Wednesday, February 26, 2020

Creating Twine--A Saturday Workshop

Small fabric twine basket sample
At the end of January, I taught a Saturday Workshop though the Clark County Quilters guild in the morning and I took a workshop in the afternoon. Saturday Workshops are an activity where the members teach other members. I already wrote a post about the workshop that I taught. This post is about the creating twine workshop that I took.

Previously, I had watched YouTube videos about this process; but, hadn't had success trying to do it! Our teacher, Bev, led us through the process. Her process was a little different from the video link that I provided. The end result looks the same.

She also taught us how to cut a bunch of strips quickly on the bias. I hope that when I get to that point, I'll be able to cut the strips! For the class, I brought leftover three quarter inch to one and one half inch strips that were leftover from past projects. Cutting makes my neck ache and makes my hands/arms numb.  I chose not to cut strips in class!
Small rug mug sample

The reason that I want to cut bias strips was because the strips won't fray when cut on the bias. My plan is to make a fabric necklace. Bev showed us how to twist the strips together and how to add a fabric. It is easier to stagger adding fabrics; but, it isn't impossible if you need to add several fabrics at one time.

Bev brought a number of samples that she had made with fabric twine. She said that she had twisted the twine while she watched TV with her husband in the evenings.
View of the inside of the bowl sample

She also brought samples of twine made with various fabrics and various widths of fabric strips. She had made a twine out of polyester fabrics. She also shared a sample that she had made with yarn as one of the fibers that she had twisted. Bev shared that she had picked up the yarn at an estate sale because it caught her eye. I liked the twine sample in which she used some of that "found" fiber in the twine!
Necklace

I especially liked the fiber necklace that she had made out of three quarter inch cotton fabric strips. I plan to keep my eye out for the large metal D shaped hardware that she had used in her necklace. She said she didn't remember where she had found it; but, that it had been hanging out in her studio for a long time.

At the end of the three hour workshop, I had created a tiny ball of twine. I think it would be fun to make a bowl out of my twine; but, I need a lot more twine to make the size that I'd like!

The workshop was at the end of January, I haven't worked on the twine since then. Instead, I've been quilting my daughter's "Leaves" quilt. I entered it in the guild quilt show which is in April. I sure thought that I would have finished it by now; but, I haven't!
My tiny ball of fabric twine

I've put my other projects on hold and I am making slow progress. I quilted too long one day and my wrists hurt so much that I had to take a break for a few days.

I plan to be more mindful of the amount of quilting time I spend per day on that project so that I don't have long breaks! From time to time, I will take a break and work on the Bonnie Hunter Frolic mystery quilt. I needed a new swimsuit so I made a couple of them. I'll post about the suit next time!

Quilting posts may be few until I finish that "Leaves" project!






Sunday, February 23, 2020

Traveling in January--Post 3

Tree depository
Day 11, I spent with my feet up resting. The tumble I took in Brussels a couple days earlier was still bothering my knee. So I stayed inside, iced my knee, read and rested. We played cards and made spicy roasted nuts. The nuts were delicious. I plan to make a batch now that I am home.

Bob and Nicole made a trip to a friend of Nicole's place to remove her Christmas tree. In the area where Nicole lives, when it is time to remove the Christmas tree, people deposit their tree along the sidewalk. There isn't an organized tree collection/recycling area like there is in the States.

We saw areas where there were six to seven trees waiting for removal. As the city garbage crews came through an area, we saw workers collecting these trees. I started writing this post on January 6. On this day, workers began dismantling the holiday decorations. I enjoyed seeing all the lights, trees and holiday spirit each city displayed.

Poached eggs at the Watch House
Viewing a portrait of the Queen at the Savoy
On a previous visit, I enjoyed a breakfast at the Watch House. I wanted Bob to experience a breakfast there too. The location changed since I had eaten there. The coffee shop is in a larger venue. On Day 12, we went mid morning and had brunch.

There were plenty of tables available; but, it was loud. It was so loud that it was difficult for Bob and I to have a conversation. The poached eggs, however, were just as perfect as I remembered!

That afternoon, I pulled out my "dress up" clothes and got ready for afternoon tea at the Savoy. Nicole ordered an uber so that she could work a full day before our tea time reservation. We arrived about 15 minutes early and learned you aren't seated until the time of your reservation.

We wandered about the lobby while we waited. I viewed a portrait of the queen which was unveiled in 2017. Thomas Ward painted it for the Red Cross which was honoring the queen for 60 years of patronage.

Fresh flower arrangement in the washroom
I had to snap a photo of the orchid in the washroom. The patterns and colors of the flower petals were so beautiful. I had to touch it to see that it was an actual cut flower!

Gazebo in the tea room where a pianist played
The Thomas Thayer tea room was gorgeous and the food was beautifully prepared. My favorite of the finger sandwiches was the curried chicken. I loved the scones with the clotted cream and jam!

I ordered the savory tea which came with a quail breast layered on top of mushrooms with a savory broth poured over the breast. It was delicious.
Quail breast course


Nicole ordered the sweet tea which came with more desserts. We sampled all the offerings. The setting was wonderful. It wasn't the best fancy tea I've experienced; but, it wasn't awful either. When we had finished, we decided we would walk the almost three miles to her flat to work off a few of the calories that we had eaten.
Enjoying high tea

On the way, we stopped by a temporary ice rink and watched people skating. They were having a good time.

Later, we decided the next time I am in the UK, we will have tea at another special spot and continue to work our way through the various tea venues to determine which is our favorite. We previously experienced high tea at The Goring.

On Day 13, Bob and I walked along the waterfront to Borough Market. I didn't want to purchase any items, I just wanted to see it again. We arrived too early as there were few customers. It was too early for lunch so we meandered a bit. On our return walk, we had planned to check out the brew shops in one area. Unfortunately, they were closed for the Christmas holiday so that is an activity we will need to do on another trip.

On Day 14, we flew home. For Christmas, Nicole upgraded us to business class so the flight home was terrific! If I had unlimited dollars, I would always travel business class! We were away from Oregon for two weeks. While we were glad to be home, we also missed spending time with Nicole. It was an amazing trip!
Finger sandwiches
Sweet items























Wednesday, February 19, 2020

Traveling in January--post 2

White cliffs of Dover
Day ten, we left Belgium. The air B&B that N rented was so family/kid friendly. There were shampoos, cribs, serving ware that were kid oriented. Outside there was a great running area. We were in the car at 7:50AM so that we could catch the ferry from Calais, France. Only there was a problem. The hybrid car wouldn't start. There were a lot of warning messages that came on the screen. . .brake system failure seek repair; transmission failure seek repair and there were more. The driver tried to turn the car off and tried to restart the engine; but, the same messages occurred.
Approaching Rye from the community parking area

The driver solved the problem by disconnecting the batteries and then reconnecting the batteries. This action rebooted the car's computer system and we had no problems for the remainder of the trip. While relieved finding the solution only delayed us about an additional 15 minutes, no one died and no one was injured during the process. Had the battery disconnect not worked, we would have had a different sort of adventure and in the end, it would have all worked.

Clothing shop in Rye
We arrived at the ferry about an hour before departure. Allowing plenty of time is important because you go through the French check point, the English check point, then a search from the English security, then the ferry company checks you in and you wait in a designated area until the ferry is ready to receive the cars. A ferry employee directs the cars to load and another employee makes sure you park close to the car in front of you so the space is well used. After you are parked, you exit your car and go to one of the public lounges for the trip. This was an hour and half ferry ride to Dover. We read, played cards and walked around. There was an area for kids to play, a duty free shop and a restaurant to purchase hot foods. We noticed a lot of people purchasing breakfast foods.
Rye Tapestry celebrating the millennium 
As we approached Dover, the sun was shining on the cliffs. The cliffs looked pristine white! When I visited a couple of years ago, it was an overcast day. I was surprised to see the cliffs were gray! I was also surprised to see how much vegetation was growing on the cliffs. It was great seeing how much the sunlight affected the color!

One of the restaurants in Rye
Bob snapped a few photos as we were coming in to dock. As we approached the dock, we are given the signal to go to our cars. Then, we waited until we were given the signal to start the engines. Soon after the start your engines signal, we drove off the ferry. Exiting is quick; but, before you leave the dock area, there is one more immigration check via cameras as you drive by. We weren't selected for an additional search. This process is played over and over again throughout the day!

We drove to Rye which is in East Sussex. I had just finished reading, "The Summer Before the War," written by Helen Simonson which is set in Rye. Having the opportunity to poke about a place I had read about was special!

Rye is a little town which began as a port city. One of the buildings, the Mermaid Inn has been around since 1176! In St. Mary's church, I spied a hanging that all in our party called a quilt; but, the information posted next to it said it was a tapestry and not a quilt that parishioners made to celebrate the millennium in 2000. We walked around town and popped into various shops. I found a store that had clothing, children's toys, yarn, cards, beads, embroidery thread, laces and even some bolts of quilting fabric!
A home in Rye
We lunched at a little cafe that supports people with disabilities. Nicole and Bob approved of  broccoli cheddar soup. I enjoyed my roast ham panini and we tried their cheese chips which were French fries with cheddar cheese melted on top. (The chips were worth the extra calories!) Some streets are river rock which makes walking on them more challenging than cobblestones. The river rock makes for a cool looking street! As I walked around town, I thought about how many past generations of people walked on those same rocks!

After lunch we returned to London arriving about dark so it was a long but fun day!

Sunday, February 16, 2020

Miss K's Mermaid--post 5

Beginning the wave quilting

It's been awhile since I've posted an update to Miss K's mermaid quilt project. The reason I haven't posted is because we haven't had many sew days together. It has been challenging finding the time to stitch together!

On one of the stitch days we had, we tacked the outside edge of the border to quilt sandwich to make it easier to apply the binding. Before we began, I asked Miss K if she remembered how to thread the machine. She said she did and she was right! She can even thread the eye of the needle!

,
Finished wave quilting
I showed her how to hold her fingers to encourage the fabric to feed smoothly through the machine. She picked up the tips quickly. By the time she finished the border, she stitched like she had done it many times before!

She wanted to tackle quilting the waves next. She looked at various weights of thread in my thread stash. Miss K decided to use "thick" thread.  She pulled shades of blue because water is different colors! Miss K carefully selected two colors of blue thread for her water. Before we started, she retraced her wave drawing several times with her finger. Then, she traced a wave path on the fabric so I could see the sizes of her waves and the orientation of them.

She explained that the fish would make small waves because their tails were little; but, the mermaid's tail was large so she would make big waves. She has a great thought process! Sometimes, she wanted to stay on the stitching line and sometimes she didn't. I liked the texture that she created. She has no idea that some quilters find free motion quilting difficult! She finds the process fun! We spent about an hour quilting.
Sky quilted; binding in progress
On another stitching day, she quilted the sky which was the last of the areas to quilt. She started with a thread that we thought would be great; but, it wasn't the right thread because it didn't blend well with the background fabric. I agreed with her assessment.

She picked another variegated thread that worked well. After the sky quilting, she auditioned fabrics for the binding. In my head, I thought a solid black fabric would frame the piece well. She chose to audition a variety of purples and a few green fabrics. She is quick to determine if a fabric works well or not! I wish I had that ability! By the way, she eliminated the solid black fabric first.

In the end, she chose a purple batik fabric. I like her choice as it adds to the mood of her piece. When our session ended two hours later, she was ready to join the ends of her binding together. Her plan is to machine stitch the binding to the front of her project.

Her sister spent a lot of time hand stitching her binding in place. Miss K has no desire to spend that kind of time on her project. She, however, looks forward to adding beads to the fish so that they have eyes. She is most excited about adding hair to her mermaid!




Wednesday, February 12, 2020

Traveling in January---post 1

Canal and buildings in Ghent
The reason we rose at 4:30AM on day seven was to drive to Dover to catch the 8AM ferry to take us to Dunkirk, France. I learned that you are supposed to arrive an hour before departure to get through the various check points. It was about an hour drive from London to Dover. It was a two hour ferry ride. There weren't many passengers and many of the passengers were quiet or sleeping. I suppose they had celebrated the previous evening and the 8AM ferry departure was too early! We docked at Dunkirk, France which perhaps at another time, would have been an interesting place to have explored.

Lunch--Flemish stew, chips, beer cheese soup and beer
Once we arrived, we drove about an hour to Ghent, Brussels where we checked into a cute air B&B located above a doctor's office! After we off loaded our luggage, we drove 15 minutes to the park and ride and hopped on the free shuttle to town. The weather was cold with a breeze; but, we walked around town and saw the sites. It is an old town built around canals. There are many beautiful buildings and picturesque scenes involving the canals. Because it was New Year's Day, most of the businesses were closed; but, that also meant that the streets were less crowded.

For dinner, we tried some local fare. Bob and Nicole had the beef stew which was beef in a dark gravy.  The waiter told us that three beers were used to prepare the dish. They said it was good. I had the waterzooi which is a Belgium stew that is made with fish or chicken. It was more like chicken soup but, it filled my hungry belly!

Beer and chocolates were the items for sale in this store
Ordering waffles
On day eight, we drove from Ghent to Bruges. It was a bit warmer (three degrees). I wore an extra layer so I was more comfortable walking about the city. We parked in an underground lot in the center of the city. We walked to the marketplace and explored all the streets that radiated from the marketplace.
Skyline view from the city square in Bruges
Bruges is famous for its beer. I was shocked to learn that there are 1600 varieties of beer brewed in Belgium. The alcohol content varies from five percent to more than 14 percent. There are fruit beers, ales, lagers, stouts and more! There are also many shops that sell beer. We went to a couple of shops that had 560 beers for sale and we went to a couple of breweries too!

Bruges bicycle shop
Manneken Pis statue
Bob and I sipped a beer for lunch at De Halve Mann. Nicole had leek soup and charcuterie. Bob ordered beer cheese and ham soup. I ordered beef stew. This beef stew was better than the beef stew that we ordered in Ghent. We saved room for a coffee--N saved room for a hot chocolate. The food was great!
Cover of the menu
Holiday decoration on a Brussels sidewalk

Mural depicting comic strip characters
We sampled chocolate from Chocolatier Mary. Mary Delluc was the first woman to move chocolate from an ingredient to cover up the bitter taste of medicine to making it a luxury item. She opened her store in 1919. It was fun to look at the chocolates and pick some to take home. We also picked one to fuel us forward on our walk!

I was amazed to learn that there are 2000 chocolatiers in Belgium.  Belgium is about the size of the state of Maryland so it is a small country to be making all that beer and chocolate!

Belgium is known for their chips (fries) which are crisp and delicious, and their waffles which are sweet and fluffy. Belgium is also known for a number of classic comic strips. In many shops we visited, we saw items relating to the comic books for sale. I knew that "The Smurfs" were created in Belgium; but, I didn't know about the other cartoons.

Nicole and I paused at a waffle vendor. We watched the vendor make the waffles. The batter looked like my batter. We shared a plain waffle. It was delicious! We were both glad that we had the plain waffle as it was plenty of tender crust and sweet flavor! I don't know what all was in it because my waffles at home don't taste like that!

Bruges is also an old city with canals. I couldn't resist taking a photo of the bicycle shop. We enjoyed the building architecture, Christmas markets in addition to the waffles, chips, chocolate, and beer.

Bob's lunch at the CowFish
What surprised me was that it wasn't light until after 8AM and it was dark by 4:30PM.

Day nine found us traveling about an hour to Brussels. Brussels is a modern city with some old architecture. It was a rainy day so we didn't see the spectacular views; but, we still had a nice walk.

We walked to the Manneken Pis statue. This little boy peeing into the fountain has been in place since about 1618. The statue we photographed is a replica circa 1965. The original is in the Brussels museum.

I thought that the statue was built to honor the tanning industry because children's urine (sans hormones) was collected and used in the leather industry. Wikipedia gives other versions and doesn't list that one! There is also a statue of a little girl peeing which we didn't see. At any rate, the sense of humor the statue invokes was not lost on me!

Formal garden setting in Brussels
From there we met Leon, a previous co-worker of daughter, Nicole. He was so interesting! He was quick to add a humorous comment into conversations. He provided thoughtful answers on a variety of subjects. Nicole always spoke highly of him and he spoke highly of her! He lives about an hour away and drove in to the city on his day off to visit with us and guide us to the various places in the city.

Imagining the view on a clear day; but, capturing the view with rain
We met at a chocolate shop named Debailleul. We ordered an array of dark chocolate which was delicious. It was a French chocolate shop and I could read most of the menu items! (Daily Duolingo lessons are beginning to pay off!) I thought that their menu cover was unique! I had a coffee; but, some in our party had hot chocolate. The waiter brought milk to thin the chocolate and when I saw the chocolate I understood. . .the chocolate was thick!!

We had lunch at the Cowfish restaurant. It is named because there are beef and fish entrees on the menu. I had a tuna burger which was delicious! As we walked we would see beautifully painted murals on buildings. Leon said that these were depicting many of the characters in the various comic strips that had originated in Belgium.

Most of all I enjoyed the tour. Thanks, Leon for spending your day off with us! While we were walking, I managed to slip, fall and scrape my knee. The first point of contact was my knee hitting the cobblestones. The second point of contact was my backside colliding with the cobblestones. I remember as I was falling that I was concerned I was going to mess up my neck!

After the initial pain subsided, I was able to stand up under my own power. I stood for a bit to see how my body felt. I remember mentally doing a head to toe check. Once I decided I was okay, I took a few steps. My knee worked and so I finished our walk. I also managed to keep the knee of my pants intact too! I laughed at myself as to what I was so concerned about . . .the knee of my new pants!!! Silly me!








































Sunday, February 9, 2020

Bangkok Nights--An Oldie

View of the fabrics
I'm working on documenting my older finished quilts. This is the story of one of those quilts!

My oldest daughter helped me pick the fabrics for this quilt in June of 1998. It was one of the first projects that I picked my own fabrics for the project. (Usually, I went to the local quilt shop and picked a couple fabrics and had the staff help me choose the rest!) My oldest daughter was a great sounding board for the fabrics!

The project was a class at the local quilt store. I had hoped that the project would be for my oldest daughter. She however, did not like the orange and purple fabrics.

I thought that the purple was the perfect background for the night stars. My daughter did not like the gold stars. She really didn't like the orange fabric which was my favorite fabric in the grouping! I had chosen the colors/fabrics to coordinate with the batik that I used in the long star legs.

Looking back, I didn't get the value quite right. The tan background was too similar to the star points for the pattern to be easily seen. I do remember walking around and around the fabric store for several hours trying to choose just the right fabrics!
A full block

The pattern was a Cheryl Phillips pattern called WedgeWorks. I used templates to cut the pattern
pieces. As an aside, I've since made another Cheryl Phillips pattern; but, didn't realize it until I was writing this post!

In the four hour class, I remember stitching a small portion of one block. Over several years, I would work on the project. I had a hard time keeping the blocks circular. A friend, that I sewed with, convinced me that I would be able to quilt out the lumps. (You probably know where this post is going.) I decided that I was too much of a perfectionist and I decided that I needed to loosen up. I tried to be unconcerned about the "lumps" and the "bumps!"

What intrigued me about the pattern was that the star legs are three dimensional. I liked how the block looked. I kept sewing bits together until I had sewn all the blocks. The last step was to applique the star on top to cover the hole in the center of the block.

Borders of the quilt
I fussed a bit with the orange flange that I placed around the block and then I set the circle into a square frame. That took a lot of doing because my circles weren't exactly the right size! Eventually, I managed the sewing and I stitched the blocks together.

The pattern had unique to me borders so I stitched them in place. I was excited to pin baste the quilt and begin to quilt it on my domestic sewing machine. I had about two thirds of the background quilted with a fairly small stipple when I decided I really couldn't quilt out the lumps and bumps. I also decided that I disliked the stipple. I put it aside for a while. Later, I decided that I would rip out the stippling and start over.

Label of quilt
It took me several years to rip out the stippling. I didn't work on the quilt often. It was difficult to rip the purple thread and tiny stitches out of that purple background! Eventually, I succeeded.

I opened some seams and eased the fullness out of the top. I hand those stitched the seams closed. I echo quilted a circular pattern around the rings. I liked that quilting much better!

The backing is more of the background fabric. I had a lot of that fabric as it is also the binding! It took me more than six years to finally finish the quilt.

I named it Bangkok nights because it reminded me of the colors in some Thai costumes. In the early days, I used the alphabet in my machine to embroider the label. It took a long time to make the label!
Most of the quilt

In the end, I was happy that I had made the effort to change the quilting. I stored it thinking that perhaps it might make a good gift for a niece. I later learned that the niece wasn't interested in a homemade blanket. I kept it. When the youngest daughter was in college, she said she would use it, so I gave it to her. When she her job took her to London, England the first time, the quilt returned to our home.

She was saying how cold she was so when we visited in December. I took it to her. It goes well with Zellie, her zebra from Africa that hangs out on the floor and it goes well with Ellie, her elephant wall hanging from India.

Perhaps, all along, this quilt was made for Nicole. It just took us both some years to finally see the picture. I believe quilts end up where they are supposed to be!

After we had arrived and unpacked, Nicole tried out her latest acquisition. She seemed to be able to easily nap. . which is a great test for a quilt! I'm glad she has it and I'm glad that she is using it!

Evidence of testing the napping qualities of the quilt





Wednesday, February 5, 2020

Traveling in December--Post 3

Old truck outside of flower market
Shrimp and scallop dinner
Smoothie at the coffee shop
On our fourth day of visiting Nicole, we slept in until we woke. After a scrambled egg, guacamole and toast breakfast that Nicole prepared, Nicole and I went to the Flower Market located on Columbia Road. Nicole said it was an off day because we were easily able to cruise through the various stalls of fresh cut, potted and dried plants.

The Flower Market was a site to behold! We also checked out the cute shops lining Columbia Road that were open! While we saw many tempting items, we brought nothing home. We did photograph an old truck that was parked outside of the market.

We took a gentle route home with a stop for a cup of coffee at the Ace Hotel. When we dropped in, we didn't realize the coffee shop was part of a restaurant and internet area off the lobby! Nicole said it was a spot that she would go again.
Shrimp and scallop dishes

After we warmed up, we walked through the Old Spitafields Market. This a shopping market full of shops with a vendor mall packed with various clothing items from knit hats to glamorous evening wear to stylish leather and wool outerwear. We ventured in to the Hotel Chocolate and purchased a box of chocolate trees. The chocolate was in so many creative forms!

For lunch we ate an artfully arranged tray of vegetables and an artfully arranged plate of Indian food leftovers. For dinner, Bob cooked shrimp, scallops and asparagus. He made two separate dishes and both were great.

We slept in again on the fifth day of our visit. We took a walk to purchase a coffee and a baguette for lunch. It was a beautiful bright sunny day. The first time I visited Nicole, she gave me a punch card for a free drink to this coffee shop, if I would order a particular drink which was a peanut butter banana smoothie. I tried; but, I'm not one to swear so the waitstaff said, "Oh, you want #%%##." This time, Nicole ordered it for me.
Viewing the lights from the London Eye

After lunch we walked to the London Eye. On the way, we stopped at the Tate Modern museum to view the city from the top floor viewing area. It was a nice view. Then we continued our walk to the Eye. Nicole had tickets for us to ride the Eye and see the city lights at night. We stood in line for about 45 minutes.

Proof I rode the Peloton bike
I was surprised that you board each pod while it is moving. You also deboard the same way! I did enjoy seeing the lights. I learned that four million people ride the London Eye each year.  I'm glad that we went as the view was spectacular. I understand that the ride closes early on New Years Eve because some fireworks are shot from the structure.

On day six, Nicole convinced me to ride her Peloton bike. She rides it regularly and likes being able to take a class when it best fits her ever changing work schedule. Bob also rode the bike and because he already is a bike rider, he liked it right away. I was concerned that it would hurt my knees. I tried a gentle beginner workout. Nicole fitted the seat to me and helped me put my shoes into the clips. That is a weird feeling to be "clipped in!" I survived the ride and it was fun. I can now understand why people would have a bike like that! She took a photo so there is actual proof that I rode! Bob helped me "clip out."
Decorative street lights 

The activity for the day was attending a musical called "Come Away." It is the story of a tiny town in Canada that housed the passengers that were stranded on flights during the aftermath of 9-11. It was an excellent show. We walked through Carnaby Street on our return and enjoyed the street light decorations. The amount of people in the streets was mind boggling. I did enjoy the street light displays and window shopping!

Nicole cooked a crustless quiche for dinner which was delicious. After dinner, some of us took a couple hour nap. We napped because day six was New Year's Eve. We got up about 11:45PM and walked to the waterfront to watch Londoners ring in the new year with fireworks. We enjoyed what we could see. When we got up the following morning at 4:30AM, we watched a few more spectacular displays from the comfort of our daughter's flat! You'll need to read the Traveling in January post 1 to find out why we got up so early!