Wednesday, February 25, 2009

International Siggy Swap - Reny Pattynama

This darling little siggy showed up in the mail two days ago. I love days like that! I haven't swapped a siggy in well over a month. I have about 20 of mine made up; I should get off my duff and send them out into the world. This one is from Reny Pattynama from a small town called Vaassen in The Netherlands. Reny's hobbies include quilting, knitting and birdwatching (as well as bird feeding). She doesn't think there are enough hours in the day. lol Reny, I hear you on that one!

And isn't it just wonderful to look at a picture that ISN'T my country chain and knot quilt? I sure think so!

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Country Chain and Knot Quilt - Top Complete!

Finally! I got the Country Chain and Knot quilt all done; all 879 pieces of it. Thank heavens! I *love* how it turned out too. To think I once called this the "Ugly Brown Quilt" lol.

And, it will almost certainly look even better when it's all quilted and bound, because they *always* do! I'm SO glad this is all put together. I feel like I've been working on it for months, though really, it has only taken me a few weeks. Now I just have to make the quilt sandwich and stipple it up. Piece of cake. NOT!

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Country Chain and Knot Quilt - Down to Four Rows

Well, the end is in sight. From 879 pieces, I've got it down to just four big ones! All I have left to do is press the four rows, pin them together, then stitch them up. I can't wait until it's all sandwiched up and ready to stipple. This will be by far the largest quilt I've ever tried to stipple on my Bernina; I hope it doesn't give me too much trouble.

At least is looks like I got all the red chains going in the right direction, though I did have to undo the seam between two blocks because the sash and cornerstone were both 1/4 inch too wide. Now how on earth did that happen?

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Larry's Leatherwork

After I saw the quilt that Joy Denise made for her friend's, Milton's, 20th year of sobriety, I had to show off my husband's leather working skill. Larry used the AA logo as a basis for the design of this leather book cover for his "Big Book". Larry is very active in AA; his sponsor has a whole posse of men that meet several times a week. His Big Book goes everywhere with him, and really takes a beating; fortunately he made the cover virtually indestructible.
He has made these book covers for several of his AA buddies, and his leather working skills keep improving. I think he'll always have the worst one - lol. He personalizes each back flap with the name, local AA group and AA birthday (as opposed to their BB or "belly button" birth date.) Larry's leather work is good, but his sobriety is FANTASTIC!!! As you can see, he has 4+ years of sobriety, one day at a time. 8)

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Virginia's Hash Brown Quiche Recipe

This recipe is just yummy! Virginia has brought it to our last several project days and has never had to take home anything but an empty pan. I promised the Blanketeers that I would post it (though I think Virginia has already emailed the recipe to everyone who wanted it) so here it is:

Virginia's Hash Brown Quiche

1 24-oz. package frozen hash browns (or 2 12-oz. packages)
1/2 cup Hot Pepper cheese
3/4 cup Gouda cheese
3/4 cup Swiss cheese
1 cup cooked ham, diced
2 eggs
1/2 cup milk or cream
1/3 cup melted butter
1/4 teaspoon Seasoned salt

1. Thaw hash browns. Squeeze excess moisture between paper towels.
2. Grease 9” pie pan. Press and shape hash browns in pan. Brush with butter. Bake at 425 degrees for 25 minutes.
3. Fill with layers of ham and cheese. Mix eggs, milk, and salt. Pour over pie mixture. Bake at 350 degrees for 40 minutes.

I usually defrost the hash browns overnight. If the hash browns are still frozen, it is hard to mash them into shape in the pie pan. If you buy a 32-oz. bag of hash browns, be aware that you cannot just measure out 24-oz. – doesn’t work that way. Pour out the hash browns and split into 3 parts and use 2 parts.

A pastry brush really helps with the butter (but I have used a spoon to dribble it). The indentation should be noticeable, but will not be really deep. I use half and half for the milk/cream ingredient (because we usually have that on hand for Jim’s coffee).

Monday, February 16, 2009

Quilt Math - Algorithms for Cornerstones and Sashes

I've always found it annoying to have to figure out the number of cornerstones and sashes in my quilts. I'll forget the (usually very odd) numbers, and have to figure them out again, usually by drawing a picture of my quilt and counting. Argh! I was sure that there had to be simple algorithms that covers this, so I asked my math whiz hubby to figure them out. Here are his results: (Note: I always put cornerstones and sashing around all blocks, even the ones on the outer edges of the quilt.)

For a quilt that has n by m blocks, where n is the # row blocks and m is the # column blocks:

The number of cornerstones = (n+1)(m+1)
The number of sashes required = (n+1)m + (m+1)n

So for my Country Chain and Knot quilt, which has 4 rows and 5 columns of blocks:
n=4 and m=5

The # of cornerstones = (4+1)(5+1) = 5x6 = 30 cornerstones
And the # of sashes = (4+1)5 + (5+1)4 = 5x5 + 6x4 = 25+24 = 49 sashes.

Cool! Thanks, Larry!

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Country Chain and Knot Quilt - Blocks Complete

This is what I did this week instead of blogging. I finally got all 20 blocks of this Country Chain and Knot Quilt pieced and pressed. There are 40 pieces per block for 800 pieces total. The blocks are laying on top of the brown sashing material, and I'm definitely going to continue the red chains with matching cornerstones.

I've got the blocks laid out so there aren't any squares of the same fabric across the sashing from each other. I was only concerned about the larger squares, not the small squares, those will just have to take their chances. Oops, I can already see a problem with my chains! That lower left block is 90 degrees off. I'd better fix that before it gets sewn incorrectly. I'm really liking it so far. I think a nice golden brown small stipple will really bring it together nicely.

The back is going to be made out of the red material. I can't decide if I want the back stippling to be a matching red thread or the same golden brown as the top. (All you quilters out there, what do you think? Am I a good enough stippler to make a contrasting thread look ok?)

Putting the sashing fabric beneath the blocks was great for taking pictures, but now I have to figure out how to get the material out from under the blocks without messing them up my organization. Hmmm. Maybe I'll just finish up my gift for my secret pal first. If only I could post a picture of it. I had no idea when I signed up for the secret pal thing how irritating it would be that I can't share pictures. It's a really nice quilty gift and I think it's turning out very well. And I'd better not say anything else. Arrgh!

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Blanketeers for the Snowball Express

The Blanketeers got together yesterday for another fun day of... well, what do you call it when you get together to cut and tie fleece blankets? Blanketeering? lol I think the final count was 12 blankets and they went together super fast. They make a nice, impressive heap!

What a relief! Rachel and I were worried we wouldn't get them finished in one day and we REALLY wanted this to be our Final Focus on Fleece Forever, well, at least for 2009. She and I have just assumed responsibility for the SS Blanketeer and we have vowed that the ship will NOT go down on our watch, so a successful blanket day was essential. Here are Virgina, Virginia, Rachel, Christine and Brandy (above only) holding up some of our best efforts.

Here is Brandy with the pretty sailboat fleece and I think that's Rachel's arm. lol The sailboats were backed with a lovely yellow fleece that this picture doesn't do justice. All the fleece was of a wonderfully high quality. I'm always amazed that they can get very realistic images to "take" on such a soft fuzzy fabric. That plane looks like it's going to fly right off the blanket.

Our Snowball Express contact wants patriotic quilts and blankets to distribute to the children of our fallen service men and women at the big 2009 event coming up in Dallas this December. I think this blanket definitely qualifies as patriotic! We have Brandy to thank for having this nice venue for our efforts. She volunteered her church, which had a lovely space for us to work and a great kitchen to store our potluck food.

We all had our doubts about whether or not a red Mickey Mouse blanket backed in yellow would qualify as "patriotic", so this one will probably be donated to the U.S.O. at DFW Airport instead. Everyone thought that some little kid will be very happy to snuggle up with Mickey! Below Virginia and Mickey, is the red, white and blue afghan that Christine knit this month. Christine is retired and is an unbelievably prolific knitter. Every month she brings one or TWO knit baby blankets to donate.

I didn't get any pictures of Carol, who had to leave early but tied more than her fair share of knots, or Sheila who was taking pictures at the same time as me. After we had finished our blankets, we still had time for a few special projects. I was successful in teaching Rachel and Sheila how to spray baste their quilts. It would be hard to fail at that endeavor unless the fabric blew away in the wind or we accidentally gassed ourselves with the fumes indoors. I don't think either of them are going to miss pins.

I had less luck teaching them how to stipple; though I'm sure they could easily become as proficient as I am with practice. After I got back home I tried to think back to how I learned how to stipple and I remembered something I had totally forgotten. I initially thought I would make my sewing machine embroider the stipple pattern, so I carefully drew out a full page of stippling to scan into the computer. Now I wonder if the exercise of drawing out the stippling pattern on paper wasn't very helpful , maybe even essential, in me learning where to go and how to go back and fill in empty spots. And I'm all about practice too. Even now, before stippling a new quilt I will do a little practice sandwich to get back in the groove. Anyone else have any hints for how to teach stippling? I'm definitely not much of a teacher!

Monday, February 2, 2009

Country Chain and Knot Quilt

Well, it took me longer than I thought it would, but I finally have my Country Chain and Knot Quilt blocks down to 3 pieces each, for a total of 60 pieces for 20 blocks. That's down a lot from the 800 piece total just a few short weeks ago! Now I just have to sew the middle row to the top and bottom rows. That might take some time to pin as there are 4 matching seams that I would really like to have line up nicely. lol

I'm pleased with the brown suede-look fabric I chose for the sashing. I think it makes a nice contrast with the blocks, but will also help marry the disparate fabrics together. At least, I hope so! The cornerstones are going to be in the red fabric, and will be the same size as the large red pieces in the block. I think using red to continue the chain will help tie the blocks together structurally and keep them from visually floating on the suede.

I'm beginning to think I might actually finish this quilt during February. I'm looking forward to many hours of stippling zen on this one.