Tuesday, May 23, 2017

A Little Designing and a Little More

Some days, when I am not busy making things, I love to sit and play with Electric Quilt software. I have EQ7 and it is amazing what you can do with it.  While looking for a way to add in a single strip all the way across a quilt design, the option of a horizontal strip quilt came up.  It is a lovely option and playing with it for a bit yielded this design that I call "To the Nines."
This quilt has 17 strips or rows in it. Each solid divider is a row also.  Once you use the menu for Quilt->New Quilt there are options for both horizontal and vertical row quilts.  I chose horizontal because for my quilt as you go method I usually have the "connector" strips go horizontally - although vertically is certainly an option also.
Once you have that selection made you can change each row, add rows (with the option of cloning the selected row) or delete rows.
In each row you can choose the block size.
If you look at the layout panel on the right you can see that for strip 6 (counting top to bottom) I chose pieced blocks that are 12 inches wide (length is the width of your quilt!) and 7 blocks across. If you are piecing square blocks then you want to  make your blocks square.  That is a link from one of EQ's websites that are so helpful to me when I am designing.

Strip four has 6 inch blocks so there are 14 of them.  For the strips going all the way across, choose Plain Block in the "Select a Strip Style" section and make it one  along length for a solid strip.  But check the other options too. If you want to piece the strip for a multi-color stripe there are some fun options there also. The secret to learning is "Don't be afraid to PLAY!"  Now, if you are afraid of messing up your design, once you have placed a few blocks you can go to the Quilt menu and Save Quilt in Sketchbook.  Then it is saved and you can get it back from the Sketchbook menu.

So what else has been happening?

I did sit for a while spinning some colorful yarn.
 For now it is just a single on the bobbin and I have a bit more to spin before I make any decision as to how I will  move forward with it.

And also my Mom had a birthday. She is now 81.  Actually she told me weeks before that she wasn't having anymore birthdays.  My reply?  "Good, I don't have to make a cake!"  Ha ha.  She wasn't fond of that option.  My brother recruited my niece to plan a small family party.  She called my aunt who said "Get Eugene to make the cake." (my family calls me by the full version of my name.) So I casually asked mom one day "If you could have any kind of cake to eat right now, what kind would you choose?"  She answered "Chocolate!"

For the last few family birthdays, I have been trying to "outdo myself" with each cake.  My brother wanted lemon - so I added a lemon ginger preserve filling between the layers and punched up the frosting with some extra lemon "kick."    My niece wanted strawberry, so I added a layer of strawberries in the center, added some strawberry jello in the already strawberry cake batter  and put fresh strawberries on top.

So now I was trying to make something even more "over the top" in taste (the cake isn't fancy looking- just fancy tasting if I succeed.)
So- making a butter cake batter, I used coffee for the liquid, added 3-4 tablespoons of cocoa and prayed it would work.  For the filling, I used cherry pie filling -and to do that you use thick frosting to make a dam so that the filling doesn't run out. The bottom layer had to be leveled - something I had never attempted in the past. It worked out okay, but I confess it wasn't perfect. I think I need a cake leveler if I want to get it perfect.
Frosting/icing (I never know which to say) - I melted a full bar of Ghirardelli Intense Dark chocolate and added 1/4th cup of  softened butter while still over the heat of  a double boiler (water simmering - not boiling!) Once fully melted,  about 3 cups of powdered sugar and 1/4th cup of whole milk was added and mixed well. Then I added in a teaspoon (roughly) of vanilla and a couple of pinches of salt and whipped until well blended.   While it was delicious - it wasn't the prettiest icing to apply.  I think it would be amazing reheated and poured over a sheet cake though.
For a garnish, I put three cherries from the pie filling on the top.
There was one good-sized or two thin slices left when everyone got cake (a couple got seconds.) It was quite rich and one slice was enough for me.
I told them that after my aunt's birthday in early July, I am retiring from "fancy cakes." But they didn't believe it and I don't think I did either.

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Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Update on Me

As usual my life has been interesting lately.  With the advent of Spring, I started spending more time outside.  So I am doing less art/craft type things.  The project I am working on right now is private and will never be shown on my blog or facebook - so blogging has been put on the back burner.

Let me give you a gentle but firm warning.  Because of the mild winter - at least here in the South - there are lots of ticks and other insects.  How do I know?  I mentioned spending more time outdoors.  One evening I was sitting inside and I had avoided starting to use air conditioning so I was wearing gym shorts.  I rubbed the underside of my left leg and felt a small bump. It felt like something was stuck on my leg, so I picked at it.  When I got hold of it, I pulled it off.  Yikes, a tick. Honestly, I have found ticks on myself before so it didn't worry me.  I smashed it and carried on.
A couple of days later a friend said "Let me look at your leg. What happened here?" and I told him about the tick.  He said "You need to have a Doctor look at that."   I took a picture with my cellphone and saw that it was a round red area with a center spot.  So - fast forward.  I went to the Doc, got antibiotics in case it may have been infected with Lyme disease.
Needless to say, I haven't been doing a lot of outdoor tromping about since then.  I need to round up some 20% DEET repellent spray.

As you know, blog posts are not nearly as interesting without pictures so I am adding a couple.
Loopy fringe made using a method I learned recently.
It isn't attached to anything - it is some I made to use for embellishment.

A Pillow made with both commercial fabrics and my hand woven fabric 
My art/weaving/quilting website has been updated a few times in the past couple of weeks also.
I am not fully sure I am happy with it just yet. I am still learning to use the program that I am designing in.  You can see my site at www.geneblack.com


Comments are welcomed. I will reply when possible unless otherwise stated. Of course if you are a "No Reply Blogger"- I can not reply. Links in posts may be affiliate links for which I am compensated if you click through and purchase.

Saturday, May 13, 2017

An Interesting Question

As you may know, I have a number of YouTube videos showing quilting and weaving techniques.   ((YouTube channel link.))

Puzzling the Past
Today I received a very nice comment that had an interesting question with it.  The question stated, "Were you a teacher?"
I thought about how to answer that one.  My thought was the question asked "Did you teach school?" The answer to that is straightforward - No, I did not.  But the question asked "Were you a teacher?" In my professional career with Public Health, I did indeed teach.  One of the classes I taught was a certification class on handling money.  I never had a student fail, although a few had me concerned by taking a very long time to finish the final test.
Another time we upgraded a computer program from an antiquated DOS based system to a more modern Windows application.  During development, I worked with the programmers to assure that the application was user friendly and productive. Once the program was ready to be released everyone that would use it had to be trained.  Did I teach? Yes I did.  Several of the committee I was on were scheduled to spend time at the State Training Center teaching this class.

I have also taught various people techniques and methods for various arts and crafts. I taught Sunday School starting when I was 15.  I have loved teaching for years.  In college, I took classes in education with the intention of perhaps becoming a school teacher.  However, I chose a different path.

So the picture above, "Puzzling the Past," is very appropriate as the image for this post.  One simple question, true.  But it required one rather complex answer. And now, I say this: I am a teacher.


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Friday, May 12, 2017

Mother's Day Special at Craftsy

Just a quick share here.  I got an email telling me about a special Mother's Day promotion at Craftsy.

The first choice is any class for $19.99
I always enjoy taking classes on Craftsy.

Next is a special deal on fabric - 50% off
 http://www.shareasale.com/u.cfm?d=415081&m=29190&u=759114
I haven't yet tried the fabric, but this looks like a great opportunity.

And if you (or someone you love) knit, crochet - or have some other use for yarn there is also a 50% off deal.
 http://www.shareasale.com/u.cfm?d=415081&m=29190&u=759114
So there are three options but you must use the code at checkout.
Class code = MYTREAT
Fabric or yarn code: JUST4MOM

Terms & Conditions*MyTreat: Get any one Craftsy class for $19.99. Not valid for classes from our special Startup Library series or classes from our partner, The Great Courses. Limit one class per customer and cannot be combined with other coupons. Offer price is in US Dollars. Expires May 14, 2017 at 11:59PM Mountain Time.*Just4Mom: Save 50% off the full retail price of any one Boundless, Cloudborn or Sprightly item. Limit one item and one use per customer. Cannot be combined with any other coupons. Expires May 14, 2017 at 11:59PM Mountain Time.



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Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Fermenting and a Finish

Suddenly I realized that I was at the bottom of my last jar of sauerkraut.  YIKES!  How did that happen?  Okay, I enjoyed it a lot.  So a few pounds of cabbage some salt and some shredded carrots are becoming the next batch of sauerkraut - but that will take a month to be properly done and ready to put in jars.  These jars will go in the refrigerator because if you heat can the sauerkraut many of the healthy benefits of fermenting are lost.

But what about the immediate need?  Hmmm... A trip to the Asian grocery yielded some nice Korean Radishes - they were approximately two pounds each. Sadly the Napa cabbage looked unappealing.  The best time to get it is mid to late fall right after harvest.   So I stopped at my usual grocery and got standard cabbage along with some carrots and green onions.
I have jars of kimchi and kkakdugi sitting in the laundry room fermenting.  I make them hot and spicy because that is the way I like it. The lovely red color is from the red pepper paste that I used in this recipe variation.  (The Asian store was *gasp* out of Korean hot pepper flakes. Luckily I had the paste in my refrigerator.)
The kimchi jars on the right are not full. But that is okay they will ferment nicely anyway.  The kkakdugi (kimchi made diced with Korean radish) is on the left.   I tasted both types and I am sure they will be delicious.  I wish I could eat them now - but they are healthier if allowed to ferment and develop some lovely probiotics.  Here are some closeup photos:

Since those are all "works in progress" let's move on to the finish!

I have one lovely quilt finish.  This one made me quite happy.  I am two weeks ahead of the "due date" on it. 

Doesn't the quilt look great? (just ignore the weeds and such.) 
And it is properly labeled also. I did blur the name of the recipient for privacy purposes.

I love everything about this quilt - except that I am giving it away. I would be happy to have one like it.  Of course this is a true one of a kind creation, and that makes it an even more special gift.

I hope you are having a great week and accomplishing your goals too.
Comments are welcomed. I will reply when possible unless otherwise stated. Of course if you are a "No Reply Blogger"- I can not reply. Links in posts may be affiliate links for which I am compensated if you click through and purchase.

Wednesday, May 03, 2017

Take One Giant Step

Sometimes in a project that moment comes when you say "Ahhh, I see the light at the end of the tunnel!"   or  "That was a Giant Step toward the finish line."
Today was that day.  Thanks to an interesting murder mystery audiobook, I sat long enough to make it to the end of quilting the second chunk of the quilt.   Since the book was still going - I decided to plunge ahead.  Cutting the joining strips and pinning them on, I sewed until the quilt is ONE big piece. The Janome evenfeed foot made the joining a little easier. As for the quilt?  I am happy with it.  Of course there are still things to do.
What is missing?  Binding is missing.  The label is missing. And I need a big old gift bag to put it in.  A nice card for the recipient is in order too.   Then and only then do I count it finished.  Barring any serious setbacks, this should all be easily finished before the deadline.  Looking at the photo, I think "Yes, that crazy piecing all worked out to make a very interesting quilt."

And for your information - Craftsy is having a May Class Sale  - All Classes Under $20 (I think there are a few exceptions like "The Great Courses.")   But there are lots of interesting classes to chose.  Find a new passion, or renew an old one, or just find one that increases your skill.  Remember, Craftsy has  a 60 Day Happiness guarantee.  I have used it, and it is easy to get a refund if the class isn't what you expected or perhaps isn't your style.  

Comments are welcomed. I will reply when possible unless otherwise stated. Of course if you are a "No Reply Blogger"- I can not reply. Links in posts may be affiliate links for which I am compensated if you click through and purchase.

Saturday, April 29, 2017

The Show has Closed

After a great month, my show at the gallery has closed.  Today I picked up all of the unsold work at the gallery.   This is one that sold.  I hope to see it "in the wild" as I know the lady who bought it.

Also this painting went to a new home. It is titled "In the Gloaming."   I was very happy to hear that one of the Art Council Board Members chose it to live with her.

There were two other small paintings sold.  I do not have a photo for one of them.  However, you can see this one.
Mount Shiomi
For now I have to get everything else back in storage until the next time I have a display.
Have a great weekend.
Comments are welcomed. I will reply when possible unless otherwise stated. Of course if you are a "No Reply Blogger"- I can not reply. Links in posts may be affiliate links for which I am compensated if you click through and purchase.

Thursday, April 27, 2017

Checking In and Quilting, too

The past four days I have not been overly productive.  The sun has been shining and the weather has been wonderful.  I took my car in to get a brake job knowing that I would have a couple of hours to pass.
I decided to walk around the old downtown where I live. Many of the shops I knew growing up are long gone.  (I should mention that I live in the town where I grew up.)  But I walked in shops that are open and looked. One was  furniture store where the proprietor was near my age.  We talked for a while as he wasn't busy - and I looked at furniture that I don't need at this point.  But I did see a recliner that I really like. When "old faithful" finally gives up, I will get one like that one.

I went in an antique store that had some lovely and expensive old pieces.  But in the "back room" I saw an antique wheelchair that I knew.  The shop owner had loaned it to the community theatre for a production I was in.  We chatted and I thanked him for having done that.

I got almost double my walking goal steps in (fitbit) so I was very happy.

I got part of the quilt I am working on layered, basted and ready to quilt.  Then I started quilting on it.  There was thread break after thread break.  So I said "Today is apparently not the day!"  Walking away from it, I decided to go walking again.  But I used my "indoor track" at the hardware superstore so it wasn't so much of an adventure.
Today, Thursday, I gave the quilting another go.  More thread breaks - so I put out a "help" to some of my quilting friends.  I got advice but nothing that helped. Or did it?   I remembered that a while back I had put a 75/11 in the machine for sewing.  But maybe the larger needles is better for free motion on this machine. Yes!  I put in an 80/12 and it solved the problem.
Look at the lovely texture:
 I finished the smaller "half" and need to layer the other part and quilt it. But now there is less worry about not getting it done in time. Whew!   At least the problem got me to clean out the machine and put in a new needle.  The boy's quilt should be finished before he graduates! Yaay!

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Sunday, April 23, 2017

Weaving Demonstration at the Gallery

Yesterday I showed the photo of my youngest attendee (and weaver!)  I now have a few more photos from the demonstration on Saturday.  I am very grateful to the people who took photos and shared them with me.  The event was well attended and I hope everyone there had a good time.  As you can tell from the photos, the attendees were very interested in the process.

The demo started with a bit of explanation and a few questions. 
 I think at this point (below) I was asked a question that I did not 
know an answer for.  The question was about the wood the loom
is made from.  I just know it is nice and sturdy and I never 
worried about what the wood is.  The wood is actually birch.


Sandi and her husband came in from Chattanooga to see the loom. She is very interested in learning to weave. 


 Here I am showing some of the techniques I use when weaving.  
You can see that everyone was paying attention. 

 Patti and Sandi both took the challenge to sit at the loom and try it. 

Giving some instruction

Trying it out.
Sandi asked a question and I had to see what happened.
She did a great job. As we say in Saori,
 "There are no mistakes, just design changes. 
 They both found the process fun and exciting. 
I do believe that both of them will make great weavers with a bit of instruction. 
I certainly had a great time doing this demonstration.  There were others who came in at 
various times during the demo as it was a "come and go" event. 

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Saturday, April 22, 2017

Weaving Demo

Saturday April 22nd -besides being Earth Day-was the day of my weaving demonstration at the MVAC Art Gallery.  A number of delightful people stopped by to watch, learn and try weaving.  For now, I only have this one picture --borrowed -- from Facebook to show.  The turnout was great. The photo is our youngest "new weaver" from the event.
(photos by her Mom.)
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Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Fast Becoming

While it isn't super fast, the Trip quilt is coming together quickly. I am still making design decisions.  At this point if appears that I will quilt it in just two sections  and then join the two into one quilt.
Here is how the top is looking.  I filled in some open places with strips that were already cut.
Just ignore the bright colored quilt on my bed beneath this top.  Once the three new sections are joined and outlined with strips similarly to the other section, I plan to make wide piano key borders for all four sides. I suspect it will look a bit wild.  But I think it will be perfect for the recipient.

Question:  Would it be too wild to add red or maybe burgundy into the piano key border?
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Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Another bit of "Trip Around the....Squirrel!"

After a nice weekend off, I am back at the Squirrel quilt.  I did two sections yesterday and joined them.  I have four more sections going today. I am chain piecing the strips.  You can see that under my presser foot and pulled out across the completed section.
I am doing each section a bit differently to keep it "odd" and thus keep with the name it has been given.  Since several of the fabrics were fat quarters, in each section some of them are replaced with different fabrics.  I call it "controlled scrappy" quilting.  I am trying to keep the colors similar.

I got a great Happy email today from Melissa at "Happy Quilting."  I won last week's Terrific Tuesday prize.  The prize is six fat quarters of Bella Solids and five spools of Aurifil thread in matching colors.   My Tuesday is now officially Terrific!  (and there is a new giveaway today that you may want to go check out. I didn't enter this one since I just won.)
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Thursday, April 13, 2017

Trip Around the .....SQUIRREL!!!!

Surely some of you think I have abandoned quilting for weaving - but that is not true.  I have a new project started.  It will be a quilt for my great-nephew's graduation.  (JT - don't look!)

I started with a plan.  I cut lots of fabric in the size I expected to use for the entire quilt.

 Then I started strip piecing sections to cut up and make a bargello/trip around the world type quilt. I had a few pieces that were pre-cut - and then after cutting LOTS of strips (and sewing some strip sets) there was a terrible discovery.  The pre-cut strips were not uniformly cut. ARRRGH.  Wait, no! I can deal with that - I don't have to have matching points. So the sections were completed.  Some match, some don't and some places I switched to a half drop method.

The decision made early on was to make and quilt the quilt in sections - even though that would interrupt the pattern, it would finish the quilt more rapidly.  We all know that there aren't enough hours in the day.

Then quilting was interrupted for a couple of days.  Somehow my plan didn't get written down and --well, I have slept since then (meaning I forgot.)

So I sewed more sections and made some mistakes, errrr, design changes.  Today while piecing and laughing at myself,  I started thinking of possible names for the quilt.  I laid it out on the bed to look at it.
I thought of names related to "trip." Since this trip was so lost, I thought "Do you know where you're going to?" aka theme from Mahogany.  Or maybe, I could call it "Life Makes a Sidetrip" but then I realized the perfect name is  "Trip around the .....SQUIRREL"  - I am sure my friend Kitty will laugh at that one as we say we are "chasing squirrels" when we switch back and forth from project to project.  Of course the "Squirrel" comes from one of my favorite movies, UP!  If you haven't seen it, you should definitely find it and watch it.  While it is a "kids movie" -- there is a strong theme about getting older too.  I consider it to be a real treasure.  

Now let me chase this squirrel for a while longer.....
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Monday, April 10, 2017

Some Professional Photos From the Gallery

Here are a few more photos from the Gallery.  These were done by my photographer friend.  I hope you enjoy them.
Please click to enlarge if you wish.











Comments are welcomed. I will reply when possible unless otherwise stated. Of course if you are a "No Reply Blogger"- I can not reply. Links in posts may be affiliate links for which I am compensated if you click through and purchase.