The Masky Month of May

Sorry for my silence last night. I just ran out of time—and I don’t really have time to write tonight either. I have finally finished the masks except for the one I’m making by hand. That one is going on my road trip with me tomorrow. I am finally going to visit my dad and help with going through my mother’s things.

So today was about getting ready for the trip and finishing the masks. I never anticipated that most of May would be about mask making for me. It hasn’t been fun. One of the reasons I’d never do it for a business is that I absolutely loathe making the same thing over and over. I’ve made 26 masks now! And I’m very proud of the fact that I haven’t had to buy any supplies. I had plenty of fun fabric to work with. All the right colors of thread. Wire. And, incredibly, even enough elastic! I thought I would run out but I found one last unopened package of elastic in my backup stash. If anyone ever questions the size of my crafting stash, I’ll just shrug and say, “2020.”

Parting Shot:

Here’s about half of the finished masks.

Shopping & Socializing

I didn’t have any time to work on masks at all for most of the day. This morning I did my “big” shopping at Aldi. We have another birthday dinner this weekend so I had to make sure to be ready. And when I got home I had sourdough pizza dough to make too.

I did have a moment of amusement in Aldi though. The lady behind me in line at the checkout preempted the cashier’s spiel by beating him to it. “Hello, welcome to Aldi,” she said. “How are you doing? Did you find everything you needed?” The cashier didn’t know what to say!

After lunch my friend Darlene came over for tea. We haven’t seen each other for months and months. She brought me a Christmas present and a birthday present! So as usual when we get together, I ended up just about talking her ears off. I think I must have a backlog of words inside me after all this isolation.

By the time Darlene left, it was too late to take Lucy to the post office as I had planned to do. So instead I went to Walmart in hopes of getting the rest of the supplies I need for tomorrow’s dinner. Walmart did not have two of the things I needed, so I came home and did some online searching. I found one thing at Kroger and another at Albertsons, so I drove up to the other side of town and went to those stores. I don’t often need to go to four separate grocery stores just to get the ingredients for one meal!

Since I was running all over town, Lucy made the pizza and served supper. It wasn’t until this evening that I finally could start working on masks again. I’ve made a good start on four more and hopefully should have them done by midday tomorrow. Except that I’ve got a LOT of cooking to do too!

Excited about seeing some out-of-town kids tomorrow . . .

A Little Sick of Sewing

The mask marathon continues! I did do some other things, including running an errand and working on some tedious writing chores. But the day mostly felt like it was all about masks. I have now made 17. But meanwhile, I’ve had more requests from family members and I’ve also figured out how to improve the mask design. Naturally, it’s a little more time consuming, but the result seems to fit better. So this evening I cut out 10 more using the new design. I’m hoping that’s the last of them!

However, I have been facing a dilemma. Most of the masks I’ve made have used ¼-inch wide elastic ear loops. For a few I’ve been able to use elastic cord, because I actually used up all the ¼-inch elastic on hand. I have ordered some more elastic, but it won’t get here until the middle of next week—and I need to finish several of these masks by Saturday.

This evening as I worked in my sewing room, I noticed a clear plastic storage box and I stared at it for several seconds before remembering that I have a backup elastic stash. And there was enough ¼-inch elastic in there to at least make the masks that have to be done by Saturday! It’s this kind of experience that serves as justification for the hoarding of massive amounts of crafting supplies. Who could have predicted years ago that in 2020 everyone would need ¼-inch elastic?

Parting Shot:

I love it when my daylilies are blooming. I think they look like they’re smiling.

The Notecard Initiative & Slow Sewing

One of the lost causes I champion is the custom of writing and sending actual notes and letters on paper rather than using electronic media. Yesterday was the first day of my notecard initiative. Those of you who follow me on Facebook already know about it. It occurred to me that during this time of self-isolating and mandated lockdowns, some people, especially those who live alone, might enjoy getting a personal piece of mail.

I asked for volunteers who would like to receive a note from me, and received very few takers, but that’s okay because I already had a fairly extensive list of people I planned to send notes to. So my goal is to write and send at least one note a day until I run out of people to send them to. Believe it or not, this was a custom I used to follow in my youth—writing at least one letter a day to one of my friends. I don’t know of anyone who doesn’t enjoy getting a personal note or letter in the mail—and it’s something I can do while staying at home myself. And, you know, even after all these years I am still full of words, so I don’t think I’ll run out.

My other big job of the day was working on masks. I’ve only made fourteen so far—I know it must seem like I would have made more than that. It feels like more! But I’ve had more requests from family members so I’ll be at it for a few more days.

Which brings me to another project I’m about to tackle. Years ago now, I read an article in a sewing magazine about “slow sewing.” All that means is to make something entirely by hand, like they did a couple hundred years ago. No sewing machine. No serger. Just needle and thread. I read that article and thought about how much I love handwork, and I knew that someday I’d take on a slow sewing project.

Ultimately I want to make myself a skirt or dress by hand. But it occurred to me that making myself a mask might be a good starter project. I have cut out a mask that will be my “dressy” mask and I plan to sew it entirely by hand. Who would have thought a year ago that so many of us would be wearing masks in public or that having a dressy mask would even be a thing?

Baking & Sewing

Today was a stay-at-home day, although I did have to go to Walmart for supplies this morning. I made banana bread this morning while the “real” bread dough was rising, and then later of course I baked bread.

Most of the day, though, I alternated between writing chores and sewing chores, with a little bit of envelope making thrown in too. I am doing some very tedious revisions on one of my manuscripts and I can only work on it so long before needing a change of pace. But I’m not complaining! I am so thrilled to have time to write again!

I got the rest of the face masks I plan to make cut out and have been working on them in between doing the other things. By the time I go to bed tonight I should have five more done. Just want to make sure everyone is covered because we are hoping to go to church tomorrow, and they want us wearing masks.

We had some rain today, but not nearly as much as predicted, so my husband was still able to mow the yard.

Tanner left this afternoon to go to Austin and spend some time with his family. I assume he arrived safely because I haven’t heard otherwise. He and Lucy are still waiting on word from Alaska.

Meanwhile, I guess those masks aren’t going to finish making themselves . . .

Swifty

Today was a little less frenetic than the previous few days. I prepared for and taught the blond brothers. Before they arrived, I was working on winding some yarn for my next knitting project, and while I had the swift and winder out I went ahead and started winding some souvenir yarn—the skein I’d bought in Scotland and the yarn I bought in Washington last week.

I started trying to wind my blue-faced Leicester yarn from the Isle of Skye and ran into a problem. The strands of yarn were sticking together as if they were trying to felt to each other. I had to abandon my yarn winder and wind the yarn by hand a few inches at a time.

I continued to work on it during times when the boys were busy writing, and they were fascinated by the swift. When I finally got the whole skein wound into a ball, I rewound it with the ball winder and the boys were so impressed! They had never seen either device before.

Fortunately the Washington yarn was very quick and easy to wind.

I made it to the gym tonight and was so cold that I walked too fast at the beginning and then had to really slow down after I started tiring. Tomorrow we’ve got Geography and then Mary is coming!

Mission Accomplished

If you’ve been reading this journal for long, then you may have noticed that I tend to sew in spurts. I can’t seem to find time to fit in a few minutes of sewing in my daily life, so every now and then I work really hard on a project for hours or days until I get it done.

Because I start teaching again next week, and because I’ve done so much traveling recently, I knew today was going to have to be a sewing day if I was going to do what I had committed to do—make some sheets for the baby bed I took to Flynn and Tiffany last month.

I had all the materials. All my fabric had been prewashed. Still, I had other things I had to do this morning, including running a couple of errands, so I didn’t even get the table all the way cleared for cutting out until noon. And I still had to do all the math to figure out what size rectangles I needed to cut.

Since this bed takes a cradle-sized mattress, I had to measure the mattress, figure out how the sheet would cover it, and add seam allowances, etc. Fortunately, I have a mattress here that goes with the cradle, because it would be really hard to fit the sheets properly without it.

The first sheet was a prototype and fit a little too snugly, so I made adjustments before cutting any more out. Once I had it all figured out, I could form an assembly line of sorts. Cutting out, ironing, serging, sewing, etc. I had to take several little breaks because nonstop sewing is really hard on my back and shoulders these days. During my breaks I worked on vocabulary for my students.

My goal was to get six sheets cut out and sewn today, and I did it. Whew! I know it doesn’t seem like much. Sheets are not complicated. These particular sheets are designed like an envelope with an overlap on the bottom, so they can’t come off the mattress no matter how wiggly a baby might be. But simple or not, it still took me all afternoon and much of the evening to get them done. I made four flannel sheets and two that are plain cotton.

In addition, I cut out a blanket and 8 burp cloths which I hope to assemble soon. I felt I had to take advantage of having the table cleared off, and cut out as much stuff as possible.

So for once I feel like I had a pretty productive Saturday. Meanwhile, Jasper did some blacksmithing with a couple of friends this morning and then helped fix a car and went out for coffee. Lucy and Tanner went to a wedding and then went out for coffee too. Walter did some work around the house this morning, but he is still pretty sick so he spent most of the afternoon napping. I think this illness is dragging on so long because he doesn’t get enough rest, so I’m glad he was able to today. Now that my sewing is done, I am looking forward to resting my aching back . . . .

Closing the Door on 2019

So here it is the last day of the year. I feel like I should post something really profound, as a couple of my offspring have already done, but honestly I’m just not up to it. I apologize for my long silence. I did not have internet access except on my phone during my trip and my days in Tennessee. I arrived home at about 8:00 this evening.

I will try to gather my thoughts and post something about my trip tomorrow—after all, I process things by writing about them! But tonight, I thought I’d just reveal a couple of things I mentioned without telling you what they were.

First, I never showed you the amazing gingerbread mansion that Lucy and Tanner made before Christmas:

Front
Back

Secondly, I never showed you the big project that I poured so much effort into in the days before I left for Colorado. It was a Christmas stocking for Flynn’s wife Tiffany. As I’m sure I have mentioned before, elaborate stockings are a family tradition that I started back when I had a lot more time. Normally making one of our family stockings takes me 2-3 weeks of working a couple hours a day. So having to do almost all the work in three days was very demanding.

The beaded angel. All our girls’ stockings have angels on them.

If you’re not a crafter, no doubt you wonder what could possibly be so time-consuming about making something like this. If you are a crafter, you know exactly how time-consuming it can be!

The final project I mentioned but didn’t show you was a photo book I put together for my parents, celebrating their 65 years of marriage. I included a few wedding photos, some photos of our family over the years, and plenty of photos taken at their anniversary celebration back in June.

Here’s a wedding photo I included:

And here’s a photo of us all at the nursing home yesterday:

In a little while we’ll go outside with sparklers and a sky lantern, and say goodbye to 2019.

Yarn & Books

Today started like every weekday does at the moment, with me getting ready for my essay class. Shortly after it ended, Lina arrived to have lunch with us! She had to come into town to do some business, so she considerately came today so she could also help me with the yarn classes—and boy did I need help!

We had two first-timers today who wanted to learn to crochet, and several others who were crochet beginners. Plus several kids who still need help with knitting, and a couple of crochet prodigies who were ready for more challenging projects! It was a very intense couple of hours.

When yarn class ended, I took Lina to the bank to take care of some stuff and then we continued on to the bookstore as she had some books to drop off. And then, to my amusement, she bought one of the very books that I had dropped off yesterday!

We came to the house and I kept Lina company while she ate supper, and then she retrieved her laundry from the dryer and headed on home. It was good to see her and hear how she and her cat are settling into their apartment.

My new sandals arrived via UPS today. I will try not to launch into a jeremiad about my shoe woes, but the reality is that finding shoes that fit and are comfortable is just about impossible for me. But my one pair of walking sandals have just about worn out after some 15 years, and I know I’m going to need something to walk in on my trip.

So I ordered some new leather sandals from Amazon. Of course, I had to get men’s sandals because the ladies’ shoes don’t come in my size. (I had a specific brand I wanted because that’s what my old sandals are and they’ve been pretty comfortable and functional for many years.) I wore the new sandals for about an hour and they are definitely going to need some breaking-in. The footbed is very comfortable but the straps rub in a couple of places.

When Jasper got back from church this evening I made him take a few minutes to shoot some crochet videos for me so I can post them for my students. He hates doing it but he’s the only videographer I’ve got!

Vested

I wish I could report to you that I finished sewing my “practice” dress. I haven’t even started. All I did is get it cut out. There is too much going on!

Yesterday we went to church. During the summer we continue to go early even though there is no Sunday School—for us, anyway. The youth still meets so we go early to get Jasper to his class and then we have an hour to sit around and read while waiting for the service. I kind of miss Sunday School.

In the afternoon I taught Jasper how to make lasagna, at his request. I sat beside him and talked him through it while I made a pan of low-carb lasagna using spinach instead of noodles. Both kinds turned out pretty well! Spencer and Jade came for supper as usual, so I even made keto garlic bread.

After supper we watched documentary about Apollo 11 while I worked on my knitting. I had hoped to finish that project last night, but instead I finished it this morning at about 7:30.

It’s a vest. I made it in four days while doing a lot of other things too. If I knitted nonstop I bet I could have made it in two days! This is possible when the pattern calls for size 17 needles—even when you make it at least eight inches longer than the pattern specifies. My original thought was that I might take it on my trip. However, now that I’ve got it, I realize it is both bulky and heavy and I don’t want to travel with it because it is so big, I’d have to wear it on the plane. I will look forward to wearing it here in winter.

Also, notice I am posing in front of our ivy again. I’m trying to take advantage of it while we still have it. We will soon be forced to pull it all down if we want to keep our house insured.

Lina left this morning to take a carload of her stuff down to her new apartment in Nacogdoches. She also had her internet installed while she was there. Wednesday is her actual moving day. She was back in town to help Walter one last time at the daycare center this evening.

I spent the morning preparing for class and grading papers and making goodies for recess and trying to track down and eliminate the smell in the kitchen. (It’s much better now.) Then my students arrived and we talked a lot about using dialog in stories.

After class I just had to go to Walmart to get a few things for an event my husband has tomorrow, and make supper. And I finished another knitting project! It was just a dishcloth. I am trying to slowly build up my stash of dishcloths again. Now I just have one project on the needles, but it is a big one and I am trying to resist the temptation to cast on a new project right away . . .