Saturday, February 27, 2010

New Cross Stitch Projects

After dropping my brother off to pick up his car, my mom and I stopped at one of the SLC stitchery shops. I happily added to my floss stash, as well as picked up three designs that I’ve added to my to-do list.

I love this design on 32-count Vintage Autumn Gold linen by Lakeside Linens. It is stitched with only two colors -- Splendor silk in black and Needlepoint silk in Chinese Red.


And this sewing roll design will be fabulous. It is from an Australian designer, The Cat’s Whiskers, and has fabulous finishing instructions (which I definitely need). The above projects use a type of floss I'm not familiar with -- Dinky-Dyes.  I'll be substituting either silk or a comparable overdyed floss.

Lastly, this Homespun Elegance design – Home Is Where You Hang Your Needlework. It too is stitched with only two floss colors – Crescent’s Belle Soie Silk colors Red Fox and Espresso. But because the floss is variegated, it looks like there are many more colors than just two. It also has finishing instructions for the pinkeep and needlecase/scissor fob. The model is stitched on 30-count Mink linen by R&R Reproductions, but I think I’ll use a linen that is a bit lighter (but still overdyed).

Oh, and we also went to a great bakery called Nothing Bundt Cakes. I bought 3 mini bundt cakes (red velvet, pecan praline, and white chocolate raspberry), as well as a dozen bundt-bite-size cakes to take to my parents for Sunday dinner tomorrow. Both of my brothers' wives are out of town (one with her sisters to a girls getaway to the jewelry show in Las Vegas and one with her daughter at a volleyball tournament in Denver). So my mom is going to do a PX Ranch pot roast (from my brother's ranch) and the rest of us will get together for dinner. I'll also roast some carrots to munch on. (I  LOVE roasted veggies -- and carrots become so sweet when roasted.)

And look what came in the mail today from  As soon as this note is posted, I'm gonna dig into these new books!

I'm also thinking I can probably finish my Blackbird Designs Loose Feathers project "Their Song" tonight or tomorrow.  Hmmm, wonder which cross stitch project will be next?

And the winner is....

Drum roll please!

Congratulations Deb!

Well, the odds were pretty good – you had a one in seven chance of winning. As soon as you send me your mailing address, I’ll get the subscription in the works. Just go to my profile page and click the Email link. I would guess that the first magazine will come in a few weeks. The current issue arrived about 1 week ago, so I’m hoping they’ll start you with this one rather than wait for the next (which would be about 7 weeks from now).

I had to look up the Rolling Stone block that Deb compared herself to since I didn’t know it by name. It is definitely a great block.

  Thanks everyone for joining in – and it’s nice to meet a few new followers. I realized after I posted this giveaway that it was my 50th post. Not much of a milestone, but a milestone nonetheless. I’m thinking about what would be a better giveaway for my 100th post – something that would appeal to the non-quilters as well. But I probably have a couple months to decide.

I’m taking my brother to SLC to pick up his vehicle that is being serviced – so I’ll also hit one of the needlework stitchery shops to see what they have to show from the Nashville market. Hopefully something fun that is worth buying!

Bye for now.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

A Quickie Freebie Giveaway

This is for my followers ONLY. Yes, you can join in the fun by becoming a follower.

Prize: free one-year gift subscription to Fons and Porters Love of Quilting magazine. Please note that this is available to US followers only. (Sorry Maggie in the UK and any that might be in Canada or elsewhere.)

New and existing followers need only make a comment to this post AND answer the question:

Which quilt block are you most like, and why?

For example, if you have Irish grandparents, perhaps it is the Triple Irish Chain block. If you live in Ohio, perhaps it’s the Ohio Star. Perhaps it’s a basket block because you’re always a “basket case”. For me, it is the Castles in Spain block – because I lived in Spain two different times and always figured I should have been born into royalty. If you need some block inspiration, check out Quilter’s Cache.

The Small Print:
  • One entry per person
  • You must have a US mailing address
  • Deadline for making a comment (and becoming a follower if you aren’t already): Friday, Feb. 26th at 10 pm mountain time
  • If you don’t have a blog, please leave your e-mail address so I may contact you directly if you’re the lucky winner
  • I’ll select someone at random and post the name of the winner by 10 am mountain time on Saturday, Feb. 27th, and will mail in the gift subscription within a day of getting your mailing address from you.

I  think that's it. Good luck everyone!

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Pin Pillow Exchange at BeckyBee's Stitching Hive

I participated in the pin pillow exchange at BeckyBee's and since the person who received my pin pillow doesn't have a  blog, I'm posting a picture of it here. I'm hoping Charlene likes it -- and looking forward to receiving mine some time over the next 6 weeks!

Monday, February 22, 2010

Olympic Stitching and Appliquéing

In the spirit of Olympic finishes, it was a productive weekend with one finish, and progress on WIPs.

Although I stitched this darling Shepherd’s Bush design several years ago, I ran across the fabric needed to finish it while straightening up my sewing room. So I sewed it up. The design was a freebie from SB that they gave away in their shop, as well as to those who came by their booth at market that year.

That project was stitched on 10-count Tula cloth with 3 strands of floss. It reminded me of the other pieces I’d stitched on 10-count Tula, as well as over 2 on a 18-count fabric. I remember this was a nice change from the tighter weave fabrics I usually stitch on.

I have also previously stitched 3 of the SB Monthly Musing designs, 2 of which are finished as doorknob hangers.

I love the small Lizzie and Kate Snippets and Bent Creek Snapperville designs. And they are darling when stitched as “smalls”. But they can be stitched on larger weave fabric for a completely different effect. For example, this Trilogy small design would have been 3.5 inches by 3.5 inches if I’d stitched it over 2 on the 32-count linen recommended by the designer. But I stitched it on a 18-count lambswool linen over 2 and it finished 7 inches square. Plus that made it the right scale to add some buttons.

Other stitching over the past week included stitching one of the squares from my Family in Stitches design. Although the final project will be on 40-count with needlepoint silk, I did this on a cool hand-dyed 28-count linen with Weeks Dye Works and GA Sampler threads. All that remains is the backstitching details.

The interesting thing is that as I was stitching this I was watching the latest episode of Lark Rise to Candleford (a BBC series being shown on PBS). It dawned on me that I was probably watching what life was  like in England for my ancestor Sophia Butcher in whose memory I was stitching.

And, last but not least, I finished the appliqué embellishments to the Heart to Heart quilt. I ordered black with white pin dots fabric from, only to find out that it is backordered and I won’t have it until mid March. So this project won’t be finished for several weeks.

This little bird will get a button eye after it's quilted.


But, all in all, a productive and enjoyable weekend.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Cooking Adventures

Thursday evening I took an Asian cooking class at the SLC Sur la Table. We learned so many great recipes, but I mostly wanted to take the class to get a great recipe for Tom Ka Gai (Thai chicken/coconut milk) soup and gyoza (Japanese version of Chinese pot stickers).

So today I headed off to the Asian market to get the ingredients for the soup -- which  is my all-time favorite Thai dish. Many of the items can't be found at the grocery store, and most of the others are cheaper if you buy them at an Asian market.

Most of the ingredients in the picture are easily identified, except for the galangal (below of chicken broth)  and kaffir lime leaves (below the can of coconut milk). The only ingredients I didn't include in the photo are the chicken, salt and pepper.

The soup is incredibly easy to make. If only I'd known -- I would have learned to make it years ago. It actually took longer to find the ingredients in the Asian market than to make the soup.

Here's the finished product.

It tastes just like what you get at a good Thai restaurant. The only thing I would do differently is add more chicken than the recipe called for, and probably add some other veggies besides the mushrooms to make it a bit more substantial and filling.

The recipe for Tom Ka Gai soup, serving 4:

1-1/2 cups coconut milk (stir well)
1-1/2 cups low-sodium chicken broth
10 slices fresh or frozen galangal (pieces are each about the size of a quarter)
2 stalks lemon grass, trimmed, roughly chopped and crushed
6 to 8 wild lime leaves (makrut), torn into pieces
3/4 pound boneless, skinless chicken (breasts or thighs,or both), cut into 3/4 to 1-inch pieces
1 cup mushrooms, trimmed and sliced
zest from 1 lime
1 tablespoon fresh ginger, grated
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lime juice
2 tablespoons fish sauce (Three Crabs brand)
3 tablespoons fresh cilantro leaves
2 cups cooked jasmine rice
one thinly sliced chili pepper (thai, jalapeno or serrano), optional

Combine the coconut milk and chicken broth in a large saucepan. Place over medium-high heat and bring to a boil, stirring constantly. Stir in the galangal, lemon grass, wild lime leaves and lime zest. Simmer for 10 minutes. NOTE: If you don't want to eat around the galangal and lemon grass, you can strain it out at this point. Or, gather loosely into a 12-inch square piece of cheese cloth, tie it closed and simmer in the broth; remove before serving.) Add the chicken and mushroom pieces. After I squeezed the juice from the lime halves, I added the lime rinds to the broth while the chicken and mushrooms cooked. Simmer gently for another 10 minutes.

Remove the pan from heat and stir in the lime juice and fish sauce. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Ladle  into serving bowls and garnish with chopped cilantro and chilies. Serve as is, or with a scoop of hot jasmine rice.  Just delicious!

BTW,  I've decided on the last 3 squares for my Family in Stitches sampler. One square will be dedicated to John Billington, my Mayflower ancestor. One square will pay homage to Elijah Kingsley, one of my 5th great grandfathers who was a Minuteman in the Revolutionary War. And one square will  be dedicated to either King Henry II of England or his son John Lackland. (Yes, I am descended from royalty!) King Henry is my grandfather 24 generations back, making him a 22nd-great grandfather.  Who would have thought that the mother of a humble Idaho dairy farmer (my mom's father) descended from a King of England.

Friday, February 19, 2010

A Family History in Stitches

I have always admired the Carriage House Samplings Hawk Run Hollow designs, but as much as I like them, if I am going to spend that much time on a single project I want to spend the time on something that is more meaningful to me personally. I’ve had the idea for a while to create my own piece in a similar style as Kathy Barrick’s lovely designs.

I have begun my creation. Each square will represent one of my ancestors in my maternal grandfather’s line. Ultimately I’d like to create a piece for each of my grandparents’ ancestral lines because there are so many great stories to tell through stitching.

But I’ve got the first one started – the design, that is, not the stitching. Here’s a picture of what I’ve done so far, although there are no guarantees that the whole thing won’t change significantly before I finish it.

Top row first square: Sophia Butcher was one of my 4th great grandmothers. I don’t know a lot about her except that my great-great grandmother, Sarah Ann Smith (see 2nd row, 4th square) was very close to her and lived with her for a while.

Top row second square: This is the ship that one of my great-great grandfathers took from England to the US. He (Thomas Frederick Fisher) was also a ship’s carpenter working for Queen Victoria. He immigrated in 1854.

Top row third square: On the way to the Great Salt Lake valley, Thomas’ 8-year-old daughter, Georgina, accidentally fell from their wagon, was run over and died. This was documented by the head of the wagon company in the log of their journey across the plains as occurring at a place named  La Bonte Creek.

Second row first square: Still working on this one, but the building is the Nauvoo Illinois Temple. Another of my great-great-grandfathers lived in Nauvoo with his widowed mother. Together they crossed the plains in 1848, arriving in the Salt Lake valley only one year after the original pioneers settled there.

The large center area will be about my grandfather, his farm in Oxford ID, and will probably show his barn and other things related to his dairy farm.

Second row fourth square: Twenty-two year old Sarah Ann left Liverpool England for the US in 1856. After arriving in Boston, she took the train to Iowa and there joined the John A. Hunt company for Salt Lake. She walked most of the way, although she had paid someone to take her belongings in their wagon. Because of an early snow, her possessions were left in Wyoming in order to make room for people who were weak and dying from exposure. She entered the Salt Lake valley carrying her carpetbag with a few possessions, including a small book of poetry her parents had given her in England. Sarah Ann became Thomas Frederick Fisher’s second wife the following year.

Bottom row second square: Having lived all over the US (plus Spain and Mexico), I now live in Bountiful, UT, the very town where many of my ancestors in my grandfather’s line settled only a few years after the city began. Thomas Frederick Fisher did the finish carpentry inside the Bountiful Tabernacle, a building still used today for church services. And a great-great-great-grandfather, William Atkinson, was one of the ecclesiastical leaders in Bountiful at the time the tabernacle was dedicated.

Bottom row fourth square: Two of Thomas Frederick Fisher’s sons (with his first wife) became Pony Express riders. Although they are not direct ancestors (I’m descended through Thomas’ second wife Sarah Ann), their story is too cool not to include in my design. William and John also crossed the plains with their father, being about 13 and 15 years old respectively. Georgina who died on the way was their little sister. I think it is so fascinating to think that these two young men – with proper British accents, became Pony Express riders. In one of their rides they carried the news of Lincoln’s assassination.

As you can see, I still have a few squares to fill. My mom is currently working on compiling and annotating all of the personal histories for these ancestors, so I’m sure I’ll find some other stories to document in stitchery. I will be stitching it in needlepoint silk on 40-count  linen (I can't believe I  am  doing  it on 40-count, but the Hawk Run Hollow designs are so gorgeous at this count!) 

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

A Great Way to Memorialize a Treasured Family Recipe

When I was growing up we would often visit my maternal grandparents in a tiny southeastern Idaho town (and I mean tiny – only 53 people now according to the 2000 US Census).

One of the many childhood memories was my grandmother’s applesauce cookies. She would store them in well-used tin that once held a fruit cake and we – me and my 40 first cousins – could help ourselves to a cookie whenever we wanted. I can only imagine how many dozens of applesauce cookies – made with her home-canned applesauce from apples grown on several apple trees in the yard – we ate. She always made these cake-like cookies with chocolate chips and frosted them with chocolate frosting. Yum!

Several years ago for a family reunion I shared this cross-stitch pattern featuring the treasured applesauce cookie recipe. I adapted a pattern from a Vanessa-Ann book of designs (but unfortunately I can’t find the book in order to give it proper credit). One of my cousins made a couple tweaks to the design as well, and this is the result.

I never stitched a final version for myself, but my mom did one for me and changed the original blues to greens to better match my kitchen colors. So now the stitched recipe hangs in my kitchen, making it easy for me to make grandma’s applesauce cookies without having to look up the recipe.

Click the pattern image below if you’d like to download the pattern and perhaps use it as a starting point for your own treasured recipe design.


Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Quilting Accomplishments – And Those Yet To Come

At the end of 2009 I realized that I had not kept a good list of the quilts I had made. So, I sat down and tried to remember all of the quilts I had made since I rediscovered quilting in 1998. I created an Excel spreadsheet quilt log to keep track of the quilts, note who received them, estimate the date each was finished, and saved the link to a photo of the quilt (if I had a photo).

It turns out I’ve completed 33 quilts since 1998, half of which were bed-sized and half were wall-sized. Half of the quilts have been given as gifts, a few are earmarked for gifts, and some have my name on them!

At first I was really proud of my accomplishments until I realized that was only 3 finished quilts per year.

Certainly I had made more than that! Then I inventoried the quilt tops that are ready to quilt – another 21 quilts, and completed blocks just waiting to be set and borders added – 5 more quilts. That brought the total to 59, so my average per year was closer to 6 per year.

My quilt log was looking pretty good, so I decided to inventory how many quilts are in various stages of completion – and that number is an even dozen – clearly enough projects to keep me busy much of this year, even if I don’t start any new projects.

Since I was on a roll, I inventoried how many kits and blocks-of-the-month are waiting to be made. I have kits for nearly as many quilts as I have made in the past 11 years – 32 kits or full BOMs neatly stored for me to work on. (Several are appliqué, and now that I’ve nearly mastered Kim Diehl’s machine appliqué, I’ll probably tackle more of them than I would have if I’d done hand appliqué.)

So what about the stash of fat quarters, yardage, and charm packs, layer cakes and jelly rolls? I would guess that I have enough for at least another 50 quilt tops!

I read somewhere that no one refers to a bunch of unread books as “stash” – instead, it is a “library”. Perhaps we need a better name than “stash” for unstarted quilting projects.

Monday, February 15, 2010

54 down, 115 to go

And that doesn't count the triangle and corner blocks in the DJ quilt. I did 3 DJ blocks over the weekend. Let's see -- if I do 3 a week, I can finish the block in only 18 weeks.  Seems achievable.

** Edited to correct my math **
Nope, that would be 38 weeks to finish the blocks if I do 3 per week.

Then, I've still got 50 triangles (have completed only 2) and the four corners. At 3 per week, that's another 18 weeks. But considering I made my first DJ block on Sept. 10, 2004 -- and haven't made one since 2/13/2005 (YES, that's 5 years ago!), spending another 36 weeks (** that would be 74 weeks **) on this quilt (not counting  sewing the sashing to the blocks and assembling the quilt top itself, doesn't sound  that long. This isn't a commitment to finish the blocks in 74 weeks -- but rather an acknowledgment that it is possible (just not probable!).

Anyway, here are the 3 blocks I made over the weekend.

It's funny that the process of scanning or photographing, and then viewing on the computer monitor, makes the mistakes are so obvious! On the K8  block (in purple)  I noticed that one of the background pieces was attached upside down so the back is on the front. This isn't obvious when looking at it in person, but boy is it obvious in the photo. I'm NOT redoing the block however. But I might redo K1, the pieced block with the tan stripey print. The paper pieced pattern did not match the actual block and as a result, my lights and darks aren't all in the right spots. (Plus I was very rusty with my paper piecing and I could  have done a better job.)

I also discovered a terrific blog, That Quilt, by Anina. She has shown her piecing, applique and paper-piecing process for about three fourths of the DJ blocks -- so  far. It is a terrific resource for those working on DJ quilts.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Heart to Heart Blocks

The weather is kind of grey, with snow possible, so I ran my errands early and got into my sewing room by about 10:30 a.m.  Finished the heart appliques for the remaining five blocks in about two hours.  Tonight while watching the Olympics I'll cut out leaves and flowers to embellish the blocks, and get them prepped for applique.  I also ordered online some black fabric with white pin-dots to use as sashing.

I don't have a design wall, so had to photograph on my "design floor". 

Lunch time: sandwich with leftover meatloaf. I got some grass-fed beef and pork from my brother's ranch. Totally organic, well cared for, no hormones or steroids. And because they never had any grain (which is a good thing since cattle stomachs were never intended for digesting grain), the meat is very lean. No grease to pour off after cooking the meatloaf.

Branding day at the PX ranch. I wonder which of these ended up in my freezer? (I'm probably glad I don't know.)




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