A Few Little Things

The last three days have been pretty much NBS (Nothing But Sewing), but today will be a NSD (No Sewing Day). I hope you're writing down these quilters' acronyms. Today I'm having breakfast with Matthew. His main squeeze Valerie has a birthday tomorrow, and Matthew's birthday is exactly one month from today. I have a co-birthday gift for the two of them, some bread, and the requisite frozen soup. As I foist off my soup on friends and family I just remind them that everyone has to do their part.

As for yesterday's sewing, I finished off the final two blocks for the Precision Piecing Challenge. First, the Friendship Star. This is one of my favorite quilt blocks. As it was being sewn together, it occurred to me that it contains all the fun of a pinwheel in the form of a star. You can't beat that.

It was sewn together wrong on the first try, and so I had to take it all apart. It's bad enough to be sewing such tiny pieces. Unsewing them is even worse.

The last block was the good ole' churn dash. 

And there they are...all five little blocks. Each one measures 2 inches (unfinished). The smallest pieces were 3/4-inch squares. 

It seemed as if I should do something with them, and so I laid them on this piece of fabric from my scrap stash.

And then what could I do but sew them into this little mini quilt. It ended up at 8-1/2 inches square. It's name is "At a Minimum." It'll go into the camper to be used as a hot pad.

It's a little distorted, but I'm forgiving myself since it's only my first attempt at something so tiny. Those little blocks couldn't tolerate much quilting, and so it's quilted with a simple stitch in the ditch and a straight stitch around the inner border. Here's how it looks from the back.

That was kind of fun. As with anything, practice makes perfect. I picked up a couple of mini quilt patterns a while back, and it would be fun to try one of those. It was nice to be able to dig into and use some of the tiniest scraps.

After that, it was time to work on Block 11 of the Solstice Challenge. Being March 1st, I'd already found some fabric for "In like a lion, out like a lamb." For this quilt, it's best to choose fabrics with a small scale, although it's mostly from scraps in my stash.

Block 11 is called "Quilter's Math," and here's the finished block:

That was all the sewing for yesterday. I hadn't intended to spend the whole day sewing, but then....what else am I going to do? Bake bread? Well, actually, I did bake some bread. It's the same loaf I've baked several times now, and since I didn't take a picture of yesterday's loaf, I'm recycling an old picture.

Initially I was thinking of getting the bread to baking stage, and then refrigerating it for baking this morning. It sat in the refrigerator for about two hours, with me checking it compulsively. I was worried it would deflate and be ruined. Eventually, it seemed as if it was better to run the refrigeration experiment on a loaf I wasn't planning to give away, and so I ended up baking it just before dinner last night. It turned out fine, but I do think refrigerating and baking it at a somewhat cool-ish temperature probably reduced the "oven spring." It didn't rise apart where it was scored, but it still has a pretty face. Matthew will be happy with it.

So here are some notes to self about the bread baking. For one thing, I've come to believe that there is an art to bread-baking. What works in my kitchen won't necessarily work in yours, and that goes for the recipes in the cookbooks. After having baked about a dozen loaves, I've figured out the best places for proofing. The proofing box is my first choice, but sometimes there are reasons I can't use it...too many loaves on a large baking sheet won't work, for example, because there isn't enough room. When the proofing box isn't an option, setting the dough on a heating pad (set on low) in a drawer works well. Also, the cupboard above my countertop is fairly warm because there is lighting under the cabinet that warms the lowest shelf. Others have mentioned setting their dough in a turned-off oven with just the light turned on, although I haven't tried that.

Sitting in my refrigerator are two starters that began their lives right around New Year's Day, and so they are two months old now. They require feeding about every fifth day.

Each weighs 300g and so feeding is accomplished by pouring off 150g, and then adding 75g of flour and 75g of water. If I'm planning to bake bread, I save the poured-off portion, let it sit at room temperature, and feed it daily. The more time I give it, the more vigorous it becomes, and the faster the bread rises. It seems to hit maximum vigor about about three days.

So far, I've only been using the white starter, and so I'm feeling guilty about the whole wheat starter. It always looks so sad and lonely sitting there, and so I'm going to try baking a whole wheat sourdough sandwich bread with it. First, however, I'm going to make a second attempt at the peanut butter and jelly bread. (The whole wheat starter won't mind because the PBJ bread uses baker's yeast.) You might recall that my previous attempt at PBJ bread turned into a bread-centered cinder. This time I'm trying a different recipe and hoping for better results. As a bonus, both recipes make two loaves.

In addition to having breakfast with Matthew, it's a grocery shopping day, and so there won't be any time for sewing. On Friday I'll start working on the EI-EI-OH section for And on that Farm.

12 comments from clever and witty friends:

QuiltShopGal said...

I think you did a fantastic job making miniature blocks, as part of our #PrecisionPiecingQAL. Love how you turned them into a hotpad for your camper. great idea.


Lynette said...

Whoa - yeah those tiny blocks are even crazier than Dear Jane to work on, I'm sure!

Vroomans' Quilts said...

You did very well for you first attempt at ultra-mini blocks and love that you made them into something useful (and pretty). Love that lion/lamb print for your Solstice block - how clever.

claudia said...

Your squares all turned out so cute! I was thinking about turning mine into pillows...well, wait, adding them to fabric to make a pillow or five. I think that would be cute to have pillows with one of those offset on it somewhere. I think the hot pad for your camper is a great idea!
Bread...yum! I have just lost just over 27 pounds and I would love to eat a loaf of bread, warmed with butter please. But; I don't want to put that weight back on! :(

Brown Family said...

You did a great job on your first micro mini blocks. Turning them into a mini quilt is a cute idea!

Sandra W said...

The mini quilt is very nice. I think I'd be inclined to hang it on a tiny wall. It might get marked up as a hot pad--and that would be sad. (That rhymes).

Gretchen Weaver said...

I also baked bread yesterday but I use a ww sourdough starter. I add some white flour to the dough to lighten the bread. It was delicious. Today it is crockpot chili soup, sliced cheese and home made bread, delicious!

Wendy Tuma said...

Those little squares are pieced, not paper foundation -- oy! I like the lion and lamb fabric. I'm so far behind on the Solstice I'm not sure I'll catch up. I agree that bread baking is an art. The one thing I don't have in my kitchen is a scale, and I think I'd be much more successful if I had one. You have such happy looking starters! Hope you have a fun day with Matthew! Happy Birthday to them both!

beaquilter said...

adorable! I need to try these blocks too, I love tiny blocks

Robby H. said...

Bread baking (well, most all baking) is an art. In the winter one sure way for me to get things to rise is to run the rinse cycle on my empty dishwasher. When it stops, I slip in the tray or trays of bread, rolls, etc. and they have a cozy warm and humid environment to go to town. I learned that trick from a professional baker and it's especially helpful where I live because our air is very dry. Just thought I'd pass that along.

Kate said...

Oh so tiny pieces! I like your new hot pad, what a great way to use up your practice pieces. I agree that bread baking is an art. My Guy loves playing around with all those bread recipes, he's got notes on top of notes on his favorite recipes.

quiltzyx said...

Nice, new hotpad for the new camper - with those teeny little quilt blocks! Yay!

Mmmm, more bread. Lucky Matthew & Valerie!