Saturday, July 25, 2015

Hanging with the Dogs

The Dog Days of Summer are here.  The forecast is calling for 4 straight days of over 100 degrees, and I wish I owned a shady cabin next to a creek, high above this hot valley up in the mountains somewhere. Anywhere.  All I would need is some sewing and a coffee pot.  I could leave right now, stick my bare feet in that cool creek and not come back till October.  Instead I've got a wilting garden and brown grass and I'm so done with the pool chores (I know, I'm actually bitching about having a pool), because it's really too hot to swim, and the only one who goes in lately is the dog.   Blah.  Oh well, just turn on the AC and finish up some quilts.....like Hillside Houses.....
It's wall hanging size 30 x 37, and the free pattern is from prettylittlequilts blog.  I used some of my American Made fat quarters and added a few Kaffe Fasset shot cottons.  I love the backing fabric.  It's a Moda (?) bird panel that I've had for years but never found a use for it.  It shares a lot of similar colors with the house blocks.

My next scrap quilt will be made up of a lot of half square triangles.  I love this block, but hate bending over the table squaring them up.  So I ordered the Quilt in a Day HST ruler and people, trimming these babies just got a whole lot easier.   Wish I 'd bought one long ago.


So yeah, just me and the dogs next week, staying inside, sewing and crocheting while the yard burns.
When I told my daughter I didn't really like summer, she said "Mom you like summer.  You just don't like it here"  Amen.


Sunday, July 19, 2015

The Green One

I confess this one didn't grow on me until I pulled it from the dryer.  The polyester batting that I cursed (loudly) while quilting, redeemed itself by turning the green log cabin blocks into a cozy, snugly, fluffy, take-a-nap-right-now kind of quilt.
My exercise in sewing scrappy one-color quilts from the stash had me really stretching with this green one.  I toyed with the idea of using my good old standby Kona snow for the center squares and sashing, but I was almost out of it.  My inner quilty voice told me to use up the calico. It wasn't my first choice (had I been staring at the fabrics lining the wall of the fabric store), but I went ahead with it anyway.  Instead of contrast, I got a softer, blended, run-together kind of look.
 Then, when it was time to pick a binding and backing, and the floor of my sewing room was strewn with fabrics, and nothing was making me happy and I was cursing (again), my daughter asked if I was going to be making a trip to the quilt shop.  I actually thought about it for a minute.  It would have been easy to run out and buy something new and pretty. Except for rule number one.
Use the stash.
So even if it means I might have to settle on fabric combinations that I normally wouldn't choose,  I'm pretty happy with the results so far.
 From the top: Mostly Yellow (April), Fifty Shades of Blue (May), The Green One (June)



Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Learning

I've been doing a lot of walking the last two weeks.  My mom gave me a Y shaped leash so I can take both dogs out at the same time.  Now I don't have to leave one behind with a pouty face while I'm gone.  It took them a while to get used to it however as they are both leash trained to heel on my left, and the Y shape has them walking out in front of me.  Luna (75 pounds) literally runs Charlie (25 pounds) off the path when they are hooked together like this (she's such a brute) and I've been tangled up in it more than once and fear for my ankles.  The first 10 to 15 minutes of our walk is a sniffing, peeing, whinning(that part is me), comedy routine, but they are slowly getting the hang of it.

I'm sewing the binding on my green quilt, honestly this thing feels like it's taking forever, and just completed the last block on my Hillside houses wall hanging.  So more quilt finishes to come.
Meanwhile I bought a real good used copy of Cooking from Quilt Country, and I'm learning a lot  about how the Amish and Mennonites live in Indiana.  There are recipes for things like Brown Sugar Pie, pork and beans, homemade lemonade in a crock and of course German Potato Salad.  I've been searching for a good pie crust, using real lard, and I think I found it in this book.  Add in photos of Amish quilts and I'm really enjoying myself.

The knitting is going to be a cushion cover.  I'm using Debbie Bliss Sublime dk and some bamboo needles, and this is just my speed.  I started another project (Be Simple Shawl, I love that picot bind off edging)) out of fingering weight on metal size 6's and the slippery factor was too high.  I need to attempt it in worsted weight first. Must take baby steps I think.
Hope you are all having a great week!
Some of my new followers are no-reply bloggers, and I would love to write you back, so if you leave a comment, make sure to check back later in the comment section for my reply.





Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Not quilting


This is me not quilting my green June scrap quilt.  I decided to use my last bag of polyester batting on it and I'm tired of wrestling with it's puffiness under my sewing machine.  It's about halfway done, but I'm taking a break from all things quilty at the moment.  Another small quilt top was finished over the weekend and I'm feeling a little burned out from rushing through it all.  I decided to forgo making a color stash quilt for July as there are too many other quilts that need finishing.
Instead I started the Starburst Flower crocheted blanket from the book The Gentle Art of Knitting by Jane Brocket. With all it's puff and cluster stitches, this seems to be just the right project to eat up my Berroco Vintage yarn stash and get me away from the sewing machine.

And that book.  Oh wow it was good.  I finished it in two days, staying up both nights until midnight.  Anyone read it, or anything else by her?   It's so fun to find a new author and devour everything they've written.  The next book I'm reading is Horns by Joe Hill, which I'm betting is completely different than the one I just finished. Both were borrowed from my daughter, who is in the middle of reading the Outlander series so it will be a while before she gets to them.
I leaving you with a picture of this nest that was found under the Redwood trees in front.  It must have been knocked down from the wind we had last week.  I put my flip flop next to it to get a better perspective of it's size.  The nest measures around 18/20 inches at it's widest point, so I'm thinking it belongs to a hawk. The sad part is, it appears to be unused, as there are no droppings or downy little feathers lining the inside. It either fell before the eggs were laid or it was abandoned.  I read that quite a few owl and hawk nests are being abandoned because of the drought.  The hunting is not good and the males can't keep up a steady supply of food for their mates on the nest.
Anyway what would you do if you found a nest this size?  I already have a preserved robin's nest under a glass cloche (like this) that I've had for years, but this is a monster.  Seems a shame to throw it in the trash bin.
By the way the flip flops are Havaianas.  I buy a new pair every summer and I LOVE them.  Not only are they comfy, but they come in mighty handy when taking photos of large raptor nests.



Thursday, July 2, 2015

Little flag quilt

Every once in a while around the 4th of July, I itch to make something flag-ish. This little quilt was the inspiration, although I changed the block sizes to make them slightly bigger, and drew different birds.  I even tea dyed the white sashing, something I haven't done in years.  You can see in the photo below how the fabric darkened up a bit in the tea bath.  I soaked my quilt top in a big spaghetti pot filled with hot water and 6 black tea bags.  When it got dark enough for my liking I rinsed it under cool water and hung it on the clothesline to dry.
I took these pictures out by the garden, where the tomatoes are really starting to pop out.  I've been eating a toasted tomato and cheese sandwich almost every day this week.
Here's how I make it.
Lightly toast a thick piece of sourdough bread then spread on some mayonnaise.  Next add your just picked tomato slices, salt and pepper, and top with a few slices of your favorite cheese.  I'm really hooked on this one lately.  Put it back in the toaster oven (or under the broiler) for just a few minutes to get it all melty.  Pour some lemonade. If it's nice out, sit on the porch and devour it.  If it's 102 degrees (like yesterday), sit in the air conditioned kitchen.  It tastes good no matter where you eat it.
Almost every closeup I took had a fly on it.  Can you find it?
I ended up tying each flag corner with gold embroidery floss to finish it off.  You can see a few of them above where I was just starting.


Little quilt size 27 x 31 inches
Made with scraps
Backing fabric from French General




Thursday, June 25, 2015

Throwing potatoes

I'm a bit sleep deprived these days. Here in the valley during summer we have a very short season to sleep with the windows open at night. Soon it's going to get too hot and we will have to keep the house closed up and the air conditioner running, sometimes for 24 hours.  But it's not the heat keeping me up at night, it's the birds.
Mockingbirds like to sing at night because all the other little birdies are quietly tucked in dreaming about tomorrows worms, and therefore they have the whole stage to themselves.  With no other noises competing for air space, they sing long and loud to attract a mate.  Long. And. Loud.  Usually right outside our bedroom window.
Wednesday at 3:30 am, after listening to a series of twitters, whistles, trills, squawks, peeps, and a sound that eerily sounded like my daughter calling the dog "Come here!" (Only like a bird on crack "C'mere!C'mere!Cmere!", I decided I'd had enough.  Yes I know, I could have just shut the window, but the breeze was so nice.....
Anyway after slamming the screen door a few time to no avail, I started to look around for something to throw. There was nothing heavy enough in my closet I was willing to risk breaking.  So I went downstairs and pulled a russet potato out of the pantry.
Now before anyone gets cross with me for throwing something at a bird let me tell you no mockingbirds were harmed during Wednesdays' potato toss.  There are 2 reasons why this would never happen,
Reason 1
I am barely 5'2.  The chances of me heaving a potato up into a 20 foot Camphor tree in complete darkness, and actually hitting a bird were very slim.
Reason 2
I really like birds and I was just trying to get it to fly off and find another tree.  Preferably next door.
I also own a  Sibley's field guide, binoculars recommended for use when birding, and have 2 bird identifying apps. on my phone. There.  Not a bird hater.
So.  The potato soared into the tree and landed on the other side with a soft thud, and the bird took off. Finally.  Peace at last.
Back in the house I faced my sleepy husband.
Him: (calmly)"What are you doing?" (Translation, "What are you doing now, Crazy?")
Me: (through giggles and snorts, realizing how ridiculous a 56 year old woman, in rumpled pajamas and wild bed hair must look, throwing potatoes in trees.) "I threw a potato at the mockingbird."
 No need to over explain.  I went back to bed.
Afterwards, when I was almost asleep, I could barely hear the Mockingbird at the back of the property, running through his litany and taunting me with "C'mere!,C'mere! C'mere!"
Yeah I'll come over there alright.  I have a whole bag of potatoes.

The green quilt is almost done, but I'm heading to Napa with the husband for a couple of days.  I will not be bringing any potatoes.

Saturday, June 20, 2015

Summertime blues

The blue May stash buster quilt is done.  I hand tied every other square with black Perle cotton #8 and added a cut-on-the-bias navy and white gingham border.  After a trip through the washer and dryer, (the quilt, not me) I took it outside to snap a few pictures.  It was a hot afternoon, with a warm breeze blowing and I had a hard time getting my quilt holder to focus on her task.
this one is called "quilt with boobs"

Here are the details:
 Twenty five 16 patch blocks made up of 8 light blue squares and 8 med/dark blue squares cut at 3.5 inches
Block size (unfinished) is 12 inches
3.5 inch border using Kona Snow
Quilt measure 63.5 inches
No fabric was bought, all courtesy of Mr. Stash

Three things caught my fancy this week.  This rope bowl, this paper pieced block and this little quilt which I would tweak a bit in different colors, maybe like this. As usual there are not enough hours in the day.  It's a nice place to be :)
 
Now it's onto the porch for some iced tea and hooky time before moving on to the green quilt for June.  Have a great weekend!
a little something for the 4th of July......