Monday, February 23, 2015

Back home again

I've been traveling this past week. Granddaughter Lily had a week of winter break so I flew out to Portland ME to be with her--and, oh, I had a great time!  The picture above is a little cove or harbor we stopped at while on a day trip along the Maine coast. Even in winter, it was very charming and picturesque. When Don and I return in June, I'd like to come back to this place and see how it looks without all the snow and ice.

This is Tessa, my daughter, and Lily, just hanging out. Lily is nearly 11 years old and is growing into quite a young lady. She will return to Wisconsin after she's out of school in June to spend the summer with us here, and I can't wait!  We made big plans for things we want to do this summer and it will be non-stop fun!

While on our day trip, we stopped in Freeport ME and had to get a picture of us with the big LL Bean boot.  Went to the outlet store there and Lily found the perfect winter jacket at the perfect price so she now has a Bean jacket like the rest of the Mainers in her class at school.  She was so happy to get it.

Here in the Midwest, it costs a fortune to have fresh seafood so I usually don't get any.  To be fair, we have wonderful fresh water fish but when I'm in an area near the sea, that's what I indulge in. On this trip, it was clam chowder (chah dah, as the Mainer's say it).  This is a picture from the recipe from Bon Appetit which you can find here if you want to see for yourself or if you want to make it. I won't be making it at home since Don doesn't like creamy soups.  I ordered chowder three times during my trip and each time it was better than before!  I think they really know how to make it right out there on the coast!  

Lily and I played Dominoes throughout the week and to make it a little more interesting, I introduced her to playing penny a point.  We kept track throughout the week and at the end. I owed her 14 cents!  I guess we are quite evenly matched, wouldn't you say? If you want to learn about the game of Dominoes, Wikipedia has all the information you'd ever want to know  here.

The visit with Tessa and Lily was wonderful but the traveling was awful!  When I woke up Friday am, I realized that the predicted storm for the east coast was going to come in earlier than expected so I called the airline and was able to get my flights changed from Saturday to Friday. So I had to pack everything and finish up everything on Friday and get to the airport in Minneapolis to catch a flight leaving in the late afternoon.  That flight was delayed leaving Mpls so that meant that I'd miss my connecting flight in LaGuardia in New York.  I was prepared to spend the night in the airport.  I figured I'd slept in train stations and bus depots over the years (usually in my college days) so why not complete it with a night in an airport.  :o)   When I arrived in New York I found out that the connecting flight was delayed as well, so I got to Portland at 1:30 AM. So. I guess I'll have to sleep in an airport some other time, (I hope not!)

This looks like me by the time I left Portland, except I have gray hair.

Both of my flights were on time on the way home, but I was very sick with a head cold.  Even though I took decongestants, my ears were so plugged up that it was very painful to take off and land and I think I may have some (hopefully) temporary damage in one ear. I felt really bad to be coughing and sneezing while on the planes but I couldn't help it.  That's how I got sick in the first place--other passengers sneezing on me on the way out there.  That's one thing I didn't want to pay forward though.

Today, I'm feeling much better and have to do a little office work, then it's into my sewing room to see what I want to work on first. I think I'll make the new fleece bathrobe that I've been needing all winter.  After all, we still have about 6 weeks of cold left here in  my part of the world.  I look out  into the back yard hoping that a miracle has occurred overnight and all the snow will be gone when I wake up in the morning and I'll be able to see buds and sprouts.  But no. All I see is snow.  So, a new fleece robe it is!

Thursday, February 12, 2015

The Vernal Equinox

As I sat down to read blog posts this morning with my first cup of coffee, I realized that the days are indeed getting longer here in the Northern Hemisphere. We've had a few  cloudless days so last night I could see that it was light outside as I began to prepare dinner around 6 pm, and this morning I got up at 7 am and it was getting light outside.  I was reminded that the Spring or Vernal Equinox is not far off.  
I enjoy reading Barbara's blog from the Three Cats Ranch in Oregon and today, she took a walk around her garden and posted pictures of all the things that were coming to life, like daffodils, irises, flowering trees, and so forth. You can read the post for yourself if you go here.
Then, I went online to see what I could find about the Vernal Equinox and discovered this picture from Spring Daughter and had to share it with you.  In my part of the world, we have about a foot of snow on the ground and somewhat cold temps--right now it's -4F and we are expecting a high temp of 14F--so thinking about the soon-to-arrive change of seasons is one of my favorite things to do at this time of the year.
"This is a rendition of Ostara, sometimes spelled Oestre or Eastre, a Germanic goddess of spring.
The Christian holiday of Easter stems from this goddess, and we can see some archetypal symbols of the spring equinox that represent the rebirth of the world, such as rabbits, eggs, and flowers."
If you live in the winter half of the globe, take heart--Spring will be here very soon.

Thursday, February 5, 2015

Common Quilt Sizes

After I measured the quilt top that Bonnie and I made last weekend, and it came out at 58 1/2" by 68 1/2", I wondered, what is the customary size for a quilted throw?  If this was too small, I was prepared to make a pieced border to get it up to size.

So I googled "What size is a quilted lap throw"  and google gave me a great site to check out.  Here it is:  Common Quilt Sizes.  This person searched all over the internet to get the information for sizes of all sorts of quilts, from placemats to making a custom quilt with pillow tuck and drape.  I'm happy now with the size of our quilt top and will not make a border to add to it.

I cut and pasted the information into a form that I could print out and will put it in the new folder I'm creating of information for cutting and sewing various units used in making quilts.  It seems that whenever I need to find a certain technique to make my cutting and sewing easier and faster, I have to search the internet to find what I need.  LIGHTBULB TIME !!!!!  I'm going to create a folder of printed techniques (and I'll keep it in my sewing room) containing all these helpful hints!  Maybe I'll decorate it with a picture of a lightbulb!

Anyway, I found this link helpful and thought I'd share it with you.  If you have found any helpful hints to ease our quilting tasks, please share, okay?

Quilting slumber party

Jan. 31, 2015
My friend, Bonnie, arrived at my house on Thursday evening and will be staying here until tomorrow when she has to return to her home in Duluth, MN.  Bonnie and I have known each other for nearly 40 years and our friendship just gets better and better!

Last fall, she asked if I could make a quilt to donate to her chapter of the AAUW for a silent auction fundraiser they were holding in early November and of course, I said yes.  A few days later, I learned that Don and I were going to Maine to bring Lily home to her mother so I told Bonnie I simply wouldn't have time to make the quilt but I promised her one for next year.

After thinking about it, I suggested that she spend a few days with me in my sewing room and we would make the quilt together--and this is the weekend!  She's done some sewing but has never quilted so it was a lot of fun showing her how to use the rotary cutter and seeing her delight when she sat down to sew at my new computerized "bells and whistles" sewing machine!  Her favorite thing was using the thread cutter!

Anyway, we had already picked out a pattern and she looked at my fabric stash and decided  she wanted to make the quilt in 30's fabrics, of which I have a huge variety (but have never used, for some reason).  This is the pattern--sideways--that we'd chosen:

and it's from this book:

Yesterday, we cut and sewed the ninety 4x8 inch flying geese units needed for the quilt!  I used the "no waste" method of making the geese and she was very skeptical about it until she made the final cut and saw the geese appear!  So much fun to see the look on her face!  She was so thrilled that we were able to get all of them done before evening when we sat down for a glass of wine and a delicious homemade vegan pizza. I realized how much faster everything goes when two of us were working on the project compared to doing it solo!  Definitely faster and lots more fun!

Look at how perfect she got those points!  Not a one was cut off or left floating!  just perfect!

Today, we are going shopping for fabric!  I'm taking her to the Busy Bobbin in Rice Lake to get some fabric for sashing and binding. And out for lunch as long as we're there.  After we get home, we'll begin assembling the top and see how much we can get done on it before she has to leave tomorrow.

I'm having so much fun with her here!  Amazingly, none of my friends are quilters so this is extra special for me. Bonnie's even mentioned that she would consider going on a quilting cruise with me! That would be soooo nice!

Feb. 5, 2015
Nearly a week has passed since I wrote the above post. I was saving it until Bonnie sent me the pix we'd taken on her phone to document our work on the quilt but so far they haven't arrived in the email.  So I decided to go ahead and finish up the post and go with a picture of the finished top.

Yes, we did get the top finished (almost) before Bonnie had to leave on Sunday the 1st.  All that was left were the final 4 strips of fabric to finish off the outside of the quilt.  And I did that after she left. And here is the finished top!

It measures 58.5" by 68.5"--perfect for a throw!

Let me tell you these FG units are perfectly sewn together.  Bonnie stitched the strips of geese and I did most of the sewing of the strips together. I confess I used the seam ripper a whole lot more than Bonnie did!   : p)   I think she's a natural quilter!

We had so much fun!  I think we should name it the "Quilt of Laughs."  We ran into trouble early on since we had deliberately made the flying geese units a bit smaller than the pattern called for.  This was because we were working with fat eighths of fabric for the geese bodies and they were not quite wide enough to make the squares we used in the no waste method.  BTW, click here for a great tutorial on how to make geese this way. It also includes a link to a chart you can use to make all sizes of flying geese.

Anyway, our geese were a bit smaller than the pattern called for so that meant that we had to cut the sashing strips (polka dots) a little bit smaller as well.  This pattern called for assembling strips of geese and sashing strips in a spiral fashion beginning in the center.  All was well when we assembled the center but when we got to the outer spirals, we realized that the strips of geese were too short. We'd either have to fudge the short strips to fit or add another goose and then fudge the longer strip to fit, both of which meant a ripple-y strip in the quilt.  What we decided was to add a few filler pieces to lengthen the geese strips to fit the quilt top. We rationalized by noting that when real geese are flying, they often have gaps and aren't always in a straight tight line!  So, that fixed the problem and I think it looks fine as well.  I took a hard look at the picture of the top above and had to really search to find the filler pieces so it's okay, I think.

At any rate, we did a lot of stitching and unstitching over three days, had lots of laughs, did some shopping at 2 of my favorite shops, and consumed more than one glass of wine and spirits!  I hope Bonnie may want to continue on her personal quilting journey.  All in all, it was a great weekend for two good friends!