Sunday, October 18, 2015

New take on an old classic

The French memory board. Tres classique, non? [please forgive my horrible, horrible French. It's been too long.] This, however, is obviously not a French memory board.

I have a bitty, bitty classroom with many dry erase marker boards but no bulletin boards... a small problem. So I took this old frame, measuring about 30 inches square and made a faux French memory board.

Using craft twine [which may upset allergies, so cotton might be a better material] I started in one corner and proceeded to weave through the staples which had been left in from the previous art installation. I first created horizontal [or vertical, depending how you looked at it] rows, then moved on to the opposite direction. This is where the weaving, the over under over under really came in that you can see in the picture above. It creates a little tension in the strings, keeps them from flying everywhere when you try to clip something to them, and keeps the frame pulled together.

when I finished the project, I made sure that the two loose ends met so that I could tie them in a square knot. I also used a square knot any other time I ran out of twine and had to join two other pieces. The twine isn't very stretchy, so I don't have to worry about it loosing it's shape through the school year, unlike yarn, which is more elastic and would begin to sag unless pulled very tightly.

If the frame looks slightly off square, you're right; it isn't perfectly, square, and it top it off, the staples weren't at perfect square intervals either, adding to the tipsy effect.

The frame was $3 at a resale store, the twine was marked down at a craft store to $1, and the most expensive investment were the tiny clothespins at $3.50 for the bag of 20 [never again].

Sunday, September 6, 2015

Returned property

We got the grandparentals moved out of their house (by no small act/and/or miracle of God) last week. In one of their (the grand parents) many moves, several of the family quilts had disappeared off the truck, so I knew I'd never get one. One of the impetuses for learning to quilt myself; I could copy them, which I've begun to go. Of course now I'm to the point that the quilts I really want to make a above and beyond the ones the family has left. 

So when grandma handed me back my quilt I was a little disappointed. At least it wasn't on the free table with my great grandmother's iron, which I thought was cool and snagged but still. She had asked for it 10 years ago. Trying not let it bother me. 

It is a little too big for the rack I've got it I but its nice to look at. And it's a nice reminder of how far I have come as a quilter in 10 years. 

Sunday, August 23, 2015

row by row fail

I was initially incredibly excited about the row by row experience. Between something to get me out of the house and something to motivate me to sew, I was pumped to finish something, even though I've got two baby quilts to finish before the babies arrive, a show quilt to finish before September and ... there was another and. I've forgotten it. Maybe it was trying to win a bundle of fabric.


Excitement. Then I started reading some of these patterns. Maybe it's because I'm a teacher. Maybe I'm tired from spending the last month moving things around in my house to get things ready to move things in from me grandparent's house that we're breaking apart. Maybe it's the migraines. Maybe it's a combination of all of these things.  But wow... some of these patterns were very poorly written.

You tell me to cut rectangles, squares and rectangles and star points and I'm just going to cut... and then realize after the fact that I just cut up a whole quarter yard of fabric that I didn't need to cut up. Part of which I needed for other parts of this project, and not in the shapes that it's now been chopped up into. And this fabric is seven or eight years old, and I can't get any more. Even though I read the pattern ahead of time. Twice. I still cut up a quarter yard of fabric into all the pieces for a star block that needs two different colors of fabric. Was it because I was tired? was it because a very high energy friend stopped by in the middle of my cutting spree and I lost track of my progress while I was cutting? Should I have taken my own advice and highlighted the different fabric parts different colors [even thought I can't find a pen, pencil, paint brush or roll of tape to save my life because it looks like we are moving even though we are not] because that's how the pattern should have come to me IN THE FIRST PLACE?!

I don't know. But now, I really appreciate the subscription I pay for the quilt magazine that comes bi-monthly, with the patterns that are tested by a team of people for just this reason. Because, inevitably, I'm going to be too tired to notice that I'm cutting up a quarter yard of fabric that I don't need to be.

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Row by row... by Row 8...?

At this point I have completely lost track of what row I'm on, or that is to say, have collected, without looking in the binder. The coin purse/ closed shop, extra shop/ minus a shop put my mental count off - and I do get that the mental math should be easy to figure out, but I can't remember how many places I stopped at in the first place. So... I'ma go with this is number 8. 

Anyway. Saturday on the way to a memorial service I picked up another row (8?) at Bee Happy Quilt shop in Union City. My dad almost drove by the place because he said all it looked like was used cars. How he missed the quilt patches every where on the signage, I will never know and my frenetic and insistent 'turn now, turn now'...
Dad: 'But it's not here'
Me: 'don't you see the quilt patches every where!?'
Dad: 'this isn't a quilt shop its a used car lot.'
Mom (in the back seat): 'that's because you can't see the signs, dear.'
Dad(who still thinks he knows): 'but it's a used car--'
After we've pulled in and there was slight grumbling from grumpus, Dad says: 'Oh. Well, I guess they do have a sign and a quilt out front. But it still looks like a used car lot.'

I guess this says two things, about quilters and this shop. 

Also, all I'm asking for is a  little trust. That's all. Just a little trust that when I say stop the car, there's no argument concerning my apparent level of reason and intelligence. 

Anyway. Picked up the row and snapped a picture of the quilt out front. 

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

a row by row 2015 winner from Oregon

I shamelessly lifted this off Facebook this morning from a friend's wall, but I really like what Lorraine did with her quilt in terms of color use and layout. I'm putting in here so I can remember it for when I finally get myself pulled together to do mine.

A Common Thread has a winner! Lorraine Odell of Salem. And get this. All that applique is hand done! She used 13 rows from Washington and Oregon
A Common Thread, Portland, OR
Just for Fun Quilting, Vancouver WA
The Quilted Dandelion, Clatkanie, OR
Sharon's Attic, Hillsboro, OR
Speckled Hen Quilts, Aurora, OR
Sister's Fabric, Chehalis, WA

Center Panel
Piece By Piece, Eugene, OR
Cool Cottons, Portland, OR
Quilted Strait, Port Gamble, WA
Fabric Depot, Portland, OR
Modern domestic, Portland, OR

The Mill End Store, Milwaukie, OR
The Fabric Mill, Orem, UT

Monday, August 10, 2015

Row by row road trip

Not having a migraine has been a bit of a rarity this summer. After having a terribly wicked one for about a week, the weather finally shifted and I discovered  that my head had finally ended its repeat performance of Hiroshshima and Nagasaki.   This being a rather big deal in the grand scheme of things, I decided to take action. It was time to take a road trip. I was going to go on a road trip, and collect some of these rows for the row by row experience before summer got away from me before my head decided to have another brainstorm mimicking an epic nuclear attack.


 visit these stores on a beautiful Friday in August. Friday, this is important that it is FRIDAY. Google says it should take about 3 hours to make a loop. I'm figuring on a half hour at each shop, so more like a five and a half hour day. Leave at 11, be back at 4:30.


I pack a lunch and leave the dog, ferociously territorial of a new favorite toy [whatever, dude] and start off down the road. It is 11:30.

Stop 1
And get distracted by a sweet little Mennonite shop I've been meaning to stop at for ages and finally catch them open. Yay. 

Stop 2
Lauren Baker's Needlework's is probably one of my favorite shops. It's well lit, not cluttered, it has fabric and yarn, and if you bring your own bag, you can enter a monthly drawing for $20 in fabric or yarn. There's two jars, yarn or fabric, and no limit on the number of times you can enter. You get to pick which jar.
She carries Malabrigo and Cascade yarns.
I won yarn once.
It was a very special day.

Be aware, there is a tiny, barky little dog guarding The Needleworks.
You've been warned.
Stop #
It's now 1:45PMish, and I'm hunting for Fox's sewing in the Meadville Mall. I a} had no idea there was an interior to the Meadville Mall and b} had no idea how to get into the mall, let alone know there was a sewing store in there.

They loved my binder for organizing the patterns and immediately asked if I was in childcare or early childhood education.
Bingo. You ladies have my number.

I only wish they had a sign that said Faux Bois. But everyone insists on going with 'Fake Wood'. I know it's rural PA but let's try to be a little classy, folks. Faux Bois.

So DuBois is 'of wood'...?
The morning's coffee has come a calling, I remember there's a cheque that I need to cash, I'm thirsty, and I need WiFi to double check directions to the next place. Bank and Timmy's. Bought big iced tea because it's stinkin hot and I don't need another migraine. And back on the road. Eat pb&j sandwich from cooler. 

Stop 4

Homespun Treasures
I have passed by this shop before with no idea whether it was open or not. Now I have the intel - if the flag is out, she's open. It's deceptively big and has a lovely selection. The proprieter gave me a packet of what all the Pennsylvania rows look like. I buy some fabric and head for stop 5.

Armed with packet, I now make an informed decision to maybe not stop at certan shops today and in the future, because I find their patterns... cómo se dice... bleh.

Hello, Franklin. This building, along with your very Byzantine looking Methodist Church that had a wedding today, fascinates me.  But why can't there be a quilt shop in Franklin? You would not be breaking the seemingly honorary code of a minimum of 13 mile radius between quilt shops. Seriously. I saw an empty store front back there on the main drag. Franklin is just the sort of place bursting with quaint, you should have a competition with Oil City for who has more quaint.

But Oil City would win.
Because they have a quilt shop. Spoiler alert.
 Am very looking forward to Stop 5, Celestial Quilts in Oil City. They had really weird hours when I stopped in January, but they had some really cool fabric, and if memory serves, they had some Kaffe Fasset, which makes them the only shop in PA north of I-80 carrying it... [south of I-80 carrying Kaffe is Quilters Corners in Finleyville, hands down my absolute favorite shop bar none]
Joy, joy, joy... I can't wait, I can't wait. I can't wait...!!!

Wait, what?!

I'm glad they are extended. But still. I made a special trip because we have a funeral Saturday,
and since when are quilt shops open on Sundays?
I will be a grown up and refrain from making a scene on the street,
for I am a teacher and thus a paragon of the community. 
Maybe I will cry quietly in my car for a few minutes.
It is now 3:25. There is no time for tears. 

Stop 6 Country Quilts

Country Quilts and Country Creations...
My phone says I must drive another 3 miles but here you are on this side of the interstate, so here I will gratefully stop. [You haven't updated the Google why...? You're right off the interstate. RIGHT OFF. Not three miles off. HALF A MILE OFF. I WOULD BE FIXING THAT YESTERDAY. But then I'm not you...not my circus...]
So you are a quilt shop and a gifty gift shop. Hokay. This is a lot of stuff.
You have a portapotty? Is your normal flushy not working? O_o I'm so sorry for you. Actually, I'm not sorry for you. I'm sorry for me. But portapotty is better than no potty. I wish I could wash my hands.I can't believe there isn't a sink to wash up in.
[A portapotty. Thank God my mother isn't here.]

It is now 3:45. There's no way I will make it to Clarion before 4:30. I-80 is the hottest mess of messes. East bound is moving like molasses in January and West bound is a parking lot for 10 miles. Forewarned, I now know I'm not coming back that way. Maybe I should call this lady [very sexist of me to assume the next shop owner is a woman, ah?] and tell her to please put the pattern in her mail box or something because I won't make it. Stupid Friday hours closing early.

*2 miles into driving purgatory I recieve phone call that I left my wallet 3 shops ago. They're open until 5PM.*
Kyrie Eleison. Christe Eleison. Kyrie Eleison. Christe--

Wait. I might make it on time...
*pull into parking lot at 4:11* Dig through purse to discover that it wasn't my wallet [praise God!] but a coin purse with my business card in it, which explains why the shop owner had my phone number to be able to call me.

Stop 7
Cotton Creations, Clarion
Retrieve pattern. Discover owner is most delghtful person who is keeping shop open for someone else who called ahead who is going to be even later that I thought I was.
So tired at this point, I did not think to take a picture of the shop and am ready to just head home. Siri says drive will take 2 hours. Didn't think about that when I started. Thank God I remembered to pack some fruit because I'm hungry now.

3 hours later I am pulling into my driveway because I made several wrong turns due to awful traffic, fatigue and my fabulous kidneys hard at work. Props to the only employee at the Valley Dairy in Cranberry whateverthatplaceiscalled who noticed that I was a breathig person sitting at that counter, because your shift supervisor sure didn't, and I was on a sugar crash. I shouldn't have to thank you for doing your job, and being Johnny on the Spot, but you were the only person checking on customers when the other five people standing around behind that counter, including your supervisor, weren't. 

Also, I have learned that Cook's Forest is the #1 weekend vacation destination in rural PA. Forget Lake Erie. They've got traffic backed up for miles to get into Cook's. Not making that mistake again.

To wrap all that up, my trip today looked something like this:

It was so much fun, now I understand the concept of shop-hops and why people love to do them.

Saturday, August 8, 2015

row by row experience - row two!

in keeping with the water theme of 2015, this super cool row did nautical flags!!! GAH!!! So cool! I haven't seen nautical flags pop up anywhere yet! lots of boats and other things, but no nautical flags! :D

I discovered that Ta-Da Quilting Studio does not sell fabric, but they do sell paper piece bits and wool rug hook kits. They also have a blog; Click here to go visit it.

So now I'm thinking of signing my name in the quilt with nautical flags, and I'll be able to use this row as a size guide line. It's a shame I'm not from Ohio, as the row ends with OH, but adapting the nautical flag [which also corresponds -or is, I'm not sure - to the NATO alphabet: Alpha, Bravo, Charlie, Delta, Echo, Foxtrot and so forth] to squares for a quilt is not difficult; I did it before in a sampler quilt.

Friday, August 7, 2015

row by row experience 2015 - row one

I finally got on the cool kid train and picked up my first row pattern at Kelly's
Sewing Corner in Erie! I'm keeping everything organized in my wicked cool binder from my college days as a member of Alpha Psi Omega - I don't remember what our rush was, but we picked Wicked as our musical and I did a fusible appliqué for my binder instead of printing out a color image and sliding it into the front of a binder pocket.

Don't stop making the beach glass fabric. Erie loves their beach glass.

I also picked up some excellent fabric to help tie the quilt together -  the beach glass was made especially for the Row By Row experience this year. And for Erie, why no one has lobbied for beach glass fabric before, I'll never know. People are obsessed with the stuff. For real.

I'm going to use my batik stash for this project, since one of my goals is to move on with a bin of finished quilt tops/finished quilts and not bins of fabric... we will see how that works out... you should see how many bins of potential projects I have... forget the bins of loose fabric...

Anyway. The first row I picked up!

 The star part is pretty straight forward, I just found the cutting directions confusing at first - like the 'cut star points' {what? oh, you want me to cut out squares, gotcha. Tell me that first, the way you told me to cut out 4 rectangles.}

 Then to complete the row, you have to make the chevron wave blocks and add 'bubble fabric' [the dark bars]. At least the chevron is sewn by making strips, or I'd have thrown this out the window, or made it up myself.

When I make this myself, I plan on grading the colors of the block so that chevrons go light to dark the way water would. I appreciate the use of nautical fabric, but I found it a little busy myself.

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

boxes, boxes, boxes

Quandaries of a box.

Here's my first box. You've probably already read about it. This is the box I want to take with me. This is the box I heavily researched and worked hard on. This box is my baby. This box has highly inappropriate steel snipe hinges that I made myself from cotter pins from Tractor Supply but also has hand forged handles and a hasp. I have yet to put them on, but I've been a little busy.

The plus side of the jolly green giant is that it
a. quite possibly could have held everything, clothing wise at least, except for the cloak which would have been spread on my bed
b. was period appropriate

Alas, the JGG does not fit easily into my current vehicle. I drive a coupé, which for the purposes of this hobby, or really, anything else except being youthful and free, is useless.

So. Smaller boxes. After building JGG I decided against trying to go from scratch again. It was just to much of a pain. There's not time, no space, and I don't have the proper tools. Not to mention the right amount of clamps. Not to mention my income. And migraines. We won't talk about that. Let's just say rock and hard place.

At my first event, of which I have no pictures because I brought only my phone and we were in the middle of a National Forest [and guess what! There is no cell reception in the middle of a National Forest! And iPhones don't have super power save mode like 'droids! :D >:( ] someone had a painted dome top box with canvas over the dome. This, I thought, had distinct potential. No muss, no fuss, no why is there an EXIT sign in pieces on my bench [I wish I was making this up...].

To the craft store with the coupons et voilà.

you can't actually find a picture of the chest I bought online for some strange reason... you can only go to A.C. Moore, in person, and buy it, but if you search at Home Depot, they have a fair approximation for $40.
the home depot chest, not to be confused with the one I bought, which you can't find a picture of online. it's like it doesn't exist. weird. Also mine retails for $10 less. And I had a coupon for 25% off. Um, yay.

I can see why that person chose to cover the top with canvas. Mine probably didn't need it but hey. Better safe than sorry. The huge perks of being a person that sews include having scrap canvas laying around, so I had a piece of navy blue canvas that I coated with polycrylic and more or less trimmed to size, allowing a little for tucking under. A trip to the small local hardware store and I got slightly more appropriate brass hinges and some 'soldier blue' milk paint. Milk paint is VOC free, so with the migraines, its fabulous. No fumes, I don't get sick.

After the monsoon reenactment of 2015 the first event of the year, I decided adding skids to the bottom might not be a bad idea. My mother and I were at the Carnegie Museum of Art and took especial interest in the bottoms of trunks and chests so I know it wasn't totally out of the ordinary for a trunk to have feet or runners of some kind. And seriously, this sucker has a bottom made of 3/16ths ply if it's lucky so no way I'm setting it directly in wet grass or mud. And yes, I know the bottom skids aren't blue. It's been raining here to beat the band- I'm keeping my fingers crossed that the tung oil and polycrylic took. Some things are best left to wait until it is a bit dryer.

It just doesn't have a hasp - okay, it did have a hasp, a very Asian style hasp which would have been cool if it had been stamped with Asian symbols instead of a bald eagle... guys? The lack of hasp bothers me for travelling purposes but meh. One less thing taking up space in the tent.

Twinkle twinkle

Another one for the baby books.

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Two quilts for the road

This is the last, the very last of the purple fabric from a chain mail quilt from 2008. 

This was a quilt along from a website I can't remember the start and the bullseye a were supposed to alternate but it just didn't look right. So. Editing.

Saturday, July 18, 2015

peach salsa

I can't believe I never wrote a post about this.

So. Without further adieu. A few caveats - and if you've ever read my blog ever, you know I'm full of them.
A. Feel free to ditch peaches in favor of nectarines. Same flavor profile without the preboil to remove fuzzy skin. You will thank me later. Trust me. No one tells you to remove the skins. And when you catch on to it... it's gross. And time consuming. And ... just trust me on this. Unless peaches are cheaper and/or you have the time/resources/patience, etc.
B. Short on peaches/nectarines? Mangoes. Mangoes are an excellent addition to either fruit and can be mixed cup for cup, I believe, up to half of the recipe. Then you run into issues with sugar contents and the mangoes turn into babyfood. Do not quote me on all this [the sugar bit and the baby food bit yes, but the ratio may be less]; this has been done on occasion in a pinch to achieve require fruit amounts with excelent results. However. proceed with caution, and do a little research. Pro tip.
C. Nothing anywhere says you have to use all of the spices or, for that matter the cilantro. Any of the cilantro. At all. Really, you're going for the acid content, which is controlled by the vinegar in the recipe, so that you have to use. All of the vinegar. The vinegar is what kills bacteria, IE botulism, which in turn tries to kill you. SO, if you don't like it hot, or you think green chillies are lame or whatever, swap them out, but keep the ratios [this number of cups and that number of tsp, etc]. This is actually chemistry we're dealing with. Chemistry = modern medicine, too. You just don't want to have to walk into the ER greenface with a jar of homemade salsa ...

Otherwise. Kind of cool, huh?
Last note: no one has ever gotten sick or died from MY canning. Your canning on the other hand is all on you and how YOU take care of YOUR raw ingredients, sterilization and kitchen.  :)

This recipe is sourced from the Ball Blue Canning book, which is available through most major retailers as well as to BORROW FOR FREE your friends at your local Public Library WHO WOULD LOVE TO MEET YOU!!! And also have a bajillion other books about canning. Ball is a great place to start.

This recipe makes 4 pint or 8 half pint jars. Or what ever combintation there in you decide to go with. Or can find. That's usually where I end up.


Peaches (nectarines), enough to make 6 and 1/2 cups diced. Like kitty kibble or slightly bigger than peas or corn diced.
Onion, enough for 1 and 1/4 cups diced 
1 (one) Red bell pepper (I'm convinced this is only for color because green fades out in canning), deseeded and pithed (the stringy white bits) diced. The whole thing. 
1/2 cup of white vinegar. It may say distilled on the side. Same thing. Apple cider vinegar works too, as long as the acid content is 5%
Honey. 2 tbsp, liquid (warm up those crystals in the microwave if you need to, no shame) I know, it's a smuckers packet. All about the visuals here. 
Cumin, 1 and 1/2 tsp. use the powder. 
Garlic. 1 clove. Mashed, chopped, or the equivalent measure of diced.

Options I left out* (aka season to taste, or the BTU tolerance of your mouth)
*Cayenne: 1/2 tsp
*Cilantro: 1/2 cup
1/2 cup diced spicey pepper of your choice, seeded or not for heat. - substitution note: I use canned green chile. You know, the tiny 4.5 ounce mild, peeled and chopped ones in the Mexican foods section. This may make me an evil person but I don't have to touch it and I like the spice level and no one has died. Yet. ;) 

I am a spice wuss. I also hate cilantro (I think it tastes like soap). A final note, you can always control for additional heat after the fact. You can't tone it down later.

Cooking instructions:
Put diced fruit, onion, peppers, spices and liquids in a stock pot. Bring salsa to a boil, stirring gently. Simmer 10 minutes, allowing to thicken, stirring occasionally. Pack into jars with 1/2" head space. Process in waterbath for 15 minutes. Allow to rest 24 hours.

Don't forget to label. Hoard from family and friends.  

fun things I relearned making this. It takes six [6] fist sized fruits to do this. Not five [5]. six [6]. Otherwise in the pre-coffee morning fog that says, oh yes, here we go, 6 cups of fruit in the pot, la la, you end up with the picture on the left. A sad half a jar of salsa that cannot be processed. That one fruit makes a difference. I did go nectarine crazy at the store, so there are four left over, and that onion was rather a whopper. So.
One red onion, one can of chilies and two more peaches...

Friday, July 10, 2015

Old Fort Niagara's French and Indian War Encampment 2015

Vive L'Roi! [We are French, after all]

very fine cribbage board. no one knew how to play cribbage.

I made strawberry raspberry shrub. It was tasty.

 And a good time was had by all.