Friday, May 30, 2014

Foreign Friday

Chopstick sleeves from various restaurants
1979 - 1980
I never did master chopsticks, but it was sometimes hard to eat in Japan without them. Most restaurants close to the base also offered Western cutlery, but it wasn't a guarantee.

Japanese rice is very sticky, so it was much easier to eat with chopsticks; however, eating rice in Thailand or Taiwan with chopsticks was another story.

Have you mastered the skill of eating with chopsticks?

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Scrap Coins

"Coin" Strips made from scrap fabric
My fabric scraps are threatening to take over my sewing room, so it was time to rein them in a bit. I found the adding machine tape at a thrift shop a couple of years ago and purchased it on a whim, but it is handy as a foundation for these odd bits of fabrics and the "coin" strips.

I have no idea why strips of fabrics are called "coins," but it is a term that is used widely in the quilting community. Directions for a Chinese Coin Quilt can be found here. Mary also has a tutorial for making wider coin strips without a foundation.

I cut the strips of adding machine tape to 15.5 inches long, but any length would work. The strips are nearly 3 inches wide, so when I trimmed the excess fabric, I squared the strips to 15.5 inches x 3 inches. I have no idea what I will do with these coin strips, but I'm sure the perfect project will reveal itself before long.

Update: This is similar, yet quite different from paper piecing. The paper is only serving as a foundation or stabilizer for the fabric. My scraps are odd bits of fabric - some cut on the bias; some, not. I used the paper for these scraps because many had biased edges that stretch too much for precise, or in my case, consistent sewing. The paper will be removed when these long strips are securely attached to an edge that will not stretch.

Some people make piano key borders for their quilts, but I am not sure if it could be made with scraps and biased edges. You might want to Google "piano-key quilt border" for tips.

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Delightful Surprise

Mary (Making Scrap Quilts from Stash) is in the process of packing her Minnesota household and organizing boxes to be moved to two separate houses so she and her husband can be closer to help their parents. Mary contacted me about a month ago and asked if I could use some yarn for my charity knitting.

I accepted Mary's offer with the condition that anything I could not use would be passed on to another group. Last week, two large boxes of yarn arrived at my door. Mary's generosity took my breath away.

Yarn given to the Methodist Church
Prayer Shawl Ministry program
The contents was sorted and as promised, the yarn I could not use was bundled and taken to the local Methodist Church for their prayer shawl ministry. In addition to yarn, Mary included beautiful crocheted blocks (see in the top right of the bag).

Mary sent a wide section of colors Caron Simply Soft that I'll use to make baby blankets for the Oddball project. I need to select some stitch patterns and get my needles clicking.

Thank you, Mary for your generous contribution to my charity knitting and to the prayer shawl ministry at the Methodist Church.

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

What's On My Needles?

Baby Surprise Jacket
May 2014
As the temperatures began to rise, my knitting slowed to a crawl. At one point all my needles were empty, which is highly unusual for me since I often have up to four or five projects in the works. Craving something to knit, I started a Baby Surprise Jacket to use some wool that has been in my stash too long.

Pattern: Baby Surprise Jacket by Elizabeth Zimmerman
Yarn: Lion Brand - Lion Wool - 100% wool (Rose #140 and Winter White #099)
Needles: size 8

Monday, May 26, 2014

Some Gave All

Freedom is Not Free
Memorial Day 2014
Mountain View Cemetery
Riverton, WY 
Volunteers place an American flag on the grave of every veteran buried in Mountain View Cemetery as a reminder of the sacrifice paid for our freedom - a small gesture to honor those who gave their lives for their country.

Mountain View Cemetery
Riverton, WY
God Bless those who died defending Freedom.

Friday, May 23, 2014

Foreign Friday

Tour groups
Southern Japan
April 1980
It was common to see rows of tour buses at the attractions in Japan. Filing off of the buses were students on holiday, business men in suits, and foreign tourists in Levis.

Most of the school uniforms in Japan were dark and looked terribly hot.

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Back in Time - Neighborhood Friends

Neighborhood Friends
Rich S. (in plaid shirt), unknown, John S. (on bike),
 Nils Gabrielsen., Jerry S. unknown, Evelyn S.
near Pavillion, WY
approx. 1944 or 1945
Aren't the bib overalls cute on the three younger boys? Nils lived down the hill to the east. After graduation, Nils married and continued to live and work on his parents' farm. He moved to Riverton in the late 1980s. Nils' parents (Gabe and Mary) were deaf. My mother visited Mary often, and they communicated by writing with their fingers on the kitchen tablecloth. I was always amazed how they knew what each other was saying. Mary did beautiful needlework, especially tatting. My sister thinks the smallest boy in this photo is Nils' younger brother who died.

This photo shows my three brothers (Rich, John and Jerry) and my oldest sister (Evelyn). Rich always talked about how he and John rode their bikes to Ocean Lake about twos miles down the road to go fishing. Their "boats" were 55 gallon barrels cut in half.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Brain Freeze - Camping Style

Nancy and Brenda
August 2, 1999
Worthen Meadows Campground
Lander, WY
My family gathered for a week-long reunion in the Wind River mountains in August 1999. Nearly everyone was able to attend, and we had a great time camping: most in tents, some in a motor home (shown in the photo).

Anyone who has "roughed it" knows that after a few days of no showers just having clean hair is refreshing.

The campground did not have running water in the bathrooms, but the camping site we had was near the water pump. These photos show how pump had to be turned with two hands. The water coming out of that pump was ice cold, even in August.

Brenda, Nancy and Marilyn
Worthen Meadows Campground
August 2, 1999
My niece, sister, and I took turns at the pump as we each shampooed our hair in the icy water. 
Brenda and Nancy
Worthen Meadows Campground
August 2, 1999
It's not an experience that I want to repeat anytime soon - talk about a "brain freeze," my teeth are chattering just thinking about it.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Amazing America

Amazing America
56 x 72 inchess
Quilt of Valor
Amazing America was made mostly from scraps of other quilts: I had to supplement some of the white from my stash. The pattern directions are for Jelly Rolls, but I used 2.5 inch squares that I had pre-cut for other projects.

Even though this quilt used a lot of 2.5 inch scraps, I have even more to use. No matter how much I sew, it seems like all I've been doing is making even more scraps.

This quilt was made using the Royal Squares - Quilts by Emily. The link directs you to the free pattern.

Update: February 2016

Amazing America (shown at center) was presented to a veteran at a local nursing home.

Monday, May 19, 2014

Mother, May I. . .

Monday, May 12, 2014
It's been a week since the last measurable snow fell (more in the mountains than here in the valley as is illustrated by this photo on Nancy's blog), and the temperatures have returned to nearly seasonal ones.

The nights have been cool, and it hasn't frosted in a few days.

The grass is green, and the trees are beginning to leaf.

It just might be safe to say that Spring has arrived in the Wind River Valley.

So, Mother Nature, may I please
 put my Winter coats away?

Friday, May 16, 2014

Foreign Friday

Public Restroom
Lake Towada, Japan
Fall 1979
This building was my first experience with a Japanese public restroom. In the subsequent two years, I saw many more public restrooms, but none that compared to this traditional and somewhat rustic restroom for cleanliness.

In this building, the women's section was on the right, and the men on the left. A previous post about this restroom can be found here.

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Back in Time - Sheep

John S.
near Pavillion, WY
approximately 1940
This photo of John, my oldest brother, was taken on the farm in its early days. Because of the transformer attached to the power pole, I am pretty sure that is the pole that stood in the center of the farmyard and later had the yard light attached to it. Later another transformer was located by the dairy barn.

The only sheep I remember during my childhood were bum lambs, purchased to be fed excess cow's milk. The lambs' pen was near the house in the area that was later seeded with grass. The bums were always a hit with visiting city relatives.

Because the lambs quickly learned to pull the nipples off of the bottles, we began feeding them with bottles without nipples. Even though the lambs were cute, I preferred feeding calves.

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Sixteen Cases

Even though I made 16 presentation cases (pillowcases) for Quilt of Valor last weekend, the impact on my fabric stash is barely noticeable. Some of the cases are obviously more feminine than patriotic, but they can still be used to protect the quilts for storage. (Quilts should never be stored in plastic bags because the fabric needs to breathe.)

The pattern information can be found in this post.

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Focusing on "A" and "B"

32 completed scrap "A" blocks
I am slowly making progress on some quilting UFOs (unfinished projects). The side strips of these blocks were prepared a couple of years ago, but they got pushed aside for other projects. The basket of scraps was unearthed in my recent attempt to bring some order to the chaos in my sewing room.

Partially completed "B" blocks
The stack of "A" blocks will be grouped with a stack of "B" blocks for another Quilt of Valor (QOV). The "B" blocks, shown above, still need white strips sewn on the sides. When this stack of "B" blocks is completed, I can start assembling the quilt top. Stay tuned. . .

Monday, May 12, 2014

Fiber Guild Retreat

Finished Single and Double Crochet blocks
May 2014
On Saturday, the Fiber Guild hosted a one-day retreat that I hope will become an annual tradition. Two, all-day classes were offered: Beginning Crochet and Dyeing Natural Fiber. Both classes were of special interest to me, but since I could only take one class, I chose Beginning Crochet. When I got home, I wanted to try my new skills: the blocks, shown above, are the result. About eight years ago, I took a class with dismal success, so I am happy with these two blocks, flaws and all.

Mary (our instructor) reviews Jeni and Jean's work. 
Instructors for the classes were Guild members, and they were paid a stipend for their expertise.

Cheryl (the instructor's assistant) checks Vicky and Jeni's progress.
Near the end of the class, Vicky was crocheting with a tiny hook and
crochet thread. Each person mastered Single and Double Crochet and
started a Granny Square. 
Colleen (plaid shirt) was the instructor for the dyeing
class. She raises sheep and angora rabbits and has a
small yarn shop on her farm. 
Rachel (a new Guild member) and LeAnn tend their
dyeing pots. 
Maia watches as Sally adds dye to the dye pot.
The Beginning Crochet class had 9 students, and the Dyeing Natural Fiber had 7 students. It will be fun to hear everyone's comments and impressions about the retreat at the May Fiber Guild meeting on Saturday.

By the time we starting working on the Granny Square, I was more
comfortable with the hook and how to hold the yarn. 

Friday, May 9, 2014

Foreign Friday

Beppu, Japan
April 4, 1980
Beppu Onsen was an amazing place with lots of paths and spas. Mount Aso is an active double volcano - elevation 5255 feet, and the crater basin is 50 miles in circumference.

Another post about this area can be seen here.

Thursday, May 8, 2014


Seventeen cotton washcloths

One of my goals this year is to reduce my yarn and fabric stash. These simple, knit washcloths (along with some toiletries) were donated to a group that provides for the homeless.

Pattern: Grandma's Favorite Dishcloth
Needles: size 8
Yarn: 100% cotton

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Back in Time - "The Rock"

"The Rock"
Wheatland High School
Wheatland, WY
"The Rock" stood guard in the courtyard just outside my classroom, and I never knew from one day to the next what color it would be. Each year it grew in size until one summer it was sandblasted to remove the layers of paint added over the decades.

"The Rock" was a large boulder the senior class emblazoned with its graduation year; that is, until another class or alumni slipped in under cover of darkness to stake their own claim to "The Rock."

I admit to painting "The Rock" with a '69 one night before I left Wheatland.

Did your school have a similar tradition?

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Medallion Quilts

Quilts with a large medallion center appeal to my eye, and the Winter Quilt Show had two wonderful medallion quilts displayed.

I would never have chosen to put these fabrics together, but they make a fabulous
medallion to highlight the fabric panels. This would make a wonderful Quilt of Valor

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