Tuesday, 26 March 2013

Needlework Tuesday - Permission to Play or How I Whacked even more 4 Patches

Welcome to my regular weekly Needlework Tuesday post where I share whatever I have been stitching during the past week. I find this a great source of encouragement as I always want to have some sort of progress to share with you. Feel free to grab the cute little mouse and add him to your needlework post, then leave a comment with a link. I'll be sure to drop by and visit.

Every now and then I realize that I have been taking myself too seriously and that I need some play time.  Last week was one of those weeks, and what a better way to play than with fabric.  So how did it all start?  At the beginning of March, I posted the results from playing with a couple of variations of the Disappearing 4 patch block.  It was a lot of fun and results in a top for a lap quilt.  When I was visiting the website of designer Brenda Miller, she asked if any of her readers were working on a 'modern' quilt.  I answered, wondering if the disappearing 4 patch qualified.  Her response was to question whether I had cut them 'off centre'.  hmm, that got me thinking as all of the patterns I'd tried were cut symetrically.  I was sure that with a bit of planning I could come up with an interesting new variation.
I found two metres of a unique blue, it was printed in seven lengthwise strips each of a different shade of blue.  All squares I started with were cut 6 inches square.
 First, sew two 4 patches, using the same two fabrics.

Cutting off centre.  First I cut a two inch strip from the top of each block and then I cut a two in strip from the right of each block.  Next I cut two inches from the left centre of the block both on the left and bottom of the block.

For the disappearing part, I moved the segments in the 12, 3, 6 and 9 o'clock positions.    When sewn together, I found it kind of boring.  Time to try it again.

Again, two four patches, this time using 4 different fabrics.  Carefully stack  the blocks on top of each other with a light block on top of a dark block.  I pinned at the seam allowances so they wouldn't shift when cutting.  I got carried away and forgot to take a photo of the next step .  I cut four diagonals: left, right, top and bottom, being careful not to cut too close to the centre.

 I shifted pieces in the same manner as above and re-sewed the block.  A few times I had to repress seams so they would match up. My goal was to preserve the original  four patch appearance, and I pinned to match those seams.

My third attmept.  Again, two blocks with four fabrics, this time I chose shades that were more distinct.

Stack the two blocks and pin the seams at the sides to stop shifting.  This time when cutting, I kept a 90 degree angle when cutting top and right, and a 90 degree angle when cutting the left and bottom.  The centre that is left is not  a perfect square.  I then re-shuffled the fabrics in the same manner as the earlier blocks. 
These two blocks are my favourite so far.  I have plans to try them again in different fabrics.

 One final attempt as the previous six blocks aren't enough for a quilt. 

New approach this time.  I layers the blocks right sided together with a light square on top of a dark square.  Sewed a quarter inch seam all around the out sidee of the block.

Mark two inches from each corner and cut across the middle of the block twice.  Unpick the bit of stitching and press open the block.
Interesting kite shapes.  I needed to square these up.

Squares, now I can work with them.
The four of them together formed an interesting unit.  Now I had the working pieces for a quilt.  Add a couple of intact 4 patch blocks.

Finished quilt top measures 44 x 60 inches.  This photo does no justice to how blue it is.  It practically vibrates.
That was fun play. I do think that I have worked disappearing 4 patches from my system for a while.
What do you do when you play with your stitching?
Rikki at Rikki's Teleidoscope is working on a lovely crochet scarf using the most gorgeous wool.
Marie at Daisy's Book Journal shares with us her finished afghan.  Great work Marie.

Monday, 25 March 2013

Red is for Rage by Connie Corcoran Wilson

Cedar Falls, Iowa seems like and idyllic place to live and raise your children.  Unknown to a casual visitor is the dark history that it hides, that of rampaging murderers and evil incarnate.  It does have a chance at normalcy in the form of high school senior Tad McGreevy.  Since he was young, Tad has seen colours attached to each person.  Most people show colours that are  indicate benign behaviour, though a few exhibit khaki, which is a sign that a person is truly evil. 

Tad still has no clues how to control his paranormal power, but he hopes it will help him to find his friend Stevie Scranton who has been missing for the past nine months.  Up till now, no one has a clue as to where Stevie is and who might have taken him. 

Unknown to Tad, Michael Clay, aka Pogo the Clown, has escaped jail and is looking for revenge against him.  Michael exhibits the colour khaki.  Also on Tad's trail is Daniel Malone, but I can't tell you why as I don't want to spoil any of the plot.

This is the second book in the adult series The Color of Evil.  While you could read Red is for Rage as a stand alone, I highly recommend that you read The Colour of Evil first as you will want to know all about the earlier events that happened in Cedar Falls.

I liked that this second book paid more attention to the characters of Tad, Stevie, Jenny and Janice.  We get to learn more about what drives each of them and how they they interact with each other and the adults around them.  It also made me care about them.  I was particularly drawn to Stevie and Janice. 

Red is for Rage is a work of fiction, but Ms. Wilson has included a number of references and statistics that are true.  Be sure to read her end notes for those details.

There are a number of stories lines that are left hanging, and are begging for completion.  The loathsome Principal Peter Puck,; realtor Andra SanGiovanni, Jenny's mom; and what about Jenny herself.  She has some unresolved issues.

I didn't find this book as scary/creepy as I did The Color of Evil, it was more eerie.  I knew that something was going to happen, I just didn't know what or when.  Ms. Wilson introduced a number of side stories that each could have been the 'big one'.  Again, I found myself wanting to continue reading to find out which of these stories would develop furthest.  I wasn't able to complete the reading in one sitting, but I was back up early in the morning to finish.

Also by Connie Corcoran Wilson:
The Color of Evil

 Thanks to Virtual Author Book Tours and author Connie Corcoran Wilson for my review copy.

Saturday, 23 March 2013

Weekend Cooking: Best Soup Ever

It's not often that I come across a prepared food, or a restaurant food that I can honestly say is the best ever.  The Mullugtwanny soup from Classic Indian Cuisine in Waterloo is one happy exception.  I fell in love with this soup the first time I tasted and have not missed an opportunity to eat it whenever a bowl is near me.

What a thrill it was to find that I could now buy it in my local grocery store.  This litre size jar is a very affordable price and goes further than you would think as the instructions say to add half a cup water to every cup of soup.  Aside from tasting great, it is a most healthy recipe.  It is full of lentils and vegetables (vegan), very low in salt and low in fat.  In fact, it has won a Health Check rating from the Heart and Stroke Foundation.

If I could only eat one variety of soup for the rest of my life, Thiru's Mullugtwanny soup would be my choice.  This soup is available locally.  To find out if it is available in your area, visit the website link below for contact information.

In October 2010, Classic Indian Restaurant were a food sponsor at the Oktoberfest Run.  Their Mullugtwany soup was a hit.  Those huge blue jugs under the table are filled with gallons of soup almost all of which was served to the 1200 plus hungry runners.

For more foodie fun, be sure to visit Beth Fish Reads for her Weekend Cooking meme.  You are invited to add a link to your recent food related post.

Update: There are several spelling versions of this soup, mulligatawny being the most frequent.
I have sent an email to Chef Thiru to ask where this soup is currently available.

Wednesday, 20 March 2013

Tracy of Pen and Paper sent me this award.  I don't usually post them on my blog, but as I've quite a few new followers recently, I thought I accept and, as Tracy requested, tell you 11 things about myself that you probably didn't know.

  1. I earned a Bachelor of Education as a teacher, but only ever taught for 1 week.  Also have a Bachelor of Environmental Studies  with joint honors in Environment Resource Studies and Geography.
  2. I have gone downhill skiing twice and decided it wasn't for me as I ran into one of those giant lift poles.
  3. I was scuba diving in the Caribbean when a school of giant barracuda surrounded me. I was 18. 
  4. I have written a novel, but haven't gone the next step of editing and sending inquiry letters to publishers.
  5. Am lactose intolerant and describe myself as a vegan who eats meat.  Easier than trying to explain "no dairy" to restaurant staff.
  6. I've been to New Zealand three times and still don't think that's enough.
  7. My godson passed away when he was 26, he had major blockages of his heart arteries.  That is why I encourage my readers to have their cholesterol tested.
  8. I ran a half marathon with my sister four years ago.
  9. I volunteer every summer for a full week at a series of running races.  Most of my time is spent preparing food to feed the runners.
  10. I am an idea person, but not so good at implimenting and even worse at finishing.
  11. I have over 3oo print books in my house that I have yet to read.
Thanks for visiting with me today, I hope you feel as though you know me a little bit better.

Tuesday, 19 March 2013

Needlework Tuesday - Winners and Cutting Time

Welcome to my regular weekly Needlework Tuesday post where I share whatever I have been stitching during the past week.  I find this a great source of encouragement as I always want to have some sort of progress to share with you.  Feel free to grab the cute little mouse and add him to your needlework post, then leave a comment with a link.  I'll be sure to drop by and visit.

Last week was the wildly successful "Beat the Winter Blues Blog Hop".  It took some serious dedication to visit every blog, but I did and I left comments at most.  Wow, there sure is some terrific stitching happening out there.  As a result I have already made one block that I found a pattern for (more on that later) and cut most of the fabric for a quilt that I had wanted to do but had forgotten.  When I saw it, I started cutting the next day.  Now on to the winners.  Since I had such a large number of new followers, I added two extra prizes of two fat quarters each. Seventy-six of the hoppers signed up to follow using Google Friends Connect. More of you might have decided to follow by another method.  Thank-you to each and every one of you. I lost track of how many additional blogs I decided to follow as a result of the hop.  Winners were selected by the RaffleCopter program. All winners have been contacted and have replied.
Winner of the 4 springy fq's - Marie

Winner of the two butterfly fq's - Richard. Winner of the two green fq's - Joyce
During the hop, almost 200 comments were left after my post and most of them told me of your favourite quilt blocks.    There was so much information that I have compiled it in a second post : "Favourite Quilt Blocks".  For quick reference, the top 5 blocks are: Log Cabin, Stars (no specific pattern), Pinwheel, Paper Piecing and  9 Patch.

During the hop I visited designer Debby Kratovil's site.  She was giving away a free pattern to make the quilt block 'Gretchen' in a new and easy method.  I am all for easy methods, so I followed the link to Craftsy and downloaded.  I made the block up right away.  Next time, and they will be next time, I'll use fabrics with more contrast. This single block will be made into a mug mat for a friend who loves sunflowers.

My local guild meets at a Mennonite Church.  They don't charge us for use of the hall, though they do ask that in return, we do something for the community.  One project this year, is to make items for the MCC Quilt Auction and Sale in New Hamburg.  A group of industrious women at the guild assembled a bunch of mini kits to make various projects.  I brought home one to make a tote bag.  It used two panels and not much more.  I quilted it by machine. It measured 16 inches square before I decided to box the corners.  I think it looks better this way.


Somewhere along the way of the hop, the quilter showed a quilt made from the "Fabric Fusion" pattern in the February 2012 issue of American Patchwork and Quilting.  I loved that pattern first time I saw it.  I knew I had to make at least one, but with all the activity surrounding my dad's illness and subsequent passing at that time, I forgot about it.  After being reminder about it, I found my copy of the magazine and started cutting.  I am not a fan of floral fabrics, but I seemed to have an over abundance of them.  I dug out about 20 fq's and started cutting and cutting.  I had a few projects in mind.  I cut all the pieces for the "Floral Fusion".  i am going to use this green for the sashings, border and binding.

Next I cut for a scrappy block, half of which is made of 2 1/2 inch squares.  I need 15 florals for each block and there will be 30 blocks. I'm over half way there.  Next I cut 5inch squares. I have about 32 of those with almost as many for a friend who is new to quilting.  There were lots of strip,s at least 2 1/2 inches wide, leftover.  Arg, not more florals, I didn't want to keep them as my goal was to get the florals out of my stash.  I gave them to my mom.  She'll find a project for them as she really likes to work with strips.  Last year I put together an online quilt show of her work. Quilts by Elaine Tucker
As you were hopping along last week, were you inspired to start any new projects?  Tell me about it in the comments.

Needlework Tuesday - Special: Favourite Quilt Blocks

During the recent "Beat the Winter Blues Blog Hop", I asked my visitors which is their favourite quilt block.   I received 194 comments with 49 different blocks listed.  Below are the results in order of popularity.  I have provided links to the directions for as many blocks as I could find. Leave a comment with a link to your favourite freeblock pattern.

26 votes - Log Cabin
25 votes - Stars
18 votes - Pinwheel  Pinwheel variation   basic method
15 votes - Paper Pieced blocks
10 votes - 9 Patch  9 Patch 2
 6 votes  - Churn Dash
 4 votes  - Dresden (one of many versions)
 4 votes  - Hexagons
 3 votes  - Ohio Star
 3 votes  - New York Beauty
 3 votes  - Disappearing 9 Patch version 1

The following blocks received 2 votes each:
- Disappearing 4 Patch
- Wonky Log Cabin
- Friendship Star
- String Blocks
- 4 Patch
- Flying Geese
- 1/2 Square Triangle
- Square in a Square
- Wonky Block - any
- Drunkards Path

The Following Blocks received 1 vote each:
- Courthouse Steps
- Heart Block
- Stack & Whack - Bethany Reynolds, in my opinion she is the Goddess of Stack & Whack
- Barn Block
- Colorado Beauty
- Improvisational piecing
- Crumb Blocks
- Fire Hydrant
- Jewel Box
- Contrary Wife
- Swoon this is a pattern for purchase
- Saw Tooth Star
- Twister uses a special ruler to cut the unit
- Snails Trail
- Wonky Star
- Wonky House
- Double Pinwheel
- Mariner's Compass images of some of the variations for this block
- Shoofly
- Bowtie1 Bowtie 3D Bowtie2
- Fan
- HoneyBee
- Hourglass
- Cats
- Tumblers
- Scrappy Trip

Tuesday, 12 March 2013

Needlework Tuesday - Blocks Abound

Needlework Tuesday is a regular weekly post where I share my current needlework projects and their progress or lack of progress.  You are invited  grab the cute little mouse, add him to your post and then leave me a comment with the link.  I find is a great way to gain and share encouragement in stitching.
Welcome to my many new readers and followers.  Continuing till the weekend is the Beat the Winter Blues Blog Hop hosted by the Quilting Gallery.  There is still time to join the hop and visit the blogs of more than 200 participants. As a bonus, every blog is hosting a quilt related giveaway.  For those who haven't entered my giveaway, be sure to follow this link to my post.
In the blog hop post I showed you a little star block I was working on.  They have grown and turned into log cabin blocks.  Measure 9 inches.

Add a bit of sashing and I now have a wall hanging measuring 27 x 39 inches.  The pattern is Serendipity designed by Pix Martin of Cardinal Street patterns. The pattern is available through Kallisti Quilts.
 Not sure how I will quilt this.  I could go traditional and stitch along each log, but I am thinking swirls or something loopy.

Each year at my local guild, each member pieces a block for our president.  This year she has chosen white and blue.  This block is called "Flag Day" and is from the book Knockout Blocks and Sampler Quilts by Judy Martin.  Judy offers the most unique block patterns.  To see presidential blocks and quilt from previous years, visit this post.  This book has also been adapted to an EQ7 add-on software program.  I've bought it, though still have to install it on my computer.

Block of the Month programs seem to be a main stay with quilters.  We love them as we get to try something different with every block, yet we hate them, because once we've pieced our block, then we have to wait a whole month for the next block.  I have started a new BOM at my local shop, Reichard's The Quilter's Store.  It is called Building Blocks and its by Sharyn Craig.  Each month we get a pattern, but it is uncoloured.  We get to chose where to put our lights, darks and mediums.  The back page is for colouring, though I have put my block into Electric Quilt and coloured it there.  This month I pieced two variations of the block named "Hammer and Nails".
 The colouring on the first block is a bit off, the colours in the second block are more accurate.

To make my piecing more accurate, I cut my pieces using these templates from Marti Michell: 1, 4, 5, 6 from set A.  I find cutting with the templates, while it takes longer, I get more accurate results.   We were told that we will be using the same templates each month, though new sizes may be added as well.

Previously I started a BOM with my local guild. It is called Quilter's Celebration Mystery Quilt and it is from Border Creek Station.  I haven't shown too much about it as it is a new mystery quilt and there are many people making it. I don't want to post too many photos here and spoil the surprise.  This is my block from baggie C.  We finished it after clue 4.  I have now completed clue 5, but this piece didn't change.  Sherri, the designer, will be the guest at my guild in June and we are supposed to have our tops finished by then.   I'll be taking lots of  photos that day and will eventually post them to my blog.
Do you participate in mystery quilts?  Leave a comment as I'd love to know why or why not.
Next week I'll be back with the results from the questions: What is your favourite quilt block? that I asked of the visitors during the blog hop.
Tami at Just One More Thing, is musing over her UFO's.  Drop by and encourage her to focus on one.

Friday, 8 March 2013

Blog Hop and Giveaway

Blog Hop Party with Give-Aways

Beat The Winter Blues - Quilters' Blog Hop Party

Winter can be an awefully long time, specially when the sun hasn't been shining.  For the next week, we can create our own sunshine, by hopping around and visiting the over 175 blogs joining in the the Quilters' Blog Hop Party.

Welcome to Books and Quilts.  For over 5 years, and 1000+ posts, I have been writing about my various needlecrafts I do and books I have read.  Scattered in are food posts, vacation photos and other such fun.  Did I mention quilts, there are quite a few of those as well.

Each week I feature my Needlework Tuesday post, where I share what I have been up to with a needle over the past week.  My readers are invited to grab the cute little mouse and add him to their post and leave a comment with a link to their post.  I find it a great way to encourage each other in our projects.
Occasionally on Friday I review a book by a First Nations/Aboriginal author.
Most Saturdays, I join in with Beth Fish Reads for her Weekend Cooking post.
This week I have been working on a scrappy log cabin style wall hanging.  I received the pieces during a local shop hop a number of years ago. I promptly cut the kit and then for some reason it got placed in a box and forgotten.  What a pleasure to pull it out and start sewing right away.  The star at the centre of the blocks are all pieced and I am ready to add the logs.  When you return on Tuesday for my next Needlework Tuesday post, I should have the top completed. These little beauties measure 6 1/2 inches.
This past Tuesday's post was all about disappearing 4 patch blocks.  I tried three different versions, and  am still looking for tutorials of more variations of this block.
The week before, I unveiled the bird quilt that I have been working on.  Below is just one of the twelve blocks.  Click the link to view the entire quilt.
Now for the Giveaway.
One lucky winner will receive this lovely fat quarter assortment.  Doesn't it just call out 'SPRING'.

Be sure to fill out the Rafflecopter form and leave a comment.  You don't have to be a follower of my blog to enter, but it would be nice if you were.  It will also give you two extra entries. If I get 20 new followers, (I have 101 at present) I will add a second prize of 2 fat quarters. 
Update: 11am Saturday, 21 new followers, so will add a second prize of 2 fat quarters.  Let's up the ante one more time, another 20 followers (141) will result in a third prize.  This sure is fun.
 Update: 3pm Sunday, lots of new followers, I'm over 150, so there will be three prize draws.
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Thursday, 7 March 2013

The Last Song by Eva Wiseman

This book is set in mid 1491 Toledo, Spain.  King Ferdinand and his wife Queen are on the throne.  There is much religious persecution at the time, both of Jews and Muslims.  The priests and familiars of the Inquisition are actively rounding up and interrogating even those who converted to Christianity several generations earlier.
Isabel has been raised a Catholic and has no reason to fear the Inquisition, or so she thought.  What secrets has her parents been hiding from her, and why are they insisting that she marry Luis de Carrera, a boy she doesn't know and has taken an instant disliking to.
The persecution of any people for any reason is a difficult topic even for adults.  It is even harder to explain these things to pre-teens.  Why should someone be shunned or jailed for the choices/beliefs of their parents, grand parents or even great grandparents.  Author Eva Wiseman introduced the topic of religious intolerance in a way that a twelve year old could deal with.  She didn't go into extreme detail, but choose to keep to the basics.  Pre-teens don't want all sorts of complex detail, they want to the story to proceed and to find out what happens next.  As an adult, I want those details, so this book left me a bit wanting.  The characters were developed just enough for the story to move along, but not so that I felt I was getting a minute by minute detail of every thing that had happened to them before page one.
Along with Isabel, who has been living a very luxurious existence, we also meet Yonah, the son of a Jewish jeweller who lives in the ghetto.  While they come from very different backgrounds, they are both honest, trustworthy people.  That their relationship did develop brought hope to this story that there didn't have to be walls erected between people of different beliefs.
All in all, I thought this was a good read for the audience it was written for.  I would definitely read more by Ms. Wiseman, keeping in mind the age that she is directing her stories at.
For an adult view of this same time period, read my earlier review of People of the Book by Geraldine Brooks.
Thank-you to Tundra Books for my review copy.

Tuesday, 5 March 2013

Needlework Tuesday - Disappearing 4 Patch & Variations

Needlework Tuesday is a regular weekly post where I share the progress of my various needlework projects over the past week.  I enjoy the encouragement that I receive from my readers and in return visit their blogs and cheer them on with theirs.  You are welcome to grab the cute little mouse and create your own Needlework Tuesday post.  Leave a comment with a link and I'll be sure to visit with you.

A few weeks ago I was visiting some of my regular blogs I follow, and Regina at Regina's Quilts, showed some cute mug rugs she had made.  They were from a technique called 'disappearing 4 patch'.  I found the instructions and shared the link with my mom and another friend.  Well, mom tried it out right away.  I then felt that since I sent her the link, I had better try it as well.  i used the tutorial found at SewWonderful.
First step, sew a 4 patch block. 
Cute as described in the tutorial and then re-sew.

Like magic, you have a totally new block.  I figured that I needed to make four of them to get a good idea  of how they would look together.  Once I got four completed, I decided that if I had nine, that would be enough for a lap quilt.
Add a little sashing to deal with all those seams, and a couple of borders to enlarge to quilt.

The top now measures 37 inches square. 

 I was on a roll.  Time to move onto the next variation of the disappearing 4 patch.  This one is from the blog What Comes Next?, the Disappearing 4 patch - with a twist.

Again, you start out with a four patch.
Follow the instructions for cutting.

All ready for sewing in the three rows as shown.
The rows are now sewn together.  Check the corners and you can see that you do lose a fair amount of size with this technique.
Finished block is ready for trimming.  I started with four 5 3/4 inch blocks, 11 inches when sewn , and ended up with a 9 3/4 inch block.
Kate at Arts and Socks tried this variation. Looks like she had lots of fun.  Visit to see how her's turned out. 

I found one additional variation of a 4 patch block, Pinwheel Disappearing 4 Patch at the blog Welcome Home Farm.  I got carried away with the cutting, but this one starts with two co-ordinated 4 patch blocks, which you slash from corner to corner two times.  Then sew to make two pinwheel blocks.

Follow the tutorial to cut these blocks.  Since my squares started out at 6 1/4 inches, the first block I cut 2 1/2 inches from the centre line and the second I cut 2 inches from the centre.

Same block but a different appearance.  I like the smaller pinwheel in the centre.  Using 6 1/4 inches squares to start and I ended with 10 inch blocks.

Are there more variations of the disappearing 4 patch block?  Leave me a comment with a link and I'll try it out.  I also have plans to try some variations of  the disappearing 9 patch.  oh that is going to be fun.

Tami at Just One More Thing introduced me to Infinity Scarves, one of which she has sewn for her daughter.

Marie at Daisy's Book Journal has started on a very pink project.  It's looking so warm and cuddly.