10/20/14

Door #8

Today I put the finishing touches on the latest door for the Doors of Ireland quilt. This is the door I'm working with this time around.


It was hard to decide to do this, but I used one of my grandmother's vintage handkerchiefs for the curtains in the windows. They haven't seen the light of day in more than 50 years at least, and I decided it was time for this one to come out into the sunshine, even if it did mean cutting it up. 

First, I fused the black section to the background fabric, and then checked for placement of the "curtains" before ironing fusing medium onto them and cutting them to the right shape.


Once I was satisfied with the curtains, I fused them along with the green window frames.


And since I still had plenty of that handkerchief left, I decided to do the same thing on the main window on the lower left side of the block.


This one was done just the same way as the ones above.


And then I was ready to fuse the pieces for the door and the little top hat for the sign.


When that was finished, I did some top-stitching.


I wasn't exactly sure what was on the little sign between the door and the window. It looked a little like a feather plume to me, and so I used one of the fancy stitches on my sewing machine there.

I realized after I sat down here that I forgot to add any kind of door knob. I'll use some sort of hot fix piece there, but I'll need to do that next time I go into the sewing room. For today, I'm finished with this. Of course, I'll be adding in more details once I have the quilt top made and I'm start quilting it. For now, I've taken this door as far as I'm going to.

The next door I'd like to make for this quilt is this yellow one. I'm choosing the doors based on what I think I'm able to do in the process of turning them into quilt blocks, but also for the color and variety. I don't have any yellow doors, and so I'll do this one next time. It should be a little easier than some of the ones I've done recently.


These are all the doors I've made so far.


Also this morning, I did quite a bit of stitching on my "Never Underestimate" piece. I'm about 2/3 finished with this now. It's coming along, but there is still quite a bit to do.


Tonight is my quilt guild meeting, and so I'm wrapping things up in the sewing room. It's time to get some dinner started and get ready to go.

10/19/14

Another Irish Door

Finally, I'm getting under way with the 8th of my Irish doors. I'm actually not sure how many of these I'm going to do. Originally, I thought I would do twelve, but I might decide only to do nine. Either way, today I got a start on Door #8.

This quilt has been sitting idle since way back in February. It's taken me all that time to decide how I wanted to attack this. When I finish one door, I choose the next one I'd like to make, and then hang it in my sewing room where I can look at it and ponder the best approach. This quilt would not seem complete to me if I didn't include this particular door:


And the block wouldn't seem complete without the sign above the door, "Mad Hatters Dingle". (In case you're wondering, "Dingle" refers to the location of this store on the Dingle Peninsula. It was one of the first places we visited when we journeyed to Ireland back in June of 2012.)

So I considered many options for the name: applique, embroidery, marker. None of those seemed viable options. I've cut some pretty tiny letters and appliqued them before, but these were simply too tiny to consider doing that. Embroidery seemed viable, but I wasn't at all sure I could embroider with enough precision to make it work. I decided against using marker early on. Then my good friend Sue L. consulted someone she knows who is apparently a font guru, and he was able to point me to the right font on my computer. This font is called "Swanky" and it can be found at fontdiner.com

With that knowledge, I decided I would try to print the name to fabric, but even that required some gnashing of teeth. I set aside these two Kona solids to use for my door block long ago.


And I've learned that when one prints to fabric, one must first pre-treat one's fabric with this Bubble Jet Set 2000 stuff. That is what ensures the ink will be permanent.


And I've had this sitting around for quite a while. Today, I was ready to give it a go. It's pretty simple to use. Just pour some into a flat dish and then saturate your fabric in it.


Let it sit for five minutes,


and then hang it to dry.


And I noticed just barely peeking out from under a sticker that the product can be used over and over again. I used a funnel and put the remainder back in the bottle.


While I was waiting for the fabric to dry, I got to work making this month's block for the Block Lotto. 


Join me on the Block Lotto Blog
blocklotto.com


I haven't participated in the Block Lotto for several months, and so I'm glad to be back in the Block Lotto saddle, so to speak. Here's the block for this month, called "Woven Bars".


When I finished with that, my pink fabric was dry. The next step was to iron it to a sheet of freezer paper and cut it to size. Then I tested the size and placement of my lettering. When I was satisfied, I printed it out, and Voila!


I'm going to applique the little top hat onto the "l" in "Dingle" to complete the sign.

Of course, I was grateful for the help of my little sewing buddy today. He walks on all of my fabrics and makes sure everything is done to purrfection.


The other part of this block that has had me thinking for a long time is the striped wall above the door. Should I applique it? Or should I strip piece it? In the end, I decided to strip piece it together. Here's how that ended up.


Then I sewed the top and bottom halves of the block together, completing the background. Now I just need to make the appliques. I've created a little draft template for myself, but I'm going to have to adjust things a little bit, obviously.


And if you look at the image at the top of the post, you'll see that the main door to the store was open, resulting in just a black hole in the middle of the image. I'm just sliding the right hand door to the middle and rearranging things a little to make this block work for the size constraints of my quilt. I have some more ideas about how to finish this block, but I'll save that for tomorrow.

And when that was finished, I was kind of tired of sewing, so I quit for the day. Obviously Smitty was tired too.


Smitty has decided that fall is a perfect time for snoozing next to the fireplace. And who can blame him?

Slow Sunday Stitching: Phew! A Phinish!

This might go down on record as the quickest quilt from start to finish that I've made. What can I say? I wanted a fall table runner and so here it is:


I'm calling this quilt "Leafpeeping". Here's how it looks from the back:


Yesterday I had taken it to the slow stitching phase, and this morning I sat and stitched the whole binding all 222 inches of it. This quilt measures 88-1/2 x 22-1/5 inches.


Now it is fulfilling its destiny as a runner for my table. 


This is my "Let's Book It" project for the month.


It's the "Leaves" project from this book by Kim Schaefer:


This book was purchased on our trip this past month while I was visiting a quilt shop in Wisconsin, so it didn't sit on the shelf too long before I actually made a project from it.

For today, I'm linking up to Slow Sunday Stitching.



10/18/14

Relish the Chutney

Today was a day of self-indulgence. I only did things I love doing, and it was a great day. The morning started off with me making the Apple Pear Chutney I've been talking about. It turned out so nice. The recipe came from Marisa McClellan's book, Food in Jars, which is my current favorite book for small-batch canning.


She has the best recipes for pickles, chutneys, salsas, and sauces. Whenever I get a mind to try something new, I always check her book first. She also has a second book called Preserving by the Pint, although I haven't delved into that one as much yet. Part of the reason I love canning is that it puts me in synchrony with the seasons. The same can be said for cooking, in general. Nevertheless, nothing puts me in such close touch with a season's harvest in the way that canning does.

The recipe promised me a 4-pint yield. I like to use half pint jars for chutneys, and so I gave myself a little extra and sterilized 10 half-pint jars. Even at that, I ended up with a higher yield of 6 pints. I filled and processed the 10 half-pint jars I had prepared, and then filled another pint jar and yet another partial pint that went straight into the refrigerator. I can't just cook something up without also eating some of it, now can I?

So, all of that to say that the recipe makes a lot. My Dutch oven was overflowing when I started out. The recipe was silent on whether to chop and peel the apples and pears, but I figured they have to at least be cored, right? And I feel fairly certain that peeling and chopping was also the right thing to do. I cut mine the same way I cut them for apple pie. These are Jonagold apples and d'Anjou pears.


And you know I'm not a fan of rabbit oofies in my food, but I did use the 3 cups of brown raisins in this recipe. I'm not sorry. They do look a little like rabbit oofies, but I'm not letting that get in the way of spooning it into my mouth with great gusto. 

After it had cooked for about an hour and 15 minutes, there were still large chunks of apple in the mix, although the liquid had cooked down quite a bit. I decided to mash it up some with a potato masher, and that did the trick.


When I decided it had cooked down enough to be processed, it looked like this. Those of you with sharp eyes might see the cinnamon sticks floating in the mix. Those were fished out and discarded.


And when it was processed, it looked like this. I have lots for gifting, which is always kind of fun, especially around the holidays.


I'm thinking this will be delicious spread on a crusty bread with a sprinkle of Gorgonzola or blue cheese. I didn't happen to have any this afternoon, and so I grated some cheddar over. It was delicious.


Mike had to go into town this afternoon, and so he picked up some Gorgonzola. We'll have this with our dinner of split pea soup this evening. Sounds good on a damp autumn day, doesn't it?

And when that was all finished, I headed straight into the sewing room to finish quilting my "Leaves" table runner.


I had a moment of angst thinking I'd been too loose with my meander...maybe it needed more of a pattern. Then Mike came in and admired it without being asked. He scored some points for sure. I'm happy with how it turned out.


And now the binding is sewn on and it's ready for slow-stitching. 


Just as I typed those words, the crock pot beeped, telling me it's time to pull the meat off the ham bone for the split pea soup. So I guess that's next on the list.

It's been a very relaxing and gratifying day here at the Three Cats Ranch. I hope you had a lovely Saturday too.

10/17/14

Noncommittal

Well, my exercise commitment only resulted in a "C" for the week. I think I used up all my resolve while at the dentist's office on Wednesday when I resolved to stay seated through the entire procedure.

This morning I worked on my embroidery, then dutifully did my housework. Then, I decided to do some quilting before heading out to the pool for my lap swim. Then...oh my goodness, look at the time! Not that I was really paying any attention to begin with. And not that I ever had any intention of going to the pool, but there you go. Quilting is more fun than exercise. I finally had to take a break because my wrist was starting to ache. I'm still going to make a quick trip to the grocery store, and so I'll pick it up again when I get back.

As for the quilting, I'm just filling in the open areas with a leafy meander, and a few acorns thrown in.


I got the idea for the acorns from Lori Kennedy at The Inbox Jaunt. I didn't do mine exactly like hers, and my leaves aren't oak leaves. I was showing my practice motif to Mike last night and he said it didn't matter that they weren't oak leaves. Blame him for this inconsistency.

It's going along okay, with only one instance of thread breakage so far.


I started in one of the corners, and I'll just work my way around filling in the spaces around the larger leaves.


It's a simple motif, and I'm always glad when I can actually draw something.


As for exercise, maybe I'll just do a little weight-lifting of my yoga kitty. He weighs all of 11 pounds now. When he's all relaxed in the evening after napping by the fire, I can pick him up and he stretches out to his full length of three miles. Such a funny guy.


And now I'm off to the grocery store. I'm hoping to get the quilting finished when I get back.

10/16/14

Colorful Leaves

It was a good choice to decide on this "Leaves" tablerunner for my "Let's Book It" project, because I am thoroughly enjoying this seasonal project. It was just what I needed after spending the morning licking my dental wounds. Today I finished top-stitching the purple leaf:


Then I sandwiched it...still my least favorite part of quilting.


Here's the fabric I selected for the back...and it's what informed my color choices for the whole quilt as well.


All the while I've been working on this, I've been gnashing my teeth about what color thread to use when I quilted it. I finally settled on this variegated thread. I like using variegated threads for quilting, and this seemed to have the best colors.


Initially, I thought I would stitch around all the applique pieces, but then opted for a more free-form outline of the veins. I'm going to be doing a random leafy vine around the open areas of the quilt, and so I thought I'd stick to the free-form design in the larger leaves as well.


I've done the yellow and the reddish-orange leaf so far, but it shows up better on the yellow...obviously.


Here's how it looks from the back, although it isn't easy to see there.


Then I was gnashing my teeth about what to use for the binding. I considered using the same fabric from the back, but I don't think I have enough of it left over. I auditioned four or five different fabrics, took a picture, and then I was going to let you help me decide. Then, I remembered this one, which I think will be perfect.


And that's where I left it for the day. A good day of sewing.

Tomorrow I really am going to the pool for a swim, and then I'm going to pick up a few things at the grocery store. I got a yen to try some pear chutney (which I've never made before). Then, while looking for a recipe, I found one for an apple pear chutney. It seems I'm really getting into the flavors and colors of the season right now. I need to do a little housework tomorrow as well since I've done almost none this week, but then, I'm hoping to get the quilting finished on this runner. It's going to be fun to see it all finished with that pretty binding.

Also, I want to give this runner a new name. I'm considering Autumn Splendor or Autumn's Rainbow. What do you think? Any ideas for a name?