Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Great Grandma's block, round 5

Two more rounds to go!

With each month's revelation by International Friendship Quilters of the block to be added to one's quilt (one-person round robin), I've jumped right into the project and finished in a day or two. No such success this time. Fruiting, jamming, and pie-ing intervened, and then the challenges of how to do this Friendship Star round slowed me down.

I really, really, really didn't want to do the 40 star blocks I eventually ended up constructing. Repetitive measuring and cutting is just too tedious for me, and I greatly admire anyone who can make an entire quilt with little carefully-measured and cut pieces. My first idea was to make the blocks bigger, but checking it out with Photoshop fiddling revealed that they would be out of proportion with what I had already done (the giant pink flying geese blocks notwithstanding).

I spent a lot of time calculating and measuring, then forgot that the long side could not be evenly divided for the blocks, and decided to take out a red star on each side and add black spacers near the yellow stars. I cut my very last piece of black hand-dyed fabric too narrow, so that idea was kaput. I set the project aside and scoured my stove top, then was inspired to add gray spacers on both sides of the red star (much better than my first idea). All of this involved so much sewing and ripping out that I began to wonder if the fabric would survive.

I'm not sure I like that there are two red stars on the ends and one red star on the sides, even though part of my intent with this quilt is to make it not quite mirror-image. The single red star looks better than two, and if I add gray spacers on both sides of a single red star on the ends, it would improve the situation, and not be too difficult to do (after all, I spent much time yesterday picking out stitching and fixing attempts I didn't like). However, I no longer have enough of the darker gray fabric I used for spacers on the sides, so would have to use lighter gray spacers (same color as red star background) for the ends than I used on the sides.

One friend said, "Why don't you just dye more fabric?" Because it likely wouldn't turn out the same, for one thing. That's what dye lots are all about, and since I dyed these fabrics with Color by Accident procedures, nothing is exactly precise, and therefore not precisely repeatable.

So, should I leave it as it is, or change the ends from two red stars to single red stars and matching light gray spacers? Decisions, decisions...

Off to make fiber art postcards.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Stir 'n' Roll Pie Crust

So there I was, calmly "thumbing" through various blogs, and I see a certain Altered Fabric person hasn't posted for two weeks! What is with her? I gave her a good boosting kick, and here she is.

My creating days during the past couple of weeks have primarily involved apples, pies, and pomegranates. I took no pictures, because I've posted them all before on previous years' blogs. However, I now recall that I may never have taken a picture of one of my pies. Should do. Maybe next year. (Added 10/27: below picture of my last 2009 pie sent by Dale - thank you, Dale!)

Besides the apple pie filling I canned until I was out of jars, I made apple pies for:
1) Friend Kerri, home from the hospital
2) Quilt group (a couple of extras joined us, just for the pie, and it was fabulous to have them come)
3) Girls' night out potluck
4) Piano technician that revived my piano (the guy was stunned by the pie offer)
5) Daughter in Napa (pleasant excuse for a drive)
6) Kerri again (you can't help but repeat when you are so appreciated)
7) Friend Dale, home from the hospital

That looks like seven pies, but there were nine. I know, because I ate two of them, a piece of pie every meal for two weeks, there being no one around to help me with the task. Gets old, believe it or not.


Everyone loves my crusts and wants my recipe. I will share it here, but let me warn you that it is not easy. If you are off just a smidgeon in your measurements and your timing, the crust is in serious danger of not holding together (though will still be edible).

I use Gold Medal unbleached white flour for this crust. Other flours usually need slightly different measurement (tried it = disaster), and since this is critical and I'm too lazy to test the proportions with a different kind of flour, I only use Gold Medal with this recipe (no affiliation, etc. I'm not getting paid anything for this by anyone).

I don't recommend doubling this recipe. If you try, I am not responsible for your results.

Stir 'n' Roll Pie Crust (from my mama, Barbara Sturges)

Here's the list of what you need; no time for running for the wax paper and rolling pin after everything is mixed, so get them now. Y'hear?
  • Wax paper - rip off four approximately square sheets (slightly too long is better than too short)
  • Rolling pin
  • Medium mixing bowl (plus extra bowl for lazy girl flour "sifting")
  • Mixing spoon
  • Measuring spoons
  • 1/4 c and 1/2 c measuring cups (or 1 cup with good graduated lines on the side that you trust)
  • Butter knife (needed to cut dough ball in half)
  • Flour
  • Salt
  • Oil
  • Cold milk
  • Dictionary of Forbidden Words (optional)
Combine the following in a medium mixing bowl, and dig a hole in middle of the flour and salt in order to mix in the liquid ingredients faster.
  • 2 cups less 1 scant T Gold Medal unbleached white flour (before measuring, pour a pile into a separate bowl to fluff it up a bit; lazy girl's way of "sifting")
  • 3/4 tsp salt
Now is the point where you don't answer the phone, go to the bathroom, or duck and cover for an earthquake. You don't have to rush; just don't delay. Delay = crumbly frustration.

Measure the following exactly and
pour simultaneously into the hole in the middle of the flour:

  • 1/4 c cold whole milk
  • 1/2 c oil (I use light olive oil, but other similar cooking oils also work)
Stir quickly, just until all ingredients are moistened.
Dump dough out on one of the wax paper sheets.
Mound with your hands.
Cut mound in half with the butter knife.
Transfer half to another wax paper sheet.
Round and flatten both balls of dough with your hands and smash remaining wax paper sheets on top.
Roll both dough mounds into circles, as close as you can eyeball (almost to the manufacturer-cut edges of the wax paper). Dough edges will probably be crumblier than you are used to.

The dough will stiffen as it sits, so you want to get it into the pie plate as soon as possible.
Turn wax paper sandwich over, remove what had been the bottom piece of wax paper (this is because it is harder to remove than the other one and should be removed first, especially if you lightly dampened your counter top first to prevent slippage while rolling), turn pie plate upside down on center of dough circle, hold dough on and turn over, gingerly remove second piece of wax paper, and carefully push dough into the pie plate. You can smoosh together or patch cracks and breaks.

Putting on the top crust is easier, no special instructions necessary. When crimping the edges, remember that thinner edges burn more easily.

Extra crust pieces can be piled up in a little Pyrex dish, dusted with sugar and cinnamon, and baked for the kiddies along with the pie (remove early).

This is a messy, exacting job, but it is worth it for me; the fragile dough makes into a nice, flaky crust. Sometimes I add a tablespoon of sugar for a slightly sweet crust.

You will want to use a different recipe if you are weaving the pie crust top. Well, weaving actually
is possible with this one, but you may want to pull out your Dictionary of Forbidden Words to use in the process. Weaving this dough may not be so hard for quilters; you already know how to do piecing.

© 2009 LynnDel Newbold


In the quilting arena, I squeezed several shopping trips into my cooking and working-around-the-place days, looking for needed-but-not-readily-available springy floral prints. I've been steering away from floral prints for years, as has most everyone else it appears, and now that I want them, they're difficult to find. I ran across a few good pieces at Pacific International Quilt Festival (PIQF) in Santa Clara, so was doubly pleased by the trip - inspired by the beautiful and innovative quilts, happy with my fabric.

For the last several days I have been working on another round of my great-grandmother's block quilt (40 star blocks in the works), and will post pictures in a couple of days. I now realize I will run out of desired colors of my hand-dyed fabrics for future rows/rounds, and will therefore be more challenged than I want to be on how to design the final sections. But it will be an adventure, and what is better than a good adventure?

Wednesday, October 7, 2009


It was time to try making a hobo bag, so I did an online search and found this pattern from jcaroline creative. The directions are very detailed and easy to follow.

The background fabric was from my stash, and the fabrics were pieces from my explorations through Fabric Arts Workshop by Susan Stein. I had to set my machine's speed on Extremely Slow while doing the decorative stitches with metallic thread in order to keep the thread from being shredded in the needle, so doing the decorative stitches was the most time-consuming part of the purse construction.

As I was working, I thought, "Why does a purse have to have a front side and back side? I don't have time to look down and see if I'm letting the best side of my purse be visible to my adoring (ha) public," so both sides are decorated as front sides.

The interior is lined with print fabric and has a zipper pocket in addition to two plain pockets that I added (not part of the original pattern) to hold my cell phone and blue tooth. If I were to put my own twist on this pattern, I would make the purse wider, because it is too narrow (about two inches) to stand up on its own.

Embellishing fabrics above are dyed silk, and DyeNaFlow painted fabric using gel glue as a resist.

Fabric squares above have fused Angelina, foil, and metalic ribbon (sprayed with Krylon in the hope that it would somewhat protect the Angelina from getting pulled off too much in daily use); the other is a Paintstik rubbing.

The handle rings are curtain grommets. Will see if they hold up to doing purse duty.

Wrist gaiters

It's coming up on the season when my hands get cold while computing, so today I made myself a pair of wrist gaiters. Tube of fleece, sewed down the side with a hold for the thumb. Simple. Will see how they work, and next time make them of stretchier fabric, perhaps.