Quilting · Quilts · sewing · Uncategorized

Happy St. Patrick’s Day!



Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

This part-Irish girl finally has a table runner for the holiday. I didn’t know if I would be able to complete it in time, but I finished it up on Monday night. Luck was with me when I realized I had enough black binding left from a previous project. Not only would I not have to take the time to make the binding (which I really don’t enjoy doing), but my black fabric was in short supply and I wasn’t certain if there was enough left for binding.

This project was made with bias strips (cut 1″ wide, sewn right sides together and pressed flat with the trimmed seam to the back). I sewed the strips down and outline quilted around everything. I added a quilted shamrock in the empty space above the middle of the word, but it isn’t visible as the green fabric is so busy. (Hint: Search for simple tattoos on Pinterest. They make great quilt patterns. I traced the design onto tissue paper, pinned the paper to the runner, and quilted right through it.)

Sadly, this runner will only be out on the table for a short time this year since I want to have a chance to use the Easter runner I made last year.

I’m not certain what my next project will be. I have a couple things in the works–another scrap quilt (as if we need another one!) and a paper-piecing project–but I really want to start something else. I just saw a cute hexagon quilt pattern I’d like to try, and I have a few patterns and fabrics paired up that I have plans for.

Quilting · Quilts · sewing · Uncategorized

Missing our Easter Kitties

I’m happy with how my St. Patrick’s Day table runner is progressing. On Sunday I was able to spend a few hours sewing the letters in place. I was recently asked what “Sláinte” means. It translates to “health” in Irish. (Let me tell you something about the Irish language which I am discovering as I learn it. I’m fairly convinced that they just threw letters, making certain lots of them were vowels, on a page and called them words. Irish words would make excellent “vowel dumps” in a game of Scrabble. One of my favorite words is “comhghairdeas,” which is “congratulations. I truly have no idea why half the letters are in that word as they aren’t even heard when it’s spoken. Here are a few more delightful words to learn how to spell and pronounce: bhfuil, dteastaionn, dtriobloid.)

I began pinning the second clover down (not visible in the photo) then discovered I needed to make a bit more bias which meant changing out the thread and presser foot. Am I the only one who hates having to do this in the middle of a project? I was tempted to stop working for the day but forced myself to get the bias made so it would be ready when I next had time to sew.

I thought, as Easter is approaching and the decorating has begun, that I would share some of my earlier Easter projects.

First, in the bottom left photo, are our Easter baskets. My mother made the small one for me when I was a child. The other four were ones I made for my husband and our kids. This year I was finally able to put them back on top of the piano. They were there for many Easters until we had the piano completely refurbished inside and refinished. Several years ago we had all new innards put in the piano. Almost everything in there, with the exception of a few replacement strings, was from 1927. Once the piano was returned, we chose not to put the baskets on top at Easter as we had three cats at the time who liked to climb into them and we didn’t want them to scratch the surface. There was some sadness this year as I placed in the crochet eggs my mom and grandmother made which the cats liked to remove and leave around the house. (As children, my brother and I liked to throw them at each other.) A beat up pom-pom bunny brought back fond memories of our cat Buster, who loved to battle with that bunny and toss him on the floor. Buster died in 2017 at the age of 15. His brother Boo-Boo died in 2019 at nearly 17. (That was a rough year. Our daughter’s beloved guinea pigs, Beatrice and Mabel, also died.) In early 2020 we had to say good-bye to our cat Belle. She was 15. We have just one cat now, and she was never one to play in the baskets. Rosie is 16, and I’m convinced she has outlived all the other cats out of spite. (She’s truly a sweetheart. A mouthy, crotchety sweetheart.) We also have two dogs and two guinea pigs, but it would be amazing if they figured out a way to get into the Easter baskets!

The other two projects were cross-stiches I made. I have a snowman cross-stitch for Easter, Christmas, Fourth of July, and Halloween.

knitting · Quilting · Quilts · Uncategorized

The 2020 Afghan

My kids prefer afghans to quilts for cold winter days or chilly summer nights. I’ll let you in on a little secret…I do too. When it comes to having something to snuggle up under on the couch, afghans are our go-to.

That’s not to say that quilts don’t have their place. In our house that place is on the walls, the backs of the couches, or atop the beds. So basically everywhere…just not on top of us.

It’s silly, I know. I love making quilts and all the different designs, but to me they are more of a decoration than a way to keep warm.

We recently had a conversation after what happened in Texas about how we would never get too cold in our house even if the power was out for days since we have so many quilts and afghans and blankets all over the place. We could build a fort and stay nice and cozy in front of our fireplace. While it sounds fun and novel, romantic even, in reality it would probably be none of those things!

Without electricity, we’d have no hot water and quite quickly no water at all since our well would stop pumping it from the ground. While we’ve cooked in our fireplace before, it’s never been anything more complicated than a hot dog. In fact, hot dogs cooked over the fire was our Anniversary dinner this past December since we were without power that evening. Also, the guinea pigs, Winston and Basil, would suffer as they are delicate little fellas who can’t handle the cold. I’m not sure I’d enjoy having them in our fort since they throw hay all over the place!

I finished this particular afghan last weekend. I began working on it early last year. It looks a lot like another I finished last year since I wanted to use up all of the remaining yarn from that project. The pattern was my own design:

The first 10 and last 10 rows were all Knit rows.

Then Knit a row, Purl a row for as many rows as desired. This started out as 20 rows. As I ran low on some yarns and had a lot left of others, I adjusted and did less rows of some colors and more rows of others. (First 5 stitches in all rows were Knit.)

Then (when on right side) 2 knit rows, 1 purl row, 1 knit row. (I did these in green and purple)

Things got a little wonky color-wise as I neared the end of my yarn supply and had to change up the color pattern I had started out with. This didn’t bother me as it was a project I began just to use up leftovers. I was amazed that I was able to get two very large afghans out of 5 1-pound skeins of Caron yarn.

The Celitc Knotwork St. Patrick’s Day project is coming along nicely. I’m still not sure I’ll finish in time for the holiday, but I made good progress yesterday. The first clover is completely sewn now, and all the letters are glued in place. I’ve also begun sewing the letters. I’m hoping to make some progress this weekend but may not as there’s a birthday to be celebrated. Special food will be prepared. Brownies and ice cream will be consumed. Presents will be unwrapped. And fun will be had.

Quilting · Quilts · sewing · Uncategorized

Yummy Rustic Loaves and a Quilt Update

During supper recently we were enjoying a crispy-crusted, extra-tasty, rustically-round loaf of Cranberry Orange bread when our son piped up that somewhere he’d found a list of items people won’t shut up about after purchasing. One of those items happened to be Dutch ovens…which is what I had been happily extolling the virtues of as we ate the delicious loaf that had been baked in one.

I’ve been hankering for a long time for a recipe that would produce a perfectly crispy loaf as I had never succeeded in getting such a loaf out of just a regular pan in the oven or in the bread machine. Then, strangely, my Pinterest feed became full of photos of drool-worthy rustic loaves and I began to pine for the Dutch oven that would be necessary for success.

We found one (the only one) at the store and and brought it home, where it sat in the cupboard for at least a week before I

a. became brave enough to attempt something new and

b. remembered to mix up the dough the night before so it could do its thing over hours and hours (because all those rustic loaf recipes seem to involve at least 12 hours of rise time).

The results were A-M-A-Z-I-N-G! Also amazing was the loaf of basic white bread. (I forgot to slash the top, but you can see in the photo that it just cracked up there all on its own.) We enjoyed the white bread with a bowl of creamy Chicken Gnocchi soup and a slice of cheesecake for our Valentine’s Day supper.

But enough about the bread since I don’t want to be one of those people who can’t seem to stop talking about their Dutch oven and prove that list our son found right.

Here’s a photo of the progress I’ve made on my St. Patrick’s Day table runner. I was only able to work on it on Sunday, so it is progressing slowly. The photo shows one clover pinned down. I now have it partially sewn in place. I may have to work a bit faster in order to have it completed in time for the holiday!

Quilting · Quilts · sewing · Uncategorized

A St. Patrick’s Day Project

Though I’m nearly finished with all the blocks needed for another scrap quilt, I had to put the scraps aside for a while. The urge to design something was strong, and St. Patrick’s Day is approaching. How is it possible that I claim Irish heritage and have no St. Patrick’s Day decorations? This was a problem too great to ignore!

Ideas came and were tossed aside until I settled on creating something similar to last year’s Valentine’s Day project.

I love the simplicity of black bias and celtic knotwork. It is a simplicity that belies exactly how much work is involved!

Step one: Making the bias.

This is not actually a difficult task (cut 1″ strips, sew wrong sides together with scant 1/4″ seam, trim seams, and use press bars to press flat) until you realize that the large spool of “black” thread you purchased is not actually black but rather a dark brown.

In the absence of black thread and unwilling to go to the store to purchase any until I absolutely needed to leave the house for something more important (like food), I moved on to the second step.

Step 2: Hunting for the perfect background fabric.

I had the perfect piece of fabric in mind. On a Shop Hop back when such things were allowed and “safe,” I purchased the most gorgeous green fabric from Quilter’s Clinic, a tiny shop in Fife Lake, Michigan. I wish I had purchased the same fabric in every color available. It starts off light on one side and gradually becomes darker on the other half. For this project I planned to use the darker half.

(Speaking of Shop Hops, can you believe that we once jammed into tiny shops, breathing all over the place maskless, and munched on snacks that had sat out all day while every single customer walked past? Those were the days!! We quilters probably have excellent immune systems.)

The hunt for the fabric commenced. I searched through the box of greens and blues. Nothing. Out came the reds and oranges. Then the blacks, browns, and batiks. Nope, not there.

At this point I was convinced I was losing my mind and had not actually purchased the fabric. I almost called my mother to see if she remembered me making the purchase, but I didn’t want to have a witness to my faulty memory just yet.

Finally, after probably 20 minutes of searching through EVERYTHING again, I located the fabric in a pile on my sewing table. Good news is I’m not losing my mind. Bad news is I wasted so much time!

Step 3: I began working on the design. This is the fun, frustrating, time-consuming part of the process. I hunted for Celtic knotwork designs on Pinterest and finally settled on one I liked. I printed it off, thankful it was just the size I wanted and only needed a little tweaking to make it just right. It’s not a perfect Celtic knot. This one will have a definite beginning and end. Also, the over/unders will probably not work out quite right. I haven’t really looked too closely at this other than to notice that the original artist did not pay much attention to that detail. (In case you didn’t know, when making Celtic knotwork designs there should be alternating over/unders where lines cross.) I’m okay with it not being exactly perfect. Who’s going to look that closely?

Step 4: My least favorite step is step four. This is the part where I cut the fabric to size and transfer the design to the fabric. There is so much room for error here! What if I cut the fabric the wrong size? What if I mess up the drawing? What if I don’t have it centered perfectly? Ugh! This part just really brings out the anxiety!

To tame the anxiety as I worked on transferring the design, I listed to the Dr. Death Season 2 podcast, because what better way is there to tame anxiety than listening to a story about a really bad doctor from your very own state?

Today I will finally get out to purchase some black thread as I have a ton of errands piling up which can’t be ignored any longer. Hopefully I’ll be able to get the bias finished this week and then move on to the fun part of stitching it to the background.