Thursday, December 29, 2016

Mastering the art of avoidance behavior (and Happy New Year!)

The end of the year is here. Time to rejoice that you made it through another productive year, and look forward to the "opportunities" that lie ahead - and the quilts we will complete and cherish! Unfortunately, it is also time to start thinking about taxes and year-end reports, bringing the books up to date, and finding all the documents you need that are buried in the piles at the office. Today, I started that process and haven't made any progress to speak of.

Instead I am fully engaged in honing my skills in avoidance behavior. You know - you start one thing, get distracted from that to dig into something else, then something else, until you have no idea how you got to where you are. But you managed to avoid real work!

I did not keep track of what led to what, but here's what I am sure is an incomplete list of things I have done: Put away, filed, and stashed clutter in the office (which has now been replaced by other clutter); ordered stuff from jjill (30% off sale!!); opened a box from Amazon; put 2 sweaters in a dryel bag (for dry cleaning in the dryer) and they are now done; entered some expenses into my business software; watched some stuff on the dvr; sent a quilt picture to Urban Elementz for their suggestions for a pantograph for it; re-watched some of a Craftsy class: Piece Like a Pro, and asked 3 questions; went and got the mail (1 piece of junk mail - ugh); changed my clothes twice (but I'm still wearing bed-hair and no makeup); mailed a name badge to a new guild member; and I am actively ignoring anything that smacks of "chore". By the end of the day, I will be a whiz in the fine art of avoidance behavior!

I wound up trying to create a list of all of the quilts I have completed or which are under construction. It is overwhelming me at the moment. (So I'm avoiding it to write this post.) I found a file I had started in 2010 or something, and a printout of it that I made in 2015 with some hand-written additions at the bottom. And, there are SO many more that need to be added to the list.

My "project" will be to compile an up-to-date list, complete with pictures. Although, today it feels overwhelming, it will be a blessing to work on. With each quilt I will think about where I was in my quilting journey, why I made the quilt, who I made it for, what I had learned during the process, etc. It will be an opportunity to review my quilty life and discover just how full it really is.
Oh, please pray for us -- we are going to be ringing in the new year with friends over a rousing game of Mexican Train Dominoes. It has probably been 40 years since I stayed up until midnight on new year's eve!

News from the Studio

Promenade Home

Promenade Home
I finished this quilt top yesterday. Now that I see it - it needs a new name. It will come to me. This one started with my tinkering with a hunter's star block. What was I thinking!! About half-way through making the blocks, I took Donna Lynn Thomas' Craftsy class: Piece Like a Pro. Wow, what a difference a few simple "habits" can make!

Here's the list of "habit" adjustments I made or improved during the rest of construction: lighten up with the iron (even more), make sure the edges of the fabric line up exactly as you stitch the seam, press in the direction of the GRAIN to avoid distortion, and always use a "stylus" or seam-ripper to guide your pieces under the needle. (I use a crafter's awl.) If you would like to be able to just sew your seam and have the points just automatically line up perfectly - I can highly recommend Donna's class.

Tips and Techniques

For nice flat borders, it is necessary to measure your quilt, and cut the borders accordingly. We've talked about this before, I'm sure. But with Promenade Home, I had a duh! moment (one, I'm sure, most of you had years ago). I measured the quilt with the border itself! Easy. I draped the quilt over one of my longarm rollers, but,  I'm thinking you could spread it on the floor, or across a bed, or any flat surface that is large enough for the dimension you need to measure. Try not to stretch the top, just lay it nice and smooth. Lay your border across the middle of your quilt and mark the border at the edges of the quilt top. (The border should be parallel to the side you will apply it to.) Cut it to length. Make 2 exactly alike. Sew them on, press, and repeat for the next border. Golly, this is easy.

So, let's raise our ruler's high! Here's to a Very Quilty 2017!!

Now, let's go quilt something!

Monday, December 12, 2016

And, he licked the bowl clean!

It's a little late for a Thanksgiving story, but it's the one I "enjoyed" the most. I spent the morning making my family's famous (scratch) chocolate pie. The crust was ready, I had everything I needed (I always do), so I jumped right in.

Now, the magic of this recipe is that you don't put meringue on top. You fold it into the pudding! So, once the pudding thickens, you just stir it occasionally while you make the meringue. No sweat. I put 1 egg white in the bowl of my (new) mixer, and was dismayed to discover that the whisk DIDN'T EVEN TOUCH THE EGG WHITE!! And it's a Kitchen Aid! I tried whipping the egg white by hand – but that, clearly, wasn’t going to work. I finally added a second egg white and that did the trick. Once the whites were frothy, I grabbed the little jar of cream of tartar - yup, it still had the seal on it. That thing must have been attached with super-glue. I couldn't pull it off, and had a terrible time finding something that would penetrate it enough to be able to pry it off! Grrrr.

Finally, I got the egg whites the way I wanted them, and turned my attention back to the pudding. I yanked it off of the stove in the nick of time. The final preparation for the pudding is to add some butter and vanilla. Guess what I discovered about the vanilla. Yup, it too, had an in penetrable seal! But, ultimately, stronger wills prevailed and the pie was cooling on the counter.

The trick with this pie is to stop whipping the meringue just short of "firm peak". All of the delicious goodness will fold into the pudding smoothly and lump-less. Anyway, the good news is with 2 whites, there was lots of meringue, and I was quick to put extra in the pudding. Amazing stuff. Listen, when made right, this pie is so good, your eyes roll back in your head, your heart will leap with joy, and drool will cause you great embarrassment. Of course, the DH made sure the pudding pot and the meringue bowl were "clean" before they went in the dishwasher! 

Oh, the crust. You need to make 2 crusts for my chocolate pie. The crust is simple, easy, and wonderful. The secret? It has an egg and sugar in it! Why 2 crusts? Well, how else are you going to have enough left over dough for cinnamon and sugar pie crust cookies?

News from the Studio

Dawn's Quilt 

Don't you just love Arlene's quilt? It is so  beachy and happy! The Wave on Wave pantograph worked beautifully on it! I hope Dawn loves it as much as I do!
Wave on Wave Panto

 Christmas Heart Song

Here is Joyce's version of the Christmas Heart Song quilt. So bold and happy. It just makes your heart sing. Again, the Trumpet Vine pantograph looks great on this quilt, and the shiny gold thread pulled it all together. Great job, Joyce!
Trumpet Vine Panto

Piano Key Heart Song

Trumpet Vine Panto
This is the 4th Heart Song quilt I've made this year! SO easy and quick. I had enough left over fabric for the star and first border, but not for the outer border. So I cut up all of the leftovers I could find and made a piano key border. I used the ever popular Trumpet Vine panto. The pattern for the version with a standard outside border is now available on Craftsy. Just click here: Christmas Heart Song Pattern.

AHQ Opportunity Quilt

The Appalachian Heritage Quilter's "opportunity" quilt which will be given away at the April quilt show, is a "pinwheel chain". What a sweet and gentle quilt. Save up your money! Soon you will be able to purchase Hershey Kisses and be given tickets to enter the drawing!
Wave on Wave Pantograph

The Wave on Wave panto  adds a little bit of "whimsical" to it, don't you think?

Heart Song Workshop

I mentioned in the last post, that I was preparing for a Heart Song Workshop. Well, we had a great time. Everyone made great progress on their quilt tops. It's amazing to see how different they are!


Great job, everyone!

Have a blessed and joyful Christmas! And, here's to a happy and prosperous New Year!

Now, let's go quilt something!