Sunday, December 28, 2008

Sunday Stash Report

I hope everyone had a nice Christmas with family and friends. Both my sons were here for the holiday, and Rob's girlfriend Mary joined us for Christmas dinner, and we had a good time.

We got 17 inches of snow in my town during the blizzard last week. Portland had a record snowfall of 14 inches, the most ever during a single storm. Eustis, Maine got 41 inches of snow. Do you suppose AlG has been pulling our legs with this global warming thing?

Nothing in and nothing out from the stash this week. Even though I finished the year in the hole by 158 yards, I found the process of tracking the stash very entertaining, and I can truthfully say that I shopped with purpose when I did go shopping for fabric. Much of the fabric I bought this year was used for the patterns I tested for Koleen. She is taking a year off from designing, so I expect (hope) to be working more from my stash this coming year and shopping less.

I found it equally entertaining reading about everyone else's stashbusting efforts. In that regard, Vicky's stash reports were my favorite because of the wild swings in her numbers and the humor with which she treated it. Pat and Lori also had impressive stash reports for the year. Pat succeeded in using nearly all of what she bought, and she amazed me with her productivity. Lori actually used 128 more yards than she purchased, so she was a stashbuster extraordinaire.

I finished this little strippy today, which will be donated. I quilted it with the Effervescence pantograph from Willow Leaf. This is the design I plan to quilt on my Orange Crush, but I want more practice with it first, so I'll make another strippy for that. I had trouble with tension and loops on the back of this quilt. The loops disappeared after the first couple rows, and I never did figure out the cause of it, but I was messing around with the bobbin tension throughout the quilting process. I finally managed to get the tension adjusted correctly on the very last row of stitching. Tension is the one thing that still gives me fits.

I've finished binding three sides of the Tug of War quilt; and even though I am working the last three days of the year, I'll get it finished before New Year's.

Sunday, December 21, 2008


Doesn't look like it's snowing, does it? But anyone who pays much attention to the weather knows that in the Northeast we are getting hit with a huge snowstorm. A blizzard warning has been issued for some counties in the state, and in central Maine we are expecting 8-20 inches. (That's pretty broad, isn't it?)

We had a storm earlier this week on Wednesday. It was only a couple of inches, but it was enough to make for terrible driving conditions. When I went to work that morning, the interstate hadn't been plowed completely, so only one lane was mostly clear. Right before I got to Augusta, I was concentrating so hard on staying in my lane that I missed the fact that traffic had come to a complete stop on the interstate, probably from an accident up ahead. By the time I realized it, it was too late. I slammed on the brakes, but I wasn't aware that the car even slowed down. I knew if I crashed into the cars a lot of people would be hurt, so I steered the car off the road into a ditch. When I left the highway I was driving close to 50 mph.

It was a wild ride as I drove down the embankment, into a ditch filled with muddy water and cattails, out the other side of the ditch into a field, and then back into the ditch, where I came to rest. Other than scaring myself half to death, I was absolutely fine, and my car was fine too. Two other cars behind me also went off the road into the ditch, and two or three cars behind us crashed into each other on the interstate. It was a mess! I discovered there was a tow truck coming right up the shoulder--I'm guessing he must have been pulling people out all morning--and he hauled all three of us out of the ditch too. By the time I got back on the road again, I was shaking so hard I could hardly drive. I was foolish to drive that fast, given the road conditions, but it is a lesson I only need to learn once.

Needless to say, when I came home from work this afternoon in the middle of the snowstorm, I drove at a comfortable 35 mph, which was well below the posted speed. A long train of cars formed behind me, and most were content to follow the leader. At one point a tractor trailor zoomed by me at about 65 mph, and less than two miles down the highway the driver went off the road into the trees. I hope he was alright. My son, who was also working today and drove home from Lewiston in near blizzard conditions, also got home okay. We're in for the night!

Sunday Stash Report

I am exhausted from working so many hours this month; and as the month wears on I find I have less and less energy to do anything including sewing. Beginning the week after Christmas though, my schedule will get back to normal. I have lots of things to get caught up with.

In the meantime, I've been chipping away at a few little odds and ends in the sewing room and finally got the binding done on this quilt, which you've seen before here. This is my fourteenth finish for the year.

Next up is the binding for the Tug O' War quilt, which I've already started on. This is the biggest quilt I've ever made, about 95" x 110", so it'll take some time. I almost have the second side finished.

I also took the time to throw a little pink and blue strippy on the longarm to practice the bubbles pantograph I want to use on the Orange Crush quilt. I'm still hoping to get these two quilts finished before year's end, but I'm rapidly running out of time. If I could just get a day off somewhere, I could do it!

In the last couple of weeks, I've added a grand total of 3 yards to the stash. Not bad, eh? Haven't used anything though. The backing for the pink and blue strippy was a flannel sheet from the thrift shop that looked pretty new, and I never counted it into the stash.

Here's the Stash Manager's report:

Fabric used this week: 0 yards
Fabric used year to date: 196-7/8 yards
Fabric added this week: 3 yards
Fabric added year to date: 354-7/8 yards
Net year to date: - 158 yards

Years ago before I began quilting I was passionate about crosstitch, but I haven't done it for a long time. I started this small piece a couple of years ago as a Christmas ornament. All I had left to do was add a few musical notes, but I put it away and never finished it. I dug it out a few days ago, as it's a perfect thing to work on when I'm too tired for anything else.

I've also given some more thought to what I want to do in the sewing room next year. I never make New Year's resolutions because I never keep them, but the New Year still represents a new beginning and new opportunities. Besides focusing on scrap quilts, I'd like to spend more time learning my Electric Quilt program and learning machine embroidery. I recently found a new blogger who does some machine embroidery and enjoyed browsing her site. She made a free standing lace ornament of an ice skate that I really liked. My good friend Barb made some lace segments which she then draped over a glass Christmas bulb, and it was lovely. Inspiration abounds!

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Sunday Stash Report

It's definitely time for a stash report, since I haven't done one for a couple of weeks. I am SO happy to report that both the Twelve Stars Til Christmas quilt and Theresa's Stars quilt are quilted, bound, and labeled--completely finished! Casey's Quilters met at our good friend Helen's today, and I put the last few stitches in the binding there. This makes my thirteenth finish for the year. Before the year is over I intend to finish at least three more that have been waiting in the wings--two that only need the binding, and one that needs to be quilted still.

All of the fabric for Twelve Stars has already been accounted for in earlier stash reports. Over the last couple weeks I used 8-3/8 yards for backings and bindings, and another Keepsake medley came in the mail, adding 1-1/2 yards.

Here's the Stash Manager's report:

Fabric used this week: 8-3/8 yards
Fabric used year to date: 196-7/8 yards
Fabric added this week: 1-1/2 yards
Fabric added year to date: 351-7/8 yards
Net year to date: - 155 yards

Helen invited our little group over to her house today for me to learn to make yeast rolls. Helen lives between the pages of House Beautiful magazine. Her home is inviting and spacious, with beautifully appointed furnishings. Her sewing room is downstairs in her basement, and we had plenty of space to spread out and comfy chairs to sit and sew while we waited for the dough to rise. Helen has brought these rolls to some of our meetings before, and they're so good! I'll bet it took less than 15 minutes to combine the ingredients for the dough and kneed it, then it was into a proofing oven for the first rise. After an hour Helen showed us how she kneeds each little dough ball and shapes it into the roll. It will be a very long time before I learn to do it as quickly as she can; and in the interest of time, we shaped the dough balls together. After another rising, the rolls went into the oven for about 20 minutes, and we had them with dinner. Helen made a wonderful dinner for us, with ham, scalloped potatoes, green bean casserole, and some assorted side dishes.

A very light snow fell outside for most of the day; but even though there was very little accumulation, the roads were pretty slippery, so we left after dinner and headed home. Earlier in the day, poor SueB slid down Kay's driveway into a guidewire for the telephone pole, but we got her unstuck and there was no damage to either the pole or Sue's truck. It sure was a nice day, and I feel lucky to have such great friends.

I'll be working 40 hours or more each week for the rest of the month, so I'm not planning to start any more new projects this year. I'll be mighty happy if I can just get those three quilts finished.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Happy Thanksgiving

The turkey is in the oven, and we're watching the Macy's Thanksgiving Day parade on television. Last night we made three dishes for dinner today, and this afternoon we'll finish the turkey and make gravy, sweet potato with marshmallows, boiled onions, and pumpkin pie. I am happy that both my sons will be here today.

I made this small wallhanging last November but couldn't think how I wanted to quilt it, so it never got finished. I got it out this year but still haven't done anything with it yet. Maybe it might get done in time for Thanksgiving next year.

Anyway, Happy Thanksgiving to all my blogging friends. I hope you have a lovely day with family and friends.

Credit where credit is due:
Turkey Time quilt design by Pine Tree Lodge Designs

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Selvage Christmas Stocking

Friday was our bimonthly meeting for Casey's Quilters, and making Christmas ornaments was on the agenda. I've had this little snowman kit from Keepsake Quilting for several years and decided it was time to make some up. I used the felt included in the kit, but wool felt or wool would work as well. The front and back pieces for the cap and body are buttonhole stitched together. The brim is a single piece that wraps around to the back, and the scarf is cut long enough to wrap around the neck. The red buttonhole stitching in the body frames an oval cutout through which you can insert a small photo of a child... or pet or whatever. The original kit contained enough materials for a garland of about 6 of these snowmen, but one or two snowmen was fine for me.

A couple of the ladies at the meeting were making these cute little strip-pieced Christmas stockings. My good friend Barbara conducted a little workshop for these at Capitol Quilters, and the ladies were making more of them at Kay's. The pattern is free online here, and it occurred to me to use some of the selvages I've been collecting--a perfect little project to try out both the pattern and the use of selvages. I had so much fun playing with this that I know I'll want to try another selvage project. (If you download this pattern, make sure to uncheck the "fit to page" or scaling block; otherwise the design prints out too small. Naturally I did it wrong the first time, so my stocking came out too small, and the cuff was too big.)

I'm disappointed that I couldn't seem to make the time to get the Theresa's Stars quilt loaded on the frame, and that will be my only goal this week, to get it loaded, quilted, and bound. The handstitched binding on the Twelve Stars quilt is coming along, but slowly.

Last night was the bimonthly meeting for our local chapter, Backroad Quilters, and Christmas ornaments were on the agenda there as well. I was not able to stay for the meeting, but I did go down long enough to pick up these scrap bags. One of our members from last year was changing residences and had to pare down her sewing things. She had lots of fabric for sale, including these scrap bags, so I brought them all home.

Like some other bloggers, I've been thinking about stashbusting goals for next year. It wouldn't surprise me to see the price of cotton continue to rise, and I already have so much fabric. So I think I'd like my focus for next year to be on finishing more of my UFOs and making mostly scrap quilts. Looking back at my finishes for 2008, several had some scrappy elements; but only the Scrappy Bargello was really all scrappy, and that is the sort of quilt I'd like to focus on. Bonnie Hunter certainly has enough scrappy quilt patterns to keep a quilter busy for a long time, and I have plenty of books on scrap quilts to entertain myself with.

Anyway, at the meeting last night, Nena also brought some of the projects that will be offered up as workshops next year, and now I'm excited about doing some of those projects. One was a pleated tote bag, one was a quilt called Monterey Medallion, and one was called Venetian Tiles and requires the use of an x block ruler. It took some time last night hunting on the internet for this specialized tool, but I finally found the designer's website. I remember seeing this block a long time ago, and apparently someone has designed a ruler to facilitate the block construction. You can see both the rulers and some of Patricia's quilts here.

I am off the next three days; and although we are not having company for Thanksgiving, today will be spent doing some much needed housecleaning...and some wash. Tomorrow we'll cook, Thursday we'll eat and relax, and I'll sprinkle in some sewing time where I can!

Oh, by the way, I picked up a yard and a half of fabric this past week. Nothing else in or out, so I didn't bother with a Sunday Stash Report.

Credit where credit is due:
Treasured Snowmen Garland design by Connie Broemmer
Strip Stocking by Eleanor Burns, Quilt In A Day

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Two Down, One To Go

So far I've met two of the three goals I set for myself this week. I sewed the binding to the Twelve Stars quilt a couple nights ago and started hand stitching it to the back while I was at the laundromat today.

Last night I quilted this little strippy on my Lizzie using the Poinsettia pantograph from Willow Leaf. Because someone in a wheel chair will be the recipient of this little lap quilt, I wanted to use flannel on the back so it would be softer and warmer. Once I got it loaded on the frame, using the flannel didn't seem any different to me than using a regular cotton back. Other than a few loops on the back that I managed to work out, I was very happy with the way it turned out.

This was a strange collection of fabrics by Benartex I bought years ago, one of those what-was-I-thinking moments. Not only are the colors a little odd to me for a Christmas print, but the motifs strike me as odd too. It's pears, plums, and holly leaves or something.

Anyway, I sewed the binding on this morning, all by machine, probably only the third or fourth time in 15 years I haven't finished a binding by hand. I figured it will probably get washed a lot in a nursing home so thought a machine stitched binding might be more durable. I washed it myself this morning and was amazed that it shrunk about 3 inches in both directions. Glad Mary's dimensions were generous when she wrote the instructions. That's probably happened to me before when I've washed my quilts, but I never paid much attention to it. With this small quilt though, it was more noticeable.

Tomorrow I'm going to Kay's for our bi-monthly meeting. We're going to make Christmas ornaments, and I have a cute little snowman kit I bought several years ago that I'll be working on. When I get home, I'm going to tackle my last goal for the week, to get Theresa's Stars quilted. I haven't even cut and pieced the backing yet, so I'm hoping to load it on the frame and get at least some of it quilted by the end of the weekend. I'm working all weekend though, so we'll see.

I've gotten behind with all sorts of things lately, including reading my favorite blogs. So I'm hoping to get caught up with that this weekend as well. If you work outside the home, it seems like you're always behind with something, chores, housework, you name it. But at least I've got my priorities right--quilting first, housework second, right?

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Sunday Stash Report

I finished the raffle quilt this evening, and I think it looks great. Koleen deserves the credit for choosing the fabrics for the sashings and borders. I thought a one-inch sashing would be too narrow, but it's perfect. I've always liked sampler quilts and have wanted to make one for a long time and just never got around to it. Working on this quilt gives me some motivation to start on one of my own, maybe next year.

I missed the stash report last Sunday, and here's the rest of what I've accomplished in the last two weeks:

--Cut and pieced the borders for the Theresa's Stars quilt and finished the top
--Cut and pieced another strippy
--Cut out all the squares for a queen-sized rag quilt

I've had the homespuns for the rag quilt for quite a while and added more last week. I had taken the squares with me to work on at Kay's; and after I got the very first set of squares sewn together, Barb suggested that I use my embroidery machine to quilt a design in each square. I thought that was a great idea. I'm not proficient at all with my embroidery machine and haven't tried to quilt anything with it; so I guess I'll make some time to play around with that idea, but probably not until after Christmas.

Besides the homespuns and a medley from Keepsake, I also bought 6 yards of a beautiful blue-green batik at the Cote Bros. retirement sale. It was a good price, so I may have to go back next week or the week after for a few more batiks. Other than that, I stocked up on embroidery threads and bought a new seam ripper and a pack of sewing machine needles. I wish the embroidery software would go on sale, but I'm not holding my breath. I know at least some of it is on consignment and won't go on sale.

Here's the Stash Manager's Report:

Fabric used this week: 13-3/4 yards
Fabric used year to date: 188-1/2 yards
Fabric added this week: 19-1/2 yards
Fabric added year to date: 350-3/8 yards
Net year to date: - 161-7/8 yards

My goals for this week are to machine stitch the binding to the Twelve Stars quilt, machine quilt one of the strippies, and machine quilt the Theresa's Stars quilt. I plan to use flannel on the back of the strippy, and I hope it doesn't give me fits with the tension.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Raffle Quilt

I worked a lot of hours last week, 6 days in a row. I felt so tired during the week that I decided to take a vacation from blogging, sewing, and just about everything else--just went to work every day, and that was it. We did have a sewing day at Kay's last Friday, and I made another strippy top.

Yesterday I finally had a day off, and it was wet and rainy so I stayed in my jammies all day and sewed. A couple weeks ago I volunteered to assemble these blocks into a quilt top, which will be a raffle quilt for one of my quilt groups. The blocks finish to 12 inches with sashings and cornerstones that finish to one inch wide. I am a little further along than the picture, only have one more row to assemble. Then there will also be a 4" red border.

Anyone who has ever put together a bunch of blocks made by different quilters knows that no two ever turn out to be the same size, and these blocks were no exception. They ranged in size from 12-3/4" to 12" inches, so I squared everything up as best I could before I started sewing them together. I did have to rip out parts of several blocks and remake them in order to have at least a little bit of seam allowance. Thank goodness the group decided to add that sashing! I haven't made a narrow little sashing like this before, and everything is coming out nice and straight. I really like how it's coming together.

Most of the blocks patterns in the quilt are old favorites, but I haven't seen this one before. I like the fact that the quilter made it scrappy. I'd love to make a whole quilt with this block, maybe scrappy blues or scrappy greens.

The sewing store where I bought my Bernina a couple years ago is going out of business. Cote Brothers has been in business for 52 years, and it's so sad to see them closing their doors. One of the owners has had health issues in recent years; so I suppose it's really a combination of things, not the least of which would be the economy. Anyway, I am on my way to Cote's today to find a few bargains on threads and notions and maybe some fabric for quilt backs.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Sunday Stash Report

I had another interesting week as far as the stash report goes, but I am sliding ever deeper into the hole. This week I bought 12 yards, which will go for borders and sashings on 3 different quilts. Also remember that I used a bunch of my Christmas fat quarters in the Theresa's Stars quilt, and that was the whole point, right, to use them up? Well, I was horrified at the prospect of not having a selection of Christmas fabrics for some future project, so I went out and bought another 4-1/2 yards of new fat quarters! I also bought 3 yards of a couple of tone on tones for strippies. On the up side, I cut up 10 yards for those 4 strippies I started on at Koleen's Sit and Sew on Halloween. Now I have to get busy and finish them!

Here's the Stash Manager's Report:

Fabric used this week: 10 yards
Fabric used year to date: 174-3/4 yards
Fabric added this week: 19-1/2 yards
Fabric added year to date: 330-7/8 yards
Net year to date: - 156-1/8 yards

Waste Not, Want Not

An old saying, but still as true as ever. As good quality quilting cottons approach $10 per yard in some quilt shops and are actually priced at $10 per yard now in others, it becomes increasingly important to me to use every bit of fabric to best advantage. I'd been saving selvages for a while because it appealed to me to have those color dots as a reference; but after Karen Griska released a book called Quilts From The Selvage Edge, I began collecting in earnest. My friend Barb commented that she thought selvage quilts were ugly; and that may be true, but I also find them really interesting to look at.

I was delighted the other day to find that Wanda from Exuberant Color was also collecting selvages. Not only did Wanda have a link to some photos of an entire dress made from selvages, but she also had a link to Karen Griska's blog. Now I am discovering all sorts of interesting things to do with selvages--pincushions, handbags, scarves, postcards, and doll quilts.

I thought about the "waste not, want not" theme again the other day, when I saw Sherry throw away a big handful of trimmings. Some people refer to these trimmings as quilt confetti, and I have seen a photo or two where people put them in an attractive clear glass jar or clear table lamp base. That never appealed to me, but then I remembered that someone in my Friday quilt group was collecting them to make dog beds for a local animal shelter. I thought that was a worthwhile endeavor; so I retrieved Sherry's scraps from the trash, then went home and dug mine out of the trash too. I now have about a quarter of a bag full of trimmings, and I feel downright righteous that I am using every single shred of my $10 per yard fabric! At least as long as someone will make dog beds out of them, I suppose..... or maybe.... a floor pillow!

Sit and Sew

My plans for this past week went awry again, which is hardly anything new for me. Not only do I suffer from poor time management skills, but working for a living also puts a squeeze on my quilting time. Nonetheless I still managed to get something accomplished despite myself. I haven't finished my Theresa's Stars top yet, but I have finished all 30 blocks and have started sewing them into rows. I also played on my Lizzie during the week with a couple of practice pieces and the new pantographs I got. The Poinsettia pattern from Willow Leaf, which I want to stitch on Theresa's Stars, is my new favorite; and I was able to stitch a reasonable facsimile the first time I tried it.

Does that mean I'm getting better at staying on the line? No! Effervescence, also from Willow Leaf is the one I was contemplating stitching on the Orange Crush quilt, but it proved to be more difficult than I would have thought. Those circles are a little over three inches in diameter, and staying on the line was hard! Another pantograph I got was Bubbles, and I think I'll probably try that one instead. Another advantage of a busy quilt top--you won't see the bobbles in my bubbles.

Friday Barbara, Sherry, Koleen and I got together for a sit and sew in Koleen's studio. Koleen has a lovely studio built on a slab where her garage used to be, and it is a lovely big, well lit space to sew in. We started out the day with Show and Tell, which is an integral part of any quilting get-together. This is the quilt I just finished for Koleen, Twelve Stars Til Christmas. It's very nearly a queen sized quilt. The ribbon candy border was lots of work but well worth the result. Koleen was planning to put this one on her frame for quilting yesterday, and I should get it back on Friday. For the quilt design, we settled on a tannebaum Christmas tree pattern in a gold-red-green variegated thread, and I can't wait to see it finished.

I finished the Tug O' War pattern for Koleen some time ago, and it has been waiting its turn in the quilting queue. It was more important to me for the Christmas one to get done first, so I'll be waiting a little longer for this one to get quilted. Koleen's original pattern had some flying geese blocks and a partial border in flying geese for an asymmetrical look. My husband likes everything to be perfectly symmetrical, so I made those blocks and then substituted more of the Jacob's Ladder blocks in the finished top. Although this is a huge quilt, the pieces are large, and it went together pretty quickly. This will go on my bed when it's done.

Koleen has released 2 other new patterns as well--Cardinals in the Courtyard and Making New Friends--and you can see the versions Barbara and Sherry made on Barbara's blog. You can see all 4 patterns on Koleen's website here.

Not only is Koleen a pattern designer and longarm quilter extraordinaire, but she is also a prolific quilter. All four of these are Koleen's quilts. The log cabins will go upstairs in the loft of her studio, which is still under construction and where she will eventually have overnight guests.

You're probably wondering what the heck I did all day. Before I went to Koleen's I cut out the pieces for 4 of MaryJ's strippies; and I cut up my Turning Twenty quilt blocks that I made way back in February or March into strips for a lasagna-style quilt, because I didn't really care for the Turning Twenty pattern. What I actually accomplished was I finished the last 4 of my Theresa's Stars quilt blocks, and I assembled one strippy top. Not so much really, but we had fun, socialized, and had a yummy lunch too.

Credit where credit is due:
Twelve Stars Til Christmas and Tug O' War quilt designs by Koleen Painchaud, The Quilted Cardinal

Monday, October 27, 2008

Weekend Workshop

My good friend Sherry hosted our retreat this past weekend, and she was an excellent hostess and instructor for our workshop project. The pattern, called Theresa's Stars, was from an old issue of Quiltmaker magazine; and Sherry made up her version before the retreat so we could get some ideas for fabrics.

Sherry made lunch and supper for us on Saturday plus lunch on Sunday, so we were able to sew all day both days with no distractions and no interruptions. Some of the other quilters also brought treats to share. What could be better than sewing and eating all day? It was fabulous, and I am already looking forward to next year's retreat.

Sherry and I were the only two who made scrappy versions, and we both chose to make 30-block quilts. I managed to get 26 of my 30 blocks finished over the course of the weekend, which is surely some kind of record for me. I used 15 different fat quarters for the paddles and probably an equal number of fabrics for the stars. Some of these fabrics worked better than others, and some of the red stars got lost a little; but I wasn't about to rip anything out. As Sherry would say, it's all good. The small pieces pinned off to the side will be the borders.

It's always fun to see what a pattern looks like made up in a different set of fabrics, and we certainly had a great variety. Helen chose a very pretty print with deer in it for an elegant look. She'll be adding borders in gold and green.

Margo used a soft plaid and gold stars for a warm look for a quilt for her brother.

Kay experimented with some different colors for her stars and finally hit on this combination, which we all liked a lot.

Janice ultimately moved the four corner blocks with the yellow stars to the center of the quilt, which seemed to pull it all together. Since she'll be hanging this on a red wall, we thought her quilt would look great with a thin yellow border and green for the outer border.

Chris's quilt was really very different from the rest and looked so nice. She precut a big stack of pieces and was making these little 12-block lap quilts for donations. This turned out to be a great stashbuster for her.

Credit where credit is due:
Theresa's Stars quilt design by Theresa Eisinger, Quiltmaker magazine Nov/Dec 05

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Sunday Stash Report

Thanks so much for all the wonderful comments on my Orange Crush quilt. I really like busy quilts, partly because I enjoy just looking at all the different fabrics so much. The pantograph I want to use to quilt it did arrive, but late in the week. By then I was busy cutting fabrics for my weekend workshop project, Theresa's Stars, which I'll have pictures of tomorrow. This one is pretty busy too.

This week I bought 5 yards for the borders of Theresa's Stars, and I thought that was going to be it for the week. However my good friend Sherry had a bolt of fabric, a white background with a little gold leaf, that she was trying to get rid of. Evidently the printing was off on the whole bolt because the leaves were supposed to be outlined in gold, and not all of them were. I noticed later that the gold is flaking off too, and hopefully a good wash will take care of that. Anyway, I thought it would be just fine for a backing, so I came home with 10 yards from the bolt. I also used 6 yards for the workshop project plus another 6 yards for 2 practice quilts.

Here's the Stash Manager's Report:

Fabric used this week: 12 yards
Fabric used year to date: 164-3/4 yards
Fabric added this week: 15 yards
Fabric added year to date: 311-3/8 yards
Net year to date: - 146-5/8 yards

This week I hope to get the Theresa's Stars top all together, then spend the rest of the week working on some machine quilting.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Sunday Stash Report

I did really well with my stashbusting this week. In fact, this is the most fabric I've used in a single week since I started keeping track. I did add 14 yards from our little shop hop on Monday, but I still used more than I added. Backings do the trick!

I used a couple of yards for the borders for the Orange Crush quilt, I cut and pieced the backings for two quilts this week, I used up about 4 yards of muslin for a practice quilt, and I cut up a couple of yards for the workshop project Casey's Quilters will be working on this coming weekend. I'll be cutting the rest of the fabric for that project this week.

Our workshop project, called Theresa's Stars, is one Kay found in an old issue of Quiltmaker magazine. It's a huge quilt--36 blocks--but I think most of us are paring that down to 30 or fewer blocks. It's a scrappy, quick pieced quilt, and I'll be using a small collection of Christmas fat quarters I've accumulated. It'll be fun!

Here's the Stash Manager's Report:

Fabric used this week: 19 yards
Fabric used year to date: 152-3/4 yards
Fabric added this week: 14 yards
Fabric added year to date: 296-3/8 yards
Net year to date: - 143-5/8 yards

Saturday, October 18, 2008

It's A Top!

I spent all week trying to get this top done in between outings. I put the last border on the Orange Crush quilt this morning, yay! It took me forever to make up my mind whether or not to add the pieced border that Bonnie used, and I finally decided I liked just a plain border better. I also wanted to include an orange border in between the black and the red; but my husband vetoed that idea, and in the end I had to agree with him. So I'm binding it off with the orange, good or bad!

I've ordered a Bubbles pantograph to use for the quilting, which seems right to me, considering that the quilt is named after a carbonated beverage. If I can get the pantograph quick enough, I'd sure like to get the quilting done by the end of the week, but I go back to work Monday so there are no guarantees.

Credit where credit is due:
Orange Crush quilt design by Bonnie Hunter,


Yesterday was our bimonthly meeting of Casey's Quilters, and it was also Pumpkinfest. Kay hosts this event every year, and each member is supposed to bring a pumpkin dish and a pumpkin project to work on. We got our fill of pumpkin--there was pumpkin bread, pumpkin cookies, pumpkin fudge, 2 kinds of pumpkin dip, and pumpkin penne with kielbasa for supper. Everything was so good!

The project I worked on yesterday was a paper pieced Halloween wall hanging. There are 3 each of the pumpkins, cats, and bats. I was happy with the pumpkin, but I'm going to have to start all over with the cat and the bat. The cat doesn't look too bad in this picture; but from a little bit of a distance, the cat is more difficult to distinguish, and the bat is just a black blob. The pattern called for dark and medium blues, and my darks were a little too dark. So now it is back to the stash!

Thursday, October 16, 2008

SMCC Restaurant

I may have mentioned before that my younger son is studying Culinary Arts at a community college in South Portland. One of their classrooms is actually an operating restaurant that is open to the public, so yesterday we made a trip to the restaurant for the midday meal. From what I gather, a couple different classes prepare the meals. Advanced Cooking Specialties is one of the classes, plus the Baking class, and a restaurant technology class, I think.

Lunch was a four-course meal consisting of appetizer, salad, entree and dessert. I had cream of parsnip soup; wilted spinach salad; roast duck with carrots, peas, baby pearl onions and something that looked like a mashed potato croquette; and white chocolate cake with strawberries for dessert. My husband had polish cabbage; garden salad; veal stew served in a puff pastry shell with veggies; and french silk pudding for dessert. My son actually made the roast duck earlier in the day, and his instructor allowed him to sit and have lunch with us, so he had the polish cabbage and garden salad; salmon; and chocolate cake for dessert. The meal was absolutely delicious, the portion size was perfect, the dishes were nicely presented, and the service was fabulous. The chefs, waiters, waitresses, and maitre'd are all students, and they were actually in class.

For anyone who is local and would like to visit the restaurant next time you're in Portland, the midday meal is served from 12:00 to 2:00 Wednesday through Friday. Friday is a buffet meal. You must have a reservation to attend, and reservations can be made by calling 741-5612 between 11:00 and 2:00 Tuesday through Thursday. We made our reservation a month before, but they advise you call at least a week in advance. The cost of the entire four-course meal is $12 per person, which is really an excellent value. We were so full after lunch that we had cereal for supper last night.

Mystery Ride

Monday, Columbus Day, our local quilt group rented a bus, and about 45 of us went on a Mystery Ride. Everyone packed a lunch, and during the day we stopped at three quilt shops--Keepsake Quilting in New Hampshire, Calico Basket in Windham, and Quilt Essentials in Auburn. I'd never been to Calico Basket, and it's a very nice quilt shop with lots of fabric. I'll be visiting them again. Late afternoon we stopped for a hot meal at Cole Farms. They have the best sweet potato fries!

At Keepsake Quilting I bought Eleanor Burns' Victory Quilts book. Although I haven't done many of them, I do like sampler quilts, and I like alot of the blocks in this book. I also bought one of Keepsake's scrap bags, this one all flannels that I'll be using to augment the flannel snowman kit I bought in Lancaster in March. I want to make that kit large enough to be a generous sofa quilt, and I don't think there will be any extra fabric after I make up the kit.

I also bought a few more Kaffe Fassets (and Kaffe Fasset lookalikes)....

.... and these Christmas fabrics that will go into a couple of Christmas quilts I'd like to make. Christmas quilts don't usually interest me too much, but this year every quilt magazine I've looked at seems to have a Christmas quilt I want to make. I have a weekend retreat coming up the last weekend in October, and our workshop project is one of these Christmas quilts. The large pieces of tan and brown have gingerbread on them, really cute!

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Weekend in Eastport

I am on vacation all this week, so last weekend my husband and I decided to go down east to Eastport. My father, who passed away some years ago, grew up in Eastport, and we were interested to see where he might have lived. Eastport is a tiny town on Moose Island, population 1920. Eastport is the eastern most city in the United States, and the sun touches this coast in America first every morning. Although we didn't see much activity on the waterfront, supposedly it's still a busy little harbor for both local fishermen and international ships. To the north of Eastport is Deer Island, Canada, which is only a ferry ride away; and to the east is the island of Campobello, the location of the Roosevelt Cottage. This photograph of Eastport was taken by Jim Lowe, a local photographer.

Another of Eastport's claims to fame is the Old Sow, the Northern hemisphere's largest whirlpool and the third strongest in the world. The whirlpool is caused by the extreme tidal range where the tides goes in and out between Passamaquoddy Bay and the Bay of Fundy. The tides here exceed almost all those in the rest of the world and reach a peak of 28 feet. We were not fortunate enough to be in that area during a tidal change, so this photo of the whirlpool was also taken by Jim Lowe.

Eastport is also the home of Raye's Mustard Mill, the only authentic stone ground mustard mill in North America. The entire process, from the creation of the slurry right down to packing and labeling the jars is all done by hand. Mustard seed is ground in the mill using the original four quartz grindstones used over a century ago. Other mustards that say "stoneground" on the label may go through a single high speed technological grinding, but they're also cooked at some point in the process. The Raye family maintains a traditional cold grind process that not only preserves the best qualities of the mustard but also eliminates the need to refrigerate the mustard after the jar is opened.

The quartz stones don't actually touch one another during the grinding process, but are separated by a paper-thin space, thus preserving them. This is a photo of one of the stones in the yard. You can see how they're grooved on the one side. We did get a tour of the mill but were not allowed to take photos, so this photo is just the outside of the mill.

My husband and I love mustard, so of course we had to get a few jars to take home with us. I have a fantastic recipe for chicken dijonnaise that I'll try with Raye's Old World Gourmet mustard. For anyone who is local, they also market to Hannaford's.

148 Water Street, where my father may have lived as a boy. House for sale, water view, $39,000.

Eastport is located in Washington County, and along the highway we saw lots of wild Maine blueberry fields, which are an important part of the Maine economy. Maine blueberries are smaller than high bush varieties, so they work really well in recipes like muffins. I didn't realize that the leaves turn red like this in the fall.

We did get our fill of autumn color this weekend. I noticed yesterday on the way home from Portland that a lot of the leaves have fallen from the trees, so I think this weekend must have been the peak in Central Maine and down east. These pretty trees are right along the main street in my town.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Stash Manager's Report for Sunday, October 12

Yes, I'm behind with the stash report again, but my husband and I went touring over the weekend and got home late, and this is my first opportunity to do it. Saturday on the way to Eastport, we stopped at Marden's in Ellsworth where I bought these fabrics. There's enough here to back four quilts and probably have some left over. I did finally finish Koleen's quilt last week, yay!!, and I'm using the red fabric in the middle of this pile for the backing. I think the back will be as interesting as the front!

Here's the Stash Manager's Report:

Fabric used this week: 0 yards
Fabric used year to date: 133-3/4 yards
Fabric added this week: 27 yards
Fabric added year to date: 282-5/8 yards
Net year to date: - 148-7/8 yards

Gasp, choke, not as bad as some folks, but still a staggering amount of fabric when you really think about it. Especially since I've already added nearly 15 yards this week already, groan... I will actually be *using* a good bit this week though, so next Sunday's stash report will be better.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Stash Manager's Report

I missed last Sunday's report, but there hasn't been much action around here anyway, at least nothing reportable. I bought the background fabrics I needed for the QFAH and started cutting it up, but I've kind of lost interest in doing it right now. So I'll throw the fabric back in the pile and work on it some other time. I've just got to get Koleen's quilt finished this week, and I'm finally on the home stretch. There are other projects I need to finish and there are always new ones waiting in the wings!

Here's the Stash Manager's Report:

Fabric used this week: 0 yards
Fabric used year to date: 133-3/4 yards
Fabric added this week: 9-1/2 yards
Fabric added year to date: 255-5/8 yards
Net year to date: - 121-7/8 yards

Saturday, October 4, 2008

It's Leaf Season

The leaves are beginning to change color in our little town now, so I dug out my Leaf Season quilt and put it on Christopher's bed. I love the fabrics in this quilt. I've shown it on my blog before, but I thought I'd share it again.

My husband and I had planned to get out sometime this month for a leaf peeping expedition, but the Maine foliage reports indicated that the western part of the state was 95% to peak, so we thought we'd better go today. We intended to go to Rangeley Park and have lunch by the lake, but darned if it wasn't closed for construction; so we had lunch by this little stream instead. There are a million little streams and rivers like this in Maine, and we always enjoy seeing them. We saw several people along the highway with cameras on tripods photographing these little streams. It was chilly and very gray out today, about 42 degrees in the mountains; so we didn't dilly dally too long having lunch.

We did stop at a couple of lookout points along the highway and took these pictures of Rangley Lake. I actually expected to see more color in the mountains, and alot of the trees were already bare, so we must have missed the peak after all.

Here was a curious sight along the highway out in the middle of nowhere, a couple of telephone poles, several hundred feet apart, one with ball caps attached to it, and the other with shoes. ????

Our last stop for the day was Coos Canyon in Byron, Maine. It's a small canyon that the Swift River runs through; and where the rocks cause the river to narrow, the water just boils through the canyon. We visited here a couple of years ago and were able to climb on the rocks and get much closer to the water. Now they have a fence up and you can't get down in there anymore. I don't know if someone fell into the canyon or what. Anyway, we did get a little bit closer on the top end of the canyon and got a picture of this tree, just growing up out of the rock. The base of the tree looks like the same texture as the rock.

Credit where credit is due:
Leaf Season quilt design by Judy Laquidara