11/25/14

Psycatdelic

That's the name I settled on. I like it better without hyphens. It was hard to choose a name, but I decided to go with Mike's favorite. Some of you liked it best as well. Today I finished the whole quilt top. It took longer than expected, but it's good to have it all finished. Now I'll set aside until January or February because there are four quilts waiting in line to be quilted ahead of it.

Before I could finish, I needed to pick a fabric for the narrow stop border. I auditioned a few different colors. I had a bright orange-red, but that was totally wrong. Then I tried a yellow, and decided that was distractingly bright. Finally, I settled on this dark purple.


There were still four cornerstones to make with fused yellow moons. The purple was complimentary to the yellow, and I had enough to use for the binding as well. Once I had the cornerstones cut, I turned around to fuse the moons when, uh-oh. Someone has taken to sleeping on the sewing chair whenever it's available. I put that pillow there a few months back to boost myself up a couple of inches, and now Smitty thinks it's the most divine napping place in the whole house.


He has his very own catnip-laced bed in the sewing room, however, and so I convinced him to nap there while I sewed.


With the feline obstacle removed, I was able to finish making my cornerstones.


Then I took a short break, and when I came back...sigh.


So I moved him once again...this is getting to be a part of the process...and went to work sewing on the two borders.

And there it is. One finished quilt top. 


As it turns out, it's good that I ended up buying that Laurel Burch fabric twice because I had just enough for the border and for the quilt back.

I'll probably take a little break from sewing for the next couple of days. I'm going to be cooking and cleaning. Any sewing I do between now and the end of the month is going to take the form of quilting the Gardener's Journal quilt. It seems unlikely that I'll get the quilting finished before the end of the month, but I'm going to give it a try.

And now I need to get going on a German potato salad. We're having it for dinner tonight, and those potatoes aren't going to cook themselves.

11/24/14

The Final Feline

It seems like a night to pop open a bottle of champagne because the cat blocks are FINISHED!!

This morning I went down and did all the top-stitching on the final feline.


Only, the second I snapped that image, I remembered that I still hadn't stitched the whiskers on. Doh! So I took care of that before continuing.


At this point I stopped because I had to make a quick trip to the grocery store. There were only 18 items on my list for Thanksgiving, and so it wasn't too bad. The store wasn't even very crowded, but there was that feeling of panic in the air. I was very glad I didn't need to be there for long.

When I got home, I put the borders on the block.


Then I was ready to attach this cat to his brothers and sisters on the quilt. Fortunately, I had Smitty there helping me with the block layout.


He's been exceedingly helpful with this quilt...and I mean "exceedingly" in every sense of the word.

I started by sewing the third row to the top half of the quilt because I still needed to add the dragonfly above the middle block. This morning I had something of a brainstorm about the dragonfly. A dragonfly is sort of a blingy bug if you ask me. Here's a picture of one I took on the Long Beach Peninsula in Washington state. Look at how delicate its wings are, and it even has a little bling on the edges of each one.


 It occurred to me that I might be able to use Angelina Fibers for the wings.


If you're not familiar with Angelina Fibers, you can watch a video from Embellishment Village right here. I bought these some time ago, when I made this quilt for my neighbor. The Angelina Fibers are what give the tree its shimmer.


So they're kind of like angel hair and they look like this when you take them out of the bag.


You need to use a pressing sheet or parchment to keep them from sticking to things, but in general, they only adhere to themselves. I kind of like using parchment because I can fold it over and cover both top and bottom.


Then you press them with a cool iron (silk setting) and they sort of melt together to form a shimmery sheet of pseudo-fabric.


I wasn't sure what would happen if I tried using fusible web with them, but it worked just like fabric. The dragonfly is going into the checkerboard sashing, and I didn't want that checkerboard showing through, so after I'd added fusible to the Angelina fibers, I fused them to the fabric I'd been planning to use originally, and I had my dragonfly wings. Cool! The shimmer doesn't show up very well in this image, but it's there.


Then I fused the whole dragonfly to the sashing and top-stitched it with gold metallic thread.


And to give it just a little more bling, I gave it two tiny hot-fix crystal eyes.


Edited to say that the Angelina Fibers aren't new to me, but trying to fuse them is. I'm linking this post to:

Then I finished sewing the blocks together and voila! 


Phew! That was quite a job. I am so happy to have all the blocks finished. Depending on how I feel tomorrow, I might finish adding the borders and have the whole top finished (quite likely). On the other hand, I might decide I can't stand to look at it one more minute and go back to quilting a Gardener's Journal. I can always add the borders to this one when I get ready to quilt it.

As long as we're talking about borders, I wanted to show you the fabric I have for the back and outer border. I can't remember when I bought this fabric, but it was probably shortly after I started the quilt. I thought it was perfect. And just to show you how extra perfect I thought it was, about a year ago, I bought it all over again when I saw it in a quilt shop. When I came home to put it away, I was quite surprised to see that I already had the exact same fabric. The quilt gods must be telling me something.


Anyway...there you have it.

Now, about that champagne...

11/23/14

Some Fast Fusing

This was the day I was really hoping to finish the 12th cat block, but it was not meant to be. Mike and I ended up doing some more running around. It wasn't until mid-afternoon that I was able to make my way into the sewing room. First, I had to piece together the background.


This cat is a little different from some of the others I've done recently in that the previous cats have used contrasting fabrics to bring out the detail in the cat. In this block, the cat is pretty much all one piece, and the details will be stitched in. Ditto the branches and trunks of the trees. I'll also have to stitch in the cat's face. And the whiskers. Don't forget the whiskers! You can see what I'm talking about by looking at the applique template below.


Clear as mud, right? Because of that, there weren't so very many pieces to cut out and fuse, and I was able to get the bare bones of the cat finished today.


I have in mind to use a bright pink for the top-stitching on the cat so that the detail shows up loud and clear. I won't get it finished today, but I should be able to get it all finished tomorrow.


And I still need to add the dragonfly for Captain Cattastick's block once the whole quilt top is sewn together.

So that brings me to the name for this quilt. Mike sort of likes "Psy-Cat-Delic". What do you think? Do you get it?

As I've been writing this post, I've been considering honoring George's memory by naming it "Captain Cattastic & Co." but I don't know. It's always so hard to name a quilt. Some others I've thought of are Krazy Kats, or Cats of a Different Color, although I was sort of saving that one for a different quilt. Or how about "Fantastic Felines" or "Cattasmagorical". I got that one from the word  "phantasmagorical" which means having a fantastic or deceptive appearance, as something in a dream or created by the imagination. I just now thought of that last one. I kind of like that.

So tomorrow I have to do the dreaded pre-Thanksgiving shopping trip. Fortunately, I have enough food to get us through to Thanksgiving, and so I just have to pick up the things I need for the Big Feast. Mae is bringing a salad and a vegetable. Valerie and her Mom are bringing appetizers and dessert. I'm left with cranberries, sweet potatoes, mashed potatoes, stuffing, and turkey. It's not too bad since I can do most of it ahead of time. And all of that to say it's a busy week ahead, but I'm really hoping to get this last cat finished tomorrow in spite of it all.

11/22/14

Another Cat Down, One More to Go

This morning I finished top-stitching Cat No. 11. Cat 11 has another whirligig associated with it. It was to be placed on the sashing below, and so I started there. The sashing below is already attached to the block I made way back in November of 2012...back when I still had hope of doing one block per month. It doesn't take a math genius to divide 25 months (the number of months I've been working on this) by 11 (the number of completed blocks) and realize that doesn't add up to one per month.

Anyway, here is November's "turkey" cat, now complete with whirligig above his halo. I believe this cat is named Smitty. You can probably guess why.


So then I went ahead top-stitched the rest of the block. I was all set to sew it to its neighbor to the left when I realized that I'd forgotten to machine embroider the whiskers.


So I did that. I'm using the "triple stitch," which is stitch #6 on my Bernina 750. It takes two stitches forward and one stitch back, which makes a nice heavy outline stitch that works especially well for straight lines. It can be used on curved lines too, but it's a little more tedious when done on a curve.


I've had such a hard time remembering to put the whiskers on these cats that I went back and looked at the rest of the completed blocks. Sure enough, I'd forgotten the whiskers on Cats 3 and 4, so I gave them some whiskers too.


What self-respecting cat would walk around whiskerless? Sheesh.


And when I'd given everybody their fair share of whiskers, I sewed the newest block to its neighbor on the left, and then snapped a picture of the whole thing.


Well...not the *whole* thing. There's a pretty big gap there, but I'm hopeful I'll be filling that last one in tomorrow or the next day.

Also today, I reached the end of the second sheet of Sticky Fabri-Solvy on the Vintage Tin stitchery. 


I'm not quite halfway across now. It's slow stitching, for sure.

Mike and I are just getting ready to take off and run some errands. We need to pick up a wine shipment at a local winery, do some recycling, and pick up a couple of things. There probably won't be any more time for sewing today, but it seems a good time to stop for now anyway. The sun has come out, and it's a good time to get out and enjoy the scenery. Sunshine is always short-lived this time of the year.

11/21/14

Cat No. 11

Think Chanel No. 5...or not. It just popped into my head with that "No." abbreviation for number. Today I got well along on the 11th of 12 cats. My goal is to have them all finished by the end of the weekend. Think I'll make it?

Sue and I walked this morning. It rained. A lot. We were wet by the time we finished. When I got home, spending the afternoon in the sewing room sounded divine, and that's just what I did. When I left off, I'd only pulled fabrics from my stash for this latest cat. First I had to piece together the background.


The background ended up taking far longer than expected for reasons too hard to explain in writing. If you're a glutton for punishment, I'd be happy to bore you in a separate email. If not, then just take my word for it. 

Nevertheless, I was feeling pretty smug at this point, thinking I was well along. Only, then I looked more closely at the cat and realized he was another one whose tail and feet extended out into the sashing. That meant I had to put all the borders and the right side of the sashing on before I could continue. It also meant making strip sets for the checkerboard sashing. Fortunately, there is just one more sashing needed to complete the quilt, and I've done both. And, yes, that did restore me to my former smugness. (I looked up "smugness" just now. Yes, it is a word. I didn't just make that up. It was a little disappointing to realize that.)


So with that done, I was ready to make the appliques and fuse the cat. This one makes me think of Captain Cattastic. (You would need to have been reading long enough to remember George, Smitty's predecessor.)


This cat happens to be leaping for a dragonfly. I can't fuse the dragonfly until I've sewn this row of blocks to the row above it because the dragonfly extends into the sashing above.

Coincidentally, this quilt was featured today on the Quilt Inspiration blog. Click on that link, and you can see the quilt that was made by Kathy Mack of the River City Quilt Guild in Sacramento, California. The guild held a show recently, and Kathy's quilt won an Honorable Mention in the show. I'm only showing you this one image of the block I'm currently working on, so that you can see the placement of the dragonfly.


Kathy's quilt is quite different from mine, and it's fun to see another interpretation. Be sure to click on the link I've given you to see her whole quilt and the rest of the blocks. I enjoyed seeing how it was quilted.

Now all that's left is to do the top-stitching and embroider the face. That's enough for one day, however. I'm just going to keep on going until I have all of the cats finished. It's getting very close now.

11/20/14

A Few Little Things

Today I took a little break from sewing. I think I've sewn every day for the past couple of weeks. That's not a complaint, mind you. The weather has kept me inside, but my intense desire to finish those darned cats has also kept me pushing forward. Tomorrow I'm walking with Sue in the morning, and then I'll get back to them. And don't think I've forgotten about my quilting either. Finishing the quilting for the Gardner's Journal quilt by the end of the month is also looming large.

So here's what I have to tell you about today's activities. For one thing, I want to remember to show you the inside of the Double Layer Cranberry Ginger Upside Down Cake I blogged about yesterday.


It isn't a very good picture, but I wanted you to see the layers of the cake. The top layer is the cranberry upside down cake, then there's a filling layer made from fresh cranberries and raspberry preserves, and then a plain cake from the same batter as the upper layer. The cake was surprisingly moist and tasty. The topping (which actually goes into the pan before the batter...thus, an upside down cake) is made from fresh or frozen cranberries, hazelnuts, and a generous portion of candied ginger. The hazelnuts give it a nice crunch, and the candied ginger keeps it from being too tart. Anyway...it was delicious, and I will definitely make it again sometime. Click right here for the recipe. It's a bit of a production to make it, but it isn't difficult.

Then today, instead of sewing, I went to the Sewing & Craft Festival in Portland. It was a bust, in my humble opinion. I had free tickets that I picked up at a local quilt shop, but they were selling tickets at the door for $10...or half off if you came with a coupon. Then, there was the additional $8 for parking at the venue. The "festival" was rather small, and it was strictly a marketplace...there was no associated quilt show. I went because I was interested in looking at threads and purchasing some cones of thread to keep upstairs with Eliza. Would you believe there were no thread merchants there at all? None selling cones, anyway. There were a few vendors from quilt shops selling spools of thread. I was hoping to do some comparison shopping, but no dice.

Nevertheless, there were some cute patterns from designers that were new to me. I picked up a few patterns, because if there's anything I need, it's more patterns. You know what I mean, don't you? Just now I got off the phone from Mike and told him about how much I needed these patterns. Here's the essence of our conversation:

Mike: Yes, because of course, you're going to make all the ones you have now.

Me: Yes! If I live long enough.

Mike: How long would that be?

Me: I think if I lived to be 192, that will do it.

Silly man.

This first one is called "City on a Hill". It's applique designed by Sandra Coffman, someone I've never heard of. (Whenever I say that, I get a jillion comments from folks who know all about the designer. So go ahead and tell me how ignorant I am, will ya?) Anyway...here's a picture of the quilt that was on display with the pattern. See if you can tell what caught my eye:


I liked it for it's Southwest flavor, but of course, anything cat is always on my "gotta have it" list. As for the designer, her business is called "Shepherd's Gate Designs", and you can find her website right here. This particular pattern has an associated Bible verse: "You are the light of the world. A house set on a hill cannot be hidden." Matthew 5:14  It made me think of the Three Cats Ranch set on our hill.

Then I found a couple of other patterns I liked from a designer called "More the Merrier Design from Janet's Sewing Room". You can find her website right here. This first one is called "Bird Watching". I just thought it was cute. I like the dyed fabric she used for the sky.


And look at how the trees have been done. It's a striped fabric with the tree forms quilted in. Great idea and very effective.


From the same designer, this pattern called "Sun Shinny [sic] Day". I just thought it was cute. Some good friends from high school are expecting their first grandchild next summer. I might make this as a baby quilt for their new grandbaby. 


Also, there was a very small embroidery pattern that I liked as a housewarming gift for some good friends who recently moved to Central Oregon. I would have purchased it at the show, but they only had it on display, not for sale. No problem. It was from Bird Brain Designs, and I found it on their website. I like the one on the lower right. I can stitch it in no time at all.


Have I said lately how much I love the internet? I stood right in the middle of the show and ordered this pattern and paid with Paypal. It's like magic, I tell ya'. How did we ever live without the internet? (I'm guessing we might have been better at saving our money.)

There were some other things that sorely tempted me, but I resisted the urge. The "show" was overly crowded and photography was prohibited except for purchased patterns. That always puts me in a bad mood, and so I didn't stay long, nor did I need to. Interestingly, the tickets were good for three days. I was in and out in less than two hours. I'm not sure what the three-day hard core people were going to do with all that time, but maybe they felt less ripped off. When this "show" came around last year, I skipped it for just that reason. Had I not been interested in the thread, I would have skipped it this year too. My curiosity abounds, however, and so they drew me in. Never again. It's basically a chance for you to spend up to $18 to get in for the opportunity to spend more money. 

It seemed as if it took me forever to get home, and I was just kind of worn out from the crowd at the show and the terrible traffic getting home. I laid down and took a nap, and then was just kind of a lazy bum the rest of the day.

Recall, however that I gave you a sneak peek last week of the fifth of five pay it forward gifts I made for friends. I received word from my good friend Sher today that she'd received the mug rug I made for her. Sher loves all things Disney and that is going to keep Sher young at heart for the rest of her life. For her, I made this little mug rug I call "Mickey's Mug".


My inspiration for this came from one I saw on another blog, USS Craftsy, written by T'onna Peters. I made mine a little differently from the one she made. T'onna seems to be more of a crafter than a quilter, and I loved her idea. In any case, it's safely in Sher's hands now, and so I can show it to you.

And that's about it from me for today. I'm making a German potato salad for dinner, so I'd better get that going. I hope you had an easy-going day. Buffalo people, you have my sympathy.

11/19/14

Cats and Cakes

This morning my inner baker and sugar fiend got a burr up her behind to try a cake recipe I saw online recently. It's a Double Layer Cranberry Ginger Upside Down Cake. It looked complicated, but I decided to give it a try anyway. I love upside down cakes. And I love cranberries. And I love it when it's November and December and cranberries are widely available. And I love candied ginger, and so this just seemed to me to be the perfect cake.

So basically, you make two cakes: one is plain, one is a cranberry ginger upside down cake. Also, you make a filling. When the cakes are done, you let them cool for a while, then slather the filling on the plain cake, then top it with the upside down cake and voila! You have something that looks like this:



Looks yummy, no? I haven't actually tried it yet. I'll delay gratification just for today and wait until after dinner. I'll try to remember to take a picture of it once it's been cut so that you can see the inside. But if you can't wait until then to bake your very own, here's a link to the recipe.

And as long as we're talking about recipes, I want to share a fun link with you. It's from the New York Times: Thanksgiving recipes from all 50 states, Washington DC, and Puerto Rico. I love the recipe from Oregon: Cranberry Sauce with Pinot Noir.




Since both cranberries and pinot noir are grown/produced in Oregon, it seems the perfect choice. Check out your state and see if you think the editors chose wisely. And let me know. I saw quite a few of these that looked delicious. I'm curious to know what you think of the recipe they chose for your home.

So the cake was sort of baked in stages. While I was waiting for things to "gel", I finished up the 10th cat. Recall that yesterday, I just needed to finish up the face:



Then I added the sashings to each side.


And here it is with the rest of the blocks.


It's getting pretty close! I've picked out all the fabrics for the next block, and I might get started on it later on today. For now, I'm taking a little break from it. As much as I want to finish it, I'm getting a little tired of looking at it.

As a handy diversion:


That's a little squeak toy I like to throw over his shoulders just to bug him. He looks thrilled, doesn't he?

And just to be extra annoying, I wrapped its tail around his neck and told him that all the fashion-conscious cats are wearing them.


I don't think he believes me. The things this cat puts up with.

In other news, I got my yaktrax yesterday. They fit perfectly on my shoes. Mike tried to convince me I'd be safe walking out to the culinary herb garden last night.


It was dark...and down hill...and I kind of felt like Smitty about this latest fashion. The downhill in the dark had me a little spooked, and so I told him I wanted to wait until daylight...and that I would prefer level ground for my first outing. And since the ice is almost gone, I might get out of this whole thing altogether. It was sweet of him to get me my own pair though. I'll get out there and be bold one of these days.

Some of you must be fairly well snowed in today. Are you staying warm where you live?