Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Parched

During the summer in California, the grasses get parched and dry, and most of the state takes on this golden color.  In some parts (like our central valley) the heat can be brutal.  This last weekend we topped over 100 degrees, several days in a row.  Sometimes living here, I feel I don't get to enjoy the summer at all.  It's just too hot.   I limit outdoor activities to early mornings and stay indoors in the air conditioner the rest of the day. When we talk about going on a vacation, I vote for Alaska each and every year.  Why on earth would you want to go on holiday somewhere else where it's hot?

Our air conditioner broke on Friday.  Today is Tuesday and we are still limping along.  I feel like an old damp dish rag at the end of the day.  I think the repair man has a handle on it (finally?), so we should be getting more comfortable in the next day or two.  At least the temps have dropped to 98/99 degrees, and some clouds have moved in.  A veritable cold front.
Since I apparently can't bear to touch yarn during a heatwave, I've switched to projects made out of cool cotton.
I finished my flowering snowball quilt top, part of the Molly Flanders quilt along.  I really loved this block.  I struggled made a few, then discovered glue basting curved seams, and the rest fell into place rather quickly.  As usual, the best part was picking the fabric out of my stash. You can find a you-tube video about glue basting here.
I really think I could have been more accurate had I sewed these by hand instead. So I started another project doing just that!

I bought 8 yards of blue flowered lightweight cotton at a quilt show over 10 years ago.  It's pretty old stuff since there are no markings in the selvage, and it's only 36 inches wide (most quilting cottons are 44/45 inches).  I'm tracing a cardboard diamond shaped template onto the fabric, cutting the pieces out with scissors, then hand sewing them together with needle and thread the old fashioned way.  You can make a whole quilt without a sewing machine, it just takes a little longer.  Anyway after I saw what Kristen made, I just had to take part in this slow quilting movement.
 Sitting on the couch, stitching away on my little cotton diamonds, watching the pile grow and flutter in the breeze of the fan, I'm barely moving, so I don't work up much of a sweat.  Win, win.

I kind of like the soft vintage-y low volume look, but I'm not sure .....

Maybe more contrast is needed.   Like this.....?
What do you think?  Whichever direction I take, I'm enjoying this like crazy.  Very cool.


Thursday, July 24, 2014

A little brown

I haven't posted anything yarny in a while so here's a new shawl on the hook.  I don't know why I picked brown, but I felt the need to take a break from all the color that's been going on here lately.  Something neutral, to wear with jeans and boots and a white tee shirt for when the weather changes (which won't be for months, but that might be how long it takes to finish it).
Here's something else brown.....



Whaaaaat!!!
Luna has a new friend!  I picked him up a few days ago, and he is settling in very quickly.  I'm relieved to say that he appears very happy and well adjusted.  We have all been taking turns playing and cuddling and passing him around like a new toy.  He's an 8 week old Boston Terrier.  I have been looking for one ever since we lost our funny little Chewy last year.  Name changes for this little guy pop up hourly, with suggestions like "Bacon"(who doesn't like bacon?) to "A glutton for punishment"(that from my oldest daughter who has inherited the sarcastic gene.  It's apparently passed down on the mother's side, plus she enjoys reminding me of Luna's antics these past eight months).
However, "Charlie Brown" is sticking.  Sometimes you just know.

The best part is....

 and.......
The devil dog lovely Miss Luna has taken to him.  Brown is good.

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Postcard Quilt

When I saw this quilt over on Debbie's blog, it was one of those "drop everything and make it" kind of moments.  Back in April, I spruced up the downstairs bathroom, and I wanted to make a small wall hanging to match.  This pattern turned out to be exactly what I was looking for.
It's a very clever idea, the big colorful prints being the front of the postcard, and the text fabric representing the back.  I forced myself (ha!) to buy a few fat quarters of text print, and the rest came from my stash.
I was surprised at how many pieces of fabric I had on hand, that matched this colorway.  My stash bucket is kind of like Mary Poppins' bag.  Remember in the movie she reached way down into the bag and then slowly pulled out a floor lamp? (At least that's how I remembered it) That's my stash bucket!
Anyway, I hung the quilt in the bathroom, and it finishes it off nicely.  Definitely worth waiting 3 months to figure out what was going to go on that wall.
You can find the quilt tutorial here, and then go look at the others that were made in the flickr group. Each one is unique!
Thanks Debbie, for a fun quilt!

Monday, July 14, 2014

Crochet rag rug

After sewing together miles of strips.......
and using the simplest of crochet stitches (sc), a rag rug was born.  I love the pretty watercolor effect you get from using different fabrics.
I had fun with this up to the point when I ran out of strips in my scrap bucket.  By then it was almost 3/4 of the way done, and I had to start cutting into bigger fabric pieces and yardage. I had some kind of mental block about that and production ceased for a few weeks.  Then I pulled my finger out, and in a burst of frenzied strip cutting, sewing, and single-crocheting, I finally finished it.
 I was really surprised at how heavy it became as it grew in length.  Crocheting the last few rows was like a wrestling match, and I threw in the towel at 21x28 inches.  But I love it! ( So does my daughter. It's now in her kitchen.)

Here's the scrap bucket I was pulling from.  I'm sure there's another rug in there somewhere.
Have a great crafty week.  May your scrap bucket always be full : )
***Crochet rag rug tutorial is available on Crazy Mom Quilts.

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Mini fini

My pack patch mini QAL quilt is done.  I really enjoyed making this, meeting some nice people on flickr, picking through my scraps every week for my 2 blocks, and yes, even sewing 1" finished squares.
We had to select fabrics based on a theme for the week like city block/country block, or vintage block/modern block.  So each block was planned, and has meaning for the quilter.  Despite the variations, it all went together nicely in the end!  Thank you Chase, for hosting a fun QAL. 
I hand quilted around the blocks and didn't notice my pink marking line was visible until after the photos were up, so no, I did not quilt it with pink thread, that's just me not paying attention to detail. 
Backing  

Miss Crazy stood guard and barked at the air while I took pictures.

I'm already onto the next project (they do tend to overlap don't they?), and this one is going to be something new for me.  I love trying out new things, especially if they turn out like what's in your head.............






Thursday, July 3, 2014

4 blocks done for the 4th

You may recall that I made 4 of these blocks back in April.  Well I hadn't done anything with them for the last two months, just moving them around from one surface to another, trying not to commit them to that black hole of a cupboard in my sewing room.
I had a few loose plans in mind (another black hole), maybe some place mats or pillows, then dreams of a bigger medallion type quilt emerged, surrounded by flying geese blocks and different colored borders, kind of Gwen Marston like. 
Meh.  Nothing moved me into action.  Enough all ready.  Just sew the darn things together and be done with it.
I did, however, piece the binding and put a little effort into the back.
I machine quilted it with a variegated thread.  Not too sure if I would use it again, especially on a white background, but it's done and that's the best part really.  It's just done.

This holiday weekend, I plan on having at least one or two meals out on that picnic table you see up there.  It's going to be hot, but a pot of homemade chili poured onto a pan of these with some fresh corn sounds very 4th of July to me. 
 Have a great weekend!

Block pattern: X marks the spot, by Sew crafty Jess
Fabric: Cameo by Amy Butler



Sunday, June 29, 2014

Bistro Apron

I have a few yards of linen that I had ordered from here, sitting in the cupboard.  I found it while looking for fabric with animals on it for another project, and got momentarily distracted, thinking how the linen would make a great apron, then dropped everything, signed on to Pinterest and well, you know how it goes.  So I made an apron.
My name is Lynne.  I'll be your server this evening.

I always admired those long linen aprons the wait staff wear in chic uptown bistros, a pocket for their book, a towel hanging smartly from a loop or tucked into the waistband.  They would smile and say their name was Andouille or something just as equally hard to remember, and announce the daily specials with gusto and flourish, for dishes like roasted baby quail legs over a bed of rosemary infused polenta and masticated butter beans, or imported Chilean sea bass smothered in spring onions, lightly steamed fiddle de de head ferns and remoulade.
Whatever.  I'll have the cheeseburger and the pommes frites
Anyway, I like the apron see?  The problem is I am about 5 feet nothin' so a long apron makes me look like I've been swallowed by a bolt of fabric, and besides it would just get get tangled around my ankles.
So I shortened it a bit, to Hobbit length, added a pocket using scraps of Umbrella prints fabric, a towel loop (which is a small band of fabric sewn horizontally onto the front of the apron so you can hang a tea towel through it) and a length of twill tape for the ties.  The twill tape was once wrapped around a giant stack of washcloths I bought at Target years ago.  Don't ever throw anything like that away.  You never know.
 Eager to test drive my new apron, I scurried into the kitchen, but alas, no sea bass.  Instead I pulled out an old cookie recipe that my Grandma used to make.  They come out of the oven big and plump and just barely fit in the palm of your hand, and contain easily recognizable (and pronounceable) ingredients like cinnamon, raisins, and walnuts. So I made some.
 The kitchen smelled great, the apron did it's job, and I didn't trip over it.


Grandmas Roses' Raisin Cookies

(you can cut this recipe in half, but I never know how to cut 3 eggs in half, so I would just use 2)

In a small saucepan place 2 cups of raisins in a cup of water and boil gently about 5 minutes, or until the water is gone.  Set aside to cool.

Meanwhile cream together
1 tsp. baking soda
2 cups of sugar
1 cup of shortening.
Note:  I used coconut sugar which is brown, so my cookies came out darker than if you use regular white sugar.  I also used Spectrum brand all vegetable shortening which is non-hydrogenated.  You can also use coconut oil.

To this add:
3 beaten eggs
1 tsp. vanilla
4 cups of flour (2 wheat, 2 white) or whatever you have on hand.
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 tsp. nutmeg
1 cup chopped nuts (I used walnuts)

Mix everything together and add the cooled raisins.  Drop generous tablespoons of dough onto a cookie sheet.  Flatten the cookies slightly with the bottom of a small glass dipped in sugar .
Bake at 400 degrees for 10-12 minutes.

Yum.