Saturday, October 27, 2012

Make-it-Monday on a Saturday

I was baking the today, and emptied the last of a bottle of commercial vanilla. The replacement bottle was a gift from last year from friends, home made from vodka and beans they split with their bare hands. These friends had also given me Bourbon vanilla beans to try this out for myself. I did some poking online, and discovered that it takes 8 weeks for the vanilla to cure, so to speak, so I casually looked at the calendar and discovered that 8 weeks from the day was the 22nd of December. Having this ready for Christmas was going to be a stretch. I had a litre bottle of vodka in the cellar from my brother, and a sample size bottle from a friend.

The vodka from my brother and friend wasn't quite enough to cover the beans, so I ran out to the store, and purchased a enough to top off the mason jar. Obviously, I could have done a bit more topping off.

This vanilla extract recipe calls for a jar with an opening big enough to fish the beans out of easily, and if it's one that's been used for other food purposes previously, that it be sterilized. What it doesn't say is that this means the jar should be placed in the cold water with the lid off (but also in the water), water container and all brought together to boil, not dropped into the boiling water; you risk shattering the container dropping it cold into boiling water if you use glass. Using glass is probably the best idea, since plastic can retain other food odors.

 Also, its a very good idea to make sure the pot you sterilize your container in is taller than the container you use to steep your vanilla - I had to lay my mason jar on it's side in a saucepan and there were air bubbles in it, and it took some fussing to get the air out. Why is sterilization important? Bacteria, mostly, which yes, I figured the alcohol in the vodka would probably kill off, but still. I'd rather err on the side of caution.

So, aside from the trouble of not having enough vodka and sterilizing a wide mouth mason jar, the process is pretty painless. I only wish I hadn't thought of starting it now, 8 weeks before Christmas. Oh well. Live and learn. Now to round up some small, empty, brown glass bottles...

Wednesday, October 24, 2012


Back in 2007 I took a trip to England with a 36 or so hour stopover in Paris, and for whatever reason, I started picking up these goofy patches. They were only a pound or so, and it was a few days into the trip that I began looking for them, so I missed looking for Stonehenge and a few other places... I've forgotten the where. Wells Cathedral probably didn't have one anyway, but there's one for Glastonbury Abbey, Stratford upon Avon, Canterbury Cathedral, Brighton, Oxford, Salisbury Cathedral and Cheddar Gorge, London and Paris as well, and the plan was find a sweatshirt that said ENGLAND or with the cross of St. George and put all the patches on the back. Which obviously never happened.

Oh, Fransson! had a quilt of the Tokyo Subway that was finished in 2011 which made me think, a London version would be way more fun for me personally since I've actually been there and I could put all those silly patches on it as embellishments. I have seen other travel quilts done in the style of a sampler that feature novelty fabrics and incorporate tee-shirts from the trip - the only tee-shirts I bought on the trip were at Oxford college, one for myself and my brother, who collects collegiate tee-shirts, for the wicked low price of 5 pounds each. And one at the Louvre, of the Venus De Milo; the image and Louvre logo began to peel off after the first washing, clearly it was not a screen print, and will never be used in a tee-shirt quilt. Neither will the Oxford shirt; I love it way too much. The London Tube Fabric I picked up from the 3 Rivers Quilt Show this past spring, with the intention of at least using it was as part of a label for a quilt - at least a throw - commemorating this voyage. 

And now, here I am, 5 years after the trip, at a quilt shop that had 3 very different stereotypical Anglophile fabrics. Total impulse buy. 

 And no idea, or plans what to do with it. I have a feeling it's going to be more modern, incorporate something of a map; two things I've never embarked upon before. I have fabric maps of the London Underground and Aboveground...which would make fabulous placemats. Or something. Reversible.

less than ordinary

Tuesday I had an interview south of the city for a subbing position, so afterward I decided to swing by Quilter's Corners in Finleyville, which I'd been promised had considerable wow factor. I wasn't disappointed. I'm not sure they could get more fabric in there if they tried, but it did not feel overcrowded. They had a wonderful selection of batiks and hand-dyed, reproductions, "shabby chic", and black and white. The three previous I would have intentionally gone for, but did not end up purchasing anything from those categories.

I wanted 2 yards of a wide backing in a deep purple for the back of Ordinary Time, which they didn't have, and frankly I wasn't surprised. I spent a while looking at the batiks, convinced I'd find a suitable purple for my plans. I wound up with 5 yards of a Kaffe [and I didn't realize it's pronounced Kaif] Fassett weave that they had in this amazing red amalgamation.

Not what I had planned on. But I haven't seen anything else that spoke to me and said "I'm the one!" the way this red did. The recipients have red accents in their living room. It's so luscious and subtle at the same time, that I think that will be appealing, and when folded over, will pick up the red in the top without conflicting too much with the green print, which itself has flecks of red in it. I almost wish I'd have seen this first; I'd have just done a throw for them out of this and done a whole cloth which would have saved a whole lot of time. That is life.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

swatches for the next project and other things

They are very William Morris-y; at least, the two on the ends are. Mom grabbed the one second from the left, I'm not sure how I feel about it, but I've got some time to let it grow on me before I start anything. We purchased them from Bev's Country Stitchin' in Cambridge Springs, PA - this was totally mom's idea, so maybe this needs to be for her... they're so her colors.  These were designed by Jason Yenter; the two in the middle are from the Avalon collection, by In The Beginning Fabrics. I cannot find any information about the other two, only that they were with the other Jason Yenter fabrics at the shop, so I'm assuming they're his.

Not so sure about these kids though. I like them the best, though.
The one on the top left reminds me of a Vera Bradley. 

Mr. Bruce. Cuddle-bug
And since the cat wasn't available, we went with the next best thing. 

Friday, October 19, 2012

ordinary time

Working on the project formerly known as purple hots, I have myself a second degree burn on the inside of my right forearm. Whoops.  I used to not press anything - who has time to press seams open, for real?! And then realization hit when one of the quilts I was trying to quilt failed miserably on the hoop, and I had to frog it all apart. The iron has yet to see the inside of the closet. 

Since the fabric arrived in the mail, the project has progressed from this point - 

To this -

I didn't mean for there to be red points on the perimeter of the quilt; I took the PRAXIS Fundamental Subjects: Content Knowledge test this afternoon and was attempting to calm myself down ahead of time by sewing (hahaha...) but I think that the points contribute well to the overall movement of the piece. It also spreads the red around, which also adds some more balance to the project, so I'm happy. What I'm still fencing over is whether to finish sashing it in green, yellow, or purple, what color to do the binding in, and whether or not I want to add some decorative piping, such as this raspberry batik piping from the "Jubilee" quilt from the show last weekend. And of course, if I did add piping, what color would I do that in?

Diamond Jubilee my Nemesis, Ruth Ann Lowery, Eighty Four, PA

A preliminary outline of the quilt looked something like this - obviously missing the points, with two rings of sashing; an inner ring of yellow and an outer of a lighter purple, which leaves me feeling blah. I was trying to figure out the dimensions for this project last night during a class break and came up with something like 4 feet by 6 feet - ridiculous! - which I blame on exhaustion and a nasty sinus infection, which had only been diagnosed yesterday at noon. 

 I know, midterms, sinus infection, PRAXIS... it's Friday and a wonder I'm still alive and I didn't have to frog this project. But it's coming along. I probably won't have it completely finished for Christmas, but most of the way there would be nice. People have given 'most of the way there' quilts as gifts before, right? I skipped going to the Thursday quilting group at the library - midterms, sinus infection, et all - so I'm hoping that next week, I'll have the top finished enough to posit the final sashing, binding and piping questions to some other eyes. It is at a nice throw size right now, which is the intention for this project, so it does not need to grow. 

Thursday, October 18, 2012

midterm madness

this break in the blogger timeline brought to you by midterms. Because the professers aren't sure we've learned anything or are paying attention. More news after the end of the week.

maybe. We add another class to the schedule this Saturday, God help us. And we're talking in third person now.

Saturday, October 13, 2012

I sing a song of the saints of olde

It's a gorgeous weekend in the north country. you can't really see them, but I swear, there are a pair of preening swans in this picture, just by the edge of the pond, between the tree's shadow and the bushes - that clump of white spot that isn't water. I promise. Huge, huge swans. Swans can be vicious, so I didn't get any closer, but it was otherwise soooooo pastoral, my teeth hurt. 

the droid we were looking for

who the heck is this saint?!
Hildegard von Bingen? Theresa of Avila? Lesser Theresa? Bridget? Gertrude?

There was only one of these pillows at this little coffee/gift shop, so I purchased it with the intention of gifting it to a friend (if there were two, I'd have one for me). My mother believes it to be a Gothic painting (the saintly saint, her book and the dove, not the background), but we're trying to figure out who the woman in the painting is. The tag indicated nothing, only that Creative Co-op was the maker, and googling that turned up nothing, not even an image of this pillow. We know she's saintly because of her halo, and the dove as a representation of the holy spirit. 

We thought maybe also Julian of Norwich, and whatever it is in her right hand is something she's teasing the cat with. It's from right century. But none of the Julian portraiture is without a cat (totally appropriate, since she's the patroness of kitties). Again, the cat is cut out of the picture. No luck finding this image. At all. Or the company who made the pillow, or any other retailer with this pillow for sale. There's nothing on the tag directing us towards getting another one or figuring out who this woman is. 

I discovered, trolling the internet, that there are companion pillows to this one, and a plate, also by Creative Co-op, Inc. The angels are holding lilies, which leads me to believe, if these are a set, that the woman is in all likelihood, the Madonna and the angels are Gabriel.  

 We thought it was a saint. Two and a half hours later, we remembered a little art history and voila. Not a saint. Mary, the Mother of Jesus. Probably part of an illuminated manuscript. Which makes it an Annunciation! This still doesn't answer the question of who the artist is who painted this annunciation!! Argh!

Beaver Valley Piecemakers Quilt Show, part four

 Still more from the BVPS, which opened on Friday October 12th.

 N by NW
30.75 x 30.75
Sally Iden, Rochester, PA
Professionally machine quilted by Linda Bauman

Oriental Circles
49 x 57
Alicia Huffman, Beaver, PA
Professionally machine quilted by Sharon Donahue

I made a summer yukata [kimono] out of this koi fabric, hence the attraction...

Coral Kaleidoscope
62 x 75
Ruth Brodsky, Finleyville, PA
Professionally quilted by Ruth Ann Lowery

Mai Tais in Paradaise
54 x 63
Rita Paliotte, Monaca, PA
Professionally machine quilted by Linda Bauman

Summer Day 
30 x 21
Shelia Drevna, Beaver Falls, OH
Machine quilted by self

Dottie Delight
90 x 108
Donna Martin, Pittsburgh, PA
Professionally machine quilted by Linda Bauman