Sunday, December 27, 2009

Season's Piecings

The Zion-Benton Unit of the Boys & Girls Club of Lake County has a "Have a Heart" fundraising banquet at Valentine's Day. It includes a raffle/auction. I knew I would contribute a quilt to the event but it wasn't until December 24 (yep, three days ago) that I found this pattern in a stack of articles I had clipped from quilt magazines. The design is by Lynda Milligan and Nancy Smith, aka Possibilities.
Some quilts just throw themselves together, and this is one of them. All the homespun fabric came right from my stash, including the red-on-red border.  It's 64x72 and it's finished!!

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Stars and Rails

After I finished quilting "Scrappy Triangles" (see previous post), I put a bunch of red-and-blue rail fence blocks up on the design wall. I remembered a pattern in the December, 2009, issue of Quilter's World that used rail fence blocks and stars. Those blocks were 4.5" and mine were 6.5". As a result, my quilt is 92" compared to the QW version, which is 68".

Friday, December 11, 2009

Leaders-and-Enders: Scrappy Triangles

My leaders-and-enders project in recent months has been half-square triangles. [See for more about leaders-and-enders. Half-square triangles, HSTs for short, are not triangles. They are squares made out of two right-angle triangles.] I began with 3" squares and trimmed them to 2.5". The blocks are 12.5" unfinished and each contains 36 HSTs. There are 49 blocks, so the quilt has 1,764 HSTs (and thus 3,528 individual triangles). Many of the fabrics are repeated, so this is not a 'charm' quilt (in which each fabric must be different). It's 84 x 84 and I am not going to put a border on it. Did it make a dent in the box of 3" squares? Somewhat!

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Estate Sale, part 2

After the JAD luncheon (see previous post) several of us went back to the Callahan estate sale. Today was positively the last day, and everything was 75% off. There was still a LOT of stuff.
Here's my haul. $51.25 total! The floral fabric on the bed turned out to be 11 yards, 'designed by Barbara Cartland,' copyright 1980. ($15.00) There is another chunk of upholstery fabric (1970's "Early American" style), a piece of uncut bandanna/scarf fabric (red heart print), and a Japanese yukata.
ERA buttons! (I did not purchase the one that said, "Another Republican for ERA.") Illinois is one of the states that has not yet passed the amendent, even though the Illinois state constitution has an equal rights provision.
Three pillows made out of vintage quilt blocks.
"Stars and bars"--20 brass star-shaped napkin rings and a whole sack of daisy-shaped guest soaps. What every P.E.O. hostess needs!
A silver-plated pitcher (engraved with "First place GPA 1968"), a serving spoon that I thought was silver (after polishing it, I found out that it is silver-over-brass: Indian, most likely) and a lustre-ware pitcher.
And, for the next white elephant exchange: this exquisite beaded basket made from the finest plastic beads--and safety pins!

Jane Addams Day

AAUW-IL celebrated Jane Addams Day today. The event was held at Bowen Park in Waukegan. That's the site of the Bowen Country Club which was established by Jane Addams and Louise DeKoven Bowen as a summer camp for Hull-House children.

"Every summer from 1912 until 1963, children from the steamy and congested streets of Chicago's Near West Side ran and played amidst the wildflowers and trees at the Joseph T. Bowen Country Club. Located on 72 acres of forest, field, and ravine near Waukegan, Illinois, the Bowen Country Club was the summer camp of the world famous Hull-House social settlement house. Financed by philanthropist and social activist Louise deKoven Bowen, the camp sought to provide a sojourn in the country as a necessary antidote to the stresses of city life. Prominent Chicagoans donated funds to build sleeping cottages and children and mothers were invited to the camp for two-week rotations. Days were packed with activities such as swimming in the camp's circular pool, team and individual sports contests, classes in folk or rhythmic dance, games, parties, and art lessons. After a hearty meal in the Commons dining room, a campfire and sing-a-long often ended the day." From:

There is more historical information at

100 people came to the JAD event. AAUW-IL was instrumental in having JAD declared a state observance. It's December 10 every year.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Estate sale

I went to an estate sale in Waukegan today. This was the SECOND sale for the same estate. The first one, last month, went on for three days. (I was unable to go.) This one began yesterday and will end Sunday. It didn't look picked-over at all, which means that there was a LOT of stuff. I did not know the woman, but I have friends who did and they said that when she found something she liked she bought it in multiples, and she never threw anything away. She was a realtor, served on the boards of community agencies, loved to travel, garden, and collect. And collect. And collect.
The first photo shows everything I bought.

Next: a Lone Star, hand-pieced, bound (sewn with zig-zag). Two of the star points are somewhat faded, but the piecing is excellent. The star is flat (achieving that is difficult with this pattern).

This is a cotton batik sarong. It's a 'second'--the third photo shows where it misprinted. When cut up for a quilt the misprints won't show (at least not show as much). The printer's stamp in the photo is about 2" long.

This is a framed mola. It's 40 x 18. (Just $10.50!)

Four batik napkins. I have a couple of similar sets. One day I will use them in a quilt.

This is a pine utility box. It had a carrying handle, now broken off, and one corner is banged up. I choose to say that it's 'distressed,' and I'll use it to hold notions, or something.

I had not yet purchased Christmas cards for this year. These are Unicef cards, 13 packages of 10, sticker price $8.50 per package. Estate sale price $1.00 per package.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Blogaversary + 100th post

This is my second blogaversary (first post was 12/2/07) and, coincidentally, it's my 100th post. How 'bout that?!

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Twilight Sampler

The blocks I received in the Twilight exchange came to the top of my swap block box (say that three times fast!). I put them up on the design wall just to see what they looked like....and here is what they became. This is still a flimsy (unquilted top) and I expect it to stay that way for a while. It's 84 x 84.

Monday, November 23, 2009

T-shirt quilt: finished!

"Out of the strain of the doing, into the peace of the done."

I offered a t-shirt quilt in the 2008 Rotary auction. Cindy B. was the successful bidder. She wanted a quilt for her son Chris, who graduated from high school this year. In August Cindy brought me the t-shirts that Chris selected. It took me a while to choose from among them, and then decide how I wanted to set them, and then how to quilt the result. (Reading blogs and discussion group posts about t-shirt quilts provided almost too much inspiration!) It's big -- 84 x 87. The quilting isn't perfect (despite fusing the motifs to interfacing, the t-shirt fabric still stretched). But it's done! And Chris will have a quilt for Christmas.
I hope to have a burst of productivity now that this logjam has been broken. 

Friday, November 20, 2009

Mama Stamberg's cranberry relish

I make this relish every year. We love it!

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

84, Charing Cross Road: 60 years ago today, and my follow up

From today's edition of "The Writer's Almanac"
"It was on this day in 1949 that Helene Hanff wrote her third letter from New York City to a used bookshop at 84 Charing Cross Road, London. It was the beginning of a flirtatious epistolary friendship across the Atlantic that lasted for 20 years and revolved around classic literature. The letters were collected into 84, Charing Cross Road, a book Hanff published in 1970 and later adapted for the London stage, into a Broadway production, and into a film starring Anne Bancroft and Anthony Hopkins (1987).....
"After 20 years of corresponding with Frank Doel, Hanff received a letter from the bookstore that he had passed away. She had never made it to London nor met him in person. The day in 1969 that she found in her mailbox the news of his death, she also found a rejection slip for a play script she'd submitted.
"She decided then that she was going to share the story of her correspondence, but figured it would be in a magazine article. But in 1971, she ended up publishing the letters in a slim book, just 97 pages long. It was a huge success (though no one had really expected it to be) and became a best-seller. The Wall Street Journal said of her book: 'A real-life love story … A timeless period piece. DO READ IT.'"

In 1981 I created a booktalk based on Helene Hanff's three books: 84, The Duchess of Bloomsbury Street, and Q's Legacy. My booktalk included her reply to a fan letter that I had written her (I still have the letter) and an article she wrote for Reader's Digest about the success of 84 in which she mentioned the number of books people sent her (c/o the address in the book, which was several apartments prior to where she lived then), not thinking to enclose return postage, and the reviewer who suggested that people sent her money to help fund a trip to England (which they did, and she did).

In 1990 I was co-chairman of the Maine Library Assn. annual conference. I thought I'd invite Ms. Hanff to be the speaker at the banquet. That was before websites and e-mail, of course. I went to the library's collection of telephone books and, yes, she was in the Manhattan directory. So I called her -- and she answered! In an evocative throaty (smoker/drinker, most likely) New York accent, she said that she appreciated the invitation but was unable to travel.

I confess that I haven't seen the stage play or the movie. I like the mental pictures that reading these charming books provides.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Book review

I'm giving a book review this evening for the Women's Club at Our Lady of Humility church. It's become an annual event, which is nice because I have gotten to know many of the women. (You know you're settling into a community when you see people you know at the grocery store and the post office.)

Here are the books I'll be talking about:

*American Wife, by Curtis Sittenfeld -- a novel about the first lady of the U.S. (not quite Laura-and-W, but almost!)

* Broken for You and Sing Them Home, by Stephanie Kallos -- she writes like Anne Tyler with quirky characters you are so glad you're not related to, whose stories are so compelling that you have to keep reading

* Emily Post, by Laura Claridge -- "daughter of the Gilded Age, Mistress of American Manners"

* The Red Leather Diary, by Lily Koppel -- this is a one of my favorite books this year. Koppel found a diary in the trash and was able to find the woman who wrote it.

* Unfinished Desires, by Gail Godwin -- to be published in December, an intriguing, un-putdown-able story about the alumnae of a Catholic girls' school

* Sister Bernadette's Barking Dog and Script and Scribble, by Kitty Burns Florey -- the first is about diagramming sentences, which she and many people (including me) liked to do; the second is about penmanship's heyday and its decline

* I Feel Bad About My Neck, by Nora Ephron -- this is a collection of essays with some spot-on observations. My favorite is about purses.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

In celebration of catalog cards

From today's American Libraries Direct (the online update from ALA):
In celebration of catalog cards: Staff at the University of South Carolina’s Thomas Cooper Library are working to hold a series of events called “It’s All in the Cards” to honor the card catalog, its use in the transformation of knowledge, and the people who created and used it. During Welcome Week there was a game night and a boat race featuring cards from the catalog. The latest event is a competition (PDF file) that challenges students to see what they can make with the cards. The contest has four categories: functional (serves a purpose), fashionable (wearable), foundational (building models), and free form....

I have typed a fair number of catalog cards in my time. (Electric eraser, anyone?) I've filed them. I've pulled even more out of the catalog drawers as part of collection maintenance. I have a 30-drawer unit (Library Bureau, circa 1920) in my studio that holds thread and other notions.

Though librarians may harbor some nostalgia about card catalogs, they don't miss the space that they took up or the staff time they required to stay up-to-date.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Utah Rocks!

Our fall Exploritas/Elderhostel trip was fantastic! The national parks and monuments of Utah (state parks, too) are magnificent. There were 40 in our group, including a P.E.O. (Chapter AW-North Carolina), one AAUW (Littleton, CO), a quilter (Corfu, NY), and a Methodist pastor (NC). (No librarians. But there was a woman with whom I had been stranded overnight in New Orleans in a fierce rainstorm, both of us trying to get to Minneapolis (and for her to Rochester, for me to Fargo), in January, 1998.)

I kept up with e-mail and FaceBook, but not with blogging (obviously). Here are some of the photos:

Trip highlights, pre-Elderhostel
* seeing friends Lynn and Rob in their new locale of Boulder City
* tour of Hoover Dam and Lake Mead
* surviving Saturday night on the Strip in Las Vegas
* discovering Springs Preserve, a nature preserve in Las Vegas (www.
* touring the Atomic Testing Museum (

Trip highlights from the Elderhostel:
* historic St. George, Utah, founded on orders from Brigham Young as a cotton-growing community
* tour of the St. George tabernacle, the original LDS church building in St. George (now a venue for concerts and the like)
* National parks: Zion, Bryce, Capitol Reef, Canyonlands, Arches, Monument Valley, Glen Canyon/Lake Powell
* State parks: Snow Canyon, Anasazi, Dead Horse Point

* Antelope Slot Canyon
* Expert geology tutelage from tour leader Eldon Griffin
* Expert tour guidance from leader Nancy Osborne
* Excellent bus driving by Bill Costello
* the city of Moab, whose long Main Street lined with boutiques, restaurants, motels, and sports outfitters reminded us of North Conway, NH (though the surrounding hills were a very different color!)

It was raining when we landed in Chicago on Thursday evening, a fitting contrast to our two weeks in desert country. My internal clock is just about readjusted. (Las Vegas is on Pacific Time; Utah is on Mountain Time; Arizona is on standard time year round, and we were in all three.)

The new Exploritas catalog came this weekend. Where shall we go next?!

Friday, October 2, 2009

New jacket!

Our Exploritas/Elderhostel trips don't require dressy clothing--generally denim-shirt/tee/khakis. However, I like to bring along something that, though casual, is a little snappier in case we go to church or have a restaurant dinner.

In anticipation of our upcoming trip to Utah ("Stairway to the Past: Utah's Grand Circle of Parks and Monuments"), and because it's fall and I wanted something new to wear, and because my box of dotted fabrics is still overflowing, I created this.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Google Alerts picked up this news story today:
"The age-old tradition of quilting, recalling a quaint circle of ladies sharing gossip while silently sewing fabric patches, doesn't exactly mesh with rock and roll, The Doobie Brothers, and the BR Cohn Fall Music Festival. That is about to change."

Quilters and librarians are neck-and-neck (and up to their necks) in stereotypes.

And I'm both, and I am not a stereotype. (I hope.)

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Homespun Squares

"Homespun Squares," 70 x 70. Started and finished(!!) this month. This is my contribution (on behalf of Waukegan AAUW) to the Lake County Women's Coalition's annual fundraising tea.
This year is the last tea, but I'm sure I'll have an opportunity to contribute at their Women's History Month celebration.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

"Twilight" blocks

The BlockSwappers YahooGroup is doing a "Twilight" swap, named for the series by Stephenie Meyer
The book covers are black, gray, white, and red, so that's the color scheme for the swap. 12" blocks of the maker's choice. My blocks are "Mill Star" and "54-40 Askew." It is a regular "54-40 or Fight" block but I found out after I'd cut all the pieces that I cut them for a 9" block. I added the borders and cut them on an angle, and hence the new name.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Christmas Ribbons

Finally -- a finished flimsy! This is "Christmas Ribbons." It's a traditional block called Oklahoma Twister which was included in a book of "quilt blocks for 50 states." I thought that the twisty HSTs looked like ribbons, and so a quilt design was born. The borders are copied from an Oklahoma Twister quilt in a Webshots album. It's 74 x 86. It will be professionally quilted. The Friends of the Library will raffle it this fall.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Garage sale results

Garage sale, day one (Friday): $649.40.
Garage sale, day two (Saturday): $347.65.
Total for the two days: $997.05.
Less expenses (classified ads and balloons): $90.
Net: $907.05
(When I made the bank deposit I learned that I had seriously undercounted the revenue--by $201! So I have updated my previous post to show the correct amounts.)

7 boxes delivered to Salvation Army thus far.
3 boxes filled for church rummage sale thus far.
More to clean up and decide: keep, donate, pitch.
With luck we can park the cars in the garage tonight!

P.S. Four Fiesta luncheon plates and the 2-pint jug sold. ($10 per plate and a bargain $30 for the jug.) I also sold (for $150) the HandiQuilter that I bought in 2005 from a woman who'd never taken it out of the box--I got as far as opening the box, but put it all away again--perhaps yesterday's purchaser will actually set it up!

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Garage Sale at the sign of the red, buff, and green balloons

(Note that one of them is a gold star!)
It's been 7 years since I had a garage sale. Since then I moved to a larger house, which only meant more space to squirrel away stuff. Then DH and I combined households: a lot of this has GOT to go.
Preparing for a garage sale is physically and
emotionally exhausting. "I remember when I got this....This would be useful someday....Hmm, $1 or .50?....Why did I keep this? I never did like it."
My ad led with what I thought would be a big draw: vintage Fiestaware, Longaberger baskets, and a Heywood-Wakefield table. The Longaberger baskets sold right away (an old gray one for $5 and 10-year-old bread basket for $15....and if you think I gave them away, you should have been here to snap up the bargains). Yet the Fiesta wasn't touched. (11 luncheon plates, 4 salad plates, a milk pitcher, if you're interested.)
The first day was quite successful! $549.40. The largest purchase was by a woman who bought two finished quilts ($100 and $75) and six unfinished tops ($100). By selling flimsies I no longer have an obligation to finish them!
Stay tuned for the results of today's sale. ($1.25 so far: 7:59 a.m.)

Friday, July 24, 2009

The journey of a quilt

A colleague (director of a library in a southwest suburb and a fellow Rotarian) wrote me yesterday: "Were your ears burning this morning? A picture of one of your quilts for Alliance for Smiles was shown during a presentation at today’s Rotary meeting. The presenter read the label off the screen, and it was yours! I told the group that I knew you, and impressed the heck out of ‘em! Guess you’re world-famous now!"

The funny thing is that I did not give the quilt to this project! I e-mailed the presenter, a Rotarian from Oswego, IL, and he sent me the photo that my friend commented on. Obviously it is a quilt that I made. I donated it to the Rotary Club of Boothbay Harbor, ME, which was collecting quilts for Safe Passage ( a couple of years ago. The Boothbay club coordinator told me that my quilt was not going directly to Guatemala but would be sold (or raffled) stateside as part of a fundraiser. Evidently it ended up with Alliance for Smiles -- keeping it in the Rotary family.

BTW, the project is: "Alliance for Smiles (AfS) was founded in October of 2004 by five members of the Rotary Club of San Francisco who had been involved for ten years previously with cleft lip and palate reconstructive surgery. The desire on the part of the Founders was to create a two tiered program that not only send medical teams to sites to perform free reconstructive surgery but to also create Treatment Centers where the protocol of cleft treatment found in Center in the United States could be replicated. "

(P.S. My personal random access memory recalled that Cleft Palate Research was one of Alpha Gamma Delta's mid-20th century philanthropies (then called 'altruistic projects'), so there's another connection, albeit peripheral.)

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

ALA Report, Part I

This was definitely the best tote bag at this year's ALA conference! I got mine at a program called "Love Is in the Air." Four romance writers spoke: Laura Caldwell, Cathie Linz, Eloisa James, and Debbie Macomber. Before the program Debbie was the only one with whom I was familiar. It's interested to know about writers' other lives. Caldwell is a professor at Loyola University School of Law. Linz is a former special librarian. James is a college professor whose expertise is Elizabethan theatre. (And she is the daughter of Robert and Carol Bly, the poet and short-story writer.) Macomber is a full-time novelist.

Linz gave a funny "day in the life of a romance writer," which included: "Check status of my books in WorldCat Local. Ah! They are in libraries from Abilene, Texas, to Zion, Illinois." I let out a shriek at that!

Sunday, July 5, 2009

BOBbing along....

I made a list of five things to accomplish in my studio this weekend. As of last evening I finished them all!
* Label and attach hanging sleeves to my contributions to the Chicago-area librarian/quilters exhibit that starts at Northeastern Illinois University later this month (and will be at my library after that)
* Make the guild block-of-the-month (due at the August meeting)
* Make more hexagons for the ongoing English paper piecing (see last blogpost)
* Finish quilting the strippy scrap quilt I began earlier in June (all I had to quilt were the borders, then bind it; the flimsy was created a couple of years ago)
* Finish the BOB!
Word of explanation: the Sew Many Swaps group has an annual Bag of Blocks (BOB) swap. Participants send the hostess a bag of quilt blocks that they haven't gotten around to setting; the hostess swaps them out for someone else's bag of blocks. The challenge is to figure out a way to set the blocks and add a border or two. I got L's blocks: 10 of them. I couldn't arrange them in a way that pleased me, so I asked L if I could disassemble them. She said yes. The photos show the before and after.