Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Ode to the 60's Supreme Sewing Project!

Where were you in 1968?  I was in my first year at the University of Washington (yes, I'm old, but my mind says I'm still young!).  Things that come to mind -- peace, love, Hippies, Beatles, Twiggy, Petula Clark, bell-bottom pants, guys with long hair, Jimmie Hendrix, Janis Joplin, I kept my bra on - some didn't, Haight Ashbury, Woodstock, incense, tie-dye, Harikrishnas on the "Ave", Vietnam; the list is long and goes on!  It was a time of self discovery for individuals, me, and the nation as a whole.  It was also a time I will never forget!  I made some very good friends that remain so to this day!
So....remember this sneak peek from February?  It was a Supreme Sewing Project for Stephanie called "Modern Mary Jane".  As soon as she asked me to do it I knew what fabric I would use!  My local quilt shop had just gotten in some new crushed velveteen by Anna Marie Horner.  I knew I had to have it because it reminded me of the 60's in a sort of psychedelic way!  I got it out to try and decide what to pair with it for the bag and the first thing that came to mind was denim!
I asked Mr. Squash if he could spare an old pair of jeans or two for the project and he gladly obliged!
Modern Mary Jane is a really fun and quick bag to make!  It's also roomy enough to carry on a trip to the Farmer's Market!  For the pockets on the back I used a decorative stich on my Bernina and copied a design from my favorite jeans!  I quilted around the circles, sewed in a lining, attached a button and I was done in no time at all!
Even the coordinating cotton lining is psychedelic!  Once again I am honored to be one of Stephanie's Supreme's!  This pattern is now available in her Etsy store!
In my last post I promised I would show you what else we dug up in the yard this past weekend.  When I first hit the little enamel covered plate with my shovel, it was upside down and I was sure I had hit some sort of water or gas main!  With a little gentle probing I realized it wasn't attached to anything, so I dug it out.  The tin was buried about 14 inches down so it had been there a long time!  It's shaped like a pie dish, but only a little over 5" diameter.  There were also a lot of pieces here and there of broken china, but these three had patterns on them.  And of course the marble - how I remember playing with those as a child!
Here is a closeup of the broken china.  Those on top seem to be a Christmas pattern even though the red is more orange.  I'm guessing the bottom piece is from a tea or coffee cup or saucer - it has a pattern similar to some that my grandmother had!  I would love to know if anyone recognizes either pattern!

Next post will be another quilt finish!

Monday, April 25, 2011

Garden Makeover

I hope everyone had a wonderful Easter!  The weather in our corner of the state was glorious! We've been collecting really well-priced gallon perennials for a few weeks now, and also found some astounding plants on a recent Costco run, so we decided it was perfect weather to get them in the ground!  All of these photos were taken in the late afternoon, so please forgive the shadows.
Here are the raised beds we put up last year.  I can't believe how big the Arborvitae have gotten in one year!  Those blue, cone-shaped "sculptures" are water walls for Mr. Squash's New Jersey tomato seeds.  They keep the soil warm and allow you to plant your tomato starts weeks early - even befor the last frost!  And yes....there are tomatos inside of them!
This year we added three more raised beds to the right of the existing beds.  We had to take down some very old junipers that had gotten out of hand and begun rotting.  While they were gorgeous to look at from one side, they were beginning to block the light to the vegetables.  When we took them down we not only had room for more beds, we can now enjoy our elderly neighbors gorgeus trees and ancient lilac!  They also act as a complete prviacy screen!  Later this week we'll be filling the beds with composted soil.  The area to the left of the birdbath will be full of lavender and marigolds!  Oh - and Mr. Squash repaired the birdbath which had cracked so bad from the winter cold that it would not hold water!
Carnations are some of my favorite flowers - I also think they are my birth month flower.  These mature beauties came from Costco!  They will bloom clear through August.  In front are yellow cosmos, behind is our Hakuro Nishiki Willow we planted last fall.  It's leaves are just coming out and not in full splendor as yet. 
We've also been collecting garden art!  This dragonfly was made out of an old wrench and other spare parts!  A local retired farmer turned artist makes these - this is the smallest - he has made life-sized dinosaurs, too!
This half wine barrel is going to be my herb garden this year.  I planted Saxifrage in front - as they mature they will totally fill that area!  See the brown drip line behind the barrel?  We decided to have all the drip line in the backyard replaced this year (150 ft).  I remember saying to Mr. Squash that it would be nice if they would invent brown drip line which blends better than black.  When the irrigation fellow came - his name is Rains -- how fitting, out of his truck came a huge roll of brown drip line!  It was meant to be!
Here is a wider view of part of my planting area.  There is a lot more to put in there, and in a few weeks you won't recognize this view!  The short, light tan plant to the back in a very old nine-bark.  We cut it back this far each year, but by mid-summer it will be 15 feet tall!  Behind it is an Oregon Grape and a small holly.  To the right I planted a white Buddleia (Butterfly Bush), and some of the plants in the middle are Astilbe, Bleeding Heart, Sedums, Stella d'oro Day Lily, Heuchera, Gallardia.  At the moment I can't think of them all.  Again...there are more to be planted!
Another phenomenal find at Costco was mature Blueberry bushes!  We got three - two Jersey and one Duke.  They have tons of buds each which are sure to bring us some ripe fruit this summer!  I also have some climbing plants that will be placed along the fence line.
What's this, you say?  It's a small blueberry bush start that I felt needed to stay under a cloche until the weather got just a tad warmer.  It works similar to the water walls - there is a vent at top which can be opened and closed.
Moving around to the front of the house...we lost all of our azaleas this winter so we found some gorgeous replacements at Costco!  The Columbine next to it was planted last year and absolutely thrives in this spot!  I ordered another Columbine from Audobon which is planted in the pot you see along with some Creeping Jenny.  There were three Hostas in front - one you can see on the left is coming back, another in front of the white marker is just beginning to show, but the third is lost, so I planted another one in it's spot.  This is the north side of the house - not an easy spot to grow anything!  I have yet to plant the window box to the right of the front door.
I just love our new spring flag!  Here I planted two more Azaleas, another Hosta, and you can see to the left of the Azaleas the three lavenders I planted last summer that are making a comeback.  We lost a huge Euonymous to the right of the round shrub whose name escapes me at the moment, so I planted a rare, red, Oakleaf  Hydrangea! 
This is a closeup of the Hydrangea.  Not much now, but it is supposed to get quite large!  Next post I'll show you some "finds" from our digging!

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Treasure from a Friend!

Yesterday's mail brought a totally unexpected handmade gift from my friend, Daphne (no blog).  Among other things, Daphne is a whiz at making jewelry!  She and her husband visited us at the Squash House last September.  We were talking about beading and I asked her if she would like to look through some beads I had that I knew I would never use.  Little did I know, some of those beads would come back to me in the form of this beautiful necklace!
The colors are mostly shades of purple with the larger beads looking like pearls almost in a sort of blue/gray color.

Click on the photos for a closer look.
Here is another necklace Daphne made for me a few years ago.  ( I photographed these on the same table - why the oak looks different is beyond me!)
I just love the yellow heart that hangs from this one!  Daphne's talents include beading, quilting and floral design which is her "real" job!  She decorates weddings and also has clients who have her decorate their houses seasonally!  Thank you so much for this wonderful surprise, Daphne!

I frequently use the "Post Options" on Blogger.  It allows you to set your post to publish at a later date.  More often than not it will turn my posts from "scheduled" back to "draft" and not post unless I do it manually.  Has this happened to anyone else?  Does anyone have a solution to this?

Monday, April 18, 2011

QIP Monday

QIP - Quilting in Progress!  I loaded this Fat Quarter Shop Block of the Month on Vinnie yesterday.  Just doing an all over pantograph as I'd really like to get this one finished, and to be honest -- the New York Beauty scared the heck out of me and I was ready for a simple finish this time!
It's difficult to capture the quilting in a photo, but you can kind of see it.  That backing was something I had yards of in my stash (why - I have no idea), but it goes perfectly with the quilt so I decided to use it!  I may even bind the quilt in it - what do you think?

I turned this photo into Black and White which makes the quilting stand out a tad more if you click on the photo.  I'm using a silk batting from the Tuscany collection by Hobbs and I really like it!  The loft is minimal just like Warm & Natural and there is little to no lint when quilting!  Next up I'm using Quilter's Dream Wool which I think will become my standard.

These three tools have become very dear to me since I began quilting on Vinnie!  The mirror and flashlight are for checking the tension on the underside of the quilt when it's loaded on the frame.  The seam ripper -- do I really have to tell you (wink)?  Fortunately the seam ripper hasn't gotten much of a workout yet -- knock on wood!

Speaking of tension.  I queried a couple of longarm friends about thread recently.  Linda over at The Quilted Pineapple said she really likes Isacord.  I knew I had some in my thread box from a couple of embroidery projects on my Bernina, so I thought I would give it a try!  Turns out I love it!  The tension was instantly perfect and I do like the way it looks.  Plus my LQS has the entire line in stock - how fantastic is that!

I don't have any new quilts started at the moment, but Stephanie will have something fun for me shortly!  Today I am playing in the dirt.  Mr. Squash and I will be setting out three more raised beds for vegetables!

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Honey....Have you seen my Canoe Shirt?

Well, yes, as a matter of fact, I have!
This is was Mr. Squash's favorite shirt for many years.  It has had little canoes and oars on it and is was very soft.  He wore it so much that the collar nearly detached from the shirt and there were numerous little repair spots, so I tucked it away and hoped he wouldn't ask where it was.  This was about 6-7 years ago.  Of course he eventually asked where it might be, so I made a lot of excuses about it needing repairs and having no time to make them. The following Christmas I repaired it and wrapped it up as a present!  He was thrilled!

Then the repairs finally gave way and for some reason I put it away in my scrap fabric basket.
You guessed it....he asked about it again recently.  I sort of indicated that it might have gotten "lost" in the move, but I'd find some time and look for it, even though I knew where it was all along!  Yesterday I was going through my scrap basket looking for some old pattern instructions and I came across the shirt.  The basket was so stuffed that I decided it was time to remove the shirt and either do away with it or make something fun.  So here is the reincarnation of the Canoe Shirt!  Mr. Squash is delighted!  I even left the pocket open in case he needed to stash a cookie or his reading glasses or something else in it!

Now he can sit in his chair with an old friend!

Friday, April 8, 2011

Look What Vinnie Did!

I finally finished quilting and binding New York Beauty.  I hope you aren't too weary of hearing about this quilt!
These pictures were taken before I washed it.  There are still lots of chalk marks on it, but they don't show as much as I thought they would.  I was going to wait to post until it was all washed, but found out the hard way that a quilt this size in my front loader needs something else heavier in with it in order to spin dry properly!  (Four washings on different settings and it finally clicked - I was ready to call the washing machine repair people!)  Oh well, at least this way you can get a better look at the quilting!  It was all done freehand except for the large blue border where I used a stencil with a floral pattern that mimicked the print in the fabric.  I used a very bright King Tut 40 wt variegated thread called Pharaoh's Treasures which had every color of fabric in it.
I looked at lots of NYB's quilted and came up with what I thought might work for this.  In the small border I made use of the dark vertical lines in the print and just quilted up and down for a sort of zig-zag effect.  As for the blocks, I quilted loops and swirls in the larger outer portion, loops inbetween the points and mimicked the points inside of them.  Then on the small quarter-circle I quilted a sort of leaf pattern. 

Wow - did I ever learn a lot on this one such as which chalk I like best (a combination of Pounce and Fons and Porters chalk pencils), when to take a break (before your neck and back begin aching), when to use or not use the micro handles, how to use the straight rulers, and how to use the automatic tie-off feature on Vinnie which I now really like.  I give myself a "C" on this one and promise to do better next time! 

If any longarmers are reading this I would love to know which brand of disappearing ink pens you use and like.  I'm thinking next time I might want to use them in some of the lighter areas as opposed to chalk.

Next up on Vinnie will be Lil's Simpler Tymes.  Stay tuned!

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Who was Fuzzy - Winner!

Thanks to everyone who played along to guess who Fuzzy was!  There were some interesting guesses - bear, hamster, gerbil - lots of rabbits and chicks.  Only one person got the right animal!!  Congratulations to Annie who correctly guessed that Fuzzy was a baby duck!

Here is a photo of Catherine with Fuzzy and Wuzzy on Easter!  This is one of the most adorable Easter photos I've ever seen!  She has her empty Easter Basket around her neck while holding a fishing net, which I suppose was used to corral the baby ducks!  The photo was taken outside the back door which is now our lovely patio.  Thanks to everyone who played along and also to Catherine for providing some great, vintage photos and wonderful stories!

Right now I have my New York Beauty on Vinnie.  I hope to have it finished in the next day or two.  I've been mostly quilting it freehand except for the border where I used Pounce and a stencil for a quilting motif. 

I'm beginning to really like working with stencils.  Here are a few I got today at our LQS.  They were having a 20% storewide sale, so I couldn't resist some more stencils and two yards of background fabric!  I'm still not terribly confident with freehand feathers, so these 3 stencils should provide some good practice! And I like how they have little printed labels of the designs which have arrows to guide you in the quilting!

The other thing I dove into was digital pantographs!  I've been buying most of my pantos so far through Digi-Tech.  They have an incredible selection of designs for longarmers.  Jessica Schick of Digi-Tech has been most helpful in showing me how these digital downloads work!  Not only does it save money on shipping costs, but you get your design instantly!

Now it's about time I started in on another quilt!  Up next will be a Christmas quilt (nothing like plannig ahead) using Fruitcake by Basicgrey and a pattern called Roll On from Pie Plate Patterns.

Friday, April 1, 2011

April Fool's Day Giveaway Contest!

I don't know about you, but I'm not one for playing tricks on others, nor do I much relish being tricked.  So what better for April Fool's Day than a real giveaway contest - no fooling!

Here is what I'm giving away.  A charm pack of the newly released Dragonfly Summer by Holly Taylor for Moda, a pair of purple (no fooling) leather bag handles, a pattern for Stephanie's Oak Park bag, and more than enough coordinating green Osnaburg to use in the bag!  Stephanie's pattern can easily be adjusted to use the leather handles.  By the way, I might mention that Stephanie's Oak Park and Hailee bags will be in the May 16th issue of Connecting Threads catalog - kitted and ready to make!

Read on for the giveaway contest rules:

A little back story here...we recently had a very special visitor here at the Squash House!  Her name is Catherine and she grew up in the house!  In fact, her parents had the house built, which in it's day was a "modern marvel". She had not been inside the house since she left some time ago.  Catherine emailed me this article that appeared in the local paper right after the house was built.  The picture above the article is actually a collage of three photos.  A portion of the Squash House is in the middle - the man on the left and the picture of the fireplace are not part of our house.  Below the picture is the article that ran along with the picture.  I inserted an arrow where it talks about our house.  Catherine explained to us that there were built-ins like this in several parts of the house but her mother got tired of dusting them and had them removed at some point!  My kind of woman!!  We thoroughly enjoyed our visit with Catherine and hope to see her again soon!

Anyway, last summer as we were working in the backyard I discovered a few of the bricks that line the garden had inscriptions in them!  A little water and brushing away of moss revealed some names! 
This brick is one of Catherine's brothers.  The house was built between 1948 and 1950, but this brick is dated 1960.
Here is Catherine's brick.  I meant to ask her if she went by "Cath" in those days, or if she just didn't get as far as inscribing her full name!  She did say she is much younger than her brothers, so maybe they helped her out!
This brick puzzled us for the longest time!  If you click on the photo you can see it better.  It says "Fuzzy" Allen!  Who was Fuzzy?  A dog, a playmate with an unruly haircut, one of her brother's who had this nickname?  Well --- none of the above!  And so in lies the contest!  Mr. Squash and I now know who Fuzzy was.  There was actually Fuzzy and Wuzzy, but Wuzzy unfortunately didn't make it long in this world.

I'll give you a hint.  Fuzzy was an animal and was given to Catherine for Easter one year.  Tell me who Fuzzy was and I will draw a winner among the correct answers.  One guess per person, please!  And you must leave me a way to contact you - either through your own blog or comment with an email address if you don't have a blog.  I'll take comments through Monday, April 4th and post the winner on Tuesday, April 5th.  Good luck!