Archive for August, 2008

Bead Journal Project

Monday, August 25th, 2008

I am now beginning my September Bead Journal Project. The first issue was what size to make the projects. I decided on a 2.75 inch square. Since some of last year’s participants found a larger format too time consuming, I went with a more modest size. Now I wonder if I should have gone larger…

I started by using some of the amber chips from the little necklace I picked up in Lithuania a year ago. Amber was all over the place in all the Baltic nations, from upscale stores to street stalls. I wasn’t interested in purchasing anything large, fancy or expensive, and I couldn’t find any loose amber beads. So I went with a child’s necklace of amber chips.

To see what the Bead Journal Project is, go to
Now if I could only figure how to get the official button posted on our site…

A Week at the Cottage

Saturday, August 23rd, 2008

As most of you know, Lou and I were at the Cute Little House last week, and all I can say is that it is amazing how much one can accomplish when there are no moats to be constructed. Not that one objects to constructing moats, mind you, but moat construction and quilting/sewing/needlework are not especially compatible.

So I approached my week at the CLH unaccompanied by moat builders with great anticipation, bringing an unprecedented four (4) projects with me and certain that I was suffering from delusions of accomplishment. But I actually completed them all! And still I found time for a scintillating morning with the local historical society and a 33 mile bike ride. Talk about a sense of accomplishment!

So, in order from Highest Priority Project to Just Plain Fun Stuff, here they are:

1) Bibs, bibs, bibs (Avert your eyes, Cathy. These are en route to you and will arrive in a few days.) The terry cloth bibs that Cathy requested for James after discovering, thanks to Great Aunt Pat, just how great terry cloth is for self-feeding babies. Cathy insisted that the bibs need not be gussied up, and Grandma Ann did her best.


Priority #2 was to complete the quilt top for little Kristof, our Hungarian grandson. Here it is:

Kristof\'s quilt

And so you can admire the incredibly cute focus print, here is a detail of one corner:


I just discovered that I have enough quilt batting in stock for the quilt, so quilting will probably start soon.

Priority #3, continuing in the tradition established last Christmas by Marty (also known as Not That Martha), was a gift bag for the books that I am planning to send to Hungary for the aforementioned Kristof. Using an irresistible flannel purchased on a Crackpot Fabric Expedition in one of two states in which Crackpots are resident, I came up with this:

gift bag

And finally, just for fun, I did a second version of Rebecca’s Challenge from last Christmas. Crackpots who may not have completed even one version of the challenge are forbidden by Crackpot Rules from any feelings of envy or guilt because one us has done two while they have done none. Remember, we are Crackpots, and we do what we feel like doing, at least creatively speaking, whether it makes sense or not. So here are the two versions. As Rebecca predicted, they look really different, despite being the same pattern executed with the same fabrics.


Now I’m tempted to try for a third. But there is also the challenge of what to do with these. I’m considering putting a dark green border on each of them and making them into wall hangings for the kitchen of the CLH. But then I would have to make a new kitchen curtain to match… Another good example of how One Thing Leads to Another among Crackpots.

At last!! Pickles Worth Pickling!

Saturday, August 23rd, 2008

Still Life With Pickles

OK, so this is not a quilting project; it has nothing to do with fabric, wool, or thread; and it is not the least bit decorative. But it is a significant personal achievement, so it goes on the blog.

I have been making pickles for probably 30 years. And they have never been able to hold a candle to what I can get with my bagel at Einsteins. I have always considered this to be a personal failing. My earliest pickles, made with a recipe from the Vermont Extension Service (this will date my efforts for most Crackpots) had great flavor but were limp and mooshy. Later efforts, using more up-to-date recipes, produced crisp pickles that were so acid as to make one’s throat constrict. I even tried old-fashioned brined, fermented pickles. Not surprisingly, they turned out to be salty. Last year I tried a recipe from “Too Many Tomatoes….. a Cookbook for When Your Garden Explodes,” called icicle pickles. They were nice and crisp but too acid and flavored with celery seed, which I didn’t like. Finally, last month, in desperation, I decided to try using the method for the icicle pickles and the pickling solution from the Vermont Extension Service. The key elements in the combined recipe are: 1) dilute the vinegar in the pickling solution and 2) do not process for more than 5 min. Today, after allowing the pickles to pickle for about 6 weeks, we tried them with lunch. Eureka!!!! They crunched!!! They tasted like dill!!! They did not make our throats close up!!!! THEY ARE WORTH EATING!! Now we can say, “Gee, a nice pickle would taste good with this,” instead of “Hmmm, we should probably try to eat a pickle with this because we have to eat up these pickles some day.” In fact, the old pickles will be tossed on the land fill where they will turn into compost and free up lots of canning jars for other canning efforts. (Notice how adroitly I can rationalize throwing away food in this case.) You can expect pickles for lunch, Crackpots, but not for Christmas presents. We only had enough cucumbers for one batch. Maybe next year…

Summer Crackpot Quilt update

Friday, August 8th, 2008

OK, so here is a photo of the Summer ’08 Crackpot Quilt completed top.

summer \'08 Crackpot quilt

And here is a photo of one of my “more pressing projects.” This is the quilt-in-progress for our Hungarian grandson, kis Kristof, born July 3.

Kristof\'s quilt in progress

The pattern is “Twistin’ Round the Rails” from The Giving Quilt by Kathy Cueva and Susan Ziegler. I have substituted a solid block of the focus print for the fence rail block in the original pattern, so I guess my version is “Twistin’ Round the Puppies.” The photo is an attempt to show that there will be a 1/4″ yellow inner border and then a wider border of the focus print. The binding will be the solid blue, and the backing will be the focus print. We are heading for the CLH this weekend, and finishing the top will be #1 priority during quilting times.

Crackpot Quilt

Wednesday, August 6th, 2008

The Crackpot Quilters again completed a quilt top for charity during the All Together Week. Although the final destination has not yet been determined, it will likely go to an agency that provides supervised visits for foster children with their non-custodial parents.

This year we used a pattern from Quiltmaker magazine. (Someone will have to add the specific details about the issue and the name of the pattern.)

This year we took more time planning before taking the rotary cutters in hand. What does that say about our evolution as crackpots????

Here is the audition of the fabrics:


We decided to have a star fabric theme to match the pattern. The yellow fabric is the sashing. It was left over from Grandson #1’s quilt.

Here are the blocks with the sashing between:

with sashing

The light blue on the right side will be the border.

The blocks are now sewn together. Oops! A slight sewing variation led to a new arrangement of the blocks. Hey, we’re open to new creative options!

layout 3

The dark blue will be the backing. We were pleased with our day’s work.

Roadtrip #1

Wednesday, August 6th, 2008

The Renegade Militant Seamstresses went on a roadtrip! Four of us, anyway. It was to Chicago for the American Sewing Guild annual conference in mid-July. It was fun, fun, fun!

We stopped at Vogue Fabrics in Evanston on the way. That’s quite a large store with much fashion fabric (as compared to quilt fabric)–silks, fine wools, rayons, etc. I bought a couple of pieces of silk to use for my dyeing experiments. The price was so good I wished I bought more.

At the conference, we took classes every day. I had determined that I would take “fun” classes as opposed to “educational” classes. That was a great idea. It’s lots easier to pay attention and stay awake in a hands-on class than in a lecture, especially when you’re tired.

My first class was “Wrapped and Embellished Necklace” with Judy Stinton. Here are two pictures of her samples:



Mine is not quite finished yet and it doesn’t look quite that good… This class was lots of fun and Judy was a great teacher.

I also took a silk dyeing class from Judy Stinton. More fun and more mess! More on that in a later post.

Another favorite class was “Sashiko Coin Purse” with Nancy Shriber. She was another excellent teacher, and I would like to take another class from her. Her sashiko garments are gorgeous. I finished the sashiko part but I have to put the purse together.

Whoever thought that four women couldn’t share a room were WRONG! Thanks to my companions, Nancy, Juanita, and Kris!