FO Friday: may the quilt be with you

Another of my best pals had a baby recently! For this one, I knew that Star Wars had to be the theme. I had found some neat SW fabric and as it is the favorite thing of my pal Michael, it was a perfect fit.

In order to highlight the SW-themed fabric, I decided that a fairly traditional block pattern would be best, so I cut out squares, fussy cutting the SW panels to best show off and vary the print.

Star Wars baby quilt in progress

I also wanted to highlight the center panel in some way and decided on the Alliance Starbird. Of course this little one will side with the Rebellion. So I fussy cut this shape and then top-stitched it onto a panel, which I put at the center.

Star Wars baby quilt in progress

Of course I decided to make the quilt a bit larger than my work surface, so laying out the panels was slightly challenging as they needed to droop off the edge which I worked.

Star Wars baby quilt in progress

I am quite pleased with how the center panel turned out, and with how the colors go together.

Star Wars Quilt

For the back, I used a basic polka dot fabric in grey. It’s neutral and goes with all of the blues and other colors in the quilt top fabrics.

Star Wars Quilt

And the finished product:

Star Wars Quilt

I’m so happy with it! It’s Star Wars themed but it’s still classy and elegant, which fits with this child’s parents’ aesthetic. And they did love it – look at this wee Jedi practicing his force powers!

quilt jedi photo 2015081795100630_zpskto258nc.jpg


WIP Wednesday: sew cool yard sale score

We went garage sale-ing last weekend, hoping to find a desk or table for K’s office. We didn’t find one, but we did find a couple of other neat things, including a sewing machine and table!

Singer 338 sewing machine with table

Isn’t it beautiful? I bought it mostly for the table, but as it turns out the machine works and is actually really well-reviewed online!

Singer 338 sewing machine with table

It’s a Singer 338, manufactured in Great Britain in 1964. The color is a lovely robin’s egg blue (the orange wall of the Harley room is not doing it any favors in this photo).

The table is a little dinged up, but nothing that some Restor-a-Finish won’t take care of.

Singer 338 sewing machine with table

It is also missing the slide plate and bobbin case/holder, but I can hopefully find replacements for both online.

Singer 338 sewing machine with table

(If anyone is an expert and notices anything else missing from inside here, please shout it out!)

Lucky for me, it also came with a bunch of accessories and notions!

Singer 338 sewing machine with table

I haven’t used a buttonholer attachment like this before, so I’m excited to try it out. I also love the vintage butterfly tin that the odds and ends came in!


Late last week we finally did the inevitable: had a bunch of trees cut down. I was a bit sad to lose the two Box Elders, because they were super craggy and Grimm-esque, but they were both rotten and it had to be done. We also had a sad, sickly Spruce and a previously-damaged and now bug-infested Maple that had to go. I hate to get rid of such old, established trees, but when people and property are in potentially in danger, I have to admit that it’s for the best.

Firefly Cottage

Here you can see the canopies of the Box Elder on the left and the Maple on the right. I apparently neglected to take any really good wide shots from across the street that capture both of these big trees.

The crew made short work of the Maple:
Maple tree removal

Pretty quickly (less than 30 minutes), all that was left was the trunk:

Bug-infested, damaged maple is no more

Then they started in on the Box Elder out front:

South Box Elder underway

This one took a lot longer. The growth habit of the Box Elder is a lot more branchy, it seems, and this tree was also WAY larger than the Maple.

South Box Elder coming along

They did a nice job of tackling a little at a time and avoiding the power lines. And then it was completely down:

South Box Elder removal

It left a very large stump:

This stump is large

Some of the pieces of trunk were just gigantic! I could imagine someone making a table out of one of these if there hadn’t been so much rot and insect damage. Here’s K for scale:

Remains of the South Box Elder

After that, they moved to the Box Elder back by the garage:

North Box Elder removal

This one was not quite as extensive as the first in terms of branches, but it had more contact with the power lines and was very close to the garage in some places. Pretty soon it was mostly down:

North Box Elder removal

We knew that some of the large limbs were rotten, but we had no idea that it was THIS hollow inside:

This tree was just slightly rotted out inside

YIPES! I am so glad that it didn’t fall down on the garage before we could get rid of it. I feel like we really dodged a bullet!

After that tree was done, the Spruce was nothing in comparison. They made a couple of quick cuts, threw a rope around it, and yanked the whole thing down in one:

Spruce removal

The crew chipped everything they could that day, and then returned the following two days to grind the stumps and haul away all the very large pieces. I feel like getting the project mostly done in one day is really impressive, and the crew worked really hard. We were quite pleased with their work!

Post tree-removal view

It is going to take us awhile to get used to how much sun there is everywhere now! The large pine that was next to the Box Elder out front is now visibly uneven – it’s more robust on the alley side and pretty scrawny on the side that was shaded and touching the Box Elder. Hopefully given some time it will recover:

Trees removed (stumps not ground yet)

We are going to seed the areas where the stumps were ground, just to keep weeds at bay until I’m ready for garden planting. I am still working on the master garden plan and now I can move forward knowing better where the sun/shade will be. Hooray, though, as the trees are one more major project down!

Post tree-removal view

FO Friday: BTTF for baby

One of my best pals recently welcomed a new baby into their family and I wanted to help celebrate this by making a quilt. Now, if you know Dan, you know that he is a big fan of, in his words, the greatest sci-fi trilogy of all time: Back to the Future.

So I decided to make a BTTF-themed baby quilt. Is it traditional? No. Is it pink or in any other way distinctly female, as this baby is a girl? No. Does anyone involved care about any of these things? No.

I started out thinking I’d do panels, each depicting something from the movies.

Back to the Future quilt in progress

Fairly quickly, though, I decided that this was going to be too literal for my taste and that I wanted to do something else. Then I came up with the idea of making the background of the quilt an interpretation of the giant speaker at the very beginning of the first movie.

Back to the Future quilt in progress

I overlaid the distinctive arrows over top of this, at both the top and bottom of the quilt. I feel like this is a nice happy medium of inspired by, but not too directly a literal depiction of, this movie.

While I was designing, I laid out the fabrics from my stash that were in keeping with the colors from the original movie poster.

Back to the Future quilt in progress

I picked out the ones that I felt fit best, and then started with the center of the quilt.

Back to the Future quilt in progress

Working my way out from the center, I added the sections of the speaker until I had the entire quilt top completed.

Back to the Future quilt in progress

Then I cut out and assembled the pieces for the arrows and pinned them in place on the quilt top. For the arrows, I chose fabrics that have a flame-esque pattern.

Back to the Future quilt in progress

To contrast the designed quilt top, I wanted the backing to be color blocked with bright colors and patterns.

Back to the Future quilt in progress

This allows the quilting, which follows the shapes of the speaker and arrows, to show a neat pattern on the back.

Back to the Future Quilt

I am so pleased with how the finished product turned out!

Back to the Future Quilt

The quilt is whimsical but not cutesy, and keeps the BTTF theme while not being too grown-up-ish. And it was well-received by Dan and his family!

Things That Are Awesome: Manhattan Nest

There are plenty of home improvement-focused blogs out there, but so many of them are just product/brand-placement in disguise and/or feature such pricey projects and objects that they are completely out of my world. Not so with Manhattan Nest!

Manhattan Nest

This home blog has it all. Manhattan Nest is the story of a DIYer, Daniel, working on his home (and other projects), learning by doing, and putting it all out there – successes AND projects that didn’t go quite as planned. Throughout everything, he provides a hilarious narrative and manages to maintain a positive attitude regardless of what happens.

It’s so refreshing to see a blogger post pictures of their yard when it’s a complete mess, full of weeds and all uneven – EXACTLY like every yard I’ve ever had has started out! Maybe because so many other blogs are heavily sponsored, they’re afraid to post the ugly before pictures? Or the bloggers start out with something professionally landscaped and then just change it up? Well, in the world I live in, we start out with a neglected or at the least imperfect mess – and so does Daniel. And he manages to incorporate sponsors with ease, so it’s not obtrusive at all.

He’s got an immense appreciation for restoring and salvaging historical details BUT he also balances this with a realistic approach. Not every awesome detail can be saved, no matter how much ones loves it, and he provides a ton of examples of situations where he figured something out to preserve the character if not the original materials. He’s also not afraid to do things the way he wants them. Not sure the neighbors will love your black-stained fence, but truly believe it’s the best choice? DO IT.

Most of all, his candor about that feeling one gets partway into a big project – you know the one, where you feel like you have taken on far too much and the idea of it ever being completed or even just salvaged back to a usable state seems impossible? He gets that feeling! And he admits it! And he sees the humor in it, which helps me, as the reader, to feel a bit better when I have that feeling myself.

If all this isn’t enough, he also has adorable dogs. Just go look at any post – you won’t regret it!

WIP Wednesday: Ramona sweater for Blythe

I’ve been so inspired to create some new designs for Blythe lately! I suddenly realized the other day that it’s almost the end of the summer and I can look forward to fall arriving soon.

decorative gourd season

I think these thoughts of autumn are what have me thinking about sweaters. It’s certainly not the humid, hot weather we’ve been having! I set out to design a sweater with ribbing and I sort of winged it at first on this first draft.

Ramona Sweater for Blythe prototype 1

I like how it turned out, but not 100%. After finishing up this first draft, I decided that I’d rather make the sweater a pullover (over the body, not over the head, since Blythe’s noggin is so large proportionally), and I want to construct the ribs differently than I did the first time. I’m already working on the next draft, but I’d love to know what YOU think! What things are you looking for in your Blythe sweaters?

let’s get the rock out of here

All the planters around our house were filled at some point with landscaping rocks. Oh, so many landscaping rocks.

The planter on the west side of the front of the house had especially few plants – just a couple of shrub roses planted right on top of one another, and the rest entirely filled with rocks.

Firefly Cottage

Except for the stump from the Arbor Vitae, of course, which we are hoping to have removed when we have a tree crew out to take down the rotted-out old Box Elders. Removing that stump means that we needed to get rid of the rocks so that they’re not in the way. We were planning to ditch them anyway – I prefer living means of weed control (not that the rocks were even very good at that – there were a ton of those horribly spiky dandelions and other weeds poking up from between the rocks) – but this nudged me to get it done sooner.

Front planter de-rocked

Three+ hours later, it’s almost entirely rock-free!


I got a start on the planter on the other side of the front of the house, and there are several planters in the back yard that need the same attention. Of course this means that it’s now officially the hottest part of the year and so humid that I can hardly bring myself to think about doing physical labor outside. It’ll get cooler, though, and I love spending time out in the garden in the fall, so I’ll have plenty of opportunity.

FO Friday: Wrap it Up

During the colder months, I am almost always too cold if I don’t have a scarf or wrap of some kind covering my neck. And of course I prefer if said scarf/wrap is something I made myself. In winter I often wear an indoor scarf all the time, layered with an outdoor scarf for going outside. This results in some teasing from K who is always (too) warm, but WHATEVER.

I do what I want

Claire Wrap

This one is called Claire and is from a pattern written by Lynn Anne Banks. I chose to make it because I was traveling some earlier this year and wanted something that I could travel with, easily memorize, and not need to count rows.

Claire worked out to be a terrific pattern for this purpose! I was able to knit while on planes, riding in cars, and at other times when my hands would otherwise have been idle.

Claire Wrap

I like that the stitch pattern is pleasingly geometric but fairly subtle – a bonus of having such an easily memorized stitch pattern!

Claire Wrap blocking

I didn’t measure super carefully, instead making it until it seemed a good length, and as a result it is QUITE long. As you can see it was too big for me to block in CraftyTown (and still be able to move around) so I commandeered the dining room table for a short while.

I’m looking forward to wearing this in a month or two when the weather has cooled off.

Claire Wrap

Things That Are Awesome: Bellwether Friends

This week in Things That Are Awesome, it’s another podcast, because I adore them and you should too: Bellwether Friends.

Bellwether Friends

Bellwether Friends is “definitely not the first podcast featuring a discussion on pop culture and why we think you should like what we like, but perhaps the first hosted entirely by librarians.” So you can see already that I am going to be biased here, because (a) pop culture and (b) librarians, but in addition, (c) both Anna and Carolyn are true friends of mine who I already admire and respect and want to listen to all dang day long.

The conversational style that Carolyn and Anna use invites you in, making you feel like you’re part of the discussion – more than once I have had to pause the podcast so I don’t miss anything while I chime in to them on Facebook or Twitter – and I don’t think I’m the only one who feels this way. After they released their latest episode, everyone and their sister spoke up on Twitter to name their favorite pop culture from their home state. Or not-favorite but still from that state. Or not from their own state, but from a state no one else had spoken up for yet. Seriously, check it out on their twitter stream. They’ve even got a map going!

Anna and Carolyn also have their own way of going about the pop culture podcast, so it’s different from the others I listen to (spoiler: future installments of TTAA will include Pop Rocket and Pop Culture Happy Hour, plus others). They talk about the things they love and why and their interest is infectious. They don’t analyze things as much as celebrate them, which gives them a unique voice among other podcasts. I am super on board!