Sunday, November 29, 2015

One For You, And One For Me

Years ago when I lived in Toronto I loved going to the One of a Kind craft show with my good friends Dawn and Nancy. It continues to be an amazing testament to the talented artisans in this country and was always a great place to do Christmas shopping. It's also where I learned to appreciate Dawn's approach to for you, and one for me. Works like a charm. :)

I decided to apply the same theory to my table toppers. Since I was making one for me, I made a second one at the same time (sound familiar?). Anne had wanted to buy one at the Holly Bazaar but missed out on her chance so this seemed like a great (very belated) birthday prezzie.

I got them quilted but I have to say that it wasn't all smooth sailing - the tension gods were not with me (in the end, two different threads, I think). Actually, there ended up being quite a bit of tension by the end of it all, but not the kind I had in mind. My topper was basically quilted twice because I ripped out much of the first quilting. Not what you are hoping for when you're looking to sit and enjoy hand stitching the binding, but I got there - eventually.

Both are backed with a happy green print and bound with a little red gingham for the final touch of cheer. And I found a great red and white string to use as a hanger for the little red felt hearts so I made a few of those as well.

Thanks for all the great comments on the table topper the last time I posted about it. Several of you asked about the size of blocks that I was using. The prints and the centre white block are 3.5" and I used 2" white squares for the star points. The topper finishes off at 18" square. Now all of you who said you were tempted to try one yourself are good to go....M

A Cookie Bee

Some days you really, really understand how blessed you are, and yesterday was one of them. It was our annual Cookie Bakeoff and eight of us (plus three teenagers who popped in and out of the action) got together to see how many different combinations of butter and sugar we could bake.

We've been doing this for so many years now that it doesn't take long for the day to develop its own rhythm. Everyone carves out their own little station for mixing dough, rolling out cookies, decorating, packing tins or washing up, and there's an easy flow of bodies moving from one area to the other throughout the day.

Betty's home was filled with yummy smells coming from the oven and it was wonderful to just listen - to the different pockets of conversation, the spontaneous singing of a Christmas carol, hilarious storytelling.

My dear friend Lori has been wanting to join in the fun for years and this was the year we were finally able to make it happen. Any fears that she had of not being up to the challenge were quickly put to rest - she jumped right in and it was like she had always been part of the crew. She said it was like a quilting bee, only with cookies. Made lots of sense.

Much as it's great to stock our freezers with goodies (we made over 2,000 cookies in about 8 hours) it's the magic of friendships old and new that really carries the day....M

Friday, November 20, 2015

Resistance Is Futile

It's back to stars this week - seems hard to stay away from them lately. The Official Cookie Tester really liked the table toppers that I made for the bazaar and has requested one for our table, so I'm striking while the iron is hot.

Maybe it wasn't hot enough. I was obviously on another planet when I started trimming the pieces with the points...really, what was I thinking?

This is what it should look like.

This time around I laid all of the blocks out before I started sewing so that I could get a sense of fabric placement. The first two that I made I had just made it up as I went. This was faster and more organized, at least until I started trimming :).

Seemingly in spite of myself I have managed to get everything together and ready to quilt.

I'm happy that I've found a project to use that mitten fabric in. I've had it for a couple of years now but never seemed to be working on the right project to use it....M

Monday, November 16, 2015

Hand Work

I thought that I had finished with the Christmas crafts when the prep for the bazaar was finished but found myself putting together another batch of hearts over the weekend.

Once they are prepped and ready to go they go together relatively quickly, and it's easy stitching in front of the TV watching football with the Official Cookie Tester. I'm not quite ready to head back down to the sewing machine again so this was a welcome respite....M

Thursday, November 12, 2015

The End

When the KitchenAid hits the counter it's a sure sign that it's the beginning of the end of the bazaar prep.

White Chocolate Gingerbread cookies were first up and gave me a chance to break in new cookie sheets that Anne had gifted me a while back. They are huge - 15 x 21" - the full size of an oven rack, which means lots more cookies to a pan (35) and much less jockeying around the kitchen switching up cookie sheets. And the cookies release beautifully. Happy, happy, happy. Thanks Anne!


I also made Triple Chocolate Chip Cranberry Oatmeal cookies, but because I didn't have milk chocolate chips in the house the 'triple' became 'double'.

There was also a batch of Apple Pecan Cake that I made in eight small Bundt pans. I've made the cake this way tons of time but today they decided to be picky and not release from the pans. Fun. After much prodding and convincing I had six cakes ready to be packaged; the Official Cookie Tester was quite happy sampling the two rejects with a cup of tea.


I've just packaged up some Social Tea Squares, so the kitchen is now officially closed. Sometimes I think that the parcelling takes as much time as the baking but when you see everything together you realize why you do it.


And, the last six hearts are finished too (bonus!) so everything is ready to go. Whew!....M

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Christmas Stockings For The Pile

Three days to go, so it's almost time to wrap up the stitching and switch over to baking a few things for the Holly Bazaar so I've finished two Christmas stockings (actually, these are stockings two and three - the first one has been given away already).

We've got a stocking pattern that we've been using for years but I wanted to see if I could get one that was a little more elongated with more of a pointy toe so when we were at Jane's cottage a couple of weeks ago Betty kindly drafted a new pattern for me and cut the makings of three stockings.

I put them together using Cluck Cluck Sew's tutorial for a lined stocking with a cuff. It's quite fast and worked well, but I think I'd also like to try the new stocking pattern and bind the edges the way I'm used to doing it and see what that looks like. They are lined with a fun red and green gingham.

Both the front and the back of the stocking are quilted with a diamond grid, which is a little different than the tutorial - she just quilted the front - but I like the body it provided.

So my little pile of goodies is almost finished.

Almost. I know that the little felt decos that I make are popular so Sunday I cut the makings of 12 of them out to see if I could have a few ready as well. They are all prepped and ready to go and 6 are already together.

I've used a different set of snowflake buttons for them than I have in the past - they are much finer - and I like them....M

Saturday, November 07, 2015

Bustin' Out With Granny

Stars are nice (what am I saying? I love stars!), but I thought it would be good to have at least a little variety in the items for the Holly Bazaar so I switched things up a bit, came up out of my rut, and made four more potholders using the Granny Square pattern. I used this one last year but at a much smaller scale with four rounds of colour instead of three.

This time around I went bigger and I like them just as much. I cut my blocks 2 1/4" so they are seven inches square.

One set was decidedly Christmas...

and the second, while still red and green, could be used year round. I cut up a remnant from my Country Charmer border, added some polka dots and a little dab of my favourite red from Fig Tree, and a potholder was born.

They are very simply quilted, almost in the ditch, along one set of diagonal lines. I tried quilting them in both directions but there was just enough of a shift in the fabric to make the block look a little odd so I ripped that out. I think if I was using a softer insulated liner it might help, but all that I can find in this neck of the woods is the fabric for covering ironing boards, which does the job of protecting your hand but is a little on the stiff side.

So, four more to add to the pile (yay!).

Add that to the four with the star pattern and there's a total of eight, a there's a nice selection to choose from; I think I'll stop there.

These little projects are lots of fun - you get to try new patterns, play with your fabric, and the binding comes together quickly over a nice warm cup of tea....M

Monday, November 02, 2015

Sick Of Stars Yet?

I am definitely on a roll (or is that 'in a rut'?) when it comes to star designs for this year's Holly Bazaar goodies.

The potholders that I made last year were a hit so I thought I'd make some again this year, only I wanted something that worked up fairly quickly since they tend not to charge that much for each item. I had a nice big pile of HSTs that were the trimmings from the Nantucket stars so I decided to dig into them and see how many I could use. Like my very detailed pattern ideas scribbled on the back of my grocery bill while trolling Pinterest?

I trimmed them back to 2.25" and then started playing with layouts.

This was okay...

but then it quickly became this.

Add four scrappy squares for the centre and you've got yourself a star. The block finishes up at just around seven inches, perfect for a potholder.

I'm going to bind and back them with this red and white print that I'm also using to make a few stockings and I think it will make them just a little more contemporary. I dare not get too adventurous 'cause the average age of our guests is closer to 75 than it is to 35, so it needs to appeal to them....M