Yes, The Grill Did Come Assembled

Some of you asked…

And, yes, I’ve been using it.

It lives in the garage, where it is protected from weather.

It’s easy to roll it out to the driveway.

I am LOVING having an attached garage–the grill is mere steps from the kitchen.

I made two more pot holders yesterday. It’s hard to quit, but I have moved on now after these two. But I have fresh freezer paper patterns should the need arise, LOL.

And the back.

I have my old Janome, which is going strong, set up with a walking foot attached, so it is easy to move over to it when a walking foot is needed–like for this walking foot quilting and the binding.

These potholders are thick–with two inner layers (Insul-Brite and batting) and the two outer layers. And the funky shape makes installing binding a bit more tricky at the join. And the thickness means the binding has to wrap around a lot of thickness–so I should be using 2 1/2 inch binding rather than the 2 1/4 inch I usually use. Single fold bias tape doesn’t cut it for this thickness. The stitching on the binding on the last one was the best so far, but it wasn’t perfect. And, I like perfect.

Needless to say, this project has been a learning curve for me.

And I like learning curves, too.

This pair is going to son Bryan.

I did sew a few Churn Dash blocks yesterday for the quilt on the design wall. They are so fun to make and sew up quickly. But tomorrow I will return to the quilt from hell as I’ll be staying with my two older granddaughters while their parents make a quick trip to see Old Miss with grandson Kelly–one more time before a final decision is made. So, hand-sewing will be needed.

The longarm light bar is due in New Jersey tomorrow. Its trip from out west took forever as the shipping company clearly has been short-handed–which is a common story these days. So, the delivery plan now is next Friday.

Potholders and Hot Pads

I BADLY needed a break from the quilt from hell. So I gave myself a few days to play with a new project. OK, two new projects, actually, but I’m resisting so far making more churn dash blocks for the quilt on the design wall. I need to fill those holes–it’s under 20 blocks.

I have been watching friend Betsy Maislen make adorable pot holders in recent months–and she had fun playing with her machine’s decorative stitches for the quilting. And a year ago, I was also tempted by Debbie Jesse’s post on her A Quilter’s Blog when she made a whole slew of color-dedicated, scrappy potholders using a funky shape from Hannah Haberkern: Recently Debbie Jesse returned to this funky potholder project–and added a matching mitt. She made these two items, and I fell in love:

I have put links to Debbie Jeske’s posts below this post. And here’s a picture of Hannah Haberkern’s initial funky potholder. Isn’t it fun? She used her walking foot for the quilting.

The insulating product most used for potholders is Insul-Brite–which contains a needle punched fluffy fiber with a poly layer. The product repels both heat and cold.

Info on the package recommends two layers, poly side out, with an inner batting layer that will absorb condensation. So, that’s 3 layers, plus the two outside top/bottom layers. Various people writing about how to use this product also recommend additional batting layers for really good heat control, so I did add one more for the hot pad I also made.

You also need bias binding–which I always do anyway–but many use single-fold bias tape for the binding–and I will try to do that when I get a chance to buy some in colors I like locally.

Confession: I’ve never been able to properly sew down the free edge on binding with my machine and always hand sew the free edge. BUT, I need to rethink and learn to do a good job so that the back and fronts both look nice. I suspect using a glue stick and/or clips would help.

So, here’s what went home with son Mike, who REALLY needed some fresh potholders. And, a big counter hot pad for hot dishes coming out of the oven. Word is he’s already used them and likes them.

I used some Essex Linen I had in my stash as my focal point, some peppered cottons in grays and the one green, and a Carolyn Friedlander print. I made my bias binding from the linen.

I made TWO LAYERS first–doing the front and back layers separately and then combining them. The front layer had the top and the Insul-Brite; the bottom had the back, the Insul-Brite, and a batting layer that would land up in the middle of the potholder. Before quilting each package, I sewed the edges with a bigger basting stitch. Also, before installing the binding, I, again, sewed around all the edges. *Also, I released the foot pressure to handle this thickness. (The linen binding was super stretchy, which made hand sewing the back edge pretty easy.)

Here’s the back.

Here’s the BIG trial counter hot pad–which has 4 inner layers as I added an extra batting piece. I’m also experimenting with this kind of binding where a larger backing comes around to the front, but haven’t quite “got it” yet–in that it’s width is chopping off blocks. It works really well, though, if the top doesn’t contain pieced blocks that need only a 1/4 inch seam. Also, I used my machine to stitch additional lines of quilting here and there as hand-sewing into this thickness was hunt and peck. And, slow.

I could not resist playing with scraps before putting these fabrics away–so I have this hot pad for myself–but with only 3 inner layers. Thus, I can test out how heat protective it is.

The other project is trying out various methods to make placemats from the 3 1/2 inch blocks I have from the Cotton+Steel project where I cut up the whole saved stash. Son Bryan’s family needs new placemats–and granddaughter Ailey is going to help me make some for them.

Next on the potholder project, I’ll try using just two inner layers (Insul-Bright and batting) and bought single-fold bias tape. What a great way to play with scraps and to have some gifts on hand.

Here’s the recent post from A Quilter’s Table:

Here’s the link to Debbie’s scrappy potholders from last year:

One More Row

Yesterday I finished the last block center for the “36-Ring Circus” English Paper Piecing ((EPP) wedding ring quilt I’ve worked on for YEARS now. And, that I’m now determined to finish.

I had these centers all prepped back in March 2022, but did not sew them together. Now, I realized I wanted to make sure that I understood how they would each fit into the last row of the quilt–taking into consideration the placement of the centers in the whole quilt.

I laid out the finished top three rows and lined up the finished bottom two rows. Hmmm. It is interesting and kind of funky with the Cotton+Steel fabric centers.

How these bottom blocks of the 6th row get placed depends on WHAT one is looking in one moment–which is always true of quilt block placement. I can already see blocks I might want to switch around, but then also see “but wait, it would be too close to `that block.'” I am going to switch out the far right two blocks though–even though the corner block will be close to the red mushroom block above it. The lighter aqua block is too pale to hold down the corner.

At some level, it just is what it is…

But, I’m seeing other issues that are not working for me while looking at this picture–which is why taking a picture is a really good idea. I need to split up the blocks with the strong blue in them.

I still have to make and sew the templates that will square off this quilt. They are larger and might go faster. I’ll use all dark solid fabrics. And I might need to add some additional borders–a narrow one and a wider one. Thank heavens as they would be done on a sewing machine.

I took a moment yesterday to finish off the edge of this cotton kitchen towel hand cloth used to dry wet hands–made from cotton balls I had on hand for grandchildren, but which didn’t get used to teach them to knit due to no visits to Maine during covid. These balls became my hand work at night while I packed up in Maine. And, later, while I was waiting to get into my new home.

I had fun playing with patterns along the way–and explored a moss stitch in one of these hand cloths. A plain old garter stitch is sturdy for this kind of use too.

The cloths sit in a dish given to me many years ago by another Enright “outlaw” wife during a visit to Maine: Judy O’Connor.

The outdoor room blinds are being installed as I write this morning.

A Busy Weekend

It’s a big family weekend. Oldest grandchild, Bowen, came home Friday afternoon on spring break from Furman University. The two older granddaughters are playing in a tennis tournament in Pawley’s. DIL Tami’s mother (Mimi/Debbie) is here, and we had such a nice visit here at my home Friday morning. (She will be relocating to Charleston in the, hopefully, near future.) Bryan and Corinne invited me to dinner last night, and Mike and Tami will have “Sunday Night” dinner tonight.

So, I started the weekend Saturday morning with a trip to Kudzu’s Bakery to pick up TWO of their famous chocolate mousse cakes, one for the dinner at each house. Bryan’s girls were ecstatic when I came in with their cake last night. (So was Bryan, actually, who said he would definitely have a second piece some time before bed.) These cakes are flourless and basically mostly chocolate mousse and looked totally deliciously rich.

Bryan has a smoker/grill that is awesome, and he cooked a boned/rolled leg of lamb on it for dinner–and followed with roasted fresh asparagus on the grill while the meat rested. Corinne made mashed potatoes, and we ate outside on their back porch and had such a nice visit. I think Bryan’s leg of lamb, marinated with fresh rosemary from his garden, garlic, salt, and the olive oil I gave as a gift, was the best I’ve ever eaten.

Tonight Mike and Tami’s long table will be full. They are six in that family, and all will be at dinner. Bowen picked up his girl, Hannah, last night at the airport. (She has the same college break he does though she is in Maryland.) Bowen’s roommate and his girlfriend are visiting. Mimi and I will be there. And who knows who else will show up as the circle of friends for these four teenagers is large and some know good cooking when they eat it.

I have now been over the Ravenal Bridge, which links Mt. Pleasant to Charleston, twice now in the past week. Yeah! The bridge is 8 lanes, is very high, has a walkway along the coastal side, has an awesome view from its high point, is gorgeous, and ends in a tangle of highways coming into Charleston. Waze took me through safely to take my vacuum cleaner to Low Country Vacuum and Sew on Savannah Highway and to retrieve it Friday afternoon.

Patriot Point, on the Mt. Pleasant side of the bridge, lies to the coastal side of the bridge, and friend Gina Caceci sent me an article about all the places of interest at Patriot Point, which include the presence of water taxis that connect Mt. Pleasant to the downtown Charleston Harbor tourist/shopping areas. The taxis would be fun and would mean one would not have to find parking in downtown Charleston. Something about which to think as SIL Maryann Enright is coming for a visit March 13th and might enjoy that adventure.

To back up a bit–I had one question from blog readers about the EPP method post I did a few days back–specifically about folding part of the quilt to attach a new piece. I updated that post with this picture–so you can see that the left side center block is folded in half, templates and all, so I can grip it in my left hand in order to manage the sewing with the flat back stitch better in my right hand. Thus the piece can be picked up–as it is pretty much impossible to stitch with the piece flat on the table. You can fold a much larger piece of the mother quilt in this way as well.

Low tide is at noon today, but Isle of Palms had a festival of some sort yesterday, and the island was packed with visitors–made worse as it was a wam day, definitely warm enough for beach swimming for the hardy.

In addition, there was some sort of accident across from the connector to the mainland when I headed home early evening. It took me forever to get home as the main artery on IOP was backed up for more than a mile. I suspect a walk on the beach today might be a problem due to weekend visitors, so maybe I will walk around Mike and Tami’s neighborhood. I can take some hand-sewing over, sit on their back porch “outdoor room” and enjoy the coming and going of the family.

But first I have to go to the grocery store myself. And mop all the tracks I’ve made on the floor while reorganizing the garage yesterday (to get ready for the grill that will arrive fully assembled tomorrow…hopefully) and while giving “Girlie” car a good cleaning.

The pine pollen…continues.

An English Paper Piecing (EPP) Method

One reason I have hated this EPP project is that the curved rings are so very hard to attach. I finally saw Tara Faughnan, in one of The Color Collective classes, hosted by Sewtopia, use artist tape, installed on the front of the block, to hold pieces in place while they are being stitched. With the tape, I can keep the rings lined up without losing how they should fit properly into the bigger block. Basically, one runs into the same problems with these curves that one has with sewing any curves together–seemingly excess fabric that falls into place if both sides are laid flat.

To remind, here’s how I start a set of rings so I don’t wind up with colors butted up to each other that don’t work in one way or another.

When I have the outer rings sewn, I can overlay them on the center piece and use the tape to hold everything firm. (The tape can be reused–and when I’m done for the moment, I put pieces back on the tape ring so they don’t dry out.) When sewing the rings, I also use a small piece of the tape to hold the inner curved top pieces firmly while I sew them. The pieces in the middle are easy to sew with the standard method of putting right sides together and whip stitching them.

One uses what is called a “flat back” stitch to sew a block that is laid out flat. Note that I’ve written how the block will fit into the larger block on the back pieces. And remember that I also take a picture of the block so I don’t get mixed up with what color goes where and how the finished ring piece fits on the final block. When sewing rings to the mother row, I can just ruthlessly fold the mother row so I can get hold of what I am trying to sew. One needs purchase as sewing into the flat piece on a surface is too hard to manage.

Here’s an example of folding over part of the quilt, templates and all, so you can sew it more easily. Note that the center block on the left is folded in half. I am right handed, so it is easier for me to fold left and sew with my right hand.

Here’s a finished ring block.

And here it is attached to a center block with the tape so I can attach it from the back.

Now both rings are attached and the block is ready to go into the “mother ship.”


I am so not looking forward to attaching, when completed, these rows to the other three rows.

It will be…painful.

But let’s not borrow that trouble this morning as progress is happening steadily!

Tennis Weekend

Saturday and Sunday involved watching tennis matches as granddaughter Talula played in a local tournament.

It was so fun to see her play after following her matches from Maine.

Both days were ‘murky” in the morning, and the gnats were bad. I didn’t bring my Young Living peppermint essential oil with me, but I have it with me permanently now, along with lavender. I’m sure the cooler, cloudy weather was a mannerly boon for the tennis players, but on both days the sun came out in the afternoon.

Look at these pretty palm trees. And that’s Tami’s back with a leash holding her mother’s little puppy. I have not seen Mimi in…decades…so it was very fun to see her again. She came down from Spartanburg for a family birthday party. Mike and Tami had a family dinner with both grandmothers Sunday night. It was delicious and very fun and a nice way to wrap up the week.

Mike and Tami traveled Friday to attend son Kelly’s wrestling matches for the state winners. So, I slept over with the granddaughters and cooked dinner Friday night. I went over Friday morning to let dogs out and took part of the hand sewing EPP project with me and had a peaceful hand-sewing day, though I had to go home once in the afternoon to retrieve a delivered package from the front porch–a wooden table for the back porch.

I finished another block and will attach it to the mother ship row.

Two more blocks to go for this row–and I finished the next center but need to lay out its rings.

The pine pollen is TERRIBLE here. Of course, there are so many pines that heavy pollen should not have been such a surprise. Maine had pine pollen too, and it could be heavy. Here, though, the pine pollen is over the top. Everyone is happy when there is a bit of rain to wash off the cars and walkways. The porches have to be cleaned though. And my dark floors show it tracking inside so easily.

I put together the little wooden table this morning–it’s the last piece of furniture for the porch. Now only the porch blinds remain to be installed for my outdoor room to be complete.

The refinished dining room table comes back TOMORROW! I can hardly wait to see it.

I spent some time this morning observing gutters being installed at my neighbor’s house behind me. Oh my! I had not thought about the need for gutters, though we installed them in Maine. And, yes, many houses here in my neighborhood have had gutters installed already I realized as I stopped to check.

I’ll have to get a quote. For sure.

It is a quiet kind of a day. I’ll probably run over to the beach in a bit for a walk.

Some Ways to Hang Your Quilts

I had a request to blog about how I hang my quilts.

I can do that.

Note that one can always hang a curtain rod with its own supports that is long and just switch out whatever quilt one wants from time to time. I think Bonnie Hunter hangs quilts this way in her Inn. If you don’t know Bonnie Hunter, check out her blog.

Note, too, that for really heavy, bigger quilts, I use curtain rods with decorative ends. Note that the middle quilt below, as it is not as wide or heavy, uses an invisible dowel wooden rod which can be bought at most hardware stores and cut to size. You want the SMALLEST dowel/curtain rod that can support the weight of the quilt without bending as you don’t want a bulge at the top of your quilt. And you want the quilt to sit at the top on the rod so that the rod is at the top and not down into the quilt–where the bulge of it can detract.

Thus, the most important thing with hanging quilts is installing a hanging sleeve that is level with the top of the quilt AND that allows space on the outer sides for the dowel/rod to show.

I double a wide band of fabric (for a big quilt about 4 inches, which means a piece about 9 inches wide. I cut and turn in the sides twice (neat finish on the sides) so that the sleeve leaves space on either side for the dowel to peek through. A curtain rod’s ends are always going to show–but you have to figure out where to position nails so they don’t show–they can hide just inside the edge of the quilt if you leave proper space between the binding edge and the sleeve edge. Dowels should not be cut wider than the binding on the quilt as you want to hide the dowel in the gap between the edge of the sleeve and the binding outer edge. I double the 9-inch strip and press it before sewing the sleeve’s two raw edges to the quilt top when I install the binding.

For a big quilt I might machine baste the sleeve into the seam allowance first. And some quilters recommend splitting the sleeve into two parts for a wide, heavy quilt. Next, after binding, you have only to sew down the bottom of the sleeve.

BUT, and this is important, there is a method for sewing down that bottom edge as you have to place it a bit above where it would go without allowing for some excess hanging room. But not high enough from the bottom so that the top of the sleeve starts to show over the top edge of the quilt. Mostly I bring that bottom edge up about 1/2 inch, but I always test with a rod to make sure I haven’t gone too high. Pin and sew down the bottom edge of the sleeve.

You can see the excess fabric on the outer sleeve side in the picture below. The bigger the dowel/rod, the bigger amount of excess fabric you want. And here, I should have gone higher at the bottom of the sleeve so the dowel would locate higher near the binding.

See the bulge at the top?

I use nails that have a head big enough to hold the dowel so it won’t slide off the nail. For a bigger, heavier quilt you will need bigger nails. But always get ones that have bigger heads.

Lay your dowel where you want it on the wall and mark where you want the nails to go. Remember to put the nails at least 1/4 inch or a bit more from the edge of the dowel. The position of the nails will be a bit different for a curtain rod depending on the decorative end of the rod. The nails have to be inside those ends and very close or inside each side of the quilt edge. Then use a leveler to make darn sure the dowel/rod is level. I have a long leveler and a short one. After I put in the nails, I use the leveler again to make sure all is level at that stage. And I check again after I hang the quilt as it is fairly easy at that point to remove a nail and replace it if needed.

Remember we do the best we can all along the way to make sure a quilt is square and the top level. But quilts are rarely perfect. Fabric stretches, things shift. Just do the best you can. Remember the nails have to fall below the top binding on the quilt.

I measured from the ceiling down to line up the quilts below. And for the 4-season trees, I used matching white rods–and when the top two were hung on their rod, I used my long leveler (about 3 feet) to place the vertical placement of the lower rod so it was in line with the top rod and its nails.

If you want to remove or change a hanging quilt, you pull out the nails, patch the hole with sparkle, sand it totally smooth, and repaint the patch with matching paint.

And, there you have it.

The Design Wall is DONE!

Isn’t it wonderful? Bryan came back yesterday with the white duck tape and two girlies in tow. After they left, I installed the white flannel. I couldn’t be happier about the completion of this project.

The late afternoon sun comes through the windows, so I’ll have to remember to either close the shutters or set them in a way to deflect the light so it does not fade anything pinned to the wall.

Of course I couldn’t resist pinning SOMETHING to it, so I dragged out the last batch of Churn Dash blocks I made in Maine–with the last (ok, almost the last) of the Cotton+Steel fabrics. They just went on the wall mostly willy nilly–I’ll be moving them around a lot I’m sure. As I sew, I’ll notice what isn’t working, and that’s what I love about having a design wall. I can’t “see” this way when I try to lay out blocks on a rug or a bed.

Two of these blocks had piecing errors, so they are now on my sewing machine table–along with some pieces ready to be made into blocks and neatly pinned together back in Maine. And, I will need more blocks to get 8 by 9 rows. I will use some sashing between the blocks.

I took these pictures this morning–it is kind of a murky day, so the colors are not showing up as vibrant as they are. But these “random” blocks–with just interesting colors combined–are so darn cute. Some of the centers have cute images, but that is just because I had some of those blocks on hand already cut.

Putting up these blocks on the wall is tricky as I do not want them to distract from finishing the quilt from hell.

Here is the next block center in the quilt from hell–it’s the 3rd in the 5th row (of 6 rows). I’ll sew it together today.

Here’s how I lay out the rings, and I can see that I will want to move the bright yellow piece at the bottom to another spot. Taking pictures of work is always…revealing. In the big scheme of things though, in the whole of a finished quilt made from so many tiny pieces, it will mostly all just work out. Mostly.

Everything is very quiet here this morning. A lot of the dog walkers are not out. People must be enjoying Sunday morning breakfasts and for many, a day off tomorrow.

The Design Wall Panels Are UP!

Bryan met me at Loew’s yesterday, where I purchased the needed screws and the panels for the design wall he is making for me.

Somehow I didn’t get a picture of the car (Corinne’s) loaded with the panels. His car is wide enough to allow transport of the 2 inch by 4 by 8 feet panels, with all the back seats laid flat. Loading the panels was a production in order to get them in “just right” and involved removing their last-needed car seat and stowing tennis gear into the back hold.

These panels are a form of styrofoam (ugh) and are used mostly to insulate roofs. They are 2 inches thick, so pins don’t hit wallboard. They are installed with screws that go into the wall joists, so the screws have to be long enough to go through the 2-inch panels and firmly into the joists . And for this product, there is a plastic disk that distributes weight and keeps the screw head from going right through the panel. I found the disks some weeks ago on Amazon, with Bryan’s help.

Here’s how these disks and screws look installed.

And here’s the design wall at this point. The screws and plastic washers will always be there–they were back in Maine–but it is easy enough to avoid them with pins–and the overlaid flannel mostly hides them.

Bryan is coming back today sometime with a roll of wide WHITE duct tape–which he’ll use around the electrical outlet–after peeling back the dark silver duct tape from the panel as it will show beneath the white flannel covering I will install. He is thinking to use the white tape to finish the bottom edge he had to trim as well–and maybe along the seams.

I ordered white flannel weeks ago from JoAnn’s–and they sent me TWO separate pieces of 108 wide flannel, from two different stores, rather than one 4-yard piece–so I spent some time yesterday piecing the two pieces. They are ready to pin to the wall’s edges when Bryan deems his work done.

We’re almost there…

And Bryan is such a love to make this wall for me.

My fingers are itching to pin completed blocks to the wall.

This morning there is a tennis match, with two of my grand girls paired against another team. So I’m off to enjoy being there for them. And, for me.

The Isle of Palms Beach

Corinne and I had a gorgeous walk on the Isle of Palms beach yesterday–after I picked up and delivered the raw milk for our three family households. I had a nice visit with Michael and Tami when I dropped off the milk to their house before meeting Corinne.

I met Corinne at home and admired the white gardenia that was blooming at the front stairs. It was full of buds back in December when we had 17-degree cold nights that froze outdoor water pipes for many people. (The Rinnai water heaters are hung on outside walls.) And I was so hoping the buds had not been killed.

This glossy-leafed plant–a gift from Mike and Tami’s family many years ago when Bryan and Corinne bought and moved into this house–has many buds opening up now.

On that note, I’ll also say that the dormant Centipede grass in my neighborhood now has a green glow happening. I’ll have to think about mowing issues soon.

Corinne and I walked to the beach from the house. The Isle of Palms beach has numerous officially sanctioned pathways between houses to get to the beach. Here’s one:

Turtles hatch regularly on this beach. The mother turtles form nests from May through mid-August. Each nest can have about 120 eggs. The eggs incubate for 55 to 60 days and babies can emerge from July through October. Signs go up in early spring that seek to protect the beach nests.

I can’t wait to see a baby turtle “walk to the water” event. Here’s a picture from September 2021 of grandchildren holding baby turtles.

We both went barefoot once we got to the beach–leaving our shoes just above the tide line!

The roaring surf was beautiful with the incoming tide. Here’s a little video.

We walked and talked about an hour–and it was good to catch up with this sweet and very busy DIL.

Later in the afternoon, I sewed. Here’s the first block of the 5th row (of six). The first and last blocks in each row requires three rings. This block took me several days to make, and I’d already made the center. (All the centers are Cotton+Steel fabrics.)

It is important to lay out the ring fabrics for each block so the colors don’t repeat. I’ll show you how I do that next time. But here are the rings for the next block in this row, for which I am now sewing its center. All these ring pieces are already glued and are in sacks sorted by type–all of which was very time consuming along the way. And all the centers are glued, but not yet sewn together. I’ve done nothing with the outer border yet.

No whining this morning. I promise.

I got so engrossed in my current Juliete Marillier audible book (DAUGHTER OF THE FOREST), that I sewed until well past 8 pm. Marillier was born in New Zealand, but now lives in Western Australia. She writes historical fantasy–most of what I have read is laced with Celtic stories/myths and music. (She has a strong background in music.) Her most recent series is the Warrior Bards–but one should really start with the Blackthorn and Grim series, which is the story of the parents of the characters in Warrior Bards.

However, DAUGHTER OF THE FOREST may be my most favorite book, and it is the start of a 6-book series. How fun is that?

Marillier is a wonderful story-teller. Her stories provide a wonderful escape from the despairs of our current world while one is inside one of them. She has won many awards and has written many books and many complex series that contain twists and turns in the plots and where truth and beauty win out in the end. She holds a very strong place for the mysteries of the natural world. She also has a blog–and I just copied down all of her recent book recommendations for future reading.

She loves dogs!