Sunday, December 29, 2013

Making Celtic Solstice: Part 5

I can hardly believe we've finished Clue #5 of Bonnie's Celtic Solstice already, which means we've been working on this mystery for five weeks now.  How times flies when we're having fun!

This week we were making Split Triangle Units.  I'm making the smaller quilt, which meant that I needed to make 100 units.  Remember those "extra" or "leftover" HST units from Part 3?  They are being used in the making of these units.

I have a funny aside for you though.  When Bonnie said to use the "leftover" HST, somehow I got it in my mind that these were "bonus" HST that you get from trimming.  Oh no!  Did I miss a step?  Did I throw away scraps I should have kept?  Desperately I went back to view Clue #3... where I remembered that we had made those extra HST units and didn't turn them into pinwheels.  Whew!  Disaster averted!  It was definitely time for more coffee because I obviously wasn't completely awake yet LOL.

Here are all my pieces, cut out and laid out and ready to be sewn together... including those extra  HST:

Here's a block all laid out, to test out how the pieces will go together and how the colors will play with each other.  I think I'm going to like this unit!

Look!  All finished!  Yippee!

Of course, my curious engineer's mind has been trying to figure out how these units will go together.  Bonnie said that the small quilt will finish at about 75" x 75".  That could be divided up into 25 blocks set 5x5, with each block measuring 15".  Each block would use a total of 25 Clue Units set 5x5 (each unit finishes at 3", and 3" x 5 = 15").

We have 25 pinwheels from Clue #3, which could each be the center of a block.  We've made 100 Units in both Clue #2 and Clue #5, which can be divided up so each block gets 4 of each.  But my math falls apart when we get to Clue #1 (having made 92 and 96 Units in two colorways) and Clue #4 (having made 120 Units).

So really, this is me just saying that I have no idea how these units are going to be used and how the blocks will turn out.  What will come next week?  Will we make even more units?  Will we begin assembling blocks?  Only time will tell.  :)

Friday, December 20, 2013

Making Celtic Solstice: Part 4

Today Bonnie promised us an easy clue for Celtic Solstice... 4-patches!  When strip pieced, these little units go together super quickly.  Bonnie used orange and green for hers, but my color scheme is different.  I used red in place of orange, and light blue in place of green.

Here are my strips all cut out and ready to go:

I bought yardage in a few different prints in order to make this quilt.  I didn't have much in the way of scraps in the right colors, so this is what I call "planned scrappy"... where I have to buy a little of a few different fabrics to get the feel of a scrappy quilt LOL.

I'm working with 6 reds and 5 light blues at this point (though I used up one of them in this clue, I only have 4 left now).  Since I don't have many prints, I have to do what I can in order to get as many combinations of fabrics as possible, so it looks more scrappy.

To speed up piecing, I paired up all the strips of one blue and all the strips of one red together, and sewed them together.  Before pressing, I folded them in half (using the shorter of the two strips to measure this) and placed my ruler on top of the fold:

Then I used the heel of my hand to press down on the ruler, making a crease in the fabric:

Once the fabrics were creased, I removed the ruler and laid the strips flat.  Do you see the creases?

I lined up the creases of about 3 strip sets along one line on my cutting mat, then cut each strip in half along that crease.  This gave me twice as many strip sets to mix and match, which allowed me to get a greater variety of fabric combinations for my 4-patch units.

If you're behind on the clues, don't despair.  This clue really does go together quickly so it won't take much to get caught up.  Happy sewing!

Friday, December 13, 2013

Making Celtic Solstice: Part 3

Today Bonnie posted Clue 3 of her mystery, Celtic Solstice.  By Bonnie's standards, this was an easy clue...  For the small quilt we need to make "only" 200 HST (half-square triangle) units.  Half were turned into pinwheels while the other half are left as is, for use later in the process.

First, I had to cut out 200 pieces in each of my two colors.  Bonnie's pattern called for yellow and orange, but I'm using a different color scheme.  In place of yellow I'm using grey, and in place of orange I'm using red.  Here are my pieces, cut out and waiting to be sewn together:

I used the top rows of red and grey for the pinwheels, and the bottom rows of red and grey for the standalone HST units.

Here are the HST units made from the top rows, lined up and ready to be sewn into pinwheels.  Each column will combine into 5 pinwheels.

I don't have a ton of variety in greys at this point, I used up all the smaller scraps in the last Clue.  I've got yardage in 5 grey prints to work with from now on.

And here you go, all the pinwheels and other HST units, finished!

It's a strange feeling, to be done with a clue so quickly.  I guess this means I should work on my other projects while waiting for next Friday LOL.

Monday, December 9, 2013

Making Celtic Solstice: Part 2

Clue 2 of Celtic Solstice was posted:  We're making chevrons!  My color scheme is different from Bonnie's, I used light blue in place of her green, and grey in place of her yellow.  (You can see my entire color scheme earlier on my blog if you're interested.)

My fabrics, cut and ready to be sewn:

Do you notice that grey with the black texture in front of the right-most pile of grey squares?  I bought that specifically to use with Bonnie's last mystery, Easy Street. See below:

It's a good grey print, very versatile for a lot of different projects.  Since I have a lot left over, I thought it would be appropriate to use it in this mystery as well.  It fits right in with my color scheme!

Here you go, my chevrons all sewn up and ready to be put in their place in the quilt:

I am really liking this color scheme, the light blue with the grey.  I may have to plan another quilt in this color scheme, I like it so much.  At this rate, my list of "to do" quilts will never end LOL!

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Making Celtic Solstice: Part 1

It's finally time to play!  Yippee!

First of all, I want to give a big THANK YOU to Bonnie Hunter for providing these fun mystery quilts every year, in addition to all the fantastic free patterns she has on her website.  She gives so much of herself to the quilting community, and I am very thankful for it and the way she draws together quilters from all over the world to share in this hobby we all love so much.  :)

OK, back to our regularly scheduled program...

After nearly a month of (not quite) patient waiting, Bonnie posted Part 1 of the Celtic Solstice Mystery.  I'm making the smaller version of this quilt... and you have to remember that "small" is all relative when it comes to Bonnie's quilts LOL.  The small one will finish at 75" x 75", which can either be left as is or easily be expanded with borders to make a good size Queen quilt.

So, the first step was to make a total of 188 units using the Tri-Recs rulers.  Here you see I have all my pieces cut out, using red instead of her orange:

And after two days I finally got them all sewn!

Yippee!  I'm so glad I got these units finished, and I eagerly look forward to Part 2, which will be out later this week.

So, what will keep me busy in the mean time?  Plenty!  Errands to run and monthly financials to do on Monday, new tires on the car on Tuesday, possibly Jury Duty on Thursday, and Christmas projects to fill in the gaps between the other obligations.  Speaking of which, it's time to get off the computer and get back to those Christmas projects.  :)

Happy sewing, everyone!

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Making Celtic Solstice: Intro

Bonnie Hunter's newest mystery is about to begin!  On October 23rd, she posted the Intro to the mystery including her color choices: Orange, Yellow, Green, and Blue.  You can see the color cards she picked here:

Bonnie's Color Cards

I'm not really that keen on her colors this year, unlike last year's quilt with amethyst, lime green, teal, and white/black.  So I've decided to go a different direction with my colors.  And for inspiration, being a car enthusiast as well as a quilter, I decided to take my color cues from BMW's Motorsport division.  Yes, I chose the "M" colors:

I think this color combination is very handsome, don't you?  Here's how I'm going to arrange my colors in relation to Bonnie's colors...

I'll use Dark Blue where Bonnie currently has her blues.

I'll use Light Blue where Bonnie will use green.

I'll use Red where Bonnie will use orange.

And I'll use Grey where Bonnie will use yellow.

I will still use white or very light cream neutrals, just as Bonnie will be with her color scheme.  But I want to keep this quilt crisp so I'll try to go through my whites before I touch any of my creams.

So, what about you?  Are you going to play along?  What colors will you use?  Which size will you make?  Bonnie will be providing directions for two sizes this time... Big and Bigger LOL.  I'm going to do the smaller of the two, since I've made several king size quilts in the last year I've decided I don't like making them that big.  :)

Until next time....

Friday, October 25, 2013

What's new?

Well, it's been a while since I wrote so I thought I'd do a bit of show-and-tell to show you what I've been up to.

This is a quilt I made for a swap.  I received fabrics from my swap partner, who mentioned she wanted a lap quilt with an ocean or beach theme to give as a retirement gift to a coworker.  This is what I came up with.  The outer border is a Disappearing 4-Patch, which gives it movement such as water rippling in tide pools.  The applique was just a lot of fun to add to the quilt, too.

I made this quilt for a friend.  I'm not sure if she was trying to stump me when she said her favorite colors were pink, purple, teal, and BLACK.  But I found the perfect pattern, and this quilt was born.  She LOVES it, and that makes me really happy.  :)

A client fell in love with this quilt, which came as a kit that she bought.  But she's not a quilter!  So she hired me to put it together for her, and it turned out so super cute!

I loved the teacup pattern so much, I made another one for a friend using fabric from my stash.

Today, I'll be binding this behemoth.  It's a King size t-shirt quilt, made from my client's running t-shirts he's been collecting since around 1982.  It turned out beautifully, and I can't wait to finish it and return it to him.  :)

Oh, and have you seen?  Bonnie Hunter's new mystery is under way.  She posted the first clue with colors and yardage, you can see it here:

Celtic Solstice Mystery

I'm debating doing it.  If I do, I think I'll choose a different colorway.  This one just isn't speaking to me like last year's did.  Oh, and the great thing is she's offering it in two sizes!  Big and Bigger LOL.  Will you be participating this year?

Sunday, June 30, 2013

Finally Finished!

Well, it's been a long time coming, but my Easy Street quilt (Bonnie Hunter's latest mystery) is finally finished.  100% finished.  As in, going through the washing machine so I can sleep under it tonight FINISHED.

Woo hoo!!!

I'm so happy!  And it's done just in time for our hot weather.  I used plain cotton fabric for the backing and wool batting.  Wool is great for summertime quilts as it is lightweight and breaths well, it's not really hot at all.

Whoops, there went the buzzer on the washing machine.  Time to move this baby over to the dryer!

Saturday, May 11, 2013

2013 Hippie Chick

Today, I ran in the 2013 Hippie Chick all womens' race.  There are Half and Quarter Marathon options, I ran the Quarter.  That's 6.55 miles for any non-runners out there.  :)

It was a great day for a race.  It started out on the cool side with a bit of cloud cover... a day made to order for a race.  It was nice to not be too hot while running.  The race course was also very well planned, over mostly flat country and on roads that offer at least some shade from time to time.  Towards the end of the race, as the temperature was rising, one of the volunteers even had a hose out and was spraying runners as they ran by.  I took advantage of that myself, and it felt good!

All the ladies were so supportive of everyone too, which was awesome.  I got a high-five from someone I didn't even know!  We were all cheering for each other and encouraging each other... which is yet another reason why I love this race.

Except for the three water stations where I walked (so I could drink the water instead of spilling it all down my front LOL), I ran the entire race.  I didn't have any IT band pain either, so my Rumble Roller (a.k.a the Medieval Torture Device) plus all the stretching and cross training are doing their jobs.  Towards the end I could tell they were getting a bit tight, so I did some butt kicks and that stretched them just enough to ease the tension I was feeling.

So, now for the important parts:  Times and statistics!  The race was timed with chips, these are the official numbers off the race website.

Finishing time (per my chip): 1:07:36
Finishing place overall (for the Quarter Marathon):  207th out of 1056 participants
Finishing place for my age bracket (for the Quarter Marathon):  41st out of 166

I really want to do the Half Marathon next year.  Hopefully my good luck with training, cross training, and stretching/rolling will continue and I'll be able to get there without injuring myself again and setting my training behind.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Iced Lemon Pound Cake

I used to love going to Starbucks to get a mocha and a slice of their iced lemon pound cake.  Lemon is one of my favorite flavors.... right up there with chocolate LOL.  But when I had to go Gluten Free for my health, that meant no more iced lemon pound cake.

Or so I thought.

Last year I stumbled across a Gluten Free buttermilk pound cake recipe that is so good, you would never know it wasn't "normal".  And just recently, one of my favorite Gluten Free cookbook authors posted to her website her version of a copycat recipe for Starbuck's iced lemon pound cake.

From Elizabeth Barbone at Serious Eats: Gluten-Free Tuesday: Buttermilk Pound Cake
From Nicole Hunn at Gluten Free on a Shoestring: Gluten Free Starbuck's Iced Lemon Pound Cake

I had a lightbulb moment.

Could I combine these recipes to get the texture I'd come to love from the first recipe, with the flavors promised by the second recipe?

I decided to give it a try.  And I am VERY pleased with the results.

I used the pound cake recipe from Serious Eats, adding the zest from one Meyer lemon and 1 Tbsp of juice from the lemon, and reducing the amount of buttermilk by 1 Tbsp to keep the amount of liquid in the recipe constant.  The result is a moist cake with a wonderfully light texture.  I decided against using the True Lemon crystalized lemon used in the Gluten Free on a Shoestring recipe because I wanted the lemon flavor in the cake itself to be subtle.

I then used the glaze recipe from Gluten Free on a Shoestring, but for whatever reason it just wasn't turning into a glaze.  Maybe it just was too dry in my house, because I ended up with a lump of sticky stuff in the center of my whisk and a lot of dry powdered sugar left in the bowl.  So I added some milk to it, just added a splash here and there until I could finally get the lump in the whisk to dissolve and the powdered sugar all incorporated.  At this point the glaze was too loose, so I added more powdered sugar a little at a time until I got the consistency I wanted: thick!  Heck, it was so thick I thought I was going to break my whisk!  But I wanted the icing to stay put and not run off the top of the cake, so this was perfect.

Here's my modified version of Iced Lemon Pound Cake!

Cake Ingredients:
* 5 ounces white rice flour (yes, weigh it out!)
* 2¾ ounces sweet rice flour
* 1½ ounces cornstarch
* 1½ tsp baking powder
* ½ tsp salt
* ½ tsp xanthan gum
* zest from 1 Meyer lemon
* 1½ sticks butter, at room temperature
* 1 cup granulated sugar
* 2 eggs, at room temperature
* 1 cup buttermilk, minus 1 Tbsp
* 1 tsp vanilla extract
* 1 Tbsp juice from Meyer lemon

Cake Directions:
1. Preheat the oven to 350ºF.  Prepare a loaf pan with nonstick cooking spray and dust with white rice flour.  Set pan aside for now.

Note: I actually used a pan that is 8½" x 4½" (not 9" x 5") because gluten free baked goods have a hard time holding their shape... due to lack of gluten.  The slightly smaller pan size allows the cake to hold its shape better.

2. In a medium bowl, whisk together the rice flours, cornstarch, baking powder, salt, xanthan gum, and lemon zest.  Set aside.

3. Using the paddle attachment on your stand mixer, cream the sugar and butter together until light and fluffy.  Stop and scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl once or twice during this process.

4. Add the eggs, one at a time, mixing well after each addition.  Scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl after each egg is incorporated.

5. Set your stand mixer to its lowest setting and add half the flour mixture, and once incorporated, add half the buttermilk.  Once they are completely integrated, turn up the speed to medium for about 1 minute, then stop the mixer and scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl.  Repeat this process with the remaining flour mixture and buttermilk.

6. Finally, add the vanilla extract and lemon juice.  Start with the mixer at its lowest setting until loosely incorporated, then mix at medium speed for 1 minute to fully combine all ingredients.

7. Spread batter evenly into the prepared pan.  Bake for 45 minutes or until a cake tester inserted into the cake comes out clean.

8. Allow the cake to cool in the pan for 5 minutes before turning it out onto a wire rack.  Allow cake to cool completely before icing.

Here is my lovely cake, fresh out of the pan and cooling on a wire rack.  I just LOVE that golden brown color!

Glaze Ingredients:
* 1½ cups powdered sugar
* 1/8 tsp salt
* 3 to 4 tsp juice from Meyer lemon
* 1-2 Tbsp 2% milk

Glaze Directions:
1. Combine powdered sugar and salt in a medium bowl.

2. Add the lemon juice and 1 Tbsp of milk and whisk together.  Add additional milk until glaze reaches a thick yet spreadable consistency... it should not want to drip off your whisk.

3. Spread the glaze evenly over the top of your lemon pound cake.  Allow to set (if you can) before slicing.

I hope you enjoy this recipe as much as I do.  Happy baking!

Saturday, January 5, 2013

Making Easy Street: I'm done!!

Woo hoo!  I prevailed!  I am finished piecing Easy Street, which has a new nickname: "The Bohemouth" LOL.  Honestly, this project reminded me why I don't do many King quilts.  The borders alone took longer to make and attach than assembling the center did.  :)  That said, however, I'm really pleased with how this quilt turned out and I can't wait to finish it and put it on my bed.

But it's done.  Yay!  Backing is ordered.  Yay!  It'll go to the quilter sometime in February.  Yay!  Now that it's pieced and ready for quilting, I don't have it hanging over my head.  And now I can move on to other projects that need doing.

I loved the unexpected pop of color with Bonnie's choice of red-violet inner border, so I kept to that idea for my quilt, though my inner border is more of a magenta.  I knew that I wanted to add in a pieced border, and since we had used 4-patch blocks in the center of the quilt, I thought I'd use them again in a border.  The final border is a print that I fell in love with as soon as I saw it.

Isn't that fabric just gorgeous?  It has purple and teal in it, so it works beautifully with the fabrics in the center.  And it has just a bit of that magenta as well, so it ties in nicely with the inner most border.  It's like this fabric was designed specifically for my quilt.  I love it when that happens.  :)  Can you believe it took almost 3 yards of material for that outer border?  Whew!

Here is a close-up of the borders.  I'm really liking how they play together.  I was originally going to use my leftover grey for binding, but now I'm thinking teal would fit the bill better.  What do you think?

And now, it's time for my machine to go to the "machine spa".  She's squeaking from all the work she's done... then again, she's due for her annual cleaning and oiling anyway.  She's been my trusty quilting companion for at least 12 years, and all she's ever needed was regular maintenance.  I do most (all) my piecing on my Juki TL-98E.  She only does straight stitch, but she does it very well... and I can't live without my automatic thread cutter!  :)

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Making Easy Street: Clue 8 Day 3

I did it!  I managed to assemble the center of the quilt.  I'm sorry, this isn't the best photo in the world, but I don't have any place to lay it out and get the entire quilt pictured.  And the lighting is terrible too, but what can you do?  I live in Oregon, it's grey and dreary most of the winter.  :)

Next step: shop for border fabrics!  I've designed borders to bring this sucker up to a King size quilt.  Yes, I'm crazy LOL.  One of the borders will be pieced, so it will keep the spirit of the crazy busy center.  The other two will be plain and simple fabrics, but I'm hoping to find ones that will be able to stand on their own against the center.  I do like the pop of red-violet that Bonnie added to her quilt as an inner border, so I'll be keeping that idea. You can see her finished quilt here.

I'll also need backing.  I hope to find a WIDE backing material that will be big enough, wish me luck!

And while I'm waiting for the border fabrics to be washed, I will begin on my next commission quilt.  Honestly, I should be able to piece it in a day or two, so there's no big pressure there.  :)

Did you work on Easy Street?  How are you coming along with it?  I must say, I don't like assembling on-point quilts, though I love the way they look once finished.  I'm glad I "suffered" through this one LOL.

Edit 01/03/13 4:13 pm:

I went shopping today for border fabrics.  Here's a photo of the quilt center laid out with the fabrics I chose.  The second border will be pieced with teal and green (at least that's the current plan LOL), and the pink is mirrored in the outermost border fabric... the tips of the stamen coming out of the flowers are the same pink.  More photos to come as the border is created and added!  :)