Sunday, June 26, 2011

The cat days of summer

Finally!  Strawberries.
Like any good supermodel, she shows her best side to the camera.
Just one of those lazy, sit in the grass and lick your paw kind of day.  
Let's see how many cats we can get on this lawn chair.

I should have gone hiking or biking this weekend.  Instead, I made strawberry jam and spent some quality time in the backyard with the cat army.  Yes, the locally grown strawberries finally came in and I immediately bought a flat and turned it into jam (the bits that I didn't eat in the car on the way home).

The cats and I enjoyed the warm weather and the boys decided to both sit on me while I was trying to get some sun on my zombie legs.  I still look like a zombie, but now I feel weak from the heat of the sun, supplemented by the body heat of two cats.  Their crazy love will be the end of us all.

Later, after a refreshing nap under a different combination of two cats, I poured myself a large glass of water and tackled the Basket block.  I should have used interfacing, but I was too lazy to dig through my supplies and see where I left it last.  Still, a bright pink basket on a sunny summer day seemed like a lovely idea and a lovely end to the weekend.  We are expecting rain this week, so I'm glad I took advantage of the opportunity to get heatstroke with the cats instead of mowing the lawn or exercising.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Spinster Quilt

Autumn Tints
Is it too early to say that I'm obsessed with these blocks?  Since it's passed my bedtime and I'm thinking of picking out fabric for the next block, it is probably okay to make that call.  These are challenging in that I'm doing things I haven't done before and despite the general circular look to the weathervane block, I'm very happy with it.  I pieced the Weathervane block and I'd like to give a huge "Thank You" to Grey Cat Quilts for providing alternative piecing advice for this one.  It went smoothly, if slowly for me.  Yes, it did take a couple of hours to do these, but it isn't entirely my fault.  Sammy Davis Jr. Kitty has discovered that if he places a small rodent in the bathtub, the rodent can't get out but he can play with it.  Unfortunately for him, I enforce a strict catch and release policy in this house.  But, I also enforce a "the bathtub must be cleaned after a rodent has been terrorized in it" policy. Those are really the only rules I have here.  That, and no white after Labor Day.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Spinster Quilt

Attic Window
I did a block!  I did a block!  I paper pieced! I paper pieced!  And much joy ruled the land.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Union Jack Quilt - Backing

I swear, she was dead asleep in another room but the minute I put this on the spare bed she magically appeared.  
A close up of the backing, featuring a tail.
The backing for the Union Jack Quilt is complete and consists of several prints from Lizzy House's Castle Peeps collection.  I thought it would be cute to feature the castles on the Union Jack Quilt and I like how it turned out.  The hard part will be to keep this somewhat centered when I quilt this.  But, I'm not above saying I wanted it off center and that's why it's quilted that way.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

A back and a front, or a front and a back.

The completed front of the Union Jack Quilt.

I like how determined she looks.  Also, her back leg is slightly invisible which I find disturbing.

The completed back of the citrus quilt.

The profile shot to make us all squee.
I took yesterday off work to work in the garden so it immediately rained and/or was cloudy and cold for most of the day.  That's okay.  I took the opportunity to do some quilting and I will not complain that at about 3 in the afternoon, the heat kicked on.  In June.  However, I did manage to find some sun breaks and take a picture or two of the finished front of the Union Jack Quilt. I also decided that it was about time that I took a picture of the back of the Citrus Triangles Quilt.

The fabric for the backing of the CTQ was given to me by a friend of mine from work.  I really like DS, she is so generous and thoughtful and so supportive of my quilting endeavors.  She's a very crafty lady herself and is currently focusing on her knitting, but she has hand quilted in the past.  A couple of weeks ago, I had her over for dinner so I could show her my stash and I showed her the quilt top for the CTQ.  She was so funny, she said, "I have to tell you, I'm looking at your points.... and they look pretty good....."  This was followed by a "Yes!" from me.  Anyway, when I started the CTQ, I showed DS the fabrics I was going to be using and the next day she brought be the orange, lime, and lemon fabric above.  She wanted to donate it to the project and told me to use it or not use it in anyway I saw fit.  She purchased it in the 1980's and hasn't gotten around to using it herself.  I knew immediately that I was absolutely going to use it and I just had to figure out how.  I decided that the best way was to incorporate it in the backing because I didn't want to darken the front.  But since it was a citrus theme, the citrus fabric she gave me would be most appropriate.  Now all I have to do is quilt it and it will be done.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Spinster Quilt

If you are a fan of the internets like I am, you've probably heard about the quilt-alongs for the book, Farmer's Wife Quilt.  There's a flicker QAL and a Yahoo group dedicated to making all 111 of the sampler blocks in the book.  Yes, this is a great opportunity for me to say that I'm going to join a QAL and then either stop it part way through or change my mind and never start it.  But, it is a sampler quilt and my thinking is that I will do a few blocks between projects and use the scraps from projects as I go along.  Rather than finishing at the two block a week rate recommended by the QAL, I hope to finish by the time I hit retirement.

But, you might ask, what is the Farmer's Wife Quilt and what is the deal with 111 sampler blocks? Well, gentle reader, I will tell you.

It's a quilt you can make from this lovely book.  The book comes with a CD containing templates for all the patterns; there are no measurements in the book.  Also, if you read the very grumpy Amazon reviews, the templates on the CD are made one to a page so you have to print out 106 pages to get the templates for all the patterns.  Seriously, people are very grumpy about this issue.  Luckily, the Yahoo group is way ahead of things and have created some very handy files.  There are charts of each block with instructions on which templates to use, one woman put all the templates into a single 15 page document, and another put them all together into paper piecing instructions. Since I have never done paper piecing, this is the way I've decided to do mine.  Actually, I think I can measure and cut a substantial amount of these blocks, but I will definitely be paper piecing some. 

Why call it "Farmer's Wife?"  From the Yahoo group: "In 1922, the very popular "The Farmer's Wife" magazine held a contest asking a simple question: 'Do you want your daughter to marry a farmer?'  Author Laurie Hird has excerpted 42 of the top letters submitted to the magazine editors for the contest and has selected 111 traditional 6" quilt blocks and created a tribute quilt to the contest."

Now, let's review this statement.  The editors of the very popular "The Farmer's Wife" magazine held a contest asking a simple question: 'Do you want your daughter to marry a farmer?' First of all, very popular?  Okay,  I'll let that go.  Second, "The Farmer's Wife" magazine? (Motto:  We really are a magazine. No, really.)  Third, "The Farmer's Wife" magazine asked them if they wanted their daughter to marry a farmer.  This would be like the editors of "Quilter's Home Magazine" asking their subscribers, "Your only daughter is expecting her first child.  Do you plan to make her a baby quilt or just buy one at Target?"   

Anyway, the question is basically do you want your kid to marry a farmer or a person from the city? I don't think they got a lot of responses stating they wanted her to marry someone from the city because they are tired of getting up at 5:00 am trudging out to the cold outhouse to take care of nature, making breakfast on a iron stove and then starting chores immediately (and don't get me started on how hard laundry is to do on one of those ringer machines).  Oh, and there is manure everywhere, the husband tracks it in constantly and he snores, and the kids have to walk to school (literally have to walk miles to school, not like the running joke of the future) but we won't keep the kids in school for long because there is work to be done.  And, it's the 1920's so you're basically property of your husband so there's that.  Hope he's nice ladies! Am I right?  (Note, I'm sometimes tired of how we romanticize the past, ignoring the racism, sexism, and general ill treatment of each other and animals. Yes, I'm guilty of it too when I picture life in the Court of King Henry VIII, when I ignore the lice, fleas, body odor, bad teeth, bad breath, sewage being thrown from above into the streets, and their unique forms of capital punishment.)

So, no I don't think they got a lot of those responses.  Well, they probably did, that's why the editors of "The Farmer's Wife" didn't publish all the letters they received.  I wonder if they got any responses stating, gee, I hope my daughter only marries when and if she wants to.  Probably not.  Being a spinster wasn't an option then (and you were probably a spinster at age 25) so that probably wasn't something a parent would push.  But, I wonder how many of those daughters dreamed of a life of their own.  For those dreamers, I've decided not to make The Farmer's Wife Quilt.  "What?" you ask.  "You've just rambled on for pages to tell use all something that you are not going to do?  Great.  Thanks."  

No, I'm not going to do a Farmer's Wife Quilt. I'm doing a "Spinster Quilt" for all those women who for one reason or another didn't get married.  It's for those who instead of choosing from column A or column B, chose column C.  (This also gives me leeway to not make all 111 blocks, because spinsters don't do what society tells them to do - much like James Dean, they make their own rules. I'm taking the term spinster back, by the way, like hipster, but for cool older women who wish the kids would just turn down that music.)

After all that, I hope I make at least one block.  

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Union Jack Quilt

The left side of the Union Jack to be joined by....

...the right side. 
Wow, I had no idea I just started this last week.  Doing a quilt that requires piecing large pieces of fabric together really goes quickly.  This is a fun project, and I got to use a template for the first time but that just makes me dislike templates a bit.  Here is the whiny portion of this blog post.  Yes, it is going quickly.  This is despite the fact that I had to remake the solid red stripes because the directions for the template didn't say that I should turn the template upside down for half of the stripes.  This would have been helpful.  Sigh.  Also, the directions for the template were confusing.  I was directed to cut out paper according to measurements in the pattern.  But when cutting fabric out around the template, the directions said to keep a quarter inch seam allowance.  I wasn't sure if that meant when I cut it if I was to cut a quarter inch beyond the template and if that was the case why wasn't the template just made a quarter inch bigger?  Much like the city of London during World War II, I carried on and figured I could trim down as needed.

I only need to put the red stripe down the middle and then work on the back.  Overall, I like it even though the points aren't nearly as sharp as I would like them to be.  I do know more now that I've done this once and will be ready with sharp points and an upside down template next time.

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Union Jack Quilt

I have finished piecing the backing for the Citrus Triangles Quilt, but haven't taken a picture of it yet.  However, I have decided what my next project will be - a Union Jack Quilt to commemorate the fact that I finally have decided to go to London.  Yup!  I'm going to the land where they make Gileses (a little Buffy the Vampire reference, but I love the idea that I'm going to where they make Gileses) and all the history.  Here's the thing, even as a teenager growing up in Wisconsin I was obsessed with British history.  I read books about all the monarchs including everyone's favorite, Henry VIII and his offspring.  (Oh, Mary, I know you had a horrible childhood but did you have to take your aggressions out by burning everyone? A little extreme sports or bad poetry writing would have helped and sorry about the hysterical pregnancy, that must have been embarrassing.)

At any rate, I'm extremely excited to go where the history is and that's why I'm making this:
I'm making the large one. 

Since taking this picture, I've already decided on a different red. 
I doubt I'll get much done on this today.  It is likely to break 70 degrees and that means I have to go buy plants that will slowly die in the garden.  I'm going to go with native plants to try to stop their inevitable deaths and my ultimate defeat.  I'm also going to pump up my tires on my bike and take it out for a spin.  That should lead to much pain and suffering later as well.  Cheers!

Friday, June 3, 2011

A flower update

To celebrate the fact that we are finally supposed to have nice weather this weekend, I've decided to post way too many flower pictures again.  We get a little strange here when the temperatures finally hit the 70's.  I expect to see lots of people in shorts and sandals and I'll be wearing my long pants and shoes with socks because even though it is in the 70's I live in the woods and it takes until August for my house to warm up.  On deck for this weekend - cleaning the deck.
Slowly taking over the front and the back yards.  
This is the first year this girl has put up buds.  I'm very excited.
A gift from a friend who was excited to learn that I like odd looking plants. 
A little pretty mixed in with another successful ground cover. 
The Candy Cane Rhododendron.  
My first ever rhododendron purchase, made seven years ago.  
This Mexican Orange is taking over the back yard.  
Hostas featuring my nemesis the strawberry plant which were ripped out mercilessly after this picture was taken. 
I'm extremely proud that my peony is putting up buds in the one sunny spot in my yard.  

Wednesday, June 1, 2011


Not so much a pillow picture, as it is a Scout ignoring me picture. 
Have you ever bought fabric for one project and ended up using it for another?  I bought this home decorating weight fabric intending to make pillows for my bed. But when I was digging through my fabric stash over the weekend, I thought new pillows would really brighten up my couch and loveseat.  I covered four rather tired looking pillows with my new pretty fabric.  I like the results and I'm now eyeing the remaining pillows.  Of course if I buy fabric for them, I'll end up using it for something else but it will be exciting to see that that will be too.