Waggons West Etsy Shop

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Iron Craft 39: Hold It

I am pushing the limits again this week in my Iron Craft Challenge. I am in a mad rush to get everything ready for a show this weekend so I didn't get to do my original idea. I have a stack of wool sweaters to felt and I was going to make mittens... mittens hold things!

I've been making lots of mini messenger bags and wool felt purses, but I already used the bags for a challenge so that didn't seem right.

So I am just going to have to submit my ever-so-lame display board for holding badges at the show. I am hoping that this will work to let people easily see what badges are available.

The details: It is a large bulletin board covered with batting and muslin. The 'sash' is a strip of denim. The badges are simply pinned on.

If you look closely you can see some of the new badges that I've been working on.
I like the words and I've started adding more adult beverages to the mix. I'd love to get suggestions for other things that you think need to be made into a badge.

Now... I've got to get back to work, but you can go see all the other cool holders at Just Crafty Enough. See you all next week.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Grandma's Recipes: County Fair Pie Crust

As written.

From the back of the card.

"This is the fair contest recipe and delicious. Very easy to work with -- almost like a cookie dough -- Thought you might like to try it.

Pie Crust

3 cups flour 1 egg
1 1/2 t salt 5 T water
1 cup lard 1 t vinegar

Mix flour and salt -- Cut lard into flour. Mix eggs with fork, add water and then vinegar. Add liquid to flour mixture all at one time. Mix -- let stand a few minutes -- Chill before rolling (I don't)


This one is pretty straight forward. It would have been printed in the newspaper with the rest of the entry classes for the county fair. In this case, entrants would all have to use this recipe. I have no information about the rest of the pie contest, whether they were to make the same type or just use the same crust. These 'use the same recipe' contests really were to test the technical skill of the baker. The competition was usually pretty stiff.

As for ingredients the only things to note are the use of lard, size of the egg and the vinegar. Lard is still available if you look for it. It is commonly substituted with vegetable shortening. I know that some people have success with crust making using the heart healthy spreads, but those folks are superior bakers so I wouldn't try that on a pie for company tonight. Egg sizes have varied over the year. Most of the bakers in this competition would have been using farm eggs. We were just given a lovely box of brown eggs in size really small. Cute, but they would wreak havoc on the wet to dry ingredient ratio. I would start with a large or extra large egg. The vinegar would likely be cider vinegar but they might have used the small bottle of white vinegar for this.

It is hard to say whether the original recipe would have been as sketchy as this one. I know the competition at the local fair was fierce. I would not put it past some one to leave out a few ingredients or short cut a few steps to keep from helping the competition.

The secret to making great crust is getting the right distribution of fat into the flour. The cutting in instructions usually suggest something like pea-sized chunks or coarse crumb or something similar.

There are two things that bother me about these instructions. The first is the instruction to add all of the liquid at once. We all know that everything from the weather to the way you measure flour affect the dry to liquid ratio in baking. Every one who has ever tried to teach me to make pie crust (and some experts have tried) says to add some portion of the liquids, mix gently and add more. Usually they say something like add it by the tablespoon. The trick here is that the more you work the dough the tougher it becomes. Adding lots of little amounts of liquid would require working the dough more. I think that some of the food processor recipes add the liquid all at once. Hmmm. (If anyone has thoughts about this leave a note in the comments. I am not a crust maker so I don't really know.) The other thing is the resting/chilling time. It is harder to work cold dough, but the fats 'melt' into the dough as it warms up so you lose flakiness. Perhaps the author of this recipe left larger lumps of fat. I don't really know.

The last thing to note is that filling and baking are omitted from the recipe. Fillings would most likely have been a mixture of fresh fruit, flour, sugar and spices dotted with butter. The exact amounts depend greatly on the fruit used. The crust could be pre-baked or baked with the fruit. In the later case it takes longer to bake the crust than it might seem.

I'll upload the photo when I take my next round of pictures.

Here is a link to a tutorial on pie crust from the folks at BHG.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Aye Aye Captain.

I've been working on projects for the Steampunk crowd this week.

Today I started with a nice pair of dress pants and a linen shirt. They didn't stay in one piece for very long. I cut them up to make another mini messenger bag.

Here you can see the lining

The embroidery is a machine design from Urban Threads. Those you who know the pattern will recognize that I left off the "in Training" part of it. I figured it might be more appealing to a broader audience this way. It could be a bag for a kid, a neat part of a Halloween costume, or it could be used as a purse.

Again, the body of the purse is made from men's dress pants. They are a wool poly blend of some unknown origin. The lining is a linen blend shirt. I used iron on interfacing to make this one stiffer. I think that give it a better shape when it is done. I wasn't too crazy about working with it, but it turned out fine.

I'm still working on the pattern instructions, particularly the layout on the pants to optimize cutting and features. The trickiest part seems to be getting a long stretch of fabric for the strap. This one was about 30 inches, but that is too short.

(typo fixed 9/23)

Iron Craft Challenge: Black and White

It took me so long to figure out what to do this week that I am late getting my pictures posted and I don't really have the project complete. Annie had a great suggestion to play with space in black and white. I spent a lot of time trying to figure out how I might do it in fabric using fusible web. The problem I couldn't get past was my ability to cut symmetrical shapes. That way, I could fuse the fabric and flip the segments around without having to flip them over. Flipping them over would mean I had to add the fusible web after the shapes were cut. Then I would have to clean my iron. Again. I'll keep pondering it. Perhaps it will be the basis for my next Alzheimer's quilt donation.

So first up is a very quick project. Spider web coasters made from a sheet of craft foam I had Laying around. Simple. I drew spider webs with a sharpie and cut around them. I've done this in the past with white foam paint on black foam. I think I like those better, but this was easy and the materials were ready to hand. They will probably become a Halloween hostess gift.

Next up is a damask pillow. It is made of flannel. All the fabric is flannel. Not my usual plan but I couldn't resist the black and white fabric with a 40% off coupon. The center is a machine embroidery design from Urban Threads. If you look closely you can see the spiders and webs and black cats and fences. If you look again you see a sinister skull looking at you. The backing is a deep envelope style backing in black flannel. The edges is a typical binding, machine stitched and finished by hand.

I've stitched the inverted pattern to make a second pillow that is mostly complete. I've also got some ravens and few others that I will finish up in the next week. Boy blacksmith will take them to Arcon to see how they sell there.

Check out all of the rest of the cool stuff from this week's challenge on the Flickr page or here.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

More Croquet with the Red Queen

It's official! Boy blacksmith has listed the Card croquet parts in his Etsy shop. Now you can play croquet with the red queen too!

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Grandma's Recipes: Honey Dressing

This is another recipe from my Grandmother's collection. It is written on one of those printed recipe cards that we all gave her for Christmas when we were kids. I would guess this is from sometime in the seventies.

As written:

Honey Dressing
from: "The Forks" - Pemberville *

2 T onion juice (or 1 small onion)
2 t celery seed
1 t salt
1 t mustard
1 1/2 c sugar
1 c vinegar
2 c oil

Beat at high speed in blender until thick.

Onion juice. I read this and vaguely remember seeing bottles of onion juice as a kid. Here is a great post on the Mark Bittman website written by John Thorne of Outlaw Cook. John has done all the research you need to know about onion juice. Having read his taste test recommendations, I would strongly suggest the small onion route.

Celery seed, salt and sugar would all be the same things we use today.

Mustard is most likely dry mustard. It is possible it bottled in which case it would be a standard yellow mustard.

The vinegar in Grandma's kitchen would be a gallon jug of cider vinegar.

The oil would be a vegetable oil, perhaps the Wesson oil she mentions by name in other recipes.

I don't recall Grandma having a blender. Which is funny because the box in which I have her recipes is from a blender!

* This recipe says it is from "The Forks" restaurant in Pemberville, Ohio. Pemberville is a small town not too far from where I grew up. In the seventies and eighties we would go there for dinner on occasion. I do not recall anything called a honey dressing on the menu. I remember a celery seed dressing from a different place we went to about the same time. The food was good traditional Midwestern fare. Quality at a decent price.

The restaurant is located on the Portage River. We always parked in the back and walked up the very narrow paneled stairs to the entrance. The first time we went in the front door I was very much surprised to discover it had a bar. I'd never noticed it from the back! I always assumed that the name of the restaurant came from silverware. While trying to research it, I discovered that "the forks" was a historical reference to this particular area of the Portage River. My current assumption is that the name comes from there.

The Forks restaurant is still in existence according to the internet. The link to the website doesn't work today and there are few reviews.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Grandma's Recipes: Lentil Loaf

From Grandma Waggoner's collection. First the recipe as written.

Serves 10 - 12

1 cup cooked lentils (Well done)
1 cup nuts - pecan, walnut, etc
1 egg well beaten
1 large can of evaporated milk
1/2 cup wesson salad oil
1 1/2 cups crushed corn flakes
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 onion
1/2 teaspoon sugar

bake 45 minutes at 350 in 8" x 8" pan

Translation (in this case as best I can interpret). I'm not sure what sort of dish this is actually supposed to be.

The lentils would be standard issue green lentils. There would likely not have been any baby beluga's or red or other varieties, at least not on a regular basis.

Pecans or walnuts, pretty standard. These would most likely be chopped. They probably would have gone through the pretty red grinder-like chopper my father bought at the five and dime for her Christmas present when he was small. I would probably chop them to be roughly the same size as the lentils.

One egg... I would use a large or an extra large egg.

The large can of evaporated milk could be tricky. She seems to be pretty clear that she is using the unsweetened evaporated milk rather than the sweetened condensed version. This makes sense as the unsweetened version is more common in the German tradition. The tricky part is the size of the can. It is most likely that she would have been using the standard large 14 ounce can of milk. Today the can size is 12 ounces. Opening another can of condensed milk leaves plenty of leftovers in an odd quantity. If you have another recipe where you can use it great. If not there are a couple of things I would try. First, I'd mix the ingredients as written to see if it is too dry. If it needed more liquid, I might try adding another egg. A large egg is close to 2 ounces of liquid and might be sufficient to compensate for the difference in can size. Extra milk or fewer cornflakes might also be ways to address the problem.

Wesson oil. Grandma was pretty brand specific. This may have been due to some unique difference between brands available. Wesson oil was originally processed from cotton seed. However, it seems pretty likely that it would have been vegetable oil by the time Grandma was making her lentil cake. I am pretty sure that any good quality vegetable oil will work. Given the amount of oil used, I would stick to a quality oil because it could have an effect on the flavor of the final product.

Corn Flakes. Same old same old. Use what is on your shelf. I wouldn't try using frosted flakes unless you leave out the onion.

Salt and sugar. Salt and sugar are added in tiny amounts. I imagine the lentils can take a bit more salt. I am not sure of the value of a half tsp of sugar. There isn't any mention of yeast so it wouldn't be needed for that purpose. It could be mis-written and she is really using a half cup. However, with the addition of onion, I don't think more sugar is needed.

One onion. Up to this point the ingredients were going together in my head in the form of a dense dessert cake. Now, not so much. Strong yellow onions would have been more readily available (from the garden!). I would chop the onion, as with the nuts, to the same size as the lentils. I think the onion would soften up pretty well during the suggested baking time. It might be worthwhile to saute them in a bit of oil first. I can't fit onion into my impression of this dish so I am torn about what to suggest. I think I would try adding them raw the first time. They would add a different texture to it that way. But, if they ended up too strong, I would saute the next time. Given what I remember about the size of my Grandmother's kitchen, I think she would have put them in raw to save on dishes and space if nothing else.

The 8x8 inch size for the pan suggests a glass baking dish. She most likely used Pyrex. It might be wise to oil or use cooking spray on it before adding the lentil mixture. Bake at the suggested temperature and time but watch it. I have no information about texture or moisture. It will need to bake long enough for the eggs to set but it won't have to bake longer. Be wary of baking so long that the lentils dry out.

If you try it, let me know what you think. I'll do the same and let you know.

Ahoy Matey

Today be talk like a pirate day. It be a perfect day t' run around sayin' thin's like ahoy and avast and arrrgh. So enjoy.

Sunday, September 18, 2011


May I just say that I am stuck. Stuck on what to do for this week's Iron Craft challenge. We are supposed to be doing black and white. Anything. As long as it is black and white. I've got lots of projects lined up and waiting* but nothing that is black and white. The picture is an old altered photograph... doesn't count. For this week, I got nothin'!

Your suggestions greatly appreciated!

*Projects are waiting until after I host a meeting tomorrow night. So far the house is pretty clean so I don't want to get my stuff out and make it harder.

Saturday, September 17, 2011


All day at a meeting. I really dislike it when some one is invited to talk about an important issue and then deliberately ignores the subject. All in all the speakers were phenomenal and I didn't boof my talk so it was a good day.

Got my partner for the craftster mug rug swap. I'll be doing some wist stalking and planning. I think I have the colors figured out. Some things I wanted to add to my stash that seem to show up in her pinterest and wist. I'm ready to get started but that will have to wait a couple days.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Today's Stuff: Tools, Trials and Tests.

I've been working out details today. We are trying to optimize the number of bags that can be cut from one pair of pants. The Mr is very good at figuring and cutting to I frequently ask him to do the cutting. I have to admit that since I bought my Fiskars Rotary cutter and ruler combo I've been able to do a pretty good job of cutting straight lines. I was going to post a link, but a quick search says that Fiskars has discontinued making them. That is really too bad. I really love mine.

I made another small bag. I tried to get a pocket on the flap, but that was a disaster. I will have to turn it into a pocket on a pocket on something else. One of the spuds was pretty impressed with it so I'm sure it will work out somewhere.

I have been looking for a free embroidery editing program that I can figure out how to use. Free and user friendly are not two things that seem to go together in the digitizing world. I downloaded Stitch Era Universal just after I got my machine. I can't really seem to make it do anything much other than convert files from one format to another. That came in handy when I needed to give our logo to another stitcher. I paid some one to digitize it for me but I only got my format. I was able to use the Stitch Era software to change the file format so my friend could do some things for the organization. The other thing I use it for is to see my files. They all have stupid numbers. Very few have a descriptive name. I've accumulated enough files that going back and changing the names from the order history is daunting. Fortunately, the Stitch Era software enables me to see both the stupid name and the image. That makes it much easier to load the right file.

During my lovely episode of trying to figure out why my newly cleaned and tuned machine wouldn't sew (it was the replacement bobbin case) I learned that my machine has to have a very small USB stick. It is too slow if I put all the files on to one giant stick. So the Mr dug out a very old 256K stick for me to use for transfer. That means I have to find the files I want and load them onto the stick. Seeing the images makes that process much easier.

But, I couldn't ever figure out how to do anything useful like re-size or import text or edit stitches. I am sure it is a truly lovely program for those in on its secrets, but I haven't the patience to work at it any more. Yesterday I came across a reference to a new product call My Editor. It too is free. We downloaded and installed it this morning (I don't put anything on my computer without checking with the IT boss around here. He's happier that way and my computers mostly run on time!

As soon My Editor was installed, I loaded a file, made it ginormous, filled in the stitches and saved it in a useful format. A little bit more prodding and I was able to open up a file that had an element I wanted, delete the stuff I didn't need, re-size the resulting product and stitch it out. A couple of boofs along the way, but it turned out to be a reasonable product. The only problem is that it can't or I can't figure out how to have it show me the image of the file from the list. Sooo.... back to Stitch Era for a quick look and I'm off.

Two freebies to make one useful product for me. Not bad at twice the price!
\ You may be able to see that the books on the badge are the same design as the books on this tablecloth. It is one of many I made for my mom's birthday party last year. I'll keep messing with it!

Oh, and that picture at the top of the page? It is my second Spoonflower sample. It is orange instead of red and the curly giraffes are about 4 inches long instead of 1 inch but I love it never the less. I am going to have to figure out how to understand what the sizes are in the future. Oh well. It is fun and it matches my new crazy orange tennies.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

More Badges

I am having fun making more badges. Unfortunately, it is pouring and I am having a very hard time getting decent pictures of any of them with the available light.

This picture of some of the Halloween badges came out the best. I love the little spider. The raven is pretty cool too.

This one has a bright turquoise rim but it shows up as muddy green no matter what I do with it.

The runner in this one is a bright neon green and the outside is a slightly pale neon orange.

The revolver and denim are pretty ok, but the rim is a gorgeous burgundy.

True red on the life preserver with a bright cobalt blue rim.

The insides are OK on this one as well, the clouds are baby-bluer and the rainbows are brighter in real life. The rim again should be a bright cobalt blue. But hey it is a double rainbow. What can it mean?

I love the idea of this campfire badge. The rim is an olive green. I need to go for brighter colors on the flames when I make this one again since it is a little bit washed out to start with, but the picture surely doesn't help any.

Here is the whole collection together. The colors are a little bit better on the rims. At least you can get an idea of the real color.

I love the little fire truck. The tiny ladder totally cracks me up. I have bunch of other trucks and diggers to make.

And one last one for Halloween, a spooky tree. Again, the colors aren't at all right.

I want to get them posted in the shop, but I can't really do that until they look close to real life. I guess I am as whiny as the weather today. Help me out with suggestions for photographing, which ones you like or what else you might like to see. I promise to be more cheerful tomorrow.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Mini Messenger Bag

I've been making badges or patches for a while now. Lots of folks look at them, note that they are cute and then wonder what they would do with them. I figure I need to make some samples and examples to give them ideas. Most of the craft shows going on now only have room for a 6 or 8 foot table. I need to have display items that don't take up too much room.

Today I made a mini messenger bag out of a pair of khaki pants. One of the things I love about it is how you can see the seams from the original pants. I think that makes it fun and gives it some character. It is approximately 10 inches long by 7 inches high and is about 2.5 inches deep.

This picture has a dollar bill in it to give you an idea of the overall size. The badge is 2 inches in diameter. It is a Monarch butterfly stitched out on upcycled denim. I used one of the iron-on patches and it worked beautifully once the iron got medium hot.

Since this was a rough prototype, I didn't use any interfacing or batting to give it substance. The lining is simple unbleached muslin. I think this might actually be a nice size for a purse if I put some simple pockets inside (or figure out how to use the pockets from the pants). I also need to figure out some sort of fastener. I'm not sure I want to make buckles. I'd like to find some kind of upcycled solution. Any suggestions?

Since this week's challenge for Iron Craft 37 is Shrink To Fit and the challenge is make something smaller, I will submit this!

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Prayer Flags

As part of our 911 remembrance we made prayer flags. I spent the rest of the day sewing them together. It was a fitting way to spend the afternoon. I added in the blank flags. There is plenty of room for you to add yours.

I Remember

I remember...

Friday, September 9, 2011

Camping Retreat Weekend

This year a greatly reduced contingent of us will head off to Pere Marquette State Park for our annual camping retreat.

It is a fantastic weekend of long hikes up to the dining hall in beautiful setting.

A fabulous morning of apple picking followed by a long lazy day of games, cards, tag and general lounging.

Capped off by an outdoor service by the campfire around a cross made from natural materials. Each year we do some sort of craft project that ends up a part of the church. The cross in this picture has become a part of our Easter services.

I am looking forward to this annual event. It is a wonderful time to connect with my church family, to celebrate the great outdoors and to relax and have a wonderful time. I'll see you all back here on Monday.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

First Spoonflower Fabric!

Butterflies in the pine

WooHoo! I received my first test swatch of my first Spoonflower fabric design today. It is really cool to see it as fabric.

The most amazing thing was the service. I ordered my swatch on free swatch day and made a nominal donation to the charity they were supporting that day. I waited weeks for it to arrive and it never showed up. I finally sent an inquiry, just to see if they really had sent it. I wasn't expecting much of anything, but I wanted to try and figure out where it went astray. The very nice folks at Spoonflower sent me an email, asked to clarify my address and sent me a new piece. That was above and beyond what they needed to do. I am incredibly impressed with them.

I've just finished and ordered my second print from them.

Curly Giraffes

I ordered it in the red color, but I really like changing the colors and so I am thinking about getting it in the blue color as well.

Blue Curly Giraffes

I think this is going to be FUN!!!!

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Small Batch Preserves

A long time ago, I inherited my grandmother's canning kettles. They are huge. You can barely lift them when they are full of gardeny goodness. I used to can. A lot. Each Summer and early Fall I would make tomato juice, spaghetti sauce, salsa, pickles, canned fruit and jams and fruit butter. Each one was a production. Get the fruit. Peel the fruit. Cut the fruit up. Cook it down slowly. Watch so it doesn't burn. Measure the hot fruit sauce. Calculate the pectin and sugar. Cook it down until it sheets just right. Which, by the way usually wasn't until 10 pm at the very earliest no matter how early you started. THEN it all had to be put in sterile jars. More hot boiling water. More mess on the counter. Timing. Lifting. Waiting for each lid to pop.

It was wonderful to have all those lovely jars in the pantry. It was even better to have all those tiny jars of jams and preserves to give to the staff at the holidays. But... it was hard work.

Now I just make small batch preserves when the mood strikes. Given that the Iron Craft Challenge this week is for creative endeavors a la State Fair, the time seemed right for a quick batch of plum butter.

You can google recipes or pour through your big blue book of canning to get precise measurements and temperatures, but it really isn't all that important for this scale. You are making a small amount to keep in the fridge for a week or two, if it lasts that long.

Start with some fruit. A couple pounds are sufficient. I often make up a batch of strawberry jam when I have a couple cups of strawberries left over. Today I started with about 3 lbs of plums. These were black plums.

Wash them. Remove the pit. Chop them so that you don't end up with giant pieces of skin in the end product.

Put them in a sauce pan with a splash of water and cook them over low heat until they are soft and mostly lose their shape. I was a tiny bit impatient with this batch and stopped cooking a little soon, but not much. This batch will just have a few larger chunks of fruit.

Add sugar. The rule books tell you to add sugar equal to the amount of fruit you have. I find that usually leaves me with a nice cooked sugar flavor and not a lot of fruit. I really just add it to taste, although I probably almost always put in at least a cup. This is in a 2 quart pan. There are probably about 3 cups of fruit. I added about 1 1/4 cups of sugar. Then taste. Be careful tasting. It is HOT. These plums were not as tart as I am used to so I added about 2 tablespoons lemon juice to brighten it up.

Now you just cook it a little longer until it sheets off of a cool metal spoon. Or until it coats the metal spoon. Or until you can dip in the metal spoon and draw a line through the jam that coats the spoon. It will thicken more as it cools. One good test if you really must have some rules is to put a drop on a small plate and put the plate in the freezer for a few minutes. Take it out once it is cool but before it is frozen. Stand the plate on its edge. If the jam runs off the plate you need to cook it more. If it does a slow drip or stays put you are done.

Let the jam cool. Put it in a pretty glass bowl. Cover it and keep it in the fridge. No boiling water. No sterile jars. No 6 bottles that didn't seal. No fuss and you have fresh jam whenever the mood strikes.

This batch is most likely destined to become plum sauce, since I have a lovely batch of pulled pork that we slow cooked along side the jam.

(Sorry the pictures and not all that this time. Taking them on the stove with the available light just wasn't working.)

Update: Want to see more State Fair quality crafting? Check out the Flickr group here. You can play to by checking out Iron craft at Just Crafty enough here.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Bacon Day and Cornmeal pancakes

No picture this time, as this is a re-post of last year's recipe. I'm putting it here as part of my ongoing effort to collect my food blogs from the farthest reaches of the intertubes and store them in one place.

Sorry I missed posting this for International Bacon Day this year.... It is celebrated the Saturday before Labor Day.

It has been a long time since I’ve food blogged. But International Bacon Day warrants a mention. Not actually of bacon (which by the way was smoked bacon from the Amana Colonies ) but of the peach pancakes that went with it.

Yes, peach pancakes with apple syrup, mini omeletes and BACON. It was my intention to make al carbonara but once I started cooking the bacon the spuds requested breakfast for dinner. I hate to admit it, but I’m not big on making pancakes so I usually rely on a mix. But there was no mix in the cupboard. Only a couple boxes of Jiffy Mix. On the side of the box was a recipe for corn pancakes. I followed the recipe with the addition of butter instead of shortening and a dab of honey. I also added fresh cut up peaches. YUM!

So I now have yet another reason to love Jiffy Mix. I love it as cornbread made with a dash of honey. I love a slice of this warm under vanilla ice cream with fresh strawberry jam on top of it all. I love it made with corn, jalapenos and cheddar cheese. I love it made with cheddar cheese and bacon. I love it with blueberries and honey baked right in.

I know I should make my own mix and I occasionally do when I have some stone ground corn meal from the Ludwig Mill. But Jiffy Mix is easy, cheap and reliable.

Just Wondering...

... about giveaways and international shipping.

Sometimes, ideas flit through my head like butterflies and I have to share... to get some perspective on a problem or plot that doesn't seem to get resolved in the course of my own pondering.

I keep thinking that I would like to do a giveaway contest. I'm not exactly sure what I would give away yet, but it would be something I'd make and something I'd like to get. Anyone have any ideas or suggestions? Does anyone have any experience with rafflecopter? It looks like a pretty good way to manage freebies. What sorts of things do people like to get in a giveaway? Just wondering....

And, then there is international shipping. I don't know much of anything about international shipping. I'd love to have you share your experience with me. Like I said, just wondering...

Monday, September 5, 2011

Labor Day

On Saturday, it was a hundred degrees here. I was looking forward to spending Labor Day at the pool. Today it is 75 with a stiff breeze. Not so much at the pool, but a great time with good friends never the less. Here is hoping your day is wonderful.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Talking Fabric

Broom handle carved out of an aspen root by my father. circa 1970.

I am at that most unfortunate stage in quilting when I have so many projects, not just ideas but full blown projects waiting for me to start that I don't know where to begin.

Actually, I do know where to begin. I have to make a quilt for my son. He picked out the fabric a couple years ago. I've been playing with ideas for how to assemble the assorted plaid flannels he chose. It will be nice and warm and he will definitely be needing it as the weather gets cooler. I really can't make anything else until I get this one done.

I just can't see to wrap my mind around to best make this quilt come together. I joke about fabric speaking to me, telling me what it wants to be. I liken it to what my dad said when he was carving walking sticks out of tree roots. He said he just started carving and eventually the wood would let him know what to carve. It isn't really that the wood or fabric talk. It is a hidden artistic or aesthetic sense that holds you back until the project comes together in your head in a way that fits.... a need to wait until the ideas gel in the back of your head. I don't always start with a completed picture in my mind, but I do usually get a notion of the essence of the final project. A sense that bringing these particular fabrics together is right. And so I have fabrics awaiting the perfect pattern and patterns awaiting the perfect fabric.

I think a number of projects are sitting in the stack because I am missing some element. I used to store all of my projects as stacks of fabrics separate from each other. A while ago, I pulled most of them apart and re-stacked the fabric by color. When I go to the shelf to pull things out, I often manage to re-assemble the sets, but they usually have a new element. That new perspective has been productive.

I have some projects where the fabric has clearly spoken. Everything is sorted, washed, ironed and ready to go. I have the designs sketched and really do not have any reason to start cutting. And yet I don't. In this case, I am hesitant because my skill set does not include a comfort with the techniques I need to accomplish my vision. I am going to have to come up with a good strategy for moving forward on them.

And I have some fabrics that jumped into my hands and refused to be left at the store. They, too have a pattern awaiting. One that is clearly within my ability. One that I want to cut into and bring to life.

But first I have to have a conversation with my son's fabric. It wants to be circles. Something about the straight lines in the plaid makes me want to make circles. Some triangles would be good, but it really calls for circles. I've made a few blocks using the reverse applique/freezer paper method. I've considered some raw edge applique....

Update: The fabric started talking, but I'm not exactly sure what it is saying at the moment. Here are the various piece parts on the design floor.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

State Fair

Image from the St Louis County Fair page found here.

The new Iron Craft Challenge is Creative Activities. We are to make something that would fit in to one of the Minnesota State Fair creative activities categories.

I love the fair. My dad would take us and teach us the fine points of large animal judging. My grandmother could always be found sitting in front of the Grange display. My uncle was usually one of the sheriffs on duty and my cousins could be found making funnel cakes for the band boosters. It would always rain and the tractors would have to drive over from the tractor pull to pull cars out of the grass field.

I come from a long line of competitive fair entrants. My grandfather regularly entered vegetables and gladioli. My mother took second place with a cake at the Ohio State Fair. She was trying to win the gas range that went to the first place baker, but ended up with 50 pounds of flour instead. I used to be competitive in the baking and art categories at our county fair. Boy blacksmith just took 3 medals with his soda at the Colorado State Fair.

So now all I have to do is decide what to make! The quilt on a stick has a particular appeal!