Saturday, February 27, 2010

Poor Dolly is not her usual happy self, and it will be a while before we get back to our nightly walks.  She's a very subdued little dog, and thinks twice about moving anywhere at all.  

We took her to the vet to be spayed on Wednesday, and it's been a tough few days as she recovers.  The vet commented on how tightly muscled she is, which has to be due to Macca, her Dad; her mum is a barrel of blubber.The tight muscles means she's very sore, and lets us know; I do believe she's getting even more spoiled now.   But it's hard to resist her woebegone little face.

We had a joint garage sale with friends today, so no sewing was achieved.  I'm working away at the Milky Way blocks, nearly three-quarters finished now. My sewing room is covered in a layer of navy and cream fabrics, which will take a lot of tidying up; I wish I could learn to pack things away as I go, but I don't seem to work that way.

I should probably start thinking about the next piecing project, seeing this is nearly done.  Time to go through the books and choose something new, something colourful I think.  I'm a bit tired of two colour quilts.

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Monday, February 22, 2010

I seem to have started another project on the weekend, quite out of the blue. Literally.


For years and years I've been collecting fabrics for this navy and white Milky Way quilt.  For all those years I've looked at that pile of FQs and said to myself 'You can't use them, they're for your Milky Way quilt, no touching them until that project is done'.  And last Saturday I was so sick of the enormous pile of fabric which I wasn't allowed to use, that I decided I"d better make the quilt once and for all and be done with it .

Thankfully it's turning out just like it's supposed to, and I have plenty of material. 

More than enough for this one quilt, so from now on I'll be able to include these navies in my current projects without any guilt or nagging about 'saving' them.  And I truly hope that I don't go straight out and buy more, which is what I usually do when I use a swag of material and deplete the stash.

The pattern is from this old book; it's an excellent pattern book, there are several quilts in there that I still want to do, after all these years. 

You can just see the Post-it notes at the top marking all the quilts I like.  I don't think any of them have a whole fabric drawer devoted to them, like my Milky Way did.

I have to set it out on the design wall and sew it piece by piece, but it's going together surprisingly quickly.  Mereth suggested that I am shallow enough to have cut the whole thing out just so that I could write it up in my fabric book as used.  Hah!  As if I would do that.  But the 6 metres I cut up for this bumped my figures over the 100 metre mark, which is a milestone.  It's an achievement to use that much material two months into the year, but I'm also pleased that I am still keeping track of the stash.  And I suppose the downside of that is that I also know how much fabric I've bought (18.5 metres)  and how much it cost.  Yes, well, we might gloss over that......

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Sunday, February 14, 2010

I added another machine to the collection last week.  

I've wanted a Bernina 730 for ages, and this one was at the local sewing machine shop.  It's not in pristine condition, having come from a school; it must have had a very hard life judging from the chipped paint, bent foot and missing accessories.  But it still sews a beautiful stitch, so it's worth having.  I just love the shape of the early Berninas, very stylish.

I sewed some more Lady of the Lake blocks, I have 16 made now.  This is the way I've decided to press the seams.

I haven't been able to figure out a way that all the seams between blocks interlock nicely, but with this method there are only 4 seams that go the same way and I can live with that.

I press all the triangle seams open, to reduce the bulk, then add the two strips of 3 triangles at either end.

Then I add the sets of 5 triangles across the top and bottom.

And I twirl two of the intersections so that the seams between blocks nest together.

I was making each block from just two fabrics, I always think that it should be easier if you don't have to make decisions as you piece.  But then I get bored, and I'm tempted into making a few scrap blocks, and before you know it, the only blocks I like are the scrappy ones.

I like these so much I don't think I'll make anymore in just two fabrics.  Scrap is so much better.

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Friday, February 12, 2010

The saga of the zucchini continues; just one plant is producing way too much for me to deal with, but I'm valiantly trying to keep up. The problem is that if I skip picking them for one day then I'm greeted by monsters like this the next day; I've never seen anything grow so quick.

This morning I found 4 of them, so I spent the morning grating them, and salted them to get a lot of the water out. Then I made fritters and a double batch of Zucchini slice, and froze the rest for later. And tomorrow there will be more of them to deal with.
I'm leaving the squash to dry on the vine, and see if they develop thicker skins; it will help if I can just leave them for a while and give me a chance to use some of the ones on my kitchen table. The problem with really prolific plants is that all my friends have their own harvest, so I can't unload mine anywhere.
The recipe for the Zucchini relish was really easy, and it makes a nice fresh tasting accompaniment to cold meats. It's really wonderful with cheese though, I can eat half a jar with cheese and crackers for lunch, and Mereth has it on a cheese sandwich. We've gone through three jars already, so I may have to make another batch quick smart.
Don't you just love those little Mason jars? I got them from the Redback Trading Company here in Australia, and I'd like to invest in a few more of these smaller sizes. It makes no sense for me to open a big jar of anything, so it's wonderful to have a serving that's just right for me on my own.
Zucchini Relish
Use the coarse blade of the food processor to mince all the vegetables.
4 cups minced zucchini
3 cups minced carrots
4.5 cups minced onions
1.5 cups minced red or green peppers
1/4 cup salt (this is necessary for preserving, and it's spread amongst 13 cups of veggies)
2.25 cups vinegar
.75 cup sugar
1 tbspn celery seed
1 tbspn white mustard seed
3/4 tspn dry mustard ( put a whole tspn in, why muck about!)
Put everything in a large saucepan and cook for half an hour, or till the liquid is reduced by half. (It should look like a wet veggie mix rather than a soup.) Pack into sterilised jars while still hot, seal and process in a water bath for 20 minutes.


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Tuesday, February 09, 2010

The custom quilt was finished at last, and it seemed to get bigger the more we worked on it. It just swamped the whole table when we laid it out to trim and bind it. It was 104" x 109", and that's a lot of quilt. We are so lucky to have the tables and workspace to handle such a large item, it's so much easier to manage when the quilt is completely supported.

I often help Mereth out with the really big custom quilts; I use the Statler to put in large motifs, or elements of the border, and Mereth freehands the spaces that are left. I get to play and experiment with the software, and it cuts down the amount of work that she has to do. In the huge corner triangles I put the feathered heart in the centre, and Mereth free-handed the feather sprays either side. She's pretty good at placing feathers to completely fill an area.

The border was 14.5"wide, and I quilted lines 2" in on either side, then put that elaborate Interlaced Feather border in the remaining space. Those straight lines help define the border, and by making the space smaller (9") the border pattern can fill it entirely at a nice scale. If I'd done this pattern at 13" the individual feathers would have been too large. Straight lines are good value.

We can't post pictures of the entire quilt, as it may end up entered in a show, but it did look wonderful, and worth all the effort.

In the comments on my Stash Report, Kathi pointed out that my maths was up the creek, so I went back and looked at the spreadsheet; I wrote down the wrong number in my totals, so I've actually used 90.6 metres this year, bought 15.25, for a total of 75.35 metres used. I'm much closer to that first 100 metres used than I thought I was.

It's HOT! That's only to be expected in summer, but expecting it doesn't make it more bearable. Still, there is a cool change predicted for tomorrow, and that does make the heat endurable. Only 24 more hours of this, then we can go outside without melting into a puddle. And I can play in my sewing room, and cook up some more of those blessed zucchini....






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Sunday, February 07, 2010

Week 6 Stash Report;

Used this Week: 11.5 metres
Used year to Date: 75.00 metres
Added this Week: .25 metres
Added Year to Date: 15.25 metres
Net Used for 2010: 74.75 metres

I'm doing well at not adding to the stash, at recording my usage, and actually using some fabric. It's starting to look hopeful that I'll hit the 100 metre mark sometime in February, which will please me greatly. I know I use lots of fabric, and make lots of quilts, but I never kept track of any of it before. It's nice to be able to see what's happening with my stash.

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Saturday, February 06, 2010

I've been working on my Lady of the Lake blocks, slowly building up the numbers. They are a good leader-ender project; I sew all the triangles for each block, then pack them into individual sandwich bags ready to iron when I have time. I like to sew the blocks all at once, as the pressing is a bit complicated, and I need to concentrate. It's nice to build up a collection of pieced units just waiting to be put together, it feels like all the hard work has already been done.

On the quilting front, I'm helping Mereth do a custom quilt, lots of feathers and more feathers. The top is beautifully put together, with lovely fabrics, and that makes working on it much more fun. I can't wait to see this when it comes off the frame, it should look absolutely gorgeous.

I finished my small quilt top, now to finalise the quilting designs to put on it. Mereth and I are giving a little talk at a quilting day, about how quilting changes the look of a quilt. So we are making several quilts of the same pattern, and each one will have a different style of quilting. It's fun working out what we're going to do; I have to piece another one like this, but it may be in different colours. I get too bored if I have to do the same thing all over again.

My garden is flourishing in the milder summer weather, and I'm getting overwhelmed by the few plants I have. One zucchini and one squash plant have taken over the whole garden bed, and they've produced an avalanche of fruit. I've bottled some relish, and frozen the puree, and eaten zucchini every day for a fortnight, and there's still loads left. The eggplant is ready to go mad as well, so I'm going to spend some time in the kitchen, trying to deal with it all. It's a good problem to have.

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Wednesday, February 03, 2010

It's been such nice weather lately, it's been a pleasure to take Dolly walking each evening. These photos are of the golf course, which is set out along the creek that wanders through the edge of the town. It's a nice safe walk, no cars to worry about, and lots of wildlife to admire.

Our 'greens' are not green at all; the black stuff is slag from the local lead smelters, and I think there's sump oil in there too, just to deter the weeds and keep the whole lot from blowing away. It's rough and ready, but dedicated golfers don't seem to mind.

This gum tree looks like an Ent, about to stride across the creek. It's amazing that it's still growing, with such a slim hold on the earth.A lovely sunset, birds settling in the branches overhead, and bunnies to chase; evening walks are the best.








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