Monday, March 28, 2011

Feel Good Fabric...

Have you ever worked on a quilt where the fabrics just made you smile?
The current project on my cutting table is doing just that!

Most of the time I am a pretty traditional quilter. I've gone through a batik phase, an oriental phase, an all-thing bright phase...but at the end of the day the one constant has been my traditional fabrics. I've also had some fairly strange "rules" like I don't generally mixed batiks with regular fabrics...30's repros with current florals...civil war repro with just about anything else...

"multi-generational" purchased in Maryland 1994, quilted 1994

So why am I busting through the rules now...first, I used some of the Kaffe Fasset double shot cottons in a civil war repro quilts. They worked great. Then I spent a lot of time studying fabrics in an old quilt I was hanging in my hallway. I've heard it called "multi-generational"...basically it has fabrics from the late 1800's through to the 1930's. (Seems we aren't the only ones who thought that putting some old quilt blocks together may be a good idea!) Finally I have spent a lot of time paging through the two Material Obsession books. It occurred to me that have a lot of fabric like what they showed in the book..only mine is segregated - the Kaffe and large prints are in baskets on top of the bookcase, reproductions are in the guest room dresser, brights are in boxes on the top shelf of the closet, and 1930's are in the child's chest of drawers in the corner of my closet.

So I grabbed my laundry basket and went room to room and stash to stash pulling blues, purples, yellows and pinks (a few reds slipped in there so I know my eyesight isn't up to par yet!) I even raided the linen drawer in my dining room where I hoard (whoops - store) fabric from cut-up shirts for that someday recycled shirt quilt. I pulled the bin labeled 2-1/2 inch blocks that last year I filled vowing to use the Bonnie system...only I really haven't made a dent in anything other than the 2-1/2 inch strips.I'm having a blast! This is the happiest quilt! Amazing that fabric I would "never" put together look great in this 36 patch block! I mean 30's with Kaffe with a bit of "Piece of cake plaid"...say what? I love it!

Macbeth checking to make sure there is some 1930's scottie dog fabrics in the quilt....

I like knowing I hit almost every fabric hiding spot on the house and that I am not just using the same old fabrics.

Now for some blog followups....

1. the arrow head blocks shown in my "maybe its the moon" post were from the Quiltmaker #136, November-December '10 edition. It is also from the book ary Cutting Revolution by Anita Solomam.

2. Brownie rose from her sickbed and saved the day by capturing the gecko in my Dining room an hour before the guests arrived....she has been richly rewarded!

Friday, March 25, 2011

A guilty cat...

We are having folks over for dinner tonight so I am a bit distracted. Cook a a a the cat...cook a got the cycle?

This week's Civil War Block

Yesterday I had folks come in to clean the rugs and the floors so most the heavy lifting was done. Dh followed my shopping list to the letter...except for a minor bunch of cilantro instead of flat leaf parsley (that could happen to anyone! why do the grocery stores put those next to one another anyways?)

So I woke up this morning feeling quite happy that I had this all under control . After a cup of coffee I already had a batch of jalapeno cornbread in the oven and a pan of enchilada sauce simmering on the stove. The sun was shining so I went out on the deck with my second cup of coffee and sat down to relax and read through the recipes for tonight. Then it happened...

A guilty cat....

A gray blurr went past me followed by a skeeching yellow one and in the rear a lumbering black scottie dog...Dobby the kitten had done something to really upset Goldie and MacBeth. I followed them into the house and found Dobby sitting on top of my freshly laundered tablecloth with a long Gecko tail hanging out of his mouth....When I screamed out popped a very large Gecko...correction, large and fast Gecko.

So now I am hunting for a clean tablecloth (at least one without kitten prints on it) and for a large fast Gecko who I believe is under the China cabinet. I would call my Dh but he isn't so good with these sorts of things...too much like hunting for him. (His idea of viewing wildlife is a visit to the Pet shop in the mall...)

I'm just hoping the Gecko stays put to the that this is a squeamish crowd (most have just come back from tours overseas) but having lizard - even a cute lizard - show up during dinner would be quite embarrassing....
On a side roses starting blooming this week! This may be the earliest I've ever seen them!

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Maybe it's the moon...

Had a very productive National Quilting day...I'm thinking it was the big bright moon that made it so because I haven't been this organized in a long time! OK, maybe not organized...but I got a lot done!First, I went digging through the quilt-tops to find one that I could finish-up and send to Quilters Newsletter who is rounding up quilts for the Japanese effected by Earthquake-Tsunami-Nuclear event. The one above was made with lots of Moda fabrics that I used in many quilts. Not sure why I didn't finish this but now seems like a perfect time. I realize quilting this will do as much for me as whoever receives it...watching the news makes me feel so helpless and hitting the donate button on the Red cross site only alleviates that feeling for a few hours. But making a quilt - that keeps me busy for hours which are hours I'm not glued to the cable news harbingers of doom.

Also, last year I committed to making a quilt for Quilts 4 Leukemia. I finished the top yesterday! (The blocks are a bit larger than the ones I've sent Clare and added with sashing and a wider border it is large enough. Also, this is as close to a two color quilt as I can get....)My DH says it is his favorite quilt yet...I got a long speech (diatribe perhaps?) on using bright colors and making more graphic quilts. He wants to ban brown from my quilts...ya, good luck with that one!
And wait...there's more! I like trying techniques that take difficult looking blocks and make them easy. This arrowhead (?) block was in a magazine this past year and I tried is using some of my Halloween fabrics. It is fun and does make doing these side triangles idiot-proof. Since our quilt-show is in mid-October I am putting 12 of these blocks together for our silent auction table....the blocks are finished (14..lost count) and should be a quilt top by the end of today.

Macbeth is playing the quilt inspector and checking those 1/4 inch seams and triangle points....
Dobby rearranges the blocks...
The entire household was "helping" me quilt.....

Friday, March 18, 2011

MS Awareness Week - one thing

With everything going on this week in the world I've neglected my usual MS awareness week posts and opted for more upbeat topics like Irish recipes...however the Irish guilt crept in the morning! So this year I am doing an awareness post...but just one post!Last year interviewed by a very precocious 12 year old for her class project and she asked, "if there was one thing you wanted people to know about MS what would that be?"Good question! I think it would be that there is no one version of MS. (This may also be the thing about MS that really is the most frustrating!) Just because you have a relative that was diagnosed with MS and "she ended up in a wheel chair after only a year" or "once in awhile she has to take it easy but she is still working part-time" or even "heck she was diagnosed three years ago but she still teaches aerobics three times a week." Those are all faces of MS.

On the National MS Society website this is how they describe MS symptoms:
"Symptoms of MS are unpredictable, vary from person to person, and from time to time in the same person. For example: One person may experience abnormal fatigue and episodes of numbness and tingling. Another could have loss of balance and muscle coordination making walking difficult. Still another could have slurred speech, tremors, stiffness, and bladder problems. Sometimes major symptoms disappear completely, and the person regains lost function. In severe MS, people have symptoms on a permanent basis..."

There is very little predictability and if you have even a hint of Type A personality that can really drive you crazy. (Or it can drive you to there such a thing as an A- personality?) Perhaps it has just helped me focus and/or pick my "battles." (For instance I have started the Sprigs and Stars Quilt by Kim McLean but I drew the line on the borders - a wide fun border with printed vines and flowers will substitute for appliqued vines and hundreds of leaves....)

On the other hand the lack of predictability makes planning difficult. For instance I have been planning all year (no make that many years!) to take the exam for AQS quilt appraiser certification this April. I had an episode last month that has left me with fatigue and word choice issues that just aren't resolving themselves as quickly as in the past. So I arranged to go to Paducah a day early (Tuesday) which may help me rest up after the drive however I am still worried. The written exam is from 6-8 pm on Wednesday (which is 7-9 on my east-coast-body time.) That is about the time I wind down even on a good day... Yes there are drugs I can take to help with it (Ritalin or Provigil) however I can only take them for a limited amount of time without suffering a "backlash." (And just my luck they'll start drug testing for quilting competitions!) My oral exam is scheduled for Saturday at 2:00...for a person with MS that is the equivalent of a marathon week!

So my challenge for the exam is not going to be can I identify the type of quilt, date the quilt, have I looked at enough quilt sales will be will my hand hold the pen, can I write legibly, can I stay awake, and can I speak clearly....and until the day arrives I just can't predict the answer to those questions.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Happy St. Patrick's Day!

St Patrick's Day is a great time to remember my Irish roots. All four of my grandparent's emigrated from Ireland in the late 1800's. They came from Galway, Kerry, Cork and Carlow...a bit spread out to say the least!Last night we had our corned beef and cabbage (I know this is more American Irish than Irish but my DH loves it.) Today I am making some brown Irish bread to have with smoked salmon tonight. I know alcohol doesn't mix well with my meds but I may just have a few sips of Guinness with is good for you right?
Irish Chain with applique border circa 1860, Maryland

On the quilting front...I have been working hard on the Quilt for the Quilt 4 Leukemia cause. I just have to add the borders and the top will be done! Good chance I will have it quilted and finished by next week. This may be my first finish of the year...hope to have photos tomorrow.

I'm also including my favorite scone recipe...though if you can find the King Arthur scone mix grab it - they taste homemade with 1/4 of the work!

Tea Scones

1/2 cup butter
4 cups flour
2 tsps. baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 cup sugar
1 egg
1 cup milk
(optional: 1 cup of raisins)

Rub the butter into the flour. Add baking powder, salt and sugar then mix well. In a separate bowl beat the egg then add the milk and stir to combine.
Mix a the liquid into the dry ingredients to make a manageable dough - neither too firm nor too slack. Turn out onto a floured board and roll out to about 1-inch thick. Cut into rounds with a pastry cutter. Arrange on a lightly floured backing sheet and bake at 420 degrees for about 15 minutes. (Optional: brush with melted butter when you remove the scones from the oven.)
Yields: 15-18 scones

Monday, March 14, 2011

Adding to the block pile...

I feel like all I have worked on lately are random is a bit disconcerting!I did finish my CW block for this week...They are starting to add up! (a few are blocks I've added since I want to make a bed size quilt...)
I also made a half dozen blocks for Clare at Quilt for Leukemia. Last year I promised if I didn't meet my finish goals that I would make a quilt for the "cause." Though is does sound a bit backwards - I can't finish the UFO's I already have so my "punishment" is to start another quilt?!
I am making good progress on it...several blocks are cut out and ready to go...with just a bit of luck (it is St. Patty's week after all...) I should be able to finish it this week....
Speaking of St. Pat's Day. This is a favorite recipe for using up day old Irish Bread....

Irish Cream Bread Pudding

3/4 pound Irish soda bread with raisins
3-1/2 cups milk
3/4 cup Irish cream liqueur (like Bailey's)
1 Tablespoon butter
1-1/2 cups sugar
4 eggs
1 Tablespoon vanilla
1/2 cup raisins

1 cup confectioner's sugar
1/2 cup butter
1 egg beaten
1/4 cup Irish cream liquor

In a large bowl combine milk and Irish cream liqueur. Cut soda bread into 1 inch pieces and add to the milk mixture. Cover and refrigerate for at least one hour - stir occasionally.

Preheat oven to 350 degree. Use the butter to grease a 9x13 pan. In a mixing bowl whisk together the sugar, eggs and vanilla. Pour into the milk mixture and stir. Fold in raisins. Spoon into the baking dish. Bake until bread is set (about 50-60 minutes.) Cool.

To make the sauce combine sugar and butter in the top pan of a double-boiler. Stir constantly until the sugar dissolves and the mixture is hot. Remove from heat and immediately whisk in the egg. Continue until mixture is cool. Stir in the Irish cream.

To serve heat the broiler and line a jelly roll pan with aluminum foil. Cut pudding into serving size pieces and place on foil. Spoon the sauce over the pieces. Broil until pudding is bubbly on top. Serve warm or at room temp.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

St. Patrick's Day (week!)

Not too much sewing going on the past week hopefully I am going to change that by working on this week's Civil war block today. I may also try to put together some Halloween blocks. And if I am feeling really energetic I will sew the binding on one quilt that is languishing in the "almost done" pile!
(My grandfather's family from County Kerry. At this time, according the the Boston Globe, they were the largest Voting family in Boston. Women didn't yet have the vote...)

I also need to make some Irish bread for my Dh to bring to work tomorrow. My family has two Irish bread recipes. I posted the recipe of the one I use most often here on my blog last year at St. Patrick's Day. It is a large round bread with lots of caraway seeds and raisins. The second one, posted below, is sweeter. It also has raisin but no caraway seeds. This recipe came from Ellen Delaney, neighbors of my Mom's family in Dorchester. I am giving it to you the way it was given to me..."butter the size of an egg."

E. Delaney's Irish Bread
3 cups flour
4 Tablespoons baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup sugar
milk, as needed
butter the size of an egg (about 1/4 cup)
3/4 cup raisins
2 eggs, well beaten

3 Tablespoons of powdered sugar
1-2 teaspoons water

Sift together flour, baking powder, and salt. Break in butter with fingers. Add eggs. Add enough milk to make a stiff dough. Add raisins. Mix/knead well. Form ball and place in a well greased 8-inch skillet or heavy cake pan. Cut an x into the dough about 1/4 inch deep.

Bake at 360 degrees for 45 minutes. Remove from oven, take the break out of the pan and place on a cooling rack. Cover with a damp towel and let cool. Frost with the sugar and water glaze/frosting.

Wednesday, March 09, 2011

Carpenter's Wheel

Carpenter's Wheel has long been a favorite pattern of mine and when I saw Diane over at Leehaven quilts working on one I was inspired to dig out my vintage ones for a visit.
The first is one of my oldest quilts. Though it isn't in the best of shape - ok it is in poor shape...but look at how wonderfully the indigo fabrics have held up!
The date (September 1838)is embroidered in the center with a shooting star. A tiny signature is stamped on one corner "S. Shiner (or Shriner or Shriver) Anyway, I bought it in Baltimore many years ago. The quilting is amazing - it has only survived because of those tiny stitches.The next is from a century later...I love the symmetry of that! It is in pristine condition. When I bought it in West Virginia at a flea market it was wrapped in cotton...someone loved it. Makes me sad to think they never used it!
I think it was on that same trip to W. Virginia that I picked up this Mountain Mist batting wrapper with the pattern for the Carpenter's Wheel. The quilting in my quilt is similar to what is suggested on this pattern the layout however is different.

And because Diane loves Brownie I had to put a cat shot in here....this is Brownie "guarding" the fabric because we know it all belongs to her....

Tuesday, March 08, 2011

Red and White Quilts...

Wonderful Red and White quilts and popping up all over blogdom in an online version of the American Folk Art Museum exhibit in NYC later this month. This online "exhibit" is hosted by Repro Quilt Lover...

When do you think you have too many quilts? When you go for a weeks saying "I wish I had a Red and White quilt to post" then remember that you own three! Duh!!! OK, so one is quilt top..

The Red and White applique quilt on the top of this post was purchased in Gettysburg Pennsylvania back in 1994. It is a very folk-sy version of a Princess Feather. I really like the reverse applique done in the center of the feathers.
Second is a Redwork quilt. This came from an estate sale in the Washington DC area also in the early 90's. The border design is very unique. It looks like it was embroidered before being sewn to the quilt. I also like how some of the block designs "break-out" of the embroidered borders.

Finally a quilt top made up of four large reverse applique blocks. I found this in Baltimore. I like using tops as teaching samples so I have quite a few in my collection.

And just as I was ready to hit hit me...I have another little red and white (14 inches by 14 inches) Remember when the Madder repro fabrics came out in the late 90's? I loved them but wasn't quite sure how to use them. Then a coworker brought in a little antique doll quilt and wouldn't you know it there was the original madders! So I made a little repro of that doll quilt...

On another subject...hope everyone had a great Fat Tuesday! I made Jambalaya last night with some freshly made pralines for dessert. This morning we had our King Cake...a little over the top perhaps but they are supposed to be!

Monday, March 07, 2011

Show organization...

Every two years my guild has a show. You would think with two years to get ready I would have lots to enter. At this point I would say "think again!"
I felt a bit panic-y when I looked at my sewing room and the projects. Many are almost done...most are halfway there...and a few that I really like still look more like piles of scraps than quilts.

So today I am stepping away from the cutting board, pushing back from the sewing machine, tucking away the quilt magazines and focusing on bringing some order to my projects. Even if it is only to make a list of what I want to have finished and in the October least I would have a plan!

On the good news front the postcards for out show arrived this past week. We used the quilt that won best use of color for the card. It was the fist time I used so I was a bit nervous but now I am really happy with the results!

Sunday, March 06, 2011

CW block and Dobby rescue

One more CW block goes into the stack. With the eyesight this was a bit more difficult for me. Instead of spending lots of time playing in the fabric I went for a bag where I knew the fabrics matched well...they were put aside for a special project.I took a small piece of three of them which shouldn't hurt the main project at all. I tend to "over estimate" and end up with lots of fabric for the stash!

During the week I made another "unofficial" CW block. I liked this cabin fabric and thought it would go well with the Lincoln block.

Dobby provided the neighborhood with some excitement this week. Thursday evening he got by me at the back door. This has happened before and usually after a few minutes of sniffing around he runs back in...not this time. I was up every hour going all over the back yard and made several rounds of the neighborhood (at all hours of the night!)

Finally after sunrise we found him...two stories up in a neighbor's tree!Generally the Fire Department will not come out for an animal rescue however the conversation my DH had with them went something like this -
"Our young cat is up tree...about 40 or 50 feet wife is out there tossing a rope up around a branch and planning on climbing up there the way they taught her in the army...that was 25 years ago...she has MS and is sort of blind right now but really stubborn..."
The firetruck rolled up with a couple of cadets and their instructor about 5 minutes later...within 10 minutes Dobby rode down the ladder clinging tightly to the fireman's helmet.He is still a bit exhausted from the whole thing...but we do not have to worry about him at the doors anymore!

Thursday, March 03, 2011

Just a couple more...

A couple of quilt's for the applique fans from my friend's closet...

a beautiful Red and Green Applique (with wonderful quilting.) I think the corners shown in the photo on the top of this post are interesting - a 1/4 wreath.Also this very worn red and green album quilt. Most likely it had a border on it (the binding is new (er.) It was made in Illinois but the only signatures that survived are the three embroidered ones. The quilting is excellent and most likely the reason the quilt has survived. There are some very interesting blocks like these birds with the nest.
And I'm not sure what to call this is interesting how the red is inserted in the center but appliqued on top on the corners.

Just when I thought the med issue was over my eyesight went today...not that I cannot see anything it is just jumpy and I am having problems with is a typical MS thing but not any easier to deal with all the same. Fortunately I know my Roll Roll cotton boll fabrics well enough to be able to piece with them even if I can't really differentiate some of the colors. Of course I may find out later I was wrong but oh, well!