Mending mittens

Call me crazy, but I love to mend. Socks that I push a toe through, gloves that my index finger tears through, even replacing buttons that are broken by the cleaners. I keep the spare buttons that come with our clothes, and sometimes I even remember to sort through them when clothes go to Goodwill. Any spare buttons for those clothes go into my button box, to be used to decorate a pillow cover or a quilt, or whatever I happen to be making.

Of all the mending tasks that come my way, I like darning socks and gloves the best. Socks are a bit less dangerous, with an antique darning egg to slip inside and give my needle something to push against. With gloves, my finger becomes the darning egg, so I use heavy thread and a tapestry needle... lest I stitch my finger. Before I pack away my winter gloves each year, I try on each pair to make sure they're in good shape. I'd rather mend them in the spring, then pull on a pair the first cold day of winter, and have a finger slip right through the tip!

Mending is one of those homey tasks I learned from my mother, who made our clothes last with her careful stitches. It's a good feeling to bring new life to favorite clothes.


A quilt for the cabin...

A year ago we helped our friends move into their vacation condo near Leavenworth, and as Julie and I made the bed in the guest room, it wasn't hard to imagine the quilt and pillow shams being right at home in my rustic cabin.

It's a very simple design, with an appliqued central part of the quilt surrounded by large squares of different plaids sewn in rows, and a deep brown border. The pillow shams have both applique and pieced fabrics, and there's a coordinating throw pillow.

I took photographs, and when we got home, I sketched out a plan for my own quilt. First of all, I'd use homespun-type plaid cottons for the outer blocks, and make them smaller, maybe 12 inches. I love these plaids and have quite a few in my fabric stash, and I've set them aside already: red and black, dark blue and green, gold and brown, and a few tartan plaids too.

I'll play around with different settings for the plaid blocks, since the scale of the plaids is different from piece to piece. Maybe alternate the plaids with plain colored blocks, which could be quilted or appliqued with bears or mountains or other designs to go with the central appliqued scene. Or I could separate the plaids with a sashing strip. Or I might decide that for a rustic quilt, it just doesn't matter. Once I've made the final choice of fabrics, I'll set them up on the design wall and decide.

The appliqued center will be fun to design, and I'll make it all mine. A lake of course, to reflect the lake that's just outside the windows. Probably a bear or two, although we've never seen them at the cabin. A moose, definitely... my favorite woodland animal. Plus lots of evergreen trees, a cabin, trails through the woods, and some mountains, too. Maybe even a bald eagle or osprey. It will be a fun quilt to make; the applique blocks and the center design will be perfect projects for road trips (and family gatherings).

Next time we're at the cabin I'll measure our bed, then sketch out the final design. I'll also take out the fabrics I've chosen. We have a handmade quilt on our bed, which I'll move to the guest bed. So I'll want to make sure the fabrics go well together. It will be so nice to have a handmade quilt on both beds.


Hello spring...

I'm behind again. So to catch you up all in one fell swoop, here's what I've been doing the past ten days or so.

Reading that armload of books on watercolor painting, before they're due at the library.
Decluttering my life, one closet at a time. There's something so very satisfying about this.
Working on the 2004 WA Shop Hop quilt. Forty four blocks done, twelve to go.
Stitching hexagon blocks for a future Grandmother's Flower Garden quilt.
Washing and ironing my favorite clothes, from babyhood to the 1990s, before they go into storage.
Rooting leaf cuttings from my African violets, in a row of shot glasses in the kitchen windows. Planning my gardening chores, now that spring weather is finally here.
Thinking about fly fishing adventures for summer and fall.

Two days of warm sunny weather in a row is cause for celebration, after all the rainy days and cold mornings. The forsythia is in bloom, and so is my winter rhododendron. The perennials are all above the soil, and it's time to run the winged weeder around the beds, then spread wood chips. There are branches to collect and toss on the burn pile, and we have a couple of stretches of old fencing to pull out with the tractor.

Tomorrow it begins...


A year ago...

We spent the weekend with friends near Lake Wenatchee, and we both tried snowshoeing for the first time, with borrowed gear (and boots). It was easier than I thought, and would be a fun way to keep walking through the winter (provided, of course, we actually get snow on this side of the mountains). It would be a fun thing to do anytime we're on the eastern slope with friends lucky enough to live there, and if we ever moved to Idaho or eastern Washington, I can see snowshoeing in my future.



It was just a year ago that I signed up to "play" with Kim Klassen and Texture Tuesday.
I've posted a lot of textured photographs this past year, and in the process, I've discovered something about my style of photography: mine have a lot of texture already. Landscapes, close-ups of antiques and leaves and flowers and cats: loads of built-in texture.

I don't often take a lot of what I'd call still life photographs, but I do take a lot of close-up shots of my outdoor scenes. Painted signs on buildings, sidewalk grates, cast iron downspouts, carved details on old buildings, flowers. That sort of thing. Lots of detail, layers of natural textures.

None of these lend themselves well to adding texture layers, so playing along with Kim has taught me to look more closely at my surroundings. And I've found that I enjoy photographing simple small scenes and details around me, things that work well with textures. And learning a few more Photoshop skills has been really fun.


The Stevens Pass pathway

We headed home from Leavenworth this afternoon. It snowed all weekend long at the condo, so we expected a lot of new snow on Stevens Pass. When we came over the pass on Friday, it was sunny and gorgeous (and the cleared snow on either side of the highway was about 10 feet high). Today was a different story. The road was packed snow and ice, the snowplows were working in threesomes, and the highway looked like a narrow pathway. We left at 2:30, and it took three hours just to get to Monroe.

Snow tires were required, and lots of people stopped to install chains. When we passed an entire row of abandoned cars and trucks on the shoulder, buried in snow so they looked like giant mushrooms, we wondered how much snow (and how fast) had come down overnight. Most was probably caused by snowplows... I would not like to leave my car in a snow zone.

It was too dangerous to stop for photographs, so I had to be content with snapping a few shots through the windshield.

The worst part of the drive was the east-side climb up to the summit, and a dozen miles of compact ice in the transition zone from heavy snow to rain. For miles, between Skykomish and Sultan, all the roadside signs had icicles hanging from them, and the bushes and trees were coated with ice.

Touring on skis

We had the best time this weekend. It's been snowing for a couple of weeks now, something in the range of a foot a day, and the skiers are in heaven. We don't downhill ski anymore, but our friends have a condo near Leavenworth, and invited us over for a weekend of food and wine and cross-country skiing. Their condo is right on a golf course near Lake Wenatchee, and there are 35 km of groomed cross-country trails available, starting right outside their back door.

Almost as soon as the grooming SnoCat came through around 7:00 am, skiers started to hit the trails.

This was the first time we've been on skinny skis since about 1980, when we decided to set our downhill gear aside and find out what cross-country skiing was all about. We signed up for a ski club outing, picked up our gear at a Wenatchee ski shop, had an hour-long lesson, then headed up a logging road off the old Blewett Pass highway (at least, it's the "old" Blewett Pass now... back then, it was the "real" Blewett Pass).

We came home after that experience and went back to downhill skiing. There were lots of reasons; mostly to do with fish-scale skis that didn't glide, and the wrong wax for the changing snow conditions. Climbing was OK, but when we headed downhill after lunch, we were quickly frustrated: picture a moderately steep logging road, with plenty of snow, and not being able to slide down it. We had to pole and push all the way back to the car.

But this weekend was completely different. First of all, it was cold all weekend, and it snowed pretty much non-stop. We went out the first day for a short time, and the snow was crusty but freshly groomed. It took a bit to find my balance, and not be fearful of sharp turns and downhill stretches. But I took it slow and searched for rhythm, and had a good time. The second day was even better. It was still snowing, but the wind had died down, and it was warmer. Jim waxed our skis (tips and tails), and that made gliding easier.

A foot of snow dumped on the pass overnight so we didn't spend much time on skis today. But we came home thinking maybe we'll buy our own gear (at least, our own boots).



Murphy came along this weekend, and after watching us eat dinner, he settled down on the loveseat and snuggled up to his favorite pillow. He was very obliging when I got out my camera, and gave me his best poses.