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C is for Cluck Cluck Sew

C is for Cluck Cluck Sew, the design handle for the immensely talented Allison Harris. And, at the moment, we are Cluck Cluck Sew all over the shop.

Morning Glory, Quilt and pattern by Allison Harris of Cluck Cluck Sew
This gal does it all - she has a fun blog with a large following, a thriving pattern business, a book with C&T Publishing and she designs fabric for Windham fabrics. We recommend her patterns at the shop because the quilts are so cleverly designed and the actual patterns are so well written.

Vintage, Quilt and Pattern by Allison Harris of Cluck Cluck Sew
The printed patterns are an indication of her generosity as a quilter - they are full color and printed on heavy stock so that they will last as you use them again and again, (you will want to), and this generous quilter offers bunches of free patterns and tutorials on her website.

Suburbs, Quilt by Cindy J. and pattern by Allison Harris of Cluck Cluck Sew.

The strength of Allison's book with C&T publishing, Growing Up Modern, is that it is beginner friendly. A quilting newbie could pick up the book and make anything from it, and there are tons of ideas for the experienced quilter as well.

Playful, Quilt and pattern by Allison Harris of Cluck Cluck Sew
Allison has designed two lines of fabrics for Windham Fabrics - the second of which, Oh Clementine, is due in the shop in September. Wallflower, her first line of fabric, is featured in the quilt below.

Apple Jack, Quilt and Pattern by Allison Harris of Cluck Cluck Sew
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B is for Beautiful

We are loving the yellow in our little perennial garden right now - provided by among other blossoms, the rich yellow-gold of the Black-eyed Susans next to the front door. This fall we will be corralling the ground cover - removing the Autumn Joy sedums (they are not doing well in this spot) in preparation for the addition of some hollyhocks, delphiniums and perhaps a David Austin rose - a little more of a cottage garden look. Don't worry - I have a finally almost restored garden at my house (a year long project since we moved in last June) that has plenty of room for what we move from the shop.

Newest sample to hit the shop: Fabric group is Glimma, and pattern is Bird's Eye View by Valorie Wells and sample maker is the wonderful Carol Cap. Here is the pattern cover....

And here is our version..

Carol has done an amazing job with the quilting. When I quilt my own quilts, I rarely use an overall design, but in this case the effect of the tight, complex, allover design is a perfect compliment to the fabric and the quilt.

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A is for.........

For some reason, perhaps that mountain of filing I am still trying to catch up on - I have been mentally organizing things alphabetically lately. So of course in ABC order - first lets talk about  A......

Allison Harris -We are so fortunate at Quilted Strait to have a chance to meet some very talented people! Right now in the shop we are please to be featuring quilts from Allison Harris of Cluck Cluck Sew. This talented quilter and designer is the author of numerous patterns, has a new book out from C&T Publishing and has a line of fabric from Windham due out at the end of the summer.

We are all in awe of her amazing sense of color and design and her ability to make traditionald block patterns look new and fresh and innovative. And best of all - Allison now lives in the Pacific Northwest - just a few miles drive from our shop!

Amy Ellis - We also have a small trunk show from Amy Ellis right now from her book Modern Neutrals. These four quilts have a unique graphic energy that owes more to contrasts in value rather than color. The book contains some unique quilt patterns and is also a great source of inspiration if you want to explore the neutrals palette with your own quilt designs.

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Ebb & Flow - Action & Reaction

Ebb and Flow, Action and Reaction - and Increasing Creative and technical confidence! That is the story of the Beginner's Sampler Class under the gentle guidance of teacher Celeste Alexander.

Quilts are birthed in our classroom almost everyday of the week - but especially in the Sampler class. These students are halfway through the 10 week class - with most of their handwork blocks done - and machine blocks underway.

Take note of the black and white print Sue has tucked in here and there - 6 blocks down 6 to go!

Be sure to take a look at the clever fussy cutting Farrell has used in the Grandmother's Fan Block and the center of the Dresden Plate block.

Beautiful - you have to love the dynamic that is created with the mix of textures in these blocks...dots and printed plaids along with the florals.

As Susan arranges her blocks - she will be able to make good use of the magenta highlights in her blocks to compel your eye to move around her quilt. Did you take note of the change she made in the four patch blocks? I hear a rumor she is remaking a couple of her blocks - can't wait to see what next weeks design wall looks like.

 Laurel Burch meets the Beginner Sampler blocks - look how the way the motifs in the fabrics in the 4-patch block make the inner edges of the block look more fluid - Serendipitous or by design?

More blocks to follow - and there are several more students in the class whose blocks I did not catch while they were on the design wall.  The truth is - even if it is not our day to work, we all find an excuse to drop by the shop and take a look at the evolution of these quilts - fabrics added, fabrics discarded and clever fussy cutting - these quilts always become more than their creators imagined in the beginning.

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Out of the office - looking for inspiration

A perfect day to be out of the office - blue sky - LaConner fields filled with snow geese and to my surprise, I got a chance to see the beautiful textile creations of Kaffe Fassett, Brandon Mabley and LIza Prior Lucy  - and several wonderful Crazy Quilts - because - for the month of March the LaConner Quilt Museum is open 7 days a week. I have missed many exhibits - because Monday and Tuesdays are usually my days off - which coincide perfectly with the days the Museum is normally closed.

The Museum, housed in the historic Gaches Mansion, is at the tail end of of a renovation project.  If you have not been there recently you will be impressed with the new look of the exterior.

The interior work  includes the repair and refurbishing of the fir flooring on the first level which meant that while I was there, the floors were actually covered in paper.

While I was busy soaking in the quilts and knitting - Jerry was busy with his camera. Don't worry, he was not photographing the exhibits - but rather was fascinated with the building itself - which he was kindly granted permission to photograph.

After having lived in several old houses - and having our shop currently in the 1907 Stables building at Port Gamble  - what impressed him was that these beautifully trimmed old doorways are perfectly lined up (Although the volunteers did admit to occasionally having the same difficulties we have at the shop - do you make the top of the quilt look straight with the ceiling or do you make the edge of the quilt look straight with the corner of the room - it is not always possible to do both!)

Painting was partially completed - with the wallpaper trim in place in several rooms and hallways - the trims are an inspiration all by themselves!

And I loved - loved the colors the staff has choosen for the interior walls. The only photos of the original interior of the building are of course in black and white - but the staff knew that originally the colors of the wall were fairly intense as one photo has a woman standing in the building wearing a white blouse and dark skirt - and there was not a high level of contrast between the skirt and the walls.You can see the blue in the photo above - and if you squint, you can see the gorgeous red in the next room!

As for the quilts ---- well you will just need to go and see them for yourself!

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It's whats on the chairs that matters.....

One day at the end of last summer the folks who are in charge of Port Gamble decided that these conference table chairs were redundant and should make their appearance in the neighborhood garage sale. 

Now I was acquainted with these chairs - I have sat through quite a few meetings in one or the other of these chairs, and they are a little short for the contemporary table,reasonably comfortable and have a nice vintage design....but oh the color!  A wonderful periwinklish peacock blue!

So I bought two - $20 apiece - and then, well, I thought, just two more. Then Judy bought two, and Rhonda bought a couple and then...the rest just sat there - and were still there at the end of the day with a big "free" sign on them.  OK - well now, I have eight chairs, so we can eat lunch upstairs in lots of blueness.  And my granddaughters who play upstairs occasionally while their mom works in the shop - tell me that two chairs pushed together make a great boat in case I am planning on playing Pirates anytime in the future.

And look how wonderful the chair looks in the "non-quilting companion" corner of the shop with our newest little owl quilt sample (thanks Sharon!)

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C is for Cookie


 Kris and I moved  to Port Gamble nearly three years ago, bringing her quilt store with us, and opening up all sorts of new experiences for me in the process. I became a blogger (“Life’s a Gamble”), a horticulturist (no, better call me a gardener, missing one green thumb), a photographer (of quilts, of course), a mover (of her store once and our living space three times), a “gopher”, but lately my most noticed and most enjoyable is a “cookie maker.”

    A  “cookie maker”? Yes. It took no time at all for everyone in the store to agree that the staff had been doing all they could to make you shoppers comfortable while you were with us. We got a large table for you  to spread the fabric out on so you could compare, there is  comfortable music playing all day, we’ve been told by some that the "great room" is warmer than nearly any other store in the Port, we even have toys for the kids (under the counter—just ask), and books and comfortable chairs for the ones you came with who aren’t quilters.

   But sometimes, especially if you’ve been in a class all day, you just want a cookie and a cup of tea. That’s where I come in. I love cookies. I love to make them, I love to eat them, I just love cookies. So this winter, I’m glad to report, the cookie jar has had cookies in it every day  — without a miss, and you might say, thanks to me.

   Several of you have asked if I have any secrets to keeping from getting tired  of making cookies. After all the process looks like it could get pretty boring. Yes it can. And for those of you who from time to time for whatever reasons (making them for a bake sale, loads of company coming, etc.) need lots, I’ve got some hints to help you enjoy the process.

 1) The main one. Don’t try making cookies from start to finish all at one setting. Now maybe you don’t get bored  as easily as me, but I like to make the batter one day and freeze it. Well, it’s easier to make the cookie shapes and freeze them. So make the dough, put it into cookie shapes and put them onto your cookie sheets as closely together as you can (you are not going to cook them yet), and find a flat place in your freezer to let them sit until they are frozen hard. Two or maybe three hours is all it takes (about enough time to catch an episode of  “Downton Abbey”) Then put them in a zip lock bag. And leave them for up to two months until the mood strikes you to finish the job.

 When you do finally cook them you don’t have to make them all. Got a friend coming over to quilt     for the  afternoon? Just make half a dozen. Leave the rest for next week. Just throw that half a dozen on the cookie sheet and your friend will come to the smell of freshly baked cookies  and a special taste treat (when we get to the recipes on another occasion). But don’t forget to give them just a touch more cooking time, since they were frozen. I give them an extra minute  only, and that’s usually enough.

  2) Use the right tools. Remember, we are talking about trying to keep from getting bored while making the best cookie we can. So “Parchment  Paper” comes first. Most of you probably use it, but for the few who think it isn’t worth the effort or think that it costs too much, think again. Just pull off a sheet of parchment paper and lay it on your cookie sheet, then enjoy it and forget it. Your cookies won’t stick, and you can do such tricks as load the parchment paper with the dough, then when your cookie sheet is free, just slide that sheet under the already loaded parchment paper.

 Buy at least one of the “ice cream scoops” for  cookie dough. Do you like all your cookies to be the same size? You can’t beat it. It also makes quick work of getting the dough out of the bowl AND it keeps your hands from handling  that messy, sticky dough. Of course it is made mainly for drop cookies, but what a sense of pride you get when the sheet comes out with two dozen cookies perfectly matched in size.

They do have one easily cured problem, though. After 4 to 6 cookies, the dough starts sticking to them and has to be pulled off. Instead, have a small bowl of ice water handy (yes, throw some cubes in), and swish this tool in the water after every third cookie just long enough to see the excess dough come off.

I currently have  three of these little jewels, although I have seen as many as five for sale.

I’m told you are running short of cookies at the store, so I have to get busy in the kitchen.  I’ll save more of this blog for later. I want to tell you about a cookbook I picked up last week with recipes going back to 1910 from Prince Edward Island. You won’t believe what they put in their cookies. Plus more gadgets, more GOOD recipes,  more boredom relievers … more fun to come as they say.