Thursday, August 30, 2012

Fabric Collector - or Hoarder?

Someone brought up this question in my Yahoo group today. Do you hoard or collect fabric? Sometimes we say we "collect" fabric - it sounds so much better and more dignified and that's what I will tell people from now on. But I also think I secretly "hoard" my favorite pieces of older scraps a little too much sometimes. I love them and savor them and can't part with them. I will never find some of those prints again and, if I use them up, I will miss seeing them in my bags of scraps! So silly. I have to tell myself they will be much better off in a quilt where I can look at them all the time. But it IS more like hoarding, don’t you think? 
Hoarding has gotten a bad rap since that TV show about sick people "collecting" stuff they cannot part with, things that remind them of painful losses they cannot get over easily. I looked up the definition of hoarding and it said that, in archaeology,  artifact hoarders sometimes died before retrieving their valuable treasure of hoards! OMG - I know they will find my little fabric pieces after I'm gone and say: "What the heck was she thinking??"
My current baskets of scraps, waiting to be sorted. Ho hum.
I also know I am not alone here and that many of you are much much worse than I am. I have seen some of your closets LOL. But I am bad enough. (I will never take a picture of my closet, of that you can be sure.) Someone e-mailed me recently and asked if my sewing room was messy or neat.  All I can say is I do the best I can. Some days are better than others, depending upon whether or not I want to eat, or bathe or do anything else. What can I say?
Yes, I save my scraps! Anything over 1 1/2 inches!
You know you're in trouble when - OMG, is that a cradle full of scraps?? Where will the baby sleep??
But I DO organize my scraps sometimes -  Don't laugh, here's a basket full of larger scraps that I'm going to use in my Dear Jane quilt . . . . someday.
These are often pretty neat and accessible. Not really scraps, just smaller cuts I will use someday. (Yes, I am still "hoarding" that blue wavy fabric left over from my Orange Peel quilt!) No, they are not always nicely folded if I am busy or in a hurry to move on to something else and need to get them off the cutting table.
More, waiting to be sorted. Oh dear.
Question:  Am I really really ever going to use that little green piece? Best Answer: You never know. Better save it just in case.
Maybe we can call ourselves "Stockpilers" until they decide to make a TV show about that and ruin it. That got me thinking and here's what I want to know  - why aren’t there any situation comedies about quilters, I ask you? Or even dramas? Someone should come up with a medical show where quilters get hurt using their rotary cutters or dropping their featherweights on their feet and cute doctors save them . . . . How about a  "Quilting  Police" drama . . .  "Knock, knock – you're under arrest! Your piecing is awful!"
Perhaps a reality show with quilters confessing to their fabric addictions. Quilting Interventions! Where caring guild members and friends intervene to save the lives of too-far-gone quilters whose families are starved for food and attention. Wait - a brand new season of  "Lost!" (featuring quilters wandering around, asking: where did I put my ruler, thread, glasses, that pattern I just bought??)
I'd settle for an episode of Dr Phil - Why Quilters Quilt and How Quilting Affects Their Housekeeping. (I might volunteer to be on that show. But not if Maury or Springer did it, because then I might have to get naked or reconnect with long-lost family members . . . . ) Homes of the Rich & Famous Quilters. Some of you might even cough up for cable just to see  this one, that's how unbelievable it would be. I could go on and on . . .  .
Puppy says - "Mom, will you stop playing around with your fabric, the camera and the computer and please let me out!"
Have a good weekend. This coming Monday is Labor Day in the U.S., a day that many have off  work. I will be doing last-minute shopping and helping my daughter get all her stuff ready to go back to college. No rest for the weary parents! Remember, the September  challenge quilt will be posted AFTER Sept 1,  maybe Sept 4 or 5, we'll see how it goes.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Last Call for August Quilts

If you are keeping up with our One Small Quilt a Month challenge this year, you still may be working on your Little Coins quilt for August. Hurry up and finish because you will surely love the quilt I have chosen for September.

I've taken mine out of the garden and put it on my small wall of quilts . . . . Mind you, if I had the house, I could fill up 80 walls with my small quilts.

I wish I had more wall space. At least I can look at them and smile as I go up and down the stairs 30 times a day. Perhaps this is why I make small quilts, LOL - because I have a small house with an open floor plan and lots of windows and not much room to display them on walls. I haven't quite expanded into the bathrooms - yet.

Just so some of you know, we started this challenge in January 2012 when I saw so many photos of quilts on walls and thought I could inspire you all to make one quilt a month, for a quilt wall of your very own. So many of you had e-mailed me, telling me you wished you could find the time to make some of the small quilts from my books. So I decided to goad you on - challenging you to make a certain quilt every month. I am still convinced that if you take it in small steps, a few hours a week, every week, you can make one small quilt a month without spending too much time and still have lots of time left over for your other projects.
I know, I know, you're not alone - I have a pile of quilts I still need to finish too.
I am pleased that so many of you have accomplished this goal, and, even if you have not kept up and made all 8 quilts so far, at least you've probably made more than a few. Let's have a big show and tell in January to celebrate, with photos of all of your quilts. If you care to send me your photos I will start collecting them and then put them together into a slide show in January for everyone to see. You will deserve the applause.

Our challenge throughout this year was all about organizing and disciplining yourselves and committing to making more small quilts. Don't forget, if you don't particularly like one of the quilts I've suggested or do not have that book, that's okay - find another little quilt you can substitute. If not 12, then how about six? Better than nothing.
We have 4 more quilts to make this year. In a week or so I will give you a free pattern for another one, for September, so stay tuned. My daughter is going back to college in less than 2 weeks and we are all crazy busy right now so please be patient if I post it a few days after Sept. 1.  I'm doing my best!
My friend Julia's little hearts quilt from one of my patterns. Wouldn't this look too adorable on a wall??

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

What's for Dinner?

I got busy yesterday afternoon with laundry and cleaning out some drawers and all of a sudden I realized it was dinnertime so I fell back on a quick summer supper recipe that everyone in our house loves - Corn Fritters!

Served on a beautiful blue and white platter, of course

We don't eat these every day and when I came across a recipe in a magazine for Corn Griddle Cakes, earlier that morning it reminded me that I hadn't made these fritters in awhile. We love potato pancakes too (and zucchini pancakes, my specialty) but this is much quicker. I cannot remember where I got this recipe and have altered it a bit from the original -


3 cups oil for frying   (This is crazy. Maybe it's Paula Deen's recipe, LOL. I used a LOT LOT less - a couple of Tablespoons total)

1 cup sifted all-purpose flour
1  teaspoon baking powder
1/4  teaspoon salt
1/2  teaspoon sugar
1 egg, lightly beaten
1/2 cup milk
1 tablespoon oil
1 (12 ounce) can whole kernel corn (low-sodium), drained (or, 1 cup frozen corn, cooked in microwave for 2-3 min first)

  1. Heat oil in frying pan. (I use as little as possible, then add more if needed.)
  2. In a medium bowl, combine flour, baking powder, salt and sugar. Beat the egg, milk, and oil together. Stir into flour mixture. Add the drained corn kernels.
  3. Drop the batter by spoonfuls into the hot oil, and fry on medium heat until golden, a couple of minutes on each side. Drain on paper towels. 

DO NOT make the mistake of  spooning that last fritter into the pan and then walking away to get your camera to shoot the ones that are done, LOL. They burn easily.

I always serve these with applesauce and a yogurt-Ranch dressing on the side. And often a big crunchy Spinach salad like the one I posted here on my blog last year. 

Special Sauce: 2 T of low-fat Ranch dressing mixed with 3/4 cup of plain yogurt. (This is also my standby plain and healthy chip dip.)

Of course, the fritters taste great with maple syrup drizzled on top too. If you're still hungry, why, grill up some of those turkey burgers as well.

I know I have a right-click thingy on my blog but see my website  for the Corn Fritters recipe you can download in a .pdf file.


Thursday, August 16, 2012

Quilt Show

You have to admit, quilt shows are so much fun. Last weekend I attended the Piecemakers Quilt Guild Show in Galesburg, Illinois where they set me up with a booth. I  had a great time and Carl Sandburg College was the perfect, spacious setting for all of the lovely quilts. Thanks for inviting me, Kae!

 "Inspired Baskets" made by  Niki Conklin (inspired by a class she took with Gwen Marston, can you tell?).

"Bright Coins" quilt by  Deborah Grohs. Coincidentally, we are doing a small Coins quilt this month, remember? How's that coming along??

I loved the colors in this quilt - "Moody Blues" made by Jean Near from a design by Tara Lynn Darr.

Simple and lovely by Debbie Spencer.

"Tequila Sunrise" by Jean Lohmar. 

Sandy Schweitzer was there, appraising vintage and antique quilts.

Here's a picture of my booth -

Hey, like my new glasses??

These ladies were all over the place -

My lady must have gotten her hand stuck scratching her shoulder . . .

I was so happy that some of you stopped by to see me and buy books and get your books signed. Julie from Me and My Stitches (you may know her from her comments on my blog) also came over to say hello. She drove there from Iowa.

Look closely at what she's wearing around her neck. When I saw her quilty necklace I wanted one too! I found out that Julie makes quilted jewelry and so I made her run back out to her car and bring in her samples to show me.

I bought a couple of pendants and of course now am kicking myself that I didn't buy more. They were all so beautiful and I could not decide. I do have a birthday coming up though, hint, hint. I wish the pictures had turned out better to do them justice but I had to take these with my cell phone because I forgot my camera that day, wouldn't you know it?

Tiny baskets!

This is one of the pendants I bought. Isn't it wonderful? Look at how Julie fussy cut the little flower in the center. I've always wanted to make a small pineapple quilt, just not this small LOL. Thanks, Julie - I'll think of you every time I wear it.

Take a look at her website and raise your hand if you would love for her to have a booth at the International Quilt Fest in Chicago next year . . . (Sorry, Julie - I couldn't resist nagging you, LOL.)

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Quilt Fest Returns to Chicago

This is for my friends in Chicago and other places nearby - I just heard that the International Quilt Festival will be returning to Chicago next year, in June. Yippee!

That's exciting news for those of us living in this wonderful urban area who have been without a major quilt show for 2 years. See details here .

Amazing quilts on display and . . .  vendors galore.  Mark your calendars for June 21 - 23, 2013. And, start saving your pennies.

Thank you Quilts, Inc.! We've missed you.

-  +   -  +   -  +   -   +  -

Also, don't forget, I will be at the Galesburg IL Quilt Show this weekend, Aug 11- 12, Sat and Sunday. Stop by and say hello if you are in the area.

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Victorian Charm Strings

Here's something that some of you may find interesting about charm quilts, since that is what we're making this month -  a small charm coins quilt. Pat Nickols said "It is generally accepted that the idea of making Charm Quilts grew out of the Victorian fad of charm strings, one-of-a-kind button collections that were strung together on string, sometimes also called friendship strings. One myth behind these collections was that if a young woman could collect 999 different buttons, the 1000th would be brought to her by her one true love." 

I wish I had some Victorian buttons to share with you. I would love to begin a collection of antique buttons someday but all I have now are a few new buttons that resemble old ones. All of you may begin collecting old buttons after you read this.

I also found a great article written by Diana Epstein and Millicent Safro in which they describe this once popular pastime of charm strings in Victorian America.
"In Stories of Mother Goose, little Tommy Tucker says, 'You know what a charm string is. Just ever so many pretty buttons strung together and worn around your neck.' Nineteenth century folk wisdom had it that a girl should acquire 999 buttons on a string. When she added the thousandth, she would meet her Prince Charming."

Button strings were also sometimes called "memory strings," popular in the 1860s until around 1900.  Apparently, there were rules and requirements for collecting the buttons. Only the prettiest, one-of-a-kind and most brilliant should be used in a collection. The buttons were not supposed to be bought, but gifts from friends, suitors or family members or traded with another button stringer. Charm strings were kept out in plain view to encourage visitors to contribute buttons and so that others might ask about the stories related to them as they were collected. "This button was given by Aunt Abigail from the gown she wore to the Inaugural Ball," or "this button was from Grandfather's Civil War uniform."

Epstein and Safro continue -

"Young girls would begin their string by tying a large button, called a touch button, onto a long string. Original charm strings of the late 19th century had a large quantity of very small and dainty glass buttons, including early paperweight buttons, as well as small Victorian metals of the period. Some charm strings also included meaningful amulets and tiny objects with family or school-day associations, such as charms, coins, baskets made from nut or fruit pits, miniature dolls' arms and legs, or religious medals.

"Charm strings with a thousand buttons are seldom found today. In fact, most were never finished. That is they contained far fewer than the legendary 999 or 1000 buttons. Many strings had difficulty surviving storage or were divided by families wanting to share mementos. Or they were cut by collectors who couldn't resist picking up some of the rare and valuable buttons on them, which they then grouped with other buttons of the same materials and type.

"But should you be lucky enough to happen upon a charm string - perhaps with the needle still attached - the primary guideline for determining if it is original and authentically intact is to consider the age and condition of the string or wire and to determine if all the buttons were made during the proper period. Whether enjoyed for its visual abundance or as a consulting library of 19th century buttons, the charm string is an American folk art and is, to put it simply, charming."

(From Bead and Button, Feb 1995. Diana Epstein and Millicent Safro are the authors of Buttons (Abrams, 1991)).

Another source I found said that during the latter part of the nineteenth century young women would use their collection of buttons as an excuse to approach a certain young man and ask for a button which would then set the stage for the young man perhaps becoming a suitor. I wonder what single young women nowadays would think of this tactic?? I'll suggest it to my daughter and her friends . . . . I've got some buttons.

Here's a blog that has photos of an antique string of buttons and stories to go with it.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Small Quilt for August

You know I love scrap quilts and a largish charm quilt is on my list of quilts to make someday. Lord knows I have enough charms . . .
But first, there are too many small quilts to be made. I have so many favorite  quilts to choose from for this month's challenge (from my book Remembering Adelia), and I thought that this time you would enjoy making the small Charming Coins quilt (on page 49).

I wasn't thinking clearly when I first made this quilt. I should have made it into a charm quilt without using 2 of the same fabrics for the rectangles. But I hadn't named it yet and, when I did, decided to call it a "sort of" charm quilt or a "charming" quilt.  I used a few pieces more than once. While it was a bit late for me to rip it out and start over with so many other quilts to make for the book, I let it be. No reason all of you couldn't easily turn it into a charm quilt of your own.

Historically, the charm quilt is distinguished by its one-patch design and the fact that no two pieces are cut from the same fabric. Sometimes they contain hundreds or thousands of pieces that are all different. However, many quilts we casually call charm quilts today do have pieces that are used more than once and the name often includes quilts that simply are made with many different fabrics, whether it's accurate or not.

I know I have enough scraps to make several large charm quilts without repeating a single fabric. Don't you?? But let's not get ahead of ourselves. Let's make this small one first. Maybe next year we can all make a large charm quilt together. Good idea?