Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Plain and Simple Stitching

With the beginning of the new school year members of our church gather school supplies and prepare school kits that are distributed worldwide by the Mennonite Central Committee to children who might not have the means to purchase these supplies.  They are packed in washable cloth drawstring bags so that the children have a way to keep their school supplies in one place and easily carry them back and forth to school each day.

Yesterday at quilt ministry we cut up a pair of donated tab curtains into ten long rectangles.  The curtains were made of a denim-type fabric, more suited to this purpose than to quilt making.  After cutting and then folding/pressing the edges for the first stitching, the other ladies were working on binding their current projects so I brought the bags home to finish assembling.   Here are the first five, completed last night, minus their drawstring ties.  Another member is bringing her supply of macrame cord and we will string the bags at our next meeting.
Plain and Simple!

The kitchen has been a whirlwind of activity so far this week with the tomatoes ripening at a faster pace than I can keep up. After giving away the first large batch to one daughter who just moved and had no garden this summer, we began canning some for our winter pantry. So far 14 pints of plain stewed tomatoes and 7 1/2 jars of the most wonderful tomato jam. Here's what awaits when I return from my haircut later this morning - today's haul is destined for salsa and we'll try another batch of tomato jam using some of the Lemon Boys.  Thankfully our forecast is for cooler days soon, and I'll be thankful for a cool breeze blowing through the kitchen while we're working on these and the rest of the crop.

The sunflowers are heavy with seeds, some have begun to fall over from the weight, and a small flock of goldfinches have returned to snack on the seeds.  Our sugar pumpkin crop was almost totally decimated by some type of grub, we were only able to salvage three pumpkins from that planting. We also planted a couple varieties of field pumpkins in another field, and after discovering the grub damage in the sugar pumpkin patch also discovered some damage to the others.  All the winter squash are growing alongside the field pumpkins and we feared for that crop, but decided to try setting pieces of aluminum foil under each ripening pumpkin and squash that hadn't already been damaged. Sounds strange I know, but so far it seems to be working as we haven't detected any further grub damage yet.

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Catching up with myself .. or trying to!

Good grief, where has August gone?! Seems like summer has barely started and here we are knee deep in ripe tomatoes and green beans whining to be processed every day. Actually, except for the fact that they take away from my precious quilting moments, I love the harvest season and putting up all manner of goodies for the long, cold winter months. So for now, we have put up 8 or 9 jars of mango chutney, about 30 quarts of blueberries from our 6 bushes(!) are in the freezer, a lesser amount of green beans so far, and I'm about to attack the tomato challenge tomorrow. The peppers are finally beginning to perform, and hopefully by next week we will have enough along with the tomatoes to make up a winter's supply of salsa. There's also a luscious sounding tomato jam recipe I'm hankering to make, thanks to some rave reviews by my Oregon quilting buddy Barbara at Cat Patches who posted a link to the recipe she found here.

We've also had lots of overnight guests and kids and grandkids around this summer, plus a wedding in Canada earlier this month, and it's been a good time all around, with the exception of an emergency room visit a couple weeks ago and a couple follow-up appointments now scheduled for the near future. Nothing too serious, thankfully, but it will be good when the offending kidney stone is safely removed and hubby is out of pain and back to his usual cheerful self.

A tiny bit of quilting has even been accomplished in the midst of all the chaos!

I seem to be awash in a flurry of baby quilts these days. First off, our little quilting ministry group has been working on four baby quilts for the newest tiny members of our congregation and one missionary baby recently born in Guatemala. This is the quilt I've been working on, and with only about 5 minutes more stitching the label will be attached and it can be placed in the 'finished' pile. This quilt started with a cut-apart soft book that one of our members began to turn into quilt blocks nearly 13 years ago and then set aside. I offered to take on this project and finish it up, adding borders and machine quilting it with ditch quilting along the blocks and border strips, and some fairly sparse free motion quilting to outline the figures in the blocks. I had planned to take the quilt outside and hang it on the garage door in the morning for some outside photos, but rain is in tomorrow's forecast so tonight it's pinned to the design wall for this make-do shot of the overall quilt.
Quilting should always be fun, don't you think? So just for fun and to keep from being bored to tears while quilting this, I added free motion carrots and onions in the background fabric alongside the book blocks. A little hard to see in the photos, but these were quick and easy to free motion, and I think add a bit of interest to the plain linear design of the top, while adding some nice texture.

It's not densely quilted so it is nice and soft after an initial washing, and hopefully the little guy who receives it will love to drag it around with him for a few years.

Grandbaby number 8 is on the way for us, and my daughter spent a few days visiting earlier this month, taking care of our aging dog while we attended the wedding in Canada. Though she had chosen fabrics for a baby quilt that I had already begun from this recent collection I won a couple months back ...
she also fell in love with a sweet focus fabric a quilty friend had recently given me, and we went through my stash to pick some coordinating fabrics for a second baby quilt!
Since the little guy's nursery will have a woodland theme, I'm betting the second quilt will receive the most use!  She chose a fairly simple whirling square block pattern from a recent Quilters Newsletter "Best Kids Quilts" publication for this quilt and I think there is just enough of the focus fabric for the four wide border panels. The challenge for me will be making her chosen coordinating fabrics play nicely in the pattern - not an easy task for this artistically challenged and spatially dyslexic quilter!

So, that's my August, and needless to say I'm looking forward to the cooler and hopefully slower days of fall and some more time to quilt! Whoever said retirement would be boring anyway?!

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Westering Women - Block 7 - July

This month's block is named Courthouse Rock, for the outcropping of the same name in western Nebraska. It is the familiar Log Cabin variation more commonly known as Courthouse Steps. At a distance, my version tends to appear more like a square-in-a-square with the alternating light and dark fabrics.

I was happy for this easy-to-piece block this month. Choosing the fabrics took longer than stitching the block!

We should be entering the mountain states next month. Looking forward to seeing what block Barbara chooses to feature next.  More information on the Westering Women BOM is available on Barbara Brackman's Civil War Quilts blog.

Monday, August 1, 2016

Quilty 365 July Circles

After an abysmal June, I'm happy to report that my Quilty 365 Quiltalong circles are back on track and I'm caught up again!  July 31 marked day 266 in this adventure.

An extended power outage several days ago presented an opportunity to cut circles - lots of circles - and I now have enough background squares and circles to take me through the first week of October. At this point I'm pulling random bins of fabric from the stash closet and cutting a circle out of a corner of everything in the bin.  Sometimes two or three circles from the same fabric if there are multiple design elements that can be featured. I figure with an abundance of circles cut ahead of time I can rummage through the pile each day and find one that calls out to be stitched.

Still mulling over a final layout for the eventual quilt, but right now I'm thinking of windowing each square with a narrow contrasting band and setting them on-point.  Working on the math for this option and I'm thinking the on-point setting will increase the quilt size so much that we will end up with one huge king-size quilt plus some leftover circles for a smaller item or two - perhaps matching table/bureau runners or a second lap size quilt.  Decisions!

My last post mentioned the heat and drought we have had this summer.  Later that very day a line of thunderstorms rolled through our area, leaving us a much-needed 1.75 inches of rain!  We are feeling blessed, the garden is looking reinvigorated, and the remaining blueberry crop is ripening quickly. Life is good!

Linking up with Audrey at Quilty Folk where you can see everyone's progress with this fun year-long circling quiltalong.