Saturday, May 26, 2012

First Swoon Block

Well I just couldn't help myself. Yesterday I sewed up my first Swoon block and I am so excited about how it turned out! This thing is big - 24 inches square, and I completely lost track of how many hours it took me to cut everything out and sew the block together. But this is one of those blocks that never got boring - every little step was fun. This looked so pretty on my sewing cabinet I thought about leaving it there, but then remembered the little people running around with dirty hands and quickly whisked it away to safety.

Rather than using white I used unbleached muslin - I like the natural look of it and think it complements the grays and browns of the Flea Market Fancy fabrics really well. If you look really closely you can see that I had to do a little bit of weird piecing to make that golden fabric work. I had just enough fabric, but had to sew little scraps together in the end to get my last few squares cut out. I call it pioneer piecing. :) Now it's on to the next block and my favorite part: figuring out what fabrics to put together!

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Hopping on the Swoon Train

I just got some Flea Market Fancy by Denyse Schmidt in the mail (from Fabric Shoppe - LOVE them!) and as I was dropping each lovely fat quarter in the washing machine, I kept thinking "Swoon." What is a Swoon, you ask? This is a Swoon:

1. swoon, 2. swoon, 3. Swoon-four blocks completed, 4. Swoon Quilt, 5. swoon block, 6. Swoon Block, 7. Swoon in flight, 8. Swoon, 9. may block

I love how this block is both old-fashioned and modern at the same time. There was a "Swoon Along" going on at some point but I have totally missed that train. I'm ok with that, though. I kept trying to tell myself that I already have enough unfinished quilts lying around waiting to be basted and finished up (um, make that 4) and another stack of uncut fabrics along with my dream of the quilt it will become, but I just couldn't help myself. I bought the pattern (only $8 and it is a pdf so you get it right away!) and am already thinking about color and fabric combinations. *sigh* I'm cursed with the it's-more-fun-to-design-and-plan-a-quilt-than-it-is-to-finish-it disease. I think the reason I'm excited about this is that the last few quilts I've made have all been in the same color family. Lots of maroon, pink, blue, turquoise, and grey. There will be plenty of grey in this quilt too (I can't help myself!) but I'm loving the fresh change that the green and orange bring in. Plus, now that I've finished the do. Good Stitches quilt, there is all this empty space in my sewing cupboard just begging to be filled up again with a new project. Hm, maybe my husband will read this and understand. I know you do. :)

Monday, May 21, 2012

These are my blocks for the do. Good Stitches quilting bee - they will make up our May quilt. Such a simple idea and a clever way to use up little fabric scraps. I think the finished quilt is going to be lovely, don't you? I keep meaning to get outside with my (borrowed) camera to take pictures of the garden. For the first time in 11 years of gardening I have a really productive garden. Nothing about gardening has come naturally to me - I now have a library of organic gardening books which I consult before planting every vegetable. Seems there is more to gardening than sticking seeds in the ground and hoping the varmints don't get them. I've been mixing up fish emulsion and stirring in bone meal, turning the rotting vegetables into the compost pile and all kinds of other stinky organic things, and it is paying off. Hooray!

Spring has also brought us a wealth of new chickens. A few months ago I picked up a box of 39 day old chicks at the post office, which were divided between us, my dad, and my urban-farmer friend Jessica. Then we noticed that 4 of our hens had gone missing. After last year's baby chick surprise, we figured they were off sitting on secret nests of eggs, and so far we have been right about two of them. Crazy Red Hen laid a clutch of eggs in an old box in the garage and hatched out one baby chick. I'll spare you the details, but let's just say that if you are going to hatch out a baby, don't do it in a box in the garage. Her sister, Crazy White Hen laid a clutch of eggs in the attic of the barn. We only discovered her there because Brett thought a rat was scrabbling around up there and barged in on her ready to attack. Fortunately the intrusion wasn't enough to convince her to leave her nest, and she has hatched out two super tiny little blonde chicks. So far so good on those little guys, but I'm not sure how she is planning on getting them down from there, or how she was planning on feeding them. As it is, I have to make sure she is supplied with food and water since they are not on the ground to find these things themselves. *sigh* Needless to say, my chicken chores have vastly increased. After I make the usual check of the old flock (food, water, gather eggs, make sure no eggs have been eaten, socialize a bit), then tend to Egg Eater Hen (she is quarantined since when she is with the other hens she eats their eggs), I check in on our mail-order chicks to feed and water them, play with them to ensure they grow up gentle and friendly, and make my way to the garage to make sure Crazy Red Hen hasn't done anything, well, crazy, and try to cheer her up with a handful of scratch. Then I scale a precarious stack of scrap wood and tools into the barn attic, heave up the floor board under which Crazy White Hen is nesting (and I do this at great personal risk, since she is ready to attack me at any minute, being unaware that I am the only thing keeping her and her babies alive) to give them food and water that I have hauled up with me. Yes, all of this is done with a 6 and 3 year old in tow, asking questions all the while. I love having baby chicks but sure wish we had some functional mothers taking care of them. I have more and more appreciation for those homesteading women - taking care of a farm is hard work!

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Pea Soup

I made this soup tonight, courtesy of Martha Stewart. It was delicious, but best of all, every ingredient was harvested from home. The peas and lemons came from the garden, the stock was home-made, the eggs from our chickens. It feels so great to live off the land! We paired the soup with open-faced trout sandwiches; the trout was caught by my father-in-law a few days ago. A fresh, delicious spring dinner and a nice way to wrap up a sunny weekend.

Friday, May 18, 2012

Can I blame my blog neglect on the fact that I've lost my camera? Hm. I'm sure you've been just as busy as me - it seems like spring brings a huge burst of activity every year. I've been working on lots of custom orders (the photo above is of a plush mini blanket I made - I had forgotten how fun those are to make!) and finishing up my first quilt for do. Good Stitches:

I posted the photo of the pieced front of this quilt months ago and have been feeling guilty every since for not finishing it. I'm sure I broke some sort of quilting bee rules by taking so long to finish it. I do love how it turned out - and it is huge! Last night we gave it a test run (before washing it of course) and Brett, both kids and I all fit under it comfortably. I'm excited to send it off to the charity we support. Here's the back:

I was determined to use only fabric I had on hand, which is why it looks kind of disorganized. But I'm happy about how it turned out. I'm already excited about my next turn to head up our quilting efforts - I'm in charge of the June quilt. And I promise I won't take so long to finish it this time!!! I have all kinds of sewing ideas rattling around in my head and the itch to start something new. This usually results in me buying lots of fabric and stashing it away in my sewing cabinet for when I have time. I got a shipment of Kona solids today - time to stop shopping and start sewing!

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Some things to consider :

1.) What is the opposite of a donkey?

2.) What if our face was on the back of our head?

3.) What if we Swiffered the back yard?

Ah, the mind of a 3 year old...

(Answers: 1.) a Wonkey; 2.) we couldn't see where we were peeing; 3.) the chickens would be happy)