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

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Bonnie's New Book

I was very excited to get Bonnie Hunter's new book in my mail yesterday. She is a designer whose work I have admired for a long time. I have seen some of Bonnie's designs in quilt magazines recently, so I guess she is well on her way to a new adventure.

I love the design and layout of the new book--it's colorful and engaging, and fun to read. And I just love some of the projects in the book--can't wait to get started! Congratulations, Bonnie, on your new book!