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Bits and Pieces in Late November 2020

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November 25, 2020

Bits and Pieces in Late November 2020

Winter is closing in now, and we are in the darkest time of the year.

But there are seasonal gifts to view, witness these beautiful red berries against the grey sky that I saw in my travels the other day. We’ve had some cold days, but I have not yet switched out my cotton socks for my warmer winter ones. That day is coming though.

I’ve spent some time playing with using up the scraps in my solid scrap bin. I had a lot of leftover bias strips sewn together and cut from projects like The Color Collective Lone Star quilt process and the Sugaridoo QAL rows (the pink strips). What if I used them on fun and funky “tree triangles” that so many people are making these days as they rise to quilter Nicholas Ball’s challenge.

I’m working away at the first project from Season 3 of the online class The Color Collective, hosted by Sewtopia, with designer/teacher Tara Faughnan. The first block is called “Marrakesh,” and it allows us to play with and manipulate color choices that can radically change how the block appears. There are also several construction methods that I have never made, and that’s always a fun learning curve.

I have 4 blocks done now—they will finish at 15 1/2 inches each.

I’ll make at least two more and may stop at creating a rectangle wall hanging. Who knows. In any case, I’m sure these blocks will get moved around more. If I make more, I’ll definitely stop at 3 by 3 blocks, which will be a bit larger than 45 inches square. Or a longer 2-block wide rectangle wall hanging. Time will tell…

I keep moving around these four blocks because I see something that just needs to be changed, but then I see something else. I definitely need more blocks.

AC Slater’s Favorite Pastime

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Turkey Tracks: November 24, 2020

AC Slater’s Favorite Pastime

AC Slater is a little over 2 1/2 years old now.

He is a young dog with a lot of energy—which means he gets me outside doing something active at least once every day that allows being outside. It’s good for both of us.

His most favorite things to do are taking a hike with me through woods, especially if there are water features present, and chasing his ball on a big field. I believe he thinks both of these acts are his “work.” He craves these interactions with me, and I enjoy them so much as well.

I’ve spent a lot of time training him so that he is safe with me under voice control. I wouldn’t test his behavior on a city street, but I bet he’d stick close as he’d be scared. We don’t walk much in town as that just doesn’t run out his energy the way a hike or a ball activity does.

Here he is, ready for me to throw his ball with a chuck-it.

He brings me the ball as part of this activity. Sometimes the “drop” command is hard for him as he loves to chew this ball. And, he likes to hold it some times while he gets his breath back. Remember that it takes about 8 seconds some times for a dog to process a command.

What amazes me is that he can track the ball and jump way up to catch it in the air. I’ve seen him jump way over his own body length to get it—which is hard to catch on a camera when you’ve also thrown the ball. But here’s a kind of idea of what he can do.

He also runs way out in anticipation, and then he watches for the direction I’ll throw the ball. He uses my body placement as to whether I’ll throw to the right or left or straight out.

I’m really enjoying the size of this dog. He’s not as small as the rat terriers, but he’s not a big dog either. He’s just right…

Written by louisaenright

November 24, 2020 at 7:04 am

Loving My Instapot

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Turkey Tracks: November 17, 2020

Loving My Instapot

And so the Instapot adventure continues…

Here is a lamb stew (with added rice and asparagus when plated) that came out with tender, tasty lamb chunks and carrots that were NOT overdone. The sauce was thickened with the addition of a flour at the start—for me cassava, which I can eat.

Next up, chicken thighs browned skin side down in butter and duck fat. It’s the butter that browns the skin so nicely. Then a very short cooking time. The additions of the last of the rice and the asparagus were added when plating the meal. This sauce is delicious as well.

I could do 4 thighs in the pot easily, so I have a leftover meal ready to freeze or eat today. I’m freezing as I have a big, boned leg of lamb from last year defrosted and ready to cook. I’ll do that in the oven though and will freeze a lot of it for future meals.

I am beginning to understand how the pot works, like how to saute in the pot before starting something, what kind of liquid it needs to work, when to use the trivet, how long to cook something, and so forth.

I love learning curves AND delicious food.

Written by louisaenright

November 17, 2020 at 10:30 am

How I Make a “Tree” Quilty Block

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Turkey Tracks: November 16, 2020

How I Make a “Tree” Quilty Block

Several people have asked me now how I make my Quilty “Tree” Block. First let me say that this block was inspired by Amanda Jean Nyberg’s tree block quilt AND that I finally devised my own method after completing the “Mowed Lawn” block in the Sugaridoo Bernina Quilt-Along that just finished up this month. Up until the “Mowed Lawn” row, I just could not get my head around how to proceed easily with this kind of a block.

My own blocks are moving along quite nicely now as a leader/ender project, and I am pleased with how this project is shaping up. Note that I have used some different sizes of the “tree” trunks—for me about 2: a 1-inch cut and a 1 1/4 inch cut. And this arrangement will not likely remain after I have more blocks done. I’ll refine placement then by color and by how the trunks relate from block to block.

Start with a block that is ONE INCH bigger than your finished block size: for me that has been 8 1/2 inches. And it should have been 9 to finish at 8, but that was part of my own learning curve.

Cut the block into 4 pieces—without coming too close to where the seams that join the blocks will be on either side. Don’t make these angles too, too sharp or you will have trouble getting four pieces AND do vary the slant on the first cut—leaning to the left or the right differently for individual blocks. IMMEDIATELY put little numbers ON THE TOP marking each pieces placement. It is so easy to get confused really fast, especially with solids.

That is a “2” on the right strip. These little numbers disappear as you sew.

You will have already made a swatch of fabrics that will make the tree trucks. I cut these strips randomly at 1 inch up to 1 1/2 inches. Then I cut the trunks at 1 inch for most, but add in a few 1 1/4 inches. Again you can see how the widths work out in the first picture of my completed blocks.

I make my tree trunks so that they will be a bit longer top and bottom—so I can vary now I lay them out in terms of color—by reversing some of the strips. It’s good to make several sets of sewn strips so that you can vary color.

It is easier to sew the strips to the block is you have all the seams going down. Just reiron a strip if you need to.

Here’s my plan for this block. When you sew try to keep the top (pink) edge about the same if possible. You can see here that I didn’t do that as neatly as I like. Lay your strip in, put a pin on the 1/4 inch line, and turn the strip to see if your background fabric is lined up better than here. I don’t worry so much about the bottom edge if this top one is fairly even—since I won’t lose too much fabric on both sides, just one.

So now it is time to trim to 1/2 inch bigger than your finished block when sewn—so my 8 1/2 will now go to 8 inches square.

A square ruler REALLY helps with this trimming as you can see everything at once that you need to consider and can see how to best trim ALL the sides and if there is some problem with size. Honestly, I use my different sized square rulers a lot. I trim two sides, then flip the block around, line up again, and do the final two sides. (This block is 8 inches and will finish at 7 1/2—the ruler is just a bit high on one side in this picture as I relaid it in for this picture.

Enjoy! This block is very fun to make once you see the best way to proceed.

Written by louisaenright

November 16, 2020 at 12:12 pm

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More Of Giovanna’s Knitting

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Turkey Tracks: November 15, 2020

More Of Giovanna’s Knitting

Giovanna McCarthy is a master knitter, and I do love to see and share her work.

She just finished this lap-size throw and is blocking it. Oh my! How gorgeous is this work? Very GORGEOUS.

Giovanna says the piece below is a “knitted quilt.”

I think it is a knitted piece of art and am encouraging her to hang it as such.

The colors are so, so pretty.

Enjoy!

Written by louisaenright

November 15, 2020 at 9:17 am

Mid November Quilty Update

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Turkey Tracks: November 13, 2020

I have FOUR quilts to longarm now—each is all set up with all their parts organized, including their labels and bindings.

And while my quilt room is feeling MUCH less tangled with projects now, the bed in the adjacent bedroom is piled high with these projects.

First up to quilt will be the Wild Goose quilt, seen here on the design wall a while back:

Next will be the funky rail fence quilt designed by Sajata Shah and which can be seen in her book CULTURAL FUSION QUILTS.

The TWO Sugaridoo QAL quilt tops are finished as of yesterday. These two quilts have been a year-long journey. Here’s the rainbow solid one. You can see a piece of the backing fabric on the cutting board. I wanted something quiet, though I was tempted by the very bright choices others are making. I am going to bind in the darker grey accent fabric.

Here’s a close up pic of the LAST row, row 11.

Row 11 is so graphic. It was so fun to make. And in general, I have learned a lot during this project and have now 12 new patterns and several quilty methods new to me.

Here is the Cotton+Steel version:

And a close up of those bottom rows:

I have absolutely no idea how I should quilt these quilts. At 70 by 90, they are just way too big to be done on the domestic machine with a grid. And I don’t do intensive longarm quilting with rulers. I just don’t. And I don’t like intensive quilting on a functional quilt as it makes them too stiff. So I will do something overall—either freehand or with a pantograph.

I have TWO leader/ender projects on the design wall; each is endlessly fun and are using up the solid scraps. The tree block is inspired by a quilt by Crazy Mom Quilts, and the striped quilt is inspired by a quilt by Tara Faughnan.

AND, in the relatively clean quilt room, I will now wade into the first Color Collective project as the white background fabric I ordered arrived this week.

People taking the class are showing their completed blocks now in the online social media groups (FB and Instagram), and their different color choices are so fun and so inspiring to see.

Clean and Clear Windows

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Turkey Tracks: November 10, 2020

Clean and Clear Windows

I always look forward to the moment in the fall when the Sun Services crew comes and cleans my windows.

This year we decided to remove the cheap, broken, flawed white wooden cross-hatch pieces. They are a perfect examples of nice windows with flawed, cheap wooden decorative pieces that ruin the impact of the otherwise really good windows.

I am so happy we took them all out. Look at these beautiful views that are fully visible now!

The kitchen is on the north side of the house—and it’s hard to get a picture where the inside is not dark.

Here’s an example of why I need help with window cleaning—this one takes outside and inside ladders—as do many of the windows around this house which sits on a hill.

The house is filled with even more sunshine and light now. Why didn’t I take out those broken messes that especially on doors, flapped on the sides with every opening and closing of the doors!

Written by louisaenright

November 10, 2020 at 8:17 am

Quilty Update Early November 2020

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Turkey Tracks: November 7, 2020

Quilty Update Early November 2020

I have been having so much fun playing with these two projects on my design wall. They have been wonderful ways to cope with all the political chaos of an election in the middle of a pandemic.

Both of these projects are meant to use up solid scraps acquired with two years of The Color Collective online class on Sewtopia, with Tara Faughnan as the teacher and curator of fabrics.

On the left, the “trees” quilt was inspired by Crazy Mom Quilts. And on the right is a quilt inspired by Tara Faughnan’s quilt made with this kind of method.

I pulled out the bin of solid scraps and sorted it—I have piles where the fabrics need to be cut into useable sizes—like, at the very least, different sizes of square blocks. The strips are going into the developing quilt on the right. Occasionally I dive into the bigger bins of bigger pieces of solid fabrics to get a color I want to go with what is here, or to cut new squares for the trees quilt.

I’ve washed and ironed all the fabrics for the first project of season 3 of The Color Collective. The block is “Marrakesh.” The first set of fabrics is a luscious combination.

The funky rail quilt top from Sajata Shah’s CULTURAL FUSION QUILTS book and all the needed parts for the longarm joins the Flying Geese quilt with all its needed parts. I’ll start to longarm quilt these quilts pretty soon now.

The funky rail fence block is super fun to make. I used a suite of fabrics I’ve never used—and added fabrics from my stash. I pieced the back with the remnants, so that’s a lot of fabrics out of the stash. And does it count as an almost-created Unfinished project since I did have a suite of fabrics kept together? I think so. I do NOT want to be one of those people who dies and leaves a huge amount of fabric for my family to manage.

I LOVE this flying geese quilt and can’t wait to see it finished.

I worked on the last row of the solid Sugaridoo QAL quilt yesterday. Along the way I added sashing that is a bit too wide, and the quilt is way, way too long. Sugaridoo planned it at 70-90, which is not a ratio I like. I spent the evening ripping out some of the sashing, and I have at least gotten the quilt back to 70-90. I’ll likely finish these two quilts in the next few days, and I have enjoyed the learning curves involved and all the new block patterns. I have backings for both quilts, but need to organize bindings. Completing these two tops will make FOUR quilts ready for the longarm and binding.

The third row of the EPP project “36 Ring Circus” is going faster than the first two. I’m making all the center blocks in a row at one time now. And I pretty much have all the parts that surround the center glued and ready to go.

I also have two knit garments cut out and some patterns I really want to make. That’s a bit harder since I’m not really seeing anyone with the pandemic situation and so have no place to wear new garments.

My sewing life is rich and satisfying during the winter season here in Maine, and it feels good to get unfinished projects completed and to take on some new challenges.

More Cooking Adventures: Tigernut Flour and Thrive Market

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Turkey Tracks: November 5, 2020

More Cooking Adventures: Tigernut Flour and Thrive Market

Dr. Becky Campbell, in the new book I got, The 4-Phase Histamine Reset Plan, recommends the online store Thrive Market.

I joined, and here is my FIRST box. For those of you who live in cities, something like Thrive may not be necessary. But I live in a mostly rural town in Maine, and while we have some great local co-ops and other stores that specialize in local clean foods and healthy products, these stores do not necessarily carry speciality food products, like Tigernut flour. And, the Belfast co-op, which does carry a lot of what I need, is 45 minutes north of me.

Here’s my first box. Thrive does not carry anything GMO and does carry Fair Trade, organic, sustainably created, and so forth. Many of their products are also cheaper than our local ones. And, shipping is free if the order is over something like $50.

Below, there’s my tigernut “flour” and my tapioca flour. Tigernuts are a tuber, not a nut or a legume. Tigernuts have been, apparently, used in Africa forever and are known to be really healthy for gut health. The recipes I’ve made so far have a delicious, mellow nutty taste. And it turns out that Tapioca flour, which derives from cassava, has some important nutritional features. Who knew? I thought it was just a useless starch.

And, there too, is SPROUTED brown rice. (Thrive carries other sprouted grains as well, including rolled oats, which are now in my second box.) Sprouted grains make the nutrients in grains way easier for the body to absorb.

I have not had a muffin or baked anything like a muffin in over 10 years. Maybe longer. These apple/carrot/tigernut muffins are DELICIOUS and filling. The “nut butter” I made with the flour is also delicious.

Here’s a “pudding” made from almond milk (I found a brand at the Belfast Coop that is just nuts and water—no preservatives—Elmhurst), coconut milk (I make my own from dried organic coconut, but will buy some canned from Thrive on the next order), chia seeds, vanilla, and maple syrup. A pinch of salt is not a bad idea. I top it with organic blueberries I got last summer that have been defrosted and steeped in a bit of Maple syrup. It is SO GOOD. The chia seeds are the magic ingredient (and are so good for you) as they form a kind of gelatin when put into water.

The soup I made from the Instant Pot chicken broth is delicious and very filling. The broth has so much gelatin in it that when cooled, it practically stands up on its own. That’s an added benefit to the Instant Pot.

I am feeling very spoiled and happy.

Written by louisaenright

November 5, 2020 at 8:52 am

Funky Rail Fence Quilt Top

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Turkey Tracks: November 2, 2020

Funky Rail Fence Quilt Top

The blocks are done, but not sewn together. Sajata Shah designed this “funky rail fence” block, and it is in her book CULTURAL FUSION QUILTS.

Yesterday I started piecing a back and pulled out leftover batting strips to sew together. The binding is cut, but not sewn together. It’s one of the reds in this fabric suite. I was able to add some greens from my stash to this mix, so a lot of fabric has gone flying out of my stash.

My pile of longarm projects is growing…

I think I would love this quilt in shades of grey and black. AND in modern bright fabrics with, maybe, some neutrals. But, maybe no neutrals. And of course it would look great with solids as well.

So, someone please tell me how—in spite of my vow to NOT start anything new—that this happened? It comes from playing with a new block, of course. And the excitement of getting a new book with LOTS of fun projects. Can I count having a suite of unused fabrics an “unfinished” project?

Written by louisaenright

November 2, 2020 at 10:06 am