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Cleaning equipmentBaking soda, hot H2O, Simple Green, and elbow grease. Those are the ingredients of the week.

Yep. That is what we are doing around here. Not just the routine cleaning either. Nope, this is the kind of cleaning that only gets done once, maybe twice a year. The standard things get cleaned, but this time it goes deeper. Instead of just wiping out the microwave, the rotating plate gets pulled out, and the toothbrush goes in to get the little things out of the corners. Then the whole thing is removed from the counter so the crumbs that have somehow migrated under there can be rounded up. I even wiped the dust off of the intake fan grille. (That may have been the second time that has happened since I owned the thing, and last time was because we were moving.)

We are having a house full of people over Labor Day weekend. I am looking forward to having them. They are friends, family, and friends who are considered family. I do this for them. I know they would still come if we were living in the barn, but I can’t help it. I can’t stand to have the house in less than it’s best shape. (I have no idea what I am going to do with the sewing room.)

This kind of house cleaning is not my favorite thing to do. I do it because I would die of embarrassment if somebody noticed these things. Although I do have a tremendous sense of pride and accomplishment when I am through. Even if no one else seems to notice that the stove gleams, the counters are clear and free of dust, the furniture actually has flat surfaces (no more papers or magazines) that glow from the liberal use of lemon furniture oil; and for a few days, there are no threads or nipped corners of fabric trailing through the house marking my path from the sewing room to where ever I was headed.

Well, I had better get back to it. I have many more nooks and crannies that need to be cleaned out before I can call it quits. Thank goodness I still have a few weeks to manage it all.


Left over HST

This little project snuck in before the kitchen curtains. These pinwheels are the leftover corners from an other quilt. I had them to this stage, and they were draped over the corner of my hutch with some photos that still need to be put in their frames. Since I have a houseful of people coming a few weeks, I am starting to do some deep cleaning and serious tidying up. Since these little guys were this far along I thought I should just add the setting triangles, stitch the strips together, and check this little top off of my list. AND get it off of my furniture! Since it went from the hutch to the dining table now.

I do have to say that the next time I whack the corners off of a project, I may have a bit more care. These poor babies are far from square, and they are going to make for a very sloppy top. I just didn’t have the heart to throw out all of that fabric though. It will make a very nice lap quilt. If I can’t find a home for it here, I am sure that somebody somewhere will need a new snuggly.

Block # 7 – Flower Girl for Glaucia

Originally uploaded by toggpine

This is number seven of the eight blocks I have made so far for the Around the World Quilting Bee. I had to do a bit of a size adjustment. I had a slightly different plan for this block when I thought it was a 12 inch block.
I am sure I broke some quilting rule by adding a border to only two edges instead of all four, but too bad. It doesn’t look very lopsided since the yellow points come out farther. This was the third time I had tried to put the outer border on it, and I had had just about enough.

Dimensional shot of FG #7

The rest of the block went together very nicely. Even the points that are dimensional. The two big ones and the three small ones are similar to prairie points. You fold a square into quarters and then tuck the raw edges into the seams. It was kind of fun to play with.
This one is off in the mail today as well. Perhaps now I can get the kitchen curtains done, and then back to my Storm at Sea project, or some house cleaning – ugh!

witch shoe and cankles, according to my sister.  I did try to avoid that, but at least the shoes look great.

I have seen some of the other witch shoes & stockings that people are making for the swap, and my girl is a bit more of a fashion plate with her shoes. Although my guess is that is why she has such a foul mood. I can’t imagine walking in those babies, but I am more used to muck boots than heels in any case.

Purple stockings

I used the overcast stitch for the stockings on part of them and the satin stitch for the shoes and most of the purple-edged stockings. I tried using the tear-away stabilizer to reduce the puckering, and it looked really great, until I tore it off. It tweaked the fabric some anyway and left little fuzzy things in the stitching when it was torn across the grain. I was not too impressed. Perhaps I will use the embroidery scissors and just cut it free next time.

Spotty stockings

They are off in the mail with the bats and my sister’s brooms. These ought to make some fun quilts when we get them back.

Orange stockings

S.Sadie's Bats

I have completed the bat blocks for the Halloween Spooktactular Swap. They turned out pretty good. I only had a few hiccups. For some reason I looked right over the standard overcast stitch and went for the stretch version. That was a bit of a challenge. Thankfully I only did one or two that way before I realized that it was the wrong stitch. I did try the satin stitch, but it made the edges of the bats look blurry. Not my favorite look. I did enjoy making the circle moons though. The process did go faster once I figured out how to make it work. I still don’t think I got it down to 6 minutes, but who is counting?


These are the purple bats on the black sky. Yes, they really are purple. I was taking the photo in the evening and the light made everything look much more blue than it really is.


These are the other backgrounds with the faux leather bats. The material was easy to sew through, even though it didn’t like the heat for the wonder under. I was able to get the temp up to polyester and iron it from the back side to make it stick down well enough to applique down.

Now to put the finishing touches on the witch shoes…

Why do I have so much trouble adding the last outer border to these last few blocks? I am off by a quarter of an inch all the way around. That is the seam allowance. Last time I just tore it off and put on a new one. This time I tried something different. I made the border wider and made the seam allowance deeper so I can catch the back and the top in the seam allowance. Somehow I still managed to make it a quarter of an inch short. What?!?!? How did I manage that? I do not know exactly, but I did. So I pulled it off, and I will start over again, later.
This ATWQB will have to wait for me to find some more patience before I finish it.

Yes. I know, 7 comes before 8. I had a great block for #7, but the original block size is smaller than I thought. So back to the drawing board for that one!

Tonya's Salmon Block This one however, was fairly easy to adjust to any size. I found the fish fabric shortly after I saw her starter block posted on Flickr. It was either that, or I was going to hand paint a salmon in the style of the Pacific Northwest Native Americans for the center block. I didn’t find a pattern I really liked, so I went with the batik fabric.

The camera didn’t capture the aqua blues very accurately, nor the greenish yellow of the net pattern in the second border. Oh well.

I did have one major problem, the outer border batik fabric. As pretty as it is, we were having some technical issues. It wanted to stretch more than I like, even when I cut it on the tighter grain. Then, I was about 1/4 of an inch short all the way around. So, I had to go back and pull off the outer border and make a new one. A fairly easy fix. I made that one even a bit larger than I needed so I could square it up some. I finally finished it and it is on it’s way to the next stop on it’s around the world tour.

Now to find a pattern for #7….

OK, I don’t know why they call it a 6 minute circle. Mine took about 30 minutes, which, since I had never made one, I thought wasn’t too bad.

6-minute Moon

I checked out the Dale Flemming tutorial on the HGTV site for this. Parts of it are pretty vague. Like, let’s say the double layer of freezer paper. Is it glued paper sides together so both shiny sides are out, or is it just stacked on top of each other and stuck together with heat? (I went for the later.)

Backside of the moon I also think that the bigger the circle the larger you might make the interior cut. A half inch was kind of skimpy, but then again, you do have that left on the back of your block, unless you trim it all back to 1/4 of an inch. They might also think about putting the fact that you need to stop clipping 1/8 of an inch from the edge of the paper in the same sentence that tells you to clip the seam. I am sure if it weren’t 10:30PM, and I wasn’t trying to figure this out for the first time EVER from photos on the internet, I might have thought that through on my own. I don’t think they figure the time that it takes to get the fabric and the paper prepped in the count either. For the test block I had to cut the “sky” square and the “moon” square, as well as the two pieces of freezer paper. I do believe that they assume I have a circle cutter. I do not, so that added a few minutes, since I wanted a nice round shape for my full moon, instead of having it look like I hit the sauce a little too hard before picking up the fabric shears. (I am not very good with the wonky thing, I can admire it, but I have trouble creating it.)

Blurry bats & the moon All in all, I think the technique worked well. It made a lovely 7″ moon for my bats to fly across. I also ended up with a nice 6.5″ circle that I have no plans for.

Faux leather bats This set of bats its an experiment. It is some leather looking material that I found on clearance. It actually feels like what I would imagine a bat to be; slightly fuzzy and leathery. I have yet to applique them down. We will see what the sewing machine thinks of the fabric. This may be a one of a kind if the Bernina doesn’t want to stitch it nicely. I have some nice black tone on tone prints waiting in the wings for their chance if this doesn’t work out.

12.5" bat block

Here is the first attempt at my bat Spooktacular Swap blocks. The original pattern was 4 inches square, and I had to enlarge it to 12 inches for this swap. Not too bad. I have to work on a few of the template pieces to neaten it up. I think I will try one with a 6 minute circle as a moon and some applique too. A good excuse to try a new technique. Now, I have 14 more to go on this set of theme blocks, 12 for the swap and a few for private trades.

Hay trailer

We picked up our last load of hay for the year. (I hope.) This isn’t the most exciting thing we do, but it is a lot easier to get it now and pack it in for the winter. Trying to find good hay at a reasonable price in December is no fun. We have found a place with a good family who is very dedicated to producing the best hay possible. (No, I won’t give you their name or address. It is MINE!)

We try to get to the hay field as early as possible so we can get this done before it gets too hot. This is what we find when we arrive. Freshly baled orchard grass, alfalfa, or pea hay, depending on what time of the year it is.

Freshie Bales

We drive along and flip the bales up in to the stock trailer and stack them in.

Stacking in the nose

We are training the wee one to take over some day. At this point this is all fun for her. Although she claims that the bales are “too heavy” for her to move, she gives it a try just so she can use the hay hooks. The bales weigh twice what she does.


She has much more success with driving the truck. I know. She isn’t even four and she is already behind the wheel. Her older brother doesn’t think that is very fair either. She has another few years before she is ready to go solo, since she can’t reach the pedals yet.

Drivin' w/ Dad

Our last load of hay is pea hay. This is interesting stuff. They harvest the peas, and then cut the plants and let them dry. I don’t know how they harvest the peas. I have always missed that step, but it must not be incredibly effective, as there are plenty of pea pods left on the vines.

Field Peas Peas in the field.Baled Pea Hay Pea hay

The goats dance with joy when they see the bales being stacked. They go through the hay like a pack of teenagers through a bag of potato chips. It breaks up the monotony of just orchard grass and local hay during the winter. It is especially welcome on those cold snowy days when nobody wants to go outside. Those days seem far off right now, as it is still hitting the 90’s here; but, they are coming and we hope to be ready.