Friday, September 30, 2016

2016 Third Quarter Finish Along

I hope this quick collage, on my iPad,of my three finishes will qualify as my entry for the third quarter.  It is nearly 1:30 am as I sit in my bed on holiday in Ireland. How is it that I am wide awake and Mr. Romance is snoring as loud as a freight train? Ah jet lag! 
The post for the finished quilt is here
Read about the socks here

The link to my original post can be found here
I'm linking up with all the hardworking ladies of the 2016 Finish Along. 

2016 FAL

Monday, September 26, 2016

Looking for Rainbows

When your mother dies one month short of her ninety-first birthday, you are not truly sad, but more relieved that she is finally dancing the polka in heaven, with the love of her life. You are happy that she no longer suffers from excruciating knee pain, but instead is well again and enjoying watching her family from above. You are over-joyed that she no longer is confused and wondering why she can't remember what you just told her...four times already!
You see rainbows!

After your mom dies, you are sad; you miss talking with her and seeing her and smelling her and hugging her. You wake up wanting to call her and tell her about the fun party you went to last night, or the movie you just watched, or the great episode of a new TV show that you know she would love. You miss your mom. 
You miss seeing rainbows.

Two weeks after your mom dies your sister calls you and tells you she has uterine cancer! F*%King CANCER! Your sister is not supposed to get cancer. She's supposed to be well and be glad. She's not supposed to have to worry for weeks while she waits for appointments and results, only imagining the worst that can happen to her.
Still looking for rainbows!

After your mom dies and your sister tells you she has cancer, you try to keep on being strong. You keep on making things. You keep on going through the motions of life. You clean and cook and tell your kids and grand kids how much you love them.You hug your puppy, who knows you are sad. You reach out to friends for comfort. 
You finish knitting your RAINBOW socks.

After your mom dies you are even more excited about your upcoming holiday to Ireland. You know you can go with a clear conscience; you know you will not have to worry that you might get a call that your mom has been ill or worse, that she has died.  But after your sister tells you she has cancer, you feel guilty that you are leaving and you wish you could be with her when she gets her full diagnosis and treatment plan.You are reminded that every stage of life is precious and you pack and get ready for your trip...but you aren't seeing rainbows.

But one day you wake up and you see there is a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. You know everything will be alright. God will take care of your sister. She has a loving husband and two very loving children. She is looking forward to the birth of her seventh grandchild, due on Christmas Day. She will see lots and lots of rainbows in her life. You keep praying and start really looking forward to your Ireland vacation. 

When your mom dies you get to really start thinking about retirement. You ask your husband to get a two-year plan in motion. To please cut back on work and to take up a hobby that can bring him joy in his retirement.
I am so glad I have this community of knitters and quilters to expand my long list of support group. I have friends from Morocco, to Europe to Australia...who all support me with their kind words of encouragement. Most I have never met and some I have had the great pleasure to have met in person.
Friends are the Rainbows in life.

So my message here is to always see the rainbows in life. I know some days it is difficult. I am having one of those days.
I need to see Rainbows.

I started knitting these socks using the two at a time, toe up method, on a 40" circular needle. When it came time to make the heels I transferred one sock to the 24" circular and then completed each sock separately; this is because I was too lazy to look for the instructions that tell how to turn the heels on the two at a time method.
The reason I did a contrasting heel is because I could tell that I was not going to have enough yarn to make these socks with a 6" cuff if I didn't make contrasting heels. I bought the medium sized sock set but should have ordered the large. I only ended up with about two yards of yarn left on each ball, so that would have been cutting it a little too close for me.
The yarn was a dream to knit with and is one of the few yarns I have used where there was no color bleeding when I soaked the finished socks to block them.I highly recommend using Knit Circus Yarns.

Sock Stats:

Name: Looking for Rainbows
Pattern: My own Basic Sock Pattern with a Fish Lips Kiss Heel
Yarn: Over the Rainbow Striped Sock Set 80% superwash Merino, 20 % nylon
Heels: Hand Dyed Yarn by The Flying Kettle on Etsy 75% Superwash Merino wool, 25% nylon. 
Needles:Addi Turbo Sock Rockets Circular 40" and 24" US size 1 (2.5mm)

Saturday, September 17, 2016

A Bittersweet Goodbye

September 7, 2016 will be remembered as one of the happiest and one of the saddest days of my life. My mom had a big heart attack at 6 in the morning. I rushed to the hospital and my sister soon followed. I knew the minute I saw her that she would not be leaving the hospital. We called our brother, husbands, and children. The doctor advised us that anyone who wanted to see mom should make it a point to get to the hospital.
Within hours my husband and #2 son arrived at the hospital. Our brother lives 2000 miles away and was able to secure a flight to get him to California by early evening. My sister's youngest son and his family were able to visit for a few hours.
After my son, the paramedic, saw his Nani, he called his brothers and told them they should get to the hospital now. My other two local boys left work early and got to the hospital in the afternoon. Later that afternoon, my nephew was able to FaceTime my mom and have a very interactive conversation.
Dear friends, both nurses, came to see mom. They were a comfort and even told us what to tell the nurses to do for her. My sister's husband arrived in the evening.
Throughout the afternoon and evening mom went from near unconsciousness, to animated conversations. She never understood what had happened to her nor really knew where she was, but yet at some times, she was so lucid, that she seemed like her normal self. 
She suffered a second heart attack just before eight that evening. We asked her to hold on, that Rick (my brother) was on his way.
Mom never woke up long enough to have a conversation after that. She seemed to be very uncomfortable and was in pain.
She died at 11:47 that evening.

Some might be asking what was so good about the day your mom dies? 
The fact that almost everyone of her grandchildren was able to get to the hospital to say goodbye, was a blessing.
At one point there were 21 family members in her room.
The hospital staff kept complimenting us on our family and how obvious our love was for our beloved mom and Nani.
Mom was able to FaceTime with Nick in Philadelphia.
My brother's kids were in constant contact all day long. Thank goodness for cell phones.
We each took turns mopping her brow or applying a cold compress to her head.
She had last rights by a priest.
We laughed as a family.
We cried as a family.
We prayed as a family when Brent gave her a beautiful blessing.
She didn't suffer nor linger.
No one wanted to leave, but the younger grandkids were getting very tired.
As everyone trickled out of the hospital, saying their final goodbyes, my brother, daughter-in-law and I were the last ones left in her room. Originally I was going to spend the night in the hospital room, but since Rick was the last to get there, he wanted to stay. Molly and I agreed we would stay until midnight. My mom got really agitated and was in a lot of pain around ten pm. I told the nurse she needed more pain meds. She offered to give her morphine and I agreed it would be best. I knew it would help mom to relax enough to die. I knew there was no hope.

At 11:15 pm. I told Molly we should leave. I felt like my mom was holding on because I was there. We said our final goodbyes. I held on to her so tight. I really knew it would be my last time to hug her. Sure enough, before we even got home my brother called to say she had taken her last breath. 
The saddest day.

My brother and son went home the next day only to come back a week later for the memorial mass and celebration of life. Two of Rick's kids(and his daughter-in-law) were able to drive in from Albuquerque.

My sister, brother and I

We had 80 family and friends gather in church to celebrate my mom's life. Each of the children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren had a part in the mass.

Beautiful flowers were received from family and friends. These are just a few of the gorgeous arrangements that arrived in church. There were many more that were sent to our homes.

Friends and family members traveled as far as 800 miles to attend the memorial service. But, I think my mom would have been most thrilled to know we kept the "Fun" in Funeral (my son used this phrase in his words of remembrance speech). See all those smiling faces in the photo below? That's 19 family members that left the reception to go to my granddaughter's first high school volleyball home game.

My family of virtual friends has been a tremendous support. I have received hundreds of emails, texts, cards and messages on Facebook and Instagram. Each one means so much. Thanks for reading and allowing me to get a bit of closure to mom's last day.

Monday, September 5, 2016

Knit Essentials...a lesson in garment sewing

A few months ago I purchased the collaborative pattern of Karen LePage and Alison Glass, Knit Essentials. To say that this is a great basic sewing pattern is an understatement! In one pattern they included instructions for making a knit "muslin" to get the best fit. The pattern continues to tell you how to use this muslin and get the best fit to make a dress, a t-shirt, a tank top, a knit skirt, and a knit and cotton tunic top. There are also sleeve and hem length variables and several ways to finsih the necklines and hemlines.

I bought some of Alison's basic knit fabric to make my muslin. I didn't follow the instructions completely because I wanted it to be a wearable muslin, so I played with the back waist adjustment and pretty much got it right, without wasting the gorgous knit fabric.

Being that I am pear shaped, I followed the instruction which suggested using your upper bust measurement when cutting the pattern top, to get the best fit through the shoulders and arm holes. I then graded to my waist and hip sizes when cutting out the dress.
I am so very pleased with the fit of this dress.
I followed the instructions for one of the neckline variables, making a rolled edge trim on the V-neck.
My favorite part of the dress is the fun and flirty ruffled detail at the hemline. It's a ruffle that even this 64 year old can wear without looking juvenile. I love it!
I will be using this pattern as a baseline pattern to check the fit on all my knit projects.

Now I need to order her Woven Essentials pattern.

Friday, August 26, 2016

Kay's Irish Chain Quilt

Last week we took Martha Stewart on her first road trip. We didn't go far, just a few hours drive north to  Ventura, California, where we visited with old friends. I have been friends with Steve since we were three and 9 years old. The sign I made for his getaway car for his 1969 wedding to Cheryl still hangs in his garage. It was so nice to talk with old friends and also breathe in some cooler, beach air. I wish I would have remembered to take a photo of the 4 of us. 

Martha enjoyed running on the beach and romping in the water.

Dogs are welcome on all the Ventura beaches as long as they are on leash.

She wanted to try her skills at lifeguarding. 

Martha was so good at the dog friendly restaurant. She just sat under the table and took a nap while we ate a traditional dinner of oysters and fish and chips.

I think her favorite thing was looking out the window of our hotel room and watching the people go by.

We stayed at the beach until sunset in hopes that I would get some good photos of my recent quilt finish.

I am constantly searching for new places to take quilt photos but I often forget the beach is always windy in the evenings. This was the result of our first attempt to take good photos. Not only was it too windy, but we had already lost our light.

The next day we took more photos in the harbor. Still windy but beautifully lit.

My favorite thing about this quilt is the dottie background and striped binding.

I made this quilt for my friend's 60th birthday, coming up next month. It was super easy. The hardest part was laying out the entire quilt before you can sew even one block. I had everything cut and ready to go when I went to retreat in April. All I had to do was lay it out and sew each 9 patch together. The solid blocks were all ready to go. There are several patterns for this quilt. Single Irish Chain on Red Pepper Quilts blog, was my inspiration. I made 9" finished blocks. It's also known as a Garden Lattice pattern.
I used a lot of AMH prints along with some Lizzy House, Cotton and Steel and other prints from stash. For the background fabric I chose Alison Glass's Seed Bead in black and white from her Abacus line.  I love that yellow print IKEA duvet cover I used for the backing. It was a perfect compliment to all the prints. Using the duvet cover is a real $$ saver. You basically get two one piece backings for 20 dollars. I think the finishing touch is the striped binding by Timeless Treasures.
I quilted this one on my Bernina 820 successfully using the BSR foot.  I just did a loopy meander free motion quilting pattern. Very improv :-)) This was only my second time using the BSR. After having my machine for 5 years I am finally getting the hang of this attachment. I really think it is the thread. My Bernina hates Aurifil thread for quilting. I know that is probably not the correct thing to say online, but once I changed thread a lot of my problems went out the window. Aurifil makes a good product but it is not for every machine and every quilter.

Quilt Stats:

Name: Kay's Irish Chain Quilt
Fabrics used: all prints  from stash. Background print Abacus Seed Bead in black and white.
Backing: IKEA duvet cover. 
Batting: Warm and White
Thread: Pieced with Aurifil 50 wt. white
Quilted by me using Perma Core 40 wt. in yellow on my Bernina 820
Binding: Timeless Treasures black and white stripe. 
Size: 70"x86"

This quilt is another finish on my third quarter Finish-a-long list.

2016 FAL