Monday, April 30, 2012

packing up is hard to do

A few more things added to my list of done, or at least worked on!
This is the Suzi from Lazy Girl Designs, it is designed to be used as a purse insert or in my case, a clutter catcher!  I made the smaller of the 2 sizes and it turned out well except for a mistake on my part with fabric placement.  The Lazy Girl patterns are always a pleasure because she has such good step-by-step directions and pictures in full color.

I added a row to my spiderweb selvege quilt, it is growing little by little.  And my box of selvege strips just seems to replenish itself!

I started cutting out and sewing these little halloween kitty blocks--
that will eventually make this quilt--

And I added 2 more blocks to my growing pile of batik BOM blocks, and added them to the slide show here.  Thirteen down, about 15 to go!

We retreaters are all assembling, gathering and packing our belongings, which takes some doing when we have been occupying this space for a whole week!  We start the road home, and I have to say it will be good to sleep in my own bed tonight!  A big, big thank you to my housemates for making this a trip to remember.  And looking forward to our next time!

Friday, April 27, 2012

pot patrol

Remember a couple of days ago when I told we were experimenting with cement?  Today was the unveiling!  Drumroll please!
They were mostly successful, we did have a couple of casualties that crumbled into rubble.  But most of them came out of the molds without too awful much trouble.

And then there was this one that lost the bottom, makes for very good drainage!

 These 3 are the ones that I worked on, and I like the results so far.  Enough that I might make some more at home.  They still have to dry quite awhile before they can be used.  The squareish one with 4 holes has pretty shallow openings and I hope to put some little hens and chicks in there because they don't take much root space.

I spent a good portion of my day working on something that was new to me.  I had a collection of Cuddle fabrics from Shannon Fabrics that I made into a very nice, comfy, cuddly throw blanket.  The fabrics were all conveniently pre-cut and packaged for this purpose, all long strips.  I followed the instructions I found in a very helpful video.

I had to improvise a bit with the binding, but I got it done!  I had some trepidation about the slipperiness and stretchiness of these fabrics, but I found it to be much easier to work with than I expected.

I completed 3 more star blocks and updated the slideshow posted earlier.  The blocks are getting smaller, although that doesn't show in my photos.  So far I have done 12", 10" and 8" blocks.  Next are 6".  There are 20+ star blocks to be made, so I think I have about half done.  And then there are several "filler" strips to be made before it all goes together.  

Here's a fun little project that was the last thing that I did last night before heading off to bed.  It's the Coffee Cup Cozy from Country Fabrics.

And here's a new version of my own Flour Power apron pattern--

And that's all for now, folks!

Thursday, April 26, 2012

batik blocks

One of my goals for this week of sewing is to get as much done as possible on a quilt that will be a class starting at Bear Patch in the fall.  It will be a block of the month running over several months.  It is called Harriet's Sampler and is designed by From My Heart to Your Hands by Lori Smith.  Here's a little preview of the blocks that I have done so far...
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There are plenty more blocks to do so we'll see if I can be adding anything to the slide show by next Monday!  I will have to avoid any more field trips like this morning's--4 of us travelled the 15 miles to Rice Lake and visited Busy Bobbin and Bargain Bill's.  Now back to home sweet home away from home!

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

still creating

More ideas and fun things to do every day!  
Here's an example of the creative process with plenty of advice--

One of the advantages of working with a group like this is that we can get feedback and helpful suggestions from everyone else.  One of the disadvantages of working with a group like this is that we can get feedback and helpful suggestions from everyone else!  You just have to be able to use some selectivity on which ideas and suggestions you want to listen to!  In this example, Sue was working on Shadowbox by Mountainpeek Creations.  She laid out all the blocks and was ready to "arrange them in a pleasing manner" so there were several helpers.

Yesterday we experimented with concrete for making garden pots.  It was a nice sunny day, in fact, this wimpy writer got a bit o' sunburn!  Now our pots are drying, I will give you a future progress report when we get to unwrap and unmold them tomorrow.

This is a little quilt that I stitched together for a store display. 

It is Limelight by Villa Rosa.  A great quilt for a collection of coordinating fabrics.

Here's an idea for dressing up a plain old dishtowel--

It's a mitered corner frame that leaves no raw edges exposed.

And then I brought out a brand new pattern from Terry Atkinson.  

Bridget's Bagettes
These are the 2 that I made, and they are nifty little storage bags.  A few more are in the works!

Tuesday, April 24, 2012


I am feeling like a lucky girl right now!  Comfortably settled in with friends at Beaver Lake Landing in Cumberland, WI, for a week!  
We drove over yesterday morning, with a rest stop in St. Croix Falls at Pins and Needles in case there was anything irresistible across the border.  Nice ladies there, and we even got a tour of their upstairs retreat center.  A quick stop in Turtle Lake for a sandwich at Subway with a lovely view of the casino (not)!  And then a quick hop up to Cumberland and quilter's nirvana.  After a workout of unloading the trailer and carrying everything up a flight of stairs, we settled down for some quality time with our sewing machines.  Part of my plan for projects this week is to deal with some of the well-aged things that have accumulated in my storage bins waiting for me to complete them.  First out of the box was an ironing board cover from a pattern by Hemma--it's the Karin Laundry Room pattern.  I taught this for a class at Bear Patch and needed a teaching example, so this was mostly constructed already.  But now it's finished and ready to brighten up an ironing board!

Then I moved to a little baby project, making some more little shoes from patterns by Curby's Closet.  Still looking for real shoelaces instead of cording, but I might end up just ordering online to get 14".

 Then I opened up a bag of leftovers from a Block of the Month that I taught at the store.  Here is a photo of the quilt as I made it for class.  Each of the 12 blocks was made twice for this pattern that was from the Quilter's Coop and no longer available.  I had pieces all cut for each block for demonstration of how to construct them.  All tucked into their own little baggie and labeled.

I used a different group of fabrics for these demo blocks, and some of them are already partially sewn, so putting them together goes pretty quickly.  But I will have to come up with another setting for them because there will be 12, not 24.  So far I have these 6 done.  But I'm setting them aside for a bit, perhaps to finish the other 6 tomorrow.  There are many more fun things to work on in my boxes so I need to move along!

 We have observed beavers, loons and wood ducks in the lake, and we are planning on some warmer temps over the next few days so we will enjoy getting outside a bit.  At least long enough to let our machines cool down now and then!  I'll try to keep you informed!

Saturday, April 21, 2012

crazy bird

This poor robin has been driving himself/herself crazy with an attraction to 2 of my windows.  For over a week he/she has returned repeatedly to the kitchen and laundry room windows, where he/she perches on the sill and then periodically flies up a few inches and pecks at the glass!  Quite a futile endeavor!

On a more thoughtful note--
sometimes we are lucky to have a person in our lives purely by serendipity.  Diane has been a friend through quilting following a 'cold call' from her quite a few years ago with an invitation to visit a local quilt group.  That group is the Ham Lake Piecemakers, and I have been a member ever since.  The group has lead me to some of the most important friendships in my life and connections with quilting that have thrived and developed.  Diane was a woman who had a lot of troubles in her own life, but she tended not to dwell on that and cared more about what was going on with her friends.  Always with a ready hug, a shoulder to cry on, and the ability to get us laughing till the tears rolled down!  Sadly, she died recently, after a few months of really poor health and multiple problems.  She should not have died, but she did, and that makes me sad.  I feel very lucky to have a treasured piece of hardanger that she made me.
My friend, Diane
Here's something that brings back good memories for me, and something I know Diane would have liked!

Penuche Frosting (pah-NEW-chee)
1/2 cup butter
1 cup brown sugar, packed
1/4 cup milk (soy milk can be substituted)
2 cups sifted powdered sugar
In a saucepan, melt the butter and add the brown sugar.  Bring to a boil and lower heat to medium low. Continue to boil for 2 minutes, stirring constantly.  Add the milk and bring back to a boil, still stirring.  Cool to lukewarm, then gradually add enough of the powdered sugar to make a spreadable consistency.  If too thick, add a little hot water or coffee.

Yes, frosting made from scratch, not from a can!  Delicious on top of a spice cake (made from a mix, not from scratch!).  My mom used to make this for cakes when I was a kid, and there was almost always a cake in the house.  Living on a farm meant there usually was an afternoon coffee break for the working guys and cakes were much appreciated.  Kids always got a piece after the guys had their fill.  Lots of times we would take the coffee and treats out to the field they were working in, and we got to sit out on the ground or in the back of the pickup while they had a brief break from the tractors.

I have been trying to put together a simple laptop cover for Dan, but what should be simple doesn't always turn out that way!

It's mostly done, just needs the flap closure, but I'm not too thrilled with it.  Love the fabric but need to experiment with the design.  Dan, I think there will be more of these in your future!

And here is part 2 of the pinwheel mania that has afflicted Leisl for a few months!  This is the second of 2 matching quilts that will go to her sister's beach condo in Maryland.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

a stuck duck

An update on the critter-in-the-chimney situation--
after a spell the animal finally dropped all the way to the basement and Bob was able to glove up and reach in and pulled out a poor duck.  But alive!  He was carried out to the back yard and after a few false starts he flew away.  What is it with ducks and chimneys??  This is the second duck that I remember that decided to investigate the chimney.

Monday, April 9, 2012

springtime follies

That's Bob the chimney sweep up on top of the house yesterday afternoon.  Not actually cleaning the chimney of soot, but cleaning out the animal that fell in there!  We could hear something moving around in the stovepipe that hooks to the woodstove, but haven't yet removed the critter.  The hope was that dropping the chimney sweeper thing down would force the animal to the bottom of the chimney where there is a cleanout hatch in the basement.  But the plan failed when the sweeper thing got hung up partway down.  Then all was quiet for a long time, until this afternoon when I am alone in the house and I can hear some movement in there again.  At this point, there's not much more we can do except check the hatch periodically.  This is not the first time we have had creatures in the chimney.  And see right next to the stones, there is a little board that looks like a patch on the overhang?  That's where the squirrels created their main entrance last spring.

This morning I have been working on the longarm (and not accomplishing much due to thread problems and way too much time with the seam ripper) and listening to some past programs on American Patchwork and Quilting radio.  There is a lot of good information shared there and it's all available for free to anyone who is interested.  Just now I listened to the program from 2/27 and learned a lot about hand dyed fabrics and how to handle problems with fabric dyes that run.  This is a good reference article on colorfastness.

I'm feeling bad for local baseball fans this afternoon, it is the home opener for the Twins and it is 45 degrees and windy!  Brrr!  I am really hoping for some heat soon to get my rhubarb growing faster, I have found a good recipe for rhubarb bread pudding that I want to try.  We have enjoyed some asparagus from the garden already, too.

Saturday, April 7, 2012

this and that

 A quiet Saturday here, highlighted by a visit from this little man--

Even though he doesn't look awfully excited about the whole situation!  He doesn't even know that there are Easter baskets awaiting his attention.  Look at the size of that cheek, no question that he is getting enough to eat.  He reminds me of the chubby cheeks that his momma had.

While Ian is having a snoozefest, Brita and I are cooking up some ginger cookies.  This is a good recipe that I got from another website.  They turn out nice and soft.

Here's a funny and surprising bit of trivia for you.  This whole experience of blogging and the internet has some pretty unexpected happenings.  I have learned to post a few videos here and they also are on YouTube.  It's really very easy to have my own YouTube "channel" and put whatever I want up there. Some are viewable by anyone with a keyboard, others are restricted by my own choice.  Last June I put up a little tutorial about a prairie point pillow.  Over the last couple months there has been a surge of interest in this video, which has resulted in over 39,000 views!  I'm not sure how that happens, but I guess it pops up higher in suggested videos when more views are logged in.  It's been kind of interesting to watch, and makes me wonder about who all those people are!!  

One more precious parting shot---

Friday, April 6, 2012

what I've been working on

There has been precious little time for working on any big projects lately, but a few little things have been accomplished.  Not complaining, just explaining.  With my parents and son visiting and making sure I see little Ian every couple of days, my machines have been kind of quiet. 

I found a free pattern for a cathedral window pincushion from Poorhouse Quilt Designs.  I have never made a cathedral window block but decided to find out how to do it.  I did a little checking about the block itself, and it seems to be originally from around 1930-1950 from what I can tell.  It is unusual in that it is actually about 3 layers of fabric with folds that create even more bulk at intersections.  Believe me when I tell you that the button is not only decorative, but serves to hide those untidy corners!  I thought the block was only done by hand, but this is completely machine stitched, except for closing up the filling hole. 

 I made this from a bunch of blue and white random 5" squares.  It makes a pretty large pincushion.  I filled it with 3 things (because only 1 would just be too simple!):  cotton stuffing, poly stuffing and crushed walnut shells.  I made a small muslin pouch for the walnut shells, I have had some 'migration' of dust from the shells in other pincushions and thought enclosing them in another layer of fabric would cut down on that.  If you are not familiar with the walnut shells, you can locate them in some large pet stores where they are sold as bedding for among other creatures, lizards.  I like to use them because they add a certain weight or heft to the pincushion that I like.  This project was one of those things that was totally not on my list of things to do, but intrigued me so much that I had to give it a try.

Sometime in the not-so-distant past, I put together this simple small quilt that will be a shop sample.  The pattern is Painted Moon from Villa Rosa Designs.  The fabric is from the Honoka collection by Anna Griffin.  I did simple quilting and just finished putting on the binding this morning.  Check one more off the list!

I recently taught a little intro to wool applique at the shop and this is the sample I was working on for demonstrating the process.  I am nearing completion, just have 2 more little vines to stitch and then attach the backing.  For sure it will be ready for pumpkin season!  This is a pattern and kit from Bareroots, available at Bear Patch.

And because I always have to have a knitting project (or 2 or 3) underway, I have been working on a scarf for myself.  It is made from a yarn that Dan bought for me when he was in Alaska--what a good son he is!  It is made from muskox hair, merino wool and mulberry silk.  Sounds and feels luxurious!  The pattern for the scarf came from a calendar of 365 Knitting Stitches a Year published by Martingale.
It is chock full of good ideas.  This one is called Arrowhead Lace.  You can see some of my index tabs that mark other stitch patterns that caught my interest and could go to some good use in the future.

And now to get back to work----!  Not really work when you love what you do!  Dan is winging westward and his bike was packed up and shipped yesterday so they will be reunited soon out in CA.  Ian (and Brita and Ben) is coming for a sleepover tomorrow so I better get this place sterilized!  And, of course, make sure his Easter basket is ready!