quickly get to one of their gates.

On Wednesday, learning that my flight was once again delayed, I completed my walking circuit again.  This time my goal was to try to walk faster  – kinda hard to do in a crowded, busy, snow-delayed airport.  I did, however, successfully reduced the time to 1 hour, 45 minutes.

Last night, being delayed yet again, I decided to do the same thing at the Phoenix airport.  Starting at gate A30, walking to the end of each concourse, and returning to gate A30 required 6,951 steps (2.8 miles) and took just over an hour to complete.  Terminal 4 of the PHX airport is definately smaller than Terminal 1 at MSP.

I may have started a new challenge for my self!  Whenever I am in an airport for longer than two hours, I think I will set out to measure the airport walking distance.

Black / Red Hat & Scarf Set

IMG_2944While organizing my craft room, I recently came across some left over yarn from one of the scarves I posted about last year.  Many of the scarves I have made were done to use up yarn that has been in my craft room for years.  Since I really don’t need any more scarves, this past year I have been putting together matching winter wear sets to donate.

Having found a small bit of the black boa yarn, I looked on-line to see if I could find the red that I had used when making the scarf last February.  I was fortunate to find some on eBay.  With shipping, it was less than $5 for the skein that I needed.  So, I ordered the yarn and made a hat to match the scarf.  I will be adding a pair of black waterproof gloves to the set before I donate them.

IMG_2943Since the yarn had lots of texture, these were easy to make – simply just knit stitches. If you want to make a set for your self, I would suggest knitting the hat first.  This will minimize the amount of yarn left over. Because the yarn is very slippery, I would recommend plastic needles rather than metal.  In my experience, the metal needles allow the stitches to slip off the needle too easily.

Materials
1 skein black boa yarn
3 skeins red yarn
Size 9 circular knitting needles (24” length)
Blunt-end Tapestry needle

Gauge:  14 sts and 17 rows = 4”

Hat:

Using black yarn, cast on 76 stitches and knit 17 rows. Switch to red yarn and knit one row. At the end of the row, making sure that the black section is not twisted, continue knitting in a circular fashion. Knit a total of 45 rows with the red yarn. Cast off, leaving a long tail of yarn. Using the tapestry needle, thread the yarn through each of the cast off stitches.  Gather up the knitting to form the crown of the hat and tie off. Using the black yarn tail at the beginning of the knitting, join the edges of the black band.

Scarf (approximately 72″):

Using a full skein of the red yarn, cast on 250 stitches. Working in circular fashion, knit until the entire skein is used. Switch to the black yarn left over from knitting the hat and knit until that skein is used up. Switch to the other full skein of red yarn and knit until about 250 inches of yarn remains. Cast off.  Weave in all ends of the yarn.

If you do make a hat and/or scarf with the pattern, please post a picture of your results in the comments – I would love to see what you make.

Fractured Tree

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“Fractured Tree” wall hanging.

I enjoy reading historical fiction books. When reading, I like to look up information about the events happening at the specific time in history.  This helps me understand the book’s story line better.

I enjoy these books even more when there is a reference to the art of the era.  Having recently I read the latest book by Jennifer Chiaverini, I did some additional reading about the history of quilting.

One of the sources talked about Depression Era quilts.  Many of these quilts were string quilts made of small fabric scraps stitched together to make a piece of fabric large enough to cut a pattern piece. These larger pieces were stitched together to make a quilt block. The quilt blocks were put together to make a quilt top. This method was used during hard times when money and fabric were scarce.  Scraps of all sizes were utilized.

 

Over the past decade, this method has also made a resurgence within the art quilt community.

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There were several pictures of a string quilts that have caught my attention.

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One of the quilters that I really liked was Ursula Kern.  Her string quilts are breathtaking.  The illusion of movement and shape that she creates is absolutely amazing.

 

 

 

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I decided that I wanted to try to make a string quilt wall hanging for my sewing room.  With wall space limited, the only spot I had left to hang something was adjacent to my four seasons landscape quilt.  So, in keeping the the landscape theme, I thought a tree might fit the area well.

 

Looking at tree clipart images, I selected one, traced it out on pellon, and then divided the pellon into a 7×11 grid. Each section of the grid (2″ x 3.75″)  was used as one block of the string quilting.

Since I have a lot a scraps from various other quilts, and not wanting to purchase more fabric right now, I pulled out my scraps, sorted them by color and started creating each of the blocks.

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Pieced, but not quilted.

 

The seventy seven blocks were sewn together (with numerous changes to match my design better). The illusion is somewhat like a stained glass window – I really like it!

For the quilting, I used one layer of Quilter’s Dream Cotton batting.  To create texture for the tree and shrubs, I placed pieces of Quilter’s Dream Wool batting in these areas between the cotton batting and the pieced top.  The background sky was quilted with straight lines and the tree was loosely quilted to allow the depth of the batting to show.

 

Snow-capped Mountains

Happy New Year to each of you!

Now that Christmas is over, I can share posts about some of the gifts I made this year.

I really enjoy making gifts to give to friends and family.  There is a sense of accomplishment when I can make something unique to give away.

Several of my sons enjoy skiing and snow boarding, so the mountains are a place they like to go in the winter. Hiking and taking photos is another draw of the mountains for them. So, for  each of my sons, I made a set of wooden bookends to look like snow capped mountains.

I had seen something similar in a magazine.  However, that photo showed only a single mountain on each side supporting the books.  My original thought when I saw this was that a 2″ thick hardwood board would not hold up books very well.  So, after some thought, I came up with a design for making some more useful bookends.

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Unfortunately, I did not have any wood the right size stored in our basement, so I made a trip to Menard to purchase some oak.

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Supplies:
2″ x 4″ x 6′ red oak   $28.59
1/2″ x 4″ x 4′ red oak $4.69
Various shades of stain, White Acrylic Paint
Polyurethane sealer – these I already had, but can be purchased at any craft or hardware store for about $3.00 each

Total cost was about $9 per set of bookends.

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Using a circular saw, I cut six triangles out of the oak boards for each pair of bookends.

  • two 4″ x 8″
  • two 4″ x 6″
  • two 3″ x 5″

 

 

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The cut boards were then sanded smooth with an electric detail sander.  Wood glue was spread between the boards and they were assembled with the smallest triangle placed between the other two sized.  Being careful to make sure the bottoms and backs of the boards all lined up even, the boards clamped together and the glue was allowed to dry overnight.

A coat of stain was applied to the entire surface of each bookend.  I used four different shades of stain to make each set of bookends unique. Three coats of white paint were used to create the snow caps, and the entire project was sealed with polyurethane. Rubber anti-skid 1/2″ cushions was added to the bottom of each bookend and the projects were complete.

I hope my boys enjoy using these in their various apartments.