Thursday, January 26, 2012


This is fast becoming one of our favorite lunch places.  There are several Mawadda Cafes that serve Mediterranean type food.  This one is in Burien, right off 1st Avenue by Fred Meyer.  There's another just north of the Admiral Junction.  Great food!

This is my semi-blind contour sketch of a group of people jammed into a booth.  It sounded like they were co-workers.  Although, they posed outside the restaurant for a group photo.

Saturday, January 21, 2012


As I started putting the last blocks up on the wall, I realized I didn't have enough variety.

Arrrrgh.  It was back to making more blocks.

I hate going backwards, but I only needed a few and I had lots of parts, and it only was a short set-back.

Having a few extra blocks to pick from really made a big difference in how it looks anyway.

I started the day so excited about getting it finished, but it seemed like there was set-back after set-back.  Just little things, like breaking a thread, spilling water all over know, annoying little things, and I think I'm still tired from the big push yesterday.   And, I'm tired of being in the house all the time - I need a good walk!
Enough whining.

Here it is, too big to fit on my work wall, so it's flowing down onto the floor.

This is Connecticut Winter Quilt:  (the top)

I really am liking how it turned out.

Hours today sewing were only 3.5, and 1.5 hours dyeing some fabrics for the back.  That brings the grand total to date to:

drum roll, please...

76 hours!

Turns out, the sun came out this afternoon, and Lucy and I were able to get to the park for a very nice walk.  Boy, did I need it.  Lucy wasn't too happy about the snow and ice, and her muddy belly.


After being snowed in for the last several days, we went out for dinner at a place we've been wanting to try for a while now.  In West Seattle on California is a relatively new restaurant called Pan Africa Grill.  As we pulled up there were the most appetizing smells emanating onto the street, and the place was pretty crowded (a good sign).  The atmosphere was enticing, the walls were painted a deep rich orange, the art on the walls was very interesting.  Best of all, the food was fantastic!  The granddaughter even liked it, although she thought a few of the dishes were too spicy for her. We had the injera bread (made from Teff grains) with a variety of vegetables, lentils and chicken dishes.  

Here is a quick sketch I did before our dinner arrived, of my husband and our granddaughter.  She's writing in a journal about a story she wants to tell (that's all we could get out of her).

Friday, January 20, 2012


Back at it, after finishing up Victoria's projects.

Here's the next couple of borders.

I got the second side, opposite the last one.  Then I flipped it sideways, so it would fit on my work wall, and added the third row.

1/19 trimming - 0.5 hours
1/20 piecing - 3.0 hours
1/20 piecing - 3.0 hours
1/20 dyeing - 0.50

I'm tired.

Total hours so far - 71.0 hours.    Almost there!

Thursday, January 19, 2012


Wednesday, this week, we got 5-6 inches of snow here at our house.  The Seattle-Tacoma area was slammed with 5 to 12" of the cold white stuff.  It brings this town to a standstill.  Since it was treacherous to go out and I didn't need to, I made good use of the time, spending it up in my studio, sewing.

Then on Thursday, we got freezing rain on top of it.  

Since I'm working on my Connecticut Winter Quilt, and I'm getting close to finishing the top, I naturally started thinking about the back.  I knew I didn't want to use the leftover fabrics - then the back would be too much like the front.  And, I really don't want to buy fabric for it, because all of these fabrics were purchased while on our trip to Connecticut last winter.  That leaves just one option - dye my own!  I love this idea.

As my mind wandered while piecing the many blocks into rows, I thought remembered ice dyeing.

I had done a little of that a while ago - and the fabrics where beautiful.

I started some fabric heating in some soda ash mixture.

Then I let it drip dry for a short while.

I got out a large tray and over that I put an old window screen, where I arrange the folded prepared fabric.  I was thinking about using it as binding, so I folded it into strips, thinking that when cut on the diagonal for binding it would look very nice.

And then I headed out to get some of the 'local' ice.
  Brrrrr.  With bucket in hand, I smashed through the thick ice crust and broke some up and brought it in.

I had to break it up into even smaller pieces - it was soooo cold  - and arrange it over the fabric.

Then sprinkle the dye over the ice...

And wait, and watch as it melts.....

....and drips dye onto the fabric beneath....

...and does weird and magical stuff.... is so beautiful to watch as it slowly melts....

Then, the next morning, the ice is all melted into the tray below and the fabric has absorbed the dyes.

The dye-design on the fabric is like none you'd get in a conventional way...

Here's some close-ups...

Beautiful and strange and so much fun.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012


Well, the storm came and we are officially snowed-in.  I should say we choose to be snowed-in.  There's no school (in the whole state I heard), I don't have to work this week, Darrell works right outside the backdoor.  So, there's no reason for anyone to go anywhere - which is good, because when we get 5-6 inches of snow like this the roads are impassable.

I spent my morning adding another row to the quilt, and the afternoon working on a sewing project with the granddaughter, Victoria.

It's getting bigger...

Only 2.75 hours today.  Bringing the total hours to 64.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012


Another day back at it.  I'm really liking how it's turning out.

Today I spent 3.25 hours piecing rows and trimming blocks.

Total altogether - 61.25 hours

Monday, January 16, 2012


It's going to snow!

The city is planning for a big snow storm, and I'm on fire to get my Connecticut Winter Quilt finished.

How appropriate to be working on my Winter quilt in the snow, huh?

I pieced the middle lights and added the three medium rows.

Then I had to stop and trim some more blocks

Total hours today - 4.25 hours

Sunday, January 15, 2012


I pieced all 700-something of these blocks over-sized so that I could re-cut the blocks so that the center slash through them would be on an angle.  (It would have been way too difficult to cut and piece all those weird angles - this way used more fabric, but probably doesn't take any longer, even figuring in all the trimming, and at this point I'm all about using as much fabric as possible).

I did this at work on the weekend, when it's really slow, in my spare time - but don't tell my boss.

I went out and specially bought this little rotating cutting mat.  I opted for the least expensive one, because I figured I'd only need it rarely.  The Olfa mat was like $40, and had ball-bearings, I think.  This one, I won't say what brand, just rotates on another mat below it.  Doesn't work very well at all.  In fact, I didn't use the rotating feature.  I needed to cut all the way around this 4" ruler, so I just stood up over the table and was able to cut all the way around without moving the mat or ruler (wasted money on the mat).

I ended up having a really difficult time cutting because of the seams in the middle of the block.  The ruler wanted to rock, and it shifted easily.  I had to be very careful.

When I got home Saturday night, my husband Darrell gave me some sticky-backed sandpaper and I put some little squares on each corner and it was a lot easier on Sunday.  Sunday, the weather was bad - it was snowing here and there and we got very little business.  Most everyone was sitting around doing nothing (in my office).

I got all of the lights, and most of the mediums cut out over the weekend.

January 14 - 3.00 hours total
January 15 - 4 00 hours total (in little fits and spurts)

Total hours up to now - 53.75 hours

Friday, January 13, 2012


My sister-in-law Patti had a special birthday this year, and we all met at the Olive Garden to celebrate.  Her parents had sent along a beautiful bouquet of carnations, and I thought they should definitely be included in the sketch.  

Here is a quick sketch I did before dinner of Patti and her friend Sue, with the carnations.

Happy Birthday Patti - we hope you have a great year!

Sunday, January 08, 2012


You can't help contemplating about life and things while making a quilt.  Between the head-scratching and figuring, there's usually  lots of mindless time as you perform the repetitive tasks.   Recently, while working on the Pine Tree Quilt, I noticed the different blocks and spent some time thinking about them.  They were made by several different people, members of the Issaquah Quilters, a guild to which I belonged.  We would make blocks for each other in exchanges and different kinds of events.  This way you could get a lot of the kind of blocks you request in exchange for making one block per month for the other participants.  It was a pretty good deal.  I have lots of  "Blocks of the Month"  stashed away that need finishing.

These Pine Tree blocks are very appealing.  They are made from mostly triangles, which I find add interest.  Plus there is a difficulty challenge with making all of those half-square triangle squares.  The easiest way to do it is to use just two fabrics.  That way you can stack and whack and sew them up pretty quickly.  I noticed that was how I did most of the blocks I made.  And some of the others, too.

  Some blocks had three or four different fabrics - that added interest.  And when I had to make up a block quickly because one of the original blocks wasn't going to work - I chose a fabric that was multi-colored and textured to make it appear to have more than one fabric.

But the best ones, by far, were the ones made by Elsie Nagle.  She made her's completely scrappy!  Almost every triangle was a different fabric.   It is definitely my favorite.  The greens, the blue-greens, the yellows,  the different textures and all works together to make this block stand out from the rest.  Next to the other blocks, this one just sparkles! 

Thank you Elsie,  you are a quiltmaker extraordinaire!

Friday, January 06, 2012


I ran across these blocks a few months back. And, they've been sitting out where I can see them and think about them.  I love blocks with lots of triangles, and I love tree blocks.
These blocks were made by me and some of the members of Issaquah Quilters in 1997 (most are signed and dated).  Great people made these blocks - Diane Becka, Patti Benedict, Elsie Nagle, Margaret Hartman-Saunders, June St. Claire, Bobbi Brown, Andy Carroll, and some nobody signed.

A block with my signature and date

My first thoughts when I put them up on the wall was, "what was I thinking with that horrid background fabric?"  It was tan, but it was very cold and I hated it.  It definitely needed something.

Blocks on the work wall

I thought about adding some more blocks...there are only 28 10" blocks.  Not a very big quilt.

Then, I started looking through my stash and came up with a perfect Jinny Beyer border fabric in black and dark brown, with a little tan.  And, lo, I had a lot of it!  

I cut out some of the strips and put them between the rows.  What a difference that made.  The blocks began to look good!

I had put them in this configuration right off.  I liked it and so I never tried any other settings.

Next I cut out and stuck this border up on the wall with it.

I was thinking I wouldn't have enough of the border to make mitered corners.  But, it looked so good I just forged ahead - I'd think about the miters later, it might be really close.

I started sewing the blocks together in the rows.  I hadn't bothered to measure any of them, but I noticed that one of them was definitely smaller.  I measured it, it was a good half inch smaller, both directions, than the others. So, it got set aside (it's now on the back) and I made another block out of fabrics I had.  Luckily, there was a whole yard of the background fabric in the bag with the blocks.  I guess I was thinking I was going to make a lot more blocks.  You might notice the block in the bottom row, far right, is the one that gets replaced with the new block, which I signed, with my new married name, and dated 2012.  

I came across another one that was too small!  I didn't want to stop my momentum and go back and make another block - so I just added a half inch border of background fabric all around it.  It's different, but it's still involved.  (Most of quilt-making is about problem solving, isn't it?)

After I got the rows of blocks sewn together, I marked the back of the sashing in 10" increments, so I could line up each block.  If you don't do this sometimes things will go awry and the blocks won't be straight across from each other going the other direction.  Situations like this are the rare times I actually use pins to hold things together as I sew.

It went together like a breeze.

Then I had to think about the outside border.

I measured and remeasured.  I definitely did not have enough for mitered corners.  Dang!  It was only short by a few inches, too.  I love mitered corners with a border stripe fabric.  

I thought about trying to make up something that looked like mitered corner, but the other strip I had leftover, was going in the opposite direction from the ones I was using.  I thought, what the heck, I'm going to make it work anyway, until I realized it was narrower, too.  I just did not have enough fabric to make it work.  

So, in my frustration, I made these horrid corner blocks, which I now hate, but am going to use anyway, because I'm tired and frustrated. And what was I thinking making bias squares - on the corners.  Not smart!   But, I'm moving on.  Here's the top, like it or not.  (I'm going to ignore the corners.)

P.S.  I like it!

The top on the wall

I was going to move on to something else, but I realized it's still a UFO at this stage.  I must finish it!  So I whipped up a back using some tan fabrics from my stash that I knew I'd probably never use.  It worked out that there were a few with enough yardage, so I didn't have too much to piece together.  I even used up the majority of the leftover background fabric - which I inked a label onto.  Plus I included the address to this blog post.  Hopefully, this story about the quilt will be here for a long time,  I have this dream of someone getting the quilt, years and years from now, and coming to my blog to learn about it and me.  If you do, please leave a comment!

The label with the address to this post - weird, huh?

I cleaned the studio floor and pinned the quilt on Friday, all before lunch.  Usually, as I'm pinning it, I think about how I want to quilt it.  I just want to do something quick and easy, but complimentary.  I started thinking I needed not only tan thread, but probably a dark thread for the sashings and borders.  Hmmm,  I have lots of black thread.  But, that would be too harsh.  I needed dark brown thread.  That was a great excuse to go to the new quilt store in the Admiral district,  West Seattle Fabric Company.  So, we went for lunch in that direction, and I ran in for two spools of dark brown thread (that is the only thing I bought new for this quilt [$6.37], everything else I had on-hand.  Well, except for the batting.  I had bought a case of bats last year, just so I could finish some old projects).

Back stretched out on the floor

Batting added, then the top is smoothed out.
Ready to pin

I got it pinned up after lunch, that was definitely enough for one day.  But it was ready to go and waiting on my work table for me.

Pinned and ready to quilt

The next day I got a lot of the quilting done.  Probably more than I should have done in one day.  But I finished it up Sunday morning, after our usual breakfast at Luna Park Cafe followed by the weekly grocery shopping. 

Just simple out-line quilting
 Darrell was cleaning up his office and wanted to do some work on it before we did anything else, so that was my chance to work on this, too.  He took more time than he said, so I whipped up a binding for it also.  I had thought a dark brown or black binding is what it was going to want, but it ended up being a lighter brown, like the light parts of the border.  Which is good, because I didn't have any large enough pieces of darker fabrics.   I only had a few of the right color browns I could pick from, so I guess I'm lucky I had something that would work - or it would have been back to the store, and we didn't want to do that, now did we?

Quilting on the corner, seen from the back

I knew the choice of dark brown thread for the quilting would show up on the tan backing, but I kinda liked that idea.  And it does look interesting, even though any errors are shown in glaring detail.  I quilted the whole thing using the walking foot because it's easier on the shoulders and neck, but I kept thinking it would look really cool if I quilted around the 'scallops' on the outside border.  Cool, but a lot of work.  I tried it on the corners with the walking foot.  It actually turned out pretty nice.  But, I put the binding on...and we'll just have to wait to see if I ever go back and quilt around that scallop.

Monday, January 02, 2012


Finally, in a flurry of piecing, I managed to get all of the blocks pieced for my Connecticut Winter Quilt.

I need 675 blocks for the quilt top - I made extras.

January 2 - 3.25 hours

Total hours - 46.75

Now there's a lot of trimming to be done.

Sunday, January 01, 2012


Not many places open today, January 1, 2012.

On our way home from visiting with Matt and Julia, we stopped for dinner at one of the many Chinese restaurants we've passed by.

The food was good, we will return.

Here is the quick sketch I did of my husband, Darrell and granddaughter Victoria.  I glued our fortunes into the book when we got home.  (This is a really bad sketch of Victoria - maybe someday I'll capture her image and she won't be embarrassed by it.)