Friday, January 29, 2010

The Sashing Incident (and more penny whistle)

A number of you commented on my sashing for the Signature Quilt. (picture on the previous post)
There is a story that goes along with how I came up with that sashing. I was going to make regular sashing with cornerstones. (some of you know that I don't really like having to match corners though)

So I cut the vertical sashing strips first.  The plan was sew them on the sides of the blocks and make the rows. I put in a movie and sat down to sew. I picked up a block and a strip and put them right sides together. Whooops!  They don't match!  OH NO! the strips are too short.  (!!! memory fail!!!! )  Yep I cut them 12 inches and the FINISHED block will be 12 inches. I needed 12.5 inch strips.  I stopped the movie. Ironed more fabric, cut LONGER strips and went back to the machine (ad the movie) I sewed a row.  Then two more.  I didn't cut enough strips.

So I decided to start on the sashing. I had pulled out some 4" charms to use as cornerstones. Hmmmm. One of the packs was all orange toned. Everything from dark orange to white will tiny orange designs was in it. FUN!
So, I thought. I sewed some sets of 3 charms. I sewed a set of three to one of the 12 inch oops strips. I repeated. I grabbed a row and measured against the two strip sets -- a little short. Okay so I added a set of two charms in the middle.  Hmmm just a little too long. GREAT!   I can trim those off after I attach the strips.  I sewed a couple more  of these horizontal strips then had to go to bed.

The next night I finished it.  OH, when I attached the horizontal strips, I matched the center seam of the sashing strip to the (rough) center of the block row.(middle of the middle square of the middle block!) I didn't pin, just held it in place and sewed.

Now, when I used the "oops" strips that were too short, I invented a name for that.  I call it rescue piecing.

Rescue piecing [res-kyoo pees-ing]:  Using those "oh crap I cut it wrong" pieces to make something that makes the quilt even better. 

 I think this sashing made the quilt better, based on reader comments. 

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

It is BIGGER Than I Thought

Back last fall sometime, I was asked -no,  commanded- to be in a signature quilt block swap. We each made 12 signature blocks and sent them to the hostess. Then, in December, she sent each of us one from eveyone in the swap. I was thinking "Great! this will be a lap quilt that I can make for myself."

A couple of days ago I started cutting sashing strips and putting it together. Tonight I finished it. When I went to hang it so I could take a photo, WHAM it hit me. This is a lot bigger than my usual lap quilt.
It is BIGGER Than I Thought
Now I am wondering if I can wrestle it thru the machine to quilt it. It is approximately 48" by 68" which I know is not huge, but it is more than I have done in one piece before. I have done a quilt in two or three pieces, quilted those pieces, then joined it together into one big quilt. This time, I can't do that without messing up the overall look with the sashing.

Now I had plans for the backing on this too. Hmmm, those plans may have to change. Or else I will have to add something to it.

Ah, no worries, it will all work out eventually. By the way, I love the way it looks. Thanks to all the other participants in the swap

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

How I did it.

One of my readers (and a friend) asked how I recorded the penny whistle tune from yesterday and posted it on my blog. I am going to attempt to tell you. (By the way, this will show you that I am a real geeky kind of guy)

I don't have a good microphone for my computer SO, I recorded it with my camera set on movie. THEN I put that on the computer and used a free program called Audacity which I set to record "what you hear" and played the video. That recorded the sound from the video. (It was way too much trouble, but I really wanted to do it)
Now having a GOOD microphone and recording directly into Audacity is a far more elegant solution.

Also, blogger doesn't have a way to embed audio directly (like it does pictures) SO I had to find the HTML for that and edit code to make it work.

So let me see if I can post the code to show it: You leave out the exclamation point and fill in the link where you are hosting your sound file. It also starts and ends with an embed tag.  The starting tag has < > with embed inside it. The ending tag has a / before the word embed and is also in the < > After the opening embed tag there is a "<" also (no quotation marks around it though)

! autoplay="false" controller="true" height="20" pluginspage="" scale="tofit" src="link to song here" type="video/quicktime" width="320">

Monday, January 25, 2010

A musical interlude -Or maybe your ears will bleed!

I have been playing around with the penny whistle for a few years. It has been very "off and on" and that more OFF than On.
However, I got involved with some folks that are really good musicians and my desire to really play has increased. So I have been practicing on this:

Actually this is a "Key of C" model and mine is a "D" but they look alike.
So I decided to  play (or is it massacre?) a tune for you.   I hope this works. does, you have to click the little play arrow on the player though.

Some folks have mentioned that they can't play the player so -Here is a direct link to the file
Skye Boat Song

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Really Cookin'

If you have been paying attention , you know that I went on a lovely trip. Part of my vacation included a cooking class --IN MEXICO. It was at a day resort called Playa Mia.  Fun! We did a simple but elegant meal. We made an appetizer called Huaraches. Our main course was baked grouper which we seared first and then wrapped in a banana leaf and then foil. mmmmmmm. For dessert we made a rice pudding tower. That involved making some little thin flat cookies to stack in the tower.

I have lots of photos so I am sharing a few of them.
First let me introduce you to our main man, Chef Luis. Luis trained at Culinard in Mexico. He also studied in France and Italy. The boy knows how to cook!

Next we have Luis with his assistant, who also knows how to cook, Moises.  That is "Moe -EE- sAz" (the 'a' is long) Hey, I tried to do it phonetically but I am not sure it is exact. I can say it, that I know!

Next is a picture of my workstation. We shared a four person station. In the back are my new friends, Pat and Rosemary. Across from me is my good friend and traveling partner, Dave.  In this picture they are sauteing the peppers and onions for our grouper. Those go on the fish before it is wrapped.

Here is a picture of Dave stirring the rice pudding mixture.

Ha ha.  Here I am pretending with the skillet and spatula.  We took this one before we started cooking.

One of the really cool things we did was learn to decorate the plate.  We also put our names on them so everyone got his/her own cooking we we were served our meal later.

Here is a picture of Dave stirring on the rice pudding.  We had to reduce it down so that all the milk got gone but not burned or scorched! (it was perfect!)

This is me working on the same rice pudding mixture. We shared the work.
See that little styrofoam tray with four balls of dough?  That is the cookie dough for the cookies in the rice pudding tower.

That wooden press served dual duty. We flattened the cookies in it AND used it to press our masa dough for the huaraches.

And here are our huaraches cooking on the grill -well actually at this point we had turned off the heat. See, they are golden brown and we are adding the black bean mixture on top. Later we added some chorizo and finely diced potato that we had cooked up. The whole thing was topped with a little lettuce and a fancy drizzle of heavy cream then dusted with red pepper. It was delicious.

Here is someone's dessert plate. She did a nice job and mine looked sloppy, so I took a picture of hers to use. Ha ha. Mine will be pretty next time!

After we ate our exquisite meal, we went out to the ocean --because Playa Mia means "My Beach."  I took some time to rest under the palm fronds and just relax. After all, I had studied, worked hard in the kitchen and my tummy was full and happy.

I was happy too. Can you tell?

I hope you enjoyed my excursion to cooking school.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Gasp! Another giveaway win!

I was thrilled to find out that I won Charlie's giveaway over at "Its Just Me"    The package got here and I didn't recognize the address. So I tore right into it. It wasn't long until I figured it out.  See that pattern for Chasing the Stars?   It is designed by "Qubee Quilts" and I happen to know that is the address for Charlie's blog  So, I knew why I got it.

The package was a delight to open and dig through.   There is a 'slash cutter' which I will have to research and find out what it is for.  I get the idea from the package insert that it is for making a mock chenille quilt.
Of course the pattern is a great prize.  I will have to try that one although I may down-size it.  There is a nice kit to make a Flange Pillow- It looks fun and easy.
then there is this little paper wrapped package that was nestled in the fat quarter bundle. (yaay fat quarters!)
I unwrapped it and found this nice trivet with "Quilting Station" on it.  I am thinking it would be a great place to rest my mini iron!

Did I mention the Fat Quarters?  Rich, luscious colors  in wonderful jewel tones. I made ooooh sounds over each and every one of them.

Thanks Charlie!  This is a terrific prize package. to find out about the slash cutter........

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Home again and I brought a project with me.

Several of you noticed my absence. Some of you even emailed me. A couple of you were worried about me. (I am sorry if I caused you any undue concern.)
The fact is, I went on a vacation. I got to spend a week on a cruise ship with some friends. We went to the Caribbean and stopped in Costa Maya, Mexico, then Guatemala, Belize and finally Cozumel, Mexico. I am "happy" to report that I managed the entire week without buying fabric for quilting. Okay, I confess, I didn't find any stores to shop for it.
I did buy a few trinkets, a couple of tee shirts and the shirt pictured below. The poor little guy went thru all his piles of shirts to find the color and size I wanted. The price was very good. I didn't look too closely. When I was getting ready for the evening meal, I made a discovery. OOPS. The collar is not on straight. YIKES! Did I panic? Nah, I switched to a different shirt and packed this baby to take home.

Two years ago I would have marked this as a loss. Ha! Times have changed. I know that I can rip the stitches holding this collar, take it off and reposition it. When I sew it back together it will be just fine. Quilting has certainly empowered me in the sewing/repair area. And let me say that I thank all of you who have helped me along the way. You are a great bunch of friends.

In other vacation news: On the ship was the Second City Comedy Troupe. Now if you don't know about Second City, it is a sketch based comedy troupe that has produced a large number of famous comedians. (a number of which went on to Saturday Night Live) You can go to and see a list of alumni.

Well my friends, I got an experience out of this trip. I got to go ONSTAGE with Second City and be in the act. It was only one sketch, and I was one of two volunteers. It was a blast. I wish you had all been there.

Monday, January 04, 2010

UFO no more

I posted in December about a present I was working on.  Even though it still hasn't been given, I am pretty sure she isn't reading my blog. So I am posting a picture of it.
This is the purse the Nana requested for her birthday.  The square that is set in on point was made of some thin strips of fabric in rich jewel tones.  I added some batik strips above and below the square and then used the same batik to trim the top edge and add an accent stripe on the back.
The picture shows front and back.  They are actually the same color, but my camera didn't quite cooperate with the color tones.  Oh well!  The front is closer to the actual color of the base fabric and also on the batik.
This has a really long strap as she requested. I added an adjuster so she can shorten the strap if desired. There are two pockets inside. One is  perfect for a cell phone and the other is much larger.  I hope she likes it.

In other news, I got the Royal treatment today.  This lovely package arrived in the mail from the United Kingdom.

See those lovely stickers that say "Royal Mail"  ? Hmmm?   For some strange reason getting "royal mail" always makes my heart sing. I can't explain it fully but I love getting mail from the UK.

Inside this package was a pair of wall hangings from Annette and Rebecca over at Reb and Nets quilts

And here is the picture of the contents.  Welcome to my home little Chickadees.

Sunday, January 03, 2010

About Debbie -

I found something that I would LOVE to win.  But I have to share it with you. (mostly for yet another chance to win!)
Debbie over at Jerusalem Notes Fiberwork by Debbie is having a giveaway. This is to celebrate her blogging anniversary.  

But rather than enter and lower my chances, why don't you go Here  and buy something nice for yourself.

Just kidding.  Good luck!

Saturday, January 02, 2010

Ginger Jar Update and how I spent New Year's Day

I just thought I would give you a little update on the Ginger Jar quilt.  I have gotten the top pieced and all together.  It still needs a border before it will be ready to quilt and finish but I think it is looking pretty good.
Don't look too close, I made an error or two.  Hey it is for me.  AND it has been a learning experience.

In other news, yesterday I went to a Ceilidh.  Now I know some of you are going "a WHAT?"   It is pronounced "kay -lee"  It is an Irish celebration with lots of music, fun, food and fellowship.   There were some amazing musicians there.  I only braved playing my penny whistle at the very end.  At that point EVERYONE was playing so you couldn't really hear me. Ha ha.  
I did play another instrument earlier in the afternoon.  That instrument is a bodhran. Again, "what?"  The bodhran is an Irish drum.  You hold it in one hand and beat it with a double ended stick.  Now that was fun to play.  I was surprised when I saw some of the video and heard myself playing it. (I was hidden in a corner so I wasn't visible in the video.
So now you know how I spent New Year's day.  I had a great time.