ScrapHappy: Fusion Redux #3

When last we scrapped happily together, we had finished doing the blanket stitching around the outside of the squares.

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The blanket stitch is attractive in its own right but its real purpose is to serve as the base of the crocheting. Without the crocheting this would be just a bunch of cute squares but we’d have to use them as coasters.

I am absolutely not going to try and teach you how to crochet! I have seen the crocheting many of you do and me teaching you would be like the local yoga instructor trying to teach Gandhi about meditation.

I am an accidental crocheter at best. I learned out of desperation while living in a cheap motel for 6 weeks, with no access to my chosen crafts.

I know three stitches—slip stitch, single crochet and double crochet. I could learn more stitches but the truth is I don’t even really enjoy crochet. I have a death grip on the hook and my hand is always sore. I do it now only as a means to an end, the fusion quilt.

All of this is said to make the point that the crochet on fusion squares can be simple and basic and, even if you don’t already know anything about crochet, you could learn enough, quickly, to make a quilt like this. If you don’t have a friend you can teach you the basics, the internet is full of tutorials. That’s how I learned.

On the other hand, if you already now what you’re doing, you could do something way more complicated and interesting for the borders on your squares and make the crochet a bigger part of the look of your quilt.

What I’ve done around my squares is start with single crochet and do one stitch in each opening created by the blanket stitch. I go around once and then I go around again and do a double crochet stitch into each single crochet. At the corners, though, I do three double crochets into one corner stitch, to create the fan shape that eases around the corner.

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Like I said, super simple, super basic. But the possibilities are endless for the crocheting. If you want ideas, search on Pinterest for “fusion quilt.”

After you’ve done all these steps on all your squares (however may that is—for me, it’ll be about 112, if I remember correctly), the time will come to crochet everything together. At some point, I’ll tell you what’s entailed in that, although you can probably figure it out.

My progress to date is:

20 squares finished and blocked*

12 squares finished but not blocked

6 squares blanket stitched and ready for crochet

5 squares ready for blanket stitch and then crochet.

* The blocking of these squares makes a huge difference. I lay the crocheted squares face down on my ironing board and use pins in the four corners to slightly stretch and flatten the edges. I spritzed them with a water bottle and leave them to dry.

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Blocked or unblocked–you choose.


ScrapHappy is open to anyone using up scraps of anything – no new materials. It can be a quilt block, pincushion, bag or hat, socks or a sculpture. Anything made of scraps is eligible. If your scrap collection is out of control and you’d like to turn them into something beautiful instead of leaving them to collect dust in the cupboard, why not join us on the 15th of each month? Email Kate at the address on her Contact Me page. She welcomes new members. You don’t have to worry about making a long term commitment or even join in every month, just let Kate or Gun know a day or so in advance if you’re new and you’ll have something to show, so they can add your link. Regular contributors will receive an email reminder three days before the event.

Here are the links for everyone who joins ScrapHappy from time to time (they may not post every time, but their blogs are still worth looking at).

KateGun, TittiHeléneEvaSue, Nanette, Lynn, Lynda,
Birthe, Turid, Susan, Cathy, Debbierose, Tracy, Jill, Claire, Jan,
Moira, SandraLindaChrisNancy, Alys, Kerry (that’s me), Claire, Jean,
Joanne, Jon, HayleyDawn, Gwen, Connie, Bekki, Pauline and Sue L.

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Adirondack Extravaganza: The Wild Center (photo heavy!)

Nothing lights a fire under a lapsed blogger like a blog-worthy outing!

And we took a quintessential autumn outing this week—to the Wild Center of the Adirondacks.

I’ve written elsewhere about this region of upstate New York I call home. The Adirondack Park is “the biggest natural park in the lower 48 states. It can hold Yellowstone, Yosemite, Grand Canyon, Glacier, and Great Smoky Mountains National Parks inside its borders.” 

About 20 years ago, the idea surfaced to build a natural history museum in the ADK Park.

Does that sound boring? It is anything but!

From that initial germ of an idea came the Wild Center, an amazing outdoor/indoor set of experiences that explains, informs, and celebrates the environment in these mountains.

Making the trip in autumn gave us the bonus of a glorious drive.

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The Center is in the town of Tupper Lake, about 1.5 hours by car from our house.

I could relay all kinds of facts and figures but the website does that better.

I’ll just show you some photos.

Planet Adirondack, a huge globe in a darkened hall, allows visitors to see storms across the earth in real time.

The animal inhabitants of the region, some living, some still informative in their preserved states.

Art of the indigenous peoples of the region and a place to make your own art

And a display to warm the heart of a weaver.

The Wild Center opened in 2006 but just a few years ago they added the Wild Walk. And what a wild and wonderful walk it is!

The attention to deal is amazing

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Lots of information

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. . . and inventive ways to bring it alive

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A small vignette along the way

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The seat of the swing says “Soar from tree to tree”

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Every inch of concrete walkway is imprinted with twigs and pine needles

The Wild Walk rises gradually from the forest floor to the level of the treetops.

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I can’t imagine a better place to teach about and honor the wonders of this region. And, even better, it’s all accessible to people of all generations and abilities!

We have many reasons to return:

  • to see the otters playing in their waterfall. They were shy the day we were there;
  • to see the place without marauding hordes of 12-year-olds. We arrived just as many buses unloaded kids on field trips;
  • to get a photo of me on the spider web! I really, really wanted that photo  . . . but not with hordes of 12-year-olds;
  • and to absorb more of the vast amount of information and experiences offered.

The lovely news is that we were given free passes to return! When we were leaving, I asked at the main desk for a phone number so, next time, we can call ahead to ask about the school trips (and avoid them!) The admissions manager overheard me and gave us passes to come back, as well as that phone number.

If you were visiting me and wanted to understand this part of our world, I would take you to The Wild Center.

And I would show you a moose:

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ScrapHappy: Fusion Redux #2

My current scrappy project, a second fusion quilt, will keep me in ScrapHappy posts for months to come!

When I left you last time, we had just turned the squares right side out and were a little horrified at the way they looked.

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Can this mess be saved?

The next step in the project is to pin the opening and sew it closed. You could do this invisibly, by hand, but I have too many crafty plans and I’m not getting any younger so I sew that opening closed on my machine. I figure that, between the blanket stitch and the crochet busyness, no one will notice. And if they do, it’ll give them a chance to feel superior and who doesn’t need that once in awhile?

Then I topstitch around the edge, about a quarter inch in. (You’ll find that precision isn’t terribly important with this sort of quilt because the crochet is so flexible that, if the squares vary a teensy bit in size, it’ll never matter.)

Top stitching can be intimidating, because it shows, being on top and all. But this top stitching isn’t like that. It doesn’t really show because you’ll do hand stitching over it. So worry not.

The purpose of top stitching here is that it serves to plump up the square as the batting is compressed a little.

Another benefit will become apparent when you start to do the blanket stitching by hand. It’s not easy to get the needle through the multiple layers of fabric you have in each square. But, if you plan your top stitch spacing well, you’ll be able to put your needle into the holes punched by your machine needle.

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This makes it a lot easier to sew into the thick edges but you may also want to go a step farther. I use a finger cot on my right index finger. It’s a sort of mini-condom-like thing that gives you a good grip on the needle. You can find them in the first-aid section of the drugstore.

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Practice safe sewing!

I set my machine to stitch at about 8 stitches per inch. I sew on a Singer Featherweight and that 8-stitches-per-inch is a guesstimate. I hear tell that them new-fangled machines allow you to be pretty precise about such things  . . .

If I do 8 stitches per inch and sew the blanket stitch into every third stitch, I end up with about 12-13 blanket stitches around the edge.

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I didn’t do this until I was quite far along on the first quilt so some of my squares have as many as 18 blanket stitches on each edge. That became quite the issue when I started crocheting all the blocks together. Learn from my mistakes.

Because I have access to lots of weaving yarn/thread, I choose to do the blanket stitch in off-white mercerized cotton in a weight weavers call “5/2.” I do the crochet in the same cotton but in the slightly heavier 3/2 weight. The mercerized or perle cotton has a nice sheen to it and I like that it comes in one-pound cones.

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The 3/2 cotton is on the left and is heavier than the 5/2.

One of the things I like best about this project is the steps in the process call on different skills so I don’t get bored.

  • I cut a bunch of the materials at one time so they are handy.
  • I do the machine sewing on 10-12 squares at a time.
  • Just about the time I’m sick of sitting at the machine, it’s time for some hand sewing. The blanket stitch is pretty mindless and I can do it anywhere.
  • And then, it’s time to switch gears again and crochet. I’ll tell you more about that next time!

My progress to date is:

23 squares finished to the point of having been sewn and crocheted. I’ve sewn in some of the crochet ends but still need to block the finished squares.

10 more squares ready for blanket stitch and then crochet.


ScrapHappy is open to anyone using up scraps of anything – no new materials. It can be a quilt block, pincushion, bag or hat, socks or a sculpture. Anything made of scraps is eligible. If your scrap collection is out of control and you’d like to turn them into something beautiful instead of leaving them to collect dust in the cupboard, why not join us on the 15th of each month? Email Kate at the address on her Contact Me page. She welcomes new members. You don’t have to worry about making a long term commitment or even join in every month, just let Kate or Gun know a day or so in advance if you’re new and you’ll have something to show, so they can add your link. Regular contributors will receive an email reminder three days before the event.

Here are the links for everyone who joins ScrapHappy from time to time (they may not post every time, but their blogs are still worth looking at).

KateGun, TittiHeléneEvaSue, Nanette, Lynn, Lynda,
Birthe, Turid, Susan, Cathy, Debbierose, Tracy, Jill, Claire, Jan,
Moira, SandraLindaChrisNancy, Alys, Kerry (that’s me), Claire, Jean,
Joanne, Jon, HayleyDawn, Gwen, Connie, Bekki, Pauline and Sue L.

How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love to Weed

Psychologists have a term—sublimation—for a process whereby certain negative urges are converted into positive behavior.

I’ve been feeling the need to sublimate.

You see, I’m feeling a lot of intense energy lately, much of it negative and a reaction to the daily news. I read what is going on in my country and the world and I get angry or scared, and frustrated.

For my own sake and for the sake of those around me, I need a way to release that stress.

I need a way to sublimate that energy.

Weeding is the answer. It has taken on new meaning for me this summer.

It’s always been an endless activity here, where the crabgrass and clover run free, amid pavers and garden beds.

I’ve always dreaded it a little, seen it as necessary evil, a fact of gardening life to just be dealt with.

Then I saw this strange little cartoon.

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I really did try to find info about this for purposes of attribution. Nothing.

At first I found it disturbing and peculiar but now, every time I kneel down to weed, it inspires me.

When I weed now, I redirect my negative energy and think about the ripping off of heads and pulling out of spines.

I know this doesn’t sounds very “loving hands at home.” It may shock you.

But I’m not advocating actual, literal violence.

And I’m not fantasizing about large-scale head ripping. I’m not imagining pulling just any spines. Just a few specific spines.

It doesn’t work for everyone–some of the people who frustrate me a great deal are immune because they are, seemingly, spineless . . .

So I focus on the others. One in particular.

It’s oddly cathartic, this directing of negative energy to the task at hand. Where I once flinched at the sight of crabgrass, now I eagerly approach it—it has the best long roots.

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If I work too quickly, the roots break and the weed comes back. Sublimation has made me a better, more careful weeder—I want that whole spine.

I finish a weeding session calmer than when I started. AND my patio looks better than it ever has.

So here is my advice to you:

Don’t hate—sublimate.

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So soon . . . autumn

Imagine my surprise when, last week, on August 15, I saw this.

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Embers where there will be flames of color soon

The signs of autumn approaching are creeping in everywhere.

Apple boxes are appearing in orchards, with harvest beginning.

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Apples are even falling from some trees.

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The reeds in the bay start to grow brown, from the bottom up, as do corn stalks.

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What’s more fun about the photos of the bay, are the herons. We see them all summer but they’re solitary birds so it was exciting to see four at one time.

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They nest very near.

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The geraniums, bottom right, are on our seawall.

Late summer on the lake . . . it’s getting quieter already.

Are you seeing signs of autumn? Or maybe spring?!

ScrapHappy: Fusion Redux

Those pretty scraps do accumulate . . .

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As recent posts suggest, I’ve been knee-deep in vintage linens. Summer is the perfect time to slog through my bins of old linens, clean them up, iron and photograph them, and get them ready to list for sale.

But as I do this, I’m still finding damaged pieces, the scraps of pretty that led to the making of the first fusion quilt.

I have many, many scraps of loveliness. And more every day, since friends have begun to bring me theirs.

I have the first quilt on a twin bed and it’s perfect, but I have two twin beds . . .  and one of them looks quite naked now.

I learned a lot from making the first quilt and like the idea of applying the lessons learned.

So, here we go again!

My scrappy happiness for the coming months will be another fusion quilt.

The basic process is really quite basic.

All one needs to do is cut fabric and batting into squares of the desired size. My squares are all 5 inches, although I cut the batting ¼ inch smaller, to reduce bulk at the edges.

Next, I make stacks composed of a pretty piece, a piece of batting, and a backing—you could use all bright shiny new ingredients but I’m using scraps of batting, scraps of random off-white fabric, and my scraps of pretty old embroidery, fancywork, lace, and damask.

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Once the pieces are stacked in the correct order (pretty piece and backing piece need to be right sides together. Don’t ask me how I know this. I just do), I just stitch around the outside, back stitching at the start and end, and leaving a biggish opening to allow me to turn it all right side out.

The process can get more complicated, since I’m using vintage scraps. Sturdy pieces can be done as described but if the pieces are fragile, like a fine old hankie, I reinforce it with fusible web. If a piece has pretty edges or cutwork, it needs a backing piece, so the batting isn’t exposed. This backing might need to be sewn to the pretty piece first. Some need both fusible web and a backing piece.

The layers all get sewn and then turned. This is where I almost lost the will to continue the first time around.

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Can this mess be saved?

Poking the corners out helps. I use a wooden skewer but only the blunt end. If you use the pointy end, it can poke through and make a hole in your piece. Don’t ask me how I know this. I just do.

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Top stitching and the blanket stitch and crochet I do around the edges will help, too, but I’ll tell you more about the process in months to come.  And it will be months—I need 108 squares . . .

(Hover over the photos in the mosaic, if you want a bit more info about the scraps)

My progress to date is:

Many scraps of fabric and batting and vintage linens, cut and ready in stacks of 5-inch squares.

11 squares finished to the point of having been sewed and crocheted. I still need to sew the crochet ends in and block the crochet.

12 squares sewn and turned and ready to be top stitched.


ScrapHappy is open to anyone using up scraps of anything – no new materials. It can be a quilt block, pincushion, bag or hat, socks or a sculpture. Anything made of scraps is eligible. If your scrap collection is out of control and you’d like to turn them into something beautiful instead of leaving them to collect dust in the cupboard, why not join us on the 15th of each month? Email Kate at the address on her Contact Me page. She welcomes new members. You don’t have to worry about making a long term commitment or even join in every month, just let Kate or Gun know a day or so in advance if you’re new and you’ll have something to show, so they can add your link. Regular contributors will receive an email reminder three days before the event.

Here are the links for everyone who joins ScrapHappy from time to time (they may not post every time, but their blogs are still worth looking at).

KateGun, TittiHeléneEvaSue, Nanette, Lynn, Lynda,
Birthe, Turid, Susan, Cathy, Debbierose, Tracy, Jill, Claire, Jan,
Moira, SandraLindaChrisNancy, Alys, Kerry (that’s me), Claire, Jean,
Joanne, Jon, HayleyDawn, Gwen, Connie, Bekki, Pauline and Sue L.

Pity the Fabric

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Pity the poor length of fabric.

So full of potential, so mistreated and so neglected.

This cloth would’ve come from a bolt of yard goods, a long piece of off-white damask linen, with bright gold stripes along the edges. The woven pattern is of pansies.

Someone came to the dry goods store, probably 50-60 years ago, and said, “Cut me 3 yards. I’ll make an elegant tablecloth for special occasions.”

But that never happened.

The fabric was left folded, folded just the way it came from the store. It got packed away, in a deep dark trunk, and the trunk got put away in a deep dark cellar, where it was damp and there were bugs.

And it sat. It gathered stains of all sizes and shapes, water stains, dirty trunk stains, stains of unmentionable acts of insects.

It sat until the lady who had purchased it died at the age of 95.

It sat as the lady’s children went through the house and opened the closets and planned the estate sale.

It sat while hundreds of people came through the sale, buying the bits and pieces of the lady’s life. But no one opened the trunk in that corner of the basement.

I went to the sale. I bought armloads of pretty linens  . . . but I never went into the basement. I asked the lady’s son if there were more linens I should be looking at and he said he didn’t think so.

I left, and still the fabric sat.

Later that day, I went back. I just knewthat a woman with a fine house like that, decorated the way it was, had more vintage table linens than I had seen.

I walked in. The sale was winding down.

The son said, “Oh, good! You came back! There’s something I want to show you.”

The basement. The trunk still unopened after two days.

The fabric. And other linens, including huge damask “lapkins” with the lady’s monogram.

I brought the fabric home. It was filthy but unhemmed so I couldn’t wash it yet.

I put it on the clothesline to get the smell out and then I hemmed it.

I soaked it, in steaming hot water, with one of my go-to solutions, for hours.

The wash water turned the color of strong tea but many of the stains were stubborn.

So I soaked it again, with my other magic solution and steaming hot water. Many more hours.

I used a spot stain remover. I put the tablecloth outside in the bright sun and sprayed it with water to keep it damp, to let the sun work its magic.

The stains faded but never fully went away.

I have grown cocky over the years about my ability to remove stains from old fabrics. I boast about my prowess. I wrote about it here.

But this tablecloth has made a fool of me—those last stains refuse to budge!

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And still, it’s a lovely cloth and the small spots that remain really do little to take away from its charm.

Finally, after something like 60 years, this fabric is released from its dark prison of inactivity, and ready to do the job for which it was intended.

Pity it no more.