Saturday, June 27, 2015

June almost gone

About a month ago I made a suggestion at my Monday quilting group that we all bring in 81 five inch squares - there are 40 in a Charm Pack. Even if you didn't want to cut all of the squares, it wouldn't be difficult to come up with 81 squares... 2 Charm Packs plus one more 5" square.  These 81 5" squares would make up nine  9-patch blocks, that would then be cut up to create another unique block.  The fun part would be for each of us to put our 81 squares on the table and take 81 back that were not the original ones we brought.  Sure sounded like we would all come up with a neat quilt. Borders and sashing would make each one unique.

The second week several of us brought in our 5" squares and did the exchange. The first problem arose when I sewed my first two 9-patch blocks, cut them and sewed them back together per the instructions.  The block definitely did not provide the expected result.  All those who participate agreed.  Next problem was... what to do with the 81 5" blocks.  I think you have to agree that the block is some ugly.

 I started looking for options.  I had to come up with something that was a good recovery for a very bad suggestion.  I found a tutorial on YouTube by Jenny Doan for a window pane 9 patch.  I proceeded to create nine 9-patch blocks with sashing to create "window pane" blocks, then turned around and cut them to create her variation of a "disappearing 9-patch".  Her suggestion was to put them together so that none of the seams matched up.  Well, I put them up on my design wall and was trying to organize them so no "like" colors were together.  My quilt critic walked by and told me he could hardly stand to walk by cause he thought it was disjointed and it was uncomfortable to look at.  It wasn't the scrappy look he didn't like, it was the black sashing that did not match up to the sashing in the block next to it.

Well, I contemplated on what I was going to do with this now very acceptable quilt and came up with a table quilt... it fits our table very nicely.

To the right is the center of my next quilt project. I like it lots already and I have only just begun. I have lots of fabric choices that I will incorporate into this new adventure.  When this one is complete it will fit very nicely into the background of Ron's Creation classes at church.

Saturday, June 13, 2015


Until recently, I knew I wanted one, but I didn't know what they were called.  Pergolas come in many configurations, but I'm thinking this one is really cool... and it is especially cool because it is in my back yard.  I did alot of work a couple years ago to get my patio blocks all in place.  Now with this new pergola, my quilt pattern has to be altered.  My Texas patio block will become my center medallion.  I was not real particular about getting all my blocks totally level the first time, so I have to take many blocks up in the leveling process to get rid of the low spots and specifically on one side it becomes like a little pond when it rains very much.  I'm not sure, but I think the hard part is done... pergola is up, but then taking up patio blocks and leveling the base and putting them back down might be lots of fun... right?

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

June in South Texas

This is long overdue... my last post indicated that we were in the process of moving back to Ohio.  Well, that is not going to happen.  So just to be sure there is no confusion... we are staying in Texas, right where we have been for all these wonderful years, in our little homestead just south of San Antonio.  When we started looking at houses in Ohio, it became very evident that we were not going to be happy leaving Texas behind.

Now back in Texas I did not plant a spring garden because I was not going to be here... but I did have lots left from my winter garden.  Well, I did plant potatoes in February, so technically I think that would kind of be a spring garden.  I harvested the potatoes a couple weeks ago already.  I had a pretty good crop of potatoes, both red ones and white ones.

Just this past week I pulled up all my onions and let them dry some before I braided them into a rope so I could hang them like I used to.  I had red, yellow and some small white ones.  All are very impressive for my first real onions in Texas.  My dill plant was taller than I am and I thought I had harvested all my Brussels sprouts, but when I was thinking I should be pulling up the plants, I found them loaded with a whole new crop of sprouts.  A garden that just keeps on giving.

My quilt room has been expanded.  There previously was a doorway going into the room which limited the length of the frame that my longarm sits on.  Ron basically knocked out the wall that the doorway was in and opened that end of the room. It is amazing how different that work area looks now.  It has a whole different feel.  Now this picture does not show where the doorway used to be, but it does show the longer frame.  With the longer frame I also had to make longer leaders, so last week was a busy one. 

 This is a quilt that I had in the closet for several years now... waiting to be finished.  Since I had time, I was able to get one of my own quilts on the frame.  So many times I have several quilts from friends that usually take up alot of my quilting time.

I saw a pin on Pinterest for this pieced binding.  The pieces are 2 1/2" strips sewn together then cut on the bias into the long 2 1/2" strip to go around the quilt.  I think it really turned out cool... and so did the cats.  Boston has pretty much claimed the upper spot.  This quilt does not have a destination yet... not sure what I will do with it.  Don't know why I chose the size, but I sure do like how it all turned out.

Updates coming up in the backyard.

Hopefully it won't be so long to my next post.

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Potatoes are coming along

Potatoes are doing well,  even though there are only two rows instead of the three that I planted.  Did an experiment to see if what I heard was true... you can't use supermarket potatoes for seed potatoes because they use growth retardant on them so they don't sprout in the store.  Seems that is true cause first two rows were official seed potatoes from the feed store.  Third row was potatoes from the grocery store.  Still a while before I would be digging any potatoes... but the seed potatoes won.

Now for the other side of my garden adventure.  Looks like I won't be the one who will be digging these potatoes.  I was so looking forward to that after my failure last year.  I learned lots since then and these plants are really looking great.  I even put in irrigation to be sure they could get watered properly.

Other parts of my garden have been doing so well... remnants of my winter garden.  The blackberries are loaded with blossoms and berries, also the asparagus bed is doing great.  Both the blackberries and asparagus were a first for me.  I was excited to see them exceeding my expectations.  My dill is taller than I am and I might get some onions large enough to harvest soon.

For all of you who have seen or talked to me lately, you are aware of our upcoming move.  For those who are unaware... we are moving back to Ohio.  It is with great sadness that we leave this beautiful place that we have made our home for the past eleven years.  Lots of great people that have become like family to us, that we will miss immensely.  Some of our family has returned to Ohio and the time seems right for us to make the move back to Ohio to be nearer to many of our children and grandchildren.  I cannot think of a better place to be than here in Texas, but family has a very strong pull.  We have done lots of praying and we are confident that we are on the track that the Lord would have us on.

I am going to try to keep my extended family in the loop when I can find the time to get here and post what is happening... at least now and then.
Our house search is next on the agenda.
Ohio here we come.

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Time to work in the garden

It has been a while since I have worked hard in the garden.  Today the weather was perfect and the moon is in the right place to get my potatoes in, so I had to prepare the soil and cut my seed potatoes so they will be ready to go in tomorrow. It was quite the task to wrestle with the roto-tiller, but I should only need to do this for the potatoes... most of the rest of the garden is in raised beds.

I have been given lots of gardening advice regarding my potatoes.  They require good fertile soil which is not what we have here.  Last year my potatoes did not do well, even after all the work I put in, so this year I tried to gather more information to see if I can get a better yield this year.  I have my cut seed potatoes coated with ashes and are on the deck drying overnight.  They will be ready to go in tomorrow.  After I tilled and then made my furrows, I put some aged manure first then some Azomite which is rock dust (trace minerals) that is supposed to be good for lots of things in the garden.  I also added some Epsom salt and some crushed egg shells.  I then covered that layer with some of the good garden soil that we had brought in last Fall.  Only problem is I think I need to make another row.  After I cut my seed potatoes I determined that two 20 foot rows are not going to be enough.

On the other side of the garden where my raised beds are, I discovered that my asparagus thinks it is spring already.  One of the many shoots that are coming up is well over a foot tall. 
Back after the first cold snap I wanted to raise the level of the soil in my asparagus bed... the nursery lady said that it would be fine to add the soil after I trimmed them back.  I cut the plants all down to the ground, then I added about 4" of soil on top.  My husband added another board around the bed so the soil level is still well below the top of the bed.  I probably need to seek some advice about whether I should leave these new shoots alone, or clip them off.  The trimming was supposed to be after the first frost to ensure they don't try to start new growth too early.  Another frost could damage the new growth.

I have a whole bed of Brussel Sprouts.  We have had a meal of them already, but there are lots getting ready to be harvested.  This also is a first for me.  Never grew Brussel Sprouts before, so I'm not sure if I need to leave the stalk alone until they are all a good size.  I cut the whole stalk to get the first batch, but there were lots of little ones that maybe would have continued to grow.  I may go up there tomorrow and snap off some of the bigger ones and leave the stalk in place.

I am just amazed at how well my winter garden has been.  I have kale and spinach and Swiss chard.  Several heads of cabbage are waiting to be picked.  Broccoli is producing new shoots every day.

Monday, February 2, 2015

February fun

 I had a fun time making some Super Bowl mementos to give to my guests at our Super Bowl party.  These little birdies are pincushions, or just a cute little birdies.  Lots of flag waving going on during the game.  The last few moments of the game were the most exciting.  Good fellowship, and lots of  fun for everyone.

We had a good group at quilting today... there were not many of us, but quantity does not determine quality.  Two ladies finished their pillows today, adding to the two in the back that  I had previously finished as samples.

There are a couple more still in the works, but everyone is moving in a forward direction.

For those who are interested in joining us for the woven mat demo on Monday the 9th, I have the supply list repeated here.

Fabric strips for a 20" by 30" mat:
   2 1/2" strips 16 - 30" long and 24 - 20" long  
   Backing fabric - this fabric will not show when mat is complete
   Non-slip liner 20" x 30"
   Additional 2 1/2" strips for the binding

If you would like additional information about this mat, scroll down to my January 20th post.

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Finished pillow

We have had lots of fun with our pillows at quilting on Monday.  I am one of two completed pillows so far.  Of course I needed to get mine finished first to be able to show the other ladies, but I wanted to let them get closer to completing their pillows before I showed the last step.

This was a more structured layout of the pillow... I used 2" strips to give it a uniform look.  It really does not matter what size the center starting square is, or even if it is square... but on this pillow I started with a 2 1/2" square.

The back is mainly two pieces that are approximately 10 x 16.  I used a contrasting strip to face the edge of the opening, but if you have enough fabric and don't want a contrast you could make those two pieces 13 x 16 and fold over 3" to form the facing.  On this particular pillow, I used fabric from another project that had two finished edges, so it was not as wide as I needed it to be, but wide enough that if I offset the overlap, it worked just fine.  So the overlap can be whatever you choose.  The facing strips are top-stitched on both the opening edge and the edge of the facing that has been pressed under about 1/4".

I pinned the back two panels in place, then I put the pillow front on top and cut the back to the same size as the front.  I did not want my corners pointed, so I cut them rounded, which makes turning easier.  You can draw a line using something circular (thread spool) that gives you the curve you want... I just eyed it as I was cutting.  Pin as you feel comfortable, then start stitching in the middle of one edge that does not have the facing.  This is so that your ending stitches are not where they will be pulled apart when you are putting your pillow form inside.  The outside seam is continuous.  I did not backstitch because I over-stitched about 1" when I came back to the start.

The first pillow I did using a 14" pillow form, I trimmed the top to 14 1/2".  I thought it was a little snug.  This pillow I trimmed the top to 15" which was a better fit. You could also choose to add a Velcro closure, but I did not use one here.

 I don't have pictures of other pillows, and the one issue I saw more than once, was when the strips are being added around the center, even though it appears that they are squarely around that center... as you get close to the edge several ladies found that their square was twisted a bit and they were running out of backing/batting on one or two sides.  If this should happen... not to fear, fold your batting out of the way and add a strip to the backing.  It does not matter if it matches as it is inside the pillow.  It is also not necessary to press that seam open.  Next, fold the backing out of the way and butt up a piece of batting to the batting... you do not want to overlap here.  With the butt edges as your center line, zig-zag the two together.  You can now go back to adding strips on the front.  At the start of your project, because this is easy to happen, it is a good idea to make your backing and batting a good 3 or 4" wider than your finished size.  Lots of reasons why it appears your batting suddenly has a mind of its own and runs out on you.

Maybe I can get a group picture of all of the pillows when everyone has their pillow completed .
Does this look like a happy kitty?  He really likes this new mat... it fits almost perfect.