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Friday, August 31, 2007

Not Another Bag!

I know,I know, I have enough bags already. But I couldn't resist trying Louisa's with the colors in a different order. Then I had all those green fabrics sitting there calling, "Try me! Try me!" So I did. I love the green one a lot. I'm not sure whether it or the black and white is my favorite. I have several more color combos sitting there calling to me but I may resist. I'd also like to try one with a total mixture of colors with only the top border matching. I have a few squares left of each color I have used so that may be in the near future. It now takes me two hours to make one bag if I don't make any mistakes. I have learned a couple of things. First, the stiffer the batting the nicer the bag. I like the way the stiff ones stand on their own. Second, there are no bad color combinations. Does that sound like someone who is going to resist making just one more bag???

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Not Another Sewing Machine!

We found this little hand held sewing machine for $1 at the thrift shop so it seems that I am now collecting sewing machines. Especially, I am collecting small useless sewing machines. This one runs on batteries and I haven't tried it because even if it does work it is pretty sure to be useless. I think you move it along the seam you want to sew. Talk about free motion sewing.
The girls went home yesterday so it's very quiet here today. Last year at school Sacha was social convenor. For their prom she purchased a bolt of red broadcloth to use for a red carpet. I just inherited it and am now the pround owner of yards and yards of red fabric. I'm not sure what I will do with it but I know that if I want to make anything red in the next ten years, I will have the fabric on hand.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Ariana's Bag

Ariana got up early this morning (she's an early riser like me) and finished her bag. It turned out very Christmassy and beautiful. I love the button we found for it in my button box. It looks like a candy.
The girls have to go home this afternoon. They are hoping their pots are dry enough to trim before they go but it's raining today so maybe not. The next time they come they will be able to glaze them and Raku fire them. That should be fun!

Monday, August 27, 2007

Fun Holidays

We have three of the granddaughters here for a few days and as usual they are getting all crafty. Here is Sacha hemming her new pants, getting ready for the first day of school.

Micha and Ariana are into pottery. This is their second attempt but this time they are on their own without any instructor. It looks like they are doing very well. Ariana spent the morning working on a bag but the lining is not in yet so that will be for tomorrow's post.

I spent the morning working on a bag for Louisa. She picked out the fabrics yesterday. Doing it again I would probably reverse the pink patches with the light blue ones but it still looks pretty good to me. The special thing about it is that it was done entirely on the "new" treadle sewing machine. I cleaned and oiled it yesterday and it sews like a dream. I only had to fiddle with the tension a tiny bit, put in a new needle and away it went. It gets smoother and quieter the more I sew, as the oil gets worked it. Winding the bobbin on that thing is a real exercise though. I won't need to walk today!

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Auction Sale

Here is the Red Bunny that I won on Thimbleanna's blog. He seemed a bit aprehensive about meeting all those chickens but I think they will get along fine! Thanks so much.

Yesterday we went to an auction sale to bid on some firewood. The wood went way too expensive so we didn't get it but I did score big time on this wonderful Singer treadle sewing machine! I got it for only $45. Can you believe that? The owner said it still works and all the gold is totally intact. I don't think it was used much because the gold near the needle that usually gets worn off is still there. The only damage that I could see is where the lid touches it on the back there is a tiny worn strip. The cabinet needs a bit of work and some re-finishing and the wheel needs some oil but other than that and one missing castor it's in excellent shape. We are not sure if the little wheel was on it and fell off while we were loading the car or if it was missing all the time. I think it was missing but we may call the owner and ask. If it got lost while we were carrying it to the car we'll go back and look for it.

Then to top it all off, I had just been saying that I'd like a chalk board to practise free motion on and there was one that nobody wanted for $1. It was still wrapped in plastic and the eraser is there too. The ironing board went up to $5 until the guy bidding against me realized it was an ironing board he was bidding on and backed out so it went back to $3. A quilter can never have too many ironing boards and this one has never felt the heat of an iron I'm sure from the condition of the cover.

We also got a little portable Hibatchi for $1. So it was a wonderful auction in spite of the wood.

Friday, August 24, 2007

Cranberry Ketchup

A couple of people have commented asking me about the cranberry ketchup (spelled catsup in the old community cookbook where I found it). It is more of a chutney, really, and is great with chicken or turkey in place of cranberry sauce. The wild cranberries that we have here are quite different from the ones you buy in the store. I think they are called high bush cranberries. They are very tart, bright orangey red and have a large seed in the middle. I'm not sure how this would taste using regular cranberries but it is delicious with the wild ones. Because the recipe is from an old book, the directions are rather sparse so I just play it by ear.

Cranberry Ketchup

3 quarts Cranberry pulp (simmer until they pop and put them through
through a fruit press
1 quart vinegar
6 cups white sugar
1 quart chopped onion
½ teaspoon pepper
3 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
¼ teaspoon each of allspice, cloves, ginger

Boil until onions are clear and then seal in sterilized jars.


Yesterday we made wild plum jam. We have several wild plum trees on our property and often they have only one or two plums on them. This year they are loaded. Less than half an hour's picking yielded all this jam. Wild plums are much smaller and more tart than tame ones. The jam is delicious. Now we are left with trees full of plums that will probably go to the birds. There are ten pints and eight half pints. How much jam can two people eat?
In a few weeks there will be lots and lots of wild cranberries. They are not quite ripe yet. We will make cranberry jelly and cranberry ketchup when the time comes.
Yesterday I finally finished sewing down the binding on Maggie's Farm. As soon as I glue on the eyes and sew on the label it will be oficially finished and I'll post a last picture of it.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

More Practise

Today I tried some border type FM quilting. I really enjoyed doing the leaves and I am quite happy with the way they turned out. The great thing about leaves is that they are never all the same size so if they are a bit wonky, they just look more natural. The spirals were getting better as I worked on them. It's hard to get them even but to me they look better if they are more even. Then I did a fern which maybe is a bit too dense with stitching but would be nice in certain areas of a quilt. I also tried one more feather but by the time I started it I was getting a bit tired and I can see that this job goes better when you are not tired. Finally, I couched some yarn around the edges just to see how the couching foot of my machine works. I learned a couple of things. First, don't forget to change the thread to match the couching yarn. Second, sew around the edge first to prevent stretching. I put a second row of couching inside the first one because some of the backing was not caught under the first row. I am going to throw it in the wash to see what happens to the couching when it's washed. Maybe it will sit a bit flatter.
On this one I sewed around the pattern on the fabric. It was good practise but pretty boring. I don't think I'd have the patience to do this on any larger piece of fabric, let alone a whole quilt.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007


They say practise makes perfect but I have a long ways to go on free motion quilting. I thought today that I would spend a bit of time trying some of the techniques in the machine quilting book I bought in Minneapolis. As you can see, the results are far from perfect! I have the most trouble with spacing. It is supposed to be even and about a quarter inch between rows of stitching. It looks easy in the book but is actually very difficult. I think I need to practise a bit with paper and pencil or maybe chalk on a blackboard (if such things still exist and are not all replaced by whiteboards. Don't get me started on that subject) rather than wasting all that thread.
Today I put the binding on Maggie's Farm and now I just have to stitch it down and sew on a label. I really lost my momentum on that quilt and it has taken much effort to finish it. I'll be very glad to see it done and not staring at me from the design wall making me feel guilty.

Sunday, August 19, 2007

One More Bag

I couldn't resist making one more bag using some of my black and white fabrics. I also corrected a couple of errors I made on the previous ones. This one has softer batting and I think the stiffer batting is slightly better. I do like the black and white look though. Who thought black and white could be so bright!

Friday, August 17, 2007

Quilted Bags

Here are a couple of bags I made following a tutorial by Andrea at Welsh Quilter
I totally love them. I'ts a great way to use up scraps, try color combinations and have gifts on hand. I especially like the way she does the handles. It's a very easy way to make them look like they are edged with piping. There may be more to come. I find them rather adictive!

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

New Sewing Machine

Yesterday at the Thrift Shop I found a partner for my antique toy sewing machine. It was only $4, which was probably about $3 too much but I couldn't resist it just for the contrast. Maybe I will put a shelf up in the sewing room and call them the start of a collection. It runs on batteries and I haven't even tried to see if it works. I think they just look so cute together. Sorry about the messy background, but you get the idea.

Here is a Walking Stick insect that came into the house on some laundry yesterday. Apparently they are very rare in this area. It was a lucky one because I thought it was a twig and picked it up from a towel. I nearly freaked out when it started to move and threw it across the room instinctively. Luckily, we had a friend visiting who knows a lot about insects and he rescued it and brought it outside. I know nothing about their habits but I hope it has a long and happy life in our front yard.

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Sewing Room Re-organization

I have been working on re-organizing my sewing studio for the past few days. I have a car load of stuff to go to the thrift store, mostly old patterns and fabric that I know I won't use. I have moved the sewing machine to the north side so I won't get such a glare from the sun in the mornings which is when I do most of my sewing. That meant I needed to move my design wall so it would be easier to see from the sewing machine. Then I moved the dyeing table to where the design wall used to be. Now I need to invest in some shelving or drawers for my fabrics and other odds and ends. I need one more plastic drawer set under the shelf that the serger is sitting on and then I'll move the boxes that are holding it up right now. I had one set of drawers that I thought would work but they ended up being about a half inch taller than the ones I bought at Wallmart.

This is the design and tools wall. I have actually done some quilting on Maggie's Farm but it's not going as fast as I would like. I am a bit stalled trying to decide what kind of quilting to put aronud the letters at the top. It will probably end up being meandering but I need to move on from that type of pattern soon.

This is the dyeing corner. I will put some shelving above the table to hold the dyes. I may replace the table as it is too low. The cupboard that is at the right side of the picture also has to go. The drawers are too big and it's too low. I want open shelves there with some sort of counter top. I have been checking the internet to see what is available. I wish we had an Ikea store near here.

The junk corner that needs some work. Here I have my silk painting stretchers, some quilt frame pieces, a bow that my grandson made me for my birthday when he was about 8 or 9 (I probably will never use it but I can't throw it away!) and yes, that is a digeridoo. I bought it as a souvenier the first time I went to Australia. I still have never been able to get a sound out of it.
There are also some books that need a bookshelf with more space between the shelves so the books can stand up and the Husqvarna sewing machine that the kids use when they come to sew. I guess organizing is always a work in progress.

Saturday, August 11, 2007

More Fabric

Yesterday we had to go to Winnipeg and I had time to stop at the quilting store that is closing down. (Thanks for the hint, Donna). There was very little left on the shelves but I still managed to find a few pieces that I liked. And there are a couple of pieces that I wish I had bought. There was a bright yellow with small bananas on it that tempted me but I left it there thinking that I'd never be able to use such a bright yellow. Now I kind of wish I had picked up a bit of it. I still don't think it would be easy to use but it was sooo nice and bright...
Today we are planning another Raku firing if the rain holds off. Stay tuned for the results.

Friday, August 10, 2007


Today on reading Dot's blog I saw that she had nominated me for the Nice Blogger's Award. I am honored that she thought of me . Thanks Dot! I am a regular visitor to Dot's blog and am always inspired by the work she does.
"This award is for those bloggers who are nice people; good blog friends and those who inspire good feelings and inspiration. Also, for those who are a positive influence on our blogging world. Once you've been awarded please pass it on to 7 others who you feel are deserving of this award." Here are my nominations in alphabetical order. I won't say much about each because you can go to their blogs to see why I have nominated them.
Jane Ann at Jettstream is an amazing seamstress both in quilting and garment making. Her smocking for her grandchildren is something to see. Lucky kids!
Judy from Judy in the Dyes has been encouraging and helpful and does wonderful hand dyes.
Meg at Life's Free Treats is always a treat to read. She can make any situation amusing and I can often be found in front of the computer laughing out loud at something she has written.
Darcie at Longarm Quilter and Hand Dyer is practically a neighbour although she lives in a different country. We hope to meet up in real life one of these days.
Nellie from Nellie's Needles has helped me solve numerous quilting problems, even going so far as to send me some barbed wire (fabric) to keep my chickens in their pen.
Donna at Quilt Pixie is a fairly close neighbour. She lives in the city nearest to us but we haven't actually met yet.
Norma at Silver Thimble Quilting always has something positive to say. Her quilts are an inspiration.

I could go on and on nominating the bloggers I read regularly but several have already been nominated more than once and the rules did say seven!

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Alphabet Book

At the Uptown Art Fair in Minneapolis we bought this alphabet book for Reve, one of our Australian grandsons. The author had a booth where he was selling his books. He also had a number book. Now I wish we had bought that one too. He autographed the book while we watched. We were most impressed with his drawings and with the little stories that go with each letter of the alphabet. You can see more of his work at his web page, Nedobeck.

We went back to where we saw the butterflies yesterday but there were not nearly as many. We were just incredibly lucky to happen upon them at their best.

Tuesday, August 07, 2007


Yesterday evening we went for a walk with friends on the nearby Trans Canada Trail. At one point we came upon a large area of wildflowers called covered with Monarch butterflies. I have never seen so many at once. Many of the flowers had so many butterflies on them that we thought they were leaves at first. They did not seem to be eating. We thought they had just hatched out and were drying their wings. They seemed to be vibrating their wings and they were not very good at flying. It was easy to get right close to them and even touch them. In all the years we have lived here, we have never seen this before. We will probably go back again today but we think it may be a phenomenon that lasts only a few hours and then they all fly away. If that is so, we feel incredibly lucky to have arrived at just the right time. I looked up the purple flower in my plant book and it is a type of wild Liatris commonly called Blazing Star. The other darker one is Curly Dock, a common weed around here that is often used in dry plant arrangements.

Monday, August 06, 2007


This weekend we went to Minneapolis for their Uptown Art Fair which is held outside at three different locations. It was well worth the eight hour drive. We saw lots of pottery, jewelery, leather and coth bags, silk paintings, oil paintings, hand-made furniture and on and on. It was most enjoyable in spite of a drizzly rain on Saturday. I was happy that it wasn't too hot. We were a bit aprehensive about the traffic situation because of the bridge collapse but we didn't have to cross the river at all to get to the Fair so it was no problem. We even got lucky with the parking. On Saturday we got the last spot in a lot right beside the fair and on Sunday we went very early and were also able to get into a lot near Loring Park where that part of the fair was. We didn' t take any pictures of the fair itself. We were too busy looking at all the goodies.

Of course, you can't take a full day's drive without visiting at least one quilt shop. We found one in Fergus Falls and I bought the fabric you see above. They had a nice selection of black and whites so I got some fat quarters. I'm sure I will regret not getting more. I love the green batik with the turtles on it. The fat quarters on the left were on sale so I couldn't resist. I have more fabric in similar colors in my stash so they should come in handy.

We stopped at a Dick Blick art store but it wasn't going to open for another fifteen minutes. As fate would have it, there was a Joanne's right next door that was open. I found a machine quilting book that I have seen online and wanted for quite some time. The book about landscape quilts was from the store in Fergus Falls.

On the way home quilting stores were out of the question because they are seldom open on Sunday in this part of the country. We did stop at Albertville outlet mall and bought some new sheets for our bed and some towels. I have a down comforter that I love and I think I will take the top sheet for a duvet cover. I was thinking of piecing a top for it. My question is, do I line the top so all the seams don't show? If I do it will it be too heavy? If I line it do I quilt it without batting? Maybe I could quilt a very simple pattern using the serger. The serger would work well with K. Alexander's Stack a Deck technique if I do something a bit wonky. It's hard to get an exact seam with the serger but it does finish all the raw edges very nicely.

Thursday, August 02, 2007

Small Log Cabins

In my quest to use up scraps I have made some smaller wonky log cabins. These are trimmed to 6.5 inches. For the other ones in the quilt I trimmed to 14 inches. I just add strips until they are larger than the size I want and then trim them down. I chose those two measurements because I have squares in those two sizes. For my wonky trees I used a 2 inch square.
I'm not sure what I will use these for. I am debating a bag but I have more bags than I will ever use. What I will probably do is put them in a drawer until I get the urge to make some more. When I have enough I'll sew them into a quilt.

I had a letter from someone who is starting a mini quilt swap. I am not interested right now but she asked me to pass the message along. If you are interested and not already involved you could check out her site here:

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

More Raku

Yesterday was another Raku day and was it hot! And I mean the weather as well as the kiln!

Summer and her friend Leanne came over for a couple of days of art. On Sunday evening they got themselves outfitted from my drawer of second hand clothes and went potting in the studio. On Monday morning they had to decide whether to sew or pot first. They opted for sewing and all went well until Leanne cut her finger with the rotary cutter. Three hours and three stitches later they were back at sewing (I handled the rotary cutter for Leanne this time).

Here is Leanne with her bag and Summer in the background trying to finish the cushion for her mother's birthday. She did get it finished before she had to leave but I forgot to take a photo. It was white and burgundy nine patches with burgundy sashing.

It turns out that you can still do pottery with stitches if you wait one day and then wear a rubber glove.