Saturday, September 30, 2006

Cutting like Crazy!

I'm working on two little gift projects that I can't post here quite yet. I've also been doing lots and lots of cutting - here's a peek. These strips are for yet another project from the Modern Quilt Workshop.

A great sunrise from earlier this week:

Friday, September 29, 2006

Posti Post

I was very slow to leave the house this morning. (My Friday classes don't begin until next week.) Luckily I was still home when the mail came, including a great little care package from a friend in South Carolina!

You can see the much-needed Shout Color Catchers and the not-so-much-needed, but very much appreciated, candy corn!! She also included vanilla - perfect timing since I'm going to make the Lingonberry Tea Cake again this weekend! For those who asked, I haven't found vanilla extract here in Finland - there is vanilla sugar and I'm sure I could figure out how to substitute, but when making things for others, I'd rather stick with what I know and this cake is too big for me to make for myself! I'll figure it out with another recipe.

Here are a few pictures of the fall colors around campus today. I was trying to wait for a sunny day, but it's been raining all week and I'm afraid the leaves will fall before I get to take sunny pictures!

Thursday, September 28, 2006

Loving the Love Beads (now that they're finished)

I started this quilt back in early August and was so excited about finally feeling confident with curves, but then was stymied by the quilting so I put it aside for a while. Anyone out there who is afraid of curves (including a few who commented on The Color Purple), making this quilt (and the Modern Quilt Workshop book) really helped me get over it! I got it out last weekend and decided enough was enough and finished up the quilting. The green background has a 1" diagonal grid (what was I thinking?), the 'strings' aren't quilted, and the beads themselves have a squiggly back and forth pattern on them. This is the first time I've used two different colored threads to quilt something.

I loved the layout in the in book for a twin sized quilt much more than the suggestions for a crib or lap quilt, so I modified the directions and made my circles 6.5" instead of 8.5" and placed the three strands of beads off center. The whole thing ended up at 39"x59".

Here's the fun backing fabric:

Not quite sure what I'll do with this quilt. It's a little big for baby-sized, too small for a twin.... I'll figure it out at some point!

On my to-do list for this weekend: finish the curtains for this window!

Monday, September 25, 2006

Cranberry (or Lingonberry) Tea Cake Recipe

A few friends asked for this recipe after I made it a week or so ago (it took me a little time to do the conversions) and then a few bloggers asked me more about my plans for the 10 liters of lingonberries that followed me home on Friday, so I thought I'd post this recipe here on my blog.

Cranberry/Lingonberry Tea Cake
(adapted from Sundays at the Moosewood Restaurant)

2 cups (470mL) fresh or frozen cranberries or lingonberries (chop cranberries well, lingonberries can be whole)
½ cup (120mL) brown sugar
½ cup (120mL) finely chopped nuts (original recipe calls for almonds, I usually use walnuts in the US, tried it with hazelnuts last week – all delicious!)
2 tsp (10mL) cinnamon
¼ tsp (1mL) nutmeg

Mix and set aside.

½ cup (4oz or 114g) butter
1 cup (235mL) sugar

Cream butter and sugar.

1 tsp (5mL) vanilla extract (if you can find it!)
1 cup (235mL) sour cream (low fat or fat free are ok, so is good old-fashioned sour cream)
2 eggs (beat slightly first)

Add to butter/sugar mixture, mix well.

2 cups (470mL) unbleached white flour
1 tsp (5mL) baking soda
1 tsp (5mL) baking powder
1 pinch salt

Sift together (I never actually use a sifter) and mix with wet ingredients (don't overmix).

Spread half the batter into a bundt pan (or another pan with a hole in the middle) or an 8” (20cm) round cake pan. Sprinkle the berry mixture over the batter (I don’t usually need all of it, actually). Spread the remaining batter carefully over the top. Bake for 50-60 minutes at 350F (177C). Allow to cool partially. Remove from pan, invert on a plate. Sprinkle with powdered sugar before serving. Enjoy!

(I’ve used metric volume measurements, rather than weight, since I was converting from US measurements - let me know if you have any questions.)

Sunday, September 24, 2006

My Favorite Flying Geese Technique

After my posts about flying geese (door quilt and red & white blocks for Clare's leukemia project), several people asked about my flying geese tool. It's a 'no math' ruler from Lazy Girl Designs. You can get one here or here or here or here (I've also seen a couple on ebay). Basically it has cutting lines for the two sizes of squares to make seven sizes of flying geese from 3/4"x1.5" to 3.5"x7".

First cut five squares - one large, four small. These five squares will result in four flying geese units. For 2"x4" finished units, the large square is 5 1/4" and the small squares measure 2 7/8".

Place two of the small squares on the large square right sides together. Draw a line down the center of the small squares, then sew 1/4" from each side of this line.

Cut down the line you drew.

Iron the seam allowance towards the little triangles.

Place each of the remaining small squares on these pieces right sides together. Draw a line down the center of the small squares, then sew 1/4" from each side of this line.

Cut down the lines you drew.

Iron the seam allowances toward the little triangles once again.


For four finished flying geese measuring 1"x2", the large square measures 3 1/4" and the small squares measure 1 7/8". For four finished flying geese measuring 3"x6", the large square is 7 1/4" and the small squares are 3 7/8".

I know there are lots of ways to make flying geese - this is just the easiest way for me! If you give it a try, I'd love to hear from you!

Saturday, September 23, 2006

A Few More Red & White Blocks

Here's another with the help of Quilter's Cache - Northern Lights (I liked the name), one more with the leftover flying geese (bottom left), and one with the leftover HSTs (bottom right):

I made mini versions of these, too. I have two browns from the same Wuthering Heights line and will make them into a little wall hanging eventually.

If you would like to make an 8" (finished) red and white block (or two or three or four....) for Clare's Quilts for Leukemia project, head on over to her blog, Dordogne Quilter.

One more fun red picture to end this post - yesterday I bought 10 liters of lingonberries. I was quite a sight getting them home on my bike! In case you haven't had lingonberries, they are a lot like cranberries, just smaller and they grow on low bushes, not in bogs. I'll freeze most of them and probably make a little jam.

Friday, September 22, 2006


Evelyn recently asked people to share their pincushions.

I usually keep my pins in a small blue and white dish with a shrimp on it (like one you might use to mix soy sauce and wasabi) that I got from my mom several Christmases ago. To the left is a pincushion I bought in Budapest last year - I remember my mom having a similar one when I was little.

About the same time, Mary showed off her 'trash', inspiring others to do the same. Some of my pins live in the top weight of my trash bag. I made this following a pattern from my Bernina dealer in Maine - the top is filled with lentils and balsam. The light blue fabric has postal cancellations from all over the US on it.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Family Quilts

No time for quilting this week, busy with the first week of school. Five of my seven courses for this semester start this week, as well as the two courses I am taking! The photo above is from the campus of the University of Vaasa - my office is in the old cotton mill on the left and you can see glimpses of the Bothnian Sea in the background. I thought I'd fill the quilting void with some family quilts.

I like to say that I learned to quilt from my great-grandmother whom I never knew. My mom grew up next door to her grandparents' farm in western New York and spent a lot of time there as a child. Grandma Pete was the child of Swedish immigrants from the part of Sweden just across the water from where I now live in Finland. Today I thought I'd post some pictures of quilts made by Grandma Pete.

These are just rough guesses, but I think that the Grandmother's Flower Garden quilt was made circa 1940, the blue and white Irish Chain was made circa 1950, and the Double Wedding Ring sometime in the 1960s.

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Door Quilt

Not much quilt activity going on this week b/c I have my first visitor here in Finland! A friend is visiting from Estonia. The Swedish king and queen also visited Vaasa this week to mark the city's 400th anniversary (Finland belonged to Sweden at the time the city was founded), and not to mention that I've been busy working b/c my classes begin on Monday!

All the Canada geese landing on the bay outside my apartment inspired me to get out my flying geese tool last weekend when making a few blocks for Clare's Quilts for Leukemia project. My mom bought me the tool at Maine Quilts two summers ago as bribery for me to make her a quilt. Somewhere she saw what she described as a 'door quilt' - a wall hanging designed to hang on a door rather than a wall. She chose most of the fabrics from Chanteclaire's Fine Wines collections and I added a few from my stash. These colors are definitely my mom - as is the subtly of the blocks. All the blocks are either flying geese or log cabin variations. The layout echos the design of the big old door in my mom's dining room (where the quilt now hangs) - the log cabin variations make up the six panels in the door.

This was also my first pieced back. Learned a lot from that experiment! Also learned that I would use a lighter weight batting in future wall hangings - especially of this size! (I think it was 72"x28".)

Sunday, September 10, 2006

Red & White Blocks for Leukemia Project

As I posted on Friday, Clare over at Dordogne Quilter is getting a little red & white block project started to raise awareness about leukemia. For more information or if you're interested in whipping up a few red & white blocks of your own for the cause, please head on over to her blog.

I sketched these out Friday night and made them today. It was fun to play around with my flying geese tool and some Thangles - both for the first time in a year. I made little miniature (4", rather than 8" blocks) for myself, too!

For one of the blocks (Rocky Mountain Puzzle), I found inspiration and instructions at Marcia Hohn's Quilters Cache. What a great resource she has there!

Thanks to Judy at Quilting with Ragdolls for helping me find a fabric I saw on her blog in August - the red I've used most is called Wind and is from the Wuthering Heights collection by 3 Sisters for Moda. The other red is also from that collection and is called Wildflowers. I noticed that KCQuilter has used the fabric, too!

Saturday, September 09, 2006


I've posted pictures of The Color Purple before, so here are just a few finishing details. I sewed on the binding last night while watching a disappointing dvd about Agatha Christie (I love mysteries, by the way). I really like this striped binding - it's quite dark, but I like the way it frames the front. The stripe also has a lot of different purples in it - I think this helps it works well with the top's variety of purples, too. I've also included a little photo of the backing fabric - a 30s print from Chanteclaire from a couple years ago.

I think the pattern is called True Lovers Knot, although there is another pattern by the same name. The entire quilt is 36" by 48".

Thanks to people for their words of advice on my earlier post. I left it with the quilting I had, but can always add little four-almond flowers in those empty corners if I change my mind.

Friday, September 08, 2006

Quilts for Leukemia

Clare over at Dordogne Quilter is trying to start up a small project to raise awareness for a UK-based leukemia research charity by collecting quilts and/or individual blocks (she'll put them together) for donation. I thought I'd help her spread the word!

Interested? Would you be willing to make one (or more) 8" block(s) (design of your choice) from red and white fabrics and then to send them off to Clare in Dordogne, France? Head on over to her blog for more information!

Those Extra Es

I mentioned that I had two extra Es after 'writing' on the back of the Tea TATW wedding wall hanging, so I thought I'd share what I did with them.

I'm working on a life quilt - making one diamond with fabrics from every quilt I make, so that someday I can sew them all together as a record of my quiltmaking life. I am foundation piecing onto precut muslin diamonds - I forget how many I cut, but they have 9.25" sides and will make a twin-sized quilt. Sometimes I use a leftover block, sometimes I just add the scraps in a crumb block fashion.

I chose diamonds after seeing a beautiful brightly colored string quilt made from diamonds in a book of antique quilts. I especially liked that the edges of the quilt were a zigzag and weren't filled in with triangles to square up the quilt (maybe you've noticed I'm not really a border person).

Here are the diamonds from the finished citrus quilts and from the MQW love beads that is still being quilted.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Cardinal Sin of Quilting?

I have quilted The Color Purple quilt, but I'm afraid I'm not done. I know that the cardinal rule of quilting is that the quilting needs to be evenly distributed over the quilt and this isn't. I quilted in the ditch around each 6" square. Then I quilted diagonally through the beads/pearls/almonds, making side to side squiggles in the beads/pearls/almonds - similar to what I did on the citrus zipper quilt. (My machine quilting skills are very basic - if something works, I want to do it again.) This isn't so different from my pink and brown pinwheel/snowball quilt (in the ditch/diagonal with detail), except those blocks were smaller and the swirl was wider, so the quilting was more evenly distributed.

Any suggestions? Is it ok the way it is? The distance between the almond edge and where the four blocks meet (with intersecting in-the-ditch-lines) is about 3". According to Warm & Natural, you can quilt 10" apart, but I don't imagine that would stand up very well in a baby quilt! I'm not afraid of the quilt police, but I do want my quilt to wear well!

Monday, September 04, 2006

Coasters After All

I wasn't going to make the coasters, but then I was surfing around and found this easy coaster idea from Pearl Bee. I used what I cut off the edges of the back after quilting and found I did have enough scraps after all! I used the pale green striped binding fabric for the backs. Each is quilted differently - one free motion with a spiral, one with zig-zag stitch, another with a cute leaf stitch on my Bernina, and the last one in the ditch.

Here are the Iitalla mugs and the teas together with the coasters.

I even went to the Posti today and bought a box, so hopefully if I mail it tomorrow, it will arrive in time for the wedding. Yay!

Saturday, September 02, 2006

Tea Trip Around the World Ready for Departure!

The little wedding wall hanging is ready to send off to Romania on Monday!

I'm not sure I'll spend this much time on every back in the future, but it was a lot of fun and I got to try some new things.

I've included tea and two mugs. (I had to scrap the idea of the coasters because there weren't enough scraps left!) The teas include Emperor's Bride and Faithful Friend - they seemed fitting!

Thanks to Tonya for help with the wonky little heart near my initials and for her letter instructions, of course!

I had some trouble getting started with the machine quilting on this - this was my third attempt. It's hard to see in the photo, but here's a little drawing. I stitched in the ditch around the center square, then through the middle of the other squares in this pattern:

Friday, September 01, 2006

Everyday Inspirations

Finland is certainly known for design. One thing I love is that lots of everyday items (like my plastic iced tea pitcher) include the name of the designer.

Here's the adorable notice I received to let me know I had a package to pick up at the post office. (The blue and orange Posti logo might also inspire a quilt - especially now that the MQW love beads have taught me to inset half circles!)

And then there's Marimekko! It's pretty pricy, but I bought a bit to make a curtain for the smallest window in my apartment.

Best of all, these Nordqvist teas bags/boxes are dying to become a quilt!