Monday, November 30, 2009

Quilted Christmas tags

Aren’t these cute? My daughter-in-law, Toni, gave these quilted gift tags.

I’m going to write on them with Pigma Micron pens. Toni said she is going to use Puff pens to write on her tags.

Is sure is nice to have a quilter in the family. Thank you, Dear.

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Saturday, November 28, 2009

Still full … of gratitude

I always love Thanksgiving leftovers – turkey sandwiches, dressing with gravy, and dabs of cranberry relish. But what I love best are the long-lasting feelings of warmth and comfort. I am still savoring the conversations of the day (along with my sandwich).

Our youngest son and his wife came up to our house for the feast. Our oldest son reported that he had been roller skating with his grandson and then celebrated the day with his cousin Kenneth’s family in Santa Rosa.

It was a good thing Davis arrived at our place early Thursday because extra help was needed in the kitchen. On Wednesday, Robert had rescued our old cat, Aucuba, from an imminent fall off the back porch. He grabbed her quickly and pulled her back to safety at the last moment but his fast action apparently cracked his rib on the left side. This hampered Robert’s Thanksgiving preparations. Luckily, Davis enjoys cooking so the two men worked as a team.

Toni brought several yards of flannel to rotary cut into squares for the Linus Project quilts she is making. I was at the sewing machine finishing hemming the napkins so my large cutting board was free for her use.

Another thing I love about Thanksgiving is using family heirlooms on the table. The charm of Robert’s grandmother’s maroon Bauer bowl filled to the brim, and the blue Fiesta Ware gravy pitcher bring back memories. My favorite plates are Syracuse China “Nature Study Poppies.” We have a set of eight which my mother must have received as a wedding present in the early 1930s.

This plate is hand-painted by Harry Aitken -- Nature Study Poppies, number "5" of 40.

Here is serendipity. I bought some quilting fabric several years ago called “tres joli” from the Alexander Henry Fabrics Collection. The fabric looks as if it was inspired by the old Syracuse China Poppy plates. I had some gold striped canvas hidden away under our bed. The gold of the canvas matched the gold color in the fabric. So, I whipped up some napkins to decorate the Thanksgiving table this year.

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Saturday, November 21, 2009

Natural colors

This is a wool quilt top I made several years ago. The colors (except for the black) are all from natural dyes. The deep orange is dyed with onion skins, and the soft yellow comes from mistletoe. The lighter orange came from madder root. The bright pink is dyed with Cochineal.

In the early 1970s, Robert and I wrote a small book called An Introduction to Natural Dyeing. Used copies come up for sale on Amazon quite regularly. Dyeing small batches of wool with onion skins is a very easy thing to do and the colors are beautiful.

This week, while you are shopping for Thanksgiving, pick up an extra large bag of onion skins. We buy one or two yellow (or red) onions and put them in a sack, then we clean out the bottom of the onion bin and scoop up all the loose, papery skins and fill the bag to the brim. While you are at the grocery store pick up some Alum in the pickling supply area (or you can order some Alum from Dharma Trading and it will arrive in a few days).

For one-quarter pound of wool you will need two (2) ounces of onion skins. Put them in an enamel pot and cover them with water. Let them soak for at least three days. You can do your dyeing project next weekend, after Thanksgiving.

Onion Skins Dye Project

Gather your supplies.
Clean, white wool yarn or cloth (1/4 pound).
A two gallon enamel pot.*
A candy thermometer.
Large wooden spoon.*
Soap or detergent.
Plastic (or enamel) dishpan for soaking and washing wool.
Stove or outdoor burner.
Rustproof “T” pins for blocking fabric.
Onion skins.
Terry towels.

*Dedicated to dye projects and not for regular cooking use.

Bring your soaked onion skins and water to a simmer in the enamel pot and keep simmering for an hour. Add water as you go so it will not evaporate. Your house will smell like onion soup. Let the brew cool down and then strain out the dye liquor (you won’t need the skins anymore) and put it in a clean glass container.

You can dye wool yarn or cloth. The wool must be free of dirt, grease or sizing so it will accept the dye.Weigh your clean, dry wool. The recipe is for one quarter (1/4) pound. Wind yarn into skeins for dyeing and tie them loosely with cotton string.

The wool has to be mordanted so it will take the dye. We are going to use Alum for our mordant.
Fill the enamel pot with 1 ½ gallons of water and heat it to 130-degrees F. Add 1 ½ tablespoons of alum and stir until dissolved. Bring the heat to 150-degrees.
In the meantime, soak your wool in your dishpan filled with warm water. Push it down so it is covered with water. Make sure it is thoroughly wet.

When the mordant water reaches 150-degrees, enter the wet wool (gently). Push it down with your wooden spoon so it is covered. Bring to a simmer for one hour. Stir regularly. Remove the pot from heat. Set wool aside.

Pour your onion skin dye liquor into an empty enamel pot and add enough water to make 1 ½ gallons of solution. Heat to 150-degrees and gently add mordanted wool. Bring to a simmer (190-degrees), do NOT boil, for one hour, stir occasionally and make sure the wool stays down in the pot. Remove the pot from heat and let the wool cool down in the pot with the dye liquor. Cooling overnight is good. It will absorb dye as it cools.

Remove wool from the dye when it is cool. Squeeze wool gently. Rinse. Wash dyed wool thoroughly with soap or detergent. Do not rub, wring, or twist. Rinse well. Wrap wool in a clean terry cloth towel to remove excess moisture.
Block wool fabric by placing in on a terry towel over a soft surface. Gently pull and ease the fabric to its original size and pin securely with rustproof “T” pins. It will dry slowly.
To block wool yarn, place a skein over a suspended pole and weight the bottom of the skein. Rotate the skein on the pole periodically to prevent the moisture gathering at the bottom. Remove when thoroughly dry.

I still have not figured out how to quilt my natural dyed wool quilt top. If you have any ideas let me know. I can’t decide what color thread to use.

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Thursday, November 19, 2009

A fixture in our house

Vicky said, "How about a toilet next? Not to paper piece!"

Okay, Vicky. Here is a foundation for a 4-inch paper pieced fixture. Click on the little graphic below so you can print the foundation for your own personal use.

Now, I am going to get out of the bathroom and start on something new.

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Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Bathroom dreams

Last week, on the second day of our struggle to clear out our bathroom sink drain I almost gave up. I thought the sink overflow was permanently rusted shut and we would have to buy a new sink to replace the old one.

I went searching on the web to find a replacement sink. After looking at hundreds and hundreds of sinks and vanities I came across one I loved. It is called Catania Modern Bathroom Pedestal Sink. And it was on Sale for only $699.99 (regular price $2,450.00).

If we bought the sink it would mean a complete re-do of our bathroom – out with the plain toilet – it would not look good next to this modern sculpture. The walls would have to be refinished after tearing out our old 1925 Kohler wall hung sink. New chrome fixtures would be needed, too.

But what about our old claw-foot tub? I didn’t want to give that up. Cast iron tubs hold their heat and I’ve had many a long soak in that comfortable, long tub. We have an on demand water heater so we can run hot water for hours on end.

Bathing by Robert Lakstagala
That’s not me in the tub. Paula the Quilter had the tub picture on her blog the other day. Click on the picture to read her post about it.

Of course, on the third day of frantic work on our sink, the clog disintegrated and everything started flowing again. No new sink is necessary so there will not be a bathroom makeover around here.

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Sunday, November 15, 2009

That sink-ing feeling

Life has been pretty dull around here. There has been nothing to blog about.

Our big project this week was cleaning out our bathroom sink drain. It took three days. We poured vinegar and baking soda in and then used various things to poke into the overflow area. We got some chemical called CLR (calcium, lime, rust) and poured that in. We got a bottle brush thing and Robert used that too. A lot of plunger work and suddenly it started to flow again. Whoopee!

Now I have to get busy with Brasso and shine up the faucets.

I made a block to celebrate this momentous occasion. It is called Old Sink.

If you would like to make a 4-inch paper pieced pedestal sink block, click on the small graphic below and print out you own copy of the foundation for personal use.

Let’s hope something more interesting happens tomorrow to inspire a new block-a-day. (I have not made one since my sandal block on October 16.)

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Friday, November 06, 2009

Better and better

Robert, you just get better every year. Happy Birthday.

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