Saturday, August 13, 2022

20 More Blocks

 I

 

I've got four more half rows sewn up. But I got a little distracted.

This is one of two cat-themed pot holders I have. When I put up the blue wallpaper in my kitchen (and I have it on order) it won't "match." 

Now you all know I am not matchy-matchy, but I'd like them to coordinate. So I went into the studio and found some coordinating fabrics. The blues were not particularly exciting.

So I picked out this yellow with some blue accents.

It sure is nice to have mad sewing skills, lots of fabric, and tools. I also have a stash of Insul-brite, the filling designed for making potholders or something that gets hot (because let me tell you, using the average quilt batting in a pot holder is NOT going to protect your hands from the heat). In fact, for the business side of this pot holder, I used TWO layers of Insul-brite.

So here's the first one. A blue will will hang with it before the weekend is out.

I have been busy in the kitchen. I have completely reorganized this part of my pantry.  Everything is labelled. (I confess I may have watched one too many episodes of The Home Edit.)

If you think this was more than just a little bit compulsive, let me show you what ONE of these shelves looked like just a few weeks ago.


Can I tell you how blissful it is to work in my kitchen now?






Tuesday, August 9, 2022

Half

 

I sewed up the second quarter of the black and white scrap slab triangle quilt. Although when I add the side white triangles I press them to the side, when I sew the blocks and rows I have been pressing the seams open.


 Here's the top half of the quilt. I am enjoying being back in the studio.


Sunday, August 7, 2022

A Quarter

 

Here is the top left quarter of the quilt, all sewn together.

Here is the finished quarter next to the rest of it. I like this a lot.



This is a scrap slab triangle quilt. You can get my tutorial here, at my Etsy shop,

Friday, August 5, 2022

Twenty

 

I've started sewing the black and white scrap slabs quilt together. Since none of the blocks are sewn together, I start by sewing one white side triangle to a black triangle. I keep the blocks in order while I sew and then press. Then I sew the second side triangle, and then sew the blocks together. 

I started at the top, and since each row is so wide I'd have to move the step ladder back and forth, I decided to sew half a row at a time. This is a completed row, above. I counted all the different fabrics in one of these five block rows (actually when they get to be multi block size, I call them "panels.") and there were 28 different fabrics. I can't even imagine how many different fabrics will be in the whole quilt. But hey, it's a scrap quilt!

Here are the first four rows of five blocks across. The blocks are sewn to each other, but only the two two rows are sewn together.

I am really happy with the way it is turning out. One of the things I wanted was to make the individual block shapes disappear. I'm doing that by placing similar light fabrics next to each other so they almost appear the same, which blurs the edges of the individual blocks. I also throw in a curve ball or two (as usual). In this example it is the white triangle in the bottom row. Instead of two side triangles, this is a full triangle.

This is one energetic quilt (some would call it "busy") but that is what I think is exciting about it. It's got a lot of color, and it's happy.

Works for me!



This is a scrap slab triangle quilt. It's built from scraps. I think it's wicked easy to do, but every time I say that my son rolls his eyes. "BUT MOM...." he says, "you're so good that everything IS easy for you." In this case, he's wrong. This is an easy quilt. You have to pay attention to cutting your blocks and sewing your seams, but hey, what else is new? At any rate, if you want to make a scrap slab triangle quilt you can get my tutorial here, at my Etsy shop. You'll need the Tri-Recs ruler set, which you can get at any LQS or Amazon. And scraps. You'll need those, but I'm guessing you do.  Enjoy.



Wednesday, August 3, 2022

Black & White & Tribal

 

I've been spending time with the black and white scrap slab triangles quilt in the studio. I'm pretty happy with most of it. As you can see I have to fill in at the bottom. But the top part is mostly done and I will in all likelihood sew it together as it is. Hopefully that will start happening this weekend.

I've left this photo pretty big so you can click and click again to enlarge it so you can see all the fabrics that are in it.

This is a scrap slab triangle quilt, and you can get my tutorial here, at my Etsy shop. It's a heck of a flexible design. There are lots of different things you can do with it, and it's great for using up scraps.



For whoever asked the other day, the wallpaper for the kitchen came from Home Depot, and yes, it is peel and stick.

Sunday, July 31, 2022

When You Know It Won't Work...

 Call me egotistical. Call me a knowitall. Call me whatever you want, but I when I work up a design I generally know it if will work or not. I may screw around with details, but the great overarching design is usually set in my head and I know whether it will work or not.

Since I knew what the blue wallpaper looked like in real life I wanted to put up the light wallpaper so I would have a chance to live with it for a few days to see if I liked it better than the blue version.

I worked for a couple of hours.

The light wallpaper makes it easier to see in the corner. (Middle photo.) But this bugs me. One big design rule is never to lead the eye where there is nothing to see. 

So what that the corner is lighter. It is always going to be a dark corner. I can't reach what's back there, so I don't care if it's dark. (That's what under cabinet lighting is for.) 

But this much bland wallpaper is just blah. There's nothing to grab your attention (read: there is no contrast.) 

The other thing the light wallpaper fails to do is to connect to the other objects in the kitchen. I have a lot of blue and white pieces, and the blue wallpaper connected these objects together.

I thought I would need a week to live with each to know, and the answer is, I knew the light paper was wrong after a couple of hours.

So why did I do it?

Because I had to see it for sure before I commit.

Now you can disagree. But I do not care. Because it is MY kitchen. 




(Gosh, I can't wait to take all that white stuff down...)




Thursday, July 28, 2022

Light vs Dark

 

Of course I considered a light option. I actually bought a roll of each.

I tried a swatch of each here.

Here is what the light wallpaper looked like.

 

Here is the blue.

Turning to the right a bit, you can see that I've used the glass containers to store utensils. I think they look a lot better.

 

This side of the counter has changed a lot since I started this. I got rid of my toaster oven, and in its place is a white bread box. It hides the breads, buns and wraps. I've added a few fun things. I've been collected blue and white serveware for a long time, and it's nice to finally show it off.

In the end, the decision will come down to which one I like better. Right now it's the blue. Note I do plan to incorporate some under counter rope lighting.

HOWEVER...

This is my hutch area. I've replaced my Fiestaware with my collection of blue and white dishes. As you can see, the backing is brown. I will be painting this cabinet some version of white, and I will wallpaper the back wall with the LIGHT wallpaper.

I've also replaced all the hardware. I like it SO much better.

So here's a curve ball. I was talking to my Mom and she wondered if I should continue the wallpaper right across the back wall in the dining room. That would be interesting. I wonder if the blue would be too much, but I know the light would be easy on the eyes, but I worry it would be boring. I dunno. We'll see.


Now to your comments... the light version has been considered, as well as under cabinet lighting.

About the "Oh my god, you can't paint wood" school of thought, I disagree. It isn't gold. There is no rule that wood should never be painted. 

However I can see hiring a pro. 

I actually love to paint, so for me, once I get it all cleaned and sanded, painting is a breeze. I like painting as much as I like sewing. 

I will definitely replace the range hood. I'll get a stainless steel one, and I'd remove the strip of wood above the stove so I will place the wallpaper so I get a great design to fill that space. I will also consider replacing the countertops. (because, if you are going to do something... do it right. Complete the task!)

Eventually I'd replace the flooring too. There are a lot of design considerations to think about.

Wanda, you and I are both "height challenged" so the only thing that lives on top of the fridge at my house is something very light. For me it is all the plastic storage containers.

I thought about changing the hinges, but it turns out I can't get any where the holes match the ones that are already in place. So I chose hardware that looked a lot like the hinges. Every design has to work around some limiting factors. 


NOW! I have a funny story. My sister came by over the weekend to pick up her quilt. I wanted her to come over so she could see my new bathroom. She walked over, and turned the corner, and stopped dead in her tracks, "OH FUDGE!" (that's not what she said.) "OH this is... this is..." she faltered.

"Well, I knew it was going to be beautiful, because well, it's YOU, but oh shoot, Lynne, this is fudging gorgeous. This is... beautiful." She looked at every detail. "You know," she said, "You showed me the wallpaper. I was with you when you picked out the shower. You showed me the vanity and the faucet and all the hardware. But I didn't expect this. I mean, oh geez. This is awesome. The mirror is perfect. The shower doors, the towels, the vase, the stool, the print. I can't believe it. I mean I can believe it, but oh my god. It's incredible."

To say she made my day is a dramatic understatement.








Wednesday, July 27, 2022

Spices

 I was all ready to sit down and write a blog post about the kitchen and answer the comments from yesterday, but my brother called and we had a nice talk. So the post I had planned will have to wait because I need my sleep and it's close to bedtime.

Instead I will write about my spice collection. I already knew it was out of control, but it wasn't until I spread it all out on my dining room table that I got it.

I went through them and sorted out the ones that were duplicated and those that had expired. Herbs and spices have a relatively short shelf life.


 The shelf above contains the spices I use most regularly (on the left) and whole spices (on the right).

These are the spices that are expired and will be thrown away.

These are the rest that I will keep. Clearly this big lazy susan isn't the most efficient way to store them, but right now it gets them all in one place. Now that I know how many there are I can look for an efficient way to store them.



Tuesday, July 26, 2022

Oh The Kitchen

 

This is my kitchen. Kinda stuffed to the gills.

I've been here almost eight years and I haven't changed anything in the kitchen. It faces north so it doesn't get any natural light, and it is always dark. The black and beige checkerboard wallpaper doesn't help.

I don't know how I found it, but I found this wallpaper and I thought it would look nice in my kitchen. So I ordered a roll to do some testing.

I tried pulling a piece of the existing wallpaper off the wall, and when it came off pretty easily, I just kept going. I decided to give some serious thought to the things that leave on my counter.

I didn't install the wallpaper, it's just taped to the wall, but I liked it a lot. I decided I should paint the cabinets, replace all the hardware, install a new countertop, and then later new flooring.

I thought I would paint the upper cabinets light and the lower cabinets dark. So I chose some samples.

Long story short, I had second thoughts. I knew that once I painted ONE brushstroke I would be committed, so when I couldn't make up my mind which light paint I wanted, I knew it was time to shelve the whole idea and WAIT.

This happened three weeks ago.

I've been doing a lot of thinking. I've decided NOT to paint the cabinets, at least not now. I've been cleaning the cabinets, and I made a decision to change the hardware.

And I also decided to take my clean out, edit and purge all the stuff that lives in my kitchen. I've been very busy. More later!





Thursday, July 21, 2022

Fabric!

 

After every big project, it's only normal for there to be a letdown. I've had two big highs lately - the renovation of my bathroom and Julie's visit - and I'm experiencing the letdown. I can't seem to get much of anything going. Or I can start, but I can't seem to generate the steam to continue any one project.

Let's face it, I've expended a LOT of energy in the first part of the year and I've run out of "gas." I need time to recharge. So I've been doing a lot of resting, reading (more on that in a bit) and not too much else.

I did, however, do a little bit of fabric shopping. I've got a pink bird quilt I'll need backing and borders and binding for, and there was a sale...

I told you I was reading. Victoria Finlay has written several books - about color (the history of pigments, not how to use it), jewels and now fabric. I'm very much enjoying the journey.

I may not be doing much sewing, but I have been doing a lot of THINKING. I want to update my tutorial about using fabrics - Making Your Fabric Work For You (aka MYFWFU). I know everybody thinks color is the most important thing, but I think if you know how to use fabric, with all the print and pattern, then you can get a lot more bang for your buck. A lot of it is how you see your fabrics (Julie and I had a very illuminating text exchange this week about that) and I want to expand and improve that idea, so I have been doing a lot of THINKING about what I need to say and how I want to say it. Don't hold your breath, it's going to take a while.

Lastly, I really have to write the Story of Millie, and how she changed my life. Many of you know the whole story, but a lot of you don't. Millie's story is amazing, and I want to tell it. If it wasn't for Millie, you wouldn't be here. So I have to think about that. Millie's blog is still up, and if you have a lot of free time, you can start at the beginning and read forward. I promise you will be astonished, that you will laugh and cry. It starts in August 2006 and ends in February 2022. In between is The Cat of a Lifetime.


Sunday, July 17, 2022

Oatmeal and a Question

 

I have oatmeal for breakfast each morning. But not just any oatmeal. I like steel cut oats. I don't like mushy oatmeal. Every night I put a cup of water in a small pot and bring it to a boil, then I add 1/4 cup of oatmeal, cover the pot, take it off the heat and set it aside overnight. In the morning I'll cook it over low heat for about 20 minutes. I'll top it with a teaspoon of maple syrup, some fresh fruit and sometimes a little bit of nuts. 

I do this every day. I have three one quart saucepans so I don't have to wash the same one every day. There is always a a clean one. 

The problem is I like to keep the counters clean, or at least not cluttered, but it's kind of a PITA to go hunting for the 1/4 cup measuring cup every evening. WHERE could I put it so it would be handy, but not lying around on the counter all day long?

SOMETIMES I find if you ask a question, the answer pops right up. The measuring cup isn't stainless steel, so it sticks to a magnet. I don't remember how I figured that out, but as soon as I did I knew what to do. I remembered a pack of business card sized magnets I have with adhesive on one side. I stuck one to the inside of the cabinet door. Problem solved.

This works for any kind of problem, but you have to formulate a question first, Normally if I've got a problem rattling around in my head I will ask the question before I go to bed at night. I generally have an answer when I wake up in the morning, or shortly thereafter.




Thursday, July 14, 2022

Fussy Fussy Fussy

 I know you won't believe me, but I really don't have any idea where half my quilts are going when I start designing them. I have a GENERAL idea (this one is scrap slab triangles made from fabrics that have a lot of color on a black background), but I don't know any specifics until I really see what's happening when I stick all those blocks together. 

So the black triangles are up on the design wall, and now I am adding the side triangles of colored fabrics on white or cream backgrounds. And sometimes they are black on white with colors and basically whatever else I think looks good. 

 


Once I got going, I noticed something I liked - when two different fabrics sitting next to each other looked like they were one piece of fabric. You can see some of it in the photo above, but let me show you exactly what I mean.

In this quilt, one block is a black(ish) triangle with a lighter side triangle on each side, so the block makes a square, like in the photo above.


Backing up a bit, we see that the side triangles sit next to other light side triangles for the adjacent blocks. Here I have deliberately placed fabrics that emphasize that square block-y feel. But what if I DIDN'T do that? What if I made the pairs of side triangles that sit next to each other look like they belonged together? I don't want to make them the same, but I want the viewer to not notice they are different fabrics...

Kinda like this. Here are six pairs of light triangles arranged so you think they are the same fabric, so you don't notice the underlying square block.

So that is what I am playing with. I have more side triangles to put up on the design wall, and I have to decide if I want the patterns in the lights to do something - to make a secondary design - and if I do, then what do I want it to do? And there's an awful lot of busy here. Too much busy is not good, but organized busy is fine. I have a lot of juggling to do to get this to look really good. 

I like the high energy of it, so it will be a challenge to balance it all. As Oscar Wilde once famously said, "Oh, the anxiety - I hope it lasts forever."

I was shopping for fabric online a week or so ago and I needed one more yard for my order to qualify for free shipping, so I was cruising the Oriental section and saw this cat among some lotuses. Something about the eyes reminded me of Millie, so I ordered a yard of the fabric. Now this sweet girl will live in this quilt.


This is a Scrap Slab Triangle quilt. You can get my tutorial here, at my Etsy shop. It's an instant download, so you can get started right away. You will need the Tri-Recs Ruler set, which you can get at your LQS.