Thursday, December 30, 2010

Row, row, row. . .

. . .your quilt. Sew the rows together, that is.

It's that time again, the moment when it is most possible for me to mess up construction of a quilt. I seldom make mistakes assembling blocks, but I might possibly hold the world record for sewing rows together backwards, upside down, or just plain wrong. It's my Achilles heel. Somewhere between the design wall/floor/bed and the sewing machine I can completely confuse or forget how I was supposed to sew the row I am holding. It's a gift. I think this is turning out really well. It's going to go on the couch in my husband's den/computer room. Every couch needs a quilt, in my opinion, even if I'm the only one who uses it! (Husband prefers afghans.) The room is decorated in blue/beige and he currently has the blue butterfly quilt on his couch, which is not quite manly enough for his room. Plus, the rust accent color will be nice.

This is a great pattern because it looks nicely intricate but is easy-peasy to assemble. I am totally in love with the color scheme. The fabric is "Silk Road" by Benartex and it's gorgeous.
I changed my mind on the size of the quilt and after enlarging it had to scurry around online and find more of the backing and binding fabric. Don't you just love the internet?

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Work in progress

I think I'm going to call it "Katmandu". Don't know why. And I'd love to find a quilting design that looks like paisley.

Monday, December 27, 2010

Too brown?

That was my husband's opinion. A brown monotone design with small red and blue accents was my plan. And I like it.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

White Christmas

From the Calico Quilter, the Radio Guy and Molly the calico cat in snowy Tennessee, a blessed Christmas to you and yours this season. May you be happy, healthy and safe.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

A few finishes

I was inspired by the Carrie Nelson books I have been buying and I've been in the mood for some mindless sewing; aka, copy the nice lady's quilt. Sometimes you want to be adventurous and creative and sometimes you want to push fabric through the sewing machine. At least I do. It's easier to do the latter with someone blazing the trail ahead of you and assuring you that the product will be pretty.

So, without further ado, I give you my version of Carrie Nelson's "Double Duty": which I absolutely adore.
Then I jumped on her pattern "Six Degrees" (don't know WHERE these names come from). I made a mistake in that my greens aren't vibrant enough but that's what was in the stash closet. The four stars in the middle really need brighter green points, but they show up well enough in person, they just don't photograph well:Finally, while waiting between clues on the Quiltville mystery quilt I got out my cut out quilt from the "Open Door" pattern and sewed away. It came together so quickly I was surprised because it looks like a showstopper. It was really easy:
Anyway, that's what I've been doing. This morning I cut out another quilt from her book. Got to keep those hands busy. It's got a lot of HSTs too but you know, I'm getting really good at them!

Sunday, December 19, 2010

New project

Here's a peek at three blocks from my new project, which is a Carrie Nelson design called "Open Door". The three are the top row of this smallish quilt, and the bottom block actually goes between the other two.
I like a lot of Carrie Nelson's designs because they look complex without being complex to cut out or assemble.

Sewing room frustrations remain. I still have this tiny design wall because I can't figure out how to get a couple of pieces of 4' x 8' foam insulating board home to make a bigger one. I have a station wagon and no access to a truck. So for now my little 40" x 60" wall has to do. But the fact that I can walk off and the close the door, leaving my projects in place and my mess undisturbed, is priceless.


I pulled out one of my project-in-waiting this afternoon to fill the time until the next installment of the Quiltville mystery and started sorting out the cut pieces. It was then that I realized that the first thing I needed to do was to make 225 red and cream 2" HSTs.

Sound familiar?

Even though I didn't think I could face another little red and white square of fabric I decided it was good for my character to persevere.

Just in case you're wondering. . .

. . .I wasn't crushed under an avalanche of red and neutral fabrics and actually finished all of my HSTs for the Quiltville mystery. And here they are:
I'm using a hatbox shaped woven box with a lid to store the mystery pieces. Here are all of them laid out in groups of 20 in the lid. Kind of looks like a pizza, doesn't it?

There's actually 720 of them because I'm increasing the quilt to king size. Friday morning I was debating the wisdom of that decision.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Quiltville mystery

I just happily popped out of bed and printed step 5 of the Quiltvillle mystery.

We need to make 600 half square triangles.



Well, have a nice week, I won't be seeing you for a while. . .

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

A kitchen foray

Pleasant surprise. You CAN bake acceptably with Splenda. I hadn't tried it yet, but when faced with a few bananas that were trending toward decrepit today and a fond wistfulness for my Kona Inn banana bread recipe, I knuckled down and tried it. First I calculated the carbohydrate grams in the recipe. I found out that with the flour, the bananas, the walnuts and the bits of Russell Stover sugar-free chocolate that I added (hey, I always put chocolate chips in my banana bread, no reason to give it up) there were 54 grams of carbs in a mini loaf from my small pans (6" x 3.5" x 2" deep). Diabetic diet translation: a little more grams of carbs than I'm allowed per meal, but I can forgo 1/3 of my carbs at dinner and have a little less than a third of a mini loaf as a quasi-dessert. That's about four bites. Oh well, it'll have to do.

(An aside: just leaving out the sugar didn't make the calories go away either. This stuff is crammed with them. See, sugar isn't your only enemy in the battle of the waistline. It's the only thing that is medically limited on my diet, but I also have to watch the calories and fat. And the bananas are wickedly caloric. We're not even going to talk about the 1/2 cup butter in the recipe.)

Off to the kitchen I went to mix up a batch and bake four mini loaves of banana nut/choc chip bread. And you know what? It wasn't bad. There was still that "Is that actually sweet?" thing that Splenda does with me. It's not like sugar-sweet, but your taste buds don't quite know what to do with it and provisionally categorize it as sweet. This is the only way I can describe what goes on when I taste Splenda. It's kind of weird.

But the banana bread loaves had the right texture and browned nicely, acting just like the regular recipe. They were moist and dense and quite acceptable. To back my up impression of the experiment, I asked husband if he wanted to try them. He replied that since he doesn't like Splenda and he doesn't like the Russell Stover sugar-free chocolates and he's not crazy about walnuts or banana bread either, his opinion probably wasn't needed.

Best dressed doggie

This has got to be the cutest dog coat ever, even if I do say so myself! I was paper piecing heart blocks a couple of weeks ago for the Pike River mine disaster charity quilts effort in New Zealand, and said "Red hearts would look very nice on my brother's dog." So, a dog coat was born.
Having no dog to model it, I pressed my trusty Juki into service:
I can't wait to see this on Pepper!
I liked it so much I made this one too in animal print for the diva that she is! Note the red lining.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Wouldn't you like a nice doll, little girl?

Thinking about Christmas presents reminded me of a story my mother tells. My grandfather was a coal miner and Mom grew up in coal camps in Kentucky and West Virginia. When she was young, she was a terrible tomboy, the one where the neighborhood kids would come to the window and holler for her to come out and play sports with them instead of her brothers.

One year, she wanted a football for Christmas. Oh no, her parents said, little girls don't need footballs. Never mind that she was a regular on the neighborhood teams. She was also the girl who beat everyone at marbles, playing "keeps" too, and who had to sneak upstairs with her booty and hide them before my grandmother caught her and made her give the kids their marbles back.

Anyway, Christmas came and someone from the camp played Santa for the kids, going house to house and delivering gifts on Christmas Eve. Of course she and her siblings were delighted to see him until he pulled out a doll from his pack and presented it to her. A doll? She didn't want a doll! She wanted a football!

Of course, she let it be known that Santa had got it all wrong. And Santa put the doll back into his pack and left her with no present at all. Later, the guy who played Santa returned the doll to my grandmother, who put it on mom's bed. It sat there for a long time. And was never played with.

Monday, December 13, 2010

New guest accomodations

Houseguest leaves on Saturday. New sofa bed is delivered on Monday. Isn't that always the way? Poor houseguest had to sleep on an air mattress on the floor. At least it was a relative who likes us. Or at least used to.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Quiltville mystery part 4 done and house guest is gone

My brother in law came for a short visit - well, that and to pick up the rolltop desk we were giving him. As usual, he drove his Ford full size van, otherwise known as the bottomless pit vehicle. We loaded the rolltop desk, a desk chair, a radial arm saw, an enormous Rubbermaid storage box of photographs to be returned to his sister, 6 Christmas presents - each box 24 x 18 x 10 (guess what they were!), a a surround sound amplifier, a center channel speaker, a set of back channel speakers (looks like someone is getting a killer home theater setup) and all of his various traveling accoutrements (CPAP machine, suitcase, etc.) and the van said "Is that all ya got?" I swear, you could move your household in that thing. Of course, it's like driving your house. The thought terrifies me - it's enormous.

The CPAP machine reminds me of something: how many people do you know with sleep apnea? Does every third person stop breathing at night? It's amazing. No one in my family ever had it. You'd have to be breathing really well and quite consistently to snore as loudly as they did! Everyone I'm related to has sinus trouble - hence the racket. I've never dared to ask my husband if I snore. I just never fall asleep on trains or planes, for fear that I do.

I finished making the blocks for part 4 of the Quiltville mystery, and I'm no closer to guessing what the pattern is. Nice selection of greens, though. There are 36 sets of green/neutral "twosies" and matching 2x2 inch green squares. Heaven knows what we'll be doing with them. And where does that red go that she specified? Haven't seen it yet, nor much brown. I figure steps 5 and 6 will be killers. She's just going easy on us so far.
I'm almost finished with my brother's dog's Christmas gift - a paper pieced heart design dog coat. It's very cool. I'm debating making another coat because I have a piece of upholstery weight woven zebra pattern fabric I was going to make into a purse. I think every diva deserves an animal print coat, and the dog is definitely a diva!

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Catching up

Bonnie Hunter has a column in Quiltmaker magazine called "Addicted to Scraps". I've been making two of each of these blocks using red/blue/neutrals to go in a sampler quilt that I'm tentatively calling "Patriotic Fervor". Got a little behind but managed to catch up today. Here's a picture of the blocks so far:
Since the blocks are all different sizes, they will be assembied with sashing, pinwheels, flying geese, four patch etc to fit them together. That's going to be the hardest part of the quilt!

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Quiltville mystery part 3 done

I definitely don't think of this when I say neutrals! But they are actually tame compared to the examples Bonnie Hunter pictured in her instructions. I kind of held my nose and jumped in! Bonnie's directions said anything with a neutral background, so I rummaged and pulled and cut and used everything I could find that qualified with the exception of the white on white or cream on cream, which are only sparingly represented. I wanted this one to be scrappy and boy, I think I succeeded!

Friday, December 3, 2010

Quiltville mystery part 3

I couldn't sleep very well so I got up early and decided to print and start part three of the current Quiltville mystery. With anticipation I opened Bonnie Hunter's blog and read the instructions.



We're supposed to make 60 string blocks.

In the interest of full disclosure, I must admit. . .I don't like string blocks.

I'm not crazy about foundation piecing either.

I just made a stack of foundation pieced heart blocks for a charity and ripping those papers off the back drove me to distraction. And string blocks? Well, they just aren't ORDERLY. They aren't planned, they aren't patterned, they aren't geometrical, all the things I love in quilts. They're just strips - and strips and strips and strips. Ugh.

And they're all out of our white or cream background prints and neutrals. Does't sound very interesting to me.

I had pulled a selection of about 30 neutrals for this quilt, white on white, cream on cream, small prints with white or cream background, the kind of neutrals I use. They coordinated very nicely. Just because it's a scrap quilt doesn't mean to me that it can't have some sort of rhyme or reason. When I read these instructions my heart sank, and I retreated to the stash closet and started gathering up everything that had a white, cream, ivory, ecru etc. background, regardless of the color in the print. Which didn't net me very much more, because that's the kind of neutrals I don't use. When I want neutral, I use NEUTRAL, and when I want prints, they are more colorful.

So I finally had the stack shown in the picture. I'm afraid they will make very boring string blocks. I thought about making 16 patch blocks instead, or something else I like better, but decided to let Bonnie stretch my horizons with this one and follow along.

But I have to protest that I am a geometry girl - I like the flow and interaction of intricately pieced patterns, and strings don't catch my eye. Never did.

You remember the "Christmas Lights" mystery and the two blocks I thought didn't go together at all? The one where a very mild comment about "I don't think I understand the overall design of this quilt" got me vilified on the chat group? That one, I split the blocks and made two different quilts with the two types of blocks. Let's hope I don't end up hating this quilt too and trying to rework it.

Thank goodness I bought a scribble pad for foundation paper, though.