McLaughlin Family Exchange

Have you been anxiously waiting to see what gifts were made this time? We had our call tonight so now I can share my project. I drew Debbie’s name and went back and forth on what to make her and I ended up making a quilt for one of her cats.

I have a little history here – not long after I started quilting I made her cats quilts – they’ve passed away now but Ira’s depicted their cabin on the river. Not the best photos but you’ll get the idea.

and Sydney’s depicted the sailing trips they took each year.

Debbie now lives in the mountains in Virginia so this is the quilt I made for Selma.

And because I know you like to see what everyone made …

  • Top row left to right
    • Debbie made Mom a sewing kit
    • Mary made a cat quilt for debbie
    • Ann made Mary an appliqué wool mat
  • Middle row
    • Maureen made fire starters for Chris to take camping
    • Her “real” gift for Chris were these baseball bookends she made.
    • Chris made Maureen Christmas ornaments
  • Bottom row
    • Mom made Hilary fabric baskets and a mail holder
    • Hilary painted and framed the bear picture for Kevin
    • Kevin made Ann the bird house.

You can click on the photos for a larger view. We have so much fun with this although it can be a challenge figuring out what to make. Our next exchange is scheduled for February 27, 2022. We allow about 3 months to get the projects done.


I don’t have a photo of the quilting on the Plus 1 top because I was so focused on loading the next one I forgot to snap it but it will be bound within a few days so you’ll see it then. It’s #18 of 21 to be quilted by the end of November and I expect to be done this week assuming things go as planned.

Since I don’t have a photo of the quilt, how about one of Finn on a quilt … waiting for me to finish working so he can sit with me.

We have our family gift exchange tonight so I’ll be able to share that project after the call. I’m looking forward to seeing what everyone else did.

Weird and kind of scary

I was getting ready to head up to bed and I checked the cameras …

The weird — what is that possum doing just sitting there and I’ve never seen the possum and the raccoons at the same time. I wonder what happened after the camera timed out?

And the scary — Keith walked Finn out front just 5 minutes before the coyote showed up on the camera in the back. Finn seems to be looking around – I wonder if he senses something out there?

I love seeing all the wildlife around us … I just prefer they visit when Finn isn’t outside! And did I mention that Keith is traveling the next few days? That will be me taking Finn out after dark!

Off my needles

Hat #22 – the whole time I was knitting this I was second guessing myself. I’ve knit this hat with a fold up brim a couple times but I decided I’d try the version without a fold up brim. It’s all 2×2 ribbing and while I’ve made many hats with a fold up brim that are all ribbed, I’ve never done one without like this. I was afraid it would look odd or be too loose round the face. I think I was wrong. It turned out OK.

  • Pattern – Sandoval Hat found free on Ravelry – see last page of the pattern for the version without the fold up brim.
  • Needle size – 9
  • Yarn – Paintbox Simply Aran
  • Cast on 80 and knit to 7.5 inches before starting crown decreases.

I knit the bulk of this one Saturday night watching the Lightning win against the FL Panthers …. And it just so happens to be Lightning blue too!


I kind of wanted to sit and knit tonight but after a couple days of being lazy I decided it was time to make some progress. I pieced a backing and loaded the next top to be quilted on the longarm and I got the binding sewn on and hand stitched down on the 16 patch quilt.

While there’s nothing difficult about piecing a 16 patch quilt, I like this variation because it’s easy to use fat quarters and with the larger blocks, it goes quickly. 

I found a free pattern online for this quilt several years ago but that blog is no longer active. After a lot of searching, I found an archived link but I have no idea how long it will be active so if you are interested, make sure you save a copy for yourself.

St Louis 16 Patch –

The backing is a flannel fish print – doesn’t it look good? I love finding the perfect backing in my stash.

Off my needles

Hat #21 is done – cast on this evening and finished shortly after midnight it was a quick one – in fact Mom and I had a long phone conversation while I was knitting the bulk of it. This yarn is a wool/acrylic mix and it’s machine washable but there’s next to no twist to it and I’m not sure how well it will hold up. Luckily, it’s a hat and I’m happy if they make it through a season without getting lost or ratty looking although, Rae and Mo have many hats from previous seasons that have held up well including one from this yarn (different colorway) that I made a couple years ago.

  • Pattern – Snow Day found free on Ravelry
  • Needle size – 8
  • Yarn – Sprightly Yarns Spectrum Worsted
  • Cast on 72 stitches and knitted the large size from the pattern. Started decreases when hat measured about 6.25 inches.


I guess you could call us pen pals – after caring for my sister-in-law in 2016, I wrote letters and sent cards and postcards to her mother for 5 years sending my last one a week or so ago to the hospice Jackie had been admitted to. Her decline was fast and I hope that her suffering was limited. Maintaining that connection to Lisa and helping Jackie in a small way to deal with the loss of her daughter helped me deal with my personal grief over losing Lisa. Now I feel a little lost. I was unable to visit Jackie in Virginia as her health declined and will be unable to go to the funeral but both Jackie and Lisa are in my thoughts and prayers.

This is the last photo I have of the two of them together and I remember that day well. It was Jackie’s birthday in August 2016 and Lisa and I took her out to lunch.


I’ve said it before but I just don’t understand people letting their cats run around loose out here! It’s been almost couple weeks since the coyote visited but he stuck around a while last night. The cat and raccoons were out there before him but the other videos were from earlier in the week. And I’m pretty sure that one video out front is a fox but I’m used to seeing a different view of him in the back

I confess

I have been very good for the most part about not ordering fabric or yarn this year … except fabric for quilt backings … but I’m falling off the wagon a bit. You saw that table with the hat yarn piled up that I just posted right? So why did I feel the need to buy more hat yarn? Yep … the sales sucked me in, again. I just can’t resist a bargain. I’ll definitely need to make Autumn my “annual hat knitting season”! I’ve still got through the end of November to add to my list of finishes but this is what my project page on Ravelry looks like right now with the first 20 done.

I know some of you are knitters out there – hopefully you’ve been finding some new patterns to try along with me.

Off my needles

Hat #20 is done. I like this yarn but the skeins are small – just 50gms and I had to make this one a little shorter than the pattern called for. I need to keep these skeins for kids hats so I don’t worry about running out of yarn. The hat will fit a child, teen, or even a small woman. It’s slightly shorter than I’d like for myself. It’s another hat that has great texture and I will definitely be knitting it again.

The “hat” table (usually the GO table) is a bit out of control as I dig through the “hat yarn” bins. I’ve got a bunch of partial skeins so I’m weighing them to decide if there’s enough yarn for another hat in them. I’m also finding some skeins I’d forgotten all about. I’m going to be disappointed when hat knitting season comes to an end but the bins with blanket yarn are calling my name too.