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Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Newbery Reviews

I set the Newbery Medal project aside when we went on vacation.  I'm getting back on track this fall.  In earlier reviews I noted that the older Newbery books did not have references or explanations to provide context to the stories. I found that omission frustrating.  These contemporary winners have afterwords that do provide helpful context. 

Front CoverMOON OVER MANIFEST  (2011)
by Clare Vanderpool

I wanted to like this story more than I did.  After all, Manifest, Kansas, is based on Frontenac. I've been there -- we lived in that part of southeast Kansas, in Pittsburg (the city next to Frontenac).  The book is set in the Depression and features plucky girls and an intriguing family mystery.  ("Manifest" refers to both the noun ("a roster") and the verb ("to reveal").)

In 1936 Abilene Tucker's drifter father sends her to Manifest to spend the summer with his old pal Shady. Abilene finds a box hidden under the floorboards with 'treasures'--a key, a fishing lure--and letters from 1918 with reference to the Rattler, a mysterious spy. Miss Sadie is a diviner, a fortune teller, who tells the stories behind the treasures and the letters.

I got stuck early. In one of the WWI flashback episodes Mrs. Eugene Larkin, president of the DAR, announces a fundraising quilt project to raise money for Liberty Bonds.  Point 1: would Manifest/Frontenac, a mining town with a large immigrant population, have had a DAR chapter? Pittsburg did (and still does).  Point 2:  the description of the quilt project is not what a WWI fundraiser would have been.  One of the characters "waves a swatch of paisley fabric."  "You'd better just stitch up your little quilt square."  What?    Here is a description of the fundraiser quilts. The fabric would have been plain muslin or percale, not paisley!

I know that that is just a minor scene. The book is not about quilting. There is much more to the story.  But I couldn't get the inauthenticity out of my head.  (There may be inauthenticity or anachronism in other books  that I don't notice because they're not subjects I know as much about.)

Cover of The One and Only IvanTHE ONE AND ONLY IVAN (2013)
by Katherine Applegate

Ivan is a gorilla who has been part of a menagerie at a shopping mall for 27 years. "It is not as easy as it looks," he says.  His companions are Stella the elephant and Bob the smart-aleck stray mutt.  There are humans, too -- Mack the mall owner, George the janitor, and Julia, George's daughter.  Ivan is an artist whose sketches are sold ("twenty dollars, twenty-five with frame") at a gift shop in the mall.  But the animals are no longer the crowd-getters and Mack is considering getting rid of them. Ivan makes a bold move to save them all.

Ivan tells his own story in short sentences. There is tragedy (Stella is mistreated, sickens, and dies). There is comedy (Bob's wisecracks). There is courage (Ivan's daring). There is hope (baby elephant Ruby). There is triumph (the animals are released to a zoo ("where humans make amends").)

This is a charming story. I smiled. I cried. I cheered.

by Kate DiCamillo
illustrated by K. G. Campbell

Flora Belle Buckman is a 10-year-old cynic (so her mother labels her) who loves comics, especially those about the Great Incandesto! (with an exclamation point).  When a squirrel is inadvertently swept up by a vacuum cleaner Flora rescues him and names him Ulysses. The vacuum trauma transforms Ulysses into a superhero like Incandesto!.  His superhero character is  unappreciated by some of the adults in Flora's life -- her romance-novel-writer mother, her socially clueless father, and especially the waitress at a pancake house (into whose beehive hairdo Ulysses leaps).  On the other hand, Tootie Tickham (who vacuumed Ulysses to superherodom) and her nephew William are more understanding. So is the elderly widow Dr. Meescham (a doctor of philosophy).

This is a fast-paced, witty, and memorable story with terrific exaggerated turns-of-phrase and a great vocabulary.  As Incandesto! would say, "Holy bagumba!"

Monday, October 5, 2015

DWM: workshop + quilt show + fabric haul + commission

I spent Sunday in a guild workshop given by Mary Fons . The project was "A Quilt Called Whisper" from her book Make Love Quilts . She showed us how she assembles a palette for a scrappy quilt. The pattern is a one-block, equilateral triangle, and she provided tips to match the pieces easily.  She recommends the Fons & Porter 60-degree ruler (of course). I remembered that I purchased a 60-degree ruler years ago (Clearview Triangle by Sara Nephew). The difference between it and F&P is that the latter has the top tip cut off (makes easy matching). I decided I'd make the Clearview work, and I did.

The workshop instructions were to bring 15 fat quarters with light/medium/dark. I chose purples. Here's what I got done.

Mary will be the speaker at the guild meeting on Wednesday.

Scraps . . .

 In my last post I wrote that Irene and I were going to pick up a fabric donation and then go to a quilt show.  The Village Quilters is an area guild. Their show featured many wonderful quilts and a good number of vendors. I didn't take many photos.  I did buy fabric. (Those fat quarters accumulate . . . Indonesian batiks at 20 FQs for $30!....)  We were there when they did a Quilts of Valor presentation to veterans. It was very moving.

Here is the fabric haul!   Fred (whom we had never met prior to Saturday) is cleaning out the storage locker where he has kept stuff from his family -- mother and aunts, and from the looks of it, his own stuff. His mother was a tailor, knitter, crafter.   There were two vintage sewing machines--a New Home treadle in a repainted cabinet and a Singer 99 (he provided that info later)--and two 1960's/70's Montgomery Ward models (which means they are all-metal, made in Japan). We filled my car with fabric and I will go back this week for what's left.  The photo shows the fabric in my garage. I will be sorting this week.

And the commission? Cindy, for whom I made all the pillowcases last summer, asked me to make two more pillowcases and a dog bed cover. (Actually, a pillowcase for the dog bed.) She brought the fabric to me a couple of weeks ago. She also commissioned an I Spy baby quilt.  I had units on hand for my default I Spy pattern ( here and here ).  I made more.

I'm linking up at Judy's Patchwork Times  and Beth's Love Laugh Quilt  Have a good Monday and a great week, everyone!

Saturday, October 3, 2015

HeartStrings + RSC, October

One of my goals in 2015 is to make one 48-block HeartStrings quilt each month.  That means making the blocks and assembling them; the actual quilting is optional. The further challenge is that I will use only fabric from my stash.  I've used various fabric collections (animal-skin prints, solids, homespun plaids, 30's, polka dots) and assembled colorways (purple/lime, brown/aqua "chocqua," soft green w/ blue). [Click on the "HeartStrings" label to see them all.] For the September version I used 1.5" strips rather than the usual 2". 

This month I again departed from the usual size. I went larger with 2.5" strips from the 2.5" hamper. I had a lot of the red-orange tone-on-tone so I used it for both the centers and the corners. The piecing goes very quickly with such wide strips!

This adds 8 yards to the "used" column. (That counts the fabric foundations.)

This month's Rainbow Scrap Challenge color is brown. Here's my bubble block.  Two more to go for the year!

Today's adventure:  Irene and I are going to collect boxes of fabric offered to the guild by a man who is clearing out his mother's things. He says there are sewing machines, too.  Then we're going to the Village Quilters' biennial show.

P.S. There are still a lot of 2.5" strips in the hamper . . .

Thursday, October 1, 2015

Stash report: September

I broke down and bought border fabric for the Holly Pinwheel quilt -- just the red, though. (Oh, and three other FQ, two for my ongoing typeface collection and another . . .)

Stash report, September 
Fabric acquired:   17-7/8
Fabric used: 16-1/4
Fabric acquired:  99-1/4 ($324.60)
Fabric used: 251-5/8 
Net decrease: 152-3/8

I met with fellow guild members at Buttons and Bolts to begin our 2016 raffle quilt. I was tempted by the beautiful fabric that Heather stocks, but I resisted. However, I stopped at an antiques mall across the road and bought this 1932 Dresden Plate quilt for $76.00. It has some stains, mostly on the back. It was obvious that the quilt had been washed many times before so I didn't hesitate to wash it again. The stains did not come out. So be it. 

I posted the photos on the Vintage Quilts FB page and a helpful list member looked up the names on   She found out that the women lived in Mattoon, Illinois (Coles County), some on the same street.  (What is "CYB"? More research!)

Note the blue quilting thread.

I'll use the quilt in my "Every Quilt Tells a Story" programs this season. After that I may send it to the Coles County Historical Society (unless I change my mind!).

Sunday, September 27, 2015

DWM: discards, acquisitions, and a new project

As I write this the lunar eclipse is in progress. We sat out in the back yard and watched as the moon disappeared. In a few minutes I'm going to go out to see it reappear. [Note: I did!]

On the other end of celestial viewing, here's sunrise on the beach, Friday morning, a day and half after the equinox.

Though the weather has been delightfully warm -- late summer, not fall -- I put the summeriest of my summer clothing and shoes in the downstairs storage closet and brought up most of the fall/winter clothes and shoes. I sorted, too, and ended up with a box and a bag that I took to Goodwill.  Every action has an equal and opposite reaction, says Newton, and here are thrift shop bargains this month:  two all-cotton sheets (one king, one twin) that will be great quilt backs ($7 for both) and six never-used napkins in French Provencal cotton, 18"x18". I don't often buy shirts but Goodwill had a coupon. The red one is  size 4x -- a lot of fabric!  I thought I could use the plaid in my design wall project but in the end I didn't.

Here is my new project. The pattern is by Gerri Robinson and was published in the December, 2012, issue of McCall's.  So far all of the fabric is from my stash but I may need to buy fabric for the borders. It's taken some maneuvering to stitch the single-leaf appliques. The top had to be assembled before sewing them. This will be the AAUW holiday raffle quilt. I need to get it to the flimsy stage by October 10 so I can sell tickets at the AAUW fall conference.

A box with LOTS of quilty inspiration arrived this week.  I bought these at C&T's online warehouse sale. They offered free shipping for orders over $100. I selected 23 books for $101. Five came in this shipment and the rest are backordered. That's probably just as well or I'd have sensory overload.

 I'm linking up with other quiltmakers at Judy's Patchwork Times   and Beth's Love Laugh Quilt

Sunday, September 20, 2015

DWM: a day downtown, donations, postage stamp 9x9, and a finish

Lorraine, Linda, and I have been friends since grade school.  Our interests diverged in high school (Lorraine did music and sports, Linda was counterculture and social activism, and I was a bookworm scholar).   Over the years Lorraine and I maintained ties with Christmas cards, a few visits, and  P.E.O.). We re-met Linda through Facebook. Linda lives at the other end of Chicagoland from me and we hadn't been able to coordinate our schedules to meet in person.  We finally got together this past Thursday when Lorraine came from Colorado to compete in the Chicago Triathlon .  We took the architectural river cruise and had lunch at the Signature Room on the 95th floor of the Hancock.  It was delightful to catch up!
The view under the bridge

 Reflection in 333 E. Wacker 
View from the 95th floor
 * * * * * * * * *
 Our guild received a request for donations to the Chicago-area Heifer quilt auction. This is one of the reasons I have quilts on hand! I took seven quilts and wallhangings to one of the volunteers (they'd already been on display and had not sold at the library craft fair). She let me see the quilts that are filling up her house -- what a beautiful assortment!

I made six tulip blocks for this month's Block Lotto .

I finished the Postage Stamp 9x9.  I was six strips short of the sashing fabric I intended to use -- which I found out after I had cut strips from all of that yardage. I searched my stash and found another gray print and, whew, I had enough. This flimsy is 57 x 68 and used 5 yards.

And the finish? Homespun Strings, the HS top I made in March. 3-1/2 yards for the back and binding.

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

Monday, September 14, 2015

DWM: back in the studio + stash report

Our trip home was swift because I had to be back for the quilt guild board meeting Wednesday night.  This was the transition between outgoing and newly-elected officers and it could not be rescheduled. As it turned out I had six meetings from Wednesday through Saturday (at two of which I presided and for two of which I took notes).

I took a bunch of necktie hexies (my years-long hand-sewing project) on the trip but I didn't sew a stitch.  I went to one quilt shop -- Cotton Cupboard  in Bangor, Maine -- and bought two fat quarters and a pattern. I admired the beautiful wool tartans at the  Gaelic College in Cape Breton (Nova Scotia) but didn't need to buy any yardage.

Stash report, August:
Fabric acquired:  1/2 yd ($7)
Fabric used: 38-1/2 yds (includes donation to HeartStrings)
Fabric acquired: 81-3/8 yds ($282)
Fabric used: 235-3/8 yds
Net decrease: 154 yds

I made an orange bubble block for this month's Rainbow Scrap Challenge.

Here's what's on the design wall:  more scrappy 9 x 9 postage stamps. (I found out that it's easier to make nine 9-patches and assemble them, rather than making nine rows of nine squares.)   The gray sashing fabric has a subtle leaf print.  I will use 4-patches for cornerstones.   30 blocks, 2" finished sashing, no border = 57 x 68.

I'm linking up with other quiltmakers on Judy's Patchwork Times