Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Cold Winter Days

Two mornings of waking to temperatures in the single digits F. 

Smoke rises thickly against the cold air.
Our tenants will soon be living full time in the lower farmhouse.

One paperwhite bulb lags behind the others--all have grown unevenly. 

The pond across from our neighbor's house when I went to walk their elderly dog.

We were invited to bring home as many eggs as we could use. 
Jim fed the hens in the morning and gave them fresh water.  When I returned at noon to take the dog out and retrieve the mail, the hens had usually finished laying and I gathered up the eggs.
Animal tending went on for a week, as our friends had to be away.

Several weeks ago I dug out a quilting project started 2 winters ago--just before we dove into what has become the renovation of three houses!
I had made one of these paper-pieced blocks to see if it was something I might enjoy.
When I decided that the time had come to again take out my sewing I literally stood on my head to find the proper fabric--in the bottom bin at the very back of the closet in what has still not become my sewing room.
For now, the table in the alcove off the kitchen is a warm and light space to work.
I've kept my fabric, sewing machine and various 'tools' gathered there.
Inevitably, when I have time to cut pieces and stitch, I have the help of at least
 one feline--usually Nellie.

The pattern is called 'New York Beauty'.
There are more complicated versions but I feel that this basic one shows the chosen fabrics to good advantage.

This is slow work.
I completed several blocks then decided it was more efficient to create all the paper-pieced 'arcs' before adding the curved top and bottom pieces.
I learned a few refinements as I progressed.
Since one is working in reverse--the fabric pieces on the back and the stitching done through the marked paper on top, it is necessary to align the fabric carefully and pin. 
I became over-confident on the 3rd block I made, didn't align as painstakingly, didn't pin.
I had to tear out and rework almost half the block.
Lesson learned!

I located printable patterns for other paper-pieced blocks online.
I suspect this could be an addictive craft.

I put the sewing away on Sunday to prepare a birthday meal.
Jim and our daughter have birthdays a day apart, Gina's husband's falls a week later.
There were six of us at the round oak table in front of the fire.
I forgot to take photos to mark the occasion.

I have been a bit lazy these past two cold days--making hearty soup for lunch, replenishing the fire, reading. I've read the whole of a Poldark book today--too quickly, forgetting my intention to savor each paragraph.
The weather forecast for the remainder of the week isn't promising--more cold, the possibility of rain or even snow.
I suspect I'll be content to finish my quilt blocks, cook simple meals on the wood range, read with a cat on my lap.


  1. Oh my - that is cold! We have not had temps that low yet, although it has been in the teens at night a few times. Such a lovely view of the farmhouse down the lane with the smoke curling from the chimney. So nice of you to care for the neighbor's animals - I'm sure they must have greatly appreciated it. Your quilt is lovely so far. I have done paper-piecing before - a small table runner for my Mother, years ago. It can be very addicting. Sounds like you are keeping busy and cozy during your cold snap. xx Karen

    1. Karen; There is something reassuring about the sight of smoke puffing from the chimney on a cold morning.
      I am already so pleased with the paper-piecing that I have copied patterns to do more. I sew for several evenings running and then get lost in the world of books.

  2. BRRRRRR! I think our temps are cold, and to us down here they are, but yours are REALLY cold. I don't think I could stand it. :-)

    Love this quilt you are working on.

    Have a great Wednesday ~ FlowerLady

    1. Rainey; Our son [whom we've decided lives rather near you] complained yesterday that he had come home from work 'half frozen'--it must be a very damp chill that comes on in FL for the temp readings don't sound too bad. I envy you having roses in bloom all winter.

  3. Your cold snap seems to be matching ours, with frozen ponds and hard, bitter frosts.

    The quilt design is very striking. Well named - it reminds me of the Statue of Liberty`s crown.

    1. DW; I'm thinking that England though smaller in land area than the US must have as great a diversity of climate. 'Bitter' is a good descriptive for our weather this week.
      I hadn't made the connection with the design of the quilt block and the Statue of Liberty's crown--the pattern I'm using was published in American Patchwork and Quilting several years ago and they called their quilt 'Points of Pride.' The sample was made up in fabrics of red, white and clue.

  4. Your quilt pattern looks very complicated! I read Poldark many years ago and vaguely remember the story. Hope it doesn't stay too cold up there.

    1. Janet; One of the nice things about the paper-pieced block is that it appears more intricate than it really is. Time-consuming, but very tidy results--once I got 'the hang of it.'
      I read the Poldark series years ago after avidly watching a Masterpiece Theatre production. I wonder if the current remake will compare favorably.

  5. I do like your blocks, I think now your equipment and fabrics are assembled in one place, you will make good progress. I did smile tho paper-pieced blocks online.
    "I suspect this could be an addictive craft"
    because it is. I love to EPP and foundation piece.
    I look forward to seeing your quilt develop.

    1. Kath; I have printed off the templates for the tiny PP blocks from wombat quilts and saving nearly every precious snippet of fabric from this quilt with those in mind. I think, for now, I must resign myself to hauling out fabric for one project at a time and feeling thankful that we needn't eat around it.

  6. I too love the sight of the smoke curling up from the chimney below. Very cozy ! We continue to have an open winter here in southwestern Vermont. From what I gather the storm that you all will have will be a total miss for us. Still, good weather for hunkering down with books and quilting. In my case it is books and knitting. Like you I often have a pot of soup simmering on the back of the kitchen range. Our is a Glenwood F , a real jewel !!

    1. Mundi; Jim and I fondly remember Glenwood stoves which were common in the Vermont kitchens of our youth.
      I suspect southern VT will have its share of snow--no doubt in March or even April when everyone is feeling 'over' winter!

  7. As DW said, we had some hard frosts this past week and us two had a lovely walk in the Arboretum together enjoying one of them. Now I'm back in Wales and it's raining (again!)

    I love that quilt block - reminds me of one called Mariner's Compass in one of my quilting books. Such beautifully accurate sharp points too. I see you m/c sew these. My paper pieced ones are for me to sew by hand whilst on the sofa. Light bulb moment at how to speed things up now! I checked out the Wombat site and WHAT a great selection of block designs there. You will be trying a few I am sure.

    Meanwhile, keep warm.

    1. Jennie; I remembered a similar paper-pieced block but didn't realize it was Mariner's Compass until I found the pattern online. Yes, I printed it! I could get a bit carried away with this new interest.
      Is your project the English Paper Piecing that features hand stitching the fabric over a paper 'template?'
      The sort I'm doing requires using a shorter machine stitch that will hold well when the paper torn away.