Thursday, February 27, 2014

Where Does It All Come From?

When my sister pigsat Pinniped and Cannoli, one of the first things she said when I came to pick them up was:  there was so much poo!  Even though we had guinea pigs when we were young, we bedded them on wood shavings and much of the poo remained hidden.  That is not the case with fleece bedding.  It's all right there for you to see.

Pinni and Noli recently stayed a few days with their favorite pigsitter.  When we returned on Tuesday, the first thing she exclaimed was:  where does all of the poo come from?!?  The last time she pigsat, I was still using shavings, and so she had been blissfully unaware of their ample output.

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Mixer Cover

Ta-da!  I completed the double disappearing nine patch mixer cover.  My mom was so pleased and surprised to receive a cover with such an intricate pattern.  Aren't the colors great?  I think the crimson sashing was a good choice.  I'm really happy with the overall look. 

Both cover patterns that I worked with had initial fabric measurements that allowed for shrinkage when quilting.  It made me sad to cut off bits of my piecing work, after I put in so much time and effort.  But the pattern is busy enough I don't think anyone will notice.

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Square Cuddle Cup

Several years ago I received a cuddle cup as a gift for the pigs.  The girls liked it so much, it was either in use or in the laundry.  Making cozies and hammocks seemed easy enough, so I decided to try sewing a couple of cuddle cups.  I used what was on hand, making it of single layers of fleece and cotton fabric with a level top edge.  I discovered a few things.  I wasn't fond of cutting and stitching on a curved edge and I should have stay-stitched the bottom to keep it from losing it's shape in the wash.  It needed more padding.  Lastly, although a single-height top edge made for a simple pattern, the cuddle cup with the low edges was to short for a guinea pig to snuggle up against and the other had such tall edges, they collapsed into the center and made it difficult to get into.

A year or two ago (has it been that long?!?) I stumbled across a photo of a square cuddle cup.  Interesting.  I can do square.  Having sworn off making cuddle cups, I decided to give it another try.  This time I made the sides with the classic dip in the front and add extra padding to the bottom, as well as properly tacked down the insides to the outside.

I had originally written instructions to go with this post.  Ha.  The cuddle cup turned out much better than my attempt at a how-to.  Perhaps I will try again another day.  However, there's a good set of instructions for the traditional round one at How to Make a Cuddle Cup on the Guinea Pig Cages forum. 

As for the cuddle cup itself:  I like the square shape and the other adjustments I made to my old design.  Plus, it appears that Pinniped approves.  That works for me!

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Double Disappearing Nine Patch Blocks

I've sewn together the disappearing nine patch blocks.  The four darker blocks will be used on the front and the back of the mixer cover.  I had originally dispersed those pieces into all of the blocks, but didn't like the way they looked.  So I kept all of the greener pieces to those four blocks.

I bought sashing material -- and not the color that I expected.  What a surprise!  I pulled a bolt of yellow that I liked, but the staff at the shop brought out another fabric that I liked it better (I'll show it on Saturday).  They oohed and ahhed over my blocks and one patron was impressed with the little itty-bitty squares.

I spent the weekend piecing and quilting.  I was too chicken to try stipple quilting it - so I stitched-in-the-ditch.  It was not a great choice:  in addition to the quilting making me go cross-eyed, the fabric jumped under the presser foot because of the many seams.  I'm glad there wasn't much to quilt.  I have a new appreciation for the mini quilts entered into the Blogger's Quilt Festival.

I recently found out about Linky Tuesday at Freemotion by the River.  It's kind of a here's-what-I'm-making show and tell.  Be sure to check out the other neat quilts and crafts that people are creating.

Saturday, February 15, 2014

The Seamstress

I had noticed the last few times I washed pig laundry that some of the hammock loops (where the hooks are attached) were fraying.  Most of the hammocks are quite old, so I attributed it to normal wear and tear.  But I'm getting suspicious.

I heard an odd chewing sound from the cage last week.  I investigated and discovered Cannoli sitting in the hammock nibbling on the cord holding it in place.  I instantly envisioned some Looney Toon sawing off a tree branch while sitting on the wrong end.  If Cannoli chews through, do you think the hammock will magically stay upright?  Or will she get a rude awakening as she's dumped onto the floor?

In addition I found an opened seam several inches long.  I'm guessing that Cannoli had her teeth in that, as well.  Taste testing?  Boredom?  I hope not - I do try to keep the girls occupied.  Unlike Pinniped's coroplast chewing, I don't think this is an attempt to get my attention.  Of course, it could be that she just enjoys ripping out seams and snipping threads.  If that's the case, I'd prefer it if she picked up a different hobby.

Guinea pig puzzle giveaway:  The winner is Krista!  I mailed it out on Friday - I hope it arrives soon.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Scrappy Fleece Forest

If you're a regular reader, you know I've been on a scrappy kick lately, working through my leftover bits of quilting fabric.  I've also been stitching up various chunks of fleece, making tunnels, cozies and a cuddle cup.  Those projects left me with some long skinny pieces that didn't seem big enough to make anything... until I was folding the pig laundry last week.  I pulled out their fleece forest and was inspired to use the leftover strips of material for some more of these.

The original fleece forest instructions don't require any sewing.  However, this version does.  The lovely thing about fleece is that the raw cut edges don't fray, so there's no worry about turning under edges or having a wide seam allowance.

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Guinea Pig Puzzle Giveaway

Cleaning out a closet often reveals unexpected treasures.  I occasionally buy or make a gift for no one in particular, then squirrel it away.  They'll reappear months or years later in need of a home.  Today's find:  a Wentworth wooden jigsaw puzzle of two guinea pigs playing golf.

Ah - springtime.  Warmer weather.  Any excuse to get out on the greens.  I love the little sweaters the pigs are wearing and the delicious dandelion in the foreground.  I think Pinniped and Cannoli would be too interested in the grass to bother with playing golf.

I am giving away The Golfers - a 40 piece micro wooden jigsaw puzzle.  To enter:  leave a comment on what you and your guinea pigs like the best about springtime.  Comments may be left here or on the CavyMadness post on Facebook.  This drawing closes on Tuesday, February 11th at 12pm EST.  Congratulations Krista!  I hope you enjoy the puzzle.

Saturday, February 8, 2014

Nine Patch Chaos

To sash or not to sash - white and yellow examples
My latest project is taking shape.  After cutting apart my original nine patches, I sewed them into more nine patch blocks, and then cut them all apart.  Armed with over 150 pieces, I arranged them out on the floor.  The first word that came to mind was LOUD, quickly followed by busy and chaos.  It looks best when viewed from a distance.  I like the overall color.  This is a good example of how color and shade affect the overall look.  A consistent light yellow would have helped (and one of my yellow fabrics had a lot of green in it).

I think I want to add some sashing - maybe white, or a pale yellow - to break it up a bit.  I'll have to play with it a bit this weekend and see what arrangement I like best.

Friday, February 7, 2014

Chocolate Party Squares

My grandmother was not a big cook.  However, she's remembered for her apple pie and these shortbread chocolate meringue bars, called Chocolate Party Squares.

I've had this recipe forever, but I haven't made them in... oof... maybe 20 years?  Then one of my aunts brought these bars to a family get-together.  Everyone instantly recognized them.  I had forgotten how delicious they were: sweet and chocolaty with a bit of crunchiness and a hint of chewiness.

I was inspired to make them the other night.  I probably should have waited for a party - they're disappearing fast.  All mine.

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Lots of Nine Patches

I started working on my mother's Christmas present - a mixer cover.  I found a pair of cover patterns that I like.  I'll take bits and pieces from the two to make mine.

It's also a chance to try a new pattern I've been eyeballing for a few months:  double disappearing nine patch.

I've made lots of little nine patches.  It was a little odd to then cut them apart.  I now have lots of nine-patch quarters and am in the process of creating my second set of nine patches.  If I do this pattern again, I will not do such a small block.  I'm happy to be working through my scrap pile, but there's little room for error.  I'm liking the color combination.  I hope Mom does, too.

Monday, February 3, 2014

Chocolate Workshop

Chocolates in progress
My sister and I received gift certificates at Christmas to attend a chocolate workshop run by Boston Chocolate Tours.  We were so excited to go and then she managed to get sick the night before the class.  Bummer.  Luckily, my cousin was able to take the workshop with me on Saturday.

It was so much fun.  The first half of the workshop was a lecture on where cocoa comes from, how it's processed, how to temper chocolate and make ganache.  It's amazing how many good things about chocolate were discovered by accident.  I will be applying what I learned to my annual Easter candy making this year!