Friday, September 28, 2007

Miniature Class...

I spent the last three days in a miniature class with the folks from Gandads Playroom. They are retiring this year so this was their last class. I made a Tudor kitchen roombox with a large "working" fireplace. I learned a lot. I'll post a photo soon.

The cottage the classes were held at is beautiful. Close to Stratford-on-Avon the houses on the drive there gave me lots of inspiration for the work each day. The photo on the left is of one of the "traffic" jams I got into on the way home! I love pheasants but boy are they stupid! I had to get out of the car and chase them off the road! Since they don't have flight feathers yet they would have just continued walking in front of the car for I don't know how long!

I have continued working on my Mile a Minute...that has become more like the Big Dig in Boston (maybe I could blame it on the pheasants?) Anyway, I took some advice and added some larger strips to the off-size blocks. I also added the large half square trianges to make a sort of medallion center to give it a bit of structure. It is now about 32 inches across. I think I like it. I've started the next row...not sure how big I will really make is getting heavy quickly! It is continuing to be fun and I guess that is the important thing!
My Dh is back from his extended business trip. I was able to get most of the house in order before he walked through the door...not a minor feat (the cleaning not the walking!)

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Two top finish

My Dh is coming home on Monday so today was final quilting day is today...tomorrow I clean!

I put the final border on my Rose Sampler quilt. I am only putting the brown secondary border on the top and bottom of the quilt. I found it too brown when I put it the entire way around. (That is my story and I am sticking to it!) Now I have to think about finishing up the Cowgirl sampler quilt. I think I am sampler-ed out for awhile...

I have decided not to put a border on the repro star quilt top. I auditioned a lot of fabrics but didn't find anything that really hit me. I also looked at a lot of photos of quilts from the turn of the century and a lot of them do not have borders...also the one that I based this on didn't have a border.

I like how this came out. It gave me a chance to use a bit of my favorite fabrics all in one quilt. Sort of a fabric memory quilt. This may stay as a top for awhile. There is not bed to put it on here and the tops take much less space! Who knows by the time I quilt it I may find the perfect fabric for a border!

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Recipe and daily stuff....

Well MacBeth (my scottish terrier) really did it this time. Last night Brownie (my small brown cat) escaped from the house and a few moments later we heard a loud screeching noise. When I opened our front door MacBeth almost knocked me over as he speed past me. In addtion to the cat's screech I now heard loud growling, yipping and howling. Brownie zoomed out of the bushes and ran into the house. When I picked her up she was wet - I looked at my shirt and there was blood.

So I go rushing into the bushes yelling and waving my "CSI" flashlight (you know the big black one that looks like a lethal weapon!) Anyway, Macbeth comes out all terriered-up but bleeding. I get them both in the back seat of the car and race to the vet hospital. Long story short...MacBeth spent the night and came home with one less tooth and a few stitches (and very proud of himself I may add) while Brownie just needed a few scratches taken care of and some antibiotics.

It was a long night and I did very little sewing today.

On a lighter note...yesterday an American friend brought over a British quilter she knew. I forgot how fun it was to pull out the quilts and do show-and-tell. Lots of fun. A bonus...she makes jams and is willing to show me how to make blackberry jam next week! So after they left I put on my hiking shoes and long sleeved jean jacket (works well against the thorns!) and walked down to my favorite blackberry patch. As you can see in the photo I will be picking here for many weeks to come!

In addition to getting the blackberries I get to visit with the sheep and the cows along the right-of-way. OK not visit...but take their photo from a very long distance! (one of those bad boys is a bull and I don't care how friendly the farmer says he is...that is a big, big bull! or should a venture - a lot of bull!) The hills way off in the background are the Malverns.
I am almost finished the last two rows of the repro quilt top from two posts ago...slow going. Seems like the only squares left are the same fabrics...the fabrics I didn't like well enough to use earlier. I know I shouldn't but I went up to the quilt room and pulled some more fat quarters out to cut a few "nice" fabrics. I can't help myself!!!
Bonnie over at Quiltville was talking about recipies using bananas. Here is my favorite recipe for Hummingbird Cake:
3 cups flour
2 cups sugar
1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
3 eggs, beaten
3/4 cup vegetable oil
1 tsp vanilla
1 8-oz can crushed pineapple with juice
1 cup chopped pecans
3 medium size bananas, mashed
Grease and flour a 10-inch tube pan. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
in a large bowl mix together the flour, sugar, salt, baking soda, cinnamon and nutmeg. In a separeate blow, mix togter the beaten egg, vegetable oil, vanilla, crushed pineappple with juice and bananas. Fold into the dry ingredients. Add pecans and blend well. Pour mixture into tube pan. Bake for about 45 minutes.
Cream Cheese Frosting
1/4 cup butter, softened
8 oz pakg cream cheese, softened
16 ox powdered sugar
1/8 tsp. vanilla extract
1/8 tsp. lemon juice
3 Tbsp. chopped pecans.
Blend together the butter and cream cheese. Gradually add powdered sugar. Add vanilla and lemon juice. Stir well. Use th pecans as garnish.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Time for a lottery ticket

I am one of those people who never win anything. I can't even begin to count how many quilt raffle tickets I have purchased in my life and never have I won so much as a block! So imagine my surprise when I got a call from the local miniature club telling me that I won a doorprize at their show today!

I dabble in miniatures. Every few years of so I get the itch to make a mini sofa, room, or library...I have boxes of almost finishes. This box is great since it is further along than any of my own projects! It is a storefront so I have to figure out what sort of store I want to put in is a bit small for a quilt shop. Maybe hats? A tea store? Decisions....

So this weekend I got 2nd place in the chili cookoff and won a roombox...maybe it is time for that lottery ticket!
Well it appears as if my fabric has grown legs. My DH is away on business so my projects have found their way into every room in the house - including the bathrooms! There is red fabric soaking in the downstairs sink, an ironing board in the hallway, a quilttop laid out on the sofa auditioning border fabric, the island in the kitchen is perfect for cutting fabric, the spare bed has a dozen sampler blocks sorting themselves out, and the stair-railings are draped with long lengths of backing fabrics being paired up with lonely tops. I feel less like a quilter than a fabric dating service. Of course all of this needs to be rounded up and herded back into the official and unofficial sewing rooms before the end of the week. I'll worry about it tomorrow....

Saturday, September 15, 2007

2nd Prize Chili

Today I went to an Anglo American picnic. The group gets together every 3 months or so. As part of the entertainment they held a chili cookoff. I entered a rather off-beat New Mexican White Chile (made with chicken and green chilis.) I was very suprised to get second place! (There were ten entries.) My friend Maya got first - well deserved I may add...hers was much more traditional and had a real kick to it!

The quilt above is from some very old blocks. They were won at a state meeting by a member of my guild back in Georgia. She died from breast cancer not long after. Her husband gave the blocks to the guild. Now this all happened before I joined the guild. I was given the blocks to put together into a quilt not long before I moved to England. In the move the blocks were packed into a box with fabric. I found them this week and have almost finished putting them together. I hope to have this done before next week.I just have two more corners and a print border. the bright blue fabric used on the edges is from the Quilt for a Cure Collection. Once the top is done I can mail it back to the states. I may be slow but I get there!

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Not to be....

Some days no matter how well you plan you feel like just nothing is going to work out...this is one of those days.

Right now I should be quilting in Fairford - a town about an hour from where I live. Last night I packed the car up with my sewing machine, the basket with my projects, a box of books and patterns that I don't want anymore, a folder with directions for a new 12-inch bloock for the group, and a duffle bag stuffed with fabric culled from the shelves of my overstuffed sewing room. The back seat of the car was covered in quilting stuff! I even made a batch of brownies and a Peach Brandy pound Cake and packed them into tins for the group.

This morning I got up early...allowed myself an entire pot of my favorite coffee (friends just came back from the states and brought me a pound of Dunkin Donuts coffee...heaven!) So far I am on target.....

I drove for about 20 minutes...which puts me in the middle of absolute nowhere. The sun was bothering my eyes so I pulled over to get glasses out of the glove compartment. The engine stalled...I turned the key...nothing. No problem - we have towing. I pull out my cell phone and dial the number...nothing. AHGGGGG.

Now why is it I go for walks/rambles across the countryside and love it. Faced with a two mile hike to the closest phone (at the animal park) I get all tense and angry! By the time I got to the phone I was better. A nice farmer gave me a lift back to the car on his three wheeler so I gave him some brownies (at least I knew I wouldn't starve out there....)

My car is now down the local garage...still full of my quilting stuff. I gave the guys at the garage the last of the brownies and walked another couple of miles through the fields home. All this an it isn't even noon yet!!!

We do have another husban's MX-5/Mazda Miata. The problem is that is an american car so the steering wheel is on the wrong side for the UK. My DH acually likes it that way and can't drive my British car...I can't drive his car! I know some folks and jump back and forth but the one thing my DH and I agree on is that neither of us are one of those folks!

So I have all this time to quilt right...wrong! My machine is in the car...both my machines! I told you it was full. So I guess I am destined to spend the day playing in fabric again. Maybe I will cut out a new project or baste a quilt top....

The photos are of a current project. About 5-6 months ago Bonnie showed a vintage quilt on her site. I really like it so have been making half-squares and cutting out 3-1/2 inch squares of repro fabrics. The past fews days put together a few more rows and now am past the halfway mark! I'm really starting to like it again....

The original didn't have a border. I'm debating if I should add one to mine. I generally like borders but am unsure on this one. I guess I have all sorts of time today to audition fabric no?!

Monday, September 10, 2007

sunday boot sales

The sun was shining so I decided it was too nice to stay inside...even to quilt. So I drove over the boot sale they hold every Sunday at the racecourse.

Usually I don't buy much. My major reason for going is to provide entertainment for Macbeth and to stop by the trailer that makes the little fresh doughnuts! Nothing like a greasy fried piece of dough dragged through sugar and cinnamon to start the day out right...I digress - back to the boot sale.

I must have been in a Halloween sort of mood. Maybe it is because I read the new Martha Stewart Holiday magazine the night before. (Now before you rool your eyes...this is a great edition of her magazine. Has a good halloween side and a bad/scarey halloween side. The projects are fairly straightforward and very fun! Again, I diress - back to the boot sale.)

There was a table with lots of bird prints (pages torn from books - grrrr) and I bought the Raven and the Crow. I am going to make a frame this week and hang them in my hallway at halloween! Beside giving me an inexpensive decoration it will insipire me to unpack my mat cutter!

I also picked up a little singer sewing machine for 7 pounds. It is very similar to my featherweight so I should be able to figure it out. This should make my sewing downstairs easier since my husband keeps walking off with the transformer to use for silly things like the stereo or the vacum. The machine just needed a good cleaning, a new needle, and some oil. I'm going to test drive it some more today but so far looks fine!

I bought some lace and buttons from the same stall. I know I am trying to clear out my workroom instead of add to it but these are vintage lace and vintage buttons still on the card!

My final big find was this tiny needle case and thimble! I've never seen one like this before. The thimple fits snugly on the case so it works as the top. It is made of brass but has a sort of rubbery coating on it. The woman selling it thought it was from the 1950's but couldn't remember. The color is in line with the Halloween theme too....
Well off to walk Macbeth again and maybe pick a few more blackberries! There is a blue sky again today and I am learning to get out an enjoy them while you can!!!

Saturday, September 08, 2007

Blackberry Quilting Days

Today I decided to take a day off of everything and just play in fabric. I finished two blocks for a group baby quilt, finished piecing a backing, and have two more rows of a quilt that has been in-process for at least 6 months.

I also picked lots and lots of blackberries while I was walking Macbeth this morning. I put three bags into the freezer and with the remainder I made a blackberry and apple crumble. It is fun to use the apples from our own tree and berries that I gather myself. Makes me really feel like I am living in the country! (The pears in the photo came from our gardener's trees...)

I love fall food. One of my latest favorites is making a curried squash soup. I've made it every week for the last month! Maybe I do need to branch out....

The photos of my current project didn't come out very well so you'll get them tomorrow. The photo below is my leader and ender/mile a minute mess! I've kept the small pieces of my repro fabric in a basket next to my sewing machine and sort of randomly sew them together...ok, very randomly. I've started to wonder what I could do with is a bit of a jigsaw puzzle to put them all into a quilt top and since the pieces do get very tiny it is even a bit buzy for me! I was thinking of maybe trying to make a bar quilt...any ideas?

Doing something with these is part of my clear out process. I have two bags of fabric that will find new homes soon. I've even put aside some buttons and other "stuff" that I know I will never use. I now have enough space to turn around!

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Day at Charlecote Park

Now that I am feeling a bit better I am trying to get back to my resolution of going to at least one new place or doing one new thing every week that I am living here in England. This week I visited Charlecote Park in Warwickshire.
It is part of the National Trust which maintains lots of properties around the UK. Charlecote is a Tudor property, visited once by Queen Elizabeth I, that was renovated in Victorian times. The rooms and the grounds are beautiful. The photo on the top is of the gatehouse going towards the main house. The Victorian kitchen here is amazing. There were at least 5 stoves of varying type...all huge!
The small house below was called a "Wendy House." I loved this little building. It has a thatched roof, randomly put together stained glass windows, and amazing doors and flower boxes made from branches. It was used as a playhouse for the children. I would love to have a little house like this in my garden back home!
I am slowly organizing my sewing room (again!) I hope to be back to sewing tomorrow night. I have a pile of fabric in the hallway that will be either cut into strips of look for a new did I ever end up with four 6-1/2 inch acrylic squares. I think anytime I couldn't find one I just ran out and got another! Either that or they act like rabbit in the quiltig room!
Now a shameless plug for the MS society...Bonnie at http:/ and her husband raise money for this cause each year by participating in the annual bike ride. (David rides and Bonnie does lots of support!) On here site is a link if you would be willing to sponsor/donate to this cause.
As a person with MS I am very grateful to the society and to all those who help support it. When I was first diagnosed with MS the society provided me with lots of information. The local chapter held monthly meetings with speakers addressing a wide range of issues from legal issues surrounding disabilities to alterantive therapies like water aerobics. The society also funds a lot of research into new drugs and therapies. Treating MS has come a long way in the past 10 years but there is still a long way to go.
So I am putting my money where my mouth is...the money I raise from auctioning the quilt with Flog It will go to the society. (see Flog It post below.)

Sunday, September 02, 2007

Flog It!

Here in the UK the BBC runs a show where folks bring in things to be appraised (like the antique roadshow) then they bring the item to auction to test the accuracy of the appraisal. The show is filmed in different locations all over the UK. During the show the host, Paul Martin, does a segment on something historical or artistic specific to the area. I love this show!

So when one of my neighbors told me the show was coming to a town near us and invited me to come along to the appraisal day it only took me a second to say yes! I have long been considering slimming down the piles of antique/vintage quilts I have been accumulating over the past 25 years. I brought about 25 with me to England so the selection was already limited. In the end I picked out a pyramid quilt circa 1880 made in the Maryland area. It is the quilt on the far right in the photo (taken at the Augusta Museum of History quilt exhibit last year.) I thought it would bother...quilt seperation anxiety maybe...but in a way it is a relief when they selected it to be filmed and to go to auction. I'll let you know what happens when it "goes under the hammer" in October!

Do you think it is possible that having too many quilts, fabrics, boxes, threads, beads, yada, yada, yada....can inhibit creativity? Sometimes I just get overwhelmed looking at all the neat "stuff" I have to work with and as a result get very little done. I'm wondering if paring back could clear some space both in my "studio" and in my head!

Speaking of is a quilt top I unearthed. It was folded inbetween two antique quilts. Maybe there is hope of my finding the English paperpiecing quilt that was 80% finished before we packed up back in the states! If my memory serves me this fabric came from a quilt show in Maryland back in the mid-90's!

Saturday, September 01, 2007

Off the Grid...

Well I am back. Sorry about the long delay. The short version - the infection got worse, I spent some time in the hospital, my eyes got a bit wonky, and thus I was "off the grid" for a bit. I am much better now and will be back posting from now on....

We drove over Wales today. We visisted a town called Hay on Wye that has dozens of book stores. The photo on the left is of the castle book store. There was a bookstore for science and natural history books, another for mystery books, and another for just about any type of book you are interested in!
The hills around the town are very pretty. I'd like to go back when we can do some walking.
More later...I'll have some quilting photos later....