Thursday, August 20, 2015

Summer baskets

This basket block has been on my bucket list for a while now.  It's from Liberated Quiltmaking II by Gwen Marston.   She shows you how to make a block and attach the handle, then you just kind of wing it from there.  The border fabric from Joann's dictated my color scheme, and the addition of some linen in the background of 3 of the blocks neutralized it a bit.
I only made nine of them, enough to satisfy my need to try it out.  This one measures  40x34 inches, perfect for a wall hanging or baby girl quilt.

There's a lot going on here at Pieceful, so I may be absent for a while.  Enjoy what's left of this summer and I hope to keep up with my visits to your blogs!

Monday, August 10, 2015

Picnics, books and paper piecing

Friday night we went to Durst Winery and had a picnic.  There was salami, cheese, olives, deviled eggs, bread and fruit and mini pies from the farmers market.  We drank wine and listened to the band and talked until the sun went down and the mosquitoes came out.  It was cool for once and it turned out to be a really nice evening.  Thanks to my sister in law Karen and her guy Gabe for suggesting it and meeting us there.  There are so many great wineries within 20 minutes of our house we really should take advantage of this more often.

I've barely been in the sewing room except to retrieve a pair of scissors or iron a blouse.  I read this book, and now I'm off on a tangent reading about Permaculture, here and here.  If you like to garden, this is heady stuff.  I feel as though everything I have ever learned about gardening is all wrong, and I'm blown away by how simple and natural it can all be.  Who knew.
 I'm shamelessly copying this quilt (scroll down a bit when you get there).  I ran out and bought a few fat quarters to add to my red stash.  I would like something to show for this handwork by Christmas, but who am I kidding.  It's going to be a long slow project, and if I did nothing else, I could maybe have a table runner by the holidays.

Lastly, there has to be a place in my yard for this.  If only I could make a chicken coop like I can make a quilt.  I would have coops all over my yard!  A whole chicken village with flowers and pathways and ponds, maybe some ducks too......... 

I have to go vacuum dog hair.
See ya :)

Sunday, August 2, 2015

Busy not sewing

I spent a lot of time in the kitchen last week.  In the garden too.  I'm trying to keep up with the weeding because it will mean less clean up come the end of Autumn.
This risotto recipe was delicious.  I added some zucchini and served it with a salad.  I will be making that again for sure.
I bought two nice bowls and a calico apron, (you know the kind that crisscross in the back?) during a thrift store shopping trip. I really like that blue bowl.
Then I made some granola, using a combination of this recipe and this one. I love to see that big jar sitting on the kitchen counter.
The pumpkins that sprouted from the compost pile are slowly ripening (there are 4 so far), and the cantaloupe are ridiculously sweet. 
The cherry tomatoes are plentiful, yet four feet away, my regular tomatoes are struggling.  The yellow and red peppers are doing great, but my jalapeno plant had exactly 3 peppers and looks like it's done.  That's gardening for ya.  You just never know.
I picked basil and sage, dried them in a 200 degree oven on cookie sheets then packed them into old glass spice jars.  Next week I'll dry rosemary, but not in the oven.  The last time I tried it, my oven and everything I cooked in it afterwards reeked of rosemary for at least a week.  It put me off of using rosemary for a while.  
I'm slowly quilting a small basket quilt and made a few pink blocks (more on that later) for my next scrap quilt, but I just haven't been in the sewing room much at all.  I felt like I needed break, so I'm just going with it.  Hopefully I'll get back into some sort of rhythm here soon.
It's August!  Fall is right around the corner.  Yippee! I can't wait :)

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 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


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.