She's been gone a year today.

I've known Juanita (one of my sister-in-laws) since I was about 10 or 11; she became a big sister to me. During the couple of years I lived with them in my teens, we had a standing joke when we played card games; she'd get the giggles & we'd look at the clock, and the magic hour for the giggles to start, was after 11:00pm - we could set our clocks by it. She could be great fun to be with.

DH & I moved across to the other side of the country a few years ago, and 3 years ago Jake & Juanita came for a visit, with their 5th wheel in tow.

They visited with us over the course of a few weeks in our area, so it seemed like a good idea to introduce Juanita to my quilting room, and to tutor her with making a small quilting project. She'd never done anything like it, "sew" was a bit reluctant, but with a bit of coaxing & coaching, she agreed to make a couple of placemats. We went "shopping" in my stash; she used the design wall to decide on a pleasing-to-her placement of the blocks. She learned about & mastered that almighty ¼" seam allowance. She quilted them with an organic straight line stitching, squared up, trimmed, and cut & created the binding, which she completely sewed on by machine.

As per usual, I took pictures, and I am SO glad I did. Two years & three days later, she was unexpectedly gone. I managed to capture a couple of perfect pictures of her proudly looking at her creation.

That's the front!

That's the back!

~ it's not quite 11:00pm ~


Making Raspberry Juice with a Steam Juicer

This is what the unit looks like - well from the box picture!

Today's crop is Raspberries. We have a couple of different varieties. The two bowls on the outside are called "Royal" raspberries; they're big and tend to have a purplish colour. They're not too sweet to eat raw, almost a bit bland, but they are excellent for jams and for juice. The middle bowl, well we just call them the regular raspberries - since there are a few different varieties (that we don't know the names of) of smaller kinds of raspberries. These are more what you'd expect to find in the general raspberry world, tasty to eat raw, as well as great for jams & juices.

To show the steam juicer parts, from right to left (why be normal?)

#1- the bottom of the stack, it's where you put the water for the steaming purpose. The book stresses NOT to let this pot of water go dry - so we set a timer to keep an eye on the water level, during the whole process.

#2- the part that collects the juice as it drips from the fruit, (you can't see the cone shape so well here), and the hose is where the juice can be drained, while it continues to drip. Close up picture below.

#3- the part that holds the fruit is like a big colander with a solid piece in the middle bottom of the colander. Close up below.

#4- far left, the lid, I won't explain.

Part #2 - Close up: you can see the cone shape in the middle, which is where the steam comes UP from the pot below, and steams the colander above (which holds the fruit).

Part #3 - Close up: the colander that holds the fruit, and in the center is a solid circle. It's where the cone opening is (underneath) and prevents the juices to go INTO the cone and down to the water pot at the bottom.

So to begin, I put the pot filled with water on the burner. Turn element on High (to get the water boiling) cover it with the juice catcher, top it with the colander, and fill the colander with fruit, to about the level of the line, and on goes the lid.

Usually one load of fruit takes about 45 - 60 minutes to steam out. I set the timer for 20 minute increments, so I can check the water in the pot, and top it up. (I keep a kettle with boiling water, so I can add to the water, without it stopping the steaming process. And at that time, I also drain whatever juice is there to drain.

This is how I set it up. I leave the hose hanging down into the pitcher below (measuring cup); it's hard to see the clamp on the bottom end of the hose, which is clamped shut, until I'm ready to drain some of the juice.

This is how it starts. The hose starts to fill as the juice catcher starts to fill up. The first time I drain the juice, I pour it back into the pot (on top of the fruit) just because it's new, and isn't very warmed up...yet.

This is how the juice catcher looks at the beginning as it starts to fill. Depending on the fruit, this catcher can fill up to the top of the cone, quite easily (like with our concord grape juice) so I'm always ready to drain it quickly if need be. Draining, just means pinching the clamp so the juice can flow out of the hose into the container below. I usually use a 2 cup measuring cup, and fill it to 1 cup or 2 cups, so I can track how much juice I'm collecting. With the concord grape juice, I drain the juice directly into the hot sterilized canning jars.

This is about halfway there. The fruit has shrunk down to about half.

This is how much juice I've drained so far (it's in a separate stainless pot, ready for the next step).

Shrunken even more, almost done.

Done & the berries are ready for the compost. It's hard to see in this picture, but the raspberries have a lighter (drained out) look.

Re: stainless pot, ready for the next step.  For every 2 cups of juice, I added ¼ cup of sugar. I brought it to a boil, just to dissolve the sugar, then ladled the juice into 500 ml jars, ready for canning.

9 - 500ml jars. (1 of them didn't fit into the canner, and will get used soon), the other 8 jars went into the water bath canner for 15 minutes.  The jar with all the black markings is the one jar that has NO sugar in it; just straight raspberry juice!!

To serve: 1 jar of juice, and 1¼ jar of water, or sparkling water..... and enjoy!!!

Isn't this pretty?  Clear raspberry juice, thanks to using the steam juicer. One of our best investment "tool" in the processing of foods.


No Waste Policy [18-04-02]

I'm not quite sure which year it was, that I started these blocks. It must have been a year when I discovered Bonnie K Hunter and her use of crumbs. For many, it would be a waste of time (I suppose). For me it's therapeutic, no think sewing and I enjoy it a lot. There are no rules, just sewing bits and pieces of cotton together, until you "make a piece of fabric", then you trim it to the size you want to use. I loved the process, and I loved to see those little 4½" blocks come together. I had no real plan as to how I was going to put them in a quilt, and since they didn't take up too much room, I just kept them until I had the desire to play with them.  If, rather I should say when I do more of this style of "making fabric" I will likely make larger pieces of fabric blocks, perhaps 8" or sew.

This is one option for putting all those blocks together. It may very well not be the final decision on the how of it.

Quilt Backing WIP [18-04-02]

I saw something like this on pinterest; I think they used it as a quilt top, but I could sew see this as a backing on a quilt. That was my purpose for creating this [WIP] backing.  You'd think this should make things easier for all the quilt tops that I have, folded in bins....... ready to sandwich but....

Christmas Placemat Gift Set For Two! [17-12-8]

It would seem that I haven't been in my sewing room lately, and that may be somewhat true; it's more about not keeping up to date on the blog. So I will try to catch up with what I've been up to.

For a Christmas dinner, with a few colleagues, we had a gift exchange. So my Gift giveaway I made a placemat set for two consisting of 2 placemats, 2 coasters, & 2 napkins.


055 ~ Shadow Box & Sheryl

Our friend Sheryl was coming for a visit from B.C.; we are always happy to see her. Well, I had to make a quilt for her right? The last time she'd been here we were in the midst of grape harvesting season, so we put her to work. This time we were "nicer" to her.

I'd been admiring these shadow box quilts for many years, and my stash had no solid coloured fabric to speak of.... well, ok it does have some!!  But sale time came, and I added a better variety to my stash. Sew with those in mind; I set to putting a pattern together for a shadow box quilt for Sheryl. Once the actual pattern was set, it really wasn't a complicated quilt top to make, a lot of repetition sewing, which can be a relaxing time to process life!!  Hahahh  

DH is usually involved in the quilts I make, he's got a better eye for colour placement than I do, that's not to say he makes all the colour decisions, but he's better at it. So generally he's at the design wall, putting things in order.

Then I number each block and stack them up in rows; in this case, to sew the rows together they were vertical rows.

I had an idea for the back. I'd seen this idea on pinterest and loved it. It's not usual for me to have a solid (one fabric) backing. I enjoy puzzling out a pieced backing, but for Sheryl, I knew she would "get" & appreciate this backing.  I used a snippet of EACH of the colours used on the front to "make" the fabric for the elephant. I was truly happy how it turned out.

I didn't want the rest of the backing to outshine the row of elephants, so I pieced together a few greys.

Pleased? Yes I was!!

Pleased with the backing??? Oh Yeah!!.

054 ~ From Nothing to Something! (April 2018)

I worked in a place where Cotton scraps (ends) of fabric (WOF) were being thrown in the garbage. It was a normal thing to do, so when I saw them, I asked if it was ok to take them home, a young girl in particular looked at me in a strange way and asked what I would do with them.  I said I'll show you one day. From there on, she was my biggest advocate for gathering these scraps in a plastic bag under the counter. It really didn’t take long for me to get enough together for what I had in mind.

I made a 6" template, and drew 1" - 2" lines on the template, cut those into the strips, then wrote the measurement of each strip - as to what I would need to cover that template with a strip of fabric.... and my "pattern" was born.

I had two constants in the blocks. #1- The center strip needed to be "black" or a black-ish coloured fabric. I had quite a lot of "blacks" in my stash that I could use. In particular a good amount of a zebra print fabric, which was perfect for what I needed .#2- the corner pieces needed to be a turquoise-ish colour.  I had a very little amount of turquoise in my stash, so I did buy a (sort of) bluish tone fabric which I placed in the corner pieces.

Now, many people would think I'm crazy, I LOVE the challenge of doing a project like this one.  I LOVE it!!! I didn’t use any kind of paper piecing, just sewed strips together until I had enough to cover the 6" template. Then I trimmed them, making sure the "black" strip was IN the center.

Once on the design wall, I decided how I was going to place the 6" squares, and which pattern I wanted to use. I chose the X kind of pattern, placed all the pieces in place, numbered them and sewed them all together in a 10 blocks by 14 blocks, pattern. There were 11 strips in each block (and about 6 blocks that needed a strip "patched together), which made a total of 1540 strips +?6 or so!!

The backing is another story. I was away on vacation, and when I came back to work this same young girl asked if I was interested in this "end of bolt" piece of fabric. It had been marked down to $3. (it was cotton). Um..YES I was interested in it.  Turned out to be just over 4 meters of fabric...  well, you know I had a place for it right? Not quite enough to cover the whole back, so I dug out some of the leftover WOF "garbage" pieces, and sewed them together to make a strip of strips for the middle of the backing.  Bingo!!  It worked!

Two things surprised me and I only saw them when it was all finished, and hanging on the clothesline (with brown grass, & snow covered background & a touch of wind) and that was how the zebra print fabric makes a bit of a shimmery (almost kaleidoscope) look, and how the black centers with the bluish corners, gives it a 3-D look.  Interesting!!!

When it was all finished, I took it to work to show it to the co workers, the young girl asked, is this from all those garbage pieces? Yep!! She was so amazed!! I said to her, this was great fun for me, and for you, it was meant to be a learning thing about garbage, and how you can make something from nothing.  So, fold it up, put it in the bag, take it home and enjoy its comfort. To say the least, she was in shock.  Perfect!!!  Mission accomplished!!

053 ~ A Well Deserved New Ironing Board

Since I've been quilting, I've been lucky enough to have a great ironing board (system).  I've never been a fan of a regular ironing board especially when I need to iron yardage. I'm lucky to have the help of DH who truly supports this hobby of mine.

Well it was time to get an updated ironing board for my sewing room. Sew..... We went to work on the plan. We took a used (indoor) house door the kind that is really light weight, because it's hollow with thin wood sheets on either side, and cut it down to a more manageable size of 48" wide x 56" long. It's perfect! I covered it first with a layer of quilt batting for padding and to smooth out the corners. I fastened the batting on the back with TUCK tape (not duct tape). Then I wrapped it with a layer of "radiantex", which is a quilted, heat resistant fabric, which I also wrapped & fastened to the back with TUCK tape. The final layer is 100% cotton upholstery fabric (almost like a canvas fabric made in England), which also was wrapped & fastened to the back with TUCK tape. This fabric was certainly calling my name, because - well, it has HST's as the pattern right????  Each layer was stretched into place tightly, before it was taped into place. There was no point in trying to staple these layers onto the back, because the door that it's on, is hollow, and wouldn't hold any staples.

TUCK tape (if you don't know what it is, is a thin red clear-ish wide tape, like packing tape and it's durable. I find that if it is put in place, clean and flat the first time, it holds really well. I've been using the ironing board now for over 2 years, and nothing has moved or come apart. The ironing board lives (standing on end) beside my cutting table (built by DH for MY height) and when I need to do a lot of ironing, I pull it out, and place it on my cutting table...... and YAY!!!!  Wonderful-ness !!     <gotta be a word.

Underneath this custom built cutting table is a shelf for storage.  Sweet!!!

052 ~ "Gammy" for the first time! A couple of kids quilts

A friend of ours became a grandma for the first time (at the end of 2017) and was thrilled to bits. She's a great grandma...... really, she's great!! So I put a couple of quilts together for her two grandbabies.  This is the front, I think it's called stacked coins.... a perfect scrap buster kind of quilt; my favourite kind of quilts actually.

A deliberate "uphill" backing.

And for the second one:

A cute baby panel, always a perfect thing for a quick project.

Here's a closer look at the quilting, which I did in bubble quilting fashion.  I really like the look of bubble quilting; I don't do it often enough.

A one piece backing, which is actually quite unusual for me, I like to piece the backings of my quilts - it makes for a choice looks.


051 ~ Mug Rugs Pies & Placemats (17.11.17)

Once again, I am far far behind on updating my blog with the things I've been making. It's not for wanting to document what I've been doing; it's life I suppose that is occupying my time and my mind. Well at least it's the best excuse I've got at the moment.

In hopes of getting the creative juices flowing, I made a couple of small projects as gifts.
I love V.W. buses, and knew I had to create one on a mug rug.

Along with it, I made a second mug rug with our lovely flag on it.
The "fruit pies" (potholders/hotpads) are one of those standbys I've been making for several years. They make a perfect little gift, as do the place mats.