Monday, November 28, 2011

Arrowhead Block Revolutionized

Lori sent me a link to a pattern today, it is Anita's Arrowhead from Rotary Cutting Revolution by Anita Grossman Solomon. Lori said
"you will like this pattern--its a "you" pattern. "
as always she is right, (I have to say that or she will beat me up.) Seriously I do like the pattern and it is a revolutionary technique, not paper pieced. I can't abide picking out all the bits of paper! All I can say is the designer, Anita, has a very different thinking process to the rest of us. but it works.

Click to enlarge image
I found a series of blog posts about the block on the Quiltmaker blog, and here is the link to a free download of the pattern too. This color combination caught my eye. If you are wondering about the spinning mat the blogger is pining for we have them at the Blue Sheep very reasonably priced.

I bought some parrot green batik a few years ago to make my daughter a quilt, I don't know what I was thinking (probably that the fabric was very expensive) but I didn't buy much and the color is impossible to match. Obviously the solution is not to match but to contrast. I will dig it out and scan it, soon. The pictured quilt above is from the book, mine would have to be a bit bigger. The kid has a huge bed, acres to cover.

Y'all come back!

Monday, October 3, 2011

Mission Accomplished

Everything removed, washed, replaced and counted. Now all I need to do is sell the stuff! Wanna see the clock?

I haven't figured out how to get the dirt dust out from behind the muntins without breaking or scratching the glass, (it is not designed to be removable) but I am thinking about trying one of those keyboard blast of air thingies.

Y'all come back!

Sunday, October 2, 2011


Like many other parts of the country we are having a drought. When we moved into this house in January of 1983 everything was green and pretty just about all year. Oh, in August things would get a little browned and tired looking, but not for long. Now it looks like we are living somewhere in Africa.

The yard behind the house is mostly dirt, it is a fine dust which works its way through closed windows and doors, new windows and doors not the old leaky drafty ones.
I have a cute repro kitchen cabinet with glass doors on top and wooden ones below. I keep my vast stock of surplus china in it, mostly the stuff which is for sale. The theory is that the closed doors in the cabinet in a room which is kept closed up will be dust free.

It is that time of year when I check inventory, getting ready for the busy season and this is what I found when I went to count the china. Thank goodness I have a dishwasher!

This is today's project, remove dust, replace washed china and shut the doors quick! I will be a happy camper if I can figure out how to get rid of the dust that has seeped behind the grilles without taking the doors apart, because that is so not going to happen.

Now you know why my fabric stash lives in sealed plastic tubs, not prettily on shelves!

Y'all come back!

Friday, September 23, 2011

Henyard Chronicles 3

I promised myself I wouldn't do it again.

The little chickens breed like rabbits, they will hatch a dozen or more, 80% of which don't survive to adulthood and the ones that do make it are all too often roosters. This perpetuates the cycle as roosters do what they do best, often.

The last batch a wily old hen succeeded in raising, two little black pullets made it to adolescence before she abandoned them, as they do. Eggs to lay in places nobody will ever find them, things to do, you know how that goes. Every day at feeding time I look for them and am glad to see them.

Yesterday only one came and I feared the worst. Little did I think, but there are things much worse than worst.

I could see Loa the chicken killer dog being very interested in something so I went to look. Ah! There was the little black body so I bent down to pick it up and dispose of it. I never allow a dog to keep the spoils, that would be a reward for bad behavior. To my horror a tiny beady eye stared at me and slowly blinked. She was a bloody mess but alive.

Cradling her in one hand I went into the house, found a box, lined it with a towel and put her in the box. She would die in a warm dry place. I checked on her before I went to bed and she had moved but was resting quietly.

The next morning, to my surprise she was still alive and the full horror dawned on me as I gently cleaned her up a little. The dog ate off her wing.

I promised myself I wouldn't do it again. I lied.
There is a chicken in my bath.

Y'all come back!

Sunday, September 11, 2011

No Need For Noah

Himself is a man of enthusiasms. His latest is that we will have a hibiscus hedge. They make a good hedge here, stay leafy year round and if we live long enough will give us privacy from our obnoxious Peeping Tom neighbor, Slither. This yellow one on the left is called Hula Girl.

Have I mentioned that we live in a natural wind tunnel? We have learned it is better to buy very small hibiscus so they can grow good roots before they are tall enough to have to fight the wind, or they lean over. Hula Girl is leaning.

Himself started by planting them three feet apart. After about a week of looking at them he decided we needed to plant more so they were about 18" apart.

This is one of my favorites below, look at the size of bloom on that tiny plant! It is called TieDye.

He has been watering every day. I hope he is prepared to do the yanking out of kikuyu grass which will grow right over the top of anything including your house.

We are dry, dry, dry and with dry comes dusty. We have a real problem with ants in the garden. They can kill a full grown tree and seem particularly partial to corms and bulbs, they must taste yummy. So far I think we may have lost one hibiscus plant. The ants also come marching into the house in hordes. I found a neat 'green' tip online which works on indoor ants.

Take an empty jelly or jam jar. Put in one or two or three cotton balls. Mix 1 part Borax, 1 part sugar and 3 parts water, fill jar about half way. If you have pets which are likely to want to drink out of the jar pierce holes in the lid. The ants will find their way in to enjoy their last swim.

Y'all come back!

Friday, September 2, 2011


Image of mother chameleon and baby copyright FLChams.comOur youngest cat, twelve week old Joe Kitten shows signs of becoming a mighty hunter. This morning he brought in a juvenile Jackson Chameleon before it was even daylight. This is not a picture of his catch but it is still neat. Mother carries her baby on her back until he is ready to leave home.

Chameleons are fascinating prehistoric looking creatures. We found our first one in the garden about five years ago and they are obviously thriving in our cool humid upcountry climate because this one is not an adult. He is almost certainly a Mt. Kenya Yellow-crested Jackson's Chameleon (Chamaeleo jacksonii xantholophus) you can read about them on this commercial Florida breeders website (no affiliation) they have some incredible pictures.

Fortunately for this chameleon his sticky feeling toes and tail encouraged Joe Kitten to drop him on the floor. I was able to scoop him up and temporarily shelter him in an empty plastic container with a lid. He is ruffled but unhurt. Look at his marvelous opposed toes. Clicking should enlarge some of the pictures.

He is not thrilled to be in his slippery plastic container, see his three little horns? They tell me he is male. Females do not seem to have horns.

After the morning rush hour, while Joe the mighty hunter was having his after breakfast nap, I took the chameleon outside and gently tipped the container so he could grasp the bark of our avocado tree.

He was hesitant, just for a moment and then raced up the tree so fast I barely got another picture of him. He is there! Enlarge the picture to see.

I do like stories with happy endings!

Y'all come back!

Monday, August 22, 2011

Aah! Bisto

I am an immigrant from the British Isles. I have lived in America for 35 years and knew very shortly after I arrived that this was where I would spend the rest of my life, but, there are a few foody things that I wouldn't want to be without.

One of them is a gravy powder called Bisto. This has to be one of their funniest advertisements, ever. FYI the couple are enjoying a traditional supper dish, bangers (sausages which will explode if not pricked while frying) and mash (mashed potatoes) with peas and of course gravy. Enjoy!

If there is no video please refresh the page.

Y'all come back!

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Getting Along

I have never understood why we quilters can't just get along with each other and play nicely. Reading my e-friend Katie's blog she writes about going to her first and second Guild meetings in Wichita. Some years back I went to a Guild Meeting where I live and my experience was very similar to hers.

It made me think about why we want to join a Guild. In my case I hoped there would be people I could learn from, to make new friends, to socialize with other women who shared my interests. For both Katie and I the experiment was a failure. It breaks my heart.

I should mention that not all Guilds are the same. From personal experience the Heartland Quilters Guild in Mitchell SD is both fun and welcoming.

Lori and I got to visit with Katie when we went to Wichita this summer. Katie is a little shy but a wonderful talented young woman who lives in a lovely old home which she and her husband have been lovingly restoring. She has three small children and is a stay at home mother who is much more organized than I ever was at the same period in my life. We had a lovely visit.

I do not believe those women were actively nasty so much as thoughtless and self centered. How much effort does it take to introduce yourself to a newcomer, to welcome them? The Prairie Quilt Guild is huge, was it a Guild Management failure? I think so!

If I were Queen of the Prairie Quilt Guild here is what I would do in five simple and inexpensive steps.

  1. I would schedule a short talk with a motivational Caring and Sharing theme at a meeting before Christmas and at that meeting I would call for volunteers to set up a Welcome Committee.
  2. Ask the Registrar to make special and different brightly colored name tags that identify visitors, which might inspire regular Members to introduce themselves and BE welcoming.
  3. Ask visitors to fill out a short form (name, address, phone, email, areas of interest) and write a very short paragraph about themselves at registration and in the New Business section of the meeting welcome them.
  4. Ask for volunteers to put their names on a rotating list which the registrar would have, to act as Big Sisters to visitors and prospective members, introduce them to people, show them around, talk to them, be nice and welcome them.
  5. After the first meeting send a pretty note in the mail to the prospective member welcoming them.
There, that's not so hard is it?

Y'all come back!

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Blue Ribbons

One of the great glories of Bonanza as a sale venue is that communication between buyers and sellers is completely unrestricted. Unlike that 'other place' buyers are encouraged to get to know their sellers via a chat room feature in every shop, I have 'met' some wonderful people there in the last three years. The other day I had a question about the Blue Ribbon quilt pattern shown at left. Click on the picture to make it bigger.
"Do you think that the blue and white quilt pattern would be easy enough for a beginner to do? I love that pattern!"
I B-mailed (Bonanza has its own internal email system) back some questions of my own:
"Hi E***
OK you are in love with the blue ribbons quilt, I like that one too, just have not gotten around to making it yet. Soon I think.
How beginning a quilter are you?
Would this be your very first quilt?
Are you an experienced sewer otherwise, make your own clothes etc?"
Hi Henrietta,
Yes, you are right, it is the blue ribbons quilt. I have been sewing for 20+ years so I am very familiar and yes, it would be my first non-nine patch quilt. lol I usually applique with my machine when I am doing quilted articles for sewing and know how to cut and piece but I am just in love with that quilt. I sew home decor, small clothing articles for children, dolls and clothes, etc. Be honest please. I know I want to try but don’t want to get frustrated. Thanks ever so much! E*** hugz

Dear E***
This is a small quilt, 48" x 60" which is a nice size for a wall hanging or lap quilt but a bit small for a couch cuddler except for a very narrow person. On a bed it would just be for pretty!

The finished size of each half triangle square is 1-1/2". The pattern is in South Dakota so I can't take a look at it to see how the designer wrote her instructions for half triangle squares, I know how I would make it and would be happy to work with you if necessary. I don't think it is particularly hard, it just looks complicated. This is one of those quilts that when you make it you wonder at the simplicity of the pattern! Since you have made other quilts and understand about seam allowances you shouldn't have any problems with it.

Here are my thoughts:
  • Using the same pattern, if there are an equal number of pieces, it takes just as long to make a little quilt as a bigger one.
  • The smaller quit will use less fabric.
  • A larger one may be more useful and not quite as fiddly to make. A good analogy would be the degree of difficulty in making a set in sleeve for a doll sized blouse compared to one for a little girl.
  • Another consideration, a quilt with lots of tiny pieces is a lot harder to quilt and will be stiffer, all those seams add bulk and decrease drape.
  • If you are making a wall hanging stiffness will not bother the wall, if you want to use it stiffness may bother you.
If I make this pattern I will size my pieces half an inch larger. This will give me a finished quilt size of 64" x 80". This is a great size for a couch throw, big enough to cover almost anyone and the perfect size to display as a coverlet on even a king sized bed if laid crosswise. Works for a twin bed with a 12-1/2" drop on either side

The extra half inch makes a big difference to drape, but doesn't make the pattern so large it looks clunky.

As I said before, I will be glad to coach you through it, I am only an email away.

Y'all come back!

Saturday, July 23, 2011


The monster quilt is completely pieced. I finished stitching the last border early this morning. The border fabric, shown on left is a persimmon Hoffman batik in a tree pattern. I love this fabric. I didn't want to cut it, but I did.

I thought I would spread it out on the lawn and snap a quick picture. One small problem:

The heat and humidity is so intense that my camera lens fogged up, and kept fogging up.

Y'all come back!

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Time Flies

In many ways this year has been speeding, it feels like I just arrived in South Dakota and within a week I will be on my way home again.

Old Business

The winners of my giveaways:

Quiltin'LibraryLady got the pendant and Kristyn (who does not have a blog) got the free pattern by Tweeting my link.

Where in the world is Henrietta?

Lori and I took her Green Princess down to the manufacturer in Wichita last week. Kenquilt have made several improvements since we bought our machines including a re-think of the tension assembly (yippee!) to a simpler clutch mechanism and modifications to the needle bar and wheel which reduce vibration to almost zero. Think Cadillac instead of Jeep and you will get the idea, the ride is a lot smoother and less tiring, not that it was all that rough to begin with compared to other similarly sized machines I have tried.

On my design wall (which is really Lori's of course) the monster I am making for my son, the pattern is Yin Yang designed by Daniela Stout of Cozy Quilt Designs. This is the second half of it taking up the whole wall. Rows waiting to be stitched together and two rows of blocks waiting to turn into rows.

This is the completed first half draped over the long-arm because there is no more room on the design wall. I don't usually 'do' king size anything! This has truly been a labor of love but I believe the end is in sight. After finishing the body piecing I have a lot of pressing plus two borders to cut and add.

The lovely little Singer 15-91 I use at Lori's, a younger sister (1948) to my beloved Miss Lily (1934) at home. Although she is older than I am she is still faithfully producing a perfect straight stitch. This was one of Ken's farm auction sale treasures a few years ago, she came complete with bench and cabinet. If you had not already guessed, green is Lori's favorite color.

Most of the hard to find light and neutral batiks I used were a gift from Lori, Timeless Treasures Tonga Treats in the Meringue colorway, still available here. The others were from my massive collection of batiks. Can you spell A D D I C T I O N?

Y'all come back!

Thursday, May 19, 2011

My Lucky Year

I am not one of those people who wins things all the time which makes this an amazing year. Here we are mid May and for the second time this year I won something.

In February I won an autographed copy of Scrap-Basket Sensations by Kim Brackett from a comment on Quilt Times blog. This time I won a ruler from Monique Dillard of Open Gate Quilts. You can visit her very interesting blog which is where she had a giveaway, and I got lucky!

Those readers who know me personally know that I am a shameless rulerholic. I LOVE rulers!

My new ruler
is called Fit to be Quarter and it is very fancy indeed. It is a 9 1/2" x 9 1/2" square ruler made to trim quarter-square triangles, combination units and square quilt blocks.

I don't have it yet, it is on its way but it looks to have horizontal and vertical lines spaced 1/4" apart, a 45º line going one way and many more 45º lines spaced 1/4" apart on the other diagonal.

I am so looking forward to receiving and using this ruler. Thank you Monique!

Project progress report

  1. French Reel, backing pieced, bias binding made, ready to quilt.
  2. Blue and Yellow quilt, backing pieced, bias binding made, ready to quilt.
Goals: Finish the weird cat quilt, my desperate attempt to use up fabric Lori palmed off on me.

Y'all come back!

Monday, May 16, 2011

Monday Musings & Giveaway

Do you think himself needs to cut the grass? Just look at how the wretched stuff is climbing the fence. That is kikuyugrass, (Pennisetum clandestinum) imported from East Africa to California in 1918 and from California to Hawaii in 1925. Kikuyugrass is on the U.S. Federal noxious weed list. It is the most prevalent forage in Hawaii and it will grow over a cement slab or work its way under the siding of your house.

The blue and yellow quilt top, which does not have a name, (more on that later) has all its borders on and is packed away ready to go to South Dakota with me. I am planning on making the bias binding today from more of the blue batik.

I got a good selection of that batik on sale for $5 a yard. It was an unfamiliar brand, Choice Fabric, but I like it. It is not flimsy, the patterns are primitive and naive and the color is indigo without the fading and running problems of true indigo fabric.

I really like the way the last blue border pops the color contrast in the blocks, it somehow compresses and confines the 'movement', amplifying as it frames. Here are two side by side pictures of before and after the simple final border was added. Click to enlarge images.

I am particularly happy with the blue border's effect on my "Waste not want not" pieced scrap border at the top and bottom of the quilt, detail picture below.

The quilt needs a name and I want to give something away.

The person who's quilt name sugggestion I choose will receive a cute sewing charm pendant (shown below) and satin cord necklace as a gift. I will also give away the pattern of their choice from this selection in my booth to a randomly drawn reader who:
  • Leaves me a comment on this post before midnight PST Sunday May 22nd with their suggestion to name this quilt, or
  • follows me on Twitter and Tweets this link, Then leaves a comment telling me you tweeted and your twitter handle.
I will use the random-thingy to draw a pattern winner on 23rd May.

Please make sure that I can get in touch with you if you win. If you are set as a "no-reply" blogger, or if you do not have a blog, then I can't contact you.

Y'all come back!

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Hissy Fits

My everyday workhorse sewing machine at home is a 1936 Singer 15 for which I paid $20 ten years ago. My backup machine is a 1940 Model 15. I love them both because they have a perfect straight stitch and they are easy to maintain. They will both outlive me, as they have both outlived their previous owners. No worries about parts availability, nylon or plastic gears wearing out, these babies were built to last. I have an identical machine in SD as does Lori so traveling back and forth with projects is painless. Click image to enlarge.

So why the hissy fits?

Ummm, it is in my nature? :)
I had been working on the blue and yellow quilt; in an excess of thriftiness I used the off-cut triangles from the center blocks for a border on the top and bottom edges. These were pretty tiny pieces with a lot of seams and I was stitching through five and six layers of fabric. Normally for a Singer 15 this would be NBD, but, something was wrong. Stitches were being skipped and top thread was breaking.

Unfortunately the backup machine had suffered a tension assembly catastrophe a year or so ago (time flies) it literally fell off in all its pieces. As re-assembly is the fiddliest and most frustrating job on earth I had set the machine aside until the next time I went to Hilo to take in for the Old Sewing Machine Guy to enjoy. No backup.

I know how to fix this problem. There is a checklist. I can do this.
  • I re-threaded the machine from scatch, problem not fixed.
  • I changed the needle, being careful to insert the new needle exactly as the old one was, problem not fixed.
  • I changed the bobbin, problem not fixed.
  • I changed to a new spool of thread, problem not fixed.
  • With a martyred sigh I took off the needle plate and brushed the feed dogs teeth, then lovingly oiled the machine, problem not fixed.
  • I changed to a bigger needle and that did not solve the problem either. I was stumped.
  • I left the machine to stew in its own obstinacy.

I woke up in the middle of the night. There was one thing I had not done.

I took out the needle and put it back in with the flat side facing left. Problem solved. The interesting thing is, I had been sewing without any problem at all for at least two months with the needle in backwards. It was not until the machine was challenged by all the thicknesses that it complained.

Today I will put on the last outer borders and make the bias binding and backing so this quilt can go with me to South Dakota to be finished there. We are going to be busy!

Y'all come back!

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Best Car Ever

The best car I ever owned was a 1960 Morris Minor 1000 Traveller. This is not my car, although it is the right color. This one above has been beautifully restored
trafficators and is a newer model than mine which had the old style trafficators, turn signals which popped out of the door frame pillar.

Winne got a little over 40 miles to the Imperial gallon which converts to about 35 miles to the US gallon. She was well used when I got her and despite being terribly neglected she ran and ran.

The Traveller had two doors in the back which closed with a single lever handle. This space was ideal for my beloved German Shepherd, or the odd sheep, and most convenient for shopping. The back seats folded down and forward making a perfect almost flat sleeping space, out of the weather, for a not very tall person, which would be me :)

Winnie and I traveled to Spain one year for a camping holiday and up to the highlands of Scotland at least twice. One memorable trip was to the Isle of Mull.

I miss that car. Larry would love it.

Y'all come back!

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Henyard Chronicles

Early this spring the rooster situation had gotten out of hand. I was being overrun with little chickens who were not promoting good relationship with my neighbors. I embarked upon a chicken roundup, catching the roosters and taking them up to one of our mountain horse pastures to make a living scratching the piles of manure and hopefully consuming the fly larvae.

Late in March, Bella, who had been missing for a while, showed up with 12 new chicks. Bantam hens are ridiculously good mothers, brooding enormous amounts of eggs. I can't say I was particularly thrilled with the addition to my flock at least half of whom would be roosters, but I was hopeful that this would be the last batch. Click images to enlarge.

About a week later, tragedy. Twelve little chicks peeping and no sign of Bella. My dear soft hearted husband helped me catch them and they were installed in a small water trough in my bath tub with a light for warmth. They would not have survived the night otherwise.

A few days later I found what was left of Bella who must have tried to defend a chick which had unwisely ventured too close to a Big Dog. Meanwhile I had a bathroom full of chickens.

Himself is very good about helping in an emergency. Not so good about scheduling time for my projects which require assistance. It is a man thing.

After a week or so the chickies were growing and of course the end product grows in equal volume. I don't care how many times you change the newspaper each day, they stink. They needed to move outside into a movable roofed pen. I did the nice reasonable wifey thing.
"Um, could you try to come home before dark to help me with the chick pen? I would really like to have my bathroom back." Smile. Things progressed to a whine, then cold shoulder. By this time they REALLY stunk and I was getting desperate. More days and then weeks passed. the chick palace


The ultimatum, "If you do not get home at a reasonable hour today and help me with the chicken pen, I will move them into your bathroom tomorrow morning." That very afternoon, eight and one half wood studs were converted into the Chicken Palace. Covered with chicken wire and a sheet of plywood on top it was lugged out onto what we like to call 'the lawn'. The very next morning the chicks moved into their new abode, and I started scrubbing.

Y'all come back!

Monday, May 9, 2011

Monday Goals

Quilting and blogging have taken a back seat this last few weeks. Google Search implemented a new policy which requires new (as opposed to used or vintage)items to have a Unique Product Identifier in order to be found in Google Shopping. Implementing this has been a massive project, and I am not finished.

There is always the temptation to just fix or improve something on the website shopping cart, rewrite that listing on Bonanza, take a better picture . . . it is never as simple as you think it will be.

I have added the first, plain yellow (discontinued Moda Marble Mates) border to my blue yellow and white quilt top.

The second border involved using the offcuts from the main blocks. Waste not want not and all that jazz. Click on pictures to enlarge.

Each offcut trimmed to a 2" square and I had enough of them to make top and bottom borders with a finished size of 1-1/2", the second side border is white. If I were truly dedicated I would have made more and done the entire second border with them. Yah! No!

I have cut batik strips for the last border, which will finish at 4" giving an over all quilt size of 62" x 74", a good sized throw. I hope to get that, and the bias binding finished this week. Then I will take a picture.

Y'all come back!