Print Friendly and PDF With Strings Attached

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Look what happened

I have a list of quilting projects that have due dates.  More accurately, I have a list of due dates for which I want or need to make quilts.

So what have I worked on the past two days?  Nothing on the list!

 Another quilt blogger posted a photo of a jelly roll quilt she'd just finished. I didn't catch her name but I did save the design source:  this 2016 post from Country Threads.  Inspiration struck like a lightning bolt. I don't buy jelly rolls. For this project I cut 2-1/2" x 10" strips from a variety of gray-and-white and brights.  The blocks are sewn in columns.  No border.  The blocks are 9-1/2" x 16-1/2" unfinished, the flimsy is 54 x 64, and it used 3-1/4 yards of stash.

Easy and snappy!

Wednesday link ups:
 Midweek Makers
Let's Bee Social

Monday, August 14, 2017

Weekly update: the little things

Little things can make a pleasant difference!

I needed a new ironing board cover, not so immediately that it was on my shopping list, but it was in the back of my mind.  I got this one at an estate sale for $5, package unopened.

More bargains:  a black-and-white flat queen sheet and a 2-yard piece of cotton for $1.25 at a church rummage sale.  Sheets make great quilt backs.

I finished quilting the polka-dot circles. I'm auditioning bindings.

I contributed this quilt to the silent auction at the Full Score Chamber Orchestra gala on Saturday evening. We sat at the table with the woman who won it -- she went back several times to be sure hers was the high bid. She was so excited!  FSCO has a new name: Lake County Symphony Orchestra.  We drank our morning coffee from the souvenir mugs bearing the new logo.

My next ZB News column will be about lighthouses.  That required field research:  visits to Wind Point north of Racine and Southport in downtown Kenosha on Friday, then to Grosse Point in Evanston on Sunday.

(I bought these lighthouse fabric panels last year.)
Wind Point

Monday linkups:  Monday Making
Design Wall Monday

Grosse Point 

View from Grosse Point
Grosse Pointe selfie 

Saturday, August 12, 2017

Remembering Verdi

The world is diminished by the death this Tuesday of our dear friend Verdenal Hoag Johnson.  She was 92.  (The obituary is here.)

Her daughter wrote that she was at peace and looking forward to the next great adventure with her beloved Edward.

Verdi was a quiltmaker, needleworker, historian, cook, artist, educator, gardener, birdwatcher, genealogist, and progressive. She was gracious and generous and had a fine sense of humor. "Hello, darling," she answered the telephone.

1999, New Jersey 
I met Verdi more than twenty years ago on RCTQ, the Usenet quilting newsgroup.  In 1997 we were among two dozen RCTQers who created the Magpies so that we could chatter on- or off-topic as we chose.  The Magpies began in-person meetups in 1999. That August Verdi hosted a mini-meetup (just five of us) at her home in New Jersey.  My husband grew up in the next town from hers and I asked if her address was familiar. He said he knew the road and we figured out that he'd trimmed their trees in 1959 when he had a summer job with the Morris County Shade Tree Commission.  (We later learned that her parents were friends of my husband's godparents and we think they may well have met his parents once or twice.)

Verdi and Edward sold the New Jersey house and moved to New Hampshire about 2002 to be closer to their daughters and extended family.  When the Magpies met up in Lowell, MA, in 2006, we had a wonderful seafood supper at their new house.

PieLatch, Vancouver 2004: the Jewel Box quilt the Magpies made for Verdi's 80th birthday.

At the El Paso airport, PieFiesta Dos, 2008.
Verdi had hoped for a male TSA agent for the pat-down.

 Verdi charmed these guys when we went out for deep-dish pizza at the Deep Dish PieFest in Chicago, 2010.

1999, New Jersey: Tami, Verdi, Celia, me.

The whole Magpie gang in 2010.

Verdi made this quilt: each block name begins with a different letter of alphabet. (Anvil, bow tie, churn dash....)

Verdi's off-center log cabin quilt. She made off-center log cabins for all the Magpies in the first birthday block exchange.

Monday, August 7, 2017

Newbery winners from near and far

I’m in the midst of another round of reading Newbery Medal books. Two summers ago I set out to read or re-read all of them. I got sidetracked – so many other books I wanted to read! – and my progress has been sporadic.  The books themselves aren’t long.  It takes time to compose my thoughts and write a review of each one.   

Walk Two Moons (1995), by Sharon Creech

I found a copy of Walk Two Moons on the library book sale rack. It was classified as Young Adult, which it really isn’t; there’s a copy in the J Fiction section.  In 1995 my reading and library interests were on other things than elementary-grade books and the Newbery Awards so I completely missed this one.  Salamanca and her father move from their rural Kentucky home to Ohio after Momma (wife) leaves them and goes off to Idaho.  Gramps and Gram take Sal on a road trip to find Momma and bring closure for all of them.  The grandparents’ long-standing devotion to one another includes endearing sayings and little inside jokes. To while away the hours on the long drive they ask Sal to tell them about her classmate and neighbor Phoebe Winterbottom.  Adult readers familiar with magical realism might think that Phoebe and all the Winterbottoms are made-up but in the end they’re not.  And in the end Sal finds out what happened to her mother. 

This is a serious story effectively disguised as a quirky tale.

# # # # # # # 

The Matchlock Gun (1942), by Walter D. Edmonds

Trip a trop a troenje;
De varken en de boenjen . . .*
These words, set to music, are my Pavlovian response to The Matchlock Gun (thinking about the title or seeing the book).  They are the first two lines of a Dutch folk song that figures in the story. In the mid-70’s I heard them sung frequently.  I was the librarian at the public library in Brenham, Texas. The children’s collection included a set of filmstrip/cassette adaptations of Newbery books, including The Matchlock Gun. There was a self-contained projector so kids could sit at a table to watch and listen. The filmstrip and tape were coded so that the filmstrip advanced automatically.  TMG seemed to be played every day during the summer. 

The story is based on an historical incident in the Dutch territory in the Hudson River valley during the French & Indian War.  The Teunis Van Alstyne has gone off to stand guard against the Indians.  His wife Gertrude and children Edward and Trudy are alone on the farm.  The Spanish matchlock gun came to the Colonies with Gertrude’s family.  When the Indians make a raid Edward manages to fire the gun and save the family.   Edmonds’ writing style is very measured and even the exciting passages (Indians nick Gertrude with a tomahawk!) don’t make the reader catch his (her) breath.

This is the only one of the audiovisual set that I recall. I have no idea why it appealed to those young library patrons for whom the setting and the situation were far out of the realm of anything they’d know about. Maybe it was just the first filmstrip in the box?  

*It’s a baby-bounce song:  Up and down on a little throne (parent’s knee), the pigs are in the beans…

 # # # # # # # # 

Original cover 
New cover, but old illustrations 
Amos Fortune, Free Man (1951), by Elizabeth Yates   

Another 18th-century story, this time a biography (or biographical novel). Amos Fortune was born in West Africa about 1710. In 1725 he and others from his village were captured by slavers and taken to the United States.   He was purchased by a tanner in Boston and later sold to a tanner in Woburn. In 1760 he bought his freedom and relocated to Jaffrey, NH, where he set up a tanning works. He was a respected member of the community until his death in 1801.

The narrative refers to the miserable conditions on the slave ship and the indignity and degradation of slavery, but the story is not mired in the awfulness. The title, Free Man, indicates that better things will happen and indeed they do.  The writing style is dated – turns of phrase that wouldn’t be used today (“In all his long years as a tanner, Amos was never more glad than he was during the first months in Jaffrey that so much of what he needed for his trade was at hand…”)

The Amos Fortune Forum ( was established in 1946. It hosts speakers on a variety of subjects.

# # # # # # # #
Island of the Blue Dolphins (1961), by Scott O’Dell

For more than 50 years I haven’t liked Island of the Blue Dolphins because I didn’t like the cover art that depicted the disembodied head of a girl who looked as though she was going to be sick.  (The artist, Evaline Ness, was a Caldecott medal-winner. She was married to Eliot Ness, I learned from Wikipedia.)  Current editions have very different covers. 

 Now that I’ve re-read it I appreciate the tale of a real-life Robinson Crusoe.  “The lost woman of San Nicolas” lived alone on the outermost of the California Channel Islands from 1835-1853.  
When Russian and Aleutian otter-hunters threatened their security, the native islanders agreed to let missionaries from California take them to the mainland. Karana’s young brother missed the boat, literally. She jumped overboard to save him and in turn also missed the evacuation.  The sister and brother began a survival existence. He was killed by wild dogs, leaving her to fend for herself for nearly 20 years.  A sea otter hunter rescued her and took her to Santa Barbara.  Alas, she did not live very long afterward.

Archaeological research on the island in 1939 located her whale-rib hut.  In 2009  two native-made boxes containing artifacts  were found and in 2015 the cave where it is believed she took refuge was found. 

# # # # # # #
Daniel Boone (1939), by James Daugherty

James Daugherty both wrote and illustrated the biographical novel Daniel Boone.   His artistic style is distinctive: people (and animals) are roundly-muscled, clothing is pleated and wrinkled, backgrounds are busy, attacking Indians are fierce.   Daniel Boone was a heroic pioneer who played a tremendous role in the white settlement of Kentucky.  He was always ready for a new opportunity – fur trapping, settling Missouri, serving in Congress --  though he was not financially successful.   The endpapers are vivid Daugherty-drawn maps that show the rivers, hills, and frontier towns.   In 1939 it was acceptable to portray the Indians as savages – and boy, Daugherty did so.  This Newbery winner has not aged well, but the pictures are memorable.   

For more about Daugherty's art (in this case, a controversial mural):

Weekly update: a finish and a start

 I made Spare Parts III last winter.
(I chronicled the design in this post .)

It's still pretty
I pieced the back last month. The fabric in the upper right was a "can't cut this" piece that I bought at Marden's in the early 1990's. I wanted to make a skirt out of it. Over the years I took nibbles here and there and eventually there wasn't enough for a skirt. (And nowadays that sort of skirt wouldn't suit me, so it would be hanging in the closet and I'd love the fabric.)

I quilted each unit differently.

During Sunday evening TV watching I made seven out of the 25 blocks I need for the baby quilt that's my August OMG.  The idea is from Quilts, Quilts and More Quilts! by Diana McClun and Laura Nownes. That's an oldie but still a goodie -- c. 1993.

The blocks are 8-1/2" (unf) and the novelty squares are 4.5" (unf.) .

Monday link ups:
Monday Making
Main Crush Monday
Design Wall Monday
Oh Scrap!

I hope your week is off to a good start!

Saturday, August 5, 2017

OMG for August + polka dot flimsy

I was going to make the polka-dot circles my OMG for August but look what I did this week!  The flimsy is 57 x 66-1/2 and used 3-1/2 yards.

I made six circles too many.  The black circles are the part cut behind the applique. (I appliqued before I cut away.)  

My quilting to-do list is short. Mind you, these are projects I need to make.  If I attempted to write down all the projects I'd like to make I would still be writing.

Looking at the list: I haven't heard from Mrs. McElmurry who was the high bidder for the t-shirt quilt. (I've called her twice.)  I've been looking through books and magazines to find just the right pattern for the AAUW Christmas quilt.

I may be able to complete several of the others this month -- but OMG is just ONE monthly goal. Okay, I've decided:  baby quilt #1, for Holland's baby.

Here's the Elm Street Quilts OMG linkup .

Monday, July 31, 2017

It's still Monday: weekly update (a new project!) and stash report

Usually I write my weekly update post just after breakfast on Monday morning. Not so today. I am taking the AARP Driver Safety Course which is eight hours over two days, 10-2 today and tomorrow. It's held at the library so I could return books and check out new ones. (And today there were quilt books on the sale rack that I snapped up--8 for $5.)

I finished 50 Care Bags and sent them to the Care Bags Foundation in Iowa. They used 25 yards of fabric. I hope to make 50 more by the end of the year.

With those out of the house and crossed off my list, I cast about for a new project.  "String Quilt Style" by Mary M. Hogan was one of the quilt books I got at the ALA conference.  I've begun the cover quilt.  The secret to the circle blocks?  Coffee filter foundations!  I used a stash of polka-dot strips and cut more from my plentiful polka-dot stash. The filters, and thus the circle blocks, are 8".  I made 42.

I decided I wanted to maintain the polka-dot theme by using a white-on-black polka dot print. My stash has black-on-white dots but not low-volume white-on-black. Buttons and Bolts had a Christmas in July sale this weekend. I found the perfect fabric -- and a lot more. Hey, it was all on sale!

I got four appliqued Sunday evening.

Estate Sale bargain

My stash also grew with an estate sale purchase -- 11-1/2 yards for $10.  The estate was for the now-deceased former owner of the premier bridal shop in Waukegan. There was a commercial Singer and three 201s.  I admired them but was not tempted to buy them.

The stash report:
Fabric in, January-June: 140-1/4, $249.69
Fabric in, July: 63-1/2, $278.30
Total fabric in, YTD:  203-3/4, $827.99 (avg. $4.06/yard)
Fabric out, January-June: 247-58/
Fabric out, July: 83-5/8
Total fabric out, YTD: 336-1/4
         (given away: 24; sold 20-1/8)
Net: -132.5 used

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