Monday, August 18, 2014

Back to Delectable Mountains Tutorial, Third Session

I ran into Brenda at IGA this morning and she mentioned that she would like to have the rest of the tutorial for making the Delectable Mountains quilt.  She's the second quilter in town who is taking up this challenge.  Sharon plunged right ahead into making Delectable Mountains and then emailed me to come and give her some pointers.  Her quilt is already finished!  Mine just needs two sides of the border quilted and then it's complete.

I need to get these instructions printed up for the first meeting of our local group in September, as I will demo the whole thing at the second meeting.  I realized that I needed a photo of an intermediate step and have finally taken apart a block to illustrate what was unclear.  This photo shows the layout of your strips before being sewed together and after.  The two sets of strips make two separate blocks.

You will take the second strip from the left and place it on top of the first.  Sew a quarter inch seam on the right hand side of the two strips. Take the fourth strip and place it on top of the third. Again, sew a quarter inch seam on the right hand side.

Now place strips 3/4 on top of strips 1/2, as in this photo.  Again, sew a quarter inch seam on the right hand side.

Lay the set face side down on your pressing pad.  Give it a little spritz of water.  Press the seams, moving your iron from right to left.

Turn the block over and press again, on the right side, sliding your iron from right to left to get a nice, flat block.

Your block is finished!

You will have actually made two blocks of the same colour, but with opposite orientations.  You can see that in the first picture on this entry.

When all your blocks are sewn, lay them out on a design wall or on the floor.  Switch them around until you are pleased with the arrangement.  Sew the blocks into rows and then sew the rows together to make the quilt top.

If I haven't been clear at some point and you'd like further explanation, contact me at  Hope this has been helpful!

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Split 9 patch

I had the happy privilege of spending this past week in Niagara Falls, visiting our Dear Daughter #1.  That visit came up rather suddenly, and the plans worked out perfectly for the past week.  It was a real treat!

At the last minute I grabbed a package project I had put together this past year.  It had a pattern for a split 9 patch block, lots of light and dark 2 1/2" squares.  As an after thought I added a bag of 3" squares, just in case I needed them. Well, that was a good thing because I DID need them to make the 1/2 square triangles.

Dear Grandaughter #1 had moved out last February, so I set up a sewing room in her former bedroom and spent many happy hours sewing these blocks.

This lap quilt needs just one more row of six squares added to the right.  I think it's really attractive and enjoyed making it, as a time filler while DD#1 was at work.

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Pitiful Corn

Our corn patch has had a sad life this year.  It was started early in the greenhouse in pots and looked fantastic when it was planted out in the garden bed.  But that night there was a heavy frost and every corn plant succumbed, or so we thought for a while as we observed the plants lying bleached and limp on the ground.

Lo and behold, new growth sprang up from the centre of most plants and after a bit the patch looked not so very bad.

Then we had a cold, rainy June and the plants went into hibernation.  So did the bees, so the corn was not pollinated as it should have been.

Here's today's harvest.  Six ears, except that I picked two more ears in order for both of us to have a decent serving.

On the other hand, the onions must have been very, very happy.  They are getting to be oversized!  They are actually taller than the corn plants.  We will pick them all tomorrow, put them on screens to dry and then store them.  It looks like there are more onions than we can eat in a year, even though we like onions and use a lot of them.

Saturday, August 2, 2014

Rosebud Chamber Music Festival

I went to a fantastic concert here in town last night.  It was part of the Rosebud Chamber Music Festival, the second year this series has happened.  Last year the quartet also played a concert here, also on the first Friday in August.

Here's the program:
String Quartet No. 14 in G major, Mozart; String Quartet No. 3, Bela Bartok; (intermission); Violin Sonata No. 3 in E-flat major, op. 12, Beethoven; Piano Quintet in G minor, op. 57, Shostakovich.  A really nice variety of music that worked very well together, in spite of the radically different styles of music.

The members of the quartet: Violin: Aaron Schwebel and Sheila JaffĂ© (they took turns playing first and second violin parts), viola: Keith Hamm (the organizer, whom I have known and played in string groups with since he was an early teen), cello: Arnold Choi, and piano: Peter Longworth.  Each one of these is a superb musician, and they are totally "in sync" with each other, playing as an organic unit.

Their playing covered the range from delicate, nuanced pianissimos to vigorous, muscular fortissimos.  Their interpretations of the music were eloquent.  And they were obviously enjoying themselves deeply.  I had never heard any of these pieces of music before, but was able to understand and enjoy them thoroughly.

The audience was disappointingly small, but absolutely delighted to experience such a marvellous concert.  The quartet (plus pianist) do say they will come back next year as part of next year's Rosebud Chamber Music Festival, and I will do everything I can to make sure the audience is at least double the size it was last night.  It's a great privilege to have a live concert of such incredible quality here in our little rural town.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

From Bush to Bottle

This morning the red currants in this jam were on bushes in our back "yard."  S. spent a few hours picking the ripe ones and came in around noon with an ice cream bucket and a half.  I washed and threw out the ones that floated, simmered the rest in a large pot for just a little while, put them through a food mill and set the result, 2 quarts of "thick" juice, to boil, mixed with two packages of "No Sugar Needed" pectin.  
Usually I put berries in the steam juicer and extract the clear juice, but that means the stove is on for a few hours.  This was much faster.

When the juice boiled I added 11 cups of sugar (red currants are pretty tart!)  After the mixture boiled for a minute (took about 10 minutes of stirring by the hot stove to return to a good boil), I ladled it into these jars.  They had been standing in the sink, having been filled with boiling water.

There was enough for almost eight pint jars.  The last, almost-full jar with the screw-on lid goes into the fridge to be eaten soon.  The others are labeled and will be stored in the spare bedroom closet, the coolest place in the house which is why my shelves of canned jars are kept there.  Good, tart jam for on toast this coming winter!

Lots Accomplished

This has been a productive time for me in terms of quilt making.  Here's a stack of quilts that are ready to be machine quilted.  Because my Janome Horizon was in for service I concentrated on making quilt tops.  The bottom quilt is a good sized quilt for a single bed, destined for my friend Susan.  There are six lap quilts in various sizes above it.  Some are for teaching examples, some are for the local long term care facility, and some are just for us to use.

I mentioned earlier that my friend S. and I had found some inspiration at a quilt show in Drumheller.  She has already finished her quilt, and what a gorgeous quilt it is!

S. started quilting just last November, and really got into it in a big way.  Her first quilt was a "rag" quilt.  She bought the material at the local quilt shop's October sale and two weeks later she had her first quilt.  It turned out very nice, and she still has it.

 Then she made a whole lot of placemats, table toppers and small pot "mats" for Christmas presents.  Since she's at the stage of welcoming new grandchildren she's been making baby quilts.

I'm delighted with the beautiful things she's made.  She picks lovely fabrics and does careful work, as you can see in this closeup of her latest quilt.  I think this is beautifully done.

S. is already working on another quilt that I haven't seen yet.  I'm looking forward to all the interesting things that she will make over this coming winter.

What an accomplishment for a "new" quilter!

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Goodbye, Dickens!

Dear Daughter #2 and family have been visiting us this week.  It's always such a treat to have our kids and grandkids around!

But today when they left we also said "Goodbye," to our dear cat, Dickens.
("Sniff, sniff)

Dickens showed up almost three years ago and adopted us.  He was such a winsome cat, full of personality and very affectionate, that it became a mutual adoption.  He was definitely the best cat we ever had, and we've had about 10 or 12 over the decades.

He's an excellent hunter and kept the house free of mice.  He had lots of adventures in our landscape, which is fairly dense and covers about 5 acres, including the house and greenhouses.  It offered lots of "jungle" to a cat who thought he was a big hunter.

All in all, the arrangement was wonderful for everyone involved.

Last winter we were gone for about eight weeks and Dickens stayed home alone.  S. came every day to feed and water him and play with him for a while, but it really wasn't enough companionship for him.

We're thinking of going south for a good part of this winter also, so providing for Dickens in a responsible way became a problem.  We realized that it was time to "adopt" him out.

I asked around whenever I was with friends, and when I mentioned it to DD#2 she right away felt positive about having him, but did have to talk it over with DSIL.  He also right away said, "Sure, we'll take him."

The two grandkids are having birthdays soon and will be 10 and 14 this year.  They have a dog, Daisy, who is quite shy, not agressive at all.  I think the two pets will get along fine once they adjust to each other.

So this morning we got the cat carrier ready with a familiar "blankie" in the bottom and tried to lure Dickens into it.

He didn't go for the Greenie treat we put in there, but when I got his little catnip fish and teased him with it a little bit and then threw it in, Dickens followed and we were able to "box him up" without any fuss.  He didn't complain when we closed the door and put the carrier in the back seat of their car.

I'm wondering how the trip is going.  They plan to take two days to drive home and have a pet-friendly motel booked about half way.  We also have a harness and leash for him that I've used when taking him to the vet for an appointment.

I will really miss Dickens.  He loved to hunt all night, come in when we got up in the morning, and after a little snack of Whiskas, he would climb up on my lap and make himself very much at home, motor going a mile a minute, and eyes closed in the bliss of having his chin and ears stroked.

Goodbye, dear little cat!  It's been a very good three years with you.  Enjoy your new home, where we know you will get lots of affection and attention.