Sunday, April 30, 2017


I'm usually pretty fussy about keeping my workspace clean and organized.  But cutting squares from scrap fabrics is one big exception.  I have lots and lots of scraps of all sizes.  It's simply hard to throw away any piece of material 2" square or larger, so I save them all.  Sometimes when I can't sleep during the night I get up and cut these scraps into usable squares.  Bonnie Hunter ( promotes what she calls a "Scrap Savers System."  This is my take on that:
It starts with this little basket on the cutting table.  When some rather small piece of fabric is left as cutting what is needed for a quilt, it goes into this basket.  When the basket is full, I take the time to trim the scraps into usable squares, 1 1/2", 2", etc.  There's also a container for triangles, all sizes, and a container for "Strings."  
Back in 2015 I went to visit our older daughter.  Knowing that she would be working full-time while I was there I grabbed a bag of 2 1/2" scrap squares and a bag of 3" scrap squares.  Each day while she was at work I sewed in her spare bedroom, using the squares to make a Split Nine Patch quilt.
Nice, eh?  One of the activities I planned for when we had all the kids and grandkids here in summer of 2015 was billed as a "Treasure Hunt."  I displayed about 15 quilts and wall hangings and let them choose a first, second and third choice to take home for their own.  This Split 9 Patch was one that wasn't chosen.  Later I brought it to IDA where there is a "Fabric Nook"--a very nice fabric and notions section for display there, basically, just to decorate the wall above the shelves a bit.

Brenda mentioned a few times that there have been several inquiries about this quilt.  How is it made?  So I have agreed to come some day in June and "demo" making this quilt.  In order to do that I need lots of 2 1/2" and 3" squares in darks and lights.  One of the great things about this particular quilt is that you can use almost any fabric and it will look fine.

But there weren't very many 2 1/2" or 3" squares in my containers.  So lately I've been cutting up scraps to make enough of the squares for another quilt, and extra so that there is choice in combining fabrics.  This afternoon I finished that.  I have plenty now.

The best way to do it is to spread all the scraps on the floor, in order to dig through the pile and select the fabrics you'd like to use.  This creates quite a mess!

I don't care to have the sewing area looking like that for long!
Here's the result: quite nicely organized into piles of 10 each, keeping track of how many have been cut.  Now I'm all set for June.  Well, almost.  I still need to make up a sheet of instructions for creating the Split Nine Patch blocks.  If you'd like to try this pattern, go to Bonnie Hunter's blog,, click on the Free Patterns at the top of the page, and scroll down to Split Nine Patch.  You'll find all the instructions there.

I highly recommend Bonnie's blog, her patterns, etc.  She's a real resource for quilters!

Saturday, April 29, 2017


I like Saturdays!  They don't have the same duties as weekdays.  I feel that I have more choice about what I will do. I usually choose to do some baking.  Today I made 13 cranberry scones for breakfast.  I had 2, Jim had 5; that leaves just 6 for some other breakfast, or 6 for snacks once in a while.

We had only one hamburger bun left in the freezer and since Saturdays are Burger Days it was time to make a batch of them.  Then for a light snack once in a while I made three Heirloom Boston Brown Breads.  That's a recipe from the More with Less cookbook, which came out in the 70's.  That was the first cookbook I was ever interested in.  I read about it and bought it.  I learned quite a bit from it, and still use some of the recipes on a regular basis.

One of them is the recipe for Heirloom Boston Brown Bread.  Very simple: 2 cups of whole wheat or graham flour, 1/2 cup of white flour, 2 tsp. baking soda, 1 tsp. salt.  Mix these together.  (I add some Whey powder to add protein.)  Add 2 c. buttermilk or sour mild (I use no fat plain yogurt), 1/2 c. dark molasses, 1 c. raisins.  Mix all together.  Then I depart from the recipe.  I divide the batter among 3 heavily greased tin cans (saved from canned tomatoes) and bake in a 350º oven for 45 minutes.  Let cool for a few minutes and turn out onto a cake rack.  This is very nice with some homemade jam or a slice of cheese (round Havarti is especially nice and fits just right).

I also finished up a pair of socks that were started as examples in the "Toe Up Sock Knitting Class" which I taught at IDA during February and March.  These are Patons Kroy Sock Yarn in "Rainbow Stripe."

I wanted to go ALL the way to the last bit of yarn for both socks and figured out how to know how much to save for the binding off, using Jeny Staiman's Surprisingly Stretchy Bind Off--such a good solution for binding off socks!

Here's what to do:  When you're getting near the end, take the very tail end of yarn and loop it around a needle (the size you're using, of course), one loop for every stitch in the whole round.  Holding the last loop, slide the loops off the needle.  Now double the amount of yarn used to make the loops.  Add just a little for weaving in the yarn end.  Put a knot where that is.  Make it pretty secure.  When you reach that knot, it's time to start binding off.

The way to get the stripes the same in both socks: Pull out the beginnings of the two balls of yarn (that is, if you're knitting with 50 gram balls) laying them side by side until you're able to have a colour match.  Trim one of the yarns to match the other yarn.  This usually works for me.

These will go to one of our granddaughters.  And I started a pair for her younger sister.  These needed to be unravelled and made narrower.  Here's a good method of doing that in such a way that there's no problem catching the stitches back:

I take out a needle and insert it into the stitches below, however far it needs to be ripped back.  One by one the needles are removed and inserted into the stitches that need to be "caught."  I find this much easier than trying to pick up stitches from completely raveled knitting.

Sunday, April 23, 2017


Almost two thirds of the blocks for the new quilt are now finished.  This photo shows the right hand two thirds (almost).  This second photo shows how the blocks are put together.  There is one large square block, surrounded by four oblong blocks with 4 small square blocks as cornerstones. 

I should have taken apart the block on the right as that one has all the parts in place.  This block needs the lefthand bottom cornerstone, the left oblong and the left upper cornerstone added.  

Each block is made exactly the same, but because the squares of some are cut 2 1/2" x 2 1/2" (the large square blocks), others are cut 2 1/2" x 1 1/2"(the oblong blocks), and some are cut 1 1/2" x 1 1/2" (the small square blocks), they turn out differently.  But each block has the same amount of seams and the same construction.

Right now they are laid out on the backs of two cheap vinyl, flannel-backed tablecloths.  That way they can be rolled up, transported, and still be kept in the same order.  Before I sew the blocks together I will do some repositioning, as there are places where identically coloured squares meet.  I want to keep it as random as possible.

There are three more of the big square blocks sewn and one more of the small squares.  That's 32 out of 53 finished.  So I'm feeling past the "doldrums" on this quilt.  There's always a slog through the middle part of making a quilt.  Beginnings are exciting, and galloping toward the finish line is also gratifying.  I'm not there by a long shot yet, but am feeling much more hopeful.

Thursday, April 20, 2017


There is a blight in certain trees on our property: Maydays, Schubert Choke Cherries, others of that family.  It results in "cankers" -- black nodes on the branches.  Eventually it will kill a tree.  One Mayday just by the garden was severely infected.  Yesterday Jim took his hand saw and started taking limbs off.

This is what was left of the tree this morning when I left for my walk with M.

Just as we finished our walk we heard the tractor and saw Jim leaving the driveway, dragging that last upright section behind, heading for our little "dump" of vegetation in the corner of our field that lies south of the buildings.

Seems like quite an accomplishment for a 79 year old fellow!

Tuesday, April 18, 2017


My friend M. loaned me a book last Saturday, The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry by Rachel Joyce.  It's one of those that you can't put down.  So I finished it yesterday.  I highly recommend it!  It's about a recently retired man who is at loose ends.  Although he and his wife still live in the same house, they are effectively estranged.  He is also estranged from their son, an only child.  There are hints of past tragedy.

Harold receives a letter from a colleague with whom he worked whom he had not be in contact with for the last 20 years.  It was brief and stated that she wanted him to know that she was in the last stages of an inoperable cancer and was in a hospice.  He wrote a reply and when he went to mail it the next morning he somehow kept on walking, past several post boxes and out of town.  It was the beginning of a walk of over 600 miles, begun without thought or preparation, or even a goodbye.

Now, how can a book that begins like that be interesting?  Well, it's about character development.  This is one of the best books I've read lately.  I read three or four books a week, and this is one that I am enthusiastic about.  If you like to read books about people and their relationships, you don't want to miss this book!

Now, a new recipe.  This was given to me, also by M., as "Harvest Loaf."  I've changed it somewhat and now it's "Pumpkin Muffins."

Mix together:
1/2 cup of packed brown sugar
2 eggs
3 TBS canola oil
1 cup canned pumpkin
1 cup cut up dates or raisins

In a separate container mix together:
1 1/2 cups white flour
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. nutmeg
1/2 tsp. ginger

Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and mix until all is moist.  If the mix is too wet, add some whole wheat flour.

Spoon into muffin cups (parchment preferred) and bake in a 350º oven for 25 minutes.
Cool and store in an airtight container.  Can be frozen.

These are very nice just plain, heated, but also go very well, split, with a bit of cream cheese spread.

Thursday, April 13, 2017


 You wouldn't think that a play day meant standing by the cutting table, cutting 3" and 2 1/2" squares all morning, would you?
But that's what happened.  Dig through all the leftovers and scraps.  Press and cut, and soon there are enough squares for half of a planned lap quilt.

The tall piles contain 120 cut squares.  I found a few ready made 1/2 square triangles.  And even cut a few more 3" and 2 1/2" squares for the second half.

In a few weeks I will spend a day sewing at IDA where we have a fine fabric section, complete with thread and notions, even yarn for knitting.  If we didn't have that here in town, we'd have to drive a hour to access a fabric store.  So I try my best to support our local quilt shop.  The plan is that I will demonstrate a Split 9 Patch some day this summer, by sewing in the fabric department for most of the day.  In preparation for that I'm cutting squares.  

Now I think it's time to start sewing on the big project, the Entwined Quilt.  It would be nice to make some progress on that quilt.


When the day is like this I retreat to my sewing room and play with fabric!
I took a video of the snow falling, but it doesn't transfer properly to the blog, so we'll settle for the photo.


Remember that song from the 60's, Turn, Turn, Turn?  A community choir here is learning a very nice arrangement of that for a concert.  One of the lines (from Ecclesiastes) goes: A time to plant, a time to reap....

Yesterday was my time to plant.  We've done a lot of transplanting this spring, taking finger-nail sized plants from trays of 500 and placing them in the 4- and 6-packs in which they are sold.  That's pretty boring work!  And very dirty!  I wrote about that recently.

Well, yesterday I did some seeding.  Here are the pots I seeded:

From the left: a lone Buttercrunch Lettuce in an oval pot.  These are THE BEST lettuces to buy in the supermarket.  They come in individual plastic containers and still have the root attached.  They stay alive in the fridge for ages, opposite from other lettuces that very soon turn slimy.  This time of the year I save the last few leaves and the root and plant the lettuce in a pot.  It will spread its roots and keep on producing.  I can pick the outside leaves, enough for a salad, once a week, and the plant will continue to produce more leaves.  Later I'll add another plant to this pot and have a continuous supply of absolutely fresh lettuce.

There are several rather large (4" pots), each containing one corn kernel.  By the end of May, each of these 40 pots will have a nice, sturdy corn plant, ready to go into the garden bed and produce ripe corn (if the weather cooperates) by the end of July.  There is NOTHING as nice as an ear of corn, picked 5 minutes ago, boiled for 1 minute and dressed with butter, salt and pepper!  Food to be savoured!

You can barely see a rim of a blue ceramic pot behind the corn.  There are a few basil seeds in that.  Hopefully the will sprout and there will be a pot of fresh basil on the patio this summer.

The oblong pot to the right rear has a dark leaf variety of lettuce.  Another pot for the patio growing fresh salad greens.

The oval pot has been seeded with spinach.  This is just for now and will also be on the patio.  Quite soon lettuce and spinach can be seeded in the garden beds.  But this gives a jump start to harvesting fresh greens.

In front of the oval pot is a rectangle of Walla Walla Onions.  I sewed whatever seed was still in the packet from last year and hope to have some fresh, sweet onions in the garden beds.  I'll have to hide them in the middle of the corn or potatoes because the deer ate even the onions in the garden last summer!  Because of the deer depredations last year I plan to grow only corn, squash and potatoes in the beds this summer.  I'm just not interested in providing tender bean and pea plants for the "Deer Buffet" this year!

And last, but not least are several small pots that have three "Sweet Million" tomatoes seeded.  These will be transplanted to larger pots when they have grown sufficiently.  Some of these will be on the patio, and some will join the large tomato pots that we plan to keep in the #2 greenhouse over summer this year.  Have you ever tried the Sweet Million salad tomatoes?  Actually, most of them are eaten right off the vine, whenever one of us happens to pass by and see a few red, ripe gems.

This was dirty work to get it all seeded, but worthwhile.  I hope to have some wonderful fresh eating from this salad "buffet."

Sunday, April 9, 2017


Not such an inspiring Title to this post!  Last Monday I wrote about how well the big, new quilt is coming along.  Well, that was it for this past week.

I don't know where the time went, but when I did go to quilting in the country group I decided to take along two unfinished projects.  One was a very large purple quilt that I made last year.   I had bought some 108" wide backing and found it didn't stop bleeding in the wash.  So I got another 3 meters and made a not-so-heavy quilt with just the purple.  That way it will be washed by itself and not have a chance to spoil any other material.

The other project was just a "use up what's left" idea.  Some years ago I made two lap quilts from fruit and vegetable prints.  There were some fabric scraps left and sometime during the past year I started sewing them on half squares along with a green and black print.  I used up pretty much all of the fruit/veggie fabric and then cooked up a layout:

It's 36" x 36" and will make a nice table topper.  I hope to finish this this week.  The last Tuesday of April the town quilting group will have its "Show and Tell" to which we invite lots of friends.  We display what we've made and then have snacks and sometimes some games.  It's always a fun time.  And, since I have very few things to show--just this and the finished donation quilt, I'll take along some older quilts that haven't been shown lately.

I plan to use a simple fabric for the batting and the same green print for the back and the binding.

Monday, April 3, 2017


That quilt that I'm working on is coming along.  The design board is quite inadequate for this quilt, which is intended to be about 104" x 104".  So the top blocks are folded over. What you see is 2/3 (almost) of the right side of  the top 1/3.

I'm quilt pleased with how it's looking.  These blocks are not sewed together, just slightly overlapping.  I like that the coloured squares are "vari-coloured" and not all just a dark blue print as the pattern had it.

I did a little figuring this morning as I was sewing.  Each block takes at least an hour to sew together.  That's not counting cutting time and time to sew the strips into 5 strip sets, which are then cut into sections.  Each block has 100 little squares.  There are 9 large blocks (finished), 24 oblong blocks (6 finished), and 20 small square blocks (cornerstones, 4 finished).  This morning I counted up the pieces in this quilt and realized that there are 5,300 pieces.  No wonder it seems like it's kind of slow going!!!