Sunday, September 20, 2020

Weekly update: a finish . . . and acquisitions

Autumn is in the air.  A squirrel left this black walnut at our back door which opens onto the garage. The closest black walnut tree is at the far end of the across-the-street neighbors' yard. 


The smoke from the western wildfires affected the sunrise over Lake Michigan.  (I was never outside at the right time to catch the fire-reddened sunset.) 

In the studio:   I finished quilting Serendipity Strings.  (The design concept came from Lynn/Klein Meisje -- she calls them serendipity snakes.)  The back uses a miscellany of light blue prints. It's approx. 68 x 84. 

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I used up a lot of 2" strips to make 60 HeartStrings blocks.  I have lost count of how many HS blocks I've made over the years. 

You will note that I wrote about what fabric I used.  Here is the flip side:  the fabric I acquired!

On Thursday I went to a quilt estate sale.  "I'm Mary," said the woman who answered the door. She explained that she had come from her home in Idaho to help her brother-in-law dispose of his wife/her sister's quilting stash.  Mary's a quilter, too, and we had a very pleasant conversation while I shopped. Fabric less than 1 yard was $4 per piece and fabric more than 1 yard was $5 per piece.  That meant that fat quarters were pricey but yardage was a deal. I opted for the deal.  "Since you're getting this much fabric," she said, "you can take any books and patterns for free."  I had only $112 in my wallet -- good thing I had not gotten more cash earlier! -- but I restrained myself on patterns (and passed on all the books).   I got 46 yards in all. Two of the pieces turned out to be vintage (36" wide) gems.  I also got the X-blocks template as one of the free offerings.  
These are the vintage prints -- 3 yds 30 in. and 2+ yds. 

I stopped at an estate sale here in town on Saturday when all the goods were 75% off. These Hawaiian shirt scraps -- 11 yds by weight -- were $1.00.

About 15 years ago my guild's quilt show committee put out a call for sleeves to cover the long wooden upright poles on the quilt display stands. Each sleeve was 6" x 126" -- that is, three 6" x WOF sewn end-to-end.  I spent hours during Christmas break making sleeves (I think I made more than 60).  The years have passed and the quilt show committee has new members. They've decided to abandon the wooden displays and instead rent pipe-and-drape from a commercial company. (The stands were a pain to assemble and disassemble. The husband who took charge of that entire process has moved (with his wife!) out of state.)  At our last guild Zoom meeting it was announced that the box of sleeves would be thrown out "unless anyone wants them."  You know where this is going, don't you?  I couldn't bear the thought of perfectly usable quilt fabric being pitched. 


The processing is rather tedious.  I'm cutting each sleeve into three WOF-length pieces, pressing them flat, cutting off the seam, and then pressing open. After all that's done I'll weigh them to figure our how much yardage there is. (And, yes, I recognize some of the fabric that I thought I'd gotten rid of forever in that long-ago holiday sewing spree.) 

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This week's reading:  I finished Manitou Canyon, #14 in the Cork Corcoran series by William Kent Krueger.  In 2020 I've gradually been listening/relistening to the series in order. Just three more to go!
I have just 30 more pages in Miss Graham's Cold War Cookbook by Celia Rees.  In 1946 Edith Graham is recruited by the SOE (Special Operations Executive) to catch a Nazi war criminal whom she'd known before the war.  Her cover was teaching school to refugees.  Her messages to her SOE superiors were encoded using a cookbook. 

Thursday, September 17, 2020

Remembering Celia


A hole was torn in the fabric of the Magpies' nest when Celia  Brown passed away on Friday, September 11.  In August she had surgery and developed unexpected and severe complications. 
Fort Worth, 2016: stockyards tour on a rainy day 

 We met on in the mid-1990's on RCTQ, the rec.crafts.textiles.quilting newsgroup. Along with two dozen other RCTQ regulars we created the Magpies in order to chatter to our hearts' content. We've become a close-knit group with regular biennial in-person meetups -- this year in February. We were right on time to celebrate Celia's 81st birthday.

At the premiere Chicago Quilt Festival, 2003. Judy, Celia, Anna, Julie, Nann

Celia Rose Malkin Brown lived her entire life in Malden, Massachusetts (except for college years at RISD in Providence). She and her late husband Ben raised their three children in a wonderful 1890's house in Malden, and she still lived there. When I had library conferences in Boston I would plan an extra day to visit her. Each time she planned an interesting excursion to a museum or a shop or a restaurant (or all three). I partially returned the favor when she came to Chicago for the premiere Quilt Festival at Rosemont in 2003.

The Hawaiian applique quilt was a long-term project. Las Cruces, 2008.

In addition to being an accomplished needlewoman—quilting, knitting, needlepoint—Celia was widely-read and well-traveled, knowledgeable about everything (art, literature, history, music, gardening). She was a wonderful hostess and an excellent cook. She was gracious, generous, and loving. She was a Woman Who Knew Her Mind (and let people know).

One feature of our current times is the prevalence of Zooming for all manner of gatherings.  The graveside service on Monday was on Zoom.  The shiva on Wednesday evening was on Zoom.  We could join from wherever in the world we were to share our memories and celebrate our beloved Celia. 


San Marcos, February 2020

The first PieFest, Ruidoso, NM






 

PieFest East, August, 1999: Tami, Verdi, Celia, me
Kansas City, 2001: Verdi, Chris, Tami, Celia, Me

 

Celia, Carolyn, and I when Prairie Home Companion came to Las Cruces when the Magpies were there, 2008.


At Las Colchas quilt shop in San Antonio, 2020.



Sunday, September 13, 2020

Weekly update: a finish and a start

 

 


The AAUW Waukegan Area Branch had the first meeting of the program year by Zoom on Saturday morning. I was in the comfort of my studio.  I turned off the video so I could sew while listening to Phil Passen's very interesting and entertaining March of the Women: folksongs celebrating the suffrage movement.  (More information  here.)

The sun shone Sunday afternoon when P.E.O. Chapter HV-MY had a social meeting -- outdoors, masked, and distanced (except for the photo).  We have been Zooming since March. This was the first time this many of us have been together in person since then.  It was lovely to catch up.




Catching up in the studio:   I moved Monkey Wrench Batik from flimsy to finished.  I made the quilt top in 2018.  



A while ago Lynn/Klein Meisje Quilts wrote about "serendipity snakes" (here) . I realized that the snakes are a 1.5" version of a jelly roll race. Lynn is always able to make ordinary blocks and piecing look so terrific.  I dug into the 1.5" strip hamper and pieced and pieced and pieced and pieced until I had about 85 yards.  I cut them into 72" lengths and them in 6's.  Here's the flimsy. I will finish basting it this evening.  


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I read two good books this week.  

The Stationery Shop is set partly in 1953 Tehran and partly in 2013 Boston.  It's a story of young love, a bad mistake, loss, and (finally!) reunion. There was a lot I didn't know about post WWII Iran (the era of Aga Khan, etc.).

Sara Seager is an astrophysicist, a MacArthur genius grant recipient, mom to two boys, and widowed at age 40.  She interweaves discovery of other worlds (her specialty is expolanets) and her own world (with a cohort of other young widows in their Boston suburb).  It's a lovely, hopeful memoir.  


Linking up with Oh Scrap!    Monday Making    Design Wall Monday


Friday, September 11, 2020

Friday check in: "where the magic happens" studio tour

 I sold two quilts to VH, our wonderful housecleaner, and said I'd take payment in trade.  On Wednesday she and I spent five hours in my studio cleaning and dusting from the light fixtures to the baseboards. She straightened all the stacks of fabric on the shelves.  

I took photos that evening.  Two days later I haven't messed it up very much, but I don't predict that will last very long.  

(I bought the house because the finished basement family room was ideal for my studio. The previous owner had a model train setup under the track lighting -- just the place for my cutting table.  We have one television. My husband sits in the armchair and I sew while we watch PBS and (mostly) British mystery series. We are binge-watching Hetty Wainthropp now.)

A dresser scarf for a treadle sewing machine. 
DH in situ.  Quilting books and magazines on the shelves against the far wall.
The Library Bureau catalog cabinet dates from the late 1920s. It holds thread and other notions. That's my Singer 301 ("Sweetness") in the yellow case at the left.  I bought the red table in 1977 ($10 at a moving sale). It has been our dining table, my office desk, and now the TV stand. 
The treadle machine is a 1909 Singer Red Eye. It works but I just use it as a side table. My machine (Janome 8200) is set in a Tracey's Table.
The plastic tubs hold flimsies and vintage fabric.  
The bulk of the stash, mostly by color.  
Batiks on the left.  Color-sorted FQs on the right. (I want to get a half-dozen of the wire basket units to replace the cheapo particle-board shelving.) 
The cabinets, counter, and sink were moved downstairs when the kitchen was remodeled in circa 1987. The storage space is handy.  The big bins at the back hold backings.
VH and I will tackle this room next month!

Sunday, September 6, 2020

Weekly update: summer's end?, estate sale finds, and goal finished

It's Labor Day weekend already? Where has the summer gone? 

 xx In the  ravine on Sunday afternoon:  lobelia.

xx I went to two estate sales on Friday.  It turned out that I know the families of both from church.  I remember Judy talking at coffee hour about cleaning out her mother's  house which had been the family home for more than 60 years.  Mom didn't throw anything out and bought (and bought) from the TV shopping sites.  

My first-grade primer was the same as Judy's. (Her mom saved the entire series but I just bought this one.) 



There were many, many sheet sets.  I limited my purchase to the pillowcases for the novelty of two-cotton blend. [Also: a never-used commercial-weight press cloth (or PresKloth) that I may actually use.] 

A never-opened linen Christmas table cloth and a never-opened package of two cotton pillow ticks. I think that "Grant Maid" indicated they came from  Grant's .

This was fun -- "Sew a Skirt in 45 minutes."  The skirt shape was already cut and there are velcro fasteners to hold it together.  The original J.C. Penney paper bag had a (c) 1978. 

And, yes, I bought some quilting fabric.  (22-1/2 yards for $25.) 

In the studio:  the second of my two-part goals for the September One Monthly Goal. I made the scrappy slab blocks last year.   The blocks are 6.5" x 9.5" unfinished. The quilt is 54 x 63.   3-1/2 yards for the back and binding. 


I read two really good books this week.  
Carl Hiaasen writes another rollicking tale of inept crooks, wackos (in this case the POTUS, his wife, and various members of their entourage), and good-hearted folks caught in the middle. Oh, yes, and Burmese pythons.  It turns out there are better things to be than thin and rich.  It's very, very, very funny.  

It's a little disconcerting (but not in a bad way) to read a "historical" family story and realize that the "history" is all within my own lifetime. Ellie and Brick McGinty are people we know (maybe they are people we are related to). It's their story but it's also their daughter Sam's story.  She learns early that parents are not perfect but they are doing their best. Love. Forgiveness. And keeping on.
Two nuggets: Ellie says, "Grief is that monster that bangs at your door until you let it in and sit with it for a while. When you get bored with each other, the monster leaves." Sam: "How long does the monster stay?" Ellie: "That's not the question. It's how long does it take you to answer the door and let it in. That's where the pain is. You hae to open the door....The longer [you] wait, the longer the monster stands [the] way, blocking all the good trying to find [you]."

and:  Paull-with-two-els says, "Resentment will eat you alive while the people who hurt you do just fine."

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Linking up with Oh Scrap!        Monday Making      Design Wall Monday

P.S.  I recently learned that two of my college sorority chapter sisters passed away this summer -- 68 and 67.   I'd lost touch with them but reconnected in recent years through Facebook.  That news prompted many memories among our FB group. 


Wednesday, September 2, 2020

Midweek: half of the goal

 xx

My OMG for September is to quilt two flimsies.  I took 'em all out of the box (see yesterday's post).  Since Bulleye Stars was underway I began with that.  I made the flimsy over a year ago .  It uses the South African shweshwe indigos that I'd been collecting one quilt show at a time.  I basted it and began quilting. I didn't like the way the quilting was turning out but by the time I realized that I'd quilted far too much to rip anything out.  Rather than torture myself I rolled up the quilt sandwich and stuffed it in the box. 

It turned out that I was a lot farther along that I remembered.  I was able to finish the quilting and the binding!  After a good pressing it doesn't look that bad.  

Now, on to flimsy #2!

Linking up with Midweek Makers





Monday, August 31, 2020

Hold on to your horses! the stash report and OMG September

 I can't believe it either.  I made the blocks on Friday and Saturday and here is a finished quilt. Another no-deadline, no-destination project that went together slick as a whistle.  The back shows the curlicue quilting in the center and my go-to "almost feathers" in the border. 


Stash report:  

August fabric IN 7 yards, $6.50   -- a cotton bedsheet and a turquoise plaid XXL shirt at Salvation Army

August fabric OUT  101-1/2   -- all my quilting projects plus 6 yards flung with the Teal Swap and 50 yards flung to The Joyful Quilter for her Lutheran World Relief project. 

Year-to-date IN  693-1/4, $872, average $1.26 per yard. (Remember, I got free fabric from TWO destashings.)

Year-to-date OUT 723-5/8  / Net REDUCTION  30-3/8  

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It's time to declare my One Monthly Goal for September.  I don't have pressing must-dos right now. I've decided that I will quilt at least two of the flimsies that have been languishing, in some cases for years. I don't know WHICH flimsies. You'll just have to stay tuned!


In the photo: quilt on the left is partially quilted. The stack on the right were created as far back as 2007 and as recently as mid-August.

Linking up with other OMGers at Elm Street Quilts (when Patty opens the sign up tomorrow).