Quilting · Quilts · sewing · Uncategorized

Everything’s Coming Up Squash

The summer squash and zucchini in our garden are multiplying like rabbits every night, and I can’t keep up. We’ve had Tomato-Zucchini Tart and Italian Roasted Veggies. I’ve made bread for the freezer (which barely fit in there as we still have soup made with zucchini in there from last year, along with too much ice cream, frozen strawberries, veggie broth, and icy chunks of leftover tomato paste because the larger can is cheaper). We’ve eaten zucchini muffins (actually summer squash muffins, but they are totally interchangeable). Tomorrow, I’ll be whipping up a Sausage and Zucchini casserole for dinner.

Today, I air-fried an entire summer squash as a side for my lunch. (Slice 1/8″ to 1/4″ slices, coat with a bit of olive oil and Parmesan Cheese, and air-fry for approximately 10 minutes at 400 degrees. Super simple. Super tasty. I tossed it in a bowl with quinoa, garden peas, grape tomatoes, Kalamata olives, and a drizzle of herbed olive oil, added a bowl of honeyrock melon, and finished my meal with a square of dark chocolate. Do I feel healthy? Yes, I do.)

Approximately one week of harvest

And the really crazy thing about all that squashy goodness?

Most of the plants that have produced veggies thus far weren’t plants we actually planted. I did plant one packet of zucchini seeds and one packet of summer squash seeds, but they haven’t done much yet. The plants that have been thriving for weeks now came up from seeds that were in our compost pile. And what’s even crazier is that we seem to have some strange zucchini/summer squash/spaghetti squash hybrids sprouting from the ground.

I also did not plant tomato plants, but we have those too, and we seem to have some sort of watermelon/pumpkin that’s coming along nicely. (No one is quite sure yet what it is. It’s getting big, though.) I may even have a butternut squash.

It’s a plant free-for-all out there, and nothing is neat and orderly, and it makes me just a teeny bit sad that my lovely row of beets is hidden and shaded by massive squash plant leaves. But I shouldn’t complain. Food is growing and it’s tasty and basically free.

Clearly, with this Great Squash Uprising that’s going on (along with taking time to enjoy the few summer weekends we get in northern Michigan), I have been spending minimal time in the sewing room. Thus, I have nothing new to share. What I do have is an older project that I don’t think I’ve shared before.

This is the Ice Cream Social wallhanging fom the Spring 2012 issue of Quilts and More magazine. The sample in the magazine was a little “busier” than I liked, with a dotted background, an inner stripey border of many colors (kind of like my outer pieced border, though the stripes were printed on the fabric), and an outer border that had various ice cream novelties printed on it. The corner blocks on the sample were pinwheels. It was a bit much for me. So I opted for an inner border that matched my more muted background fabric, another narrow border in pink (to match my binding), and an outer pieced border made of various width strips that matched what I had used for the ice cream and popsicles. (One great thing about this project is that you could make most of it with fabric scraps.)

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The Never-Ending Scrap Pile

I had planned to post on Saturday after a day of sewing on Friday. Then Saturday rolled around with an Arts Festival where I was playing in a community band concert (and where I narrowly missed being hit in the head by a pigeon egg…more on this later), a trip to the store for over-priced groceries (I thought food costs around here would go down with two kids out of the house this summer) and dog food ($30 more expensive than it used to be), a tasty early dinner (air-fried salmon), a walk around the neighborhood with the dogs (battling deer flies the entire way), and a trip to the tennis courts for a few matches with Hubby (I did not win).

Then there was Sunday with church in the morning, weeds that needed pulling, summer squash and wild blueberries that needed picking, trees that needed felling (not by me…I can barely be trusted with a rotary cutter, let alone a chainsaw), dogs that needed walking, and a Dark Winds season finale that needed watching.

So here I am on a Monday to show you what I was up to with scaps on Friday.

I have oodles of scraps left over from the I Spy quilts I’ve made for just about every baby relative (and there have been A LOT of babies). As I have to fussy cut images from the fabrics, I’ve been left with piles of holey fabric. (The fabric looks a lot like newspapers used to look after my grandma got done cutting out the bits that interested her. In other words, only the boring bits are left.)

I finally pulled out this box of boring bits on Friday and vowed to come up with a quilt that would use them up…or at least make a dent in the pile.

For the blocks above, I cut strips from the fabrics in widths ranging from 3/4″ to 1-1/2.” I sewed these strips together, then cut them down into 2″ chunks. I then sewed those chunks together until I ended up with a 13″ block. I sewed two 13″x2″ blocks together and added a 1-1/4″ border. I plan to make enough blocks for a decent size quilt.

Am I in love with this project? Not really (or at least not yet), but it is mindless sewing I can do while listening to audiobooks with Hubby AND it uses up scraps in a different way than I’ve used them before. After middle daughter declared all of my scrap projects as looking exactly the same, I thought it might be time to shake things up with a new pattern.

I also added about 11 more paper-pieced tiny pineapples to my growing pile on Friday and began blanket stitching my table runner/wall hanging. I attempted to start “turning the heel” on my knitted socks last night, but how was I supposed to concentrate on tiny stitches when Dark Winds was so intriguing?!

An innocent accident or something more sinister?

As for the pigeon egg story…Our community band plays in a pavilion next to a lake in town. When the pavilion was expanded and lights were added, the local pigeons moved in, nesting above the lights. They have created what I disgustingly refer to as the “Excrement Drop Zone” right next to where I sit during the concerts. As we were preparing to play a piece on Saturday, I saw something come flying through the air in my peripheral vision. For a moment, I thought I had narrowly missed being splattered with pigeon poo. Then something hard hit the ground in front of me, and eggy shrapnel scattered all over the place.

The question is, did the pigeon lay that egg on the fly? Did it land in the nest and dislodge the egg accidentally? Or was there something more sinister going on? Did that pigeon not like how I was playing and choose to throw that egg at me? We’ll never know. What I do know is that with it turning into an Alfred Hitchcock-esque scene down by the lake, I might just have to start playing in body armor.

Quilting · Quilts · sewing · Uncategorized

Fancy Flowers

Modern Flowers Skinny Quilt

It was supposed to be a table runner. Then I used white fabric for the background. As a person who squirts blueberry juice everywhere when cutting up waffles topped with them and thus has a selection of purple-dotted table runners, it seemed ill-advised to lay anything comprised of white fabric on any surface where I might be dining.

So now it will be a wall-hanging. The bad news is, I’m running out of walls to hang things upon. The good news is, the house is incredibly well-insulted with all of the quilts covering the walls. The question is, how many quilts would I need to hang for the house to be so well-insulated that we wouldn’t need to purchase propane or firewood in the winter?

This past week I finished cutting out the flowers and dots and stems and ironed them all in place. I found that a Teflon pressing sheet worked well for ironing on the bits that hung over the edges of the hanging so they didn’t stick to the ironing board. Those overhanging bits were later trimmed off.

Next week I hope to do the blanket stitching around the edges.

The pattern is Modern Flowers Skinny Quilt by Jennifer Jangles. There were options for three different sizes given. The wall quilt measured 54″x14.” The table runner was clearly designed for a table the size of which is only seen in lavish dining rooms in Jane Austen-esque movies/television shows. It finishes at a whopping 72″ x14.” If it were a little wider, I could totally hide under the thing. Finally, there is a bed runner measuring 108″ x 14.” I’ve never really understood bed runners. They seem to be all the rage in hotels these days where they spend more time sliding off the bed and onto the floor than they spend actually decorating the foot of the bed.

As I wanted to use up fabric from my stash, I was limited in the length I could make the hanging, The largest piece of background fabric that I liked in my stash was just over a yard long, so that’s what I went with.

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Whimsical Runner and More Pineapples

The past few weeks have been full of fun and not-so-fun things.

First, there was a week of vacation at Mammoth Cave and Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Hubby and I climbed our third mountain while in the Smokies. (We’ve now ascended Mt. Mitchell in North Carolina, Guadalupe Peak in Texas, and Mt. LeConte in Tennessee. We have our sights set on several more in the future.)

Since returning home, we’ve been on several hiking adventures. We’ve picked tons of dandelions to make dandelion jelly. We’ve eaten massive soft pretzels drenched in butter and parmesan and garlic from the Petosky Pretzel Company and consumed giant bowls of tasty ice cream from Kilwin’s Fudge Shop. And just yesterday we met up at a park with my parents and our kids to celebrate several birthdays.

The not-so-fun consisted of spring cleaning and more spring cleaning. Basement cleaning consumed almost an entire Sunday afternoon, and I’m pleased to report that our daughter’s paddleboard has FINALLY been stowed away…just in time for paddleboard season. Window washing, my least favorite chore, stole several hours of happiness. And garden weeding with our overly friendly mosquitos has sucked the joy out of at least one day and threatens to do so again tomorrow.

But let’s not dwell on unpleasant things!

My sewing time has been minimal, but I did manage to finish up several more tiny paper-pieced pineapples. Recently I decided to make blocks that were the “opposite” of the ones I’d previously completed. Where I’d used lights before, I switched to darks, and vice versa. I laid them out on the floor today to see how I liked the look, and I’m pleased with how they are turning out. I’m not looking forward to removing all of the paper from the back of each block, though.

After growing a little bored with pineapples and tiny scraps (actually all scraps at this point), I decided to pull out a pattern I’ve had for several years and start a…gasp…new project. As I still have several unfinished objects cluttering up the sewing room, the last thing I needed to do was begin something new, but here we are anyway.

This pattern makes a very long wall quilt, table runner, or bed runner. When I say “very long,” I mean “very long.” Like so long that I’d only be able to put the table runner-sized table runner on the table if I had the table expanded to its limits with multiple leaves being used. As it’s often just Hubby and me here for meals, we only have a need for our table to be stretched to fancy-dinner-at-Downton-Abbey size approximately once a year. I’ve decided that I’m going to make a much smaller table runner, probably consisting of either the top or bottom 2/3 of what’s pictured on the pattern. Thus far I’ve cut out a portion of one of the large flowers. Choosing fabrics for this whimsical runner was a lot of fun.

With rain forecasted for a portion of this weekend, I’m hoping to spend a few hours sewing. But first…I need to iron the curtains that need to be rehung post window washing. Ironing…now there’s a real joy stealer! (There’s also a pile of laundry that needs to be ironed. Sigh!)

crafts · Quilting · Quilts · sewing · Uncategorized

A Scrappy Patriotic Project & an Update

Several years ago my mom and I went on a Shop Hop around northern Michigan. At each shop we were given a free patriotic pattern.

Am I the only one who usually finds the free gifts on Shop Hops to be…well…not that great? I know I shouldn’t complain, but the last thing I want is patterns I don’t like, swatches of fabric I’ll never use (and no one else wanted either if you have them left over to give away), or a weird little sewn together tissue holder that makes getting a Kleenex out of my purse so much more difficult because I’ve now got to get through a flap and a piece of velcro to access what I need to wipe my nose. Trust me, that Kleenex holder that someone spent so much time putting together is just going to get taken apart so I can use the scrap of fabric it was made with for something more practical.

Wow. I probably sound like an ingrate.

Sorry. I just don’t like clutter. (Though the state of my sewing room right now tells a different story.)

But back to those patriotic patterns that were given away free, because that’s where we were before I went off on a tangent. Some of those patterns were actually pretty good. I chose the four best, dug out my patriotic scraps, and made a small wall-hanging.

I want to point out that I had originally used different colors for the bottom right block. Sometimes things just don’t turn out the way you think they’re going to. Which is fine, because you can always throw that ugly mess into a scrappy quilt like I did. (I only used a portion of the ugliness, because the entire block would have been too overwhelming!) I think what went wrong in this block was I reversed the darks and lights and the star part of the pattern just didn’t stand out.

Now for an update.

Maybe you recall how I made some guinea pig hay bags a few weeks ago. As it turns out, the openings for the hay were too large for our greedy little boys. They relished shoving their heads into the bags and yanking mounds of hay out, mounds that they would then leave uneaten on the floor of their cage. As the price of hay has risen astronomically, those potato-shaped monsters needed to be stopped. My daughter (the owner of the piggies and the purchaser of the hay) decided to sew a small strip of fabric across the middle of the openings in the hope that they would no longer be able to yank everything out as easily. We’ll see how this goes. (Look at Winston with hay on his face!) If they continue to waste hay, we may need to find them jobs so they can earn their keep. With their skills at munching, I think we may be able to hire them out to do lawn maintenance.

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Tiny Pineapples

I’ve been working my way through my list of Unfinished Projects this year. I was on quite a roll, then stalled a bit over the past couple of weeks. I’ve been working on some other projects that aren’t craft-related, have been planning some summer adventures, and have been helping move college kids back home.

My piano room presently looks like a hoarder lives here as Middle Daughter has to move back to college next week for her summer classes and we piled all her things in there when we unloaded the car rather than put them away for such a short period of time.

Son came home with mountains of laundry a week later, claiming he’d run out of Tide Pods a few weeks before the end of the semester. I can finally see the floor in the laundry room again…after days of tripping over hoodies and blankets–he sleeps under no less than 10 blankets every night–and underwear.

With my days spent moving laundry from the floor to the washer to the dryer, my sewing time has decreased significantly. However, I did manage to eke out some time to work on a few tiny paper-pieced pineapples.

These pineapples measure just over 3″ square and are great for all those tiny scraps!. I found the pattern at https://www.thelittlemushroomcap.com/paper-pieced-3-pineapple-log-cabin-block-mini-quilt-progress-free-paper-piecing-template-a-video/.

Originally I made a stack of these blocks with lights where the darks are in the above photo. As I laid them out, planning how I was going to arrange them, I decided that I liked the look of alternating blocks with lights and darks in the corners. So now I’m working on creating a stack of what I’ll call dark blocks. (Like the one above. Below you can see the difference between the “lights” and the “darks.”)

I haven’t yet decided how large this quilt will be. Considering all of the time involved I will probably choose to hang this one on the wall rather than have out where it can be used.

crafts · sewing

A Quick Little Project

Late last year I started reading The Count of Monte Cristo. I was reading it on my phone whilst walking on the treadmill. Then I realized just how long the story was and just how much I hate reading books on a phone screen and that I would probably end up walking the equivalent of a trek from Michigan to California before reaching the final page.

So I thought, “Why not try the audiobook.” We had a lengthy car ride coming up in December. Surely I could make it through a bazillion hours of listening whilst watching the scenery go by from Michigan to Texas and back again. Then I realized that there were a lot of names that weren’t Bob and Tom but were more like Caderousse and Cucuetto and also a whole lot of foreign-sounding places, all of which were difficult to understand.

So, rather than giving up on the whole idea of reading the book, I thought, “I’m going to have to actually get a physical copy of this book and read it.” I couldn’t check it out from the library because I’d end up needing to renew it for the next six months and that’s not allowed.

I ended up buying the book, and I’m making myself read one chapter a day.

“Why?” my middle daughter asked because classics aren’t interesting to her.

I’m not sure why. Maybe because the classics were ruined for me in high school when we had to read them and get out of them whatever the teacher said we should get out of them. (Which I never did.) Maybe because it’s enjoyable to read something original that doesn’t follow a formula. Maybe because it’s nice to read something that’s stood the test of time and is still here. Maybe just because the story is actually pretty good.

Since this book and I were going to be constant companions for the next 117 days (that’s how many chapters there are), I decided I needed a pretty bookmark to look at for those 117 days.

For this project, I sewed together two scraps of fabric wrong sides together on their long sides. Width and length don’t matter…whatever dimensions are preferred are fine. After turning this tube right side out, I tucked in the raw edges on the short sides, slid in a scrap of ribbon on one short side (folding it in half so all raw edges are inside), and edge stitched around all four sides.

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Conquering the Unfinished Projects

I have no idea where the last two weeks went.

Oh, wait. Yes, I do.

I had to block off a lot of hours last week for worrying. Yes, worrying.

Our middle child (actually an adult) ended up in the emergency room of a hospital a couple hours away earlier in the month. After a few tests, a tentative diagnosis was reached, and she was told to follow up with her physician. She did. At that visit, lab work showed the problem had worsened. Had I not already been worrying, I would have started then. She was referred to a surgeon, and I spent an afternoon at the hospital with her while she underwent some more testing. As of yet, no real diagnosis has been reached, but she’s feeling much better. So the hope is that whatever caused her issues was just a temporary blip.

I will say, and I’ve joked with her about this since her time in the recovery room, that the show she gave me as she came down off whatever good drugs they gave her was worth the price of admission, i.e. what insurance isn’t covering. She was swearing. She was saying goofy, inappropriate things. And she was loud. I was glad there was a curtain around her recovery cubicle so no one could see us in there. This is a smallish town! Someone might know us! It all made for a good story to tell the relatives, though.

I found a little time to sew last weekend, but with two of the kids home from college, there wasn’t time to share anything here. This past week I found more time to sew, and yesterday I finished my 4-patch Little Squares quilt top, a project that has been in an unfinished state for a couple years.

The top consists of 1,152 1-1/2″ squares made into 4-patch units combined with 2-1/2″ cream squares. The colored scraps making up the border are 2-1/2″. The outer cream border measures 1-1/2″ wide. This made a smaller lapsize quilt. All of the fabric, except for the cream, used in this quilt is from my never-ending, ever-growing stash of scraps.

I vow to conquer the procrastination tendencies that seem to arise at this point of a project. I WILL get a backing sewn. I WILL get it pinned. I WILL get the quilting done. I WILL get it bound. Am I the only one who hates sewing backings and doing the pinning?

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Little Squares

It’s been a week.

A rough week.

I enjoyed a bit of sewing and cross-stitching time last weekend, then Monday hit.

And with Monday came the stomach flu and a week of feeling not quite right. I’ve been doing a lot of napping and lazing about on the couch with my faithful canine companions by my side. I hope this coming week finds me out of this ick funk that I’m in so I can get back to the things that I enjoy.

(Not that I don’t enjoy lazing about on the couch. I just don’t like doing it for days at a time.)

After finishing the Lemon Pepper quilt and matching pillows I decided I’d get back to my unfinished project list and work on something that had been gathering dust for a while. I chose what I’ll refer to as my “Little Squares” project.

Little Squares is made up of so many…you guessed it…little squares. I’m doing four-patch blocks with 1 1/2″ squares. These four-patch blocks are combined with a 2 1/2″ block of cream fabric.

After a bit of calculating, I discovered that I need 1,152 little squares to make the quilt the size I wanted. That’s a lot!

Here are a couple of progress photos. I’m hoping for nine of the larger units in the finished quilt, so I’d say I’m nearly halfway there.

As I cut up my scraps into the tiny squares, I’m adding a lot of even smaller scraps to my itty-bitty scrap container. These will come in handy when I get back to my miniature paper-pieced pineapple blocks.

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A Trio of Pillows

Did we need more pillows?

Probably not.

As it is, one of our couches has just enough un-pillowed space left for a single dog to enjoy a siesta when she’s feeling antisocial in the evenings and chooses to relax in a different room than her humans and her doggy “brother.”

Did I make more pillows?

Yep.

You can never have too many, right?

Besides, I had numerous scraps left from the Lemon Pepper Quilt–little bits that had already been sewn together which could be trimmed up and pieced together to make pillow tops.

I also had enough larger scraps left that, with a bit of piecing, could be used to make backs for the pillows.

I trimmed the already pieced bits down to 2 1/4″ strips and sewed four of these strips together to make a block. Each pillow top had 4 blocks, 2 going vertically and 2 going horizontally. I added a black border and quilted the tops in a similar style as I had the Lemon Pepper quilt (kind of an all-over straight line quilting 1/4″ from some of the seams…think boxy zigzag.)