Wednesday, October 29, 2008
Feeling as bereft as the bare oak branches look. Some very scary health news today concerning a good and dear friend at work.
And when will our government leaders put politics and personal aggrandizement aside and hammer out a national health insurance plan? It's unconscionable that that people facing medical issues have to be more worried about how to pay the outsized charges for everything than they are about the health problem itself...
Tuesday, October 28, 2008
I did get the borders attached to the Scrap Bin Log Cabin and I'm liking what I see.
Unfortunately, I have nowhere in my house where I can lay out the whole thing for photography and it was so windy outside. So an outside shot didn't work at all.
Off to the quilter with this one!
This week is starting badly too. Last night I had to attend a Joint Village and Town Budget Meeting--listening to the men who hold the library purse strings, but seldom or never darken the library door themselves, ask inane questions about how we spend our money.
Guys, we even re-use Scotch tape and that's the truth. Don't get me started.
But here is a little life bonus. I won a prize! I was the winning commenter on Barbara Jacksier's The Book Blog and won a little anagram game that fits into a cute zippered banana.
Apropos of absolutely nothing, but aren't presents like that the most fun anyway?
Saturday, October 25, 2008
Little by little, I feel more and more like a real knitter. For most of my life, I watched my mother and aunt churn out the sweaters. They would say to me, "You could do this." But I felt that I had quite enough fiber hobbies, thank you very much. And knitting a sweater or afghan seemed like such an unending project.
Which is kind of funny in the light of my spending a year or more working on a single quilt.
But several years ago at a quilt retreat, I was intrigued watching one friend show another how to knit a pair of socks. I dimly remembered knitting a pair of mittens in high school home ec. And the realization began to dawn that, yes, I COULD do this.
I was thinking about all this last night as I swallowed hard and dove into the knit-on border for the taupe shawl. When I was working on the wedding shawl, I had to swallow hard for two months before I summoned the courage to even attempt that knit-on border. Last night I cast on and launched into it and it's working. It's working!!
Thursday, October 23, 2008
I'm so impressed with her output of quilt after quilt, and with her enthusiasm which is never dimmed by anything, be it endless strings of half square triangles to make or snarky blog commenters.
One other package arrived in the mail today. A huge envelope containing this:
(It contained the Our Lady of Guadalupe calendar, not Lucy. But Lucy is always there to assist with photography...) Some friends of mine are always loading me up with Guadalupe imagery. And now I'm all set to greet 2009 in style.
Tuesday, October 21, 2008
We had lots of sewing time but also did just a bit (hah!) of shopping. De Soto is right across the river from Lansing, Iowa, home of the fabulous Yellow Bird Art, which is one of my favorite quilt shops anywhere. Feast your eyes:
Owner Amy stocks so many exciting fabrics, patterns, and findings--it makes my heart beat faster every time I'm there. If you're anywhere in the vicinity, you NEED to seek it out.
Retreat results: the Log Cabin is together and has its inner border. I'm making piano keys as an outer border and have a few more strip sets to assemble. But the end is in sight on this baby.
The Log Cabin has been so much fun to make that now I'm really in the scrap-using groove. I can see the makings for two or three more quilts in the 1.5" wide strip bin. But those will wait for just a bit.
Right now I'm beginning to turn my eyes toward holiday projects. I have about a jillion half square triangles left over from the red and white Delectable Mountains/Kansas Troubles quilt and I'm thinking they might make up into a nice Christmas-y table runner.
The fabrics, by now, are pretty familiar. But as far as I'm concerned, red and white just doesn't get old. And I may add a twist or two to make this piece look fresh and different.
I'm getting them pressed, trimmed and ready to go.
Sunday, October 12, 2008
I had found a bargain-priced copy of On Beauty by Zadie Smith on the bookstore remainder table. After I got it home I was reading reviews and they mentioned that it's an homage to Howards End. So I thought it might be a wise thing to finally read Howards End. Whoo! That took some doing, but I did it. Am I glad I read it? Well, I guess so. I was waiting for the main character, Margaret, to tell the older man in her life to hit the road. Any woman treated in so patronizing a way would surely do that now. But this was 1910 and that did not happen...
So now I have the Merchant Ivory film of Howards End here at home to watch. After all this, I hope I like On Beauty once I get around to reading it. After all, I did my homework.
A quicker read was The Madonnas of Leningrad by Debra Dean. This is a really sweet and haunting tale of love and memory. The main character, Marina, works in The Hermitage museum during the Seige of Leningrad--helping to hide the artworks from the coming invaders, and protecting the building once it's damaged by bombs. The tale alternates between that story and the present time, as a much older Marina slips into the sad haze of Alzheimer's Disease.
I liked this book but didn't like the fact that Marina's children knew so little of their mother's past. The book implies she didn't tell them much, but I bet they weren't paying attention to what they were told. That's really sad.
Next up is Cane River by Lalita Tademy. This one's been on the list for a long time.
In quilting news, the Log Cabin blocks are sewn into ten long strips, ready to be sewn into a quilt top. Yay! I'll be away quilting next weekend and this will be project #1.
Friday, October 10, 2008
We've been playing with Flickr at the library too, as a social networking tool--to share with other libraries, but mostly to share with our library patrons. Big doings this week--my director OK'd our going Pro on Flickr. That means I can post unlimited pictures and organize everything better. I think I'm going to have lots of fun with it, and plan to use it as a photo blog. Take a look, and if you're on Flickr, please friend us!
Today is my three-year blogoversary. Three years ago today, I showed off my first lace shawl, just completed, and I was finally feeling like a REAL knitter. That was a milestone.
There have been other milestones since--lots of projects planned and completed, a few aborted, a few still hanging, waiting for further inspiration and motivation which WILL come.
Writing a blog keeps me moving--have to keep coming up with material! And there are so many bloggers out there who are so creative and productive--that inspires me no end. With a full-time job on the side, I often feel like I'm running breathlessly to keep up. I don't finish things fast, but projects are perking along as they are able.
Thanks for hanging with me! Onward....
Wednesday, October 08, 2008
I started assembling Log Cabin blocks into strips tonight and got about half done before I ran out of steam. But what fun--the variety of fabrics makes me laugh every time I look at it. There's some of the "Dogs in the alley eating Chinese food scraps" fabric. And there's some of the fabric that a helpful someone pointed out to me (in one of my quilts) as the ugliest fabric she'd ever seen. Thank you! And the stuff with the fishing flies. And "How to find a husband" fabric. LOL
Can't wait till it's all in one piece.
And as you can see, Streak of Lightning won out. There was never any real competition--it's nice and zoomy.
Monday, October 06, 2008
Sneak peek! I have the Scrap Log Cabin partially laid out on the floor, and I've repaired the five blocks that were too wonky. Very excited to see how it looks all assembled! I'm liking the Streak of Lightning set, but nothing is cast in stone yet.
I spent part of the weekend plodding through two malls, in desperate need of a raincoat. I found one--a basic black trench coat. And heaven help me--a new toaster. (No detail is too mundane to make it into the blog.)
But I spent most of the weekend knitting. The shawl is twelve repeats away from its full length.
Note I don't say it's near completion because there is still a border to be knit on, all the way around. But this one is picking up speed. That's good because I have the next two or three shawls all planned out in my head.
Haven't posted a shot of Lucy for awhile. Here she is, Sunday afternoon, nappus interruptus.
Asleep or awake--a delight.
Saturday, October 04, 2008
Anyone who knows me knows about my love of connections to the past. That's what got me into quilting in the first place, after all--my love for old family quilts. But I have other treasures that evoke family connections and bridge the years.
This below is a tattered cookbook from 1897 that belonged to my quilting great grandmother, Melissa Senecal Hines.
Her family were French-Canadian emigrants who settled in the border area around the Thousand Islands of upstate New York. They referred to themselves as York Staters--there's an expression straight out of the nineteenth century. And they peppered their speech with "Ayuh", like New Englanders.
But I love the personal touches my great grandmother left behind, the proof that she used and USED this book. Those are the things that make her so real to me, despite the fact that she died years before I was born. This newspaper clipping was tucked among the pages:
Best of all are the handwritten recipes in the back of the book. Some of them ring very familiar to me a century later. My mother was raised in this household and remembered well her grandmother's "Stired Cake". I remember my mother making her grandmother's "Fride Cakes"--cake doughnuts to the world outside upstate New York--and Wine Drops: soft molasses spice cookies.
How about the recipes for sickroom concoctions? Apparently a treatment for "Cholera Morbis" was a necessity, and a rheumatism liniment contains linseed oil and turpentine. The directions say, "don't cork tight". I guess not!
The inevitible question: do I use any of these recipes? I have made the Fried Cakes but find homemade doughnuts pretty tricky and labor intensive, not to mention artery-clogging. Deep frying: ugh. But a family favorite in my family is Melissa's Baked Bean recipe.
1 pound dried Pinto or Great Northern Beans
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/3 cup molasses
2 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1 large onion, chopped
1 small smoked pork hock
4 cups water
Soak beans overnight.
Combine brown sugar, molasses, salt, pepper, and water. Mix thoroughly and pour over other ingredients in a beanpot. Bake in a 300 degree oven for 6 to 8 hours, stirring occasionally and adding more water if beans appear dry. Taste and adjust seasonings if desired.
The flavor definitely deepens and becomes more complex as the dish sits. I often make them a day before I plan to serve them. One other note. These HAVE to be made in a beanpot, the old-fashioned kind, pictured above. Your basic covered casserole won't do (I've tried it), and I would have my doubts about a slow cooker.
Anyway--I love it. Whether it's quilting or cooking, I really cherish the ways the generations are bound together. Think I'll go work on my scrap quilt.