I wiped away the weeds & foam. / I fetched my sea-born treasures home... Ralph Waldo Emerson

Wednesday, January 30, 2019

Blue Baskets String Quilt ~ January Update

Good evening! Is the Polar Vortex headed your way? I'm not sure what is headed here, but my fridge is full to bursting with food. It's cold but perfect sewing weather. I've been working on my Blue Baskets. [apologies to my regular non-quilty readers if this is a smidge repetitious].

String quilt history~ here is my friend Mel's memory of making string quilts with her mom, in  Missuori, maybe 1970s?
I love string quilts, and just because they're a 'thing' right now doesn't mean squat. My mom used to make them, and like the vintage top, there were all kinds of prints in them - usually skinny scraps left over from making clothes, curtains, etc. Not much got thrown away! Mom would cut block-sized squares from newspaper and sit at the machine with a stack and a basket of scraps. She'd sew a short piece at one edge and fit longer strips all across until the block was covered. Actually, she just kept going from one block strip to the next block in a continuous line - I stood behind the sewing machine and very carefully snipped the thread between the blocks and stacked them back up for the next line through. I loved having a job to help! (I was maybe 4? Not very big!) Then when the paper squares were filled Mom would trim them and sew them together, and I 'got' to peel the paper off the backs, lol. Tedious job, I'm sure Mom appreciated that I LIKED doing it! [from Melody L/ Kansas]
This project is SO FUN! I am having such a great time, I do love it. The design has been on my mind for a couple years so Lori's sewalong was the perfect impetus to get going. Inspiration quilt here.
Four Baskets made so far!

The first two went slow as I worked out my pattern and method.
I do love working with patterns that I have drafted myself. I've always been a good patternmaker and I suppose using my own pattern takes "I wonder what she meant?" out of a project. Often both time wasting and annoying.

The biggest decision was about the construction of the base of the Basket. Sometimes that section is one big triangle.

Or it can be two HSTs and a square. I went with the squares, it's neater.

The strips are torn from my thrifted men's plaid shirts. I look for Ralph Lauren and a few other fine brands. The cotton is so  fine and soft. Nice but I found that the strips do better if lightly starched.

This top blue solid is lovely but the fabric grows and ripples every time I press it. I hate to rip it out though.

I like tearing random strips, a nice change from the labor of cutting with scissors and templates or puzzling over rotary instructions, praying my finger tips survive.

"I help, mommy?"

Unlike some quilters I don't deconstruct the shirts ahead of time. I always think, Oh how wasteful, what if I never use the cut ups bits, but the shirt is now destroyed. So far for the Baskets I'm just using a sleeve of each shirt for a random look.

Even the white shirting is an XXL GAP shirt. I'll use it up then switch to something similar,
maybe not a shirt though.

The cheddar handles are starched and ironed; I fold the double-fold bias by eye, and cut. Then trim to approximate length and press the arc firmly, stretching the piece as I iron.

Mark the handle hoop with a template and a Frixion pen.

[I've never had any probs w Frixion pens and I like them. My only complaint is they dry up very fast, so wasteful. BUT last week it was so cold in my sewing room that the dreaded white lines did appear on something. How funny and odd. The white lines disappeared with the touch of my iron, not an issue .]

As I mentioned above, I make patterns on paper, by hand, I make templates and cut with scissors. It's how I learned and I like it....I'm not into mass production or hurrying, or in making a thousand quilts per year.

I estimate my quilt will need about 25 10" Baskets. Possibly a zigzag setting in either the blue plaid shirts or a white sprig. Another option is spacer squares in a white ground shirting. Just, please, no sashing.

If you'd like to read my earlier post about my inspirations and choices of design, my previous string quilt, my antique string quilt, here is the link. A String Quilt Year

Pinterest design inspiration link HERE

PS To make note: this project is about string quilts, not scrap quilts; the correct term is String, not strip or Strippy. Strip quilts refers to a style of setting blocks in vertical columns with spacer fabrics, often striped or distinctively figured in between. So remember: your project is a String Quilt, not a Strippy, historically speaking.



gone to the beach...............

Here's a link to Lori's show and tell/ linky post so you all can see everyone's string quilts! Scroll down to the end for all the other string quilts.

Monday, January 28, 2019

Forcing Spring Bulbs

Hi~! A little late but it is time to start our paperwhite  narcissus and hyacinths for a tiny hint of spring.

I wasn't going to do paperwhites this year, being budget conscious and buying the small pot of hyacinths instead. And last year I was very disappointed in the supermarket bulbs I bought.  But the other day I saw the pw bulbs on sale on Amazon from my fave seller. And here they are! [Amazon/ Paperwhite Express/ 9.99]

Now what?
I wanted to put then in a tin farmhouse bucket, maybe this one,

but I was worried it would get rusty and/ or leak. The bulbs are grown in water, as you may recall. I found similar at Hobby Lobby, but maybe too big? (Oh that pink, yummy!).  HERE
White Rustic Oval Metal Feed Bucket

Pink Rustic Oval Metal Feed Bucket

A cupboard search reminded me that I wanted to try this large glass vase/ fish bowl. My friend used to bring me flowers left after weddings/ parties he'd planned, and I saved the interesting containers.

I also found this interesting and rusty star mold to stabilize the bowl and to add a rustic effect. The bowl alone---just too modern for me.

I found my big bag of faux seaglass, from Michael's. I use it every year---when the flowers are finished just soak in Clorox water  then rinse well, dry and save for reuse. Anything porous works, pebbles, gravel, seaglass, small sea shells, marbles. You need enough to fill the bottom of your container to about 2" deep.

Nestle the bulbs into the  base til they are stable.

You can see mine are raring to go and grow.

They look great, firm and  healthy with green shoots. The shoots will straighten out in a few days.

Add lukewarm water to just touch the bulbs bases. Pour the water in gently, don't just stick the bowl under the tap. The daffs drink a lot of water at first, check daily and keep adding water.

Do not drown the bulbs! Just their bottoms get wet,lol.

I am hoping the narrow opening of the bowl will help the shoots stay upright but they may need to b e staked and tied as they develop flowers and have heavy heads. I'll look for some nice winter-y branches during our walks. Pussy willow stems also make sweet stakes for spring bulbs.

Some people add rubbing alcohol or vodka to the water once the bulbs start growing. This supposedly stunts the growth so they don't get leggy and top heavy. I've never tried it, as far as I recall.

This area gets morning sun. The bowl can rest there for a couple days, up to a week, then I'll move them to a more prominent spot.

I  also got a 5" pot of very inexpensive hyacinths about ten days ago.

I put them in my big Staffordshire blue tureen, c.1890-ish. The tureen has a Scottish motif, with plaid edging and scenes of lochs and castles.

Hyacinths grow slowly and are fun to watch.

These are a gorgeous shade of blue. Note the hint of turquoise at the base of each floret.

The flowers are more spaced than usual, which to me gives them an old-fashioned charm [but prob is because the pot was only 2.99, cheap bulbs.]

The flowers have an odd sweet scent, not the usual hyacinth/ Easter/ spring scent. Strange, but nice.


And here is a final pic of my Christmas amaryllis. I just today trimmed the final giant bloom. It lasted so long and was so breathtakingly beautiful. I set the pot and bulb aside while I research how to save the bulb. This is definitely worth the effort.


And look! Who is peeking out? Mrs. Tiggywinkle and baby robin.

All ready for Groundhog Day!

A few little vignettes on the sideboard.

btw I'll be posting on Wednesday to join Lori's string quilt linky party, Month One, so be sure to stop back.
And what about that bread I was gonna bake? Something to share on Friday or Saturday, so stay tuned for a cooking post.
I hope you're enjoying these cold beautiful days. Look up at the diamond stars in the black winter sky. Breathe the wonderful clean air. Enjoy.



gone to the beach..............