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Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Midweek: a birthday, travel preparation, and design wall

Look who had his 77th birthday today!
My gift to him was a box of handkerchiefs (his request) and three new-to-him books by the Durrells, two by Lawrence and one by Gerald. (We have enjoyed Gerald's writing for years and we loved The Durrells in Corfu on PBS this fall.)

This morning I took my sewing machine to the shop for an overdue tuneup. I didn't buy any fabric but I did buy two wool applique kits at 50% off.  They are May and June from "Bertie's Year" by Bonnie Sullivan.  I got all the pieces fused for the May kit. I'm going to use DMC floss for the applique and embroidery.

Bertie in May will be my take-along handwork for the ALA Midwinter Meeting  in Atlanta.  I leave tomorrow morning and return Tuesday.  My roommate is my longtime friend Pat. We are flying out and back on the same flights.   I  have printed the documents that will be easier to read on paper and bookmarking those I can read from my iPad. I have my schedule as completely worked out as I can, knowing that interesting opportunities will present themselves once I'm there. (The conference is at the convention center next to the football stadium where the Falcons will host the Packers for the NFC championship. 100,000 people are expected on Sunday afternoon.)

The conference will be a test for my foot. I plan to wear sneakers -- my regular size (8) on the left and a 9.5 wide on the right. At least the laces coordinate!  I went to the podiatrist yesterday. The wound has healed fine, but the peroneal tendon is still inflamed. (I had never heard of the peroneal tendon, but I certainly know I've got one since it hurts.)  He gave me a prednisone shot and said to continue taking ibuprofen and applying the ice pack when I can.

On my way back from the doctor's -- it's about 12 miles from home -- as I was turning left at a busy intersection (US 45 and IL 120) at 4:30 p.m. (heavy traffic)  my car began running roughly. I was able to turn the corner and pull into a shopping center parking lot. Thank goodness for AAA! The tow truck came in half an hour.  The office personnel were closing up when we got to the auto shop and they parked my car inside the garage for overnight.   It turned out that the sensor light came on because the oil was down to a quart! I had neglected to get an oil change for months....and months....and months and there was a slight leak.  Fortunately the repair was finished by late this afternoon.

My WITB ("what's in the box") assessment uncovered purple triangles. This was the class project when Mary Fons came to our guild for this workshop in October, 2015. I figured out why I haven't finished this project. It's too darn much purple.  I *like* purple. This is just too much.

Rather than rip out several hundred seams I recut all the pieces -- from 5" to 4".  You can see the size difference in the second photo.

I put some of the recut triangles to work right away in my WITB / Spare Parts / Kitchen Sink project. (See the top right and lower left.) I have the upper left quadrant sewn together.  Arranging and rearranging these blocks has been great fun!

I'm linking up with other quilters at Midweek Makers .  

Sunday, January 15, 2017

Weekly update: out of the box and onto the design wall

An email message from Quilts Inc. invited entries from Chicago-area quilters for the Quilt Festival at the Rosemont Convention Center in April.    To be eligible quilts must have been made within the past two years. What the heck? It costs nothing to enter, so I did. 

You've seen these before -- It All Adds Up, Stars in Her Crown, and Forecast: Scrappy With a Chance of Nine-Patches.  Cross your fingers!

The Forecast quilt was the second one I made from orphan blocks and units.  I decided it's time to try a third one, spurred the WITB (What's In the Box) survey (see the previous post).

What came out of the box were purple, turquoise, and white blocks. The big stars and the turquoise string blocks came in a Whatchagot Box swap (in which swappers send what they have and get someone else's). The flowers were a Block Lotto pattern. (You can see more of the strings and the flowers in Scrappy Forecast.) The nine-patches are from the Block Swappers. The Chinese-coins-style strip is from this quilt .  I have had to make some filler pieces and I don't have the colors balanced quite right. It's an interesting puzzle to put together. 

I'm linking up with other quiltmakers at
Quilting is More Fun than Housework: Oh Scrap!
Love Laugh Quilt:  Monday Making
Patchwork Times: Design Wall Monday
Cooking Up Quilts:  Main Crush Monday

Weekly update: WITB

My Myers-Briggs typology is ESFJ.  It indicates that I like closure. I am uncomfortable having quilting UFOs. I generally push through to the flimsy stage. I can live with flimsies for a long time.

Last month the Stashbusters Yahoo Group chatted about organizing sewing rooms and inventorying UFOs.  Several people posted photos of the boxes they use to store UFOs and WIPs (works-in-progress).  "What's in the box?" quickly became WITB.

I thought, "I don't have many UFOs. What do I have in boxes?" Then I took a good look around my studio.  I have more boxes than I realized -- not so many UFOs but parts and patches aplenty.  
Two boxes of orphan blocks (and some bags of units) 

Postage stamps, red/black/white parts, and light-dark-light 9ps

Lime green strips cut about 10 years ago, some blocks made

Right: scrap triangles. Left: sewn triangles. Many sizes.

4p; mixed-fabric 9p; cat's cradle units

2.5" and 2" HST (my go-to Leaders-and-Enders)

3.5" 9p from the BlockSwappers exchanges (about 700 in this box!)

Hexies made from neckties, my ongoing travel handwork 
After I took these photos I found some more boxes but I will spare you the tour. I think you get the idea, as I certainly do, that WITB is a lot of quilt potential!


Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Solstice sampler: block 4

Here's this week's block in Pat Sloan's 25-part Solstice Sampler.

 It's similar to the ripple block I made a couple of weeks ago.

The blocks in the Solstice Sampler are 12.5",  That size seems clunky to me (especially since, so far, each block is relatively uncomplicated). I may make another set at 6.5".  (The Splendid Sampler that Pat has coordinated features 6.5" blocks that are more detailed.)

Here are the first three blocks.  I can't put them on the design wall because I can't displace the project-in-the-works covers most of said wall.

I'm linking up to Pat's blog here
and to Midweek Makers

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

RSC 2017: first block

This is the third year I've participated in the Rainbow Scrap Challenge hosted by Angela at So Scrappy. I keep finding great patterns that lend themselves to rainbow blocks.  (I know I could work on an entire quilt in the monthly color, but that's not what I want to do.)

Here's the pattern I'm going to use this year. It's "Petals" by Natalia Bonner.  It was published in Fons & Porter in 2012. You can get it online here.

Now that I see the photo I realize that my petals don't line up precisely.  Remember, "Do it once and it's a mistake. Do it twice and it's a design element."

Linking up a couple of days late:
Scrap Happy
and on time for
Linky Tuesday

Monday, January 9, 2017

Weekly update: En Provence, with a detour

Bonnie released the layout for En Provence, the 2016 mystery quilt, on New Year's Day. Was that really just a week ago?  The pattern has 697 units and it took most of this week's sewing time to put them together.  I added a 1.5" strip around the perimeter to stabilize the edges. I love the design and the colorway!

Assembling this was my OMG for January so I'm way ahead of schedule!

The back will be pieced. Here is some of the fabric I'm considering.

And the detour?   I didn't use the design wall while I assembled the EP blocks. I just followed Bonnie's directions, sewed, and pressed.  But my design wall was a busy place.  The Block Swappers have an ongoing swap of 3.5" nine-patches.  I got started on the first batch for 2017 (due in March) and realized that I have several hundred from previous swap. It's time to use a few of them in a quilt! I put some nine-patches on the design wall, alternating with 3.5" HSTs.  I didn't like the color distribution. I took the nine-patches down and began to rearrange the HSTs. That led to getting out a stack of 4" squares and making more HSTs.  When I had 20 blocks assembled and on the design wall they told me they wanted blue sashing. Which blue?  I auditioned three and sought advice (thanks, WH and SW).

 Here's "Scrappy Detour en Route to Provence."  The blocks are 12".  The flimsy is 66" x 80".

Fabric used this week: 8-1/2 (En Provence) and 4-3/4 (Scrappy Detour).  None added!

Monday linkups:
Quiltville Mystery Monday
Design Wall Monday
Main Crush Monday
Monday Making
Oh Scrap!

Saturday, January 7, 2017

Book review: rediscovering Lois Lenski

Lois Lenski’s Strawberry Girl was one of the first books I re-read when I embarked on a long-term project to read, or re-read, all of the Newbery Medal books.[1]  When I reviewed it in this blog post I commented that I’d enjoyed Lenski’s Regional books  when I was in grade school and that I’d like to read them again.  

That opportunity was sparked a few weeks ago when I found Judy’s Journey and Coal Camp Girl on the discard shelf at the library.[2] I took them home, read them, and promptly searched the library catalog for the rest of the series. Interlibrary loan provided seven more – Boom Town Boy, Bayou Suzette, Blue Ridge Billy, Texas Tomboy, Prairie School, Flood Friday, and To Be a Logger.  ILL also provided Lois Lenski: Storycatcher, by Bobbie Malone, published in 2016.   The in-depth biography provides great context and the story-behind-the-stories.  

Lois Lenski was born in 1893 and grew up in southwestern Ohio.  She had a happy childhood with loving and supportive parents. She graduated from the Ohio State University in 1915 and moved to New York for advanced art training. In 1921 she married Arthur Covey, a widower who was one of her art instructors.  They settled in a small town in west-central Connecticut.  She illustrated other people’s books (including the Betsy-Tacy books).  In the 1930’s she began to write and illustrate the very popular Mr. Small picture books, inspired by her young son, and seven historical novels for middle-grade readers, inspired by her New England surroundings.

The regional series began with Bayou Suzette in 1943.  Lois, her husband, and son visited south Louisiana in 1941. “Lois was so captivated by the bayou-dwelling folk that she swiftly converted from the written sources of the past to the oral testimony of the present,” Malone writes (p. 137).  Lois did the research for each book on-site.  “Whenever she inhabited a new setting…she felt compelled to study and come to terms with it….Just as she mastered the ability to record a scene in her sketchbook, she used her keen ear for dialect to pick up the unique nuances in expression in every region.”  The illustrations were inserted “to animate the narrative and in sufficient detail so a child reader could revisit the page mentally, visualizing and emotionally empathizing with the protagonists.”

Each of the Regionals includes a foreword in which Lois explains the setting and how the book came to be. For example, students in a rural school in South Dakota wrote to her asking for a book about them. That became Prairie School (1951).   Flood Friday (1956) is set in near Lois’s Connecticut home in the aftermath of flooding caused by  back-to-back hurricanes.

Judy's Journey 
To me, the most poignant of the Regionals is Judy’s Journey (1947). It is about a family of migrant farm workers. They leave the Alabama cotton farm where they were sharecroppers and follow the crops from Florida to Carolinas and up the east coast.  Judy had never even tasted an apple until they arrived at a southern New Jersey orchard.  In the foreword Lois describes the plight of migrants and the work of the Home Missions Council to provide social services – that being the time before federal aid programs.  

                                                                   Quilting makes an appearance in Blue Ridge Billy (1946).
“I got somethin’ to show you,” said Sarey Sue. She ran to a pile of quilts stacked on the chest by the loom. She pulled off the top one.  “What’s that?” asked Billy. “Hit’s a new quilt-top I pieced up, said Sarey Sue, filled with pride. “I’m good at finger-sewin’….See all them nice, even, teeny-tiny stitches?”…”I had a dream last night,” she went on gaily. “I was sleepin’ under my quilt-top for the first ime. Know what they say about that? Your dream’ll come true!  I dreamed about you!” [That Billy would be a fiddling champion.]

Bobbie Malone summarizes the effect:  “Lois’s Regionals leave us an indelible, invaluable, and intimate portrayal of children’s lives across the country in the first six decades of the twentieth century.”  They “have become valuable themselves as source material documenting lifeways that have diminished or vanished.”  (pp. 215-216).   

The Regional books truly celebrate America’s cultural diversity.  And now I need to put in interlibrary loan requests so I can read the rest of the series!

 Old library books indeed. It's been the Zion-Benton Public Library since 1975.  

[1] Two summers ago I declared that I would read all the Newbery Medal books and review them on my blog.   I thought I’d accomplish that in a matter of months but other books intervened.  So far I’ve read, or re-read, and blogged about 23 of the 94. (#95 will be announced at the ALA Midwinter meeting later this month.)  One of my reading resolutions for 2017 is to resume the project and read 25 more.  That will get me to the halfway point.
[2] One copy was acquired in 1967 and the other in 1972.  The stout library binding held up well but the pages were stained. Libraries discard good books all the time. I’ve done a lot of that weeding myself.

# # # # # # #
All the Regionals:
Bayou Suzette, 1943 – Louisiana
Strawberry Girl, 1945 –Florida
Blue Ridge Billy, 1946 – North Carolina
Judy’s Journey, 1947 – southeastern
Boom Town Boy, 1948 – Oklahoma
Cotton in My Sack, 1949 – Arkansas
Texas Tomboy, 1950 – west Texas
Prairie School, 1951 – South Dakota
Mama Hattie’s Girl, 1953 – Florida
Corn-Farm Boy, 1954 – Iowa
San Francisco Boy, 1955 – California
Flood Friday, 1956 – Connecticut
Houseboat Girl, 1957 – Ohio/Mississippi Rivers
Coal Camp Girl, 1959 – West Virginia
Shoo-Fly Girl, 1963 – Pennsylvania
To Be a Logger, 1967 – Oregon
Deer Valley Girl, 1968 -- Vermont