Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Orange Crush, Step 3

Two piles of HALF Split four patches--each has 22 blocks, or half blocks.
This was a fairly short step to finish, though I had some hard thinking to figure out how to cut the larger triangles. I don't have the exact ruler that Bonnie suggested to us, but was trying to use the Omnigrid ruler for 1/4 square triangles. I tried cutting different sizes, and settled on the "3 inch" line for cutting, even tho' this is a 3.5 inch block. I read Bonnie's instruction over and over, and I read the Omnigrid instructions over and over. These come out RIGHT, even if lacking in logic!

And last night I finished the black border on my Doors in the Square. I just happened to have a Fat Eight of dotted circles on a black background, so I put in two cornerstones that are circles. Upper left and lower right. You may have to enlarge this photo to see them.

This is about 30" X 40", so it will be a baby or neo-natal quilt.



Sunny, but cool so the bushes will hold their flowers

Pizza for dinner

Charlie home from retreat

Monday, April 28, 2008

Garlic Mustard all over

We have an infestation of Garlic Mustard in our area. Every property owners is urged to eradicate this plant because it covers the ground and shades out not only wild flowers, but even tree seedlings. It is a biennial, so it takers two years to set seed. When it dones--thousands of seeds are released.

So here is a photo of three Gralic Mustard plants in my gully from the house down to the lake. There are many, many more, even though I had my gradening helpers pull piles of it last year. I don't have it in the meadow, just where there is some shade.

It was GOOD NEWS to me this morning when the Bella Fiori truck parked in the driveway. Three workers were here from 8:15 to 2:15 doing spring clean-up and also cutting down briars and Garlic Mustard before zapping them with Round-up.

Boy, I hope this makes a difference!

Naturally my neighbors are not participating in the Garlic Mustard WAR. They are oblivious. Therefore, we will no doubt get more Garlic Mustard seeds from their plants later in the spring.

Meanwhile I can enjoy the cleaned up beds and trimmed bushes. Probably I will get a few more perrenials for this bed, which was enlarged last fall.

I could get down on my knees like this gal, but I would have a terrible time getting up the third or fourth time. And then I would be a rest home case for two days. This help is one of the things I pay for with my inheritance from my parents. This and symphony tickets.



Garden helpers
Zeke obeyed when I said "Quiet!"
Smell of bread baking

Saturday, April 26, 2008

More about Door in the Square

Here was my first idea for the Door in the Square blocks---

But when I "finished" making them, I had 20 of each background, and I couldn't use them all in this setting, or iI didn't have enough.

So I went out on this cool, blustery day and looked at the current state of Spring.

These are "Thalia" daffodils. Not quite small enough to be called miniatures, but certainly little.

Pink magnolia along with the forsythia. Not really a great color combination. What was I thinking when I sete the tree here? I guess I didn't know that they would bloom together!

"Juneberry" I call it. Some say "Serviceberry" or "Shadblow". Latin name is Ameliancher. Just starting to open.

When I came back in, I decided that these Door in the Square blocks are going in two different items. I put the black ones together, and then took all the extra 2" strips and made a first border. I will either add another black border or just bind it in black.

Then I put the colored blocks together. Maybe a narrow black border will happen next.

Maybe I'll go looking in the Stash for wide borders for each of them. I hope I don't just tuck them away to "age", another word for UFO!



4th loaf of bread from first batch of dough

never drove the car today

PBS show about New Zealand

Friday, April 25, 2008

Door in the Square

Suddenly today I saw that I could put together the Fat Eighths of polka-dot fabrics from a swap on retreat with a pattern I saw on someone's blog.
I don't know what she called it, but I'm calling mine "Door in the Square". It is made the same way as a "Bordered Square", but the center is a rectangle and the borders are not equal.

I figured three different sizes, and decided that 6" finished would work best, since I was using FEs. I ironed four FEs together and cut enough pieces for two blocks. And "Bingo!" I had pieces for eight blocks. There was just a little left over for short 2" strips and "crumbs".

I could sew these together with the "Door" from another color, rather than black, but I didn't go that way. I have a bigger piece of the black polka-dot fabric, so I can make half of the4 blocks black with a colored "door".

These fabrics are so much fun, and the block is simple to make. I'm having a great time while Charlie is away for two nights at the diocesan convention.



Laundry done
Hair cut short again
Bill Moyers' interview with Rev.Jeremiah Wright

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Orange Crush, Step #2 done

I now have TWO little recyled baskets with many 3.5 inch blocks. On the right are the 150 (+2) four-patches from Step #1, On the left are the 142 (+1) Split four-patches from Step #2.

The Not-quite-lining-up problem had two possible solutions.

A.) I could sew with the multiple pieced piece on the top, which would allow me to aim for the intersection and hopefully hit it fairly often. Unhappy result: final block LESS square.


B.) I could sew with the simple large triangle on the top, which keeps the final block MORE square, but frequently misses the intersection.

I went with B. I was always missing the intersection on the "float" side, rather than cutting off the corner point. I didn't think that was going to bother me. Anyway, it would bother me less than having wonky blocks. [I LIKE wonky blocks when that is intentional, or for a Crumb quilt!]

Here's what is left over. These were all unsewn pieces, but I decided they MIGHT be more usable put together as far as they go. Since I have some Crumb or Confetti blocks in process, I don't think these will be lying around for long!

The spring/summerlike weather drove me to stop at the nursery today while on my errands. I came home with six pots of herbs and a six-pack of "Happy Returns" day lilies. I actually got the day lilies in the ground TODAY, which isn't usual. It certainly helped that there is a new area in the garden that is blank. [The herbs are sitting on the kitchen counter to remind me of them.]

Since I had shovel in hand, I dug up four chunks of Queen of the Prairie (Filipendula), and two chunks of Black-Eyed Susan and carted them out to the meadow. They are now mashed into the ground in what I hope are good places. Time will tell if they survive such cavalier treatment and the competition of the field grasses. My theory is: Give them a CHANCE, and see what they make of it. Plants have to be tough to work with me, at least in the meadow. I will water TREES for the first year, but can't carry water for much else.



Colorful plants in the nursery

Leftovers, just cook asparagus!

learning my Chorus music from CD

Monday, April 21, 2008

Surprise Tulips

Didn't think I had any tulips left. But here is a patch on the lake side of the house. Guess the deer haven't been over to this side yet!

Back in the sewing room I am making a little progress on the Bonnie Hunter Mystery #2.

I am using the "Easy Angle" ruler that Bonnie recommends, but so far the pieces are not fitting together real well. The little tirangles go onto the square just fine. However when I go to sew the large triangle on it doesn't seem to fit exactly. The edges to be sewn don't match up, leaving me unsure which of the two edges to use as my sewing guide. I've made about 40 and now when I am squaring them up, some of them don't "square". You may be able to see that the corner ofthe square doesn't hit the triangle precisely. I'm not letting this bother me, but it is a sign that something is not working right so far.
So much color in the yard
Made reservation for September holiday
Charlie made turkey meatloaf!

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Daffodils in bloom

Forgot to say that we have had about three days of quite warm weather here in western Michigan, and the daffodils are REALLY showing!

Here is part of the view I have from my kitchen window back toward the road and our intervening meadow. This bed of bushes was only cleaned up and mulched last fall. Daylilies and daffodils were put in the front of the enlarged bed. So this is their first showing. As you can see, we don't have any leaves on the bushes yet.

The second photo is looking toward our front door, with daffodils under the birches and white anemones or wind flowers by the step.

I must really love daffodils because every fall I buy more bulbs to plant, even tho' I know it's a long wait until they appear. One of my favorites is "Salome", which has white outer petals and a yellow trumpet.

I would like to have red tulips, and have planted some at different times, but the deer eat them, and even if they continued, they get smaller every year. The daffodils just increase. Tho' I suppose eventually I should divide them, I haven't so far (16 years) and they keep blooming each year.


Dove miniature ice cream bars
Charlie grilled hamburgers & we ate on the deck

First Bread loaf

Bread "in five minutes a day".

Mix the dough and refrigerate.

Next day sprinkle cornmeal on the peel. Take 1/4 of the dough, form into a smooth round. Lay on the

Rest 20 minutes.

During this time, heat the stone and the oven to 450 degrees.

Slash the top of the loaf.

Slip loaf onto stone and quickly pour 1 cup hot water into broiling pan. Bake for 25-30 minutes.
Cool on a rack.

This was my first real LOAF. The crust was really crunchy, though the bread itself didn't seem to have much flavor.

I think the holes should have been more throughout the loaf, rather than all near the top crust.

Charlie and I ate half the loaf by having two slices each for dionner, and then we toasted most of the rest for breakfast.

I can see that I would need to bake about twice a week to have bread for this household of two, and I would use some whole wheat flour next time for better flavor.


Friday, April 18, 2008

Raffle Quilt - Whacky Baskets

Hoo-ee! Our SpoolSpinner raffle quilt for the Guild has been quilted!

Next the binding---which will be the same striped fabric that was used in the inner border.

Here is a close-up of a "blank" corner, where you can see the imaginative quilting showing up against the black.
Boy! It doesn't show against those baskets.

Also you can see the applique flowers, made from basket scraps, better here. I sure didn't participate in that part of the project.

Just for scale here is a photo of the discussion following the Reveal. Catherine Martin, who did the machine quilting, is in the light green.
Everyone is delighted with how it has come out. Lots of "ooo-ing and aah-ing".
The remaining basket blocks are going to made into quilt tops for Bee members, two or three tops of different sizes. I have my part put together in a top, but maybe I will add borders as well. We figure out some way to draw names or ??? at our December party.
Birthday Lunch for Kathie and Dee
Intestines calming down
Open Space preservation meeting went well

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Large HSTs

I'm really enjoying the project I am working on for my SpoolSpinners' Secret Sister. Can't show you 'cause occasionally someone from the Bee visits my blog. Don't want to reveal myself before December!

However, I can show you a UFO project that just needs the borders finished. Some of the comments on Stashbuster have inspired me to look through my box of UFOs to find something "easy" to finish. I found a packet of nine-patches from a swap, and a few others that were the same size--9.5" unfinished. Eighteen of those, not enough for a twin top! What could I use as a simple alternate block, other than a plain piece of fabric?

Looking through Bonnie Hunter's patterns, I saw one with large half-square triangles as an alternate to 16-patches. Perfecto! I grabbed some of the 10.5" squares cut for future backings (also a Bonnie idea) and made THEM into the HSTs.

Putting the blocks together 6 x 6, gave me a 54" square, wide enough but not long enough. So I added another row, and will make the bottom border wide enough to bring the length even greater.

SpoolSpinners Bee meets tonight and we are going to see how the Whacky Basket top looks after being quilted! Better take my camera.



Secret Sister fun

Friday, April 11, 2008

Hail and Bread

It's thrilling to us here in Michigan to see the little signs of spring rising from the ground. Here are a few of those tiny daffodils (Jack Snipe?) that I have bought in pots for Easter other years and transplanted later to the herb garden visible from my kitchen window. Year by year the numbers slowly increase, though I didn't add any this year.

I saw a few of these beginning to open today, so I rushed out and cut back the Rue and the Thyme plants that were overhanging them. Flung away some soggy tree leaves too, so I could get a better look at them close-up AND as I stand at the kitchen sink.

Then this afternoon I heard rain pelting against the windows, but it was HAIL, not rain. It was over in about four minutes. Good thing that nothing more was blooming so far--the blooms would have been beaten down to the ground!
(But not these tough iris leaves.)

Some time ago Melody Johnson (http://fibermania.blogspot.com/) mentioned making bread from a book called something like "Artisan Bread in Five Minutes" . I put in a HOLD at the library, and received it yesterday. I spent a lot of my reading time yesterday going through it, and buying some of the supplies.
I couldn't find a "covered, but not air-tight, 5 quart container" here at home, and I needed yeast.

Here is a photo of the dough that I mixed up in about 6 minutes, once I had all the necessary parts assembled. It sat on the counter for three hours "until it began to flatten", and then the closed box was stored in the fridge.

Today I made a foccacia-like bread with olive oil and za'atar seasoning sprinkled on top with one quarter of the dough on a cookie sheet. It only had to rise for 20 minutes before baking. But I forgot to take a photo of the loaf before we ate it all!

For REAL artisanal bread one needs a baking STONE and a bread/pizza PEEL. So I ordered these from a cooking emporium. Meanwhile I am making note of the recipes that don't need those items--most of the sweet breads! I can make these even before the stone gets here. More home baking in our future.


Spring sprouting
FRESH bread
Laundry done

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Mystery #2, Step 1

Here are my 150 four-patches for Bonnie Hunter's second mystery, Step #1. I have quite a stack of these plastic baskets from buying baby carrots at the grocery store, and just can't bear to throw them away. They are good for keeping track of the components of a quilt.

And there is a little pile of scraps from "squaring up" with the 3.5" ruler.

Bonnie said that she wouldn't be getting clue #2 to us until next week. So I am continuing with knitting on my second sock as I watch TV and sit at meetings.



daffodils making buds

Artisan Bread in Five Minutes ready for me at library

Out for Chinese dinner

Sunday, April 6, 2008

Easter Banner

A couple of years ago I saw a church banner that was simply made of ribbons with bells at the bottom. I could easily see how it was constructed in one minute of study. The pole was wood, and the crosspiece had the ribbons nailed to it to keep them from sliding off. Some of the ribbons were red and some were gold.

So when I came home, and the local hobby store had ribbons on sale, I bought a bunch of gold and red ribbons of different widths and about 3 yards long. Then I went to a flag store about bought an aluminum pole and crosspiece with wooden knobs on the ends.
I knew that I had a string of brass bells from Pier 1, years ago and some that had been my mother's. I dug those out. I didn't want to permanently attach the ribbons, because I could see that this banner could serve for more than one season if I could change the red to WHITE for Easter and Christmas. So I glued a Hook side of Velcro to the crossbar, and sewed the fuzzy part, in little pieces to the middle of each ribbon.

Right now the white ribbons are on the crosspiece, and the banner is carried into and out of church each Sunday with the bells swinging.

After Easter I will remove the white ribbons (only) and replace them with red ribbons for Pentecost. Some of those are more orange and curly to look more like flames. The gold ribbons just stay in place all the time.

Toddlers love to "pat" the bells when the banner is placed in the hallway like this after the Sunday services.

The first photo was taken on Pentecost a couple of years ago with Charlie and Me. [Those pants were a Father's Day gift to him over 35 years ago. The power of polyester has lasted all this time! Well, it helps that he only wears them ONCE a year.]



Still singing Easter hymns

more sun and crocuses

Saturday, April 5, 2008

Some crocuses and four-patches

Though I was impressed with the redbud trees blooming in Virginia, I am REALLY excited to find that my crocuses started to bloom while I was gone.

These white ones are at the point of our dirveway circle, so I noticed them as soon as we drove in. I think I also have some white anemones planted here, so there will also be white blooms a little later.

INSIDE the circle of the driveway I have a big flower bed. Here I planted purple crocuses over the years, and they are beginning to add up to quite a few. The variety is called "Remembrance" and they have been available year after year, so I stick with them. I think there is a lot of yellow in bloom first thing in the spring and I like to have something different to go with the yellow.

Hurray for a sunny, warm day today. I could walk around the yard and look for green leaves poking up for daffodils and day lilies to come later. I enlarged the bed in the "island" last fall, and now I don't know what was moved into the new area. This will be interesting to watch!

And here are the four-patches for "Orange Cr
ush" (Bonnie Hunter's second mystery quilt) that are spinging up in my sewing room. I used quite a mix of colors in the DARKS, and even some variety in the LIGHTS, including some yellow. I see in the Orange Crush photo album that some people are using a consistent light fabric, and some have even used just one color for the dark. I'm taking Bonnie at her word on this and going straight to the mixed up 2" strip bin and taking what is there. No yardage cut so far. Don't know how this is going to work out with the four yardage fabrics that we are also holding ready for further instructions. But, then, it's a mystery, and we just find out one step at a time.


Sunny, warm day!
Crocus, snowdrops, and eranthus blooming
"Emperor" piano concerto at GRSO

Friday, April 4, 2008

Another sock started

So, why is the next sock so much smaller? Well, I don't have a clue! I started it the same night the finished the previous sock, and kept knitting on it as I travelled home, both on the planes and in the airports.

I didn't change the size of the needles. I didn't try to hold the yarn any tighter. It just is coming out SMALLER!
Was I just getting into the swing of things?

Hmm. I'll have to see if this trend continues.

Now that I'm home and have had a day here, I have to catch up with the rest of the "Orange Crush Gang", who are working on Bonnie Hunter's mystery #2. The first clue was given out on March 31 while I was away.

150 four patches are needed---made from 2" strips of LIGHT and DARK scraps. "Scraps" being Bonnie's favorite word.

I've got the strips sewn and then cut apart into two-patches, which are now flung into this vegetable bin. This will be my "leaders and enders" project for the next week as I work on something else as my major project. I don't think it will take too long to finish them off when we get to the next clue.



Car tire replaced in just one hour

Endured bright lights in eye exam

Home with my honey

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Holy Sox!

I have returned from a trip to visit my friend Sue in Richmond, VA.

We took trips to see Jefferson's home Monticello and also to the Jamestown historical site. Here's Sue trying to escape from the palisade surrounding the settlement. Behind her are some graves that have been excavated and then refilled with shells. Behind THEM is an archeologist at work!
This was our sunny day. Sue was apologetic about the weather every other day, but I was enjoying the redbud in bloom. And dogwood! None of that in Michigan yet.
On the plane I decided that since I couldn't do any quilting handwork while there (I NEVER have any quilting handwork to take anywhere!), I would look into learning how to knit SOX. So many quilt blogs seem to also include SOX
Right away Sue knew where there was a knitting store, and we hit the place right from the airport. I found some interesting variegated yarn that I was told would make STRIPED sox without yarn changes. I got a set of instructions. I got a set of FIVE (!) double pointed needles. And I went home to Sue's house.
Here's what I learned as I worked away at it every evening from Saturday throughWednesday:
* The "three needle method" of knitting socks takes FOUR needles.
* You need longer stretches of one color to make stripes.
* You can knit while having a conversation, or while "watching" television, unless the directions are getting tricky for the heel.
* Turning the heel takes a lot of concentration.
* "Picking up" stitches from the side of formerly knit piece is also tricky, yet they don't think they need to write out any directions.
* WHEN to start making the sock smaller for your toes is also a bit tricky. Even if you measure your foot the way they tell you, your sock could end up too long.
***And the LAST thing I learned was that I really SHOULD have made that little piece at the beginning where you CHECK YOUR GAUGE. As you can see from the photo, this sock looks like a Christmas stocking next to the regular crew sock or the kneehigh nylon. Well, I DID want it to go pretty high up my calf--put I also was hoping it would hold on once it got there. Wants to slip down to my ankle.
I went back to the store. The ladies there helped me do The Kitchener Stitch to tie off the toe, and then told me I should get tinier needles to tighten up my stitches--but not yet! First I need to make the second sock so I have a pair! Hmm. Is that a pair I want to have?
Well, I have half a skein of that yarn left--so I guess I will.
Such a good time with Sue!
On time flights, no delays
Home again, home again, jiggety-jog