Saturday, May 31, 2014

It's Still May

It's still May in the western USA. I never thought in my wildest dreams that I would finish my May bee commitments and swaps. I had packed away my sewing while we were remodeling and then I was really sick for  about 2 weeks. This week I managed to get my act together and get on with it.
The first thing I did was mail Cindy her barn block for the Stitch Tease bee. I finished it before I packed away my sewing room and then never mailed it. Hopefully it is in her hands by now.
Barn Quilt Block
Next up was to make two spiderweb blocks for Clara in the Modern Stitching bee. These blocks take a really long time, but are so pretty when finished. I am sure when Clara receives her blocks she will have a beautiful quilt to put together. This is my second time making these blocks for a bee and thanks to Sarah's perfect tutorial, I was able to get them finished this week.

I also found time to get caught up with Chase's QAL. This is a really fun exercise in color and fabric choices and the blocks come together super fast.
Week 5 prompts were "time spent with mom and dad" and "time spent with the kids".
For time spent with mom and dad I focused on my mom's incredible talent to put a beautiful meal on the table each night and my dad's favorite bird, the cardinal. I chose to use shades of red to represent the blood that makes us family.
For time spent with the kids I used blue prints with cars, trucks and rockets on them to represent raising our four sons.
Week 6 was a fun one. "the sewing room" and "laundry day".
Since I have been working on getting my sewing room put back together in it's newly painted space I used 4 different aqua prints to represent the wall color. I'm slowly getting things put away, but I am trying to destash as I go so it's taking a long time.
For laundry day we were to use circle prints, so I chose a yellow print to represent the sun and a green print to represent the garden, where I love to hang my laundry for that fresh scent of the outside.

I also finished a Handmade Birthday Club gift for Rebecca @sewpixie on Instagram. I'll show you once she has received it. I will be sending it to her on Monday...only a few days late for her May birth month.

Lastly, we are almost finished refinishing the huge piece of furniture in our dining room. I'll tell you this, my shoulders are getting quite a work out with all the sanding and waxing involved with Chalk Paint refinishing. I am hoping we can have it DONE tomorrow.

I will be so glad not to have workers in my house, but the painter still has at least a week of work left to do. I can't wait to show you photos of the bathroom remodel and my finished sewing space. The new floors are in and I don't think the dust and chemicals helped with our illness, but the floors sure are pretty.

Friday, May 23, 2014

And the Nominees are...

Clam Bake Quilt

I am so honored to be among friends and to be nominated in the Viewer's Choice Category of The Blogger's Quilt Festival. To be chosen by my peers, who are so talented, is truly a privelege. I hope you will take a peek at the nominees and vote for your favorite quilt. If that is mine, I thank you.
I know that I will be spending the weekend looking at all the nominees and also I am still trying to visit all the entrees in each category. Over 600 quilts were entered and that is like going to the biggest quilt show, ever!

Moving Slow These Days

This sinus infection has really knocked me to the ground. I am nearing the end of two weeks with it and I am still feeling un-well. It's that dry nagging cough that grabs me in the middle of the night that is exhausting.
I am pretty sure between the winds that were whipping through our area last week and then all the dust, fumes and chemicals in my house with the construction, that this is an allergy induced secondary infection. 

But hey, let's look on the bright side. This weekend, I get to start putting my sewing room back together! I am so glad I took the risk and went with the Sherwin Williams Waterfall color for the walls in the sewing room and new bathroom. 
Hopefully by next weekend I can do a full reveal of everything.
Meanwhile, I have been knitting these socks for my sister. I just love that yarn. She knows I am making them for her.

I hope everyone has a safe a happy Memorial Day weekend here in the states.

Friday, May 16, 2014

Blogger's Quilt Festival Spring 2014, Home Machine Quilted

My second entry for the Blogger's Quilt Festival is my Falling for Modern Maples quilt. I am entering it in the Home Machine Quilted Category.
To say that I love this quilt is an understatement.

I love the fabrics I used for the leaves. I love the random layout of the leaves.

I love the bits of linen used in the background.

I love the low volume prints used in the background, too.

I even love the leaf made with ugly fabric from my batik days. It is actually a perfect fall red color.

I really enjoyed making this quilt and I am so glad Debbie convinced me to make one. 

I really wanted a flannel backing for this quilt to add to the coziness and cuddle factor. So I searched several online shops and found this Marby print in Flannel Grey from Lotta Jansdotter Glimma line of fabrics. You notice it says "Flannel Grey" not "GREY FLANNEL". That goes to show you what a poor consumer I am. I only saw the word flannel and assumed it was flannel fabric not flannel in color description. Live and learn...but I do like the print so I am happy.

 The next thing I love about this quilt is the way I quilted it. I was inspired by Janice and her beautiful Geese in the Forest quilt.

I thought wavy lines in a free flowing pattern would make you think the leaves were swirling in the wind; and it sure is windy where I live, so it's very apropos.

It took me three days to quilt this quilt. I got a little bored toward the end so started making more swirls and I even machine embroidered one row with small leaves, just for fun.

The green binding was the perfect leaf green and frames the quilt without drawing attention away from the body of the quilt.

Quilt Stats:
Name: Swirling Modern Maples
Fabric used: prints from stash for the leaves by Julianna Horner, Bari J, Denyse Schmidt, Anna Maria Horner, Brigitte Heitland, a custom Spoonflower print, old ugly stash fabrics and more. Lots of low volume prints and linen for the background.
Backing: Marby in Flannel Grey by Lotta Jansdotter Glimma line.
Binding: Green print from DS line for Joann's Fabrics
Batting: Warm and White
Thread: Pieced with Aurifil 50wt. and quilted by me using Perma Core 40 wt. in Flesh color.
Final size after washing: 68-1/2"x 79-1/2"

Blogger's Quilt Festival Spring 2014

Twice each year, Amy's Creative Side runs the Blogger's Quilt Festival to coincide with the International Quilt Market, so we can share some of our favorite quilts with those who otherwise might not have seen them in our blog posts. I always find new and inspiring quilters during the festival and love reading about the making of their featured quilt.
This year, I knew I wanted to feature Clam Bake. It is my favorite finish to date, of all the quilts I have made so far. It is also the biggest quilt I have made, so I am entering it in the Large Quilt Category.

Before celebrating our son's birthday, we stopped at the beach to do a photo shoot of the quilt. My husband, son and daughter-in-law to be were so careful to gently lower the quilt over the railing as I shouted directions from the shore. The wind was blowing quite a bit so I didn't get the shots I had hoped for but I think I still got some really good photos of the quilt.
quilt on a pier
Trying to get the quilt without the tourists was a difficult task, especially because it is Spring Break and the beach was quite crowded.
denyse schmidt fabric clam shell quilt
I like that even from afar you can see the beautiful job Natalia Bonner did quilting this beauty.
clam shell quilt
I made it very clear to Paul that the quilt has a direction and the points of the clam shells should be pointing downward when he was holding it. Too bad I didn't pay attention when he was shooting me holding the quilt. The grimace on my face is because 
1. The sun was very bright.
2. The quilt is very heavy.
denyse schmidt fabric clam shell quilt

This might be my favorite shot of the quilt which I am now calling Clam Bake.
denyse schmidt fabric clam shell quilt
The quilt is so large and heavy. It was a bear to manuever when binding it. It was also quite stiff from being densely quilted and I was worried it would not be very cuddly. It would not fit in my machine at home,  I had to take it to the Laundro-Mat. I was so glad when I pulled it out of the dryer and it had softened just like my friends assured me it would.  And now that it has been in the sand at the beach I will have to wash it again.

Miele washer

denyse schmidt fabric clam shell quilt

I just had to try editing this photo with the Waterlogue app. I think all the colors look so pretty as a water color piece of art.
waterlogue app

About This Quilt:
I have always been a fan of Martha Stewart and her talents. I watched her network morning show regularly until her show went to a cable channel. I don't know if she still has a show on TV or not. But anyway...that is where I first heard of Denyse Schmidt and fell in love with her quilt designs and fabrics. Fast forward to about 3 years ago when I became a major fabric collector/hoarder and I started buying different lines of Denyse's fabrics. I have used bits and pieces of them in different projects but for the most part I was saving them for something special.
When I first met Latifah she was sewing the binding on her Neon and Neutral Clam Shell quilt and I was instantly smitten and knew I had to make a clam shell quilt of my own. Latifah has a free pattern on Craftsy using templates and also a YouTube video to show you how to sew the curves. These things are all very helpful. I only used the templates for the top row and chose to just square up my quilt after piecing all the rows instead of using her templates for the sides and bottom rows. I was a confident curve sewist before I started this quilt but her idea to sew every other clam shell in a row and then go back and fill in the blanks really makes sewing these rows a breeze.
This last Christmas I received the clam die for the Accuquilt and my plan was launched. I cut almost 400 clam shells from nearly 150 different Denyse Schmidt fabrics. I did not use them all in this quilt, so there is still another clam shell project in my future. There is Katie Jump Rope, Flea Market Fancy, Shelburne Falls, Chicopee, Florence, and lots of DS Quilts fabric from Joann's in this quilt.
It took me about a month to piece it and then I pondered the backing. I knew I wanted either a flannel or corduroy and when the Paisley corduroy from Chicopee went on sale on I snatched up 10 yards.
I really wanted it to be quilted by someone I knew would put a lot of thought into the quilt design and Natalia Bonner was the perfect person to ask. She used five different free motion quilt designs, filling each clam shell and trying not to have two of the same designs next to each other. She did a fabulous job and I am so glad I asked her to quilt this one for me.
The binding is also a DS Quilts fabric from Joann's. I really like the orange with all the other fabrics and think it frames it perfectly.
This quilt will live on our bed. Now I need to make some pillow cases to compliment it.
Quilt Stats:
Name: Clam Bake
Fabrics: a range of Denyse Schmidt fabrics
Backing: Chicopee Paisley Corduroy
Binding: DS Quilts Orange Circles
Pieced with Aurifil 50 wt. thread
Batting: Quilter's Dream Poly Batting
Quilted by: Natalia Bonner
Size: 99" x 98"
As a side note, this quilt weighs 9 pounds! This quilt has been "Over-Instagrammed" and has made several appearances on my blog but I have to say, it is my favorite quilt that I have ever date, and I am so glad it is finished. 

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Being Sick Has It's Perks

Noro Taiyo Sock Yarn

hitchhiker scarf

noro Taiyo sock yarn hitchhiker scarf

hitchhiker scarf still life

It's really not fun feeling so poorly, but I have spent a lot of time knitting in between napping and catching up on all the Masterpiece Theatre shows I have recorded. I managed to finish my Hitchhiker scarf. This flu bug has sacked me and my house is in so much turmoil from the construction going on but the knitting has helped to keep me feeling crafty and productive.
This was a really fun and easy scarf to make. It is supposed to have 41 "teeth", but I ran short of yarn so it has 39 teeth and is the perfect size.
I used Noro Taiyo single ply sock yarn. I really like it because it does not have a very high wool content so it doesn't itch around my neck, but it still feels soft and squishy. {50% Cotton, 17% Wool,17% Nylon (Polyamide), 16% Silk}. After buying the yarn, it was recommended to me by more experienced knitters to not use cotton yarn for socks. I guess it is not as durable as wool and if you are going to invest all that time in making a pair of socks, you want them to wear well. 
I really liked working with this yarn because it is single ply; it does not split if I accidentally put the needle in the wrong place. 
Now I will put it away for a very long time. I don't think our 100'F {and higher} weather will be going away anytime soon. I hope I can remember where I put it when the weather finally cools down.
I spared you all a photo of the scarf around my chicken neck and instead draped it around my beautiful Mother's Day roses. They are such a lovely color and have lasted quite well. Mr. Romance is always so thoughtful and spoils me with the prettiest of flowers.
And speaking of spoiling, my sister surprised me with a new pair of Bed Head pajamas today, just because she's nice like that.

Hitchhiker scarf stats:
Pattern: Hitchhiker on Ravelry by Martina Behm
Yarn: Noro Taiyo Single Ply Fingering weight color #27 Lot A
I used 2 skeins of 100 grams each, 462 yards each.
Needles: 3.25 mm 40" circular Addi Turbo 
Measurements: approximately 50" long and 14" wide at the point

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Limes a Plenty

Bearrs Limes

Bearrs limes

Making angel food cake

making lime curd

Lime Mint syrup

Tangled fx app

The wild winds have been crazy ridiculous in Southern California. Those who are envious of our warmer weather only need to hang out with the winds and your desire to live here will quickly change. May has been unusually winding and has caused all our limes to fall from the tree.
What do you do when you have so many limes? I made lime curd and lime/mint syrup. Both recipes are from Marisa McClellan's books
I made several jars of the lime curd and keep them in the freezer. It is delicious atop a scone or a bowl of fresh berries. It also makes a quick last minute dessert spread on a freshly baked pastry crust. I recently had a piece of Lemon Angel Pie at a friend's house, and it would be perfect for this dessert.
I ended up with a dozen eggs whites that were not used in the curd so I made an angel food cake. A little lime curd mixed with some cool whip or whipping cream made a delicious topping for the Angel Food cake. I used this cake recipe but not the frosting or the flower recipe.
There are so many ways to use Lime Curd. Just check out this Pinterest page.
The lime/mint syrup makes a refreshing drink with just a little bit poured over ice and topped off with sparkling water. For a grown up refresher, you can add some vodka or rum to make a quick cocktail. 
I doubled the lime juice in the recipe and if I made it again, I would cut down on the sugar. It is a bit too sweet for my taste.
One of my Instagram friends told me she freezes whole limes and lemons to be used later. You can grate the rind while frozen and use the juice as needed. This was a brilliant suggestion, so I threw a bag of limes in the freezer to be used later in the year while the tree is bare.
Finally, the lime curd in the pretty jars I ordered from Fillmore Container and the syrup in the stopper bottles from The Container Store made a beautifully composed still life. I used the Tangled FX app to edit the photo.

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

My Biggest Fan

Ellen Degeneres is not the only one who can take "groupies". We laughed so much trying to take this photo.

For as long as I can remember this family has been a part of my life. From the mid-1950's when we first met, through the 60's when we spent a lot of time visiting each other's homes and I actually thought that they might become my in-laws (doesn't everyone have a crush on the family friend's son?) Through weddings, and babies and the deaths of loved ones...Pat and LaVonne have been my dearest friends. 
LaVonne has recently become my biggest fan, too. She has always cheered me on and we have had a special kinship, bonding over crafts and knitting and sewing. She is the one who taught me to knit when I was a teenager. They raised two amazing sons and I like to think I was the daughter they never had. But recently, she is my #1 blog fan. She reads my blog and usually calls me once a month to discuss my projects and ooh and awe over everything. To say that I am humbled is an understatement.
Yesterday, my mom, sister and I made the 2.5 hour drive to visit with them and I did a little show and tell and a little sneaky gifting of quilts. It reminded me of my teenage years when I would put on fashion shows,for all my parents' friends, modeling all the clothes I has sewed. The video shows part of the surprise.
When I opened this quilt to show them, LaVonne shouted out the name, "Pink Lemonade", the name of this quilt. She really does read and remember every little fact from my blog.
Even though their health is declining, this couple remains strong and loyal to each other and ooze so much love and concern for one another. Their bodies might be failing but their minds are totally intact and it is so much fun to talk about our nearly 60 year friendship! They have been married 71 years!
Pat received the Mosaic Quilt which I blogged about here.
LaVonne received the China Teacups quilt.
My sister edited this photo and I think it is just such a gorgeous portrait of my second dad. Pat is just as dear and sweet as he appears in this photo. He has filled the dad role in my life for the last 14 years since my dad died in 2000.
My mom also had a great time reminiscing with her old friends.

china teacup quilt

China Teacup quilt
About This Quilt:
When I first became aware of the online quilting community and found out you could order fabric online, I joined the Fig Tree fabric club. This kit to make a table runner has been sitting in my fabric closet for 3 years. I was never going to make a table runner out of it so I decided it would make a perfect quilt for my friend, who collects tea cups. So many of the prints remind me of a fine china tea cup and the colors were perfect for LaVonne. I first made all the half-square triangles and then started playing with a layout. I knew I wanted it to be a lap sized quilt, so I had to get creative with borders and the fabric I had available. 
After piecing the quilt and basting it I knew I wanted to do a random loopy design and also to quilt in a few words. So I quilted "for my friend LaVonne" along with the loopy, random swirls.
Quilt Stats:
Name: China Teacups
Fabric used: charm pack of Butterscotch and Rose by Fig Tree Quilts for Moda, a random red and a creamy yellow Moda solid for the background fabric.
Backing and Binding: Sweetwater Paisley print
Thread: pieced with Aurifil 50 wt.
Batting: Warm and White
Quilted: Free Motion quilted by me with Perma Core 40 wt. thread
size: aproximately 60"x 60"