all the things I do in my hideaway

Archive for January, 2012

The batik quilt I made last fall…

I just looked at my old posts and realized I never posted pictures of the batik quilt I made for a friend.  So…here they are:

Back of quilt with binding detail


The quilt - ready for binding


I am pleased with the beauty of this quilt.  I’m also glad I decided to use a border of the backing fabric to frame the blocks.


Good eats…

With all the snow and ice, soup and rolls sounded a great dinner.  I had homemade vegetable beef and barley soup in the fridge, so I decided to try using my nine grain cereal mix in a roll.  After searching the web for recipes, I found one to try.  The dough, made as listed, was a bit stiffer than I would like, so when I make them again, I’m going to use more liquid.  Here is the recipe as I made it:

Mix together:

5/8 c. nine grain cereal mix (or whatever mix you have)

3/4 c. whole wheat flour

2 T. butter

Pour in 1 1/8 c. boiling water, stir, let sit until 110 degrees.  (This seemed a bit “dry” when it sat, but I wanted to try the recipe “as is.”)

Mix 1 pkg yeast, 2 T. honey, with 1/4 c. warm water (as listed on yeast package)

Add yeast to cooled grains.

Use white flour as needed to make dough the right texture.  Knead for several minutes until elastic.  Let rise, form rolls or loaf of bread, let rise again, bake 375 degrees.  My rolls needed about 14 minutes to be just right in my oven.

I rolled out the dough, cut circles, dipped them in butter, and folded them in half.  Traditional roll shape in my family.

Next time:  more water for the grain to “soak up”.  Let the rolls rise a little longer before baking.  Eat and enjoy!

Quilting weather…

The back yard, with icicles hanging from the eaves.


Our recycle bin, topped with snow. The bottom, thicker layer of snow, then a 3/4 inch layer of clear ice, topped with the still falling snow...


“Snow days”…something I thought only happened to my cousins on a farm in southern Alberta.  I grew up in the Salt Lake valley, and the best I could hope for in snowy weather was to be the last bus to arrive at school.  At that, second period in high school was the latest I ever arrived.  Then, I married, and we moved to the Pacific Northwest, where we have lived and raised our family.  I soon learned about “snow days.”  Through the years, certain traditions became a part of these special, “surprise” holidays.  Hot spiced cider or apple juice was a necessity after playing in the snow, and pictures in the snow, with a sign giving the date, memorialized the occasion.  Our family photo album contains many such pictures.

The seven children have grown up and moved to their own homes, but the snow days continue.  I am the teacher now, and I’m sure my students haven’t thought much about science, other than the weather, for the past two days.  Why?  Because these have been those special holidays – snow days!  Tomorrow will be another snow day, and hopefully, the ice storm that has paralyzed the Puget Sound will end, and the snow/ice/snow will melt away…to be a cold memory.

What have I been doing?  Quilting…sorting through fabrics, pondering ideas, reading quilt magazines, a birthday gift project, some mending, a quilted tote bag project, looking at fabrics again…a special, surprise holiday.  Oh yes, and, just for a few hours, I did think about science…

Continuing the tradition…

Christmas, 1936, brought an exciting Christmas present for my Grandma Ohlin.  Grandpa bought her an electric sewing machine!  Until then, she had used a treadle machine to create clothes for her family.  She was a seamstress, not by profession, but by necessity.  She made clothes for her family, for church bazaars, and for grandchildren, using whatever materials she had available.  She used scraps to make quilts to keep the family warm.  Mom remembers that Christmas, when she was 10 years old.  The gifts that year were all wrapped in red cellophane.  It was the Depression, and you used what you had.  Grandpa hid the machine at Aunt Fern and Uncle Walt’s house, to be delivered at the appropriate time.

When I was 4 1/2 years old, my family was preparing to move from Salt Lake City to Denver.  Grandma was tieing a flannel quilt for my brother, a grey background with red yarn ties.  I asked to help, and Grandpa said, “Sylvia, you are too young.”  Grandma had other ideas when she responded, “No she isn’t, Carl.”  Grandpa was sent to get the red crochet cotton and soon I had a needle in hand.  I’m sure the ties I added weren’t great, but Grandma left them there.  I’m sure she didn’t realize that would be the only quilt we would make together.  She died seven months later after a short illness, but the memory of that day didn’t die with her.   It is a treasured memory of a Grandma gone too soon.

The sewing machine became Mom’s machine after Grandma’s death, and with it, Mom clothed her seven children.  Mom didn’t follow Grandma’s quilt making tradition, although Aunt Fern did.  I was in college when Aunt Fern taught Mom to hand quilt, and I learned, too.  My stitches weren’t great or quickly set, but I knew the basics.  The sewing machine became mine when I was a freshman in college, since Mom had gotten a machine that would zigzag.

I had four children before I got a “modern” machine that did more than straight stitch, but Grandma’s machine was the one my older daughters sewed on first.  Eventually, I stopped using it, and it was a piece of furniture for many years.  Last summer, I had it repaired, ready for piecing quilt projects.  Many years after my “quilting day with Grandma,” I started doing some “quilt” projects.  I learned on my own, reading books and magazines, and sometimes, just “doing my own thing.”   Aunt Fern shared quilt ideas and skills with me, too.  Still, that memory of Grandma was with me each time I worked on a project.

As Christmas approached, I wanted to “make a memory” with my grandsons.  We have been blessed with three grandsons.  Matthew, 3 yrs. old, lives in another state and isn’t quite old enough for this kind of project. Aidan and Ryan, ages eight and five, live close and  are just the right age for keeping secrets and having fun.  We decided to make a quilt for their parents as a Christmas surprise.

The boys chose batiks from my collection during one weekend visit.  I cut 8 inch squares and sewed them together on Grandma’s machine.  Then the boys came over again to help tie the quilt.  We used flannel on the back and a puffy bat to make it into a “snuggle blanket.”

We had a system as we tied.  I put the needle down through the quilt “sandwich”, and Ryan would crawl under and pull the yarn through.  Then the needle came up, and again, Ryan pulled the yarn through.  Aidan came behind, cutting the yarn and tieing square knots.  They took out the pins and wrapped up in the blanket, finished or not!

I bound the quilt with the strips left from the fat quarters, and then we wrapped it up in a big box.  It was still a secret!  What fun to see them give that big box to their parents.   The boys want to make more quilts, this time for themselves.  We will, and the tradition will continue…

The quilt, not quite finished, but on the way.

Snuggling under the quilt...who needs a binding?

I’m sure Grandma, and Grandpa, smiled as they watched…and it all started with a Christmas present, 75 years ago.

Snuggling under Mom and Dad's Christmas present.