Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Just a quick catch-up post because it's been so long since I posted. ;) Here's the last quilt top I've been working on. I'll put one more skinny yellow border on, then a thicker blue border. Here's the link with the pattern:

  http://www.ucquilts.com/bomjune2012.htm



And my tomatoes and banana peppers are growing great. I've been having a little trouble with birds pecking the ripe tomatoes, so I think when the next batch starts turning red, I'll have to put some netting on them. Here's evidence of a different kind of visitor to my garden on a misty Monday morning:


And finally, I received my author copies of Sweeter Than Tea. I love the cover they picked, and it's a real thrill to see my words in print. :)  Toby was just excited to have a nice box to sit on.  What is the attraction with cats and boxes?

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

End of June update

Picking lots of tomatoes (I ate the cherry tomatoes hot off the vine, before they even made it in the house with these larger ones) plus green beans and banana peppers. Not counting the cherry tomatoes, I'm eating at least one tomato per day. Do you think a 'mater per day will keep the doctor away?

 

The tops of my taters had died back, so I dug down to see what I had . . . BIG crop of eighteen Yukon Gold potatoes. That doesn't sound too bad of a crop for six tater plants, until you realize that I ate six of them with my green beans last night, they're little:

 

I spent last weekend at a quilting retreat. Yes, we all take our sewing machines and fabric and cutters and rulers out to a lodge in the woods and do nothing but sew, Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. I took piles and piles of blue and yellow batik fabric all pre-cut into wedges and triangles and completed this top. It's a pattern from Bonnie Hunter's website, www.quiltville.com called Starstruck. This will be a kingsize quilt, for my bed:

Friday, June 01, 2012

Sweeter Than Tea

I'm about to be a published author, folks! I have a short story in the book "Sweeter Than Tea" that'll be coming out soon, from Belle Books. Here's the cover:

Vegetable garden update

Lots has been going on in my new raised bed this year. I've been picking lots of snowpeas (the ones in the dirt produced MUCH better than the ones in the windowbox) and the Bush Blue Lake beans were a hit, I wish i'd planted more.
My first ripe tomato was a Park's Whopper, but the Big Beef tomatoes aren't far behind. Both bushes have grown taller than their cages, and are loaded with green tomatoes of all sizes.
The snowpeas will be coming out soon, to be replaced with green beans (but pole beans, not bush beans) because these squash will be getting bigger and taking up the room where the beans were:

Friday, March 16, 2012

Plarn Bags

I've discovered plarn, yarn made from plastic bags. I was teaching myself to crochet, from videos and pages on the internet. First I made some square dishcloths, practicing my single, double and half-double crochet with cotton yarn.

Then once I'd learned the stitches, I was eager to apply them to making a project more complicated than a cotton dishcloth, so I went hunting on the internet for simple patterns. That's when I found this:

My Recycled Bags

It's a very cool site, with every kind of recycled-plastic item you could imagine. She has tutorials showing you how to cut the plastic bags into loops, and chain them together, and the sidebar is full of free crochet patterns. First I started on a totebag, made with khaki colored Kroger bags. I added white and blue stripes made from Walmart bags and newspaper delivery plastic sleeves. Then saw a messenger bag with flap and liked that one better. And I wanted a thick strap that I could put on my shoulder, so I ended up with this:


Then since I'd also been collecting white bags from Walmart and Walgreens and Family Dollar, I had enough cut and rolled up to start this bag, trimmed in pink yarn leftover from a previous project. I plan to put a huge pink and white yarn flower on the side:


It's been fun, and a very low cost craft to get into. People have been happy to donate their plastic bags to me—and I was shocked when I learned that some of these plastic bags take a thousand years to biodegrade. Wow. I've started working on another bag using mainly the blue newspaper plastic sleeves, and have been very pleased with the feel of the softer plastic they're made of. And I really like the color too!

Saturday, December 17, 2011

More Catching Up

Last of the garden harvest was these onions. It was fun digging for them, like having an Easter egg hunt. ;)

They didn't get as big as 'normal' onions you'd get in the supermarket, did they? But I decided I honestly liked the small sizes. Sometimes onions give me digestive problems, especially if I eat a lot of them, or if I eat more than one one raw ring on a hamburger. Which is a shame, because I love the taste and smell of onions, if I could, I'd be eating them raw on subs and slicing them for my salads, putting handfuls in my soup, etc. But anyway, these little onions were just perfect for me. I could add one small onion to a skillet or casserole and then I didn't have a lot of raw onion left over stinking up the fridge and getting dried out. I gave half of them to my neighbors, and stuck the other half in the fridge.


And I'm only a bit late on revealing another quilt I did for Quiltmaker magazine. I have always wanted to try a gradient, and with Diane Harris' generous stash enhancement of some BEAUTIFUL blue batiks, I planned this in EQ:


There's everything in this quilt, a huge variety of blues. Some of them were used in my mom's blue and beige quilt, s couple of the batiks in the Linkin' Logs quilt, some of them calicoes I'd had in my stash forever. You can read more about the fabrics and design process on Quiltmaker Magazine's blog, Diane Harris did another super writeup about it. Here's a closeup of some of the fabrics I used:


And here's what the actual quilt came out as. I realized it wasn't going to be bed-sized unless I added another border after the flying geese, so I came up with the tumbler gradient idea. I love the tumbler die I got from accuquilt, the small 3 inch size. It was a great way to have a scrappy but cohesive border.


Before I used the tumblers as a border, I had to see how they went together and how long a section of 2 of them was, or ten units in a row, so I could plan how many to cut. They went together so well it was almost goof-proof. Having the dog ears cut off the corners really helps the accuracy! So before I knew it, I had this many on my design wall:


And here it is with a final border of tumblers on it - almost looks like stained glass with all the different colors being backlit by the light from the window, doesn't it?

Friday, December 16, 2011

Bad Blogger, bad blogger!

I haven't posted in months - I've spent more time on facebook than on my blog. I did realize that I ought to be doing both, because I like my blog for use as an online journal. I like being able to go back and read about when I was working on a quilt, when I finished it, etc.

So a little catchup is in order.

Here's the EQ design of the Quiltmaker quilt I did at our retreat in June. I couldn't show it to anyone until the magazine came out, which is why there were no posts about it.


For more information on the design process, visit Quiltmaker Linkin' Logs page And here's a picture of the finished top. It's still unquilted, but it's nicely folded, with backing, in a Kroger bag, like all my other unfinished tops.  And since I did something different with the border so my quilt would have those curls at the corners, I made a web page on my personal website telling people how I did it: 

http://www.forestjane.com/linkin.htm


And let's see, what else haven't I shown here? Oh, the guild I belong to makes blocks for our president. The last president selected a simple tulip block. This is easy and would be great for a spring border. She should have enough for a whole quilt, and with all the tulips in different colors, it should be lovely:


And that takes me up to August, I think.  More later!

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Quilt Class

I took a quilting class today from Anne Lullie on making mosaic quilts. She also gave us some pointers on using the color wheel to help choose fabric. The wallhanging I made in the class is rather brighter than most of my quilts to date:


To be very honest, I don't really like this. Maybe when I get a couple of borders on, I'll like it better. The technique is okay (if you have something in mind for it that'll never be washed)and selecting and trimming and arranging all those little color-squares wasn't all that bad. I also understand how we used the color wheel to select lights and darks and mediums and complimentaries of all these colors, but . . . this is too bright and abstract for me. I don't like that dark curl even though I 'get' the fact that without the darks, it'd just be a confetti of mediums-to-lights. It's too stark.

Guess I'm just stuck in my ways. I do prefer piecing and making a quilt the traditional way using repeated blocks. I can't say I don't like abstracts at all, because most of my quilts have been geometric designs, not picture quilts. I just don't like these colors together one bit. If Anne had led us to the table full of her beautiful hand dyed fabrics and said, "Pick 20 tones and shades you like." I probably wouldn't have selected ANY lime green, neon yellows, no oranges, or mustards. It was probably good to force myself to use these—but I'm not going to hang the finished quilt on my walls!

The quilts I've done for Quiltmaker Magazine are challenging me to expand my color choices, but I'm happier with those fabrics. The carnival themed one in batiks, I like that even though it has oranges and brights, and this latest one I can't show you yet, it's in shades of green, blue, purple on a faintly minty green background. Here's two of the fabrics I've used:


Stay tuned for the reveal on the whole quilt top! I've found I love working in batiks for the whole quilt, and I like the 'hand' of the batik and the color variations you get in one piece of fabric. But I also like tone-on-tones. I'll even admit to liking some calicoes.

Do you find yourself stuck in certain colorways and fabric types? I love scrappy, but tend to grab from a color family to make controlled scrappy. For example, I don't often mix Thimbleberries muted colors with brights or character prints. I've never made a two-color quilt, but would like to some day. Would you? Or is that too bland a quilt?


Saturday, July 30, 2011

Schlep Bag

I saw the pattern link for this on the quiltville chat yahoo group, and had to try it. And since I had some batik out from the last quilt I was working on, I decided to try it in these three cool colorways of the same line.


The pattern is here, free:

Schlep Bag

I changed it just a little by using 6½ inch squares and I made the strap longer so it'd be a shoulder bag instead of a handbag. I made mine reversible too. Instead of batting in the strap, I used a couple of 1½ strips from some old jeans. That made it thicker and stronger but not puffy like batting would be.

Now I want to make one using ultrasuede, maybe a forest green and brown combo. Add a zipper at the top, and a couple of zippered pockets in the lining. Sort of a grown-up version. :)

Friday, July 29, 2011

Split cantaloupes

I've found three like this so far. They're not big or ripe enough to pick yet.


I've still got several more on the vine, I hope they don't split too!


And it's been too hot for the tomatoes too, I've read that they won't set fruit unless it's a little cooler at night than it's been. But I'll keep watering them and maybe I'll get another crop after the boiling days of August are over. Here's the one big tomato I have waiting to ripen, kind of bruised from the storm we had when the whole pot fell over:


And there's a few cherry tomatoes and several pear tomatoes on those bushes too.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Hoppin' Jane

Okay, I know it's really called Hoppin' John, lol

But since the fresh stuff was from my garden, I can change the name, right? The black eyed peas looked like they were going to be a LOT more while they were still in the pods, because I had a good sized handful. Here's the harvest:


I dropped one as I was bringing them in, and Libby snatched it up and went running under the kitchen table with it. I never would have thought peas-in-the-pod would be enticing to a Siamese. I rescued it, and pinched off the end of the pod with the kitty fang-holes punched in, but I didn't give it back to her. I don't want to start sharing my peas, lol.

Since after shelling there weren't enough black-eye peas to cook by themselves, I decided to make Hoppin' John with them. First I measured the water for my rice and put it on to heat, then I chopped up that baby bell pepper, added the raw peas and brought it to a boil. Then I added the measured rice and brought it to a boil again, flipped the burner down to low, covered the pot and let it steam for ten minutes. I served it with a sprinkle of grated cheddar on top, and it was superb. Next time I make it, I might add onions and mushrooms. To finish out my meal, I quartered both of those little tomatoes in the picture and dribbled a little italian dressing on them. The pear tomato I'm saving for another night. :)
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