Friday, June 24, 2011

Antique Linen Workshop

 I'm so fortunate to be a member of a vibrant, active guild with some of the most wonderful people you'd ever want to meet as fellow members.  There are SO MANY benefits associated with membership in the Westside Quilters Guild. (We meet on the 3rd Mon evening of the month- see link for info) One thing I love is the many workshops and classes.  I try to participate in most of the workshops.  No matter what the topic or teacher, I ALWAYS learn something.  And the icing on the cake is that I always come away from the day with a new friend, or having become better acquainted with an old friend.  Our guild program chair works hard to make sure we have a wide variety of programs for guild speakers as well as for workshops.

Recently, we had an antique linens workshop with Sue Moore.  Sue was the speaker at a guild meeting and was so well received that she was asked to do a workshop.  She takes a pile of antique linens (kitchen towels, hankies, pillowcases, lacework, etc.) and creates wall hangings, throws, and fill size quilts with them.  How special to take those linens from a hidden box or drawer and showcase them to be enjoyed.

 Aside from the obvious benefits of showcasing the pretty pieces, it was an "aha moment" when she showed us how to cut pieces from stained or torn old pieces that might otherwise be tossed.  It seems that Sue can take just about any old linen and find a spot in it that can be used to make a treasured heirloom.  Sue works with her mom as a team.  Sue dreams up the designs and her mom spends hours at the machine turning them into reality.  They joke about arguing over the process, but I think it's fantastic for a mother and daughter to work together and create like this.  They make me smile.  :-)

So, in a nutshell (there's a lot more to this), you start with a pile of old linens.

Sue and her mom have published several patterns.  Most people think you can just stick things together.  While that is true (sort of), Sue has taken a lot of the pain out of doing that.  It's harder than you think to place the linens together and not have them look like a pile of doo-doo stuck together with no rhyme or reason.  The bulk of the workshop is teaching us what to put together and what fabric to use for sashing, etc.  You don't want the fabric to overwhelm- just enhance- the antique pieces.  I joked about using batiks and she didn't laugh.  (my bad)

Sue has several templates/ grids to work with.  The black outlines here are on paper.  She then places plastic over the paper.  We took one student's linens and worked together as Sue talked us through placement and all the considerations that come into play.  She has an art background and we talked about color balance, shapes, etc.

When we finished with a layout, Sue un-pinned the plastic and gave it to the owner of those linens- then she put up another piece of plastic.  Such fun!

Here is one my friend, Julie put together.  She has some old gloves she wants to add.  Isn't this precious?  Note the spot on the right, just above the pink glove.  It's a piece of fabric with 2 hankies in the corners.  Note how the hankie design is pointed IN and just a little off center.  This is a great way to showcase the hankies and is an example of one of the tips Sue taught us.

I didn't end up with a finished piece.  Most of my linens are hankies.  I am planning a quilt at some point, and I'm really glad I took this workshop to learn how to get started.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

A few more tips....

I love to read tips!  It's fun to learn from others.  I have a few more of my favorites for you today (why does it seem that most of my tips come from my kitchen?!?)

I like to purchase ground meat in larger (more cost effective) portions and freeze it.  Since I'm only cooking for 2 most of the time, I freeze it in one-pound portions.  I'm not always good at planning ahead for every-day meals, and I learned years ago that if I flatten it out before freezing, the defrosting is quicker.  As an added bonus, it's easier to stack it in the freezer if it's all nice and flat.  Just stick it in the freezer bags and flatten it out right in the bag.

This one's a little weird, but it has become a habit for me.  In this example, I'm making cole slaw, but it works for other stuff, too.

I was at the end of the mayo jar.  That means lots of scraping to get the last bit out, or getting out a rubber spatula.  But this is easier....

Spoon a little of the slaw into the jar, put the lid back on and shake.

Open the lid and just pour out the contents.  I generally repeat with more slaw and another shake.  

Look at the empty jar!  This is super quick and uses every last bit of the mayo.

This works with anything sturdy (it has to be something you can shake around).

Depending on how much slaw I'm making (DH loves slaw so I make it often in small portions) you can just spoon it back into the jar for storage in the fridge.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Custom Clock for Becky

Becky has been a good friend of mine for about 26 or 27 years.  We have a lot in common, but our favorite thing to do together is paper crafting- rubber stamps, scrap booking, card making- fun stuff like that.  She has a new stamp room and I was noticing last month that she didn't have a clock in there.

My friend, Tamara, gave me a custom clock that she made.  She's done a lot of them and showed me how to do it.  I got an inexpensive clock and took it apart.  I took the boring background paper out and used it as a template to make a new background.  I had 2 circle hole punches- close in size.  I used the smaller one to punch out the numbers from the original backing.  Then I used the slightly larger punch to punch circles out of plain green paper.  I glued the numbers to the green circles.  Then I stamped lots of flowers (because Becky loves flowers) in different colors all over the back, glued the numbers on, and reassembled the clock backing and hands.... pop the face cover back on and POOF!  A new clock for Becky!

Becky hung it over her door,  Pretty!  Happy Birthday!

Wanna make one?  Check out thrift shops for used clocks, or discount stores.  They're not too hard to come by.  The face usually comes off pretty easily.  Then just pull the hands off (careful not to bend them) which should free them from the clock guts (in the back).  You might want to look at the hands before you take them off- makes it a little easier to put them back.  Make a new background, put it all back together, and pat yourself on the back.

Ideas for backings/ themes....
You can use pictures (wedding, baby, house, favorite place, quilt, newspaper, magazine page), you can type or stamp phrases, have people sign or autograph it, make holiday themes, hobby themes, sports players for fans, food for a kitchen,.... you get the idea.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Sock Blockers

I laughed so hard my side hurt!  If you haven't already done so, check out the comments to the last 2 posts. I don't know how my post about socks deteriorated to posts about Brad Pitt and George Cloony rubbing my feet or people thinking I hang my socks up, but there's no doubt that my readers have a sense of humor!  The funniest came from Rosa in Canada when she commented on the post about "my sock problem".  Rosa is a special lady and a long time reader and customer of mine. 

In that post, I talked about my love of knitting socks and I posted several photos of socks.  Rosa thought my "sock hangars" were entertaining.... to say the least.  I thought I'd explain- just in case more of you think I'm nuts.  I do NOT have a closet full of socks hanging up!  These are "sock blockers" and I own ONE pair of them.

When you knit an item (socks or anything else) with natural fibers, it often enhances the look of the item when you "block" it.  You first soak the item in cold water and some sort of wool wash that gently cleans the wool and evens out the stitches.  After blocking, the stitches just seem to have a better look- nice and even.  After soaking the item, you gently roll it in a towel to remove some of the moisture, then shape it and allow it to dry.  If you make a lace scarf, or shawl, or a sweater, you lay it out in the exact shape you want it to end up- sometimes even pinning it into submission.  Then you leave it alone until it's perfectly dry and it will remain in that shape.  Socks can be laid out on a towel.  But the easiest way to block socks into the perfect shape is to just pop them onto a pair of sock blockers and hang them up to dry.  You end up with 2 socks that are the same size (assume you knitted them correctly).  For socks, a lot of people just block them on real feet, but you really have to block shawls and sweaters and things like that.

Now- I realize that many of you have your jaw hanging right now- amazed that someone would hand wash and block socks every day.  It really isn't that hard- and I don't do it all the time.  If you use "superwash" yarn, the socks can be thrown in the washer.  But if you use many natural fibers, the socks usually hold up longer if they are hand washed.  If you go to all that trouble knitting them, you usually don't mind hand washing.  Generally, I wash a pile of socks at one time and just lay them on a big towel on top of my dryer.  It only takes me a few minutes every few weeks.

But the other handy use for sock blockers is for taking photos.  They look nice and show the pattern well.

Rosa- you made my day.  Your comment tickled my funny bone and gave me a big laugh.  I can't get the vision out of my mind- you thinking that I have a closet full of socks hanging up.  No- I don't hang my underwear up, either!

Have a great weekend, all.  I'm off to work in the yard!

Friday, June 10, 2011

600 Followers, a Tip, and a Laugh!

WOO HOO!  600 followers!  That just blows me away!  Welcome to all of you who are new.  Feel free to click over on the tabs at the right to read some old posts that might interest you.  And a special welcome to Shez- follower number 600!  Thank you all for your kind words over the years, and for checking in from time to time to see what I've posted.  I wish I could meet you all in person!

Now for the tip.  I'm sure most of you will roll your eyes and sigh- you knew this one forever.  But it just dawned on me about a month ago.  So, I figure that if it never dawned on me, maybe a few of you out there might like to hear this...

To clean your sink stoppers and garbage disposal covers- just put them in the dishwasher.  DUH!  (She slaps herself on the forehead!)  All these years, I'm taken a Brillo pad and scrubbed around the nooks and crannies in the drain stopper to clean it.  Jeez!  Why did it take me so long to think of this?  Hmmm... what else can I put in the dishwasher to clean?

And now for the laugh:

Carolyn from Edmonton, aka The Vegetarian Hunter, took yesterday's post a little too seriously when I talked about my little "sock problem".  Of course, I was joking (sort of).  I am a little obsessed with making socks, but I love them all and wouldn't dream of parting with them.  I figure if I have a lot of handmade socks, I won't wear any one pair very often and they won't get holes in them!

So, back to my story.  Carolyn was trying to be genuinely helpful and suggested that I try selling them on Etsy.  I replied to her that it takes me 30-40 hrs of little moments to make one pair.  These aren't quickie patterns I've been knitting.  They're very challenging (I like it that way).  I knit for 20 minutes in the car, 10 minutes in a waiting room, 10 minutes waiting for something to cook, or even with my earbuds in while I'm on the phone.  It all adds up- believe me!  So I told Carolyn that 40 hrs of my time plus $25 average for a good skein of hand dyed yarn.... I would want at LEAST $600 a pair and that I didn't think people would be beating down my door to buy them for that price.

So then, Carolyn replied that they might sell if Brad Pitt was holding them in the picture.  In my mind, I'm envisioning me in a comfy chair in some gorgeous outfit.... my hair and nails just done.... diamond earrings....  sporting a pair of matching hand knit socks with no shoes on.... my feet propped up and Brad Pitt on one side of me and George Cloony on the other side of me- each of them rubbing one of my feet.  Oh- and one of my quilts would be under my feet.

Now THOSE socks would sell! (So would the quilt!)

Thanks for being a loyal reader, Carolyn.  And thanks for the laugh.  :-)  Check out Carolyn's blog- it's a good one.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

My little Sock Problem.....

I have a problem.  I love socks.  I've always loved socks.  When my kids were little, their dad used to take them shopping for me and they'd pick out some funny, goofy pair of socks and I always loved them.  I wasn't acting- I really LOVED them!  I still have the black ones with the fur cuffs that Paul gave me when he was about 10 and the pair with hot pink bikinis on them that Steve gave me when I started doing water aerobics about 6 or 8 years ago.  They make me smile.

So now.... in addition to my quilting addiction.... I have developed another little problem.  About a year and a half ago, I knitted my first pair of socks.  It's been downhill ever since.  In the last 18 months, I've made 21 pairs of socks, and I have 4 pair currently in some sort of partial completion.  I can't stop myself!  **sigh**  I guess we all have our little problems and this isn't such a terrible problem to have.  So here I sit.... on a warm summer day.... blogging in my bare feet....

Here are my last few pair that I haven't shown you yet:

I'm working my way through the book, "Knit.Sock.Love" by Cookie A.  I've posted the first 2 before.  This is the 3rd... called Thelonious.  This was a challenging pattern but I LOVE them!  The yarn is String Theory Caper Sock, color Sandy River.

 This pattern is called, "Mona".  I think this is my new favorite "go to" sock pattern.  It was a quick knit and looks and fits great.  This yarn was great, too.  It's from Barking Dog Yarns.... hand dyed by Suzan O'Brien.

And my most recent sock from the book is called, "Rhombus".  SHEESH!  This one was a challenge!  One word- Cables.  The yarn is also from Barking Dog Yarns.  Suzan calls this colorway "Robin's Hood".   Now that they're finished, I LOVE these socks.

These were designed by Wendy Gaal of Knitters Brewing Company.  This is one of her wonderful hand dyed colorways called Cosmopolitan.  The pattern is called Family Jewels.  It looks complicated, but it really wasn't too bad.  She does videos on her Ravelry page to help knitters through the tough spots.  

Here's the back.  Pretty.

Wendy has a great summer Knit Along going right now on her Ravelry group. I'll show you a picture when I finish knitting it.  It a commemorative sock for the 2011 Sock Summit event in Portland this summer.  Yes.  It's a convention for people who knit socks (and other things).  Yes.  There really are enough people in the world to have a major convention for people who knit socks.  Really.

And another one designed by Wendy.  These are called "Hang Ten" and the colorway is called "Sex on the Beach".  All of Wendy's "Sock-aholic" yarns are named after cocktails.  The Hang Ten socks have ocean waves and surfboard designs on it so I thought the colorway was a fun choice.  I call these "Socks on the Beach".  :-)   Sex on the Beach is the name of a cocktail.  This has not become an X-rated blog.

So there you have it.  I'm addicted to sock knitting.  I just cast on another pair last night.  **sigh**

If you're a knitter on Ravery, my screen name is SueHauser.  Creative- I know.  Check out my profile on Rav and "friend" me.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

New patterns from Be Colourful

I got a shipment of patterns from Be Colourful today.  The Be Colourful patterns are mostly advanced paper pieced patterns.  Jacqueline de Jong is a Dutch designer with a love of very colorful quilts!  I met her once and she is the most delightful person.  When I met her, it was at a show and her quilts were on display.  I asked her if I could touch one and look at the back (they were all hand quilted!!!).  She replied, "Of course!  They're only quilts!".  Only quilts!  Holy cow!  These are masterpieces!  She's very humble and has the most charming smile.  I felt so fortunate to have been able to chat with her and see her quilts up so close (and TOUCH them!)

(Ignore the colored strip at the top and bottom of the photos- I lifted them from my website and was too lazy to get rid of the background color)

I carry all of Jacqueline's patterns (28 right now) and just got her 3 newest in stock.  I'm so excited to have them!
This one is called Fly Away.  It won a ribbon in Houston last month. 

This one is called Sweet Melody.  It's so bright and cheerful in the colors Jacqueline chose!

This one is called Misty Morning.  I'm a sucker for any quilt with a "Mariners Compass" look.  I also love the blue and yellow color combination.

This is my all-time favorite Be Colourful pattern.  It's called Circle of Life.  I really, really, really want to make this quilt someday!  And just think of the delicious stash I'd have to collect  to get the colors right. :-)

Now check this out!  Fabric is magic, I tell you!  This pattern is called Joy.  It's done with lots of really bright, colorful batiks.  (Amazing, huh!?!?)
Now scroll down to the next picture......

This one is called Joyful.  It's the same quilt!  See what I mean?  Fabric is MAGICAL!

It's been a good day, but a long one.  I think I'll put a movie on and do some knitting.

Another Feathered Star

Shelly Rodgers from Walnut Creek, CA sent me this photo.  She turned her 12 inch feathered star block into a pillow and put a flange around the whole thing, so effectively the pillow is about 18" square.  You can read about it on her webpage .  Thanks for sharing it with us, Shelly!  Good to have you as a reader.

Update on the deer fence... 200 feet of 7 1/2 foot tall fencing purchased... need to get posts tomorrow.  

Feathered Stars

This month, I added an opportunity to get a 4th entry in the giveaway.  I asked if anyone had made a feathered star and to send me a picture.  What I am learning is that not too many people have made feathered stars.  Hmmmm... maybe I need to do a FS tutorial.  Maybe I should make one first. :-)

Here are the photos that have come in....
First, from Sarah Stevens in Sandwich, Il.  Sarah send me this photo of her FS in progress.  She says she wants every star to be different- even if just slightly.  She's shooting for 13 feathered stars with Ohio Stars in between.  This is going to be a gorgeous quilt, Sarah!  Send me a pic when it's finished. 

Her second one only has one feathered star in the center with Ohio Star and Snowball blocks to make the blue and while snowflake quilt. Beautiful, Sarah!  And what a great way to try a Feathered Star without jumping into a huge project.  Thanks so much for sharing your quilts with us, Sarah!  It's great to have you reading along, too.

This next Feathered Star was made by DeAnn Oliekan.  DeAnn took a class last year and made this block.  She wants to add a few more borders and make this beautiful block into a wall hanging.  This is really pretty, DeAnn... thanks so much for sharing it with us... and thanks for reading my blog!

 Does anyone else have a finished OR in-progress Feathered Star?  We'd love to see them!  Send your photos to me HERE.

I'm going to ship orders this morning and then go out with DH to purchase materials for him to build a TALL deer fence around my veggie garden.  I'm tired of finding deer prints next to rows of missing veggies!  I keep telling the deer that they can share the apples on the apple tree, but leave the flowers and veggies alone- but they never listen.  :-)

Have a great day!

Monday, June 6, 2011

Greyhound Rescue Fundraiser and some pretty quilts

Isn't this a pretty quilt? And the quilting is wonderful.  You can read more about it HERE.  The quilt is being raffled to benefit greyhound rescue.  Don't delay- the raffle ends on June 15th!  These fine folks volunteer their time to find forever homes for these wonderful dogs.  The volunteers do so much, but money still has to be raised to pay for food and vet services.  This photo, and the link, are from my friend, Anne's blog.  While you're there, click at the top on the blog title to read what she's been up to.  Her latest quilt is a kit she got from my website.  She and I are both working on the Celebration Quilt, which is a pattern from Quilt Moments.  She bought the kit from my website, and we exchanged a few emails, then a phone call, and we discovered that we have a lot in common.  I've made SO many friends through my website and through this blog.  I just love it!

Here is Anne's Celebration Quilt.  (Notice the batik geckos-- Anne lives in Arizona).

And here's her Cross Quilt.  I just HAVE to make one of these!!!!  What a great way to use up scraps.

Thanks to everyone who commented on the giveaway posts that they're glad I'm blogging again.  Breaks are good, but I'm very glad to be back.  And your kind words mean a lot.

I'm off to purchase some raffle tickets for the Greyhound Quilt.

June Giveaway- Mousepad!

Several of my friends (you know who you are....) have shamed me into getting back into blogging.  It's nice to know that I've been missed!

Let's start with a giveaway.  For June, I'm giving away a cute little mouse pad with birds sitting on a feathered star quilt. (They're telling us to get off the computer and do some sewing!)

You can get up to 4 entries.  For one entry, all you have to do is comment to THIS POST.

For a second entry, be a follower of this blog.  It doesn't matter if you're a long time follower or if you just signed up today... just be a follower.  Make a SECOND COMMENT to THIS POST and just tell me you're a follower.

For a third entry, if you have a blog of your own, tell your readers about the giveaway.  Sidebar mention is nice, but it doesn't matter if it's a post or on the sidebar- wherever- just tell your readers about it and do a THIRD COMMENT to THIS POST and let me know about it.

This month, you have an option for a 4th entry.  If you've ever made a feathered star quilt, send me a picture of it.  I've always wanted to make a feathered star quilt.  I need inspiration!

On July 1st, I'll use a random number generator to select a winner.  Good luck!