Friday, December 8, 2023

Friday check in: more celebrating, UFO out-and-in, and two flimsies


Tuesday:  I was co-hostess for the Zion Woman's Club  holiday luncheon.  I brought out some of my vintage Christmas tablecloths.

There was lasagna left over for Stevens to enjoy the next day (and more in the freezer).   

The gift card "tree" was actually a picture frame with $300 worth of gift cards.  Judy and Dottie are holding it. Dottie's niece was the winner.  

We chose "festive food" for the gift exchange.  I got a gift certificate to a local bakery cleverly packaged in a holiday mug.

Wednesday:  Northern Lake County Quilters Guild holiday dinner.   The meal was catered by an Italian restaurant in Chicago (family of a guild member)--Italian beef, sausage and peppers, chicken and potatoes, mostaccioli, and all the trimmings.  Guild members brought dessert.  What a feast!  

We were assigned seats  in order that we'd get to meet more people. (The guild has quite a number of new members.   I joined in 1999 making me an old-timer.)   There were six one-yard pieces of batiks on each table.   We played Fold-Snip-Rip-Drop-Pass  :  each person takes a yard, folds it in half, snips, rips it in half, keeps half and passes half. Repeat around the table.  Everyone ends up with six prints in six sizes.  (Now we are challenged to make something for a charity project.)  

Ornaments gotten and given 

There was a non-quilty gift exchange (I got a trio of scented candles) and a quilted ornament exchange (I made a mug rug (an ornament for the table) and got a beautiful embroidered banner).

We were invited to bring UFOs of any age, at any stage. Each person got five raffle tickets and could buy more (6 for $5).  I donated four -- and I won three!  

Top:  die-cut diamonds for a LOT of kaleidoscope blocks (but only eight had the white wings sewn on).  

Left:  instructions for paper-pieced Women of the Bible blocks.  Seven finished blocks (some cropped for the photo collage).  (Karen began these in 2019.) 

Right:  a 2003 project for a set of four placemats.  Two blocks made. 

Will I get around to making any of these?  For the time being I am giving them a good home.

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UFOs have been on my mind ("Can I bear to part with this one?" "Am I giving up too soon?"  [It's been 10 years.] "What if I arranged the blocks this way?"]   The Quiltville mystery is on my mind.  

I came across a ziploc bag with leftovers from Grassy Creek, the 2020 mystery.  

As I recall the gray string blocks were supposed to be half uphill and half downhill.  I made all of them the same direction, so I had to make half again as many going the other way -- leaving me with leftovers. At some point I made long units with citrus colors. 

Here's what they became!  (Yes, I had to make more gray blocks.) 

Both are wheelchair size. 

  Linking up with Finished or Not Friday Peacock Party Can I Get a Whoop Whoop?

P.S.  Sunshine Thursday + 50 degrees provided a good afternoon for a walk. 

Monday, December 4, 2023

Weekly update: holiday celebrations, small finishes, and OMG December + reading


The social whirl is underway!  

The GFWC-IL District 10 luncheon was on Wednesday.  We played Santa bingo.   I won $41 in the split-the-pot raffle.   

There was a Christmas tree trivia quiz.  The average artificial tree is used for 6 years (and is in the landfill forever).....Christmas trees are grown in all 50 states....Calvin Coolidge began the Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony in 1923.

Friday evening we enjoyed dinner with Rotary friends prior to the Carthage College Christmas Festival

Familiar carols and other old and new songs, with splendid choral and instrumental music.  

Saturday was the AAUW Waukegan Area Branch holiday luncheon at Lamb's Farm.  It's a residential vocational center for adults with disabilities. Their restaurant servers are clients.   Of course we don't just eat -- we raise money!  There's a white elephant/silent auction (AAUW Greatest Needs Fund), a 50/50 cash raffle (local STEM scholarship), and the quilt raffle (Greatest Needs).  

Here are Betsy and me with the winning ticket for the quilt and the **$118** that I won in the cash raffle!  

I made the quilt in June and quilted it in July. (Photo shows front and back.) 

I paid $12, total, for two silent auction items that will be perfect for upcoming holiday gift swaps, and people bought the things I brought so I didn't have to haul them back home. 

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In the studio:   I used HSTs left over from this quilt to make placemats.  The dark blues are a Chicago Bears print.   Nursing home/Meals on Wheels placemats are one of my guild's charity projects. 

OMG for December  I'm going to keep up with the clues for Indigo Way.  Right now I'm 1/3 done with Clue 2.

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"That's the thing about Coopers Chase. You'd imagine it was quiet and sedate...but in truth it's always in motion. And that motion is aging, and death, and love, and grief, and final snatched moments and opportunities grasped. The urgency of old age. There's nothing that makes you feel more alive than the certainty of death," writes Joyce. (348).

#4 in the series is the best yet. The intrepid four from Coopers Chase retirement home -- Elizabeth (former MI6), Ron (union organizer), Ibrahim (still-practicing psychologist), and Joyce (retired nurse) -- enlist the help of long-time friends and new ones to solve the murder of an antiques dealer. It's a pleasantly convoluted caper novel and a delight to read.

I appreciated Osman's descriptions of Elizabeth's husband Stephen who has dementia.  "Stephen was right: our memories are no less real than whatever moment in which we happen to be living." (320)

Osman is a screenwriter and structures the books like a script -- very episodic. He writes that he's going to give the Thursday Murder Club a break (the next book will have different characters) but assures us that they'll be back. Meanwhile, I hope he'll work on a dramatization. (I'm thinking of Eileen Atkins for Elizabeth, Bill Nighy for Ron. Elizabeth McRae (Brokenwood) for Joyce. Not sure for Ibrahim....)

Linking up with Sew and Tell  OMG at Stories from the Sewing Room Design Wall Monday Oh Scrap!

Wednesday, November 29, 2023

Midweek: Hourglass finish, OMG completed, and the stash report


Arabic Hourglass is finished.  I did rip out and re-sew the misturned blocks. However, as I basted it I found a dark block next to a dark block.  I left that one alone.  

I pieced the left over blocks into the back. 

I started and finished three other quilts this month.  The baby quilt (on the left) was my One Monthly Goal. The others just happened!

BTW, the baby arrived November 16.  His mother had some complications but both she and the baby are doing well.  The postponed shower will instead be a welcome party sometime in the new year.

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The stash report for November:

Fabric IN:  157-1/2 yards (138 from an estate sale and 19-1/2 from the guild free table).  $265.00 = $1.68 per yard. 

Fabric OUT:  61-3/8 yards.

Fabric IN, YTD:  2016 yards, $2047.00, $1.01 per yard.

Fabric OUT, YTD:  985-1/4 yards.   

Net GAIN: 1031.  Yikes!  But I could've spent time at the casino (or one of the numerous "play slots here" places), which I did not.

Linking up with Midweek Makers Wednesday Wait Loss OMG at Stories from the Sewing Room

Monday, November 27, 2023

Weekly update: Indigo Way begins, under the needle + reading


Sunday brought a dusting of snow.  It looks pretty and I am glad it won't last long.

Photo taken at the state park.  I stopped on the way home from church but I didn't take a walk!

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I've made many of the Quiltville mysteries.  I was greatly disappointed in two of them Grand Illusion and Rhododendron Trail) and skipped their immediate successors, Allietare and Chilhowie.  Those turned out to be designs I liked. 

Now it's time for Indigo Way.  I've decided to give it a go.  

I have a hoard of South African indigos but I'm still hoarding them.   These HSTs are made with dark, indigo-ish blues from my stash. 

Arabic Hourglass is under the needle.  I did rip out and re-orient the mis-turned blocks. 

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This Civil War story is told from a new perspective.  In 1862 Constance leaves her husband on their southeastern Indiana farm and enlists in the Union Army disguised as a man called Ash Thompson.  Ash tells the first-person experience of skirmishes (mostly), full-blown battles (some), missing her husband (frequent letters home (amazing that the postal service worked efficiently)).  Ash kept the disguise through capture, imprisonment, and confinement in an insane asylum.  Ash carries all the horror and trauma back home.  

Laird Hunt writes concisely and precisely: just enough and no more.  Perfect.

# # # # #  Linking up with Oh Scrap!  Design Wall Monday Sew and Tell

Friday, November 24, 2023

Friday check in: it's a flimsy


Moss on fungus at Lyons Woods on Wednesday. 

Queen Anne's lace is still lacy at Sun Lake on Thursday.

After all that walking (the Sun Lake trail is 2.5 miles) I allowed myself generous portions for Thanksgiving dinner.  

 Turkey was .59/lb with a $25 purchase at Jewel.  I bought a 17-pounder because we like the left overs. The sides were red cabbage with apples, wild rice pilaf with pecans, green beans (not the casserole!).  I always make Mama Stamberg's cranberry relish and this year I tried the chutney (click on the link to get the recipes for both).  

As the song says, "Hurrah for the pumpkin pie!"  I cook down the Halloween pumpkins, freeze the pulp, and make pies (and other pumpkin delights).    

# # # # #  I flung two quilts for the December 2 fundraiser for Cory's Project.  Quilts need to be out in the world rather than in a pile in the basement.

I thank Dot in NC who pointed out that the block is a variation of Arabic Lattice.  I'm calling it Arabic Hourglass.  

Can you find the mis-turned units?   Do you think I should change them?  

Linking up with  Finished or Not Friday Peacock Party

Sunday, November 19, 2023

Weekly update: a finish, the WIP, and a reading trio

 A string of sunny days called for afternoon walks!  

Right:  the heron was intent on the frog it was eating so I could get a close-up photo.  

On a clear day you can see the Chicago skyline from Illinois Beach State Park.  

 I cropped and enlarged the photo and it may be a little blurry.   The dredger is for the shoreline restoration project. Look to the left of it to see the skyscrapers.

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Sparkling Triangles is finished.  

I made a zipper insert for the back.  I learned the technique from Mary Ellen Hopkins and I use it often.  It's interesting to note that people have looked for an actual zipper.  When I posted the photos on two FB groups the back got many comments ("most beautiful back ever!" "that's fabulous!").  

Here is the WIP I hinted at last week.  

Someone on a FB group posted a photo of a quilt in this design.  I promptly charted it out.  

I made 3.5" (unfinished) black/white/gray hourglass units, the same as the inspiration photo, until I used up all the gray.  I was aiming for 72 units and got 83.  It's good to have some extras. 

All the center units will point the same direction eventually.  

I cut 5" x 10" rectangles of the light and dark prints and cut them diagonally.  

A partial seam is involved. I start with the top piece and work to the right. (For the left block: light, green, light, green.)

 There's a lot of trimming required.   I could have cut the light and dark rectangles smaller but I didn't bother to figure out the math.

The blocks are 7.5" unfinished.

All 72 blocks will make a quilt 56" x 63".   When it's assembled I'll decide if I want to add a border. 

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Julie Otsuka spoke at the ALA conference this summer when she received an award for her latest novel, The Swimmers.  I read the copy I got at that program and enjoyed it.   A couple of months later Ann (Fret Not Yourself) recommended Otsuka's second novel The Buddha in the Attic.  I decided to read her first novel, When the Emperor Was Divine, and then the second.    

Emperor is about Japanese-Americans sent to internment camps, told from the first-person points of view of each member of one family: the mother who is holding it together, the daughter who is both gregarious and protective, the son whose effort to find his place in the world is turned upside-down, and the father who is sent away to a military camp.  What struck me is how "everyday" their lives were before--and the story ends before the "after."   

Buddha is thirty years before when mail-order brides sailed from Japan to their new, never-met husbands in California.  Some matches were successful.  Many were not.  The women tell their stories together:  "We were farmers, we were maids, we were mothers," echoing the way that history books lump people together. Later in the story they regain their own names.    

The Swimmers is contemporary, again  told from an unusual point of view -- "you" is at first one of a group of avid swimmers who regularly work out at a pool "far underground." When the pool is closed for maintenance the common tie is broken and the group disperses. For Alice the routine was a tether. Without the pool her dementia worsens and she moves to a care facility. Alice's daughter is the "you" in the second part of her book, an observer and recaller of Alice's life.  Otsuka's own mother's story forms part of her prize-winning book.

Otsuka's style is crisp, tight, polished.  The stories are wonderful and thought-provoking.

Linking up with Oh Scrap!   Sew and Tell  Design Wall Monday  

Wednesday, November 15, 2023

Midweek: catching up, indulgence, and a new start


Here are my Bramble Blooms blossoms.  They're fused (Heat 'n' Bond Light) and sewn with a narrow zigzag stitch.

Sparkling Triangles, continued:   I cut the border strips 6" because that was the width of the pattern repeat.  You might think the border print is sufficiently busy to make matched seams unnecessary, but I like to try to do that. (Maybe it's a holdover from all those years of garment sewing....).   I may trim the borders down an inch, but I may not.  

Yesterday was Part III of Barb M's estate sale. Here's my haul -- it worked out to $1.92 per yard.  (Part II was in October and Part I in September.)   The proceeds from each sale go to nonprofit organizations, this time to Make-a-Wish.   Paula said there are two bedrooms in Barb M's house (her husband still lives there) that she and her group haven't entered, both packed with fabric.  The next sale will benefit St. Judes and the sale after that will benefit  P.E.O.  "I'm a P.E.O.," I said, and Paula introduced me to Lisa, one of the helpers, who belongs to a P.E.O. chapter in Kenosha.  What fun!

To wrap up this midweek post:  here is the new start.  Come back on Friday to see these hourglass units pieced into blocks.  

Linking up with Wednesday Wait Loss

Midweek Makers 

Monday, November 13, 2023

Weekly update: sunshine, music, scraps + reading

 Just two walks last week -- Sand Pond (close to home at Illinois Beach State Park) and Greenbelt (on the border of Waukegan and North Chicago).   

On many days Stevens will declare right after lunch that he's ready to go out.   A good habit for both of us.  

Yesterday's baby shower (for which I made the quilt I showed last Wednesday) was cancelled.  The mother-to-be was having false labor.  (No baby yet, though.)    It was a good thing I hadn't given away our tickets to the LCCCA performance.   The Suits were great!  

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In the studio:  the I Spy baby quilt generated a pile of cut-away triangles, all yellow-and-novelty. I sewed and trimmed them into 1.5" HSTs and then made 4.5" star blocks.   Earlier this year I did the same thing with left overs from another I Spy quilt. I was able to get 33 little stars between the two quilts.

I'll let them marinate for a while.

More 1.5" HSTs were sitting in a box.  I thought about making them into ocean waves blocks (inspired by Ann/Fret Not Yourself) but the alternate snowball blocks were fiddly with such small pieces.  I made twosies into foursies into 16-patches.  The green-with-white setting fabric was a fairly recent acquisition and I had just enough of it.  (I cut setting triangles oversized to provide a good "float.")  I'm pretty sure I'll use the blue floral (selvedge date 2012) for the borders.  Blocks are 4-1/2" unfinished.  

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I've haven't attended the Zoom P.E.O. Book Club for a couple of months due to schedule conflicts (and once, I confess, because I didn't want to reread the book).  

 I'm all set for tomorrow's discussion when historian Katherine Sharp Landdeck will join us to talk about her book.   She makes history come to life with the personal recollections by these pioneering women aviators.  

Linking up with  Design Wall Monday Oh Scrap!   Sew and Tell

P.S.  I made a quilt block to decorate a plain shopping bag for the baby quilt.  I fused the block to the bag with ultra-hold Heat'n'Bond.

Thursday, November 9, 2023

Friday check in: Bramble Blooms QAL

I've signed up for Audrey's Bramble Blooms QAL.  More accurately it is a DAL -- design along -- and I look forward to the exercise in creativity.  

The introductory post was about the fabric pull:  three colors in stacks, with a variety of prints in each stack.  

I started with light green, then went to pink, and finally purple.

Part one was to make a background using fabric from one stack.  Here's mine. 

They are similar but distinct from one another.

I learned to make pieced backgrounds in a  workshop with Pat Sloan and I've made them several times since then.  

The fun part with Bramble Blossoms is the second lesson:  freehand applique.  Here's my first draft.  More to come!  

Commenting on Audrey's Quilty Folk and linking up with Finished Or Not Friday and  Can I Get a Whoop Whoop?

Wednesday, November 8, 2023

Midweek: I spy a finished quilt


Yesterday the Zion Woman's Club enjoyed a program about Quilts of Valor presented by my guild friend Sharon.  ZWC learned a lot and I did, too!  

There are two veterans in our club and I'm going to propose a QOV award for them. 

This week's start-and-finish.

Our P.E.O. chapter is having a baby shower this coming Sunday.  One of our chapter sisters is expecting her first child in December.   Though the shower theme is books, and I have those to give, I couldn't NOT make a quilt!  Linda W., another chapter sister, is also a quilter and she made a bunch of blocks for this project.  

Blocks use a 5." square and two 2.5" squares to finish at 4.5".

At least one of the novelty prints I used here was also in the first I Spy quilt I made for another P.E.O. chapter sister -- back in 1999!  Even a F8th of a novelty cam go a long way.

I've sewn and trimmed all the cut-away corners into 1.5" HSTs.  

Linking up with Midweek Makers  Wednesday Wait Loss