25 February 2008

Critter approved

I folded the two quilts shown in the post below, and put them on the doll-bed that resides in my sewing-room. Mostly to have them out of the way of rabbit, and to have them looking as neat as is possible in a messy room.

That, however, does not deter other critters from examining the pile, and - as you can see - the pink thing (SE-2) is definitely critter-approved. Pushkin, our tailless sort-of gentleman, has been sleeping on it since I put it there ... maybe he thinks its his quilt ?
ANYways. The handsewing of the binding on The Sampler has started, so his Prince on the Pea pile has been reduced slightly since this picture was taken.

21 February 2008

I have quilts !!!

My two most recent DearJane-style quilts are now home from the quilter.
SE-2 and The Sampler.
You will just have to live with the shoddy photograhpy and the less than happy selections of bits of quilts that are shown, but I really needed to share these with you.
The quilting is wonderful ! Done by the same quilter that quilted the original "Sara Eleonora" which is in the Dear Hannah-book. AND as is the case in the book, she has used a wonderful variegated thread for quilting. Unfortunately, it does not photograph easily. But here it is, all the same :-)

Above : One of the "blank" setting blocks
Below : One of the corner-blocks with part of the border

Above : One side of the quilt, draped in the very cramped conditions of my sewing-room
Below : One of the blocks. Isn't the quilting in the white setting-tris wonderful ?

And that was that. Hope you enjoy. In the fullness of time, there will be pictures of both quilts, taken under decent conditions, and with binding on. For now, just be happy with me :-)

15 February 2008

Homemade bread

There are few edible things in the world as delightful as freshly baked bread. However, most people don't do it. They think it is horribly difficult or a lot of bother.

If you belong to either category, please enjoy the below. And please do not think that you need to have freshly starched linens or newly picked flowers for it to be delightful. It tastes great on any old plate you have in the house. The rest is just glamour.

If you have trouble with my metric measurements, here's an easy-to-use converter.

You will need :
A baking-form. Mine is 10 x 10 x 30 centimeters.
A bowl for preparing the dough
A ladle or spoon of sorts, likewise for the preparation of the dough.
A dough-scraper to get dough out of bowl.
Some sort of grease (oil, margerine, butter) to grease your baking-form ... unless you have professional bakingforms with a silicone layer inside. Even a teflon- or "slip-easy" forms really should be greased for this recipe. Or use baking-paper :-)
Do not ask me how I know !

When baking bread it is not necessary to take measurements as absolutes ! Baking bread is not a question of getting every measurement down pat to the last milligram. It is an acquired skill which grows with every bread you bake. As you get to know your oven, your tools and your tastes, you can tweak this recipe endlessly, using different grains or seeds, adding spices, or making it as a completely plain white bread.

The bread.
*4 deciliters of milk, fresh from the fridge. Use low-fat if you're afraid of the calories.
*2 deciliters of boiling water.

The general idea here is, to make the fluid approximately body-temperature. Use your pinky-finger to test. If it feels hot, add a bit more milk, if it feels cold, add a bit more boiling water. If you get waaaay more than 6 deciliters, pour out the surplus.

*Add yeast.

Oh, dear. In this country we use live yeast, so I would say "half a packet", which is approximately 25 grams. My guess is, you would need 2-3 teaspoons of dry yeast. HOWever, if you "under yeast" a dough, it is just a question of letting it raise a little longer. "Over yeasting" however, can make a bread taste ... yeasty.

*1 teaspoon salt
*1 teaspoon sugar
*A dollop of neutral-tasting oil (or butter, or margerine).

Yes. Very precise again. Anywhere from 2-5 tablespoons. You need something, or your bread will grow dry too soon.

*Half a kilo (approximately a pound) of wholemealwheat-flour. Any sort is good. The one i usually pick up is ground and not wholegrain, but wholegrain works too.
*Add ordinary wheat-flour until the concoction has approximately the texture of thick (to very thick) porridge. It's ok if it's one sticky lump, but it should not be fluid or in danger of dripping.

*Put the dough in the form.
*Put the form in the cold (!) oven
*Turn the heat to 50-75 centigrades (very low)
*Let stand for anywhere from 15 to 45 minutes, depending on how much yeast you put in the dough. It should raise to just below the edge of the baking-form or roughly into double size.
*Turn up the heat to 175-200 centigrades
*Bake for 45 minutes

*Turn off oven.
*Take bread out of oven.
*Take bread out of form.
*Put bread back into the oven, preferably on a rack, while it cools ! to get a wee bit of crust on the sides that were hidden in the form while baking.

*Serve while still slightly warm, just with butter. Or, if you really must, with some sort of GOOD jam or your favourite cheese.
Tastes wonderful with soup too :-)

The real worktime on this one is less than 10 minutes, and once you have baked it a couple of times, the real worktime is closer to 3-5 minutes. Much faster than going to the supermarket or mall. And much tastier too :-)

Oh, and if you do not finish it immediately, wrap in a clean dish-cloth or something like that. Do NOT put it in the fridge. Putting wheat-bread in the fridge makes it hard. Much harder, and much less edible compared to out of the fridge. When the bread has cooled completely, you can put it in a plastic-bag for storing it ... but really ... eat it while its fresh and good :-)

10 February 2008

Two Inches Wide

In a letter to her nephew Edward, who apparently sent his aunt some of his writings, Jane Austen wrote : "What should I do with your strong, manly, spirited sketches, full of variety and glow? How could I possibly join them on to the little bit (two inches wide) of ivory on which I work with so fine a brush, as produces little effect after much labour ?"
Now, readers of this blog might remember that I love Jane Austen. Readers of this blog might also remember, that I'm not alone in that passion. Quiltbook author Linda Franz has made two books of diamond patterns, all named with quotes from Jane Austen.
And I have made one fullsize quilt with those diamonds.

I didn't use all of the diamonds I made, and this past week, I was given a book. Richard Jenkyns : "A fine brush on Ivory" (reviews here and here) and was reminded of the quote ... the full quote, that is.

And now, dear reader, you are asking yourself : what does that have to do with anything ? Well ... back when I was first making Quilted Diamonds, I not only made "big ones", (i.e. diamonds with a finished side of 4"), I also made some in half-size. These half-size Quilted Diamonds are "(two inches wide)". SO, with that book prodding me, I dug out the leftover blocks from my big diamond quilt, and the tiny ones. A selection of the "biggies" and all of the tiny ones are now up on my designwall :

... and they will, I'm sure, in the fullness of time, become a small quilt. At least the mock-up looks good, and I have plenty of fabrics left from the big one, to make it.

SO, will I throw aside everything and start making this top ?
I don't think so. Right now, I procrastinate on cutting the strips that will log-cabin the 2" diamonds, and while I procrastinate, I quilt on Allsorts :-)

07 February 2008

Never Underestimate the Border

First off : Prizes from the Fat Tuesday giveaway has now been sent to the 3 winners. The rest is in the laps of the postal deities.

And then the header.
I didn't come up with that beauty. A correspondent on a list did it, but it is brilliantly put, and oh so right. 'cause we do. Underestimate the border, that is :-)
I'm still quilting the Allsorts, and I'm almost there with the blocks. 5 more to go, and then all the blocks will be quilted !
Then "only" the border remains.
But ... the border is as wide as the blocks, so the quilting of the border equals another round of blocks. And this means, that when I've finished quilting the blocks, I'm not "almost there". Far from it, in fact. I'll still have about 1/3 of the quilting to do !
Good think I have taken it into consideration already, 'cause if I hadn't, this would definitely be a stalling-point.
So : NEVER underestimate the border of your quilt. Unless you're doing it in plain strips of fabric, sewing the border-blocks, or ... applique'ing the border will, in all probability, take you as long as it took you to do the blocks. And the same holds true for your (hand-)quilting of the borders.
With a 25-block quilt, adding a border same width as the blocks, will almost double the area !

... oh, and to not make this yet another non-pictorial post, here's a picture of Allsorts as it looks right now :

AND a picture of a small ... bag ? purse ? I made to hold my iPod :
It still needs some sort of button and some sort of handle. However, the hexagons are sewn, its all together and quilted, and it does hold my iPod ... and seeing that that is the case, I had better get going on the button and the handle, or else it'll never happen !

05 February 2008

The winner is !

And the winner of the Inklingo give-away is : Debbie ! from Pieces of Treasure
The winner of the fabrics are Jane from Sew Create It and Joanne, who seems to have no blog, just a profile. Jane and Joanne, I need to know which of the two fabrics are your preference.
I numbered all comments and then asked DH to call one of them. As fair as I could do it.

All three winners : You can contact me by leaving a comment on the blog. As most of you have found out, I moderate all comments on this blog, so ... putting your address in a comment does NOT send it out on the www, only into my postbox

Further, this has been so much fun for me, that I do believe there will be (at least) one more Inklingo giveaway in the future. Possibly with shapes that works well with machine-piecing :-)

Watch this space !

01 February 2008

Inklingo Fat Tuesday giveaway

It is now Fat Tuesday all over the world, and a winner has been drawn. Please check the above post.

Fat Tuesday is just around the corner and right after that, it's Lent.
Now, in days of yore, Fat Tuesday was the last day before lean lent set in, and therefore, it was the day where you used the last of the fat, the pork, the eggs, the cream. Whatever contained lots of cholesterol and fat and had potential BCBs (burnt, crunchy bits) And you ate it !
And what you couldn't eat yourself, you distributed to the poor :-)
Now, giving away food to the poor is not really something you do easily in the western world of today, so, rather than giving away lard and eggs and the like, I'm giving away some things from my shelves.

I am giving away 3 "things" this Fat Tuesday. All good stuff. All something I know I will never use.
Two are in the post below, third for giving away, is a kit of Inklingo-shapes.

Let me tell you about Inklingo.
To my mind, it is brilliant. Literally the best, most exiting thing that has happened in quilting since the rotary-cutter. No, I don't own any shares in it, but I have been a beta-tester on some of it, and I was exited from the word "go".

What you do is, you print your templates on fabric. Cut them out and sew. You can see a demo-video at Linda Franz's homepage.
And it's very easy for beginners to work with too. Not only are there cutting-lines, there are stitching-lines with markings to keep your bits properly aligned. A freind of mine is making her first king-size quilt, hand-piecing, Grandmother's flower-garden shapes ... and this is her second attempt. She would never in a zillion years have done a quilt like that with English Paper Piecing (just like I would never do it), but she is having a field day with her Inklingo-printed shapes :-)

And no, you don't have to be a handpiecer to enjoy Inklingo. When doing the Half-square triangles or the squares or the Quarter-square triangles, machine-piecing is my favourite. But I'm not good enough freinds with my machine to piece inset seams galore on it, and you do get that with hexagons.

Inklingo is extremely easy to use, and oh so useful :-)
Here's a run-down for those of you who don't know, or can't watch the video :

Iron freezer-paper to the front (!) of your fabric.

Put the Inklingo-CD in your computer.

Choose the shape, the colour of print, the size of paper you're using.

Put the freezer-paper-fronted fabric (well, not backed, is it) in your inkjet printer (and yes, any old inkjet printer will work wonderfully here !)


Cut apart, with scissors or with a rotary-cutter

And ... you're ready to start stitching !

Linda explains it much better, so, if you haven't heard about Inklingo before, go to her home-page and watch the video (I cannot see it on Mozilla, need to open my IE to watch it, but then its good)

What I'm giving away is a set of 1/3 hexagons (as shown on the prints above), printed on 5" samples of Judie Rothermel's Civil War classics. I've printed on two sets, and then printed "light" hexagons on civil war reproduction fabrics from my stash.

In the set is also a vial of Roxanne's sharp # 12. I'm adding them because they are wonderful for hand-piecing. Unfortunately, they are horrible to thread. I can only thread them when I use my DH's magnifyer lamp, and there are threads I cannot get through the eye at all ! so I use either YLI Select or YLI Heirloom, thread 10 at a time, and keep them in my Clover Needle-dome :-)
That seems to work.

To complete the kit, I've sewn just one, of the hexagons that the prints will make, so you can see what I would do with them ... if I ever got around to them. The side of my sewn hexagon is 1.75", so the finished size of the block is approximately 3½ x 3 ". There's enough in there to make 50+ of these blocks.

All fabrics good quality, washed and ironed, and I doubt that this kit will ever happen in this house ! ... which is why I'm giving it away. Spreading my abundance.

If you want to be in the drawing for the Inklingo-shapes, leave a comment to this post, and I'll draw a winner on Fat Tuesday, February 5th.

Fat Tuesday giveaway

Fat Tuesday is just around the corner and right after that, it's Lent.
Now, in days of yore, Fat Tuesday was the last day before lean lent set in, and therefore, it was the day where you used the last of the fat, the pork, the eggs, the cream. Whatever contained lots of cholesterol and fat and had potential BCBs (burnt, crunchy bits)
You cooked it and you ate it !
And what you couldn't eat yourself, you distributed to the poor :-)

Now, giving away food to the poor is not really something you do easily in the western world of today, so, rather than giving away lard and eggs and the like, I'm giving away things from my shelves.

I am giving away 3 "things" this Fat Tuesday. All good stuff. All something I know I will never use. Two are in this post, one is in the next (which is really the one above this one). All fabrics are washed with non-perfumed soap. There might be some residual smoke in some of it, seeing that until 8 months ago, heavy smoking took place inside this house. BUT it has been 8 months, so to my nostrils it isn't bad. (And no, I haven't completely quit the habit, but I am no longer smoking inside the house, which is good for all of my family, and does reduce my smoking greatly)

First for giving away is 3 yards of an old Debbie Mumm fabric, with wide borders. I bought it to make a pinafore for my little girl. She is now 13, goth-light, and would not be caught dead in anything remotely resembling this.

Next for giving away is 2 little-guy fabrics. The little guy is now 15 and would not relish these fabrics any more.
There is about a yard of the blue-and-green and about 1½ yards of the fabric with black background and UFOs.

Third for giving away, see the next post.

If you would like to be in the draw for either of the above, please leave a comment on this blog, telling me which one you would prefer and I'll draw a winner on Fat Tuesday ... February 5th.