Sunday, February 26, 2012

Moving Along. . .

I actually have got a lot of quilting done this weekend- I am at the stage where I can see the light at the end of the tunnel, and that motivates me to keep going.  The time flew by this afternoon, I couldn't believe it when I looked at my watch this afternoon and it was five o'clock.

I am loving the texture and movement of this pattern (from Charlotte Warr Anderson's One Line at a Time, Encore).  I'm loving even more that it looks complicated, but is really pretty easy to do, especially after the first set of lines is laid down.  And I am so happy that I decided to use variegated thread for the second set of lines!

It is hard to see in a photo, but I have extended quilting with the colored thread into part of the black 'border.'  It is subtle, but I wanted to blend the hand dye into the black, and the threadwork gives me the effect I wanted.  On the first photo,  you can see one part where only the first set of lines is done, and another where both sets are complete.  Makes a difference, doesn't it!

I'm also trying to decided how to crop the black once I get the quilting done. This is my first inclination- pull it in tighter on the sides and top, and leave the bottom as long as it is.  Like this--

What do you think?

I want to get this done quickly, so I can get back to my Tangled Textiles piece that is due mid-March.  I already have a pretty good idea of what I want to do, it's just getting beyond this so I can concentrate on it! 

Now I'm off to watch the Oscars-- have a good week, all!

Monday, February 20, 2012


A wonderful long weekend, and Sunday we got hit with snow- which made it a good excuse to stay home and quilt!! Yes, I got my Juki back.  Turns out the issue was not with the machine at all, but with the speed limiter I made with Radio Shack parts shortly after I got the machine.  The speed limiter made it easier to control the speed when I was free motion quilting- Juki's can go like crazy if you floor it!  Apparently it can also create problems.  I ended up throwing the limiter out, and my machine guy fixed up a way to limit the speed that is mechanical and easy. 

So I have been quilting on Grace.  The first part of the design is done!  The second half should go quicker, since I won't have to mess with gridded tape anymore.

I think I am going to play with the last photo in PSE, to help me decide how much of the black 'border' I need.  You can't see it well in this photo, but some of my quilting lines that use color- either hot pink, yellow, or orange- flow into the black on the top and bottom.  I'm thinking I'm going to extend the color along the sides too when I add the second half of the design, which makes the tesselation.

I have finally starting doing one of the exercises in the Creative Photography book I got a few weeks ago.  It is looking at line, and finding letters of the alphabet in unexpected places.  Saturday was a gorgeous, sunny and relatively warm day, so I took Shiloh for a walk along the river trail in town.  I found my first three letters on that walk, and another today when I had to make a quick trip to the store.  I now have an L, T, F and Y.  O will be easy, I see them all over the place.  And I think I've seen an A I need to go back and shoot!

It's a fun exercise that certainly teaches you to look around and beyond the obvious!

Well, I've laundry to finish and dinner to fix.  Work tomorrow- sigh.  I'd so much rather be quiltng.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

The Cure for Frustration

I had good intentions and plans.  I was up and in the studio by 9:30 am, after an eye checkup and getting the laundry started.  I really want to finish this quilt, so it can go to its intended owner.  I have made progress!!

I decided to start the geometric, structured quilting- if I need to add more to the flowing lines, I can do that later.  I love using the painter's tape to guide my lines, so much easier than marking- and no marks to remove!  My Juki started acting weird last weekend.  I would stop the machine to turn the quilt, and it would not start again.  I tried turning it off, taking the power cord off and putting it back, and finally gave up after it did the same thing multiple times.  When it started doing it again this weekend, I decided a trip to the repair shop was unavoidable.  So I packed her up and had her in the shop by noon.  I'm hoping she'll be ready before next weekend, and the bill won't be a big one.

That left me with frustrations- the need to create, and nothing to do.  I'd thought about making some treats for staff at work for Valentine's Day, and that's what I did (and then some!!)  By the end of it, my kitchen looked like my studio at the end of a project.

I started with Cake Pops.  I first had them at Starbuck's, and was intrigued by the sweet treats that are only a few bites, and so not a calorie budget-buster.  I looked on You Tube, and found many, many tutorials on how to make them.  Skip the ones that call for cake mix and canned frosting, if I am going to eat sweet calories it is going to be the real thing.  So I made brownies (from Moosewood's Desserts cookbook), crumbled them, and bound the crumbles together with melted white chocolate.  Roll the balls, freeze them long enough to get them good and cold, then insert the sticks, and voila!  Chocolate brownie cake pops!!

That white dot you see where the stick goes in the cake pop is melted white chocolate.  An important step, run the stick through melted chocolate right before you insert it in the cake pop- it help cement them together.  After another fifteen minutes in the freezer, then I swirled them in more melted semi-sweet chocolate.  Wow- I'm a pastry chef!!

After the dark chocolate cooled, I tried decorating with melted white chocolate.  This is where I learned that white chocolate is much more temperamental than dark.  I managed to turn white chocolate chips into something that looked more like cottage cheese in my attempts to melt it.

Then I decided I wanted cupcakes.  So I made lemon cupcakes.  I think I got mesmerized by my stand mixer, I started playing with the shutter speed settings on my DSLR.  So we have slow shutter speed. . . 

which blurs the motion of the mixer, and fast shutter speed. . . 

which freezes the motion (and lets in less light to the camera, hence the noise in the photo!) 

For the first time ever, I made a European butter cream frosting in addition to my version of cream cheese frosting.  OMG, what a treat.  Light, silky, and not too sweet- that is was a frosting should taste like.  And I flavored some of that cream cheese frosting with raspberries to fill the cupcakes.  By the time I was done with them, they looked like this:

Gotta have red for Valentine's Day, right??

Then I decided I wanted to make another batch of cake pops, using a recipe from an Australian cook for raspberry white chocolate.  I  baked my cake instead of microwaving it like she did, and it worked fine.  I did mix it with a bit of my cream cheese frosting before I made the cake pops, and it seemed to work fine.  

After my disaster with white chocolate, I decided I wanted to try using melted cream cheese frosting to coat the cake pops.  It sorta worked, but not nearly as well as chocolate.  And I ended up dunking the top half in dark chocolate anyway. No, they aren't round and pretty like the first batch, but they taste just fine.  I guess I just have to get better at handling white chocolate!

I made cookies- gotta have heart cookies,right?

And last, I had cream cheese frosting left, so I made a small batch of gingerbread cupcakes.  I couldn't let that stuff go to waste!!

Don't worry, I have not fallen off the calorie conscious wagon.  All of this will get taken to work tomorrow, I will get to sample one or two things, and the rest will get eaten by some one else.  But I will have had the fun of creating, of getting better with my pastry bag and tips, and the pleasure of making some people happy with good food.  All in all, it's not that different than the creating I do with dyes, fabric, and thread.

But I really want my Juki back! 

Monday, February 06, 2012

Winter Walking (2012!)

Shannon and I spent part of the afternoon Saturday walking along the Provo river, close to my first home in Utah.  It is winter, but it has sure been a mild one. 

The lower part of the trail parallels the river to where it dumps into Utah Lake.  Parts of it are surrounded by trees, in their spare winter glory.

We saw ducks along the entire walk, some mallards and some coots.

I absolutely loved the two pictures I got of reflections on the water.  

  And this tree stump, reflected in the water--

It really felt good to get out and walk- I haven't done it since the issues with my foot started.

And, I have no pictures yet, but I spent the better part of Saturday morning quilting!  I decided I needed to get my Grace quilt done, I'm tired of having it hanging over my head.  I got the free-flowing part done to my satisfaction, and started on the more structured part.  I'm using one of the designs in Charlotte Warr Anderson's second book of geometric quilting designs.  Because it is not densely quilted, it is coming along nicely.  I am really trying to get the muse jumpstarted again!!