Quilting, Farming, Variety

Tuesday, December 23, 2014


and a Happy New Year to my blogging friends!  Thank you so much for the kind words you have left in your comments.  The past three years I have chosen projects to make each month: doll quilts, aprons, and hope chest additions.  This year I don't plan to work on specific projects since it puts a lot of pressure on me to finish each month and sometimes it's almost impossible to meet a dead line. 

The final hope chest addition is a Christmas apron made like a vintage apron I have had for a long time.  The pattern was cut from brown paper, wrinkled and smudged.  I made a few changes to the shape of the skirt; rather than having points this one is straight across the bottom and I left off the holly leaves.

After tracing the drawing for the face with a hot transfer pencil, I ironed it onto white fabric, embroidered the features, then appliqued it with a blanket stitch to the skirt of the apron.  I made my apron from green fabric, thinking the read hat would be more visible.

This is the vintage apron.  Overall, I wasn't too pleased with my green apron.  First, the face seems too large for the skirt.  Second, I wish I had used a pattern for a full apron with no gathered skirt.  But, it does have a little holiday cheer to it; they can't all be winners!  (No pockets in this one either, Ernestine :)

Now I will focus on putting the flying geese units together and put them on the quilting frames for a winter's work ~ after Christmas.


Monday, December 15, 2014

My effort to empty a few boxes of scraps continues.  The piecing on this project

came to a halt whenever all the black fabric had been used.   I have 190 blocks pieced and will need several more.  So I ordered more black fabric and while waiting for it, I drafted a pattern for a 6" x 9" Flying Geese unit, printed the pattern onto paper, pulled out the scraps again, and began paper piecing these:

I try to piece five units each day; there are 75 finished ones.  One usually thinks there is a lot of waste when paper piecing because she cuts the pieces a little over sized, but not this time:

As I trim a unit I flick the trimmings off onto the floor rather than take the time to hit the waste basket; I have a broom and dust pan in the sewing room and sweep up the mess as I finish for the day.  This is the layout for the finished blocks, minus a connecting strip between rows:

Did this make a dent in the scraps?  Hardly!  And look what's left when the units are trimmed; a large stack of pretty triangles!

 Sew these to white triangles, trim to 2 1/2 inch squares, and you have the makings for another quilt!

Why not throw them away, you ask?  All I can say is, when you're raised by parents who lived through the depression and made-do with what they had, and every penny was pinched until it screamed, that frugal characteristic lives on.


Monday, December 8, 2014

With all that's going on in the news these days, I thought this was just the thing to start your day with a chuckle: 

This was taken from The BACK FORTY Calendar, 2015, by Lex Graham, and distributed by a local propane company.

Have a good day!

Friday, November 28, 2014

November Hope Chest Addition ~ finally

A ripple afghan goes into the hope chest in November.  I think the ripple is the easiest of all patterns.  It would make an excellent choice for a beginner; if one can count to two, three, and eleven she has it made.

This afghan has a story with it: I bought this as a kit and gave it to my daughter.  She was too busy to commit to crocheting it, so I bought it back from her so she could get something else in its place.  So, as confusing as this sounds, I actually bought it twice!

Fannie seems to be enjoying the warmth of the afghan.  In these pictures it is folded into quarters, and although it isn't a big afghan, it makes a good cover for the toes when thrown over the foot of the bed at night.

Next year I don't think I will commit to making a project each month.  I'm getting so much slower with my farm work and that takes away from my sewing, etc.  Also, it seems the Farmer needs help with so many things.  Sometimes I may go to the sewing machine, stitch three or four inches, and I hear him coming down the hallway.  When he gets to my door with a solemn face, I ask, "What do you want?" and he may say, "There's a cow getting ready to have a calf; I think we need to get her up."  I unplug the machine and iron, turn off the lamp and leave things until another spare time.


Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Using a New Quilt

Yesterday morning the temperature was 15* ~ brr-rr!  Time to put the best flannel sheets on the bed for sure.  I'd been putting a throw and an afghan over my light weight quilt at night and then each morning they had to be folded and put away.  I needed another quilt.  My new quilts had just been in the cupboard for years; why not use one of them?  After all, shouldn't I enjoy the work of my hands instead of keeping them for someone else?  But there's this old saying, when you sleep under a new quilt, what you dream will come true.  Oh boy!  I've been having some disturbing dreams, not dreams that frighten me, just ones that leave a feeling of uncertainty or dread.  A lot of them include my late mother and daddy; usually I'm visiting them in a health center or something where I have to go through all these crowded, dirty little rooms before I find them.  I hate that!  But I decided to take a chance, and this is the quilt I put on my bed:

It is actually made of two different blocks: some kind of star block, and the court house steps block, and quilted in a clam shell design.  Most of the fabrics are homespun plaids.  I've always pictured this quilt in a log cabin.

Well, today I'm happy to say, I slept warm and cozy and had nary a bad dream!  So I guess I'm in the clear!


Tuesday, November 11, 2014

The Flat Stanley Project

Are you familiar with Flat Stanley?  I wasn't until my daughter, a fourth grade language arts teacher, told me about the Flat Stanley project her class would be doing this month.  I thought it was just a local thing; after a Google search I was amazed!  Wikipedia gives a good explanation:

Flat Stanley is a 1964 children's book written by Jeff Brown, featuring Stanley Lambchop.  Stanley is given a big bulletin board which is hung over his bed.  During the night the board falls off the wall and flattens Stanley.  Having survived, he can now slide under locked doors, be used as a kite, and be mailed in an envelope to his friends.  The Flat Stanley Project, started in 1995 by Dale Hubert, is a way to teach letter-writing to students by documenting where Flat Stanley has gone with them.

Each student made a Flat Stanley and the assignment was to mail him to someone, who would spend a day or two with him, and document his experiences with photos and writing.  Now this just grabbed my attention immediately!!  I've always loved to pretend, so when Andrea (teacher/daughter) told me about the project I hoped some student would send Stanley to me.  A few days later, she brought her rendition of Flat Stanley to me
 and I was off on adventures with him.  This is Stanley's adventure with me, written from his point of view: 

Flat Stanley Visits a Farm

I visited a farm this week.  The farmer was a woman who worked with chickens, cows and kittens.  Work on the farm started early in the morning.  The first chore was work in the chicken houses, where we made sure the chickens had feed, water, and fresh air.
Next, the woman took me to feed the kittens.  They live in the barn where they eat and sleep between the big round bales of hay.  They are safe and warm here.
The woman raked some leaves and let me play in them before lunchtime.
While we waited until time to do the afternoon chores, the woman let me stand right in the very middle of the quilt blocks she was sewing!
Late in the afternoon it was time to feed the cows.  The farmer let me ride at the front of the tractor so I could watch the hungry cows as they came to eat.
At the end of the day I was very, very tired.  I was happy to have a nice little bed to sleep in and a warm quilt to cover me.
I dreamed during the night of the farm and how much fun I had helping with the chores.  And, best of all, the farm woman said I could come back any time I wanted to!

Of course I know Flat Stanley's time spent with me pales in comparison with being photographed with the president or traveling with a solider on a war field.  If you're interested enough to read more, Google "Flat Stanley".  The students won't be graded on this assignment; chances are that some who are sent the letter will not respond which isn't the child's fault.  I thought it was fun; almost like playing paper dolls again!


Friday, October 31, 2014

BOO !!!

A Halloween pepper from the garden!  Isn't he perfectly suited for this day!

A frost is supposed to happen tonight, so yesterday I gathered what I could from the garden: okra, green sweet peppers, peas and green tomatoes.  I'll pick the ripe tomatoes today.  The green tomatoes were wrapped in tissue paper and put in a cool place to ripen; hopefully they will be ready for Thanksgiving or maybe even Christmas.  The ripe tomatoes will be put in the crisper and some will be given away.  It was a wonderful year for our small garden and this momma squirrel put a lot of the crop into the freezer.

An update on the baby calf:  she died last night.  Her wounds were just too deep.  The Farmer has gone to bury her this morning.  I will miss her feeding times, and the nuzzling at my hands and shirt tail.  So, I did a final washing of the bottle and put it away and put the rest of her powdered milk replacement in the freezer, ready for the next little calf in need.

Of course that is the emotional side; there's also a financial side.  Cattle prices are at an all time high now; the Farmer estimates a calf her size would probably bring $500-$600 dollars at market.  Then there is the cost of $26.95 per ten pound bag of formula and I've lost count of the number of bags I've fed.  My time of feeding her three times a day at the beginning and then twice daily for two-three months was free.

The dogs are still free to roam.  The Farmer doesn't like to confront someone over such an issue; besides, as the old saying goes, "you can't get blood from a turnip".  I don't want to see it happen again!  Sometimes one just wants to use the words of the Lord: "Vengeance is mine; I will repay."  I don't think it's over yet...


Thursday, October 23, 2014

A Delayed Hope Chest Addition

I'm afraid there's no finished item for the October addition to the hope chest.  But in between big chickens going out and getting baby chickens back in, freezing wonderful garden veggies, selling calves and wrapping up the last of the hay season, I do have something started:

paper pieced string blocks for a quilt.  Their finished size will be 4 1/2 inches, and I have estimated that I will need at least 300 of them to make a big quilt; I have 90 made.  When the chance to work on them happens, I try to piece 10 at a time, keeping them in numbered groups of ten so I'll know when I reach that goal of 300 (or more).

So, if they never get put together into a quilt by me, maybe the person who gets them will have the joy of finishing it or can give the blocks away.  It seems no matter how many strings I use, the pile never shrinks.

This morning came with a beautiful red sunrise.  The whole area was clothed in red.  We were up early to load the calves for market.

This afternoon I'm very, very sad, and SO angry!   Remember the baby calf I was feeding on the bottle?  She was growing, very healthy, and eating sweet feed and hay.  Right before noon, the neighbor's two big dogs attacked her; she was in a pen beside the barn eating grass.  The farmer saw them and ran them off, so there's no denying whose dogs they were.  Good thing the only weapon he had with him was a rock!  I took pictures, which I won't show here, but it's bad.  I know she must be in a lot of pain from the gashes.  Hopefully she will recover. 

I'll try to do better for the month of November; the weeks go by so quickly ----


Tuesday, September 30, 2014

September ~ Hope Chest

Did you give up on me?  It was very close, but finally finished on the last day of September!  So much has been going on here the past month: big chickens (which went out last week), more hay to bale and haul, garden harvest of tomatoes and peas, all of which I'm very thankful!  So I grabbed every spare minute to work on a crazy quilt.

"Crazy quilts, born of necessity, were made in an all-over design consisting of pieces of material, regardless of size or color...They were sewed together in crazy fashion, usually on an inner lining ..."  Marguerite  Ickis/The Standard book of Quilt Making and Collecting.

My fabric pieces were scraps given to me by my mother-in-law several years ago; most are large prints left from shirts, etc. she had made for her grandchildren in the 1980s.  I pieced the blocks on newspaper, then trimmed them to size.  A quilt with such a busy pattern needs no fancy quilting stitches, (as if I could!) therefore I simply quilted along each seam line, except in the solid red, where I did a melon-shaped pattern.

 The quilt measures approximately 52 1/2" x 62 1/2", a good size to throw over the foot of the bed on a cold night ~ or

as a lap quilt to snuggle under while reading or watching TV ~ or,

spread it on the ground for a picnic lunch.

And while we're talking crazy, how did this fella get to be in the middle of the quilt?  Perhaps the bowl of chips can be set over him. (Also, I see a seam I skipped :()  Now to come up with an October project!


Wednesday, September 17, 2014

A few weeks ago we had some really good hay that the farmer decided to put inside the barn.

It has been years since any hay has been put inside.  This was the part of the barn we had fixed for the cats to be safe from dogs.  Last winter there were only a few square bales on the ground so it wasn't the warmest place for the cats and no place for new kittens to be born.  I wondered what the cats would think when they saw their "home" filled almost to the ceiling of the barn.

They love it!  And there are all sorts of nooks and crannies where they can hide and make their warm bed when the winter winds blow.  The farmer left a space at the door where I go in to feed them.

Cats are important to have on a farm.  We rarely see a mouse around the chicken houses where they can do a lot of damage to the insulation on the buildings.  Gotta take care of my cats!


Friday, September 12, 2014

Two cans

sit on the bathroom vanity; both are the same size, very similar in color and design.  Both are aerosol cans and the contents are unscented.  One is "extra hold", the other "lasts all day".  What if ...............

Think about it.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

August ~ Hope Chest Addition

When I started this project, I was sure it would take me until winter to finish it, but once I got started with a few stitches now and then, it went rather quickly.  I chose to make a pair of embroidered pillowcases:

The pattern was very old and I was almost certain it wouldn't transfer two times, so I cut around it and took it to the copy machine for a pattern I could use to transfer to tracing paper.

To transfer, I used a light box (an old gadget used to view x-rays which the farmer acquired while teaching Physics; a case of his trash becoming my treasure).  I slipped the pattern under tracing paper and marked the design with a transfer pencil.

The design was ready to be transferred to the pillowcases I had made.  Now it was time to choose thread colors.  I have a sweet little yellow rose whose petals are tinged with pink, and although a red or bright pink would have been a bolder color, I chose the yellow and by the time I had the first one finished, I knew something had to be done to make it more colorful.  I had read about using crayons with embroidered designs so I got out my Crayolas and filled in the larger areas.

The upper pillowcase is without coloring as compared to the lower one with coloring.  There are lots of good tutorials for this, but as is typical with me, I didn't look for them until after the fact.  Most of the tutorials tell one to color first then embroider; I did the opposite, but I guess it will be o.k.  The wax in the crayons is set, using a hot iron; but if the color fades it can be colored again.  Years ago a crayon got in the dryer with a set of my sheets and there are still traces of it.

What do you think?  Did I ruin the pillowcases by using crayons to fill in the design? 


Thursday, August 7, 2014

Farm Life ~ August

This has been a busy week here on the farm.  We've baled hay, 100 plus big round bales on Monday,

 and then on Tuesday we hauled the bales.
Wednesday we got the chicken houses ready for baby chicks.  My job was putting together the cardboard feed trays which are about 3' x 4' in size.
Thursday morning we ran feed into the boxes, drained water lines to flush out air, and triggered the nipple drinkers.  A lot of the nipples were stuck so the chicks wouldn't be able to get water from them.  Then after lunch the chicks came, 67,200 of these little yellow balls of fluff:
So my two weeks off from chicken work is over.  I've been working on the August and September additions to the hope chest ~ and ~ there is a new chore:  
She's twelve days old now and I feed her three times a day.
Her mother was a young heifer (a teenage mother :) who had nothing to do with her from the very beginning.  The calf took the bottle the  first time it was offered to her and is doing so good on the milk replacement I feed to her.  When the milk is all gone she wants to keep sucking; she needs a pacifier! :)
My sweet kitty came to get acquainted.

Now I'll settle back into the routine of being a farmer with a little time snatched now and then to put needle and thread to fabric.


Thursday, July 31, 2014

A Comparison

I got a new iron last week, sleek and almost too bright to get a good picture of it because it reflected things just like a mirror!  Immediately I couldn't help but compare it to Mama's heavy "sad" iron.

The new iron is heavier than my old iron, weighing about 3 1/2 pounds, but the sad iron, solid cast iron, is much heavier.  What a workout for a lady's arm muscles!

New irons come with automatic temperature controls; set the dial on the temperature for different fabrics and when it reaches that setting, it stops heating ~ perfect.  A sad iron ~ set it on a hot stove and let it heat, hoping it won't be hot enough to scorch that white shirt.  Mama tested the heat by wetting the end of her finger then quickly touching the bottom of the sad iron.  If the moisture sizzled, the iron was ready to use.

 The bottom of the new iron is so bright things are reflected in it, making it look brown!

Of course, with the addition of polyester to cotton fabrics, ironing is much easier today anyway.  The new irons make steam to remove small wrinkles, and if there is a stubborn wrinkle, just push a button for an extra shot of steam.  A lot of clothing was made from cotton feed sacks in yester-years and was starched to give it body.  Before the clothing could be ironed a good sprinkling of water droplets made it easier to remove wrinkles: Mama dipped her fingers into a bowl of water and sprinkled the items, then rolled them up so the moisture could reach the entire pieces.  While ironing, if she came across a dry spot, she would wet a cloth and rub it over the spot, then continue ironing the item.

Oh my!  The new iron seems heavy to me now, but how in the world could I iron with a sad iron!  And, by the looks of that stack of tablecloths, I need to go iron!  But, as Scarlet would say, "I won't think about it today; I'll think about it tomorrow."