12/4/21

A Rose is a Rose is a Rose

When Mike and I got married, I wore a perfume called "A Rose is a Rose is a Rose." I'm not much for perfume, but you know...getting married called for something a little bit special. The perfume was nothing special. I bought it at a department store counter, and it was inexpensive. It really did smell like roses though, and that was the point. And that story has nothing to do with yesterday's sewing, but you know...there's no filter on my tangential brain.

It was a pretty day yesterday, although it was much colder than it has been. Some forecasts called for snow down to our level, but we didn't see anything like that. I kept warm while I did my morning slow-stitching. Most of my hoop was filled, but I didn't want to start on the quilt block until I could capture the whole thing. This morning I'll start there. 


I was out briefly with the kitties and noticed some bedraggled volunteer pansies that refuse to accept the coming of winter.


Smitty was my excellent helper cat yesterday. He used his tail to point the way as I cut out the flower shapes.


As I sewed each flower together, he held them down while I cut the next layer.


And he kept track of the piles I was making to take south this winter.


With so much help, I was able to finish four more flowers for a total of five. That completes the first of five rows.


I'll admit to being not much of a scrap quilter. By that I mean that I use my scraps, but I don't usually make a quilt all from scraps unless I'm using up a collection of bonus triangles or orphan blocks. Also, I make the Rainbow Scrap quilts, but again...I'm only looking at one color and not rifling through a big box of scraps of many colors. There's no reason for this. It just doesn't usually happen.


So, this was kind of fun. The vast bulk of what I have came from other people who are complete strangers, and so it was interesting see what others had in their own scrap bins. These being flannel, there were a lot of baby prints. Also, I noticed lots of frogs. There were a few honoring hobbies like golf and soccer.


You can find Ronald McDonald and friends in the image below if you look carefully. As I was making these, I was just looking for pieces large enough for the template, and then looking for contrast between dark and light. Otherwise, they're just put together randomly. I didn't mention yesterday that the edges are left raw. When the quilt is finished, I'll wash it, and the edges will rag and ruffle. 


In addition to the four blocks, I cut sets of fabrics for ten more blocks, and I'll take these south when we go. It'll be a good take-along project, and the quilt will be more than half finished by the time we return home.


The blocks are easy to make, and an individual block isn't particularly time-consuming. Still, it took my entire sewing day to get all these finished. 

Today I have a couple of things on the agenda. I'm going to bake some Gingerbread Biscotti. It's probably my only Christmas baking this year. I'm still trying to shed some pounds, and it has been *very* slow going. I'm making progress, but Thanksgiving set me back some. Tonight we're going to a Farm & Forage event at a local winery. The whole family will be there, and so it's going to be fun. 

Coincidentally, it's the one-year anniversary of falling on my bike and breaking myself. One year on, my shoulder and thumb still hurt 100% of the time. I can ignore both around 95% of the time, and so it's really not that bad. Although I keep hoping, I'm beginning to doubt I'll ever have full range of motion in my shoulder. My thumb seems to have permanently fused itself at the first joint. It makes gripping a pen difficult, and my penmanship has suffered for it. Oh well. Things could be far worse, and so I count my blessings. As for the biscotti, I'll probably foist some of it off on the kids. I'll have to see how much I end up with, and Mike will have the final say since it's really going to be a treat for him.

Also, I need to make a trip into town and drop off an exchange item at a FedEx box. I bought some shoes online, and I ordered my size. They are about a half size too big, though, and so I'm exchanging them for a smaller size. It's all easy enough to do (despite the drive into town), and there's no extra charge. The one fly in the ointment is that they won't ship the new pair until they have the old pair, and I worry I won't receive them before we leave to head south. That's a bummer, but we can ask a neighbor to pick them up when they arrive. And, if a miracle happens, maybe I'll receive them before we go. I'm not going to hold my breath waiting, however.

Okay, so onward. There's much to do. I'm thinking I'll probably have time to work on the next Ties & Tails block today. We have a fun evening ahead. Get ready for some pictures of yummy food and wine tomorrow.

12/3/21

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.

12/2/21

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. 

12/1/21

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.