Tuesday, November 29, 2011

In keeping with the season

11Nov29rusty I can’t stick to a plan. It just doesn’t work out that way. I have very little routine in my life these days, so I take whatever the moment offers me. If it says “clean house”, that’s what I do. If it says “bake”, I’ll go for it.When it says “sew”, I’m all over it. But what to sew is something totally different. I have 895 million projects on the go right now and sometimes it’s hard to make a choice between what I really should be doing and what I really feel like doing. And I have to admit that Rusty and Ginger are really no help at all in situations like this.

11Nov29newmats 11Jan13a Last year I made mug rugs for my co-workers. This year, I’m expanding on that – meaning, I’m making them each two more to go with the two I made last year. I have my first set almost finished. Even I’m astonished. I may get them done in time this year. Last year I was stitching right up until the last possible moment. I started off last week trying to make a set of microwave mitts, and ended it finishing off the first set of “rugs”. I’m just about to tack down the binding. They’re to go with these that I made last year.

11Nov29mitt My microwave mitt ended up looking like a lumpy potato. I was looking at some beautiful mitts over the weekend at a craft fair and the woman who made them did a beautiful job. They were lovely and even and the absolute opposite of mine. (That’s why I practice on old scraps of fabric first.) I went searching for more online information about how to make them, and re-read the instructions VERY CAREFULLY this time, and discovered where I went wrong. I’ll try making another one soon

11Nov29snow I’m afraid the tree skirt won’t be done for this Christmas. Maybe next year. I’ve been trying to get into the Christmas mood, but the chilly weather isn’t doing it. We’ve had a bit of snow, but it comes and then it goes. There is none to be seen at the moment, but we had lots of rain over the weekend. I can’t just pop in a Christmas movie to get into the spirit because my RETIRED partner is home whenever I am and usually watching the television. I may be reduced this year to watching my favourite Christmas movies on my laptop.

Actually, that’s not a bad idea. I can put my laptop on the table with my sewing machine and, as long as the cats don’t sit on it – and how likely is it that they won’t be attracted to something I’m staring at…? It needs a little more planning, but… Did I say plan? Hmmmmm.

Until next time,

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Design Chair

11Nov22stars Yeah, some quilters have really spiffy design walls where they can throw their quilt blocks and move them around to create beautiful and perfect quilts. I have no such thing. But I do have a Design Chair. It’s smaller than the Design Floor, but it eliminates the feline element that automatically goes with laying fabric on a horizontal surface.

11Nov22house But, of course, it cuts down on the size of the “quilt”. Luckily this one is only 10.5 inches by 15. Finished all the free motion quilting today. Looks funny, but I can live with it. It was never meant to be a prize winning piece, and I got to play with some thread that I’ve had for at least a couple of years. I bought this multi-coloured variegated Mettler poly a long time ago to use on another piece, but it didn’t happen. I think it looks not too bad here. Makes it look like a psychedelic Northern Lights. The blue background thread and brown/green thread are also Mettler, but they’re cotton. They weren’t as easy to work with.

11Nov22hanging I’ve signed up for the 2012 Free Motion Quilting Challenge over at SoCalGal's blog because I’ll take all the help I can get. She’s promising some tutorials by FMQ’ers who I really admire.

We’re coming up on another New Moon this Thursday, Nov. 24 at 2 Sagittarius – just after 11 pm Pacific Standard Time. This time it’s in good aspect to Uranus in Aries. Mercury also goes Retrograde on Thursday at 20 Sagittarius and doesn’t go Direct until Dec. 13, which isn’t so hot.

Jupiter is BIG. Big plans, Big spending, Big everything. Sagittarian past times can include a range of activities that include long distance travel (or foreign tastes), philosophy, religion, horses, higher learning, sports, mountain climbing and just being free. Sagittarians are generally optimistic, generous, forgiving and hard to pin down.

The Uranian influence lends genius, surprises, and excitement to this New Moon and will also influence any project you start now. It’s a really good time to haul those Christmas projects out. Just be careful you don’t over estimate the amount of material you need or the time it will take you to complete it.

Have you ever planned a blue Christmas? Sagittarian colours are deep blue, royal purple and pale gold. Don’t forget to add in some electric blue for Uranus.

Until next time,

Friday, November 18, 2011

Summer, we hardly knew ye

11Nov18snow It’s getting harder and harder to ignore Winter, especially when I have to drive in this ugly stuff every day. In the morning before I go to work, I brush the snow out of the bird feeders and replace the lids that the wind has blown off overnight. Repeat when I come home from work, plus go look for the garbage can and rescue it from wherever it has blown to. Okay, I’m ready for Spring.

11Nov18thread I decided to try a different FMQ design on my little cabin in the woods – something simpler and smaller, more suitable for a small piece. I also changed the foot from a darning foot to the clear plastic crosshatch foot which goes over seams much easier. The darning foot kept catching on the seams. I was making some headway yesterday morning when the bobbin ran out of thread. Sigh.

In my last post I forgot to include a couple of recipes that I made for our Thanksgiving supper back in October. The U.S. Thanksgiving is this coming Thursday and I’m sure new tried and tested recipes are always welcome: Wild Rice and Apple Cider Pilaf and Crustless Pumpkin Pie. The pilaf included apples from our backyard tree and it was soooo good. And so was the pumpkin pie – all the pumpkin taste you want in your pie in a delicious creamy – and firm – base. I’m not a big fan of crusts, or bread or anything that uses flour. I don’t have any unusual problems digesting it. It’s just not my cuppa tea. I also make a wonderful crustless quiche. So, on to the recipes.

Crustless Pumpkin Pie
1 (15 ounce) can pumpkin
1 (12 ounce) can evaporated skim milk
2 eggs
1/2 tsp salt
1/8 tsp ground cloves
1/2 Tbsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp vanilla
1 cup brown sugar

Combine all ingredients and beat until smooth. Pour into 9-inch pie pan sprayed with cooking spray.
Bake at 400 F for 15 minutes; reduce temperature to 325 F and bake for 45 minutes more. Pie is done when knife inserted into center comes out clean.

Wild Rice and Apple Cider Pilaf
2/3 cup wild rice
2 cups unsweetened apple cider
1/4 cup butter or margarine
1/2 cup sliced almonds
1/2 cup golden raisins
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1 fresh apple, peeled, cored and chopped

Wash wild rice and drain. Combine with the cider and 1 cup water in a saucepan. Bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce heat to low, cover. Simmer until rice is tender, but still firm, 30 to 40 minutes.
In large skillet, melt the butter; add the almonds and raisins. Cook, stirring, until almonds are light brown, about 5 minutes. Add the salt, pepper, cinnamon and nutmeg. Stir in the chopped fresh apple and the wild rice. Cook until warmed through, about 1 minute. Serve warm.

You can use brown (or white) rice instead of wild, although wild rice looks more interesting and has a very nice texture in the mouth. A great dish to serve up on a cold night.

Until next time,

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

I’d rather be on a beach

DSC_1432 With my sewing machine. Because I’m not getting a lot done here. Besides my 50-plus hour a week job, I make and print note cards, business cards, photographs, etc. for a bit of extra cash. Some months are busier than others, and November has been pretty busy so far. As I write this, I’m running some Christmas cards off on my other computer. And then there’s my partner, who has become a television addict since he retired two and a half months ago. If I want to sit at my sewing machine, I have to at least listen to whatever he’s watching, and it’s driving me a bit nuts. I need a good set of headphones to drown it out.

11Nov16a   Nonetheless, I continue to work on a few things. I began to quilt my cabin under the stars. As usual, I did more un-stitching than anything else. Could have been 11Nov16b partly because of the crummy old fabric I used as backing. My “pebbles” look kind of funky. Not very round, but acceptable. I used a variegated Mettler thread for them. Then I tried a simple leaf and look design on the background and ran into tension troubles that I couldn’t ignore. I’ve finally got all the threads out, but I need some time without the television on in order to concentrate on my FMQ.

I’m also working on some Christmas present mug rugs for co-workers and some fingertip potholders that might become Christmas presents. I’ll be happy if I just get them done in time for this Christmas. And maybe I’ll find time to send some Christmas cards this year too. When reindeer fly.

Until next time,

Monday, November 7, 2011

I refuse to believe it

11Nov7pumpkin There was no snow in the weather forecast, therefore, this did not happen today.

A quick post to say I’m still here. I just came off a 60-hour work week, and from now until Christmas will probably be the same.That means not a lot of quilty stuff going on here right now but I’m still working at it whenever I can. Hopefully, one day soon I’ll surprise you with pictures of some beautiful quilt finishes. 11Nov7apples Until next time,

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Look at meeeeeeeee

11Nov1ginger Like most cats, Ginger has to be the centre of attention. Even if she’s been sitting on my lap for the past hour. Here she is holding down two pieces of a compass rose while I take a picture of them. This is the centrepiece of Nancy Rink’s Mariner’s Watch, a paper piece pattern that was featured in the June/July 2011 issue of Quilt. I had put it away for another day when I felt more able to do what looked like a complicated pattern (actually, it wasn’t complicated after all), but I was looking for something to do a couple of weeks ago and decided to give it a try. I still haven’t attached the centre piece to it, nor the outside piece that forms the square. The instructions weren’t part of the magazine instructions, so I guess you’re just supposed to know. Or else buy the entire pattern. I’ll figure it out.

I’ve been working on this little wall hanging since September. It was supposed to be a raffle prize but the raffle came and went and I’m still working on it. Only, there’s no longer a rush to get it finished. Don’cha just love that? Anyway, while I’ve been debating how to quilt it, I was thinking of the quilters who place a large transparent overlay on their top and sketch out their quilting stitches on it, and it came to me that I could turn a photo of my hanging into a black and white line drawing (because it’s small enough to fit on a page and still be large enough to see clearly) and do the same thing. I use Adobe Photoshop to process and store my photos, and I used the filter called “photocopy”.

11Nov1doodleA 11Nov1doodleB I don’t know if I’ll stitch it like I’ve drawn, but it’s a start and a really good way to get over the indecision on how to start.

11Nov1leaves Fall is upon us and Winter approaches. The winds have been cold and nasty for the past few days, and although I finally fastened down the bird feeders in the front yard so the seed won’t get dumped on the ground this year, the wind has destroyed my little greenhouse on the deck. It’s two years old and the wind has left the cheap plastic roof in tatters. I repaired some tears last Spring with clear book binding tape, but this is beyond repair. Nothing to do but salvage the nice long zippers and try to sew a new cover for it next year.

Until next time,