A Kitchen for a Quilter*

Last post, I shared one side of the unfinished kitchen. Now I can share the almost completely finished kitchen and complain a bit more about the old one.

What really drove us mad about cooking side of the kitchen was the glass cooker top! Hate, hate, hated it! Discovering that we could get a gas line installed to the house started this whole project. Once Peter got the permits done, we bought a new gas cook top, and a new wall microwave/convection oven and oven. As you can see, the old appliances were black. Ugh. I’m not a clean freak, but I do like white or stainless in the kitchen. It looks sleek and clean. My other huge problem was the microwave oven and exhaust fan over the cooker top. The fan did little but wush the air somewhere and the oven was so low that I was nervous when I used the enormous canning pot. And the microwave was so old that it did not have a plate to rotate the food.

So pleased to see them gone! We do not have space for an exhaust fan to pull the air up, so we chose a downdraft unit to pull the air into the crawl space. There were some challenges getting it in, including making the drawers under the cooktop a lot shallower, but it is worth it. Gas is so wonderful to cook on and so hot – I had forgotten and nearly burned dinner the other night.

Another little detail that always aggravates me in a kitchen, is the lack of shelves. I know some people who own a handful of cookbooks but I am not one of them! I have cookbooks all over the house. (And check out this kitchen view with the dark brown glass tiles and the ugly off white Corian counters. Ugh!)

My idea was to build a bookcase at the end of the island. The kitchen designer suggested glueing one of the cabinet doors shut and inserting a black set of shelves that would coordinate with the black molding on the cabinets. Though we lost a lot more cabinet space, I am delighted with the new bookcase. (Which houses my most used cookbooks…)

And here is a “beauty shot” of the sink and the new glass inserts in what was the “black hole” cupboard. And how about my apple core backsplash? Is it not wonderful?

The whole project took three weeks. It seemed like forever but when we admire our sparkling update, we feel like we have a brand new kitchen.

Apple Core Kitchen!

We are in the midst of a kitchen re-do! So far it’s been 10 days of figuring out what to make for dinner using an electric fry pan, a rice cooker and a barbecue. This is a dream come true for me, so I’m really not complaining.

Though most people in the neighborhood thought it was a perfectly good kitchen, here is a before shot for you to judge. You can see the {classic} cherry cabinets, the {ugly} off white Corian counter and the {silly} brown glass tiles. I wasn’t a big fan of the black cupboard either.

I prefer the “Demolition Day” photo. No tile, no beige counter and the middle panels of the black cabinet have been cut out and frosted glass will be installed.

When we started the process, we needed to choose what surfaces we wanted; granite, tile, quartz. The man at the kitchen place ushered us into the room with all the countertop samples where we looked at a bewildering number of pieces. And then he had us pick some tiles that coordinated. We went home that day with samples of a very dark granite and some lovely, sparkly, expensive glass tiles. Though it was a striking combination, it didn’t seem right for our rather traditional house with the lovely cherry cabinets. After a few frustrating days of driving to the kitchen place and home, I had an epiphany – after watching all the renovation shows on TV and planning so many quilts, I realized that the important part was the tile backsplash. That is the pow that you see coming into a kitchen. After I explained my thinking to Peter, he very cleverly commented that for me, the backsplash tile was “the quilt” and the countertops were “the borders”. The kitchen man thought we were speaking in tongues, but after that, the search was easier.

Though I think the cherry cabinets are beautiful, trying to choose colors that complimented them and weren’t too beige was a trick. Bringing the samples home to look at them in the bright light of the morning sun and the dark afternoons was essential. It still took me some time; the tile showrooms are sensory overload even for someone who loves patterns as I do.  One tile pattern I loved and brought home looked like it was designed from one of the floors in the Vatican and cost $36 per 8″ sheet! And a granite piece I liked in the 4″ sample size, turned out to have a hideous overall pattern when I checked it out online. Yesterday the countertops were installed and – whew – am I relieved that we like them…

You must be wondering about the title of this post and here it comes – – – take a look at the very wonderful apple core shaped tiles I found! {For you non quilters, this is an antique apple core quilt that you can admire or buy on eBay.} The carpenter from the kitchen place is none too happy about installing them, but I am thrilled to bits.

 

Finally A Finished Quilt Top!

@#%*?&#! And whew! Piecing the Jack’s Chain quilt took way longer than I planned. I certainly let other projects get in the way of finishing this top, but happily it is mostly done.

One thing slowing me down, was that the thread on my sewing machine began breaking again. I threaded and re-threaded and re-threaded the machine. I wound a new bobbin, or two! I tried different threads. I changed the needles several times. And finally, I went out and bought Dual Duty thread!!!!!! I am a bit of a purist and I like to sew with cotton thread on cotton fabrics, but I have run out of patience. The threads are breaking in between the chain sewing I am doing. I would say it was the quality of the thread, but as I said, I did try several brands. The bottom thread still seems to be breaking between the chaining, but the Dual Duty on the top is holding. Any ideas on why that might be happening?

I have declared that the top is done. I cannot make myself sew one more nine patch square at this point, so the nice pattern will only be on the center on the bed. (I cropped the picture above so that it looks like the pattern covers the whole bed.) I have had it on and off of the guest room bed the last few days and it just looks stupid – like a project half done. So instead of a bed quilt, I will finish it as a lap quilt. Now I just need to decide on borders.

And here is a close-up of some of the squares. The nine patches are mostly bright hand dyed fabrics, though I did add some of my batik stash. I’m relieved to have made the decision to down-size it and it certainly will be easier and faster to quilt. I will add it to the big stack of tops to be quilted!

 

A Little Project for Valentine’s Day

I live in a wonderful neighborhood! We are far enough away from “stuff”, that we do a lot of things together. I recently started a craft group that meets once a month, for those who are inclined. One month I will be showing them a project and the next they will bring something of their own to work on. I kicked off the year with counted cross stitch – but – cross stitch on perforated paper! I started to make samplers for baby gifts on the paper many years ago when I saw a framed sampler in an antique store. This article in Victoriana magazine on the history of using paper says that it was done as early as the mid 1800’s!

You do need to hold the paper carefully, but other than that, it is the same as using fabric.

Perforated paper

I colored in some heart patterns for Valentine’s Day and copied them off. I think the thread stitched on paper look so special.

Perforated paper cross stitch

And then because so many ladies decided to come, I went to Hobby Lobby to buy some more paper. In the cross stitch aisle, I found a lot of interesting items with perforated holes, including a tiny box! What a cute little gift for someone on the 14th. Most of the group decided to do something with the box and then I discovered that there was room for 10 stitches…which meant the hearts could not have one point and be stitched in the center…

Tiny perforated paper box

So we fussed around with the colored pencils and graph paper, and finally discovered that if 4 tiny hearts were arranged symmetrically, asymmetrically, it would look perfect! (two empty stitches on the left side, three on the right…)

Heart pattern

It was a fun morning and I know a lot of ladies are finishing up their teeny, tiny projects.

P.S. Look what’s blooming today!

First daffodils

Upcoming Fun at Island Quilters!

I have been asked by my friend Beth to lead hexie make and take sessions at her Hilton Head Island store, Island Quilters next weekend. We will be doing English Paper Piecing; a technique where fabric is basted around a paper template. It’s quick and accurate and addictive. Her description made me laugh – Debbie will tell you about her favorite subject – hexagons! It’s true, I do love them, and I am looking forward to sharing this passion with other quilters. Island Quilters is under new ownership and I wrote about it here.

I have been making a lot of hexie units in preparation for the make and take. We’re hoping for a big turnout and I need to keep ahead of the students, like cooking shows and their swap outs. Each participant will get a little sample pack with EPP pieces and bits of fabrics and learn how to sew them. (Big thanks to Paper Pieces for sending us these packs!) Instead of just making random hexies, I do want to make something, so I chose this medallion pattern, which will take shape as the weekend progresses.

Medallion hexie pattern

There are so many ways to be creative with hexagons! You can play with the patterns of the fabric, like the swirling flower on the right. You can make fun shapes, like the (purple) frog’s foot. You can layer the different sizes. You can cut the hexie in half and use two fabrics on each hexagon. And stars and diamonds, oh my! All of this is just Beginning Hexie. Check out Pinterest and Google for a zillion ideas.

Hexie ideas

But the best fun is getting out your colored pencils and drawing a design to make…

Star hexie pattern

In case you are in the area, or know someone who will be, here’s the information:

Island Quilters store, located on Hilton Head island, January 27 and 28

The sessions will start at 10 AM and will be about 45 minutes long.

If you would like to reserve a time, call the store at 843.842.4500.

Next Steps on Rock Around the Block – Jack’s Chain Quilt

Now that December has come and gone, I am trying to spend more time in the studio – and it’s back to the Jack’s Chain quilt. Knowing that I did not have enough of the background blue hand dyed fabric, I had to fiddle around with a final layout for the top. I finally decided that a center 3 square by 5 square strip, with a strip on either side using the new fabric would work for me.  I shopped around a few quilt stores and found a darker, but similar hand dyed blue.The center strip of the quilt top is completed and I am working on the rows with the new fabric. This pattern is not as circular as the original, more difficult pattern; it is more wavy.

Working on strips

A new addition is little hexies that I have hand appliqued in the middle of every other block. {Looking at the photograph, I am now wondering if I should make one for every middle, but will wait until I have finished with all the blocks…}

Hexie middles

It has been hard to find time to work on it, but I am back to making one square a day.

Fun Finds & News…

The other day I had an appointment in Flat Rock, NC and afterwards, drove to Hendersonville to my favorite antiques’ mall. Last time I was there, I whizzed through and didn’t find anything of interest, but this time, there were so many fun things to peruse. I thought I would share.

First up is this amazing lunch box. Not only did I love the charming motifs, but the handle was leather. The tag said it was from the 1960’s and though I am sure I did not see every lunchbox in that decade, I don’t remember any with a leather handle. (Anyone else?) How elegant. The patterns were different on both sides too… I believe I carried a red plaid lunch box that probably was my sister’s. I would have adored one like this.

1960's lunchbox

Keeping to that era, I found a cute sewing machine for the Junior Miss! I learned on my mother’s Singer Golden Touch & Sew, but I am sure I would have enjoyed using this one. I had never seen small and miniature sized sewing machines, until I taught some Japanese women to quilt when we lived in Shanghai. They all brought tiny machines – one was not electric and the wheel needed to be turned by hand.

Singer Junior Miss

And this little car made me think of one of my grandmothers. She had a (gigantic) Chrysler Imperial that was the peachy color of this tiny car! It looked so trendy parked under the car port of her Winter home in Florida. You did not want to drive with her though – she was about 5′ tall and looked through the steering wheel.

Tiny colorful car

This picture is of the (fabulous) top of a tea and coffee tin from Holland. I love the red and those of you who know me will understand why I wanted to buy it so much… I finally left it as it was quite big and I could not really find a use for it. {sigh}

Dutch tea & coffee tin

There were quite a few very nice quilts to look at. This is a yo-yo quilt, sewn together and lined for use on a bed. Quite a beauty and tons of work! For those who research and enjoy old fabric, this certainly is a treasure trove of a woman’s scraps. I photographed it for you, Kerry. Such a disappointment that you only made a table runner…

Antique yo-yo quilt

If you look carefully at this quilt, you will see that it is made of shirting fabric. It’s quite well used so it’s hard to see.When I was a docent at The Rocky Mountain Quilt Museum, we had a whole show of quilts like this one. Some of the quilters attended the show and were former Southern textile mills workers, who made shirts. At the end of the day, they would “dumpster dive” and grab all the fabric scraps to make quilts. This pattern is a log cabin.

Shirting quilt

And last but not least, I have been mulling over how to present our news in a clever way, and here it is!

Retirement cross stitch

My DH Peter retired in December and so this year will be a whole new experience for us! He has worked long and hard to “provid for me in the style to which I was accustomed” as my father requested that he do when he asked for my hand in marriage. Congratulations and thanks, dear one… let the adventure begin!

 

 

 

A Thought For The New Year

Hollyhocks

Begin doing what you want to do now.

We are not living in eternity.

We have only this moment, sparkling like a star in our hand –

and melting like a snowflake.

                                                 ~Sir Francis Bacon