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Sunday, August 2, 2015

DWM: an online anniversary, a finish, and a new flimsy

Twenty years ago today -- August 2, 1995: my first post to the UseNet newsgroup rec.crafts.textiles.quilting (RCTQ). I was director of the Fargo Public Library then.  The public television station offered inexpensive internet (email) access, called Prairie Online.  The library got accounts for all the staff to learn how to "do" email. The service included a range of newsgroups, among them RCTQ. I was a novice at both quilting and the internet back then. RCTQ provided a wonderful community, a virtual quilt guild, acquaintances that I value, and friendships that I treasure.

It's nice to begin a month with a finish!  I quilted and bound the red rails flimsy that I made in April. I used regular stitching (feed dogs engaged, regular presser foot) in a "hanging diamonds" pattern (diagonal lines + vertical lines (or horizontal, depending on the way you look at it )).  3-1/8 yards for backing and binding.

Indigo (dark blue) is the color for the August Rainbow Scrap Challenge .  Here's the latest of the bubble blocks I'm making, one for each month. 

I was asked to make a quilt for the Full Score Orchestra gala this fall. I knocked myself out to make Noteworthy for the event last year. I wanted to make something less involved.  When I saw Dottie , a pattern by Moda, I knew that would do it.  I bought musical note fabric for the background and rootled through my stash for a variety of brights. The top is finished and I'm making the pieced back now. 

The blocks are 12 x 12 so this is 60 x 72. 

I think the design packs a contemporary visual punch and it was certainly easy to make.  The block is basically a nine-patch.

I'm linking up with other quiltmakers for Monday Making at Love Laugh Quilt  and Design Wall Monday at Patchwork Times .

July stash report

July: fabric in:  20-3/4 yards received as a gift + 5 yards purchased ($25) = 25-3/4
       fabric out:  26-1/2 sewn, 23-1/8 sold = 49-5/8
January-July:  fabric in: 80-7/8 yards ($275)
       fabric out: 196-7/8 yards
net decrease:  116 yards

I finally advertised fabric on two online sales groups (Quilters Flea Market and Quilters Virtual Yard Sale).  23-1/8 yards sold!

Not only is my fabric stash smaller but so also is my quilt stash.

Cindy came to get the second batch of pillowcases I made for her daughter (as well as two dog bed covers that I'd sewn). She purchased three quilts, too -- Batik Rails and Choqua and Framed Four-Patch .
 She gave me the leftover pillowcase fabric, too.  (It weighed about 5 lbs, so I estimated just over 20 yards.)

The proceeds from this entrepreneurial flurry ($621) went right into my savings account, designated for a new sewing machine.

How do I determine the price on a quilt? It's what I think the customer will pay.  I know I don't adequately compensate myself for my time and hardly for the materials. I don't sell quilts to earn a living. If I hadn't sold these they'd be given away to a community event, charitable project, or on a gift-giving occasion.

These are the quilts "on hand." Some have destinations (like the brown/green HeartStrings on top which is going to the Spelling Bee this fall); some have been in shows but were not purchased; three had some problems with fabric bleeding after they were washed. Every quilt has a story!

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Newbery Reviews (with quilts!)

I read this Dover reprint edition
Previous Newberys have been set in other countries. This week the first is sort of in another country (Navajo territory); the others are firmly grounded in New England.

By Laura Adams Armer

Younger Brother is a Navajo boy who lives in the shadow of Waterless Mountain with his father, a silversmith, his mother, a weaver, Elder Brother, and Baby Sister. He knows from an early age that he will be a medicine man. His mentors and tutors are Uncle, himself a medicine man, and the Big Man,   the Anglo proprietor of the trading post who dispenses remedies on occasion. 

At times the story is rooted in the early 20th-century southwest:  YB helps a white teenager whose roadster has broken down. The boy is the son of archaeologists and he discovers a significant piece of pottery. YB and his parents journey by train (“fire horse”) to southern California and meet a filmmaker. Not all Indians are good – the horse thief Cut Finger tries to steal YB’s pony.

All the while the reader is aware of YB’s special status as an aspiring medicine man. He is in his world but he is not of that world.  (There is no mention of any playmates or friends.)  There is a dreamlike quality to parts of the story. 

My mental image of the territory in the story was influenced by many National Geographic articles and by the Santa Fe calendar art, reinforced by our visit to Goulding's Trading Post in Monument Valley back in 2009.

By Caroline Sherwin Bailey

I remember that I read this charming fantasy. In all likelihood I read it several times. That was many years ago and I had forgotten many (most!) of the details.

Miss Hickory is a “country woman” with a hickory-nut head and and apple-wood-twig body. She lives in a tidy corncob house under a bush next to the Old Place, a farmhouse in New Hampshire. One day Crow informs her that Great-granny Brown is closing the house and the entire family will spend the winter in Boston. Miss Hickory won’t be able to spend the winter inside.   She is resourceful! She finds shelter in Robin’s  nest (abandoned for the season).  Besides the rascally Crow she has a wonderful group of friends T. Willard-Brown the housecat; the scatterbrained Squirrel; Mrs. Hen Pheasant. There is a Christmas miracle when all the animals gather in the stable.   In March she takes to the air, riding on Crow’s back.  When the family returns in May Miss Hickory begins a new chapter in her life.

Miss Hickory is also an organizer!  Hen-Pheasant and the other hens complain about being deserted by the cock pheasants, who “live together in their club on the other side of the brush pile until spring.” “Then,” Miss Hickory told her, “you must do the same…. You must form a Ladies’ Aid Society.”
She explained, “The first thing that the Ladies’ Aid Society of Hillsborough does every autumn is to start making a bed quilt. They sew together pretty pieces of cloth that they have gathered and saved, flower pieces, plain pieces, but all colored. They meet at the Town Hall once a week to make their patched squares into one large quilt of many colors. Then they line it, stuff it, and quilt it on a frame. They sell their quilt in the spring at a church fair.”
                Hen-Pheasant’s slow-working mind reeled. Not a word of Miss Hickory’s good idea had she understood. “Sew! Patches! Ladies’ Aid!” she mumbled.
                Miss Hickory hurried over to the edge of the woods and was gone for a few minutes. She returned with some sharp green pine needles, and four straight and slender branches for a quilting frame. She then gathered four beautiful fallen leaves. A russet oak leaf, a yellow beach leaf, a red maple leaf, and a golden maple leaf. She laid them together in a pattern of patchwork before Hen-Pheasant and showed her how to sew them together with a pine needle and a thread of dried grass. It pleased Hen-Pheasant. She took a pine needle in one claw and began stitching the patch of leaves. Sewing seemed to come to her naturally.
                “Look up at the mountain,” Miss Hickory said, “for your pattern and colors, and your quilt will be the only one of its kind.”
                Hen-Pheasant looked up at Temple Mountain, glowing with its autumn leaves….She had never looked at it before, having always felt sorry for herself when the leaves began to turn. Even to glance at that beauty brightened her.
                Miss Hickory went on working briskly.  She tied the four branches together with strong grasses to make a square frame. “When you finish the patches and sew them together, tie it on this frame and sew it up and down, back and forth; that is called quilting. And oh, I forgot to tell you, the other thing that the Ladies’ Aid Society does is to eat. They have a big dinner on the days when they meet in the Town Hall to work on their quilt—“
                But Hen-Pheasant scarcely heard her. She had gathered herself a pile of corn over which she was clucking, singing a little tune of happiness, stitching a patch of leaves, pecking a kernel or two now and then. Hen-Pheasant did not see Miss Hickory go.
I can imagine a grandmother making up stories about a little girl’s twig doll.  Ruth Gannett’s lithograph illustrations with their soft grainin are perfect for the story.   

By Jean Lee Latham

Nathaniel Bowditch grew up in a seafaring family in the seafaring town of Salem, Massachusetts in the last years of the 18th century. At age 12 he was indentured to a ship’s chandler. He proved to be a fast learner and a mathematical prodigy.  After fulfilling the 9-year apprenticeship he went to sea as a supercargo (the cargo manager who bought and sold good to carry on the return voyage) and the navigator.  He corrected the British maritime navigation books and when he was still in his 20’s he wrote The American Practical Navigator to teach all seamen how to reckon. It is still a standard text for sailors.

I’d been aware of Bowditch (in no small part from knowing the title of this book for all these years), but I hadn’t known about his significance in maritime history.  I learned a lot about navigation, too.  This is a briskly-written historical novel (plucky hero, plucky new nation; American wunderkind finds errors in British calculations; hopes raised, hopes dashed, hearts broken, hearts mended).

Illustrator John O’Hara Cosgrave II is a long-time favorite.  Here is more about him.

Monday, July 27, 2015

DWM: finishes, pillowcases, and advice taken

Thank you, everyone who offered advice about borders for the scrappy stars quilt.  I did cave in and buy more dark blue fabric. In the meantime I found an idea for a pieced border. I haven't started it yet -- you'll need to tune in next week.

Cindy and her daughter Jeannie came over to pick up the pillowcases that I made. Cindy generously paid more than I asked. She gave me the leftover fabric, which weighed 4.5 lbs (18 yards).  They also brought more fabric from which I made four pillowcases and the cover for a dog bed.

I finished the bookshelf quilt for my friend Pat who is retiring July 31.  This is the fourth bookshelf quilt I've made this year and, if I calculate correctly, #36 in all.  I've made them for library staff getting their MLS degrees, retiring library trustees, the ALA Executive Board (during my term, 2004-07), and now for colleagues who are retiring.  I have gotten a lot of use out of the pattern, which is by Christine Thresh (

I created this 78 x 78 batik top in May, 2014. I basted it six months ago (the backing is a never-used Ralph Lauren flat sheet, a garage sale find for $2).  I finally quilted it this week.  Hooray for a finish!

I'm linking up with other quiltmakers at Patchwork Times.

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Newbery Reviews

by Eric P. Kelly 

1461: unrest in Ukraine* forces the Charnetski family to flee their estate and find refuge in Krakow. Joseph's father becomes the trumpeter in the church tower, playing the Hejnal every hour. (It's still done; look on YouTube here.) There are good guys (scholars and alchemists), iffy guys (necromancers -- a great vocabulary word), bad guys (foreign thugs), and a devastating fire. There's a treasure to guard. It's an exciting tale. 

I was glad that this edition of Trumpeter had an introduction (from 1966) to provide context, though further online research provides evidence that the author may have created the legend of the "unfinished tune." 

What really, really bothers me is that the family brings the treasure hidden in a pumpkin. A hollowed-out shell is indeed a good hiding place. BUT pumpkins are native to North America. How did a pumpkin get to a farm in Ukraine in 1461? Has no one else noticed this anachronism in the 87 years since the book was published?**

*In the book it's "the Ukraine," but the "the" is incorrect.
**Yes, at least one person has: here 

DOBRY (1935)
by Monica Shannon

A snapshot of life in a Bulgarian farming village, presumably just after WWI. Dobry lives with his widowed mother and his grandfather. They expect that he will continue the family tradition and be a farmer, but he discovers a passion for art. His break from expectations is paralleled by the changes in society (there are hints of the larger world outside the village). The story is disjointed -- suddenly it is "four years later," and Dobry is an adolescent. Grandfather is a great raconteur who needs little encouragement tell a tale, the taller the better. 

Artanas Katchamakoff's illustrations are inconsistent -- lithographs in a Soviet (or Eastern European) 'brutish' style but also lighter line drawings of episodes from the story.  (And the caption for one of them is incorrect -- an error perpetuated for 80 years?)

I read a 1964 reprint of the 1934 original. Perhaps subsequent editions have notes and references to provide more context. 

by Elizabeth Forman Lewis  

Set in the provincial city of Chungking in the 1920's, a time of social change and political unrest throughout China, this is the story of Young Fu, apprenticed to a coppersmith. He survives temptations, bandits, thieves, and unscrupulous coworkers.  I got a better understanding of the milieu that gave rise to communism.  

I read a 2007 edition that has two prefaces -- by Katherine Paterson and Pearl S. Buck, both of whom lived in China about the time of the story. There are also helpful endnotes that explain the traditional customs and compare them to Mao-era and current times. 

I enjoyed this more now than I would have had I read it when I was in grade school, I think.

This is the original cover, with illustrations by Kurt Wiese.

Monday, July 20, 2015

Quilt show photos

 Here are a few photos from the Batavia quilt show this past weekend.   I do not have the names of any of the quiltmakers.

Talking Turkey, a Bonnie Hunter pattern

Jamestown Landing, another Bonnie Hunter pattern

Beautiful quilting

Tiny HSTs
This is my kind of scrappy
Patchwork of the Crosses 

More of my kind of scrappy!
I gave this my "viewer's choice" vote. Love the fussy-cut "ghastly" print and the hexies. Border swirls are appliques. 

I am collecting design ideas. A New York Beauty is on my slate for the coming year (you can see the slate in my previous post).

DWM: a quilt show, a clean slate, new projects, and border quandary

On Saturday my sister treated me to the   Batavia Quilt Show  I took a number of photos -- I'll compose a separate post to include them once I

We were luncheon hosts after church yesterday.  Stevens sliced a ham.  I made salads (three-bean; macaroni; brown rice; cukes-in-sour-cream), a batch of brownies, and rhubarb bundt cake.  The cukes and the cake were completely consumed. We gave the leftover ham, buns, and brownies to a family (many kids). The remaining salads were just as good at suppertime.

Since we are more than halfway through the year I thought it was time to edit the list of projects on the dry-erase board next to the sewing table.


I made 11 pillowcases from the fabric that Cindy brought me ten days ago. There's a lot of fabric left. We're settling up this week.....I have to say that Ole, the 1991-model Viking Husqvarna serger, did an admirable job finishing the seams.

A new project: bookshelf quilt #36 (or thereabouts) for my friend (and ALA roommate) who's retiring at the end of July.

Tumblers are Bonnie Hunter's  2015 challenge . I had not intended to join, but look what I found on a shelf in the Deep Stash .   Now I'm thinking about tumblers for the next 30's bin bust project....

And once the tumblers are finished I can try this template set.

I got both of these packages on clearance ($5 each) about ten years ago. I haven't used either one.

And finally, to my design wall.  The blocks as set are approx. 58 x 58. What should I do about the border?
* I am trying not to buy more fabric.
*There are two dark blues -- the stars and the setting triangles are different fabrics.
***I do not have enough of either of these dark blues for even a skinny border.
* I am trying not to buy more fabric.
* The print on the left has a dark purple background. The print on the right is too dark and the wrong scale for the stars.

I'm linking up with Judy's Patchwork Times and Beth's Love Laugh Quilt .