Sunday, July 8, 2012

How to Make Glasses Cleaner

I've been working in the lavender field AND in my yard most of the weekend.  Sooooo tired!  I just thought I'd do a quick post you might find of interest.

It seems that most stores want to sell you the little packets of pre moistened eye glass cleaner wipes these days.  Call me old fashioned (not OLD) but I like the spray stuff and a soft cloth.  But it's hard to find anymore.  So I did a little searching on the internet and found the "recipe" for the spritzy stuff.

3 parts Isopropyl alcohol (rubbing alcohol)
1 part water
1 or 2 drops of some sort of liquid soap (depending on how big of a bottle you have).... I just use one drop.

You don't have to be too exact about measuring- just eyeball it (heh. heh.... I crack myself up).

It's WAY cheaper than buying it... if you can even find it!

Friday, July 6, 2012

Mulled Raspberry Shawl

I recently had the opportunity to test-knit this beautiful shawl.

Sorry for the lighting in the pictures- I took them in 2 different locations with different lighting.  This first picture is a pretty good representation of the actual color.

 Stephanie Etting (verybusymonkey on Ravelry) is the designer of this lovely shawl.  Designers of knitting patterns and of quilting patterns generally ask a few people to test the patterns.  I was honored to have the opportunity to test knit this shawl.  It's fun to test knit.  It's like proof reading.... looking for errors and working through the pattern to see if all of the instructions are clear.  (The pattern is now available for purchase, by the way.)

 This can be worn as a little shawlette or as a scarf.  I'll probably wear it as a scarf.  It's a fun one for me because I think the squares look like quilt blocks.

This close up shows the design better than the other photos.

I used Barking Dog Yarns Achilles fingering weight yarn in the colorway Old Stone Wall.  I love Barking Dog Yarns.  Suzan O'Brien is an independent dyer who hand dyes each skein individually.  It feels like such a luxury to use her yarns!

I thought you might like to see what a knitted piece like this looks like before it's blocked.  It's a pile of mess!  I wish I had taken a photo while it was being blocked.  I'll have to try to remember to do that next time.  There are a few ways to block a project.  I use wet blocking.  You take the piece and soak it in water (I add a good wool wash).  Then gently squeeze the water out (no wringing or hard squeezing).... and then roll it in a towel.  Then.... on a blocking board or something you can put pins in (some people just put it on a bed or on the floor).... you shape it.  In this case, I put a pin in each one of the little points in the picot edge.  This can take a while to pin it into the perfect shape.  Then don't mess with it until it's completely dry.  POOF!  You take the pins out and it retains the shape!

Thanks to Stephanie's pattern and Suzan's yarn for giving me the tools to create this pretty shawl/scarf!

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Diane's Paper Pieced Potholders

Another catch-up post.  I have a LOT of catching up to do!

My friend, Diane, attended a tea held at her church.  She made a dozen paper-pieced potholders of tea cups to be given as door prizes.  They are displayed here on a wall as a decoration at the tea.  I just love how they displayed them!

Here's a little closer look at some of them.  She made these when we went on our quilting weekend at the beach with 2 other friends a few months ago.  They're nice and padded and squishy- functional as well as pretty!  Diane hasn't been paper piecing very long and she said this was good practice.  Nice work, Diane!  And it was very generous of you to do this for the other ladies at your church.

Would you be interested in a tutorial on paper piecing?  If so... are you interested in a very basic lesson, or something different?

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Banana Walnut Waffle

Today was the 4th of July.  For those in the U.S., it was a holiday.  When the 4th of July falls close to a weekend, it generally means that people take 3 or 4 day weekends.  But this year, it fell mid-week on a Wednesday and it was odd.  Many people had one day off in the middle of the week.  We couldn't ship any orders today because the post office was closed.  It was so strange.  It felt like a Sunday.

So, when I got up this morning, I felt like a "weekend breakfast".  I made Belgian waffles with my favorite toppings..... sliced bananas, walnuts, and warmed syrup.  MMMmmmmmmmm......

If you've never tried this combination of toppings, you're missing something.  Give it a try!

Back to work tomorrow!

May winner and a New Giveaway for July!

Working on catching up....

I did award the May giveaway but never posted about it!  The little ruler and cutting mat went to Barbara from Newberg, Oregon.  I actually met Barbara once when she visited our quilt guild.  She a very nice lady, an outstanding quilter, and has one of the best blogs around.  Barbara blogs at Cat Patches.  Check it out!  In addition to being an avid quilter, she likes cats (as her blog name suggests).  She also likes cooking, gardening and photography.  I know she likes photography because she recently traveled to Ireland and attended the International Quilt Festival of Ireland while she was there.  My double wedding ring quilt was on display there and she has a picture of it on her blog (June 9, 2012 post). 

Congrats, Barbara!

Lets do a fat quarter pack of some nice summer fabrics for the July giveaway.  These sell very well on my website.  They're a great addition to a stash!  The 6 fat quarters are from Timeless Treasures- nice fabrics.

To be entered in the drawing, just make a comment to THIS POST and tell me you want to be entered.  That's all!

For a second entry, if you are a follower of this blog (long time or brand new follower- it doesn't matter)... make a SECOND COMMENT to THIS POST and tell me that you are a follower.

For a third entry, spread the word.  You can post on FB, tweet, blog, or whatever.  Just spread the work about this giveaway and then come back and do a THIRD COMMENT to THIS POST and tell me about it.

And let's give a 4th entry this month if you're "friend" "Fans of Alderwood Quilts" on Facebook (link on sidebar).  Then do a FOURTH COMMENT to THIS POST and tell me that you friended the Alderwood Quilts Facebook page.

Why do I make you do all of this commenting for extra chances?  Because I use the number of comments to this post when I select a winner.  I put the total number of comments in the random number generator to select the winning comment.  Then- if the RNG selects number 100, for instance.... then the 100th comment wins the giveaway!

The winner will be selected on August 1st.  Good luck!

Monday, July 2, 2012

Beginner Tutorial: 4-Patch

It's been quite a few weeks since I've posted- lots to catch up on!  In the coming week, I'll do my best to catch up on giveaways, workshops I've attended, projects I'm making, new stuff in my shop, the coming lavender harvest and lots more!

Let's start with something I promised a customer.  She's a new quilter and I promised her a tutorial on how to make a basic 4 patch- to make her first block.  If you're an experienced quilter, bear with me here.  This is for a newbie.

This is what we're making.  It's called a 4-patch.  No need to think too hard about how it was named, huh!  We also make 9-patches, and 16-patches.  The process is basically the same- just more squares.

 These squares aren't sewn together yet- they're just placed right next to each other.  There is no rule about the size of the squares... they just need to all be the same size.  Quilters often refer to the size of a finished block.  When you sew the pieces together, the seams take up some of the fabric.  We use standard 1/4 inch seams when we quilt.  Always assume a 1/4 inch seam unless you are told otherwise.  For this block, I cut 5 inch squares.  When they are all sewn together, the block will be 9 1/2 inches square.  When the 9 1/2 inch block is sewn into a quilt, it will be 9 inches square.

We use a rotary cutter (round rolling blade) and various sizes of rulers that you can see through.  And we do this on a cutting mat.  These supplies are sold at quilt shops and craft stores.  Keep your rotary blade sharp and WATCH THOSE FINGERS!  Rotary cutters are SHARP!  Here I have the 4 squares piled up, and being careful not to move the fabric, I position the ruler around so I can cut a pile of 4 exact 5-inch squares.  You can do them one at a time if you're using a rotary cutter for the first time.

First, lay out the 4 blocks the way you like them (top photo).  Now take the top 2 squares and sew them together and then take the bottom 2 squares and sew them together, taking care to sew an exact 1/4 inch seam.  Now press them.  Don't skip this step!  An iron is just as important as your sewing machine.  No kidding-- press them!  Quilting is different from garment sewing in several ways.  When you sew clothing, you generally use a larger seam and you press the seams open.  But, in quilting, we use 1/4 inch seams and generally (unless you are instructed otherwise) you press the seams to one side.  One reason for that is that the batting won't come up through the seam that way.  Other reasons have to do with piecing and construction.  The old rule of thumb is to press to the darker side.  That's not always the case, but it's often done.  In the case of a 4-patch- we press one seam in one direction and the other seam in the opposite direction.

 Here's my 1/4 inch seam.  Sheesh!  It doesn't look so great at this magnification!  The seam in this photo is just a few threads too small.  In reality, it will be fine.  But keep checking yourself and adjusting your sewing so that you get as close as possible to 1/4 inch.  It really does make a difference in the long run!

Now we have to sew the 2 (2-piece) sections together.  In the above photo, the seams in the bottom squares (green and brown) are pressed to the left.  The seams in the top squares (yellow and pink) are pressed to the right.  I've placed the pink and yellow section on top of the green and brown section so that the seams are together.

Press the seams together and use your fingertips to feel how the seams are lining up.  Kiss them right up close together.... really, really close!  Then take a pin and secure the 2 pieces right at the seam.  If you're just beginning, you probably want to put another pin all the way to the left and right of the piece.  Don't go nuts with pins- but use a few to make sure the piece won't move around.  When you're sewing, go slowly, and stop when you get to a pin and take it out.  Don't sew over the pins.  That's a good way to break your sewing machine needle and have it shoot up in your face.  Not good.  Don't sew over pins.

Sorry for the blurry photo!  After sewing the long seam to attach the first 2 sections, you can just press that new seam to one side or the other.  But it will be a little lumpy.  A better way to press it it to take out one or 2 stitches at the seams and fann the seams in a pinwheel shape- so that you can press the seams in 4 different directions.  It this makes your head spin- just press the seam to one side.  But give it a try with some scraps.  It's pretty cool when it's pressed like this. And it lies nice and flat.

You're aiming for matching up the 4 blocks with no shifting of colors.  This isn't perfect- it's about 1 or 2 threads off.  But it's pretty darned close.  :>

Now you will hear people say they are "squaring up" a block.  When you're finished with a block, the seams rarely match up perfectly all around the edge and the finished block is not always the perfect measurements.  In the above photo, I have post-it notes at the 9 1/2 inch lines.  If I'm squaring up a pile of blocks, this little tip makes life a lot easier.  Now- instead of working with the original 5-inch squares, we're working with a pieced block that is 9 1/2 inches square.  (Remember- when this goes into a quilt, it will lose 1/4 inches all around and end up being a 9 inch block in the quilt).

Here's why we square up a block.  See where the pink and brown squares meet?  The edge is not a perfect line.  When I square it up- or cut along the edge- it cleans it up and sets me up for success when I sew it to other blocks.

And THAT is how you make your first 4-patch block!  Important points to remember.... an iron is a very important sewing tool.  Don't skimp on ironing.  Press fabric before you cut into it, and press every seam you sew.  Don't IRON... just PRESS.  Be gentle and don't distort the fabric.  The idea is to FLATTEN it... not mangle it.  And the other thing to remember is to sew an accurate 1/4 inch seam.  The rest will come as you learn and practice.