Friday, October 31, 2014

Spooky enough for Halloween?

Almost looks a bit spooky, doesn't it?

I'm afraid the trick-or-treaters are gonna have a COLD night tonight! It's only forecast to hit a high of 39° today, and down to 21° tonight! BRRRR!!!

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Best sewing tool ever?

I bought another new sewing tool. I discovered it when I was researching leather needles before I made Jess's tote bag. Someone described it as something like "the best-kept sewing secret". I decided it was worth giving a try. Here's my new tool:

Yep, it's a hammer! Surprised? I got it from here. Read the reviews, especially the one titled "Best sewing tool ever!" It supposedly works wonders to help when sewing very thick seams. (Incidentally, the price has gone up over $2.00 since I got mine. Maybe the secret is out!)

I did try it out when making Jess's tote. There weren't a lot of thick seams, but there were a couple of corners that had a lot of layers. The corners of the inner pockets had... let me count... eleven layers!!

That's a lot to sew through! So I gave the first two corners each a couple of whacks with the hammer, then sewed them. It worked very well. Then as a test, I didn't whack the next corner. I could definitely tell the difference. My presser foot didn't want to go over that corner nearly as easily. Needless to say, I whacked the last corner before sewing it.

So I'm very pleased with my new tool, and I'm sure it will come in handy often, since I do seem to make a lot of bags.

Oh, by the way, there's a word of caution on the hammer itself. It says, and I quote: "WEAR SAFETY GOOGLES". I hope you read that right. That's what it said - GOOGLES! Haha! See?

I didn't wear any, in case you wondered. Shame on me. :)

And while we're on the topic of tools, remember this applique scissors, and how I wanted something to protect its point?

I read a helpful tip on a blog post recently about using an empty toilet paper roll, flattened, as a sheath to protect knives or whatever. So I decided to fashion one for my odd-shaped scissors. Here you have it:

The toilet paper roll wasn't very attractive, so I covered it with pretty tape, which didn't want to stick to it at all, so I then covered the tape with clear packaging tape. That worked. It's a bit crude, but nothing's going to get poked by the point of that scissors!

As for my sixth-finger-stiletto from that same post, I use it so often that it just stays out on the table near my sewing basket so I can grab it easily. And the hemostats aren't sharp, so I decided they didn't need anything over them when I put them into that bag.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Oriole nest decorations

When I was taking the photos I showed you yesterday, I happened to notice a baltimore oriole nest in our maple tree. They have made a nest in that tree every year for several years now.

I also noticed that this nest had something blue hanging from it. If you look REALLY close, you can barely see it in this next photo, below and to the left of the nest.

I took those pics in the morning, so there was too much contrast against the sun to see very well. I had also taken them through a window. I waited till late afternoon, and then I went outside to get some better photos. See? Now you can see the blue I was talking about:

You can see how it was woven through the nest, and some comes out the bottom:

You know what it was? It was ribbon! Ribbon for wrapping packages. The kind with the ridges on it so you can curl it with a scissors. If you click on these last two photos to enlarge them, you can see the ridges.

There were also some bits of blue and orange twine woven through the nest. Pretty fancy decorating, I'd say! I wonder where they got the ribbon. Off a balloon, perhaps?

As I've been writing this, the more I look at that photo at 100% size, the more I see. That nest is amazingly elaborate! I cropped that one photo down and loaded it at full size below. Click on it to enlarge it and see all the details. It's amazing!

I can't even tell what it's made of. It looks like a lot of man-made materials, not grasses or anything. There are even some green strips of 'something' holding it to the branch. Wow!

I sure would like to see them build one sometime, but of course when they do it, it's all behind the cover of leaves. I rarely know the nests are there until the leaves fall off the trees.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Misty morning prettiness

It had rained last Wednesday night, and Thursday morning it was rather foggy, yet the sun was trying to make its way through. I thought it made for some pretty pictures.  

Everything sparkled in the sun, and I tried to capture the sparkles. Here are my results.

Monday, October 27, 2014

Not yet, Rainbow!

I moved Rainbow's kittens successfully last Tuesday. (The orange one had already died, unfortunately.) It's a good thing I did, because we had a little rain the next day, and that would've been pretty bad for them outdoors. It took a little convincing to get Rainbow to stay with them, but after about 20 minutes of petting her and getting the kittens to nurse, she was fine and has been so ever since. This is how I usually find them when I go out to the old hog barn to check on them:

That was Wednesday evening. Thursday morning when I went out, I had to laugh. Rainbow had jumped the gun a little bit. As I left, I thought if it wasn't so far back to the house, I'd go for the camera. But then... I did it anyway. It deserved a picture. Here's what I found:

Good job of hunting, Rainbow! "But Mama... we like you better!"

Did you notice the markings already on the "white" one? As I was looking through my photos, I noticed this shot below:

Her fur got spread apart, and look at that undercoat! I can just imagine what she's going to look like as she grows older. Her little ears already have some black on them.

Rainbow is SUCH a good mama.

So far they're doing well. Gosh, they're 10 days old already and should be getting their eyes open. Whenever I go out there, though, they're always either eating or sleeping, so I never get to see eyes. :)

Friday, October 24, 2014

Arm Candy

I made another bag! This is the deadline project I mentioned last week. I finished it by the deadline, which was in time to mail last Saturday morning, but I finished it SO CLOSE to the deadline that I didn't have time for photos. I mailed it to Jess with the tote bag and a request for her to take photos of it for me. She had a lot of gloomy weather this week, so without good light, photo-taking was delayed for a couple days.

Without further delay, here's the bag! It's the Arm Candy bag, from the pattern by Erin Erickson. (You remember her, right? Only my favorite-ever pattern author.)

The fabric is once again Jess's "Sunburst" from her new Time Warp collection for Cloud9 Fabrics. Here's a peek at the inside, which sports a slip pocket of the same fabric.

It has a recessed zipper, too.

It was another fun sew, and the pattern was written with Erin's usual perfection. It was pretty quick and easy to sew.

I did take a photo of the unfinished bag with my little model, just so you can get an idea of the size.

While I was at it, I snapped one of the lining, too, with its cute pocket.

So, here are both bags, for a little more size comparison:

Both are headed to Quilt Market today!

And I look forward to getting my hands on some of the other designs in that fabric line. I do love that barkcloth!

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Shooting a leaf

Have you ever tried to photograph a single falling leaf? I did. It's quite a challenge, because you never quite know where to focus. It's kind of a guessing game. Here are some of my results. This first photo shows a stop-motion shot of the leaves dropping (mainly on the left half of the pic). The wind was blowing, and the leaves were falling like crazy.

Here are some shots of single leaves:

The following three shots are all of the same leaf. I took more pics of the same leaf, but these were the only ones focused very well.

It was fun, and good practice.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Fall foliage, part 2

Here are some more shots from my fall colors photo shoot last week. Enjoy!

Which are your favorites - the reds or the golds?