Friday, January 15, 2010

Civil War workout

This is a pattern called Civil War Star by Bits 'n Pieces. It is a project that I started years ago and I can only call it "a mission." A guild I belonged to adapted it as a raffle quilt and when I saw it I was smitten. The prints are from the first Judie Rothermel Civil War line and the background is Benartex, I think. None of the fabrics were current when I set about to reproduce the quilt and the internet was not as sophisticated as it is now so it is a testament to my investigative abilities that I tracked down pieces of ALL the Civil War line AND the exact shade of Benartex background fabric. I was like a possessed bloodhound. You would think that level of intensity could translate into a finished quilt.

But, this is as far as I've progressed. The pattern is complicated because the rows of stars are kind of interconnected and my version is larger than the one pictured. You really have to be on top of your game to keep from screwing it all up. A big design wall would help, but mine is more like a design section of wall. Not enough to lay the whole row out. So, I have to use my bed, which is two floors above the sewing area. It's a workout running from sewing machine to design bed and back. Plus, I have to make notes to ensure I don't mix up the rows after I lay them out and pick them back up.

I think I started this sometime around 1999. We all need goals so this year will be the year I finish this baby. I think I better go get warmed up.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Path of Peace - praying for Haiti

"Le Chemin de Paix" - from Haiti Peace Quilts

The pictures and stories coming out of Haiti are heartrending. Like many, I immediately wanted to know what I could do. But, after speaking with a Haitian friend, he urged me to remember that the Haitian people are going to need an enormous amount of help for a long, long time. Right now, countries and organizations the world over are pouring aid and experts (thank God!) into the country. My friend urges you to work through trusted organizations (list here) if you wish to contribute. The picture above is from an online gallery of an organization called Peace Quilts that collects and disseminates fabric and supplies to Haitian women so they can build themselves a life through creating and selling their art. Quilting will be the last thing on their minds for the foreseeable future. However, the time will come when the crisis subsides, but need still remains. Please remember the Haitian people in the months and years to come.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Not much getting done here

January means no more fun with family and back to work. Not much sewing going on right now, but I did make sure to start my new projects for the new year. Here is block 1 of my calendar quilt and I am almost done the first part of Lori's doll quilt project.

How did I let such an opportunity to stay home and sew slip right through my fingers?

Friday, January 1, 2010

And they're off...

Do you make New Year resolutions? I like to tell myself I do not. After all, I smugly tell myself, I am not one of those people newly jamming the gym in January. I started back to exercising two weeks ago. Hmph. Do you promise yourself you will use more fabric from your stash instead of buying new so often? I think that's why the fabric companies put out a whole bunch of new lines in September, October and November and hold back in December and January while our resolve has a chance to weaken. Did you swear to clean and organize your sewing space and promise to NEVER let that mess happen again? I do that about once every three months and the most recent was early last week so I am not counting that as a New Year resolution. (Yesterday's picture of the little quilt in progress was the fruit of the reorganized sewing area, but the border dilemma has created a new mess.) Are you committing to finishing those UFO's this year instead of starting so many new projects? Nope, not me. The one thing I do commit to on January 1 every year is to start a new project. I am told this is a new decade so I think I'll celebrate by starting two.

Above is a project I've been thinking about since January 1, 2009. It is the April quilt from Lang's Great American Quilts calendar. I saw these rolls at a quilt show I happened across while in San Francisco last October. I swapped out my calendar this morning and started drafting my blocks so this is new project number 1 for the new year.

Lori at Humble Quilts is sharing her pattern for a doll quilt she calls Cheddar Cheese and Crackers. She is a Weight Watcher Leader so I am thinking that name is a hint to feed our souls more and our stomachs less. Hey, it is New Year's Day so where else would my mind be after two weeks of no restraint in the food department. I am going to stick with Lori's colors and pulled all of the above candidates from my stash (the fabric store is closed today so I can't buy new...except online, hmmm). Visit her blog if you want to join in the fun of this little quilt. My cheddar options are darker and orange-er than Lori's solid. I know I have a solid that would work but, as I mentioned, I organized and cannot find where I stuck it. Drat. New project number 2 is ready for cutting.

Happy New Year to everyone! I don't like to resolve, but I do like to recommit. Therefore, I am redoubling my efforts to make time to include something creative in my life regularly. I hope you are able to do so, as well.

Blog you very much

About one year ago I discovered the many joys of the quilt blog universe. I just want to thank all of you fellow bloggers for your inspiration and ideas you share on your blogs and for your comments on mine. I didn't even know blogs existed when I was googling images for a scrap quilt I was making for my sister and typed in "sister's choice quilt." Up popped Nicole's "Sisters Choice" blog. Whoa! I spent hours linking to blog after blog after blog. I couldn't wait to join this online quilt community and began my own blog. For awhile, I was happily talking to myself and then Kathie kindly mentioned me on her wonderful "Inspired by Antique Quilts" and I made new friends! Again, thank you Kathie and thanks all of you who've taken the time to leave a comment. The work in progress above is another inspiration I got from Kathie and I would welcome your comments to help me decide on the border. I've mentioned before how much I like pink and brown so I thought I would try this combo. I think it might just be too much of a good thing.

These squares all came from the tiny leftover scraps saved from the pieces for these star blocks. I had over 100 light and dark 1-1/4" squares so it took no time to put the center together.

I think I like the blue print fabric for the border on this quilt a little better than the brown and pink print. Should I go with a solid border?

Or...should I add these four patches in the corners?

I also put together a small Christmas top using the same Lori Smith pattern that Temecula Quilt Company is using for their little quilt a month program.

I finished the other top and am ready to enjoy some tea and scones. This is an easy and tasty recipe.

Raisin Scones
2 cups flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon salt
8 tablespoons (1 stick) cold butter, cut up
1 cup raisins
2 tablespoons sugar
Yolk of 1 large egg
3/4 cup buttermilk
White of 1 large egg
Additional sugar for sprinkling

Heat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. Put flour, baking, powder, baking soda, nutmeg, and salt into large bowl; stir to mix well. Add butter and cut in with a pastry blender or rub in with your fingers, until the mixture looks like fine granules. Add raisins and sugar; toss to distribute evenly.

Add egg yolk to buttermilk in a measuring cup and whish with a fork to blend. Pour over the flour mixture and stir with a fork until a soft dough forms.

Turn out dough onto a lightly floured surface and give 10-12 kneads. Cut dough in half. Knead each half briefly into a ball; turn smooth side up and pat into a 6-inch circle. Cut into 6 wedges, but do not separate wedges.

In a small bowl, beat the egg white with a fork until just broken up. Brush the top of each scone with egg white and sprinkle lightly with sugar. With a spatula, carefully transfer the two cut circles to an ungreased cookie sheet. If necessary, reshape circles so that the 6 wedges are each touching. (This will keep the raisins from burning.)

Bake 18 to 22 minutes, until medium brown. Cool on a wire rack; after 5 minutes pull the wedges apart and cover loosely with a dish towel.

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