Something Old, Something New

We survived our trip to the grocery store yesterday. It was surprisingly crowded for a Thursday morning. As my friend "SB" noted, everyone had run out of Thanksgiving leftovers and they were there to restock their shelves. And the grocery store needed to restock its shelves too! I was surprised at how many spaces were empty of what should have been there. Oh well...I got most of what I needed and made substitutions when I had to.

It was after lunch when I was finally able to get into the sewing room. My first task was to finish off the borders on the latest New Mexico Kitchen block.

There was no hand-made fringe on this one. Instead, six of the 12 blocks have a "tablecloth" from which several lines of woven thread have been removed to fray the edges and make fringe that way. It's much easier than the fringe that needs to be added one fringey-fringe at a time. There are still two more blocks like that in my future. For now, I'll rest easy knowing I have eight blocks finished. Four to go.

From there, it was time to get a start on my newest project, French Roses. I'm going to do this one in flannel. I'm embarrassed to admit I have two huge boxes of flannel scraps. When I was a newby quilter, I foolishly put out a call on what was then the "Quilting Board" for flannel scraps. Little did I know how willing quilters are to foist off their scraps on other people. I thanked them for their generosity, and then started saying, "Oh no...I couldn't possibly...wait...no...really...Noooooooooooo!" I think at the other end, people were smacking their lips and saying, "Fresh meat!"

When I opened just one of the boxes of scraps, I vowed to make a spot on my WIP's list for more flannel scrap quilts. Sadie found this all very impressive, and she considered ways she might make a bed from this.

This quilt is made using a technique that was new to me, and so I took the pattern upstairs and sat in one of the comfortable chairs while I read over the instructions. (Admit it...how many of you actually read all the way through instructions when starting a new quilt?) It was actually pretty easy to do. The first step, though, was to make some plastic templates for the flowers and leaves. Fortunately, I had some of the plastic left from a long-ago-given-up-on project. I absolutely hate working with templates, but this is going to be okay. I'll show you in a minute. For now...here are my templates, ready to go.

Next, I cut all the pieces I would need from the background fabric. I cut the borders the long way on the fabric, so there will be no piecing involved. And then I cut 25 10-inch squares for the block backgrounds. Since my quilt is flannel, I'm going to sew a half-inch seam allowance. My experience with flannel is that it frays apart at the seam with a quarter-inch seam allowance. Maybe a half-inch seam allowance will help. So, all of these pieces were cut a half-inch wider and longer than instructed.

Opening just one of the boxes, I sorted out some of the greens to use for the leaves.

Using a pencil, I traced directly onto the wrong side of the fabric and then cut on the penciled line. Next, I was to place the leaves randomly and lay the large flower piece over the top.

Here, the instructions said to remove the flower piece, but I decided to just fold it back to preserve the placement. Then I repinned the leaf.

And then I sewed around the edges. The straight side will be stitched down with the flower.

Then, I repinned the flower for stitching.

It was here, I remembered to shorten my stitch, as the instructions suggested. I'm including this picture for my own reference as much as yours.

Then I stitched around the edges of the large flower. 

Now, here comes the scary part: I was to cut away the background fabric to reduce bulk. As it turns out, this isn't difficult at all. I just made sure I had a good grip on both fabrics, then cut a little snip in the background fabric. Then, it was easy enough to trim it away with a pair of sharp scissors. By keeping my finger behind the tip of the scissors, it was easy to tell I was only getting the background, and not the flower. Here's how it looked when it was finished.

From there, I just added more layers of flowers.

And trimmed from behind.

And then another layer.

And then another layer, and my flower was finished.

Here's how that looks from the back:

While I was cutting fabrics for the flower I was making, I was cutting another set of fabrics for another flower. I'll pin these together in sets, and then take them along when we travel south this winter.

My goal is to make five blocks in each go-round (25 blocks total). If these go fast enough, I might cut an extra five to take along. 

When these are finished, I'll get back to the Ties & Tails quilt. The last time I worked on it, I had it this far. If memory serves, I'll be making another cat like the one at the top right.

It's the last quilt on my WIPs list, and then I'll get on with quilting the Appalachian Memories quilt. So many quilts, so little time.


Above the Clouds

We were feeling pretty smug here at the Three Cats Ranch yesterday. After spending a couple of days in the fog, we were above the clouds yesterday. Those people in the valley were socked in. 

It was warm, too. It felt more like October than the first day of December. We're expecting rain today, so it was short-lived. Oh well. We take what we can get here in the Pacific Northwest. We were very lucky to have escaped the rains they're having farther to the north of us.

My first task of the day was to trace the last Posies block. I selected that little flower print from my multi-colored scrap bin. It was used as a quilt back at some point during the stone-age. It might have been a gift from Wilma Flintstone...I can't really remember.

The machine was already set up for top-stitching...a bonus...and so the top-stitching was done and it was hooped up for embroidery. These fit in my smallest embroidery hoop.

When the stitching was finished, I trimmed it...

And then added the borders. All done.

I'm a little sad to see these finish, but I'm kind of excited to be ready to sew them into a quilt. Here are all the blocks together. 

I'll give them a narrow sashing, and then I have some pretty fabric to use for an outer border and quilt back. 

This will end up a small quilt, and so it will make a good take-along project this winter.

With that done, I got dressed and went outside to enjoy the sunshine and fill the bird feeders. My feline friends went along. Sadie didn't have her mascara on, and so she didn't want her picture taken.

The snapdragon is still blooming, and so I took another picture of it. The one from the other day was blurred, so here's a better look. It's cheery to see that bright color at this time of year.

Back inside, I went to work top-stitching the Biscochitos block. It's a tedious process. I was just starting on the letters when I decided to take a break.

Most of the rest was finished.

When I came back, I finished off the rest of the letters, but there was still hand embroidery to do on the labels for things.

That took about an hour. It was hard pushing and pulling my needle through so many layers of fabric, and it made my broken thumb hurt.

Now all that's left is to add the borders, and it will be finished.

For dinner last night, I tried a new recipe. I forgot to take a picture before it was devoured, but this was a good one. Here's a picture I swiped from the internet:

This is Sheet-Pan Salmon with Sweet Potatoes and Broccoli. I love something that can all be done using just one pan. The original recipe was from Eating Well, which is the publication that replaced Cooking Light. And so it was low calorie, and super easy. I skipped using the cochita cheese and the cilantro. Those flavors seemed wrong to me, and we didn't miss them. 

Next up, I'll be starting a new project...this French Roses pattern. I'll be doing mine in flannels. 

You might remember, I selected this flannel to use as the background fabric.

I'll use this next one as the quilt back when it's all finished.

I have two boxes of flannel scraps. There are 25 blocks in this quilt, and my plan is to make them five at a time. When I make the first five, I'll put together enough fabrics to make another five while we're traveling this winter. I can keep it moving along that way. 

Before any sewing can happen today, we have to do our grocery shopping. It's a long list, and I'm dreading it. When we get back, I'll be able to get back to my sewing. It will be good to finish off the New Mexico Kitchen block. I'm going to love the quilt when it's finished, but making the blocks is a pain.

Okay...grocery shopping is next. Cover me. I'm going in. 


A Short Sewing Day

My goal for yesterday's sewing was to get a start on the next block for the New Mexico Kitchen quilt. This is the 8th of 12 blocks, and so I'm making progress. These are fairly time-consuming, and not necessarily in a good way. They start with making the back. Fortunately, this one has no fringe at the bottom.

When that was finished, I added the applique. 

When that was all finished, I took a break. My plan for the day included coming back and getting started on the top-stitching, but I never did. I took the afternoon off to work on my talents as a slug. Smitty is always in favor of slug practice. He snuggled up beside me on the living room couch, and we had a good old-fashioned snooze fest under the blankets. Sometimes, I just want to get warm.

Each of the blocks for New Mexico Kitchen comes with a printed recipe. Here's the one for this block:

Looks easy enough. Just now I looked up the translation for this. These are a traditional New Mexican cookie. I don't believe I've ever had them. We lived in New Mexico when I was a little girl. Our stay there was short. My mother had serious asthma, and the New Mexico wind and dust gave her troubles. It was the only place my Marine father was ever stationed that he requested a transfer for medical reasons.

So I don't have much to show you today, but there are a few other items to discuss. For one thing, it's time to choose a goal for December's

My goal for December will be to quilt and bind the Appalachian Memories quilt. It's my current oldest UFO.

If you look at my "Quilts in Progress" page, you'll notice that a goodly portion of those quilts need only quilting and binding. I'm taking them from oldest to newest, and I'm hoping to get quite a few knocked off the list in 2022.

Also, the last Posies block has been released, and so that will be my first stop today. Here's the last picture I took of the grouping. The 11th block from last month is missing from this photo.

This is my project for 2021's 

Since we're no longer bound by any color of the month, I'm chosing a multi-colored fabric for December's block. My scraps are organized by color, but not all fabrics are so easily categorized. For those, I have a special bin of multi-colored scraps, and I'll pick something from that bin.

There's plenty on today's agenda. Unless I take a lazy turn, as I did yesterday, I'm hoping to get quite a bit done today. There's one housekeeping chore, and it's probably time to fill the bird feeders again. I'll start with the last Posies block, and then get back to top-stitching the New Mexico Kitchen block. That usually takes quite a bit of time, and so I expect that will keep me busy for the day.


Rural Roads

There was no sewing yesterday. Instead, we spent the day driving from place to place, running errands, and seeing some pretty rural areas. Although we were never more than about 90 minutes from our home, we still managed to see some parts of Oregon we hadn't visited before. Our own place was socked in with fog when we left home. We were only hoping we'd find less as we headed downhill. It turned out to be a pretty nice day weather-wise, with no fog or rain, and even some periods of sunshine. 

We made a stop at the post office to mail some packages. Then, Staples. We needed more printer paper, but we also had two big laser printer cartridges to recycle. I always wonder if the recycling depot is just the first stop on the way to the dumpster behind the store. Whatever the case, they're no longer our problem. 

From there, we headed south toward Salem and the former Witness Tree Winery. It changed ownership a couple of years ago, and has been renamed "Elemental Cellars." I'm sad that it no longer honors the actual "witness tree" on its hillside. Here's a picture I took a while back.

Driving the backroads from McMinnville, we enjoyed the colorful rolling hills. There are some huge farms in this area.

We saw lots of barns.

After picking up our wine, we decided to scout out someplace to have lunch. We drove to Dallas, Oregon, and had some good sandwiches at North Dallas Bar & Grill. There were plenty of fast food options available, but when we travel to a new town, we like to get something we can't get anywhere else. We were on our way to see an exhibit of panels from the AIDS Memorial Quilt on display at Western Oregon University, in Monmouth, Oregon. It's been a while since either of us were on a university campus, and we'd never visited WOU before.

There be wolves here.

The exhibit was a little bit disappointing. I'd only seen one panel of the quilt before, and that was back in the early 90's when I was in graduate school. The one panel I'd seen was an actual 3-layer quilt. The ones we saw yesterday would qualify more as banners than quilts, since they were all in a single layer. Also, they were hanging in front of a window. We were there mid-afternoon, and the bright afternoon sunshine shining through the panels made it difficult to see them. Still, I took a few pictures. It was sad, knowing these people were all someone's child, and they left behind people who loved them and would grieve their loss.

They were mostly single layers of fabric with stitching, applique, and stamped or photo printing. This next one had some hand stitching.

Here's a detail of the section just to the right of middle.

Here's another with some hand-stitching in the lower right.

Here's a detailed photo.

I'd always thought the panels represented individuals, but there were also panels from organizations in support of research into treatment and a cure.

A reminder that AIDS is everyone's disease.

I liked the stitching on this one.

This is another section of the same panel.

When we left the exhibit, it seemed appropriate to find this lone rose blooming outside the building.

If you're interested, you can see all the panels in the AIDS quilt at this virtual exhibition right here. To get a sense of the scale of the whole quilt, you can see an interactive exhibit here where you can zoom in or out to see individual panels or the whole quilt. You can also search for panels by name.

From there we headed for home, seeing more barns along the way.

You can see that the sun is shining in some of the images above. This next photo was taken as we neared our home on Chehalem Mountain, where the ridge-top never broke out of the fog all day.

It was late afternoon when we arrived home, and we spent the rest of the day relaxing. I spent a little more time on my slow stitching, finishing up the next section. 

Now I've moved my hoop to the right, and I'll start working on the barn this morning.

I have a few housekeeping chores to take care of this morning, but then I'll have plenty of time for sewing. On today's agenda is to get to work on the next block for the New Mexico Kitchen quilt. Get ready...December will be here tomorrow.