Tuesday, January 30, 2024

Pssssst Steam Heat!

I bought this little Conair steamer to steam out the wrinkles in my slipcovers when I bought my new chairs. It was used, on Amazon, and only cost $17. I figured I would use it now and then. "Then" became this morning. What a great investment this turned out to be. 

Here's my Potzblitz #3, pinned to my padded table. I steamed it in less than five minutes! Compare that to tub soaking it, squeezing out the water in thick towels, and then arranging it on my blocking mats and leaving it to dry overnight. Revolutionary!

  The fabric now drapes so beautifully, and the shawl grew to its finished size, just as if it were stretched and blocked flat. 72"x 34". 
The yarns I used for this beauty were Prism Mia merino,  Madeline Tosh merino, and Malabrigo Arroyo.  Veddy fancy. It's taken me my whole knitting life to feel deserving of such luxurious yarns. Of course I got them at an estate sale for lots less than full price.  

Here's a view of the back. I folded the edge over to create a sort of collar. Cozy, eh?

I think it is kind of a statement piece. 
Here's how it looks from the front with that little bit of a folded edge collar. 
If you would like to encourage me to keep knitting ( and you know you would), you could own this for $45 plus shipping. Email me. fibermania@gmail.com

Saturday, January 27, 2024

Garden Dreaming

Well, that's not very inspiring, eh? 
But I am thinking these bins will work for my tiny new garden. I have tried all sorts of container gardens but I will not go crazy again like we did here. 

And I definitely won't be hauling in concrete blocks, which work great but become difficult to get rid of when I have lost interest or have to move house again.

 I don't want to dig, or bring in a truckload of soil, or build raised beds, but I gotta have a few plants and some dirt, and these plastic bins are recycleable if I lose interest. I wish I could get those white round tubs again, like in the second picture. But the rectangular bins are more efficient, can be lined up next to each other and I know holes are easy to drill for drainage. I plan to lay down a tarp, secured with steel pins, to make it walkable, and ant deterring. Then line up about four bins near the faucet and fill them with good planting medium. The area behind the house near the faucet is quite flat, south facing and very sunny all day. I'll set up my lawn chairs on the tarp and bask in the early morning sun. Yesterday seven of my neighbor's chickens were in our yard, so I have a ready audience for scraps and overripe tomatoes.
Because they are 18" high, I can sit and tend them without having to stoop over. I'll plant basil, tomatoes, lettuce early followed by peppers, and green beans. One bin will have zucchini and another will have butternut squash. One more will have sage, parsley, dill and scallions. Instant garden! 

Friday, January 26, 2024

Studio Reveal

These are not pictures of my studio. I grabbed these off Pinterest. I have no idea who they belong to, 
but I feel like they are a glorious fantasyland compared to my real life studio. I've had some nice (functional) studios in all my houses, but they were more like workshops not magazine pages.  Are these people in the quilt business? Who knows, but I'm guessing from all the professionals that I have known, these are hobby rooms. More power to them! I would love to have had spaces like these, but here's my reality. 

I share my studio with the dog and Dave. 
They wanna be where I am, which is a good thing. I wanna be where my stuff is, so we are all together all the time. The studio has become a family room.

My corner. The 6-bin cubby contains my entire fabric collection. Don't laugh, it is packed solid. On top is the dog treat collection, plus puppy pad storage. 
The little table holds my knitting and laptop, very efficiently. My cozy chair and mismatched ottoman are working for now. I have good lighting and a shawl on the chair back in case I get chilly. Another side table holds the remote, my tea, tissues and note books.

My sewing machine and serger, covered in hopes of someday being used, are currently awaiting a working electrical outlet. Yep, they are not even capable of being used until the whole house gets rewired next week (I hope). This is where the Billys were situated. So I gained some open space and will be able to sew soon.
There is another table to bring out when I need it, so that the serger won't be in the way or can be used concurrently with the sewing machine. 
The padded worktable on bed risers is tucked into the corner and houses all the rolling supply units, plus that additional table which is needed when I actually get to sew or paint. Mostly it is an ironing base at the moment. 
The dog's bed is on the floor, composed of a quilt sandwiched between two throw rugs. Chumley thrashes about on them and spreads them all over the room before choosing one to sleep on for most of the day. He has to have a puppy pad on the floor at all times, whether he can find it or not, being blind, and often sleeps just on it. 
The TV is here because there is no place in the rest of the house where we can watch it together, as Dave can't work his remote without help and willingly watches whatever I want, while snoozing in his chair. 

So if and when I get back to sewing, I doubt the room will remain as stoically empty as it seems here. It's not glamorous, by any stretch of the imagination, but then again, I don't need it to be. 

Yesterday's dilemma of finding places to put the leftover stuff resulted in a bigger cleanout than expected. I found drawers that contained items that got tossed and thus gave me room to keep a few of the items I did need. Turns out I even have emptied a few drawers completely and don't need to buy any more storage units. Yay!

Wednesday, January 24, 2024

The big cleanout

I reached my goal of emptying these IKEA Billy shelves. They will go to Goodwill, if my brother-in-law will deliver. Yay!
I bought these in 2007 for $35 each, and of course they got moved over and over and over to each new house. They are stable if they can lean on each other, but not so much if one tries to stand them up alone. Someone will be able to sturdy them up if they are handy.

I still have some items that I must find a spot in the home. 
I keep moving things to the yarn room which is not really a good spot to store them. I may have to break down and get another cubbyhole storage unit. I have plenty of the fabric boxes that fit this unit. Being smaller, and sturdier than those tall narrow shelves, I do feel they are more suited to my needs. Easier to move to another spot too.

Here's a bunch of stuff that I really hate to give up, but know in my heart that I am never gonna use them again. Two really good cameras, two travel irons and a regular size iron, more than I need. 

In my imagination, I hope to have just what I need, in a place where I can find it later, and not bring more stuff into my life that ends up being excess. Is that too much to expect?

They're gone!!!! Yay!!! So nice to see that pretty woodwork again. Thanks to my b-i-l John for swiftly removing them. Wait til my sister finds out she is getting them. Uh oh!


Tuesday, January 23, 2024


Sandy asked:
Hi Mel, I very happy that you have returned to blogging. I was wondering what you do with art supplies you no longer need or want?

I have a huge collection of art supplies, some dating as far back as high school. Some I have removed from these shelves and found closet shelves, or drawers to keep them or the trash bin to eliminate them. 
 I want to get rid of these IKEA Billy shelves completely, as they only invite collecting.

Oil Paint: Tubes, mediums and brushes. I gave an easel and my large canvases to my brother-in-law John before the last move and I am going to ask him if he would like the paint etc to go with all that. He is semi-retired, so he may now have time to dabble. 

Acrylic paint: Tubes that are dried up, or nearly so will easily get trashed, but liquidy ones I will save, if I can find a spot to put them. I have acrylic-only brushes that I will also save.

Watercolor paint: I will save all of these including the papers and brushes, as I do believe I will go back to painting again, and watercolor doesn't take up as much room as oil painting canvases.

Colored Pencils: Keeping the good Prismacolors, but I have a brand new set of watercolor pencils from Arteza which I will gladly find a new home. 

They work perfectly but I never use them and just had to try them out when my sister bought hers. If you are interested, I will send them to you for the cost of the postage.

Paper: O my, I have really good WC paper and not so great cheap-o WC paper. Why? I find it hard to resist a nice white pad of paper. Geesh. I may separate the good from the not so good and give it to our church school kids.

And then there is fabric...
My fused hand dyed fabric is boxed up and lives quietly out of sight in the yarn room. I am not so much a quilt fabric collector, since I mainly use hand dyed cottons for my work. I will go through my fabric and see what is worth keeping, and offer the rest to my sister and my pal Patsy, both sewers/quilters. I don't have much.

Yarn: I will always knit, even when I am old and feeble, unless my hands stop working. But the finished knits are becoming an issue. I found a vest yesterday that I thought would keep Dave warm and made him wear it for pictures. Perhaps you can tell he is not thrilled. So I may frog this item and have the yarn for another project.  Yarn is easy to keep, as I have a room in this house just for it and my big quilts.
Polymer clay: I was all set to get rid of my clay and all the equipment that goes with it, but I found a spot in a closet for it, so I will keep it. But I did decide not to make anymore jewelry, as I have dozens of necklaces and earrings and hardly wear those as it is. I do really like the vessels and other objects that I have made with polymer clay. 

If I didn't have to keep them, I'd make more of these.

Beads: Out with the beads. I think either my sister or Goodwill will get them. I am done with jewelry.

Dyes: I have lots of dye in powdered form, stored in a bin with liquid dye that has leaked all over. I don't want to bother cleaning it up, so it will all have to go. I am done with that part of my life. If I ever want to dye yarn, I have easier options, like food coloring and Kool-Aid. Seriously, it is just as good and permanent as chemical dyes.

Sewing supplies: I will always sew. But I am getting rid of the myriad templates that I collected 'just in case' I wanted to make a traditional design quilt. Yeah, right. 

Plastic bins: O my...I have a ton of these, and plastic bags too. 

So even tho I don't see myself leaving this mortal coil of a long time, I do feel the need to do a bit of Swedish Death Cleaning, if only to save my relatives from having to deal with my crap.

Monday, January 22, 2024

2024 Year of New Things

I don't make New Year's resolutions. But I kinda have a feeling that "if not now, when ?" and so some things will have to go and other things will come into play. 

Now that I am 76, it feels like time to relinquish things that are demanding a response or to start things I really should have done earlier. Some of these feelings are amophous, and others are concrete. 

I continue to downsize. And I'm getting really good at it. Starting with art supplies for crafts I no longer want to do. I've given away a ton of art papers, some I stamped, printed or painted, the collected supplies for collage, and hand made greeting cards I never send (who wants to spend 66 cents on a stamp?) 

 But then there are larger collected artworks that I continue to store. These quilts are decorative, not functional or washable, so they won't work to give to charity.
Argghh. Not to mention the clothing...some of this really must go.

OK enough angst about too much stuff. 
What I am bringing into my life is more enervating. 
I mentioned watching the Netflix 4 part series You are what you eat. I really get it, finally. I must focus on a plant based diet. Not a problem. I'm keeping dairy, but even that is dwindling in my fridge. So first I will use up what is in the freezer and be conscious about my shopping. Starting with this meal.

 Stuffed Shells, with ricotta, not meat. 

Crispy Zucchini Parmesan and Sauteed Baby Bella mushrooms (just for me, Dave won't eat them)

And a little wine. If I had thought ahead, a loaf of crusty bread would have been nice with this. But this was yummy and easy to do.  It didn't feel like denial in any way. I can do this. 

Friday, January 19, 2024

Potzblitz #2

I'm loving the construction of this shawl, and using the lighter weight yarns in my collection. They make a very drapey fabric, which provides more variety in how it may be worn, comfortably. The yarns are all 'name brand' merino which I have been saving for something special, for which this shawl definitely qualifies.

The really cold weather is conducive to staying on task, watching good movies, or series and getting a lot of knitting done. I watched all of Funny Lady on PBS (Passport), which was set in London in the mid-to-late 60's and had lots of fun fashions, music and hairstyles. And I continue to listen to podcasts, mostly true crime. A cozy spot in the studio, with a space heater to warm the room really helped. Now that we have the new doors the weather is suddenly much warmer, so it's hard to tell how much they are keeping the house comfortable. No cold floors though, that's for sure.

Potzblitz #2, available for $45 plus shipping. Paypal, Zelle or personal check accepted.

Thursday, January 18, 2024

New Doors Today!

 Hurray, today they promised to install our new front and back doors. We were scheduled to have them in by February 1st, but suddenly yesterday Lowes called to say there was a cancellation and we got moved up to today. That rug is supposedly keeping out the cold from the big gap at the bottom. Not working very well of course.
In order to make room for the workers, I moved my living room chairs away from this area to the other side of the room. 

 I squished all the chairs together and formed a new seating arrangement which imho is pretty sweet. This is a tiny space, but that only makes it more cozy, I'm telling myself. You know it's just me and Dave that have to live here, so who's to complain.

 Moving the chairs meant that my dining space had to move too, which was easy to do. I was happy to have an outlet under that table to plug in a small lamp so that we could see what we are eating, without having to turn on the blazingly bright overhead lights. I did just get a dimmer switch and new ceiling lights will be installed when the all new whole house wiring will be done. That also got postponed to next week.

 We endured a cold snap, down to 9 degrees at 8am, and this was how cold it was in my kitchen. Brrrr. But of course it was nicer later in the day and today we will be lots warmer, maybe even have some rain.
Under the heading "I never learn" I am thinking again about garden stuff. I found myself revisiting previous gardens that Dave and I constructed, when we were much younger and more fit. 

The last time we lived in downtown Chattanooga I devised a small bed, accompanied by galvanized tubs and ceramic planters. This size makes sense for this current house. Just a bit of a garden, easy to water and no weeds to annoy me. I have had really big gardens in the past, like this:

Now I feel I need just a little basil, sage, scallions, green beans, peppers and tomatoes of course. Flowers like zinnias, nasturtiums, petunias, begonias would be nice too. I already have window boxes...we'll see what happens when March rolls around.