One down, two to go

I hope everyone had a wonderful Thanksgiving, even if it was a little weird.  I know lots of people are used to a big holiday with friends and family and many sacrificed that to help prevent the spread of Covid.  We all appreciate that sacrifice.  We've spent so much time with Syd and her boyfriend lately that it didn't seem inappropriate to spend Thursday with them, but we did make sure that we kept apart and didn't get right up on them during the day.  

We had our usual feast, tho I forgot to take any pictures.  I was busy cooking and getting everything on the table at the same time.  I enjoyed watching Syd navigate her beau through the ins and outs of dinner with the Dads.  Everything is antique, so be careful, but don't be so careful that you can't have a good time.  The only picture I got was this one, after lunch, when I was hoping Santa would send some elves to take care of the dishes.  When we had eaten all the turkey leftovers we could possibly eat, I turned the last of the turkey into a casserole that we started on last night.  The name of the casserole?  Gobbler Cobbler!

I had a few days off and I guess the whole Thanksgiving meal wasn't enough of a challenge, so I made pickles on Tuesday.  Yeah, I'm weird like that.  

I also made the rest of the leaf blocks.  We were so busy yesterday getting ready for the work week ahead that I didn't get a picture of all 51, but here is the picture I took at 33.  It's going to be a lovely quilt.  After this picture was taken, I decided not to make any more green blocks.  It is a falling leaves pattern after all.  

And, as I was working the dishes, Rob started decorating for the holidays.  I only have a couple of pictures now, but here's the tree with a couple favorite ornaments.  That tree has everything and the kitchen sink.

I told Rob early that I was too tired after all the cooking and cleaning to put up the swag this weekend, but he gave me plenty of down time to rest and relax, and by yesterday, I felt up to hanging the swag.  It really does add something special to the holiday for him and after all the disappointments of 2020, it was not the time to break any traditions.  

I also registered for a hand appliqué class with Becky Goldsmith that the guild is hosting.  I'm looking forward to that.  I've read her books and my stitch is pretty close to invisible, but it will be nice to see her do it and improve my skills.  I can always do better, right?  

Everybody have a great week!  It's cold here today and we're expecting our first freeze tonight.  I turned off the news last week and didn't get the early warning about the freeze until last night, so I am unprepared.  I guess I know how I'll be spending my lunch hour today.   



Those falling leaves...

 drift by the windowpane.  The autumn leaves of red and gold...

Can't go wrong with Nat King Cole.  Now that will be stuck in my head all day, and I gift it to you.  

Last weekend I had a ton of bits and bobs of Batik leaf sections.  This week, I worked on assembling them.  I can only really focus on about 10 at a time, so I assemble a few and then advance other sections to get them ready for final assembly.  I'm up to 23 of 51.  I'm not cutting any more pieces from the original background fabric.  The yardage I ordered (12 days ago!) should be delivered today and I'll focus on getting it washed and ironed and ready to use.  

If it's a little bit different color, I'll still be able to mix it in and keep it from being noticeable.  This is a very light batik print with very little contrast.  I don't find those often.  I have enough pieces cut and matched into groups to make 9 more blocks this morning.  And, then we're back to cutting leaf sections.  Because of the unusual grid of the block (not a straight up and down, side to side equal sections grid) I'm finding it easier not to press the blocks as I assemble.  I press the individual components as I piece them and I trim those to get the right shape.  But when I'm assembling those components, I don't press until the block is assembled.  For some reason, it makes the blocks easier to assemble.

Joyful Quilter, yesterday I took those leaf shapes apart along the last seam.  I can do better, so that challenge is up for this week...get that assembled so that it's natural shape is flat and I can move forward into another section of what I have in mind.  I decided if it was worth doing, it was worth doing right.  This time, instead of starting at one end of that S curve and working all the way across both opposing curves in one seam, I'm going to start in the center of the section, and piece each curve from there to the edge.  And, if I have trouble this time, I'll pin the heck out of those curves.  I can apply my other skills to my art project.  It doesn't all have to be free form.

I made good progress on the Linus afghan.  I'm likely going to have enough yarn to make this one and another where the stripes are narrower.  I have several medium sized balls that aren't enough for the 7 row colorful stripes, but would likely do 4 or 5 rows.  And, I have enough skeins of white to make up the difference.  Last week, I had a lot of meetings on my calendar.  And, I crocheted through most of them.  Bad me.  But, I can count to nine and listen to what you're saying.  😒

Yesterday, I was in a baking mood, but when I was done, I didn't have the energy to take pics.  I baked white bread and brownies and an orange cranberry loaf...I haven't had orange cranberry anything in years and stumbled across the recipe and made it on the spur of the moment.  Haven't tasted it yet but the bread and the brownies are wonderful!  I wanted to share our Friday night supper.  Sometimes you feel like a healthy meal...sometimes you don't.  We had chili cheese hotdogs made with homemade chili.  

This was the second serving of hotdogs.  In the first one, I used Wolf Brand Chili.  It might have been made by actual wolves.  No offense to the wolves, but I promised Rob we'd never do that again and half the can went into the garbage.  Earlier last week, I made chili with the plan to save some to use on the rest of the hot dogs.  We ate them with salty chips.  It was terrible for us and it was delicious and it can't all be about living forever.  Sometimes, you just gotta have fun.  

Everybody have a great week and a wonderful Thanksgiving.  Please observe the guidance of the CDC and stay healthy.  We are having Syd and her boyfriend over.  We've accepted that there is a certain amount of risk involved with having guests, but we've mitigated that risk s much as possible to make it a safe holiday.  May your turkey be moist (but not too moist...ick!), your stuffing baked all the way through,, and your gravy not congeal.  Live, love, and laugh a lot.  



Having a bad electronics day

 Yes, that is the same as a bad hair day.  I can't get anything to work and it's making me a little crazy.

Anyway, it was another productive week.  I got the message at work that I needed to take time off so I've taken a little time to get away from work and the stress of the every day.  Last Wednesday, I wanted to sew maple leaf blocks while sitting on the deck in the beautiful sunshine, but I ran into trouble.  Because the corners aren't cut off the blocks I'm sewing, I need a quarter inch foot.  I set up three different machines, each with different feet available, and I couldn't find a quarter inch foot that would fit any of them.  I messed with it for about an hour and then came back in the house and pieced sections on the reliable Singer 401 that is always set up with a quarter inch foot.  

There are maple leaf sections all over the room.  Some piled up, some spread out.  I've pieced 240 of the 306 that will be required.  I had to order more background fabric and am not sure it will be the exact same coloring, so I'm not going to cut the last 66 until it gets here, in case I need those using the new background.  I'll still be able to integrate a slightly different shade without it standing out.  

I also pieced another section for the art quilt.  Right now I can't find the other sections.  They must have been dropped in the fabric pile, but this is supposed to integrate with them.  This section was too advanced for me.  it has problems, primarily that this is not its true shape.  This is the shape I soaked and pinned it to the floor in.  It's really kind of a wadded up set of mismatched seams.  But, it was pretty fun to do until I got down to the last seam.  Remember, what you piece is what you gotta sew, straight or not.  The main issue I'm having is with fabric slippage.  Because the pieces aren't pinned together, the fabric next to the feed dogs feeds through faster than the top piece that I'm manipulating to get an accurate quarter inch seam.  So, the curves that I cut to put the two halves together weren't the curves I sewed in.  Anyway, so long as it never gets wet again (or even a heavy dew), it should lay flat like this.  So, no spitting in the studio from now on...

I also finished a pair of socks that I've been working on all summer.  When I started them, I told Rob I didn't think I'd wear a pair of purple socks, but he agrees, they're pretty nice and when I go back to wearing regular shoes again, I'll be able to wear these.  

And, I started a Linus afghan.  It was going to be a ripple red, white and blue, but I realized that to do that, I'd need to buy a lot more yarn.  Or, I could use large balls of scrap yarn I already have and make a real nice afghan to donate.  

Also, everybody needs a little bit of home made comfort.  

We went to another neighborhood concert on Saturday night.  Little less jazzy this time.  Rob's best friend and his wife came and so did Syd and her boyfriend.  Then, we all went out to dinner.  It was such an extravagance to go out to eat.  We took Syd out for her b-day a couple weeks ago and the restaurant was doing such a good job of social distancing that we felt comfortable, so we went back there on Saturday.  We were obnoxiously loud and laughed for a couple hours.  I think we all needed it.  

Not much use for below the line these days.  But, I did want to take one passing shot.  

As big babies go, baby trump is going.  

Everybody have a great week!  Stay busy and I'll try not to start something new.  Lane  


Well, lookie there

I hardly know what to talk about first.  It's been a busy week!  I know it was stressful for some people, but I was able to let go and settle into my routine and let that routine give me comfort.  Subsequently, while I was focused on what I was doing, I got a ton of work stuff done that I'd been putting off because it was hard work.  And, this week, I'm ready to take on some new challenges.  

I'm going to start with my batik maple leaf blocks.  I've cut out enough variety that I could start piecing some blocks and figuring out how they're going to work, how seams should be pressed so the blocks will lock together when I join them and to make sure I was going to like blocks made out of multiple fabrics.   

I definitely like them.  It's going to take a little more focus making them with multiple fabrics because I'm using the darker fabrics in pairs.  It's going to be harder to keep up with that if I'm assembly line, mass producing the blocks.   But, using them in pairs gives me really nice symmetry in the block and I think I can make it work, even assembly line piecing.  Now, I've just got to find the time to do it.  

Speaking of maple leaves, our tree looked on fire last week with the sun shining on the maple leaves.  I love this tree, but it is getting old and we need to get another tree in the ground near it.  

I took the Sheila Frampton-Cooper class yesterday.  Yes, I had the day wrong.  Right up til Friday night, I was prepping for a Saturday class.  The coordinator asked us to try the link and I did and it came up as a Sunday meeting.  I wrote the coordinator (and embarrassed myself) before she pointed out that I had the day wrong.  

The class was a lot of fun.  At one point, when I was trying to piece my first curve, I wanted to give up.  I wasn't interested and I couldn't do it.  But, fortunately,  I stuck with it.  I even figured out what I was doing wrong and the rest of the class got much easier.  In this class, I learned to stack two pieces of fabric, cut a curve into them, then sew that curve together, without using pins.  The gray section is where I started.  The green section was much easier.  

That goes against everything I believe as a piecer, but I got it to work.  Don't think of these as blocks.  They're intended to have their square corners cut off and other pieces attached that will later come together as a beautiful work of art.  Maybe.  There's no planning in Sheila's style of quilting, except choosing a color palette, and deciding whether you want to start with a focal point and build around that, or whether you want to make inspired sections, and then create sections to join and coordinate them.  You make the pieces you feel inspired to make.  I'm going for the make sections and join them later plan.  My color palette is reds and greens, with grays as a background.  We'll see.  It figures I'd have a project with a deadline that will keep me from much of this work for a while.  

Also, this made a mess of the studio.  I was cutting one piece at a time, so I had to cut from a lot of pieces of fabric.  I'd cut a strip, then toss the rest to the side.  I have piles of unfolded fabrics and a stack of strips on the cutting table.  Oddly enough, that pile became my inspiration.  I'd lay my section down on the cutting mat and a color would jump out at me from the pile as the next piece.  The next challenge is to start using up some of the scraps for smaller pieces.  

And, finally, I made much progress on digging and dividing the iris and daylilies (spell check needs to add the word daylilies because I can assure them, I will never intend to use the word dallies...ever).  This is easy work right now because the soil is so dry.  When I started building this garden, the soil was all heavy clay, but now it's a great, loose, well drained soil mix, with just enough clay to help it hold water.  

I'm adding in some new things that will bloom later than the iris and lilies and will hopefully give me color most of the summer.  This spot got really, really green this year, without any flowers for months.  Next year, I believe it will have a series of colors (at least that's the plan) for all season bloom.

I just realized that I garden like Sheila quilts.  hardly any plan, except to have something in bloom all year round.  


Now, if we can just survive the series of lies that trump and the trumpettes are telling their followers, everything will be fine.  I didn't really understand cancel culture, and read several articles about it last week.  The trumpettes say that we are trying to cancel their culture of religion and racism.  First, that's not true.  All we're trying to cancel is them forcing those beliefs on the rest of us.  And, second, we show up with votes and they show up with guns.  Who's really trying to cancel who here?  

I won't be forced into antiquated beliefs by anyone.  Likewise, I won't try to turn anyone into a fun-loving, happy, quilting, gardening homasekshul either.  Just let me be and don't try to force me to believe what you believe and I'll let you be whatever unhappy person you choose to be.  And, if you can't keep up with your part of the bargain, I'll turn up the Lady Gaga until I drown you out.  

We'll see just how far people are willing to go in the next couple of months.  

I hope it's not far.  



Back to normal and busy

 Yes, I realize that all this stuff I'm doing is about anxiety over the election and pandemic.  But, if spending several hours baking sweets and cutting a new quilt project are how I deal with it, that doesn't seem so bad to me.  I'm sure there are lots of people having a worse go of it than I am.  

For the new project, Rob has asked me to reproduce this quilt.  Some of you may remember this quilt.  It's an early quilt that was 3/4 quilted when I realized I'd made a mistake and I picked all the quilting out of it and started over, and replaced the border.  It's supposed to look like falling leaves building up on the ground.  It looks like someone developed that pattern and they used fewer leaves and more background space.  I'll likely do some of that, too.  

Rob wants me to reproduce it in batiks.  So, I've gone to the bin and pulled out my scraps and am away!  There's about 600 pieces and I've cut about 100, but that includes ironing all the fabrics and scraps I cut from.  Hopefully there won't be that much more of that.  

I also signed up for a class next Saturday.  That seemed very optimistic and hopeful that civil war won't have broken out by then.  It's a class by Sheila Frampton-Cooper called Express your true self:  one piece at a time.  It's totally improv piecing.  You can see more of her work at https://www.zoombaby.com.  

We'll be working with solid fabrics and I opened my bin of solids and found that there were only mediums and darks, no lights.  So, I bought a bundle of light solids and they came in Saturday and have been washed and ironed.  I never thought I'd be interested in improv piecing.  I am a rigid pattern follower who prides himself on finally being able to follow a pattern, but sometimes you need something new.  Even if I only make one small quilt from this class, it will teach me something and I will be inspired in my work.