Wednesday, May 27, 2015

A Pair

To get a good distribution of fabrics throughout the sashing blocks for Danuta's Garden I started work on three strips at the same time. When last I posted I had finished the first of the seven long sashing strips that I need (29 four-patch squares long); now there's a pair of them finished.

It's nice to see the second one come together relatively quickly - it was about half done when I picked it up. There is a third strip that has about 15 blocks in it right now but I'm almost thinking that I will begin one or two more strips before finishing this one up and then add on to all three simultaneously, just to keep the fabric mix working.

I also started piecing three more stars for the outer border. Time to dig and find a few new prints for the stars.

A pretty haystack of little threads from the tiny squares...M

Saturday, May 23, 2015

Progress, and My Sweet Tooth

I'm in a bit of a groove with piecing tiny four-patches for Danuta's Garden, and happily so. It's taken a while to feel like there's any traction with this one, but I think I might be over the hump. All credit is going to having everything collected and in one place rather than helter skelter around the house.

It doesn't look like much but this little bundle of joy is my latest bit of progress. They need some quality time with the iron right now to press those seams open, and after that it's full steam ahead on the sashing.

Out of the blue today I decided that I needed some chocolate chip cookies - chewy, nutty, chocolate chip cookies. My go-to recipe has rolled oats, dried cherries and nuts with cinnamon and nutmeg thrown in for good measure, but this time around all I wanted was nuts & chocolate. And I found the perfect recipe in Butter Baked Goods by Rosie Daykin that Stephanie gave me for Christmas a year ago.

They are loaded with nuts, both pecans and walnuts, and are fabulous. Baking the nuts for about 8 minutes before adding them to the dough really helps their flavour shine through (I always roast my nuts when baking). I have to confess that there was a bit of dough sampling happening and it was as good as the final product.

I used a scoop to drop them onto the pan but I think it's smaller than the one used by Rosie because I ended up with probably double the 30 cookies that the recipe said it would yield. Tough problem to have :).

The recipe suggested freezing some of the dough balls instead of baking them all at once so that they are ready to bake and be enjoyed fresh from the oven, so I did. I've not done this before but I think I'll do it more often. Right now though, I have a date with the iron....M

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Work On

I'm continuing to putter at hand stitching the sashing strips for Danuta's Garden and I've now got the first of seven 29-block four-patch strips finished.

For whatever reason, parts of this quilt were strewn across three different rooms - and that doesn't include the sewing room (!) - so it was time to collect everything and try and get a little more organized.

In the process I started getting subliminal messages. See the 'work on' in this pic?  Looks like a sign to keep going on this one. :)

Still loving how these little gems look when they are all strung together.

Over the weekend the Official Cookie Tester's sweet tooth kicked in so I tried a new recipe - Banana Sour Cream Coffee Cake. I never would have thought of putting banana into a coffee cake, but man, it was good. And the sour cream kept it nice and moist til the last crumb was eaten. I almost didn't make the glaze (you know - maybe cut back a bit on the sugar - ha!) but it was the perfect ending to the strata of pecans and cinnamon that ran through the cake. Yum!...M

Monday, May 18, 2015

Going Modern For The Blogger's Quilt Festival

As Amy's Blogger's Quilt Festival rolls around each Spring and Fall I find myself wondering if I will have anything to submit (it has something to do with making all kinds of quilt tops but not quilting them...). Well, this time around I seemed spoiled for choice because I had three that I considered entering. How did that happen?

I've decided on Sea Glass. It is probably the one that challenged me the most because the colour selection is not in my traditional wheelhouse. That said, by the time it reached the finish line, I was smitten. Which category to enter it into was a bit of a toss up - it could easily be Scrappy (but it wasn't from scraps) so the colours and prints tipped it into the Modern category for me.

This was a commission for my friend Jean - a wedding gift for a very special niece - the only request was that it be in soft blues and greys with a little cream or white. After that, I could do as I liked.

Seemed easy enough. That was until I tried to find fabrics. Oh, and then decide on the pattern. "I trust you totally", was all the direction that I got. Gulp. It's hard enough picking a pattern and fabrics for someone you know, but for someone that you've never met??? A little pressure started settling in.

Needless to say, as I bought fabrics I was all over the map and I ended up not using many of the greys - it just need to be brighter. I tend towards a more colourful palette so there was lots of second guessing as this one came together. I also played with lots of alternative layouts but ended up with the square on the point that I had started out with and it was a good decision.

It was beautifully machine quilted with a delicate blue thread in a great feathered swirling pattern by the talented Roberta at Cocoa and Quilts; the swirls soften the geometric design perfectly.

And the light grey and cream print that it is backed and bound with was a contribution from my friend Linda's stash. It seemed made for it - something borrowed, something blue....

At 56" x 70" it was a good size as it was intended to be draped over the back of a sofa. Start to finish it took about four months which, for me, is pretty amazing (gotta love a deadline). It totally helped that it was machine quilted, otherwise the newlyweds would be celebrating their silver anniversary and still wouldn't have it if they were waiting for me to hand quilt it.

But enough about me. Make sure to check out all of this Spring's entries for your fill of eye candy and to vote for your faves...M

Friday, May 15, 2015

Hidden Talents

Every now and then you see a quilting project from my friend Linda, but I'm here to tell you that she's talented in more ways than one. For years she and Jane have been making pretty cards and now she's taking it to a whole new level.

There's an artists co-op nearby that runs through the summer and she has been accepted to sell her cards there - quite exciting. So, she's been busy making samples to present and more recently, creating an inventory that she can take to the shop. She dropped by Jane's cottage with a beautiful box of show and tell as Jane and I were putting up a new kitchen backsplash.

She has such a knack for this! There's cards for all different occasions...

and darling little gift tags...

and another.

She also stamped and embossed these cute little tags for food gifts.

I know that she'll do well with them and thought you'd enjoy seeing them too.

And that's not all. She's a whiz at making jewelry, earrings in particular. She made me this lovely custom pair of 'Quiltbee' earrings and I've been wearing them ever since. Aren't they great?? How many bloggers have earrings to match?! :) Such a talented gal!....M

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Saying Thanks

Remember when I was making Sea Glass and Linda offered up the perfect grey print for the backing? She very generously just gave me the fabric and I've been looking for a way to say thank you. Well, on the weekend I finally did. She's a fan of pincushions and of birds so I cross stitched this pincushion for her.

It's a sweet pattern that her sister Jane sent me from Pinterest a few months ago and it just seemed like something that Linda needed. It has been years since I've cross stitched on linen and either the weave has gotten tighter or my eyes have gotten weaker (I'm going with option B on this one) so it took a bit to get it right, but with a good lamp I was off and running.

The pattern more or less dictated that the piece would be long and narrow so I set to work finding a backing and a little trim to finish it off. The red gingham is a piece that mom picked up years ago on a trip to the States so it was nice to be able to incorporate that as well.

It's filled with lavender scented walnut shells so it smells lovely. This was the first time that I had used this filling and, while I like the weight it gives the piece, I have to say that it's a tad floppier than I would have liked, but I couldn't figure out how to stuff it more and still sew it closed.

I'm sorry that it has taken so long to be delivered but she was happy with her new little friend and I suspect it will be well used. I also have a heart garland for her that Julia made but it was AWOL from the gift bag so now I need to figure where I've laid it. If I only had a brain....M

Friday, May 08, 2015

Round And Round

I think that my recent quilting funk might be tied to Danuta's Garden. I'm just not feelin' the luv. I do love the sashing but the 9-patch blocks are leaving me flat. The stars I like, because I like stars, but together they just aren't getting me overly excited about stitching. It seems terribly predictable, but maybe its just a hangover from working with the large lush Kaffe prints on Bohemian Stars. Could it be Spring Fever?

I needed some perspective. So I dragged the small design board into the hallway to play with layout options in the hopes that I would see something through the camera lens that I'm not seeing face to face.

What about just the stars? That way the pieced sashing would really shine.

Or what about stars on the point?

Or maybe stars in the middle and 9-patches around the edge?

Or maybe back to the original with the 9-patches in the middle and the stars around the edge like the original pattern, but on point? Nothing jumped out at me as the final solution. Maybe I should just stay the course, make more blocks and work to the original layout. Any preferences?

So what do you do when you're stuck? Why, bake, of course! We're in the middle of a stretch of incredibly warm temps for this time of the year so the rhubarb seems to be jumping out of the ground. I want to use up what's still in the freezer from last year so I made two little loaves of Orange Rhubarb Bread, much to the delight of the Official Cookie Tester. The sour cream gives it an incredibly silky texture and the rhubarb, orange and walnuts are a wonderful combination. It didn't clear my mental log jam but it did give me food for thought....

Sunday, May 03, 2015

The Secret To A Fast Finish

Sometimes finishing up a quilt top seems to take an eternity but this star top - I'm going to call it Bohemian Stars - wasn't one of those times. No-sir-eee, this one came together in record time. My secret? Honkin' huge borders.

I really wanted as much of the paisley print to show as possible and also wanted to maximize the size of the quilt, so I made the borders half the width of the fabric, about 20" finished. I'm really happy with the result - it's about 75" x 87", which isn't bad considering I didn't think that my little pile of fat quarters was going to amount to much.

The colours look much better in natural light. For a while I was a little worried that the border print was too muddy for the prints in the star blocks, but all is well when you take it above ground :).

Love how the white stars sparkle against the colours of dusk.

It will be backed with the paisley as well so I'll put that together and bundle it off to Betty. She wants to quilt it and I'm looking forward to seeing what she comes up with....M

Saturday, May 02, 2015


After what seems like forever, I finally sat down at the machine and put together the stars for this top which, ironically, went together really quickly because the blocks are so large. I was on a roll, so I started on to the borders. It felt good to finally feel like I was getting something done. The last few weeks have been hurky jerky (sp?) and I just felt like I was spinning my wheels and not really digging in to anything.

And I think that this is the reason. My cutting table has been totally consumed with the pile of fabrics for Danuta's Garden. I haven't really been feeling the love on that one lately either so the cutting stopped, and so did everything else it seems, because that's the table that my machine is on too. The hand sewing was fine, but even that wasn't getting me too excited.

So, in true fashion, I cleared the pile to one side and worked over/around it to cut the borders and get a little sewing done. The centre panel is together it's just to finish up the borders. It feels good to have that blockage cleared, at least a little bit....M