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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Jeanna said...

I have EQ7 and it has never been taken out of the box to load onto my computer. My Mom gave it to me for Christmas a couple of years ago but I've been too intimidated to try it. Guess I better give it a shot...in my spare time :)

That cake looks decadent and I feel quite sure there are many 'fancy cakes' in your future.

Happy Birthday to your Mom!

A Left-Handed Quilter said...

Please wish your Mom a belated Happy Birthday for me! Your chocolate cake sounds awesome - there's nothing quite like chocolate and cherries - Yum! - ;))

And thanks for the EQ7 link - strip quilts are perfect for your "quilt-as-you-go" technique - and making the blocks "square" is easy - if you know how - LOL - ;))

Debbie said...

I gained 5 pounds just reading about your cake adventures! Looks luscious.
I caught the family badge of the full name.....same here :P

Vicki in MN said...

I wish I had more time to play with EQ, but the strippy you designed looks great! Hey Gene I am having a BD soon, I love chocolate too, LOL

Barb said...

My birthday is in October....oh my gosh....that cake looks delicious and all the other cakes you described. I think I might want the EQ7.....thanks for the tips.

Vicki W said...

I love EQ. I even took my computer on vacation so I could start a new quilt design. I didn't get far with it but I got a good start.