Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Basket quilt done

I put the last stitches in the binding of the Basket Block Swap quilt today. It's a smallish throw but I love the various baskets. I added some broderie perse to one block (lower middle) and removed some yoyos (top right) to make quilting easier. I quilted a curvy weave grid over the borders and am pleased with the effect. My machine quilting is improving, but slowly.

For the last week or so, I've been working on miscellaneous blocks, including Civil War blocks-of-the-week and some Winding Ways 9" blocks. For the latter I have a sweet background print of gray and pink on cream. Accent colors are various grays and pinks. It will be a while before I'm finished all the blocks, but with practice and the Curvemaster foot, the curves are looking better as I go.

Friday, November 25, 2011

An unconventional Thanksgiving

Our Thanksgiving lobster was delicious but messy. Paul and I headed to the store early yesterday, and it was mostly empty. We left "Larry, Loretta, and Lucille" in the car to cool until noon when they went into my big canning pot. I made a salad, melted some butter, and warmed up the whole wheat/oat rolls I had made Wednesday. Polly arrived at 12:30 pm, bringing a lovely apple pie. She had never had a whole lobster before. It is a messy proposition, and I'm glad the trash will be collected today. I need to change the tablecloth, too, since things tend to get a little wet. It was a light, easy meal, topped off by the pie a la mode.

I talked with Mom Wed. night, and Axel yesterday morning. He was heading over to friends with a relish tray. Chris spent the day with friends who love football as much as he does, but of course we see him almost every day for lunch. We will probably see him this weekend when he runs out of clean clothes.

I liked not having so many dishes and pots/pans to wash, and it gave me time to sew. I started knitting another hat, this time off white with purple stripes, and worked on more mystery quilt blocks. This month's "clue" calls for 24 string blocks, 8.5" square, in background fabrics. It was tough to gather them all together, and I hope I have some left for any upcoming clues. When I saw Jen at the store in the morning, she told me December's clue won't be as labor intensive. Thank goodness! I hope to finish those blocks today and get back to working on other projects. That Winding Ways quilt keeps calling to me, as I keep setting it aside for other things.

I'm not planning to shop today except for food. Paul needs to go downtown and will pick up the holiday letters at the printer's. I hope to do a little housework, walk on the treadmill, and then get back to sewing. Big eternal question: what's for dinner?

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Rijsttafel vanavond

Dinner tonight: Indonesian Rijsttafel with dear friends. Many years ago, I took Chinese cooking lessons with Chet and have been meaning to invite him and Karen for an Indonesian dinner for some time. Tonight's menu includes:

  • Sayur Lodeh - vegetables in coconut sauce

  • Rendang - spicy beef stew (the crock pot works well for this)

  • Tempeh goreng

  • Atjar ketimun - cucumber salad

  • Garnished with peanuts and sambal oelek (hot sauce)

  • Nasi (I'm using brown rice which my grandmother would frown upon)

  • Black rice pudding with mango for dessert

Just like Thanksgiving, I've been working on this for a few days, but the result will be a little lighter. When I was a kid, my mother made all her Indonesian food from scratch and taught me to do the same. The Dutch can buy many dishes in the deli at the supermarket or just use a mix. Luckily for me, my sister sends me mixes from Holland so I don't have to do as much from scratch, but I still prefer making my own sayur. The mix just doesn't taste right, and I can't figure out what it is I don't like in it. I do wish I had some krupuk, but that will have to wait til another time. Chet's bringing a Reisling and some beer.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Basket Swap quilt ready to quilt

Yesterday, I finished adding the borders to the quilt top I mostly put together from swap blocks at last weekend's quilt camp. At first, I was going to piece extra side borders because the top was long and thin. But after I got the new outside border batik, I realized it would look fine if the side strips were 6" wide and the top and bottom were 3" wide. And so it does. The batik between the blocks is more of a beige-brown while the borders have a little more teal in them.

I pin-basted it yesterday and then took a break to finish Jennifer Chiaverini's newest book, The Wedding Quilt. It was a perfect Sunday afternoon read. I enjoyed catching up with characters from various books in the series and look forward to her next, Sonoma Rose, coming this winter. While reading, I thought a little about the Winding Ways quilt I hope to make from Jennifer's latest quilt book, Traditions from Elm Creek Quilts.

This morning I started quilting in the ditch between the center blocks. After tying off many loose ends, I am taking another break to think about what I will quilt in the plain blocks and on the borders. Free motion? A motif drawn on tracing paper? I'm using a nice beige-gray thread and will proceed slowly. I used to hate tying off the loose ends, but now I find it relaxing and a good way to stretch between quilting sessions.

Sunday, November 13, 2011


Even though retirement means never having a schedule, today I hope to:
- vaccuum and mop
- grocery shop
- put something in the crock pot for dinner
- make the borders for the basket quilt (IF I feel like it!)
- tackle a couple of block of the week Civil War blocks
- finish reading The Wedding Quilt by Jennifer Chiaverini
- take a photo of the Prairie Flower quilt I finished last week

It's going to be a busy week so I do want to relax today. I have a county Democratic committee meeting Monday night, quilt guild Tuesday night, and book group Wednesday night. On Saturday morning, I'm slated to teach an applique class at A Quilter's Garden. So I need to get my stuff together for that. The class sample, hanging at the shop, uses Christmas fabrics, but I want to make the one I do along with the class in blue and white. Someday, I'll add it to my "square robin" that's going around to members of the quilt guild this year.

Yesterday, after a quick trip to Joann's, I finished knitting a hat. It was my first and turned out way too large for either niece. I have a huge head and it's even a little big on me, so I'll set it aside and wear it in bad weather. I got a few more skeins of yarn but won't start on another, easier hat for a while.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Home from retreat

I went to my first overnight quilt retreat last weekend. Paula picked me up at 1:30 pm for Seyon Lodge, just half an hour east of us. There were 12 other quilters, and we sewed, chatted, ate exceedingly well, and laughed a lot for the next two days. And I got a lot done:
  • I made six "mug rugs" to give family and friends for Christmas. I plan to add some goodies along with a tag that says Enjoy your mug rug! so they know what it is. I still have a few more to make. For many of them, I used selvages clipped off fabrics I've been using this summer and fall. They are really cute.

  • I put together the basket blocks I had received in a swap a few weeks ago. The resulting quilt top is just a little too thin and needs borders along the sides. Unfortunately, I am almost out of the grey/brown and blue batik I was using between the blocks. Sarah, who sat next to me at Seyon, works at the shop where I bought the batik. She took a snippet and will call me tomorrow when she's there to let me know whether or not to make the trip down to get more. Otherwise, as she says, sometimes creative solutions come out of these situations.

  • I made a couple more Amish blocks for the library raffle quilt that guild members are working on. I have about 20 blocks so far, most of them made by guild members who have until Dec. 13 to make them. It should be a stunning quilt.

  • I made good progress hand appliqueing a center medallion from the book Simple Graces by Kim Diehl. After I finish this I will surround the medallion with small log cabin blocks similar to those in a quilt owned by the Vermont Historical Society. I'm using a variety of shirtings for the 40" x 40" center and will use them in the log cabin blocks, too. This is a longterm project but is beginning to look like something after spending a number of hours over the weekend.

When I got home, I puttered around the sewing room, putting stuff back, but I haven't sewn a stitch since. I guess I OD'd on quilting! I've been knitting a hat - my first - in a lovely hot pink. If it turns out nice, I'll give it to a special niece for Christmas.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

A carpet of flowers

The 2011 Friendship Swap "prairie flower" blocks arrived last week, and I couldn't resist laying them out right away. At first, I planned to put a floral print in between the blocks but that didn't look right, so then I thought I'd frame each floral block with a dark green. But that didn't look right either. A block-to-block layout seemed to show the various greens and creams off better. It was a little difficult to put together this way, and I had to iron seams toward the opposite side in some places. I also made a few extra blocks to create a 5 x 6 block setting.

But it all worked out, and I spent the last few days quilting. I went in the ditch along the greens and then stippled the floral print border. We had a little snow which was a good excuse to stay home and quilt. I'm sewing the binding down today and should be done soon. It will be a great throw for reading on the couch this winter!

Right now I'm reading The Miracle Life of Edgar Mint by Barry Udall for my book group. I read somewhere that the author wanted to write a "big" book, but it needed a good editor. The torturous behavior of the boys in boarding school was hair-raising and Udall's descriptions are over-long. This was marketed for YA and up, but I can't see a teen sticking with it. Can't wait to finish and move on to something lighter: Jennifer Chiaverini's The Wedding Quilt and two Carrie Bebris mysteries featuring Mr. and Mrs. Darcy!