Snapshots of life and crafts on our little homestead

Thanks to a couple of spring days of sleet and snow I was able to finish the stitching on Cup Full of Wishes. I will be turning this piece into a pillow that will be gifted the next holiday season.

Stitched on an 18 count, opalescent Aida fabric
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Cup full of wishes

The rainy weather this past weekend allowed me to start a blackwork and counted cross stitch piece that will be turned into a holiday pillow to accompany a postage stamp quilt. The needlework piece is titled Cup full of wishes by Valentina Sardu, and the postage stamp quilt is designed with holiday fabric scraps that I have collected for the past 15 years.

The cross stitching on this piece was stitched with single threads of DMC floss on an 18 count white opalescent Aida fabric. Outlining for the gloves UVA’s done with a black 40 ply Egyptian cotton. All blackwork in the gloves and cup steam will be completed with a slate gray DMC floss, and the work on the cup will be stitched with an opalescent thread.

March bread day

It was time to feed my sourdough starter, which left me with 2 1/2 cups of waste. I used the waste starter to make sourdough rolls for burgers, a loaf of cinnamon raisin bread and some cheese crackers. The rolls will be packaged and frozen for warmer barbecue days, the crackers packaged for my honey’s lunches. The raisin bread probably will not last though weekend with my carb loving family.

Sourdough raisin bread
Cinnamon raisin bread


Bottles of sunshine

It was time for the final filtering and bottling of peach, pear and apple vinegars started last harvest season. I still have another gallon of apple cider vinegar to filter and bottle, but I would like the mother in the jar to get a bit larger before disturbing the contents. The nice thing about the vinegars is that they are organic and created from fruit from our trees or the orchard at the bottom of the hill. 

Earlier this week I also started lemon and orange extract as well as a citrus liqueur for next summer.  I find that extracts are some of the simplest things to make. All you need is some rinds, seeds or pods, an inexpensive vodka, and time to make luscious extracts.

Citrus extracts

Now to feed the sourdough starter and have a nice cup of coffee.

Have a great day…

Guilted Komons completed

Finished Guilded Koran quilt

Gilded Komons finished after a little over two years. The quilt is named for the type of kimonos worn by Japanese women shopping and for visits at one point in time. The fabric in Komon kimonos contained small repeated patterns of items found in nature, but as far as I could tell they did not use gold or crystals, so I added “guilded” to the title.

It didn’t take 24 months to finish the quilt, but the chain of events to bring it from start to finish spanned approximately two years. finished to base top of this quilt about 18 months ago and placed it on the pile of unquilted tops where it remained until I convinced my friend Joanne (owner of Splitting Stitches ) that she had the long arm talents needed to quilt the top (she is very good at edge-to-edge quilting but this point did very little custom quilting). After a couple of planning talks she agreed to talk the project on, so the top moved from my pile to her work pile, where it sat for about six months waiting for her to build the confidence to put the top on one of her long arm machines. Over the past several months the top moved on and off her machine between other jobs, and visits and email exchanges to discuss design and in some cases design modifications. At the end of January Joanne set me photos of the quilted top and asked when we could meet to discuss the quilt.

The first week of February we met to view the top and discuss the next steps. Joanne’s work was lovely and made the piece shine.

Guilded Koran quilt back
Guilded Koran quilt back that shows off the wonderful stitching

Now it was my turn to get to work. I added a number of embleshments to give the quilt some additional dimensions. Folded fans were added to the back of each kimono, the center flower received some heavy beading and a 3D gold center to add some bling and to draw the attention. A few crystal butterflys were were added both the quilt fronts and backs to reflect light when the piece is hung.

Beaded center flower
Guilded Koran quilt section
Close up of one of the kimono sections

I am not sure if the embleshments are done, so the quilt has been hung in my sewing room waiting for feedback from my collaborator and so that I can study it for a bit.

Spent today adding fans to the kimono backs and butterfly shaped crystals to the backs and fronts. Since the top is quilted all of the stitching for the embellishments have to be started from the top and embedded batting, needless to say progress is slow. After seven hours of stitching I started making mistakes so put the quilt aside to finish another day.

Bread day

We have been given another snowy day so I decided to use up some of my sourdough starter on a variety of breads. Today I made, 2 butternut squash and sage challah, 2 basil and sun dried tomatoes, 1 multigrain, and 1 fig and walnut loaf. The kitchen smells wonderful and the freezer is full for a time.

Koran Kimonos quilt

I decided to step away from my Diamonds and Ice quilt to start the bead work on my Koran Kimonos quilt. The quilt has been picked, quilted and bound, so a 2 needle couching method is being used to add seed beads around the flower petals in the center of the quilt. This technique allows the stitches securing the beads to be hidden in the wadding instead of showing on the front or back of the quilt.

Once the seed beads have been attached, small crystal butterfly and beads will be added to each kimono to reflect light when the piece is hung.

Diamonds and Ice: Part 3

Finally finished the blocks and borders for the Diamonds & Ice wall hanging. I love the rich color palette on this piece. If all works according to schedule the top will be sandwiched and quilting stRted this weekend.

Diamond and ice quilt top

Getting ready to add the second border around the cross stitch quilt center to adjust the size for block attachment. Each of the quilt blocks contains a double windmill pattern and is 6 inches square. For this wall hanging blocks will be placed three deep on all sides and finished with a triple border.

I really like mixing needlework and quilting together.

Optical illusions

Starting to make a bit more progress on my optical illusion pattern by Aaron Art. I finished the counterclockwise center yesterday evening and will move back to the larger clockwise outer circle in about a week. Once all of the cross stitching is done metallic threads of various colors will be used for outlining and to add detail to the piece.

Diamond play


New project start to bring in 2019 will combine cross stitch and quilting. I spent the past few weeks selecting fabrics and designing a finish of a piece of cross stitch completed last year. Since the needlework piece contains a series of diamonds filled with vintage patterns, gilded fabrics containing vintage patterns, and double windmill pattern were selected for the project.

The following images will step you through how I took my paper design from concept to the design wall.

Quilt block units
Design layout and units for the first blocks – background blocks and four square units.
The four square units were first strip pieced and then cut to the appropriate size.
4 square block sandwich
Four square sewn on all four sides to the background square.
Sandwiched blocks cut into four units on the diagonal
Block units opened
Cut sandwich opened and ready for layout
Finished double windmill block
Finished double windmill block
Design wall layout of blocks
Design wall layout of the first set of blocks

Botanical Garden finished

I have my first craft finish for 2019. Almost 100,000 stitches later my Botanical Garden quilt is finished, washed, pressed and added to the finishing queue. The combination of blackwork and counted cross stitching on the piece was so much fun to work.

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Dehydrating winter squash

When I rotated our cold room produce there were a few winter squash that were reaching the end of their storage life. The Hubbard, butternut and buttercup squash that were starting turn around the stem ends were roasted, puréed, dehydrated, ground into powder and moved to dry goods storage.

I find that dehydrated wInter squash re-hydrates well and can be used in any dish that calls for puréed squash or pumpkin. I have also found that most winter squash is interchangeable in pies, quick breads, soups and stews.

The process I use to create squash powder can be found in the images below.

Large Hubbard squash from our harvest this past fall
Seeds and associated pulp removed
Seeds ready to be washed and dried for planting next year and
pulp set aside to feed to the chickens
Roasted chunks ready to be mashed and placed on dehydrator sheets
Dehydrator loaded and ready to start. For my type of dehydrator
this process will take about 10 hours.
What the squash will look like at the end of the process
Place the dehydrated squash in a blender and process to a fine powder
Dried squash powder
place the powder in an airtight container and store away from direct sunlight.
For most recipes mix 1/4 cup of powder into about 3/4 cups of warm water and let sit for about 15 minutes before usinig.

Happy New Years

May the new year bring you all that you need and some of what you want.

 

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