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SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESSince realizing I have not touched the Split-16 quilt in my frame for over a year, I have given it some attention.   To be completely honest, the first chore was to vacuum it.  Much dust and dog hair had settled on it.

The inability to decide on border quilting had been my stopping point and allowing the quilt a chance to brew it’s own borders simply didn’t work.  I had to do something!  I love this quilt and I want it finished.

Without further debate or research, I grabbed my few stencils and chose one to add to the widest border.  The 2 narrow borders are receiving straight lines of quilting.  It’s enough and good enough!  I took to stitching and am enjoying the process and though I’m only partially done with one side, it’s a LOT of stitching.  The straight lines require 4 passes and the intertwined links require 6 which translates to stitching all around a queen+ (nearly king) sized quilt 10 times (YIKES!).  I hope I don’t get discouraged as it feels like miles!!

I work at the frame nearly every day when the light from the windows is good and reserve nighttime for stitching the Batik Winding Ways blocks.  I’ve finished nearly enough for a queen size top!  I hope to finish stitching the blocks and sew them together next week.  I’m still debating if it will be hand quilted in a hoop or on the frame.

Jacob is here taking advantage of the long weekend.  We are enjoying him as we feast and visit.  I’ve always adored being his mother but it is pure pleasure being the mom to a successful, mature, level-headed, independent adult.  Easy-peasy and no diapers!  I’m so proud of the person he is!

Shirl

While sitting, watching the gray skies and dreary rain, I’m reflecting on last year’s accomplishments and disappointments.  These are the things I’m pleased to have accomplished:

  • Made 17 custom mens shirts (We won’t mention the one ‘wadder’).
  • Pieced, quilted and completed 4 quilts (2 totally by hand and 1 machine pieced and hand quilted and 1 for the dog).
  • Made 2 casual blouses for myself.
  • Canned lots of jars of food including fresh tomatoes from our tomato patch, soups, stews, beans and jams.
  • Read for a few hours each day.
  • Cooked homemade, nutritious meals nearly every day (and often twice a day).
  • Traveled (though not as extensively as I prefer).
  • Battled with a contractor (and won) for a new metal roof installed on our house.
  • Survived pneumonia, staph, bronchitis, a cold and finding a new doctor.

There are a few things I wish I’d given more attention:

  • The Split-16 quilt remains on the frame, as close to being  finished as it was a year ago.
  • Though I’ve invested a few more days on the Wonky Stars quilt, it remains unfinished.
  • The Tumbling Stars quilt still awaits attention.
  • A big batch of tamales made and frozen as was planned before Christmas.  I’m craving them!

Fortunately those things not accomplished can be rectified in this new year but my most important resolution is to continue being happy.  Everything else is inconsequential.

Shirl

At every step and turn, it was surprising how challenging the Urban Renewal quilt has been.  This may explain why there are few to be found in the ‘wild’.  I love that it’s unusual and proud it is complete.

The body of the quilt was hand pieced, using the English Paper Piecing method.  I straightened the uneven sides of the body with Kona black fabric before adding the flying geese border which was assembled on a vintage (1925) Singer 66 treadle sewing machine.  The border was hand stitched to the quilt.  The binding was made with black, deep red and blue with gold flecks fabric.  All fabric, with exception of the backing, was from my stash.  Even the thread and Hobbs Poly-down batting came from supplies already on hand.  The backing is wide gray with black Marblehead fabric (manufactured by Fabri-Quilt) and the quilting was done with black YLI hand quilting thread.  The label was hand embroidered.

This sofa-sized quilt finished at 60″ x 75″; large enough to tuck under a chin and still have toes covered.

Although I’ve been asked by several people to gift this quilt to them, this baby is MINE!!

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I’m on the home stretch of quilting the Urban Renewal quilt.  All that’s left is about one half of the last flying geese border and adding the binding.  Then it will need a good hand washing.  I’m anxious to see it finished and to start hand stitching the next quilt (batik Winding Ways).

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESAfter taking a quick inventory of our chest freezer, I decided to use one of the several beef roasts to make and can veggie/beef soup.  In all of my 63 years, when making a beef-type soup, I’ve opted to make tomato gravy base stew (with carrots and potatoes).  After seeing a few online videos on making veggie/beef soup, I decided to try my hand.

Once the beef was cubed and seared, I was surprised how fast the soup came together.  I added chopped whole canned tomatoes, onions, frozen soup vegetables, celery, carrots, garlic, cabbage, potatoes, broth, beef base and water.

As soon as the soup came to a boil, I ladled it into 6 quart jars and pressure canned them at 10 lbs. for 90 minutes.  I continued cooking the soup that was left until the potatoes were done.  We ate it for last night’s dinner.

Oh my, that is some really good soup.  Bob liked it so much, he headed to the store this morning to buy more of the same ingredients so I can make and can more.  We like having enough on hand to eat and share.

With leftovers from baking a big ham this week, I plan to can more charro beans this weekend.  We enjoy eating them often and everyone I’ve shared with has requested more.

We also discovered several whole pork butts in the freezer.  I am seriously considering making tamales during the Christmas holiday.  It’s a BIG job but I figure I can spread it over 2 days and accomplish it.  We will freeze them and bring out a few at a time to eat with canned charro beans.  It’s an easy, delicious dinner!  I wonder if I can convince Bob to make a thick chili I could can for a terrific tamale sauce.  He makes excellent chili and I have plenty of 1/2 pint jars available.   Sounds like an outstanding idea.  I hope he thinks so too.

We expect to see Jacob this weekend and by studying the calendar, this might be our Christmas gathering.  We do not decorate or make a big deal of exchanging gifts.  We celebrate by being together.  I’m looking forward to seeing him.

Shirl

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Lately, I have spent several hours each day quilting the Urban Renewal quilt.   The body is done, along with one side border.  Though it’s not visible in this picture, there are two straight, parallel lines of stitching between the quilt body and border.

My fingers are suffering.  My left index finger and half of my right thumb are numb and callused.  Along with misshaped nails (from needle abuse), this is the price hand quilters pay for the love of the craft.  I wear my quilter’s hands proudly!

I have decided to begin cutting out another Winding Ways quilt,SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES but this time incorporating batik fabric.  I really enjoyed making this pattern earlier this year and want one for my own.  I have a nice collection of batiks and will use most of them.  When my hands need a break from quilting, I cut a few more pieces.  At this time, I plan to make a queen+ size quilt for my own bed (if I have enough batik fabric).  We’ll see.  I’m excited at the prospect.

It’s a quiet weekend here with nothing special planned and no visitors expected.  I’ll stay busy with needle, thread, scissors and a few good movies.  Happy weekend!

Shirl

 

In hopes of allowing my raw fingers to heal a bitSAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES, I took time away from quilting and made this shirt for Jacob.  It’s number 17 of the shirts made for his new position at work.  I acquired the fabric in an unusual way.

I’ve been picking up marked down bolt ends of fabric from a few of my favorite online shops and a piece of this fabric was included.  I fell in love but since it was a bolt end, the shop had none and no plans to order more.  I shopped over a dozen online stores with no luck so I went to eBay.  I had no idea of the manufacturer or designer so I searched for ‘peacock feather fabric’ and found it offered by one seller.  Unfortunately it wasn’t cheap but I had to have it.  I knew it would make a gorgeous shirt.

I’ve taken dozens of photos under different lighting situations and get nothing that correctly represents the rich beauty of the fabric…. but take my word for it, it’s a darned pretty shirt!  (Yes, that’s my own hand patting myself on the back!)

It’s not much different than many of the shirts I’ve made.  This one has a single pocket, rounded collar, contrasting black inner collar stand and inner yoke.  The buttons are teal mother-of-pearl and the top stitching is done with black thread.  It has a rounded, tuck-in style tail.

… and thankfully, my raw, sensitive fingers are feeling a little better (until tonight when I’ll return to quilting).

We are in the process of preparing for our Thanksgiving celebration this weekend.  In order to keep Jacob off the busy roads during the holiday, he will be here this weekend.  With our encouragement, he has requested smoked turkey.  While Bob tends the smoker,  I plan to make others of Jake’s favorites including au gratin potatoes and green bean casserole.  I’m still considering making a cinnamon swirl or apple/cinnamon cake he also likes.  Regardless of what we eat, we will enjoy seeing him and sharing family time.

Shirl

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Have had the Urban Renewal quilt top sandwiched for over a week.  Because of never-ending interruptions, the hand basting (which SHOULD have taken 2 days) took a week to complete.  I hope I don’t come to regret that I forgot to iron the quilt backing before basting.  I’m not thrilled with the wrinkled appearance.  I’m being extra-careful to keep from quilting in creases.

I began the quilting process last night and am totally enjoying it.  This top is being hoop quilted in my lap at night as I watch movies on my computer.  Last night, I enjoyed ‘Savannah’ and ‘The Physician’ as I quilted 10 units.  I liked both movies.

For those interested in the details, I’m using Hobb’s Poly-Down batting and a light grey and black ‘stone’ 108″ wide backing (trimmed).  The thread is black YLI Quilting SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES40/3 ply.  The needles for this project are R.J. Roberts Betweens, size 7 and size 8 (depending on what I grab from the pincushion).  I always use Crayola Washable Markers to draw my quilting guide lines.  They’re readily available, cheap and wash out completely.  My 36 years experience with these markers proves to me they are stable, leave no residue and wash out without returning.  I won’t risk my handmade quilts to anything else.

I’ve spent a little time doing more canning recently.  Yesterday, I cooked two large packages of 15 Bean Soup.  I included lots of onion, bell pepper, garlic, celery, ham and bacon.  Just as it finished cooking, we lost electricity so I postponed the canning process until today.  Although our stove is gas, I didn’t want to stand in the dark as I processed the jars.

Rain is predicted for the next couple days.  Since getting the new roof, I LOVE it.  No more worrying about leaks!  Yippee!  I didn’t realize just how much I worried until the burden was lifted.  Once again, I can enjoy these wet days.

Shirl

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Shirt 16

After receiving a request from Jacob for a warm shirt to wear during his upcoming vacation, I’ve spent a little time sewing this flannel shirt.  It’s rather boring but will do the intended job of acting as a light over-shirt on those days when it’s too warm to wear a jacket but too cool for short sleeves alone.

This flannel (along with several other large pieces) has been in my stash for years.  It wasn’t expensive nor is it high quality but about the time it wears out, Jake will probably be sick of looking at it.  It will serve the purpose and when its life is over, I can always make another.

I’m now thinking of making one for myself.  We don’t keep our home overly heated so a flannel shirt would be nice on these cool mornings.  I also intend to make some long sleeve thermal t-shirts for myself.  Those from years past are looking a little shabby.  Thankfully, I have plenty of jeans.

The Urban Renewal quilt top is sandwiched and 1/2 hand basted.  I’m hoping to have that chore finished this weekend.  I’ll also be doing extra cooking during Jacob’s weekend visit.  I plan to make a big batch of chicken/spinach enchiladas to go with the charro beans I’ve made today.

I made 2 pounds of dry pinto beans for charro bean soup, with lots of fresh baked ham, bacon and taco-seasoned ground beef.  Along with several varieties of peppers, onion, cilantro, tomatoes, cumin and onions, they smell wonderful.  I was able to pressure can 7 more quarts to add to our ‘easy meal’ stash.

Earlier this week, I interviewed a new family physician.  He seems knowledgeable and willing to work with me and my health challenges.  I’m so glad to be leaving behind my old doctor and finding a place where I feel confident of the care.

Not much else has been happening on our hilltop.  Today is Halloween and I’m curious if we will have any goblins tapping at our door tonight.  In the 20+ years living here, we’ve only been visited by 1 trick-or-treater.  That’s OK… we don’t mind eating the Kit-Kats and Milky Way candies we’ve purchased….JUST IN CASE!  Wouldn’t want them to go to waste!

Happy Boo Day!

Shirl

I’m continuing to stitch on the Urban Renewal quilt top.  This week, I’ve added the filler pieces to even out the edges and included a narrow black border.  This required lots more hand piecing which I have been thoroughly enjoying.

I then laid out the top to decide ifFillers and borders I would use a pieced border.  After auditioning several including braids, bricks, piano keys and plain fabric, I decided to go with flying geese.

There was already a box of half-square triangles saved from other projects so it was easy work to machine stitch them together for the geese.  I’m not thrilled with the look but it’s the best decision I can make today.  I do like how the border has increased the size of the top.

This evening I’m trying to decide if I want to hand stitch them to the top or zip them through the sewing machine.  I’m in the mood to watch movies and hand stitch so that’s what I will probably do.  With our cooler weather, I don’t mind having it in my lap.  I’ve begun thinking about how I want to hand quilt it.

Jacob was here for the weekend.  We just love that he drives down and visits often.  This time, I made lots of handmade egg noodles to go with the mushroom chicken he loves.  I also baked sugar free banana bread we always enjoy.  He was able to take home some homemade chicken broth, 2 big bags of dried homemade noodles and 1/2 loaf of banana bread for enjoying later.

He left just an hour ago and I already miss him.

Shirl

In my quest to make a month of shirts for Jacob, this one represents the half-way mark.

#15 - Half way to goal!

#15 – Half way to goal!

This shirt is made with gorilla fabric Jake selected years ago and I’ve kept in my stash.  In hopes of making another casual shirt, I asked him if he still likes it.  He gave a resounding “YES!” and plans to wear it to work on ‘Casual Friday’.  What fun!

To change things up, I decided instead of assembling the shirt with my vintage Kenmore (circa 1972) machine, I’d use the Singer 301a (circa 1951).  My theory is the older the machine, the nicer the straight stitch.  I wasn’t disappointed with the stitching on this shirt.  I even used its old buttonhole attachment and it worked wonderfully.  The only drawback to using this straight-stitch-only machine is there’s no way to attach buttons by machine.  I hand sewed them.

The shirt is made with the same KwikSew pattern I’ve used many times but with my own ‘sharks tail’ collar.  All seams are flat felled.  It’s another well-made shirt.

I have several choices when deciding which will be the next shirt.  I have flannel and chambray for long sleeved shirts or fabric for dress and casual shirts.  I’m currently undecided so I’ll continue hand stitching the Urban Renewal quilt top until the decision is made.  I never run short of projects!

Last week, I canned 12 more jars of sugar free hatch pepper jam.  We like it so much, we are eating it quickly and after Jacob took home a jar and tasted it, he has requested more.  Strangely, he especially likes it on pizza!  Thus far, Bob and I eat it with breakfast and on fresh baked, warm bread.  Good stuff!

Shirl

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