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.

8/14/17

Quilting on a Cloudy Day

The kitties enjoyed a day without sunshine yesterday. They each have dark fur, and they get too hot in the sun. The clouds were a welcome relief for them, and they played outside together for a long time. Like I've said before, these two are thick as thieves.


After catching up on some housework, I got to work quilting the last six blocks of the Bee Loving quilt. This one is "Bee Courteous."


"Bee Fruitful."


"Bee Romantic."


This next one is "Bee Sunny." For this one I followed the motif I'd been using, but also quilted some rays around the sun.


This next one is "Bee Grateful."


The last one is "Bee Simple."


From there, I quilted honeycomb hexagons into the pieced sashings. I thought these might take a long time because I expected to have to mark them to keep them even. As it turns out, they were easy enough to do free-hand, and so they went pretty quickly.


Here's how it looks from the back. I was able to make this a continuous line design by quilting just one side at a time. The adjacent sections in the middle had to be stitched back and forth to bring the stitching back to the beginning, but that was simple enough.


When the sashings were all quilted, I pulled the quilt off the machine and laid it out in front of our living room window. It's terrible lighting for displaying the quilt, but it gives good contrast so that you can see the quilting. Here's how it looks so far.


And here's how it's looking from the back.


Now, I just have the two borders to quilt. For the inner border in honeycomb fabric, I'm borrowing another design from Lori Kennedy. She calls her design "Spiral Hearts." I didn't practice mine quite the way she did it, but I like this just fine.


Again, it's done first one half, then the other, then echos are stitched around the hearts. I'll need to mark the center line, but otherwise, I think I can keep the hearts uniform enough in size without any other markings. Before committing it to the quilt, I'll want to practice a few more rows.

That's where I'll pick it up today. I have another idea for the outer border, but let's just see how far I get with this today. It's good to have it this far along. This is my August OMG project. At the beginning of the month, there was little hope of finishing this during the month of August, but I'm beginning to feel more optimistic.

8/13/17

Rejuvenating a Thirsty Landscape

It's been hot and smoky here the past couple of weeks. Checking our weather apps, we were promised a reprieve from the smoke on a daily basis. Yet, each morning we'd awaken to the same murky skies. Finally, some rain over night. It's the Oregon we're accustomed to, with moisture dripping from every leaf, flower, and pine needle.



This Japanese maple must be soaking it in.


It's leaves facing west have actually been burned by the sun. One of the rhododendrons is positively blackened from exposure to the hot afternoon rays.


This is our crazy star magnolia. Ordinarily it is one of the first things to bloom in spring. And yet...it is producing one lonely flower.


It's good to see some rain. This seems like a good opportunity to mention that we'll be taking off later in the week to make a trip to eastern Oregon. With the eclipse just a week and a day away, we are traveling to the east side of the Cascade range. Here on the west side, we can never be assured of clear skies, even in August. Since we are determined not to miss the eclipse this time around, we are heading to some place yet to be determined...but east, for sure. Since every hotel, motel and campground is booked, we'll be boondocking (meaning, we won't be camped in a designated campground). Camping is always free in national forests, and so we'll find a logging road or trailhead where we'll be able to set up and wait. I'll say more about our trip in a later post.

As for yesterday's activities, the new washer and dryer performed admirably...that is to say, they performed their basic functions with nary a glitch. Actually, there was one glitch when the laundress forgot to push in the tray that holds detergent and fabric softener. I was busy in the kitchen when Mike came in from outdoors and said, "uh-oh," and then said no more.

"What?" I asked. No answer. "WHAT?!?" Geez. "Uh-oh" is a phrase one never wants to hear when it is followed by silence. So...anyway...no biggy. I just stopped the washer, pushed in the drawer, and then started it again. I nearly did the same thing in the very next load, but caught myself before the "uh-oh" moment.

What can I say? I was distracted with jam. This is my Carrot Cake Jam. My yield was 9 half-pints. And let me just say, this stuff is delicious!


As I mentioned to someone this morning, I'm not sure I'd recognize it as "carrot cake" jam if I didn't know that was its intended flavor. But take a little spoonful, and you know...it kind of does taste like carrot cake, minus the cake. Really very tasty, and pretty darned easy too. The only downside is that it only used four of the approximately 400 carrots inhabiting my vegetable crisper. Clearly, more carrot culling will be required. The recipe I used came from this book:


There are several editions, and mine is the edition copyrighted in 2006. It called for 1 3/4 cups of "canned pineapple, including juice." When I measured out 1 3/4 cups, there was just a little bit left in the can, and so I just dumped that into the mix too. Also, I added 1 tablespoon of bottled lemon juice for a total of 1/4 cup. This is my adaptation of the original recipe.


Now I can't wait for breakfast this morning, so I can spread some on my toasted English muffin.

Since I always lose track of how much canning I've done each year, I've been keeping a list on my phone in 2017. Here's my tally so far.


A pretty good showing so far...and I haven't even started on the tomatoes. Come on, Tomatoes!

With laundry and canning done, I had just a little time left in the day to do some quilting. Four more blocks are finished now, with six left to do before moving on to the sashings. This one is Bee Productive:


This one is Bee Humble. It's the first block where I've quilted in any details. For this one, I added a little bit of wood grain in the tree.


This next one is Bee Lovely.


And, finally, Bee Curious.


Today I need to catch up on some housework, but there will be plenty of time to quilt the remaining blocks. Hopefully, I'll have enough energy to get well along on the sashings. It's nice to see the rain again, and it'll be nice to have the house cooled off some.

8/12/17

Slow Trip

It was a long drive to Salem yesterday...long, because we kept encountering flaggers and road construction along the way. Ordinarily, Salem is about 45 minutes south of us, but I think it took twice as long yesterday.

We saw more than a few barns along the way.


This is the same barn, different angle.



While we waited for a pilot car, we were stopped alongside this next one. I kind of liked the way the shadow of the holey roof fell against the wall.



Also while we were waiting for a different pilot car...


Until I took the picture off my camera, I couldn't see that this was ESPN University, so I looked it up online. Apparently "Never Graduate" is a "thing" at ESPN. Whatever...it gave me a chuckle.

Finally, we reached the Oregon State Fairgrounds where it took about three times as long as it should have for me to deposit my quilts. There were two women ahead of me who hadn't read or followed the rules for submitting their quilts, which meant I had to wait for them to futz around, labeling their quilts and the bags that contained them...and writing the stories they wanted to accompany their quilts! Who does that? Anyway...when I finally got to the front of the line, it took about ten seconds. Fie!!

As we were leaving the parking lot, I noticed this marquee.


What a world, huh?

From there we went to the Cotton Patch quilt shop just a few minutes down the road. I'll admit that as we were driving along, I felt a surge of excitement at having just dropped off my quilts for the fair. When I enter a quilt in a show, I have trained myself not to expect to win anything, and to just be happy knowing my quilts will be displayed and viewed by others. Still...it's fun to dream, and exciting to participate. We were limited to two quilts this year. These are the quilts I entered:

Snips and Snails:


Gingerbread Square:


Fingers crossed.

When we arrived home, there was still a little time left for quilting, and so I quilted these blocks.

Bee Sweet:


Bee Charming:


Bee Bountiful:


Bee Adventurous:


Bee Friendly:


And Bee Happy:


So far, I've quilted 10 out of 20 blocks. I should be able to finish the rest of the blocks this weekend, and then I'm hoping to get started on the sashings. I know just what to do there, but it's going to require some marking, which always takes more time.

Today I'm going to do laundry in my new washing machine. If you don't already have your fingers crossed for the quilts in the fair, then please cross your fingers for this virgin washing machine venture. Believe it or not, washing machines have undergone a near complete transformation since we bought our last one fifteen years ago. This one goes through all sorts of gyrations while it fills the tub. We actually had to re-think our original purchase because the one we'd looked at online didn't have an agitator. What's up with that? It gives me some idea how my grandmother must have felt when washing machines gave up the wringer.

Also, I'm trying something new with our CSA carrots today. I love our CSA...don't get me wrong... but we've had carrots in every single share this year...lots of carrots...red ones, purple ones, orange ones, and (currently) white ones. I'm all for carrots. Did you know they give you good night vision? Of course you did. Anyway...carrots. I've run out of ways to love them, and they've accumulated enough in numbers to wage a small war in my refrigerator.


So today, I'm trying a recipe from one of my books for "Carrot Cake Jam." It has pears, pineapple and carrots. Ya gotta love a jam that has "cake" in its name, right? So we'll see. Supposedly this jam will taste like carrot cake, and I do loves me some carrot cake. I'm skeptical, but it's worth a try. There will no doubt be more carrots in next week's share, so what have I got to lose?