Sunday, March 30, 2014

Silence is Golden...

I haven't posted in 2 weeks ...and if you ask my mom, I'm boring!

I've been on an organizing rampage for since I last posted, with a goal of getting this sewing room put ship-shape before Itty Bitty comes home for the summer and turns it back into his bedroom.

To that end, I believe I've now touched every piece in my stash, and either folded it neatly, or cut it up into usable sizes in the fashion of Joan Ford's Scrap Therapy method.  And just when I think I've gotten to the bottom of the stash, I turn around and find MORE fabric!  I've gone through a number of blades, and it's time to get a new cutting mat.

All the while, I'm still sewing together split nine-patches (forty-three blocks) and crumb blocks (about a hundred now). I've also pieced about 80 or so string blocks for "Jamestown Landing" from Bonnie Hunter's String Fling.  I've been using up thread too - - any pale colour of thread gets wound on to bobbins, and that way I can just flip in a new bobbin when the previous one runs out of thread without having to go through the nonsense of re-threading my machine.  This has certainly helped me clear out some nearly empty spools!

I still have to figure out how I'm going to organize this mess.  We went down to Ikea on Monday to have a look-see - - the goal being something storage related.  I came home with nothing.  I need a SYSTEM!!  ARGH!!!!!!

New stash this week: Provencial by Clothworks arrived from Annie's Creative Quilters Fabric Club.

Another "PIN": nailed:

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Does Anything Feel Better Than a New Blade in Your Rotary Cutter?

There are a millions of small pleasures in this life that we simply need to close our eyes, feel, and savour.  Things like slipping into bed the first time after changing the sheets, baby laughter, correctly picking the fastest moving check-out at the grocery store, a perfectly sharpened pencil, sunlight filtred through autumn leaves, driving on a hilly road and feeling that slight roller-coastery feeling, spying snowdrops after a long winter.

But today I'm thinking that the best feeling experience is slicing through fabric with a brand new blade.

How did you celebrated Worldwide Quilting Day?  Me?  I'm still celebrating!  I have been marathon-ing old episodes of The Quilt Show, which have been available for free all weekend.  It's not too late to catch a couple of episodes -- available until 12 midnight PST tonight.

While I've been watching - I've been taming my stash with Joan Ford's Scrap Therapy method.

I know I've been talking about this for a couple of weeks.  I actually started cutting the other night - - all of my 30s & 40s repros are now sliced up and ready to go - I'm thinking of making the quilt that's on the cover of "Cut the Scraps", which I purchased earlier this week.  It's been tough NOT cutting 2.5" squares - this seems to be a size I do use quite a bit - - so I have to remind myself that I can cut 5" squares into four matching 2.5" squares.

Of course - - this leads to a ton of odd shaped cut offs, which I have been carefully piecing together as per Victoria Findlay Wolfe's 15 Minutes of Play.

This image is "borrowed" from Paula Prass's blog Show & Tell. Scroll down to the bottom of THIS POST LINKED HERE to see how she has her fabric organized.  Quilter porn!!!!

So....I whipped up a batch of homemade spray starch a la Quilting Sheep 

  • 2 cups distilled water
  • 2 oz vodka
  • 6-12 drops of 100% pure essential oil - lavender is nice
  • 1/3 cup of liquid starch

I have been using this recipe for about four years.  I can't think of a thing I'd change.  It takes out the toughest wrinkles, and really crisps up tired fabric without flakes or gunking up my iron.

Anyway....back to the piecing - I iron through a stack of fabric, cut it, setting aside the odd shaped cut offs, and when I've got through that stack, I start sewing together the blocks.  So far I have pieced 30 6.5" blocks.  I'm thinking that I might whip up a batch of 8-pointed stars, like the 2nd block of the first row pictured in the book.

Something else that I've been piecing between trimming is this jar full of 3" nine patches created out of CW repros.  I have 93 so far.

I also sorted through all of my strings, and divided them into colour families.  Inspired by a couple of quilts in Bonnie Hunter's String Fling book - - I'm feeling like I might start piecing some string blocks too.  I don't have a project in mind, but if I start by just doing neutral blocks in a usable size (maybe 8.5"?) then something is sure to come to me.

I've also been working on my "Leader/Ender" Scrappy Split Nine Patch blocks - I'm working on my 10th block right now.

 Let's talk about tea.  

I gave up coffee about three months ago.  This was a HUGE deal, because I am an enormous fanatic about my coffee.  Due to some tummy issues, I was forced to quit coffee to cut back on the caffeine.  So I switched to tea.  I don't drink my tea very strong, and despite all the urban legends, tea does have about 1/3 the caffeine of coffee.  I figured I was good.  Nope.  I saw my nutritionist about a month ago, and she insisted the tea had to go - - or switch to decaf.

Oh my gaaaawwwd!  After some initial stubbornness (spell check insists there are 2 'n's in stubbornness - that just looks weird, but I digress) - -  I resisted the urge to toss myself on the floor kicking and screaming like a 3 year old at the grocery store who is denied a Kinder Egg - -   and grudgingly agreed to give it a try.

Now before you add a comment about try this herbal or that fancy schmancy flavour - - I have to tell you, I hate all tea except good old fashioned Orange Pekoe.  I'm not so much of a snob that I have to insist on a brand - - whatever is on sale and I have a coupon for is perfect.

I tried Red Rose Orange Pekoe Decaf first.  (Remember that commercial?  "Only in Canada, hey?  Pity!")

Terrible - - I had to use two bags to brew one cup, and that's pretty bad for me: a person who doesn't enjoy a strong cup of tea.  A box of 80 bags was only slightly cheaper than Tetley (which was my next trial).  But if you're Canadian and feeling nostalgic, enjoy the commercial, and check out the photos of the Wade figurines that came in boxes of tea in the 60's and 70's.  I remember my Nanna kept a troupe of the Nursery Rhyme figurines on her kitchen window sill.

Next - I tried the more expensive Tetley decaf.  A box of 80 bags at Walmart was just shy of $8.  Within a few days of my purchase, I began to see news items related to young girls being sold into slavery and involving Tetley - - and as if that wasn't enough to turn me off - - it wasn't great flavour.

Now -- and this is going to sound sooooo strange to my fellow Canadians -- there is not a Tim Horton's near my home or work, so I rarely get to go there - - even though it's RRRROLLL up the RRRRIM time! - - however, if I'm out and about, I will head into a drive through and order an "XL decaf Orange Pekoe, one bag in and one bag on the side" - - that's right.  At Timmy's, if you order an XL tea, they put two bags in, but one is plenty strong for me, and I can save the spare bag for another time.

Hubby and I were out on the road yesterday for a drive to nowhere in particular, just to blow the dust off. (For the record, I didn't get to go to ANY fabric or quilt stores - but I DID have to endure  visits to two music stores in Orangeville.  Ugh - nothing more boring to me, and the first one smelled like coffee and marijuana.  Musicians!  grrrr!)  

Coming home on country roads, I got a smidge anxious when we were a little lost, I realized I really should have gotten gas before leaving civilization, crawling through white out conditions, the snow plough we were following turned around as we hit the county line, and we passed an accident (police were already on scene, and it looked under control, so I didn't stop).  When we finally arrived in Fergus, a place I often travel to and/or through for work, I pulled over at the first Timmy's I came to.  I needed to a break from the car and to unwrap my white knuckled grip on the steering wheel.

I ordered my tea, and because I was actually IN the Timmy's and not the Drive-thru, I asked about the price of tea.  A box of 40 bags came to $3.49.  Perfect!  I am the happiest tea drinker in the world now!

Can you stand one more thing?

Maybe you've seen this 'pinned' on Pinterest:

The instructions are here - - but I had never tried it.  I had a grapefruit that was beyond eating --the peel was dry and the flesh was getting squishy-- so I thought what the heck?  Cut it up, put it in a 2-cup Pyrex measuring cup with water and nuked it for five minutes.  I let it sit for another 2 minutes, and the icky stuff wiped right off with a paper towel, and the overpowering smell of popcorn was erased.  I'm thinking that any citrus fruit will work.  Keep that little tip in mind.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

A little outing - Check out Red Red Bobbin!

Hubby and I went for a little drive today - - the sun was shining, and the temperature well above freezing! This has been the longest winter of my life, and the weatherman is calling for yet ANOTHER winter storm starting tonight, bringing cold temps and 15-25 cm of snow.  OMG!!!  No more!!!!

Itty Bitty attends university about an hour from home at the Brantford campus of Wilfrid Laurier.  He had class this morning, but I had found a new-to-me Quilt Shop: Red Red Bobbin.  Am I ever glad I found it!  I just wonder why it took me until Itty Bitty's 3rd year of university to find it.  Louise, Jim, and Robin were very welcoming--as was Lucy, the resident store dog.

One thing that especially intrigues me is an upcoming visit from Australia's Kathy Doughty in May to teach two workshops.  You know who Kathy is....doesn't EVERYONE follow Material Obsessions???  I may just have to reserve a seat - - hey St. Thomas!  Brantford is only an hour away, and I would LOVE to see you all!

The fabric selection is incredible. 1500 bolts including designs by Kaffe Fassett, Brandon Mably, Philip Jacobs, Jane Sassaman, Martha Negley, Melissa White, Terri Mangat, Tula Pink, Parson Gray, Jay McCarroll, Anna Maria Horner, Kim Schaeffer and Gail Kessler. If I had brought my camera, I would have taken photos.  Such exciting selections, prints I've never seen anywhere before, but no shopping for me - - just looking with my eyes, not my hands! 

I did purchase two books though, including one the I blogged about two weeks ago: Cut The Scraps by Joan Ford (It was signed by the author!)  And I was delighted to learn that Red Red Bobbin prices books at US prices, in Canadian dollars.  Niiiiiiice........

Hubby and I have been marathon watching "Shameless" - we are in the midst of the 3rd season.  Okay - it's filthy - lots of full-frontal nudity, language, sex, and shocking-shocking!-story lines - - it's a guilty pleasure.

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Scraps, Stash, & Slow Sunday Stitching

Eighteen days until spring.  Has this been the longest winter EVER?!?!?  Aren't you sick of talking about how cold it is and how much snow has fallen?  Ugh...

Scrappy Mug Rug.

I got on the Split Nine Patch band wagon as my "leader/ender" project just as Bonnie Hunter announces this year's new Leader & Ender: Lozenges

This month's Quilter's Club package came in the mail this week.  All blue? two months in a row?  Hm.  Rethinking this club thing.

This week's Slow Sunday Stitching is going to be about closing the turning opening on my table runner, sewing on the buttons, and starting the quilting.

Hubby and I went thrifting yesterday.  I found this ginormous jar.  When I brought it home (and it was freakin' heavy!) I didn't have a clear picture of what I was going to do with it.

Oh wait!  Storage for scraps for 15 Minutes of Play!

Hubby found a soft guitar case that required some stitching.  Uh...mending?  Seriously? first thing this morning I glued down the trim, clamped it down, and then stitched it down.  He is my slave - FOREVER!