Sunday, April 27, 2014

Hands2Help Quilt Finish

It's been a mostly rainy and windy day, perfect for hanging out in the sewing room.  I finished my Hands2Help charity quilt this afternoon.

This one will go to Quilts of Compassion.  

I used the Dancing Pinwheels tutorial found at Little Miss Shabby, with some modifications for size (described here) to accommodate the use of charm squares.

The variety of fabrics came from Stephanie at Venus de Hilo.  I've long admired the colorful fabrics she uses in her quilts, so when she did some destashing last year, I scooped up an awesome "Woodland" charm pack she had put together.  

Such fun fabrics makes it just a little hard to let go.  ;)

Quilted in an overall meander.  Backed in a green and purple print and bound in a purple dot fabric.

I'm squeaking in under the wire for this week's Whoop-Whoop linky, and counting this as an April finish for A Stitch in Time.

April Finishes

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Picking Up

I took a walk on Easter Sunday with my sister, down the road that Dad lives on.  It was a beautiful day.  Being early spring, we could see a lot of bottles, cans, and trash in the ditches alongside the road.  Stuff that had been disguised by last year's vegetation and/or snowbanks until now.

We grew up in the '60s and '70s with Keep America Beautiful campaigns, the "crying Indian" commercial, the first Earth Day, reading Silent Spring in school, and going to Trees for Tomorrow, an environmental education retreat.

Over this hill, about a half mile further up the road, is a park on top of a limestone ledge.  The ledge is part of the Niagara Escarpment, a geological formation that extends all the way from New York State through southern Ontario, the upper peninsula of Michigan and eastern edge of Wisconsin.
It's a beautiful place, this park.  I've mentioned it way back in the early days of this blog, here.

The park is open in spring-summer-fall for camping, hiking, group outings, and general partying.  From the looks of things along the road Dad lives on, what is left from the revelry sometimes gets tossed out the car window on the trip back to town—beer cans, liquor bottles, food wrappers, and other detritus.

It's easy to slip into bemoaning "kids these days," and let it go at that.  But that's not entirely fair and certainly not helpful. 

So I suggested Sis and I informally "adopt a highway" and clean up a stretch of this road before the stuff got covered over in another year's worth of tall grass and weeds.

Sure, there are a lot of other things to do a sunny spring morning, so why this?

Short answer:  Because I can. 

And I care.  And I don't want to see garbage when I walk.  And if not me (and Nita), then who?  Okay, maybe not such a short answer.
Nita nabs a can.
My 80-something uncle used to ride his bike out here regularly and pick up cans, but he is not able to get around much anymore.

So a-pickin' we went.  A hundred yards up the road, having already filled one large trash bag, we remarked that we weren't seeing any green tea or soy milk cartons (but plenty of Bud Light and Miller).

A few minutes later, though, booyah!  Lest we get too sanctimonious (green tea with ginseng!):

On the way back to Dad's, lugging overstuffed garbage bags, we met a neighbor pulling out of her drive.  She stopped to ask if we wanted to drop our load into her trash bin, which was at the side of the road for pickup.  We took her up on her generous offer, and she thanked us for our efforts—a sweet way to end the morning!

Monday, April 21, 2014

H2H Check-In

Time for a progress report on the Hands2Help quilt.  Sarah has the linky running this week to check in.

It wasn't until this morning that I finally basted the Dancing Pinwheels quilt, but basted it is!

I had sidetracked myself making feathers/leaves for the Tea Towel Challenge quilt last week.  They were like potato chips—I could not stop at just one.

Now that my small design board is filled up with them, though, it seemed a good time to take a break and go back to the H2H quilt.

As I crawled around on the kitchen floor today pinning the quilt, I noticed how much better my shoulder felt. It has been taking its sweet time going through this bout of adhesive capsulitis, but I am seeing much more improvement lately.   I probably have 80% of normal range of motion now.  Strength is coming along as well, and I have been able to add some light weights to the routine.  And I recently got an exercise ball, which I'm not sure what all to do with, but this evening I lay back on it and watched part of The Voice upside down while  stretching out my pectoralis.  'Cause I'm all about the multitasking.  ;)

So I guess that's a progress report on three things.  Oh, and winter is finally gone (despite the snow last week), so there's that too.  Woo-hoo!

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Seeing What Sticks

I have started working on the Tea Towel Challenge quilt again.  I use the term "working on" loosely, as my idea is basically to make a bunch of stuff and see what sticks.

So far another border has been applied and now I'm piecing some shapes that resemble feathers (or leaves, flip a coin).  I'll show you how I'm making those in a minute.  I'm sure it's not unique, but it is fun and I like to share.

About the narrow border first.  You may recall that I sometimes like to use recycled fabric from clothing, etc., in quilts.  A few years ago, a fellow blogger was willing to part with a sleeve from a funky 1970s shirt she had thrifted, and I was happy to accept her offer.

When I pulled fabrics for the Tea Towel Challenge a few months ago, that shirt sleeve was among the possibilities, albeit a remote one.  It sat on the pile and eventually fell to the sewing room floor the other day, forcing me to take note of it again when I picked it up.

One thing led to another and before you know it, I had it sliced into strips and banged on as a border.  It seems to work, I think, and it makes me smile that I was able to use it after all.

Now the feathers (or leaves, whatever).  I'm excited about those!  They started as trimmings from the orphan blocks I recently made into quilt-as-you-go-blocks for a charity quilt.

The black strips are cut 1 inch wide and the white strips are 1-3/8 inches (only because I was cutting a 2-3/4 inch strip in half).  I cut all the strips about 4 inches long.  Each feather/leaf uses 8 white strips, 6 black strips, and one longer black strip, about 7 x 1 inches, for the center.

Then I laddered and sewed them together, 4 white and 3 black per side, alternating white and black strips.  Since they were to be trimmed at an angle in the next step, I offset the edges by about 3/8 inch as I sewed each strip on. 

To trim them, and give them the proper angle, I placed both sets along the 60-degree line on the cutting mat.  One set is placed wrong side up, because it will mirror the other set, as you'll see further below.

Trim along the line.  

See how that works?  Then you sew the longer black strip down the center.

For the shape, I made a paper template by folding a 7 inch square of paper into fourths and cutting an oblong, fat feather shape.  Then I traced this onto my pieced fabric and cut it out.

Pretty cool, huh?  They're ready to applique, whenever I figure out exactly how I'm going to incorporate them into the Tea Towel Challenge quilt.  

Right now, I'm just having fun!

Linking to:
Sew Darn Crafty
Linky Tuesday

Monday, April 14, 2014

Egg-cellent Idea

Did you know you can cook perfectly "hard-boiled" eggs in a vegetable steamer?  I'm talking one like my trusty Black and Decker here.  

Up until a couple days ago, it only ever saw the likes of brussels sprouts, asparagus, and that sort of thing.  But I thought I'd try cooking some eggs in it this weekend, and now I will probably never boil eggs on the stove again! 

The eggs don't actually boil, of course; they just hang out in the steamer basket and cook as if they had bumped around in a pan full of water.  But there's no pot watching involved and no worrying about them bonking into each other and cracking, or maybe that's just me.  Just set it and forget it (and pardon me for sounding all infomercial right there)!

When the the timer goes off, you take them out (use tongs because those suckers are hot) and put them in cold water to stop the cooking and cool them down.

Perfecto!  (Love the shell color too.  I forget what kind of chicken lays that lovely greenish-gray egg.  My egg lady gets a variety pack of chicks, and I love seeing the different eggs as they start laying.)

These went 25 minutes, but they probably don't need quite that long.  Next time I'll try 23 minutes and see how we do.

Deviled eggs, anyone?

Linking to:
Sew Darn Crafty

Linky Tuesday

Thursday, April 10, 2014

A Catch-Up

I've finished the Hands2Help flimsy and have the backing and binding ready to go.  Now I just need to mop my kitchen floor and get to basting it, probably on Saturday morning.

I was W@lmarting the other day when I passed the fabric department and noticed a load of bolts in a bin in the main aisle marked down to three dollars a yard.  These included quite a few decent quality fabrics (i.e., Fabric Traditions, also sold at Jo-Ann, Hancock, etc.).  Since I needed backing and binding for two quilts, I dug and wrestled and rooted through the bin, finally unearthing a few things I liked.

Overall, things seem kind of slower at the moment in the sewing department, but I took time recently to look back at my informal to-do list from earlier in the year to see how I did in the first quarter.
All those red strike-throughs?  I'm pretty happy with that!  I'm down to one remaining flimsy (Fan-tastic) that needs quilting, in addition to the current charity quilt for H2H.  Then I need to get serious about finishing the Tea Towel Challenge quilt this month.  Inspiration, where are you?

After that, I hope to start one from the bucket list.  That'll be fun!  In case you can't read my scribbles at the top of that tattered scrap of paper, that includes a plaid recycled shirts string quilt (like this one), an Irish Chain quilt or some variation thereof, a clamshell quilt (like this one, maybe), a Scrap V quilt, some other kind of string quilt, and/or an "Illusion" quilt (one that creates an optical illusion, like this one).  Then there's the possibilities of a Winding Ways, Storm at Sea, and...oh, the bucket overflows!

Last weekend, we saw the movie Saving Mr. Banks and I really enjoyed it!  

It's funny, but I don't remember seeing the Disney movie Mary Poppins when I was young, although I'm sure I probably caught bits and pieces of it at one point or another on TV.  The music from the movie is very familiar, of course.  We sang it in school chorus, on the playground, etc.  After watching Saving Mr. Banks, I am intrigued to read the original Mary Poppins, by P.L. Travers, and then see the Disney movie version.  

Further in the realm of entertainment, I started watching An Idiot Abroad on Netflix last night, and it totally cracked me up.  After I shut off my tablet, I literally laughed myself to sleep!

On a more serious note, this Heartbleed computer bug news has me sitting up straighter this morning, reading about it.  I found good information and some helpful links in this article at NPR to make it easier to stay on top of the situation.