Wednesday, November 25, 2015

A Spatchcock Turkey

Somebody wanted to know how I cook my turkey if I cut the back out of it.  Well, here you go. I've done it like this the last three or four years, and I'm never going back. The turkey is done in about an an hour, and it's sixteen kinds of fantastic.

Go here, and do this:

Yup, cut the back out of the turkey, flatten it out, and cook it at 450F for about 45 minutes or so. Oh, you say, you can't present the big bird at the table? Who cares?  I cut the meat off the breasts, cut it into thick (3/4") slices, put it on a platter, and then carry on with the rest of the carving. It looks great, tastes great and is a lot less fussy.  I roast chickens the same way.

I'm right on schedule with my list. Tonight it's cook the carrots, prepare the broccoli and set the table.

Monday, November 23, 2015

Thanksgiving Countdown...

My Thanksgiving preparations are well underway. The house is clean, the serving dishes are ready, the menu is set and much of the shopping has been done. If you want to know more details, you'll have to visit my cat Millie's blog. She spills all my secrets.

It's funny. I'll meet quilters and they'll say, "I know all about you! I read your blog." And I ask them if they read Millie. "Well, no," they admit.  "In that case, you don't know all about me."

Right now Millie's nose is out of joint. I've got the table covered with Thanksgiving stuff and I've been moving stuff around for the big celebration. (Happiest news to date: weather should be partly sunny and temps in the 50F range! Whee!!! Remember last year?)

Friday, November 20, 2015

Twirling Dervish - blocks complete

I'm trying to get this flimsy done before Thanksgiving. It needs another row of blocks to make it taller, because right now it's only 66" tall, but that's an easy fix.

I'm definitely going to play with these blocks in a different way in another project, because look at these sideways - all kinds of fun layout possibilities!

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Twirling Dervish

This is about half the Twirling Triangles flimsy. Because sewing blocks on a severe curve like some of these distorts them a bit, I had to trim them down to 4.5" x 6" to get them "square" (four 90 degree corners), which reduces the effect of the curve somewhat. The seam allowance also contributes.

You can see it most clearly in the untrimmed (and unsewn) blocks on the left compared to the trimmed and sewn blocks on the right.  Had I known I would have made the original blocks larger, but hey, that's the way the cookie crumbles (or shall I say, that's the way the triangles twirl...)

This is probably NOT the last time I'll play with triangles like this.

And yeah, this quilt will need another horizontal row to make up the difference. Here in New England, where winters get as cold as minus 20 F (-29 C) outside, a "lap quilt" won't cut it on cold nights. I make all my "couch" quilts at least 72" long for that reason.

Monday, November 16, 2015

Happiness is a Quilt

Happiness is a well loved quilt.

Or two.

As you can see, the Petals quilt has arrived at its new home. (That's the Sunshine quilt underneath it.)

Saturday, November 14, 2015

Triangle Twirling

I had hoped that alternating concave and convex blocks of  the curved triangles (like this, above) would create the movement I wanted.

Alas, they did not. While this is moderately pleasing, it isn't exciting enough to float my boat. As my pal the Selvage Fairy said to me once, "It's interesting you think the worst [your design] could possibly be is nice."

But it was the Selvage Fairy who set me on this path of curves in triangles in the first place. She wanted to know what would happen with these blocks if I rearranged them. Dear Selvage Fairy, your request is my command...

So I started tinkering, but this did not float my boat either. This was boring boring boring. Too much been there done that.

However, there was one shape in this photo that I DID like very much.

THIS ONE! I thought THIS had distinct possibilities, so I moved the pieces around again...

By the time I was halfway down, I knew this was THE ONE!

I still have to rearrange the blocks to distribute the colors and patterns a bit better, and I need another vertical column over on the left to complete those dark shapes over there, but this overall layout is it.

I love the optical illusions it creates, the movement, and the sheer unexpectedness of it.

For those of you wondering how it works, this should explain it.

Friday, November 13, 2015

Happiness Is...

This man is Gerald Roy. It was his collection of quilts that was exhibited at the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston last year, and is currently on display at the Oklahoma City Museum of Art until February 2016, and then later in San Diego. He's on the Executive Board of Directors of the National Quilt Museum in Paducah Kentucky. He's an artist, quiltmaker and expert quilt appraiser.

It was in this capacity that I met with him last night as he appraised my quilt, Too Much Chicken.  He loved my quilt.  He said it was fun, but not silly. He loved all the little elements (foxes, the use of fabrics and the word jokes.) He said it was well made and beautifully quilted. (Check that smile on his face!) What a rush. It's one thing to have friends and family like your work. It's another thing when an expert loves it.

I've never been really sure about this quilt. It was fun and happy and somewhat ridiculous. Everybody who sees it smiles, and it was very heartwarming when Gerry turned it over and grinned from ear to ear.

The last time I met with him he asked me if I signed my quilts. When I showed him my discreet signatures on the back of my quilts he said, "Not big enough," so last night showed him the back of the quilt first.

He even loved that.

He said the workmanship and quilting were excellent, noted the quilt was extremely humorous and then valued it about three times what I expected. To say I was thrilled is an understatement of epic proportions.

It THAT wasn't enough...

 He signed my book. :-)

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Break Schmeak

Yeah, ok. I know what I said.

But I had this stack of wacky triangles on my work table, and another stack of paired ones sitting there.

So I arranged them in stacks of 10, figuring I'd need at least 150 to make a flimsy.  I had 64.

 So last night after I threw dinner in the oven, I went into the sewing studio and sewed pairs together.

I had dinner, read my email, the New York Times, did the dishes. Then I pressed the seams and continued stacking and sewing until I had 16 stacks.

At this point, I should really have gone to bed, but NOooo.... I had to stick them up on the design wall, "just to see." I was kinda hoping it would look like hell so I could move on to something else.

Fat chance.

Monday, November 9, 2015

Diamond Jubilee Backing

I bought eight yards of this gigantic print for the backing of the Diamond Jubilee quilt. I cut it in half and seamed it together to make a giant square, then realized two things.

1. I did not need eight yards, I only needed six, so my backing was 36" too long. Oh well, better to have too much than not enough.

2. I forgot to add my niece's name to the back of the quilt.

Fortunately, having too much meant I could chop off a yard and make the name. Which I did, no problem. I had originally chosen yellows and yellow oranges, but when I set those fabrics on the backing fabric I came to my senses and changed my mind. Pink it would be.

So I made her name, and then added fabric around it, and sewed it to the rest of the backing fabric. The ruler in the photo above shows just how big this name is. It's a 24" ruler (61cm).

Now, adding a name to the back of a quilt is harder than it looks. Per Chris's request, all my backings are 6" bigger all the way around. So I have to place the name inside that area, and then I want to place it as close the the center as possible, so if the quilt does not get precisely centered (which it never will) the letters won't get chopped off when I trimmed the edges of the quilt after quilting. (That would be BAD!) And sticking something in the middle of something else is a royal PITA, especially when you are working with six plus yards of fabric.

So I decided to sew the name under a 12" tall strip of the backing fabric at the TOP of the backing. I know from long experience working with Chris that she usually starts quilting about four inches from the top, not six, so my name panel would be far enough down not to be a problem, and although I didn't center it horizontally (because, hey, I like asymmetrical) there is plenty of space on either side of the name panel

You will notice the letters aren't aligned on the same baseline. No, that's not a mistake, I did that on purpose.

Now every quilt I have made since August has a backing ready for it. That's five, for those of you keeping count. (The Petals quilt and the Comfort quilt are flying away today. The Blue Boy was born two weeks early and his quilt has yet to be gifted.)

I am going to take a break. Thanksgiving is coming up, and I host that dinner each year. (Let's hope I cook it at my house this year. Snow and a power outage moved the feast to my sister's last year.) I have to deal with the avalanche of paperwork on my desk, and I still have to put the front garden to bed for the winter (I filled eleven large lawn and leaf bags with leaves on Saturday from the back and side yards.)

I'll get back to sewing, of course. I still have the twirling triangles and the tumblers to do, and I've got a special project related to last year's secret project percolating in my head. I couldn't tell you about it then, and I can't tell you about it now, either. When it's time to let the cat out of the bag, I'll tell you.

I've added another page on my blog, it's called Word Quilts 2010. It shows my arty word quilts I made from 2009 to 2010. Eventually I'll have them all up there for easy reference. I'll be working on that too.

I'm not going anywhere. If you know me, you know I have always got stuff going on, but I won't be posting regularly for a while, so don't worry.

Sunday, November 8, 2015

Beauty Shot Sunday

I've been hanging on to the Petals and Over the Top quilts so I could take beauty shots of them. First thing was to bring them out to the pond to drape them over the Moose.

Alas, the Moose vam-oosed. DRAT! Later I learned it was dismantled because it was falling apart. Still.

"Over the Top" is over the bridge,

and over the railing.

What's interesting about the Petals quilt in this photo is how different it is when you look at it sideways.

or even at a slight angle. 

Both quilts, however, seemed a lot more at home in a truly natural setting.

 I don't know why this surprised me.
but it did.

After the photo shoot both quilts had a trip through the washer and the dryer, where, if possible, they both came out more beautiful.*** 

***(Yes Julie, that is the sound of Lynne eating vast quantities of crow. Enjoy it, my friend.)

Saturday, November 7, 2015

Backing for Four Amish Daughters

Of the six Amish flimsies I made, I only plan to have two quilted, my interpretation of the original in solids, and the Four Amish Daughters, shown below.

Last night I pulled the leftover fabrics from each version and put together the backing for this one.

I chose the big print in the middle because I didn't want to use the red in the center of the back. I wanted something that would relate to the front, but not be an exact copy. That center fabric will be a big surprise to anybody who turns the quilt all the way over.

Thursday, November 5, 2015

Comfort Quilt, Finished

 Chris said she unpacked the quilt, took one look at it and knew exactly how this quilt should be quilted. I adore the variegated black and white thread she used, and I love the quilting design.

I think I'm going to have to name this quilt "Over The Top"  because every aspect of this quilt goes over the top, and yet the quilt doesn't look like "too much."

So I added the binding,

turned it over, and started stitching it down.

taking photos every time the binding changed.


all the way around until I got back to the beginning.

 Julie likes the crumpled look.  Here you go, Julie!

Here's the finished quilt. I love it, and I know the recipient will too.

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Binding Ready...

The Comfort Quilt is due back from being quilted today, so I prepared the binding. I decided it should be varied and made from the fabrics in the quilt itself. I'll finish the quilt over the next few days, take beauty shots of it and the Petals quilt this weekend, then send them both off to their respective homes on Monday.

And it's time to clean the studio!

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Petals Quilt is Finished

Since it's too dark for a beauty shot photo shoot outside, I posed it on the couch.

Yup, I like this a lot.