8/19/17

Ride the Wild Surf

Finally, I made good on my promise to make the next block for the Chicken Buffet quilt. This is Block 7 of 12: Hawaiian Chicken.


The next time I work on this quilt, I'll be doing the Chicken Chow Mein block.


There are some good fabrics already in my stash for making this block. I figure some combination of these three.


Also yesterday, I took the first stitches on the 12th of 12 blocks for the Hocuspocusville quilt. These blocks were done in different sizes, with the corner blocks being the smallest.


This is one of the smaller ones, and so I'm hoping I can have it finished before month's end. I'll have to stitch fast.

Next up in the sewing room, I'll make the next section for "And on that Farm." This one is called "She Had Some Chicks." It's always fun to see a kitty in the mix.


It's a fairly small block, which just means it has lots of itty bitty pieces to cut. These are fun, but time-consuming.

Today I'm getting our guest room ready for my friend Judy's visit. She's spending two nights with us to see the eclipse. I'm going to do some cooking today...some stuff I can make ahead. I don't like to cook when we have guests, and so cooking ahead makes it easier for me to enjoy our guests. I didn't make it to the fabric store yesterday, but I'm still plotting my next visit. Probably I'll combine it with some other errand.

8/18/17

Bee Finished!

Three lengths of thread were all that I needed to finish off the binding on the Bee Loving quilt.


As I mentioned once before on this blog, I named it "Bee Loving" because it reminds me of the many happy hours I spent helping my dad with his beekeeping hobby when I was a little girl. On one of his deployments to Vietnam, he gave me instructions for adding the "super" to the top of the hive. The "super" is placed on top of the hive with a divider in between that allows the worker bees to pass through, but not the queen. This prevents the queen from laying eggs in the honeycomb, and the honey that collects in the super is what the beekeeper and his family get to enjoy.

At age 16, I'd been tending bees with him for many years, and I'd lost any sensible fear of bee stings. I went out and tended the hives barefoot and wearing only shorts. When the super ended up being heavier than expected, it slipped from my hands and fell a short distance onto the top of the hive with a big thump. As you might imagine, the bees came barreling out of the hive as I ran off, and I was stung three times on the back of my thigh. Ouch. (Interestingly, those spots tanned darker than the other areas of my legs that year. My dad thought there might be a product idea for tanning lotions in that bit of knowledge.) Having learned my lesson, I donned proper beekeeping attire and finished tending the hives more sensibly dressed for the task. My dad was impressed that I was willing to go back and finish the job after that.

So, here's how the back of the quilt looks.


Smitty tried to get Sadie to help him inspect it, but she declined, saying she'd already purrnounced it fit for snuggling. Smitty continues to be disgusted by her laziness.

Let a purrfessional handle this.


After tip-toeing around on it with his dirty feet, he too purrnounced it:


Kitty tested and appurroved.

Now the quilt has been washed and taken up residence in our fifth wheel. It's going to be a napping and snuggle quilt. It will replace a bulky comforter that we've carried along for years. With space at a premium, it'll be good to get the comforter out of there and replace it with something that takes up less space.

From there, I caught up on the two Monday Minis that needed to be done.



Here are all the minis I've made so far. I know those 36-patches are going to give me trouble when this is all sewn together. I'll figure out something. It seems we should be coming to the end of this one pretty soon. I'm hoping I can get it sewn together before we leave on our trip, but the blocks are small enough I can probably take it along, if need be.


This was all done under the watchful eye of Himself.


There was still about an hour left in the sewing day, and so I prepped all the remaining blocks for the Wine Country embroidery project. These are all iron on transfers, and they are backed with Pellon SF-101 Shape Flex. The fabric was cut. I just needed to put a hot iron to them.


The only other thing I want to do for my take-along projects is to cut the background fabric for the Snow Globes project.

When I visited the Cotton Patch the other day, I was unsuccessful in finding what I was looking for. Maybe a trip to my favorite shop in McMinnville is in order. It could count as part of my sewing day, right? Fabric acquisition is part of the process, right? And we're having leftovers for dinner, so...hmmmmm.

Also, I said way back on July 22nd that I was going to make the next Chicken Buffet block, Hawaiian Chicken. 


Things got in the way...I blame the carrots...and it's still not done. That's definitely next, and this time...nothing will stop me...except possibly fabric acquisition.

8/17/17

Finishing Touches

Time is growing short before we leave on our big trip around the perimeter of the United States. There's lots of preparation going on for that trip, including trying to finish up some close-to-the-end projects. Yesterday I was able to put the finishing touches on the Summer Holiday quilt. I needed to piece together and sew the outer border on, and then the top was finished.


As I mentioned yesterday, I was kind of excited about the idea I had for the back. There is another of Lynette Anderson's quilts hanging in our basement family room. This one was finished way back in 2011, called "A Kitten's Tale." It was a block of the month. It's one of Mike's favorite quilts.


When I made A Kitten's Tale, I had the perfect fabric for the back already in my stash, although not enough. Thankfully, I was able to order another bit of yardage, and this was the quilt back for it.


There were still some rather large cut-off sections left in my stash, and so I pieced them together with some scraps from the quilt top. Stuffed in the closet were a couple of orphan quilt blocks in the right colors as well, and so I ended up piecing all of it together for the back of Summer Holiday. 


It didn't turn out exactly as I envisioned it, because I didn't sew it together quite the way I intended. Still, I'm happy with it, and I'm not even going to tell you how I think it could have been done differently. In this case, the quilting gods have spoken, and one must never anger the quilting gods.

Also yesterday, I rounded the third corner on the Bee Loving quilt binding.


This one will probably be finished this morning.

That brings me down to one last thing I'd like to finish before we leave. I'm really hoping to finish off the last embroidered block for Hocuspocusville, but I'm not sure that's realistic. I can always take it along, and that's the plan if I fall short of a finish. Except for that, it feels as if I have all free sewing now...meaning, I'm free to do whatever strikes me. Nothing else is close to a finish, and so I'll just plod along on the WIPs until it's time to go. For today, I'll get caught up on the Monday Mini's. I'm two blocks behind on those.

My neck pain is nearly gone now, and so there's really no excuse not to catch up on the housework I put off yesterday. Despite that, there will be plenty of time for sewing.

8/16/17

Summer's End

We're closing in on the tail end of summer, and I'm closing in on the end of the Summer Holiday quilt. Yesterday's sewing consisted of finishing off the final two embroidery blocks with their borders. This one is called "A Day at the Beach."


This one is called "Sunset Picnic."


The cat was stitched using long and short stitches, which gives him some texture. I've determined that the best way to do satin stitch is to use three strands of floss, rather than two. It gives me better coverage. Using long and short stitches also worked well for the rather large area of the cat. The stitches cover better than a regular satin stitch would have, since the stitches would have needed to be very long.

When those were finished, I was ready to lay out all the blocks for the quilt top.


And in pretty short order, I had it sewn together and the first border added.


The second border is a pieced border requiring 64 patches cut 2 1/2-inches square. Those are cut, and I'd just started sewing them together when I needed to quit and pick-up the CSA share.


All of yesterday's sewing was done under the watchful eye of the Princess and the Pea.


A few of you have asked me about the origin for the Summer Holiday pattern. It's from this book by Lynette Anderson.


Her stuff is so stinking cute. This is the third or fourth quilt I've made from her designs. The book is a good one and chalk full of cute patterns. There's another in the book I have my eye on, but that will have to wait until next year at the earliest.

Also yesterday, we had a surprise visit from our son, Smitty's favorite person in the whole world. Smitty is a friendly cat with most everybody, but he is particularly fond of our Matthew.


Matthew played with him for hours on end when he was a rambunctious kitten, and Smitty has loved him ever since.

I've been suffering with a painful stiff neck. It's kind of a mystery how it all got started, but I blame the quilting I did on Monday while simultaneously keeping a death grip on the template I was using. There's no other explanation I can think of. It was extremely painful yesterday, causing me to wince in pain at certain movements. It's a little better today, but I'm giving myself a break from housework for the day. Sewing should be all right, however. I'll suffer through somehow, because I'm determined to finish the Summer Holiday quilt top today. Also, I have an idea about a pieced back for it that I think will be very cute. I'm excited to give my idea a try.

We originally thought we'd be heading east for the solar eclipse today or tomorrow. As it turns out, the forecast is for sunny, clear skies right here at home, and so we're staying. Our plan is to drive south about an hour where we'll be smack in the middle of the path of totality. A friend from high school will be staying with us Sunday and Monday. She's going to travel with us to see the eclipse early Monday morning. We're all looking forward to seeing the eclipse, but I'm especially looking forward to seeing my friend, Judy. We haven't seen one another since we graduated from high school. Judy is one of the smartest people I know, and it was thanks to her that I passed my high school chemistry class. Judy did the math...I did the typing. Not really a fair trade. I definitely got the better half of that deal.

This morning I'll do a little more hand-stitching on the binding for Bee Loving, and then I'll get back to work on the Summer Holiday quilt.

8/15/17

Bee Brave

There's been lots of sewing since yesterday's post. I've taken the Bee Loving quilt to a near finish. When I left off last time, I had quilted all but the two borders, and was considering how to quilt the first narrow border. This "spiral heart" was a contender.


Mine wasn't stitched exactly the way Lori Kennedy had done it, and so I took another stab at it. This motif is stitched bottom half first, then backward for the top half. The top half was kind of confusing for my directionally challenged brain and hands. It was okay, but it seemed I gained little design improvement for a vastly increased level of difficulty. If I was going to do either of those, the one above was the clear winner.


My only hesitation with this was the directionality of it. I could stitch both side borders so that the hearts were right side up. But then, which direction should I stitch the top and bottom borders? With that in mind, I decided to try the motif Lori Kennedy calls the "Sweetheart Border." Mine isn't as pretty as hers, but it was much easier to do than anticipated.


That was the obvious choice for me, and so I went to town. It took just a few minutes to stitch all the way around.


While I already had a motif in mind for the outer border, I took a bold leap of faith and decided to try one of the quilting templates I purchased months ago...this one.


A few months back, I got a wild hair up my tookus, and purchased a bunch of these expensive acrylic templates. So far, I've only been brave enough to use the straight edge. This quilt was made just for fun, and I'm not any more attached to it than any other quilt I've ever made. It seemed like a good one for risk-taking. I used some scraps of batting and some inexpensive muslin and made myself a couple of good-sized practice pieces, then gave it a try.


And it was surprisingly easy! I gave it a few more tries before committing it to the quilt. As it turns out, it was far easier to hold the template steady on the muslin than it was to hold it steady on the quilt. (Who knew? Actually, I figured.) Neverthless, it's acceptable. What I didn't know how to do was to make one edge of the border...


look the same as the other edge. It would be plain dumb luck if your border turned out to be the exact length required to begin and end at the edges of the half-circle template. Certainly I am dumb enough, but not nearly lucky enough.


I was contemplating how one could make this work and considering that it was probably something like centering a line of typing on a manual typewriter. (Please tell me you're old enough to have ever typed on a manual typewriter. And if you're not, then shut up.) Anyway...this turned out to be a pretty good analogy because it hit me that if one found the mid point of one's border, one could simply start there and work out from one side, and then return to the middle and stitch out to the other side. I'm not sure if this is how "real" quilters do it. If someone has other ideas, please speak up. Please do not give me any math problems to solve. As I've said before, I'm much too old and cranky for math.

So anyway...I was happy with my border, even or not, centered or not, and even though I lost the symmetry at times. Like I said, it's acceptable, and acceptably finished is better than perfectly unfinished.


It took about an hour to go around the whole quilt, and then the quilting was finished. It's a little too large to photograph without another set of hands provided by the Resident Engineer. I will be enlisting him soon enough.


Here's how it looks from the back.


So, I didn't really expect to get the binding sewn on, but there were still hours left in the day. I took it downstairs where it was immediately set upon by my newest quilt inspector.

Smitty, this quilt has wabbits on it. One of my most purrfurred foods! Don't they look pawsitively lip-smackingly delicious?


Allow me to paws here to smooth out my furs.


Sadie, when will you learn to take care of your purrsonal grooming befur starting to purrform quilt inspection tasks?


I'm going to let you handle this one. It's so comfurtable here, I'm feeling a siesta coming on.


It's okay, Smitty. I purrfur to work alone anyway.


Mommy...this might be your most supurrlative quilt of all time!


Oh, purr-lease, Sadie. That is such an unpurrfessional purrnouncement to make befur the quilt is even finished. Honestly. Amateurs.


You humans know what I'm talking about, don't you?

This is what I put up with day in and day out. Squabbling over quilt inspection. Mama Cats, don't let your kittens grow up to become quilt inspectors.

So anyway, despite intense ongoing bickering over the merits of the quilt, the binding was sewn on and it was ready for hand-sewing.


This morning, I turned the first corner, and I'm about one-quarter of the way around.


It's always so gratifying to turn that first corner, flip it back and see a freshly sewn binding.

Lest you think sewing was the only thing I did yesterday, I should tell you that I tried honeydew melon sorbet. This was so good. Melon seems to be an especially good choice for sorbet. You can find my post about making sorbets right here.


For this honeydew melon version, I used two cups of honeydew melon puree, 1 cup of sugar, 2 tablespoons of lemon juice, and 1 tablespoon of melon schnapps (Midori, if you're feeling extravagant).


DeKuyper makes a cheaper version. You can also use vodka in place of the schnapps. The honeydew melon puree is nearly white, and so the little shot of green from the schnapps is nice. You can also leave the alcohol out altogether, but as I explained in my earlier post, a little bit of alcohol will keep the sorbet soft and scoopable. We had some while we watched television last night, and it was so tasty and refreshing.

Also yesterday, I finished up the last embroidered block for the Summer Holiday quilt.


When I get into the sewing room today, I'll put the borders on this block and the other I finished recently...this one...


and then I'll be ready to sew this quilt top together.

It's a CSA pick-up day, and there is always a housekeeping chore, it seems. When that's all done, I'll get to my sewing.