2/15/14

How to Spend a Rainy Day

It has been raining non-stop today. That's the Oregon we know. We had plans to go down to a winery today to pick up a wine shipment, but the rain made us decide to stay home. We weren't feeling like being intrepid Oregonians today and opted to stay warm and dry. We can always go tomorrow.

But before I tell you how I used my rainy day, I should tell you what happened yesterday. Of course, Smitty has already told you about our morning yesterday. Mike surprised me with flowers for Valentine's Day.


Isn't that a pretty mix? We stayed home for the evening on Valentine's Day. I made him a classic chocolate mousse from a recipe I found at Bon Appetit, and we had that for dessert. We'll be going out for dinner tomorrow. 

Yesterday morning, Sue and I walked at our usual spot along the Fanno Creek Trail. It's not called the "Fanno Creek" trail for nothing either. There is actually a creek running along side, and when it has been raining most of the week as it has been this week, the creek overflows its banks and reminds us why this area is a designated wetlands. You can see the asphalt of the trail where we stood down in the lower left corner of the image below:


And then if you look all the way over to the upper right corner, you can see where the trail picks up again along with some people and their dogs. Yes, a pretty fair distance to ford...and there we were without our canoes. Oh well. We decided to walk north on the trail instead, but found ourselves similarly bound on the north side as well. So then, we just walked around the neighborhood.

As I was telling one of my friends recently, I've been grading my weeks of exercise since the beginning of the year. My New Year's goal (not a resolution) has been to exercise four days out of the week...two times swimming, at least one time walking with Sue, and then one other time doing something else...most probably, walking. If I don't go at all, I give myself an "F" for the week. Once, equals a "D"; twice, a "C"; three times, a "B"; and if I get in all four times, I get an "A". Since the beginning of the year, I have yet to give myself an "A", but I have earned a few B's, as I did for this week. Last week with the snow and my shoulder acting up, I got an "F". I should be writing these down so that I'll know what my GPA is. Anyway...maybe next week will be the week I can give myself an "A". Nevertheless, I have lost five pounds with my new exercise program, and so I am happy about that. Many more pounds to go, but it's a start, and I haven't really changed my food intake at all.

So after walking with Sue, I went to the Backyard Bird Shop to pick up more birdseed. I needed the black oil sunflower seed that we use in our tube feeders, and some of the gourmet mixture that we put in the fly- through feeder, and they also had a sale on suet that I wanted to take advantage of. They also have a really nice little gift shop as a part of their store. Once I had all my seed picked out, I perused the gift shop only to come upon this soapstone cat and mouse. It's a spotted cat!


Well, you didn't think I was going to leave the store without those did you? They've joined the rest of my unplanned collection of cat statuary on the living room wall unit now.

So that brings me to today's doings. Since we decided not to go to the winery, it gave me lots of time to continue on with my Duluth Trees wall hanging. Here's the image from the pattern cover.


As I said in an earlier post, I've been going my own way with this, and it's working out pretty well. When I wrote last, I was making three strips of rectangles long enough to run the height of the quilt.


When I was finished, I had three strips like this:


I ended up using just two of them, as the pattern does, but I'm saving the third one to use in another way...perhaps on the quilt back, or perhaps in a scrappy binding. We'll see. 

Then, I started putting the quilt background together. I used the pattern image as a guide, and I kind of followed the steps in the instructions only to the extent that they told me the order to sew the pieces. The instructions contained some kind of incomprehensible fusing instructions that I gave up trying to understand and instead cut them the way I learned in the "Transforming the Traditional" workshop I attended in January. (If you want more explanation of what I'm doing, scroll down to the bottom of this post right here.)

I'm not doing it exactly the way we learned in the workshop, which I never felt as if I understood completely, but my way works too. I just cut the pieces sort of wavy...but not too wavy, because you want them to lie flat after they are stitched. These are sewn sort of Jean Wells style, and so the waves are very gradual. So I start by laying one fabric on top of the other,


And then I cut very close to the curve of the top fabric, which has the effect of cutting both fabrics so that they fit together like a puzzle. In the image below, I've pulled them apart, so that you can see how they fit together.


Once that's done, I flip the right fabric over the top of the left, discarding the cut-off pieces below and then just stitch along, adjusting the fabric as I go so that I end up with a slightly curvy seam like in the image below. Just press one side over as you would with a straight seam. If I haven't cut the curves too deep, it will lie flat. Also, you want to leave the pieces a little wider than you expect them to finish up because you'll continue to cut them as you go.


So that was the first of the five rectangular panels and then I just continued from left to right across the quilt, using the instructions to cue me which piece to sew next, and using the pattern image to select colors. I added one of the scrap strips to the extreme left side and to the middle, as the instructions told me to do, and then I added an edge on both the right and left side. When I was finished, it looked like this:


When I took the workshop from Lura Schwarz Smith, she encouraged us to leave the edges of the quilt wavy and to even bind them that way. I found myself not really liking the look of that wavy edge, and so I decided to cut my center panel square and add straight cut borders using the right side of the same fabric I'm using for the five center rectangles. Recall that I decided to use the back side of the fabric for those and to use the right side of the fabric for the quilt back. I thought it would be nice to use it for my borders as well. When I quit for the day, my quilt background was finished, and it looks like this:


It's just slightly lumpy in the middle, but I think it will be fine when it is sandwiched for quilting.

I'll work on this some more tomorrow, and I'll add the trees to each of the rectangular panels in the center using a solid rust for the tree trunks and a bright green for the greenery. Check the pattern image above to see what I'm talking about. Those will be appliqued on and then I'll top stitch them close to the edge with a straight stitch.

It's something new for me to be so out on a limb with a design like this, but so far, I'm liking the way it's turning out. I'll show you more as I continue on with it.

15 comments from clever and witty friends:

WoolenSails said...

We got another snow day and still snowing now, but we got out for some supplies before it started. I can't wait till it warms up and we can go walking again. Love the fabrics on your tree piece, that is going to be gorgeous.

Debbie

Vroomans' Quilts said...

I am ready for some outdoor walking - so this snow better go away! Your tree piece is coming nicely.

Tami C said...

You got some really pretty flowers! I don't blame you for not wanting to continue on that trail. You are doing great on your new exercise program!! I like your new addition to your collection of cat statuary! I really like that you used the leaves for your border!

carla said...

Hi!!! I am really liking it!!!! I love the improv feel you are giving it!!!

Denise :) said...

We stayed in last night and hit the town today. Todd took me to Ruth's Crisp for dinner -- yummy!! I *love* the spotted cat and mouse!!! Yes, you definitely had to come home with that pair!!!! :)

Junebug613 said...

Lovely flowers! I adore the cat and mouse statuary! The Blues in your quilt are so pretty. Good for you for stepping outside your comfort zone and semi free - styling!

Lynda Halliger Otvos (Lynda M O) said...

The tree quilt is shaping up nicely. You are smack in the middle of my favorite colors-those of water !~! The cat statuary is stunning. I love it.

Teresa in Music City said...

Yay! That is coming along very nicely :) Your exercise program is a journey - you never start at the goal, you just keep getting closer until you're there :) You'll be getting A's most every week before you know it!

Brown Family said...

That would be a very wet walk! Of course you had to take the spotted kitty and his mouse home! I like the way the quilt is coming!

Celtic Thistle said...

Hope the creek dries up soon so that you can walk wherever you please. The cat statue definitely had your name written all over it :)

Dana Gaffney said...

It's coming together beautifully, I'm really liking the colors.

quiltzyx said...

What? You didn't happen to have your fold-up hip waders in your pockets? Darn! ;) Maybe next time....

Beautiful bouquet, such a nice surprise. I worked at the colleges Friday & my coworker Bev had a bag of dark chocolate Dove candies on my desk when I got there! I was glad that I had made a new style Happy Bowl for her - one with a lid on it. (Of course, I forgot to take a pic of it. Sheesh. It's OK tho', I'm going to make some more!)

You are doing really great on the new quilt. Cutting & sewing those easy/gentle curves is kind of freeing isn't it? I learned that from Debbie Bowles Maple Island Quilts pattern "Pagodas". And using BOTH the front & back of your fabric in the same quilt - genius!

Diane Wild said...

Like, like and like. I also like the colors on your quilt project but I have no idea what you're doing. It made no sense to me but that's because it's Sunday and fixing to snow again. :)

Kate said...

Sounds like you had a nice Valentine's Day. Your Duluth Trees project is looking good.

gpc said...

The quilt's going to be really pretty! Love it so far. Don't worry too much about your exercise grade -- if they grade us on a curve, you'll still be way ahead of me. :)