Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Cruising Carpet

 My friend, Frances travels all over the world. She started photographing the carpet in hotels this past year and sharing the pictures on her blog. I thought that was a great idea. You never know what interesting things you might find beneath your feet. Perhaps inspiration for a new quilt? I recently took a 16 day cruise through the Panama Canal and decided to document the carpeting aboard the Norwegian Jewel.

 The best carpeting was found in the stateroom passageways. Notice the fish - they always swam toward the front of the ship making it so much easier to determine which direction you wanted to travel. Clever, eh?

 Unfortunately my choice of ugliest carpeting was found in our suite. What do you think? Here are some more examples to inspire you.

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Quilters Slidelock Saves The Day

I just have to share one of my Christmas presents with you: The Quilters Slidelock ( I am not affiliated with the company in any way but I just love their product even though I have only owned it for a few days. Using this tool you will never again worry about your rotary ruler slipping and ruining your cut. There are grippers underneath the tool which hold it and the fabric in place as you cut. It is a two step process: first you measure the width of your fabric that you wish to cut with your rotary ruler. Since I am right handed, I would measure the size of the strip along the right hand edge of the fabric (after squaring it up of course). Next place the slide lock against the edge of the ruler and press down. Remove the ruler and cut the strip. I know that it sounds a bit complicated and there is an extra step but it is surprising how quickly you catch on to the process and how quickly the cuts can be made. It sure decreases the amount of waste fabric due to wobbly cuts. The slide lock comes in 2 sizes: 14 inch and 24 inch. I got the 24 inch.

Monday, May 28, 2012

Strawberry Rhubarb Pie


If you can get your hands on some rhubarb, you might enjoy the following recipe.  I cut up my rhubarb and freeze it in plastic bags until I am ready to use it. The quantities listed for flour and sugar are approximate and may have to be adjusted for your tolerance of tartness and the juiciness of your fruit. 


pastry for 2 crust pie
 2 cups fresh strawberries
2 cups rhubarb
1 1/4 cups sugar
dash of salt
1/3 to 1 cup Wondra flour (probably around 3/4 cup)
2 tbsp. butter
1 tbsp. sugar

Combine 1 1/4 cups sugar, salt and flour. Arrange half of strawberries and rhubarb in pastry lined 9 inch pie pan. Sprinkle with half of the sugar mixture. Repeat with remaining fruit and sugar mixture; dot with butter. Adjust top crust and flute edges. Brush top of pie with cold water and sprinkle on 1 tbsp. sugar. Cut steam vents. Bake pie in preheated 425 degree oven for 40 to 50 minutes or until rhubarb is tender and crust browned.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

To Iron Is Human But To Press Is Divine

Believe it or not, there is a difference between ironing and pressing.  Ironing is a gliding movement back and forth with the iron.  We do this to remove wrinkles from blouses, shirts and pants.  Pressing is an up and down movement which we use to set in creases on pant legs. Pressing greatly reduces the possibility of distorting the fibers and stretching the fabric.

When I first started quilting (back in the Dark Ages it seems), I was taught to "press" my seams flat with the right sides together to set the stitches and then, with the darker fabric on top, flip the dark patch upwards and gently butt the tip of the iron along the seam line on the right side while pressing the seam to one side. For many years I followed this rule using a dry iron to further prevent the possibility of stretching the fabric. Then I encountered a teacher who advocated the use of steam, so I tried that for a few years.

I am now back to using a dry iron unless I am trying to wrestle a piece of fabric into submission (better known as shrinking or perhaps stretching a piece of cotton to fit the next patch or block).  I truly believe it makes a more precise piece of patchwork. (Notice that I did not say a "perfect" piece of patchwork since mine has never been accused of that distinction.)

I never questioned the practice of pressing quilt seams to one side until recently. I came to quilting from garment construction and assumed that we press 1/4 inch seams to one side because they are hard to press open unlike 5/8 inch seams used in clothing.  I have learned that the reason for the pressing to one side developed when patchwork was done by hand.  Hand stitches are not as even and as close together as machine stitches. Pressing the seam open would allow the filler (batting) to escape through the gaps between stitches. This is not a problem with machine stitches which are typically 12 stitches to the inch.

 I am currently piecing my second quilt with seams pressed open and liking the results.  Yes, it is a bit trickier to press them - I use a tool to "finger" press them open as I go. Seams lay flat and matching seams is a lot easier for me. (I'll talk about matching seams in another post.)  One caveat: if you plan to do stitching in the ditch to quilt your patchwork, DO NOT press the seams open.

Here's an I Spy quilt that I made for my grandchildren and a detail of it.

Monday, July 4, 2011

Made in America

The following statistics appeared in a newsletter from Checker Distributors. They supply sewing notions, patterns and books on a wholesale basis and are marking their products made in America with a little American flag symbol. I am not surprised but I am dismayed at the results. With apologies to our Canadian, Mexican, Central and South American friends who are American as well, we need to buy "American" when possible if we are going to put our citizens back to work but it seems to be getting increasingly difficult to do so.  I have however been heartened recently by the decision of several companies to return their call centers to this country. I have also heard of some manufacturing which has been brought back home.

A.) 97% of all Patterns are made in America                      
B.) 69% of all Zippers are made in America                                    
C.) 56% of all Gifts are made in America
D.) 51% of all Books are made in America
E.) 48% of all Crafts are made in America
F.) 42% of all Notions are made in America
G.) Only 7% of our Threads are made in America
H.) Only 1% of our Fabrics are made in Amerca

This morning on the Today show, they asked some of the questions that appear on the exam for Naturalized citizens. I think that they know more about this country than most of us do.

Some things to think about on our Nation's  235th birthday. HAPPY BIRTHDAY AMERICA!

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Dieing or is it Dyeing?

Some years ago, a friend and I were having a wonderful time dyeing in my kitchen. This was before I had a studio for such things. A physician neighbor came to the door about something and I answered it wearing my surgical gown (which makes a great cover-up for dyeing and painting by the way).  He looked rather startled and I said: "Oh, we're just dyeing."  His expression became more concerned and I realized that he thought I said "dieing" and not "dyeing". I hurriedly explained and his whole body visibly relaxed.  Evidently he was planning to spring into action to save our lives.  I still laugh over this incident many years later.

Yesterday I rinsed out a new batch of a 15 step gradation using ProChem MX Sun Yellow (108), Fuchsia (308), and Intense Blue (406). The above picture shows the dyes soaking in my laundry tub before I threw them into the washing machine. I used to spend a lot of back breaking time rinsing and rinsing and rinsing until the water ran clear before I put the dyed fabrics into the washer. Several years ago, I discovered that if I quickly rinsed the fabric under running water and then left them to soak in hot water until the water cooled (at least 30 minutes), followed by a Synthrapol wash and then a Milsoft rinse, they were good to go. My back is very grateful for the relief.

Monday, June 27, 2011

The Digital Age

I love to read.  I have had a love affair with books my entire life.  I also have a masters degree in information and library studies. I have always loved the look, the feel, the smell of the printed word but.....I looooove my Kindle.  How to justify my love affair with my Kindle with my love of the physical book?

Over the course of my life, I have had to adjust to many changes not the least of which is digital technology. I started key punching programs that I wrote in graduate school and ran on a mainframe computer. My first computer was an Atari and later I graduated to a Windows PC and at this point I have owned at least 3 desktops and 3 laptops. I love computers although I do get crazy sometimes with their quirks but I appreciate all of the things that they can do for me from keeping my accounts to designing quilts to sharing my thoughts and feelings with friends and even strangers on Facebook and this blog.

Which brings me to the Kindle. I believe that digital books are the future (Amazon already sells more digital books than paper ones). I can read my Kindle books on my PC, my iPhone, my iPad or my Kindle reader. I have my current book available to me wherever I go and I can take 3,500 books with me at any one time. Try that with paper books. I have a built-in dictionary to check the definition and pronunciation of words instantly and I use it often because who wants to get up and find a dictionary to check out a word that is not familiar assuming that a dictionary is even available. The Kindle is lighter in weight than most books and can be read in bright sunlight unlike most digital readers. I can hear about a new book and download it to my Kindle in one minute or try a free sample chapter before committing to a purchase. No time consuming trips to the bookstore only to discover that they do not have the book in question. My tired old eyes also appreciate the ability to change the size of the font or listen to my book by turning on the audio.

We are living in an age when instant gratification is becoming the norm and digital books are only another reflection of that phenomenon.  I believe that libraries and bookstores have a future but they must adapt and change as our culture changes. That is not a new concept for libraries. Many libraries already lend digital books and have computers available for patrons to use.

As of the last count, nine people have sold over a million digital books and one man, John Locke, has sold over a million SELF PUBLISHED digital books. He has even written a book about how he did it - "How I Sold 1 Million eBooks in 5 Months". The trick is MARKETING. The publishing industry must also adapt to current practices. Some publishers are limiting the number of times that a book can be borrowed from a library, some publishers are controlling the selling price of ebooks, and some booksellers are attempting to take a 75% cut of the selling price. It can be a win-win situation for everyone but it will take a while for all sectors to adapt and eventually thrive but don't worry.