Friday, May 30, 2014

Piggy Pests

I had the opportunity to sit with Cannoli for a while last week and decided to inspect her fur.  Imagine my chagrin when I found little wriggly things in several places.  Ew!  (Photo of the little critters can be seen here.)

It's one of the risks of letting my guinea pigs have outdoor time.  It happens infrequently; I've dealt with infestations only two or three times in the last 15 years.  The last time it was little tiny bugs.  This was the first time my pigs picked up something that looked wormy.  I inspected Pinniped and found a few on her as well.  Neither pig seemed to be bothered their passengers, but I wanted them gone!

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Giant Curtains of Doom

Or - How I Spent My Memorial Day Weekend.

I responded to a Facebook message in late April, calling out for someone who'd be willing to alter a set of acoustic curtains.  The request was to make them smaller.  Sure.  How hard could that be?

Pile of six finished drapes (and a 12' of chain link)
Ten days later I took delivery of three massive duffle bags.  It took a few days of contemplating those bags before I had the courage to pull out the smallest curtain and assess the work to be done.  What had I gotten myself into?  These things measured 12 to 16 feet wide and were just over 14.5 feet long.  HUGE.  They each weighed a ton.  Well... maybe closer to 50 lbs apiece.  Still.  Just dragging them out across the floor was a workout. 

I spent a day or two examining the drapes' construction and educating myself.  It helped to have an aunt who does upholstery work.  I learned that the red stripe on the jute webbing across the top of the curtains indicated the weight it could hold.  My aunt described what kind of thread I needed and we discussed the alterations.  She also offered me use of her industrial strength sewing machine if my Singer was not up to the task. 

Seam ripper in hand, I tackled the first curtain on Saturday afternoon.  After several discussions, the final decision was to simply cut them in half, top to bottom, so they'd be smaller and lighter.  I lucked out that all three drapes had a center seam I used to split a straight line.

Friday, May 23, 2014

Frozen Cannoli

Cannoli has been getting a little tubby.  Plus she's been throwing her weight around the cage, rumblestrutting like she's the Boss Pig.  I decided she needed to move around more during floor time.

I first plunked her down on the carpet, since she's not as leaky as Pinniped.  The carpet would give her traction and wouldn't be so scary.  But I gave up on that when, after a few minutes of sitting in one spot, she backed up and started to pee.  No!  Bad rodent!

So the next stop was in the kitchen.  Neither pig is fond of the hard wood floor for the lack of traction.  Pinni will get her bearings, and if necessary, creep to her final destination.  Cannoli?  She sat in the same spot for several minutes.  Would.  Not.  Budge.  This is not what I had in mind.  I really figured the two pigs would do their echo-location thing and Noli would get moving.  But no.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Christmas Mug Rugs

I bought a freemotion presser foot for my sewing machine and tried it out over the weekend.  There's a ratty piece of fabric and batting that I use to practice quilting and check the thread tension on my machine.  At this point, it may have more thread than fabric on it.  I tried out the new presser foot with that, then I took the plunge to quilt my Christmas mug rugs. 

Wow.  I quilted one mug rug with stipple, the other was just wavy lines.  Both were a challenge.  The most frustrating problem was with my thread tension.  I tried adjusting the settings for thread and pressure foot, as well as thread length (not that I think that would matter), but my bobbin seemed to be too tight.  In some places the thread pulled straight, even with a high tensioned needle thread.  I will have to solve that first before I start doing any larger projects with freemotion quilting.  Any advice would be welcome!

Having finished these, I am even more awed by the freemotion quilts I've been admiring on the Blogger's Quilt Festival.  I know some of them are quilted on a longarm machine, but it's still impressive.  In addition, I'm starting to understand why people use spray basting and grippy gloves.  It was hard to keep hold of the material to move it and I was afraid to hit my pins when the sewing machine was at full throttle.

These were good experiments and I'm sure they'll be fine for lots of use with hot cocoa and holiday cookies.

Monday, May 19, 2014

Over Under

I walked into the living room and found Pinniped and Cannoli like this.  What an odd way to share a cozy:  one pig inside, one pig on top.  The two of them sitting like that made me think of a conversation chair.

At least it looks more amicable than the last time I snapped a photo of them "sharing" a cozy.  Or do you think it's Cannoli's attempt at payback?

Saturday, May 17, 2014

String Theory - Blogger's Quilt Festival

I know I just finished posting about String Theory - but I'm posting again to submit it to the Blogger's Quilt Festival for the scrappy quilt category.

I have a stash that most quilters would laugh at.  All of my fabric fits into a single dresser drawer.  Many of the pieces were smaller than 1/4 yard.  Inspired from the last Blogger's Quilt Festival, I decided to make a couple of scrappy quilts.  The first was based on 2" squares.  That left me with some chunks of fabric and lots of long pieces less than 2" across.  I decided to try string blocks.

I made a block or two; from that figured how much material (and what colors) I had and designed the quilt from there.  I was going to add borders as a throw quilt, but friends and family convinced me to keep it this size as a wall hanging.

Friday, May 16, 2014

Mixer Cover - Blogger's Quilt Festival

I am submitting my mixer cover to the Blogger's Quilt Festival.  Regular readers have seen this project before (so skip reading, but please vote!).  The bound edges are over 80", so it's a little too large to be a mini quilt, but the piecing certainly was some of the smallest I've done.

My mom had requested a mixer cover for Christmas.  I had been wanting to try a double disappearing nine patch pattern I had found on-line.  This seemed liked the perfect opportunity to try it.  I made nine-patches from my stash of 2" squares, not realizing how tiny the final blocks would end up.  My blocks were about 4" square; the smallest parts are about 1/4" square.  Each panel of the cover was made from four blocks.

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Skinny Minny

I'm overdue for a Pinniped update.  A lot has gone on since the end of March.  Pinni continues with the subcues.  I'm tired of it, she's peeved with it, but it has developed into systematic routine we can live with.  Of course, the treats of bell pepper and cilantro help.

Besides the stone/bladder issues, Pinni developed a yeast infection a few weeks ago.  As soon as one thing improved, something else would get worse.  At one point I was giving Pinni subcues, three to six different oral medications and cleaning out her girly bits.  Twice daily.  Hand feeding was the icing on the cake.  Oof.

The yeast infection disappeared last weekend.  She's no longer puffy nor chewing everything to bits, so the pain must be gone (or at least a lot better).  I've even tapered off the pain meds and we're down to one oral med.  There's occasional crying every few days, but Pinni is peeing fine and there's no more bladder infection.  We've made a lot of progress.

Tuesday, May 13, 2014


Finally!  Weather that's warm and grass that is green and dry.  When I let them outside on Sunday, Pinniped hit the ground chewing.  Such a typical guinea pig reaction.  When I returned a little later, I found Pinni and Cannoli stuffed in their cozy.  What silly pigs.  All that lovely grass and clover to eat and they're hiding.

The Boston Pignic is a month away.  They better start working out if they want to eat their way through the afternoon with the other Boston area guinea pigs. 

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Lots of Points

Four binding options
My Christmas Storm at Sea is coming together.  I had forgotten how many points there are to line up with this pattern.  It's not as bad as Night Jewels but there's still a lot.  I've ironed the heck out of it and there's still one or two spots that don't want to lie flat.  I swear I cut and sewed all of the pieces the same way.  Quilting should fix that.  I'm pleased with how it came out.

I have a ton of Christmas themed wall hangings, so I plan to bind this as is to use as a table topper.  It's a little over two feet square.  I have four fabrics I could use for binding.  When I pulled out the material, I was sure the green would work best (left side).  Now that I've put the material next to the quilt, I really don't like it.  The green/red (top) or even the red/gold (right) seem to be a better match.  I'm rather surprised by the red.  I had been positive that it wouldn't work, but it picks up the bits of red in the rest of the quilt.  I can never pick colors without seeing them all together!

Friday, May 9, 2014

Guinea Pig Cuddle Cups

As with so many of my guinea pig sewing projects, third time is the charm.  Pinniped may have approved of the last cuddle cup I made, but I like this one best.  Cannoli is pretty happy with it, too.

I usually make cozies and the like from left over material from other projects.  Most of my cuddle cups have two to three layers of fleece and no batting.  This time around I found a chunk of polyester batting and what a difference it makes!  The batting gives the cuddle cup a bit more loft and helps it to keep its shape.  From now on, all my cuddle cups will have batting.

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Color Clash

I have fleeced the upper levels in my cage for many years, but only recently started to completely fleece the first floor.  When I bought the first floor fleece, I couldn't find any that would match the fleece I already had.  I bought what I liked, what I thought would best hide poo and hay.  But the cage is clearly not coordinated.

When I cleaned the cage this weekend, this was the clean fleece I had available.  Hmm....  Greens and reds upstairs with a magenta, pink, gray and black combination downstairs.  Right.  That really goes together.

Guinea pigs can see colors.  I wonder what Pinniped and Cannoli think of this combination?

Monday, May 5, 2014

Unexpected Guests

A lot of activity this weekend.  We've heard odd noises coming from the yard in the last few nights.  I've also found the bird feeder rotated away from the railing.  Sunday morning I caught the culprit.  I don't know how successful he's been at getting the seed out.  The feeder has a door that closes when the bar is weighed down by more than a cardinal and a finch or two.  I've been filling it often, but I'd think a raccoon could empty it in no time.

The raccoon wasn't our only unexpected weekend guest.  Unlike the raccoon, this back yard visitor was invited in to stay the night with us.

Saturday afternoon I found a pigeon hunkered down in our back yard.  That evening I found her standing in the front yard, eating thistle seeds that had fallen to the ground.  I could see she had green bands on both legs.  She watched me warily, but I could stand quite close to her; she was obviously tame.  I managed to catch her long enough for Rob to write down the information on her band.  Some on-line research revealed she was a racing pigeon.

Saturday, May 3, 2014

Christmas in May?

I'm still in scrappy-mode.  This time, I'm focused on burning through my leftover Christmas material.  Most of it has been taking up space in my drawers for over a decade.  Get it out!

I scanned through tons of "scrappy Christmas quilts" on Google.  There are some beautiful designs I wanted to try, but so many of them were based on red and green material.  The majority of my fabric is dark blue.  Who wants a blue wreath or tree?

Looking back on my notes from previous quilts, I came across a Storm at Sea quilt I made a few years ago.  I love the pattern; I've dreamed of making another one.  Here's my chance.  It's a good size for a wall hanging or table topper.

Thursday, May 1, 2014

Guinea Pig Tunnels

I'm wrapping up my backlog of guinea pig sewing projects.  The half-written instructions have been nagging me for months.  I couldn't post them until I had a good set of photos that matched the instructions.  Today's finished project:  tunnels.

I experimented with boning-free tunnels earlier this year.  My first two attempts had their quirks, but I liked the design.  I adjusted the size (and wrote down the measurements!) for this tunnel.  It's a little shorter and a bit wider than the tunnel Cannoli modeled in the previous post.