A Yarny Tale

Once upon a time there was a skein of yarn named Blueberry Swirl, but his friends called him Blue.

Blueberry Swirl Sweet Roll

Blue sat on the store shelves with his friends and family, waiting for the day when he would be purchased and used for an extremely important project. From his place on the shelf he could see the free patterns that the store allowed customers to take. There were hats, scarves, sweaters and shawls. As he waited Blue dreamed about what type of garment he would be used to make.

Some days he adorned the head of an Olympic skier as the Press interviewed the gold medal winner about his trip down the mountain. Little Blue would grace the magazine covers of all the most widely-read sports magazines.

Gary in a Crocheted Hat

Other days he dreamed about being made into a beautiful shawl that would appear in the latest blockbuster motion picture. He would be part of the costume tour that would travel around to all of the most important museums where people could look at the shawl and marvel at its beauty.

Pauline's Lost Skulls Shawl 11-29-19

Then there were times when he could imagine himself being used for a cardigan. Not just any cardigan, though, this cardigan would be worn by the smartest scientist in the world who discovered cures for a lot of terrible diseases.

Droof in her Warm Embers Cardi

Blue knew that he was destined for greatness. His future wouldn’t consist of being part of a blanket that a pet would shed all over, nor would he be a baby blanket to be drooled upon and soiled. He refused to even consider that he would become part of a garment that would end up at a thrift store, unpurchased and unloved.

The day finally arrived when blue was purchased and taken home. The woman who purchased him and a few of his brothers placed them in a room with many other skeins of yarn. Blue didn’t want to get too friendly with the others as he didn’t expect to be there for long. Remember, he was destined for greatness.

Yarn Mess 5-18-19

It bothered him a bit when he would overhear the others talking about being included in blankets. Maybe THEY would be blankets, but not him. He had bigger plans. He had more important plans.

One day the lady came back and made a selection of blue yarns, including Blue. This was it! This was his big moment! With heightened anticipation he watched as the lady used another skein of solid blue yarn to crochet a long chain. Hmmm… that was too long for a scarf. Maybe it was a shawl. Then he noticed that the other yarn was being crocheted into ripples. One of the free leaflet patterns he had stared at for months was a rippled afghan with a baby on it. Oh no! It couldn’t be…

Blueberry Swirl Blanket

As the lady crocheted him into ripples that matched the other two yarns’ ripples, he began to get nervous. Out of a bit of desperate hope he tried to casually strike up a conversation with his new neighbor. “Uh, hiya. My name is Blue. Do you happen to know what we are being used to make?” The other yarn was a light blue solid yarn who had been sitting around for a while. “Hi! My name is Frosty! I don’t know, but I’ve heard talk of blankets and little boys. I can’t wait! Even though we will be a blanket we might be used as a fort, or as a ghost or as a cape. It will be great!”

Blue was so depressed about the prospects of being jerked around by a rowdy little boy that he didn’t try to carry on any more conversations. When the lady was finished crocheting the blanket (yes, his heart sank when he realized for sure that’s what he had been used to make) she tossed it in the laundry, and once dry, bagged him up.

Blue stopped dreaming about greatness. He had given up. There were so many great things he could have been part of, but instead he was going to be a dirt magnet. He would be soiled, walked on, and treated like any other blanket. His life was going to be miserable.

After living in the bag for a while he suddenly realized they were being transported somewhere else. The bag opened and the blanket was lifted out. He heard machines, smelled a weird smell, and heard somebody say, “This is for you.” He looked up to see a little boy in a hospital bed with big scared eyes reaching for him. As the boy rubbed his face into the blanket another voice said, “Whenever you get scared you can wrap your blanket around you and know that you are being hugged and loved. Love was put into every stitch of this blanket as it was being made for you.”

Project Linus Blanket #24 7-16-19

The little boy held the blanket close and wouldn’t let it go. Blue realized that he WAS part of an important piece. He may not ever be seen on the big screen or in magazines, but to this little boy he was the most important thing in the world. And he was loved more than he could ever imagine. Yes, Blue knew he was destined for big things and he was right.


Posted in Blankets, Charity, Crochet, Project Linus | Tagged , , , , , | 1 Comment

N Scale Layout- Giving it Hill(s)

Yes, Jay is still working on his new train layout. While I’ve been working in my sewing room, he’s been trying to supervise and work with various construction units. This gets tricky, especially when you have to use units that are part of the union. *sigh* That really slows down the progress.

His first task was to do something with the pole in the middle of the layout.

2020Layout 3-7-20

You had a peek at his solution when I showed you his DIY Hot Wire Cutter. In case you didn’t see it, though, he decided to put a shoe on it.

2020Layout- Hill Framing

His first thought was maybe leaving it as a nice strappy sandal, but in the winter that can be a bit chilly. It definitely needed covering of some sort.

2020Layout-Hill Plaster1

As he started to place the plaster strips in place Jay decided that the next time he breaks his foot he’ll just make his own cast and skip the doctor completely. After all, look how beautiful his plastered shoe turned out:

2020Layout- Hill Plaster2

Beautiful! It’s too bad we didn’t have another angle from which to view this beautiful piece of artwork.

2020Layout- Hill Plaster3

How lucky! We do!

Fun fact: Not only can this plaster be used to shape shoes around poles, it can also be used to fill up holes behind posts so that you can more effectively fill the gaps with foam and prevent Starlings from building nests on your front porch.

Front Porch Plug 4-8-20

(Another aside… the next morning I had a great time watching a Starling as he went to where the hole used to be… dropped to the porch floor with a confused look on his face and proceeded to walk around the base of the post as if to say, “This looks like the post. I swear we started building the nest right up there! Maybe I picked the wrong post…”)

Back to the basement.

You’ve already seen how the rock cut-outs were shaped beside this giant hill.

2020Layout - Hill Plaster 4

Then Jay slathered it in mashed potatoes. Oh wait, maybe that’s some of the left-over mud from the giant bucket I purchased for use in the sewing room.

Once that was dried, Jay iced it.

2020Layout- Hill Paint1

Seriously, every time I looked at it I started craving chocolate cake with chocolate icing.

2020Layout- Hill Paint2

Other times it made me crave a big bowl of chocolate pudding.

This isn’t the only hill on the layout, though. Nope. There are two more.

2020Layout- Small Hill1

These are kind of the foothills of the large hill.

2020Layout- Median Hill1

The hills are alive with the sound of train cars…

They also received the chocolate icing treatment.

2020Layout- Sm-Med Hills Paint1

Once the base paint was dry it was time to start adding a little bit of depth.

2020Layout-Sm-Med Hills Paint2

2020Layout- Track Cut-Out2

2020Layout- Track Cut-out1

But wait, there’s more!

More rock cropping, that is. Jay was really rocking out on this hill.

2020Layout- Rock Face 2

2020Layout- Rock Face 3

Since there are cut-outs on this hill he also has to paint the rock face.

2020Layout- Rock Face1

This requires a lot of color layering.

2020Layout- Rock Face 5

2020Layout- Rock Face 4

Not all of it is rock. There is some landscaping that needs to be done as well.

2020Layout- Grass Seeding 2

The initial grass seeding was laid down. Once the roots have started to take hold you can add a little more to it.

2020Layout- Grass Seeding 1

As you can see in these pictures there are other things going on, but I’ll showcase those in other posts.

Posted in N Scale Train, Trains | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Sewing Room Update 4-5-20

(I am writing this on Palm Sunday, but I won’t schedule it for posting until Tuesday. I’m hoping that by the time you read this I am moving things INTO my sewing room!)

When I last showed you my “easy” painting project, this is what the wall looked like:

Pink Room Wall 3-15-20

Thank God for my husband. He came in to see how I was progressing, and after noting the Reverse Spain on the wall, confirmed my fear… what I was actually chunking off was a plaster treatment that had been done on the plaster wall behind it. Our house was built in 1950 so these walls are all original. Back then they didn’t have drywall as we know it. Instead, they had a sort of plaster that was one step ahead of the older lath and horse hair plaster walls (which I’ve seen more than my fair share of in my lifetime!).

Jay asked me what I needed in order to help me with this project. Was there a special tool or device that would make it easier. I admitted that his help is really what I needed. You see, almost all of these projects I do myself. Jay will come in and help as needed (construction, destruction, electrical, etc), but for the most part I am the only one working on these projects.

When I got home from work the next day Jay was already in there chunking away at the wall and making all kinds of progress. Reverse Spain was turned into Greenland and there were other little spots of plaster still left on the wall. If it was stuck solidly on there we didn’t want to disturb it. I went and bought a bucket of drywall mud because we thought we might have to do a skim coat across this entire wall. Jay scored the corners so that the plaster topping couldn’t pull off of the other walls. It was decided that we definitely didn’t want to do this to the other three walls. We started by feathering the edges of the old plaster with the tinted plaster.

Sewing Room Wall Mudded

The yellow is the tinted top layer of plaster, the white is the original plaster wall. This wall was not pretty. There are all kinds of gouges and dimples in it. We tried to smooth them out the best that we could. Once this was dry we sanded it smooth and decided we wouldn’t skim coat the entire wall after all (so if anybody needs some drywall mud, let me know).

Jay also fixed that horrible patch above the heat register.

Sewing Room Heat Duct

Just so you know, he fixed it the correct way with a hunk of drywall and secured it in the spot. Then we used the mud to smooth it out and keep it in place. The other patch had been a mess of tape and mud. If anybody had knocked into it the patch would have collapsed. Also, I removed the heat register and bought a new white one.

As for the rest of the walls it was decided that I would do my best to remove the rest of the border, then we would take the palm sander and smooth down the edge where it met the paint.

Sewing Room Bear Border Gone

At this point I just wanted to get the room done.

We painted the ceiling and put a coat of primer on the walls.

Sewing Room Primer 1-1

That plaster really soaked up the paint. Which I completely expected, but I ended up running out and buying another gallon of primer.

Sewing Room Primer 1-2

Especially since that first coat didn’t cover the pink really well. If I was going to paint a darker color over it I would have just left it. However, knowing that I was going to put a white top coat made me decide to put a second coat of primer on for good measure.

Sewing Room Primer 2-2

You could still kind of see it, but not nearly like before.

Sewing Room Primer 2-1

I wanted to make sure the plaster was done soaking up paint before I used my paint. After all, I only had one gallon of this paint to use. Remember, I bought it for the bathroom closet, but had it tinted to a color that I was going to use for this room.

Now, because the walls are going to be white I wanted to add a little bit of sparkle (literally) to the wall. Originally I was going to paint it with the latex paint and then buy a Rustoleum product that was like a top coat with silver glitter in it. I had seen it at my local Wal-Mart, but of course when I went to buy it they had removed it from their planogram for that shelving. There was no way I was going to pay $26 for one quart and not have it be enough. Well, when you look it up on Amazon you also see this stuff called Hemway Glitter Paint Additive.

You add it to your paint and then it’s an all-in-one-step kind of deal. That sounded way better to me, so I ordered two bags of the Mother of Pearl color. I decided that an iridescent sparkle was my cup of tea.

The day came and I added both bags to my paint.

Sewing Room Paint 1-1

This picture is a bit dark, but you can tell that my walls are just a few shades darker than the bright white ceiling.

Sewing Room Paint 1-2

After doing one coat of paint I realized that I had missed some spots. To be fair, it’s hard to see where you’ve painted when you’re painting with white paint on top of white primer. I went back and did a second coat on this wall and touched up spots on the other walls.

Sewing Room Paint 2-1

The color doesn’t bother me because it’s not a sterile white. I was, however, disappointed in the sparkle. Now, I didn’t want an IN-YOUR-FACE kind of glitter, but I wanted it to be visible when the light hit it. When I was growing up my parents had sprayed our living room ceiling with a thinned-out drywall mud and tiny pieces of glass so when the lights were on you saw the sparkle. It was really pretty at Christmas.

Anyway, this was all the sparkle I could really see (and get a picture of):

Sewing Room Paint Up Close 1

Can’t really see it, can you? In person if you moved just right you would catch a sparkle here and there. I thought about it and decided that I could be happy with it as is. Or so I thought. Then I remembered reading in the reviews that when you buff it the sparkle comes out even more. So I grabbed a sponge that had the scrubbie stuff on one side.. and proceeded to rub a blue hue onto my white wall. After using a Mr. Clean Magic Eraser (which I LOVE), I decided to order the buffing pads that the glitter company sells. They arrived in the mail yesterday so I tried them out.

Sewing Room Paint Buffing 1

It was like magic!! And it makes sense. You dump this glitter in the paint and somehow you expect that it’s going to land on the top side of the wall clean enough to pick up and reflect light? That’s not how it works. You have to clean the paint off of the glitter.

Sewing Room Paint Buffing 2

Those stupid little buffing pads completely made this entire sewing room. Walking into the room with the light glinting off the walls makes me smile so much.

With the walls done I needed to turn to the trim. I had decided I was going to paint it in place because I didn’t want to pull it off the walls to refinish. Then I started cleaning it up by removing the old paint drips and sanding it down.

Sewing Room Trim Cleaning 1

I started with that base board. It peeled so nicely. Then I moved to the window.

I didn’t show you this, but the previous people hadn’t even removed the blinds when they painted the window casing. They just had them pulled all the way up!

Sewing Room Paint Job

Why would you do that?? Needless to say, they will come down before I start to paint this window. And um… I made a mess.

Sewing Room Trim Cleaning 2

This was the best picture I could get of it. The other side looks about the same. The paint peeled right off of the varnish below it. You could see that they hadn’t even sanded the window frame before painting it. How it didn’t chip before now, I have no idea.

So then I had a quandry… Seeing the beautiful wood made me REALLY not want to paint it. Yet, I feared what would happen if Jay started to pull the trim off considering the walls are already painted and I only have an inch of the paint left in the can. Not to mention that this trim is original to the house, so it’s old varnish, which means it’s going to be extra-stubborn to remove. That was actually the clincher for me right there. Knowing that I would spend at least a week trying to clean the paint and old varnish off of this trim, then spend another week putting coats of finish on it… No.. I can’t do that right now. So it’s going to be painted. End of story.

In the meantime, I’ve had help on this leg of the project. When I’m not running anything noisy Bob has been perched on his cushioned tote to supervise.

Sewing Room Supervisor's Perch

And of course, Mama indulges him by moving the tote around to keep it in the patch of sun as it moves across the floor.

Posted in My House, Remodeling, Sewing | Tagged , , , , | 1 Comment

Project Linus Blanket #31

Project Linus Blanket #31:

Project Linus Blanket #31 3-29-20 - Baby Elephant

“Baby Elephant”

I don’t know why, but this reminded me of a baby elephant so that’s why I chose this name. Maybe it’s because in the Disney cartoon “Dumbo” he had blue eyes and that’s what I think of when I hear the name Dumbo. Anyway…

This blanket comes from a downloadable book that can be found at Annie’s:

LapThrows for the Family

This was the Misty Morning lap throw.

I made this blanket because my sister is trying to crochet this same blanket, but is having some difficulties. She lives a few states away so it’s not like she can get help from me or my mom easily. I decided the best way to help her would be to record myself crocheting the blanket and giving tips while doing it. Obviously this is a copyrighted pattern, so I bought a copy of the booklet and the video I recorded will never be made public. However, it’s a resource that my sister can use whenever she has a moment to sit down and work on it.

Project Linus Blanket #31 - Detail

Front and back post crochet stitches can be tricky, and I think that’s what she was having the hardest time trying to make.

Other than the blanket I have also made a few hats.

Hats #5 thru #9.

Crocheted Hats 5-9

I made a few of the beanie style and two of the ribbed hats.

Crocheted Hat #5 & #9

Crocheted Hats #6-8

Posted in Blankets, Charity, Crochet, Hats, Project Linus | Tagged , , , , , , | 1 Comment

DIY Hot Wire Cutter

Jay has been working on his latest N Scale Model Railroad layout. He had laid out the track and started to work on the scenery. Then he ran into an issue.

Hot Wire Cutter 5

He had glued pieces of Styrofoam in order to model a hill with cut-outs for the track. It will eventually be painted green… no winter scenes in this house! I tried talking him into turning the support pole into a UFO tractor beam with little cows glued to it and a pie pan at the top for the saucer, but that idea was vetoed. Anyway, back to Jay’s problem. You can see where he started to shape the hill with the tools that he has on hand.

Hot Wire Cutter 1

If you’ve ever tried to cut Styrofoam then you know the mess he was creating with this method. He could have purchased a hot wire tool that is made specifically for cutting foam. You can find them on Amazon for around $20.

This is Jay, though, so why do something as easy as buying a foam cutter when you can make your own? Okay, to be fair not everybody has the equipment on hand that will allow them to make their own foam cutter. Jay, however, happens to have a battery charger that he uses for his model airplane batteries that also has a foam cutter mode on it. I don’t know much about it. All I can tell you is that it’s an iCharger battery charger. Jay absolutely loves it for charging batteries and now he loves it for cutting foam.

He used SketchUp to draw the handle for his wire cutter.

Hot Wire Cutter 2

Then he sent the code over to the CNC Router to cut it out of some plywood that he had on hand.

Hot Wire Cutter 3

Jay’s philosophy is that if you have the machines… you should use them. So he did.

A few more modifications and he was ready to roll.

Hot Wire Cutter 4

I was called down to see what he made and to take pictures.

Hot Wire Cutter 6

This is for scale so you can see how big he made it. I can’t recall what gauge wire he used. I want to say 26. If that’s not right I know it was somewhere in that size range.

Let’s see how it works…

Hot Wire Cutter 7

Hot Wire Cutter 8

Hot Wire Cutter 9

That worked quite nicely!

After the first cut Jay moved on to the rest of the hill.

Hot Wire Cutter 10

This was MUCH cleaner than the cutting tool method he started to use.

Hot Wire Cutter 13

It worked really well, but he did make a smaller version. Also, the hot wire did burn the wood where it wrapped around the bow.

Hot Wire Cutter 12

It worked nicely, though, and enabled him to use equipment that had just been sitting idle for a few years. There was one last step, however. It had to pass inspection.

Hot Wire Cutter 14

Bob looked it over. He passed his paw over it. He asked Jay a few questions about technique and structure. Bob is a really good inspector because his face didn’t betray what his thoughts were as he listened to Jay’s answers. In the end, though, Bob gave it his lick of approval. Good job, Jay!

Posted in CNC Router, model trains, N Scale Train, Trains | Tagged , , , , , | 2 Comments

Project Linus Blanket #30 – Carrot Patch

Project Linus Blanket #30

Project Linus Blanket #30 3-25-20 - Carrot

“Carrot Patch”

This blanket was so quick and easy! It’s not my usual ripple blanket. This time I used a different pattern because I wasn’t sure about the yarn. I had originally planned on using it for a ripple blanket, but the yarn that I bought to go with it was a #4 and it’s a #3. I knew that combining the two in a ripple was not going to look right. That’s when I came across Creative Grandma’s latest crochet blanket tutorial on YouTube. She uses the same yarn in a different color and I really liked the look. It’s the easiest stitch, too. The hardest part was keeping track of your rows, but that’s made very easy with a stitch counter.

Project Linus Blanket #30 Yarn

The orange variegated color is Ice Yarn’s Magic Light in the color Yellow-Orange-Red. I purchased this color because you don’t often find these different shades of orange. At least, not in yarn. When I was in high school I had a friend who LOVED orange and his aunt made him an afghan that he loved. My hope is that there’s a boy out there who also loves orange and will love this blanket. The Magic Light is a very soft yarn so it feels nice against your skin. This yarn is a 3.53 oz skein and you have to purchase it in packages of four. I had bought two packages and ended up using five skeins for this blanket.

Project Linus Blanket #30 Detail

I didn’t end up using the border that Glenda (Creative Grandma) used on her blanket because I wanted to use the crochet border book that Jay had given me for Christmas. It’s the “Every Which Way Crochet Borders: 139 Patterns for Customized Edgings” by Edie Eckman. I chose border #55 because it was wide and not very lacy. I ended up using an entire skein of Hobby Lobby’s I Love This Yarn in the color Limelight.

I really enjoyed working on this blanket and I hope it brings a lot of comfort to some little boy who will wear it out with love.

I’ve already packed my bag for the next blanket, another ripple, and had some supervision.

Bob Helping with a Blanket

What would I do without the help? ❤


Posted in Blankets, Cats, Charity, Crochet, Project Linus | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Another N Scale RR Layout

As I was gearing up to start my Sewing Room project Jay and I were discussing his birthday and the recent train show that he attended. He had helpfully circled various cars that he wouldn’t mind receiving for his birthday on a pamphlet that he had received with a purchase of some tank cars (I think).

If you remember, Jay had started to create a layout a few years ago…

Train Layout - Farm Area - 5-7-16

… until the woodworking tools became too much to have in the same space. That’s when the model railroad got packed away.

As we were talking Jay mentioned that he would like to maybe build a smaller layout that he could work on, but that was small enough that it could be put away when not in use. I thought maybe he could just redo the coffee table layout.

Train Coffee Table

Apparently that was too small.

Unlike some wives, I still love my husband and try to support him as much as I can. After all, he very rarely puts his foot down when it comes to anything I want to do. I have my sewing stuff, crocheting stuff, cross stitching stuff, my giant library of Civil War books and my baby grand piano. I am indulged.

Jay’s hobbies take up a lot more room. Thus the reason for the Airplane Lean-To.

Lean-To Doors 11-5-19

Our house is not humongous, but if you work with what you have then you can usually find a solution to your space problem. That’s when it hit me.

There is a spot in front of my work table in the basement that essentially collects junk. And airplanes.

Basement Catch-All 3-3-20

I asked if this area would be big enough for the small layout he has in mind.

Apparently it was because the next day this area looked like this:

Basement Catch-All 3-4-20

The day after that I went down and found this:

Basement Catch-All 3-5-20

It’s amazing how quickly an area can get cleaned up when there’s motivation behind it. One caveat was that Jay had to put a pipe up on the other side of the basement so that I could hang my clothes when doing laundry. Up to this point I had hung them in this area. It was only a day or so before there was room on the other side, too.

Battery Area 3-5-20

The area was quickly cleared and a framework for the layout appeared.

2020Layout Benchwork 3-7-20

(Please note that there is still an A-4 on my work table…)

This layout will not be able to be disassembled because it’s built right around one of the supporting posts. We just have to figure out how to incorporate it into the layout.

2020Layout 3-7-20

This entire table was built using scraps that Jay had laying around the basement, so it was a good project in that respect, too!

He rounded off the edges so that I wouldn’t poke my eye out (yes, I could definitely manage that if you let me).

2020Layout Shaping Lines 3-7-20

All of the buildings, track, and cars were hauled out of their storage containers and displayed for inspiration.

2020Layout- Track 3-13-20

I haven’t been working on this with him because I’ve been eye-ball deep in my own projects. He has been watching YouTube videos to better learn how to paint the buildings and work on scenery. It’s more than just the trains for him this time.

2020Layout - Painting Buildings 3-13-20

I think that he’s doing a great job. As he makes more progress I’ll be sure to post more pictures.

Posted in model trains, N Scale Train, Trains | Tagged , , | 1 Comment