Monday, January 30, 2012

DWM: home again

The third session of ALA Council ended early on Tuesday which gave me time for a tour of the Sixth Floor Museum, the former Texas School Book Depository from which John Kennedy was shot.  I noticed that people reacted differently. Those my age viewed the exhibits remember where they were when they got the news. The teens on field trips were seeing 'ancient' history.  
That afternoon: another trip on DART (just $1.75 each way, anywhere in the system!) to the end of the red line.  Paula, whom I've known since our freshman year in college, met me at the Parker Road station.  We last saw one another in 1989.   She obligingly took me to Quilt Asylum, which is owned by Susan (one of the Mapgies). I last saw Susan in 1999.  QA was the best shop of the three I went to on this trip.  Lots and lots of fabulous fabric, displayed with bolts on top and bottom shelves and FQs from those bolts on shallow shelves in between.   Paula then took me on a tour of Allen, which had 4000 people when she moved there in the early 1980's and now has 82000.  She's actively involved with the 
Allen Heritage Village -- the link shows the dedication of the restored Allen Christian Church with its stained glass six-toed Jesus.  (And though I didn't get a photo of Paula and me, she's in the video.)   

Here are my total Dallas fabric purchases:  11-1/2 yards, $102.  Lime green, black & white, some purple, some bright, and some 19thc reproduction yellows.  All of these are settling comfortably in my stash.

And, finally, to
Design Wall Monday !  The 2012 HeartStrings challenge begins February 1.  I jumped the gun and pieced this 48-block flimsy yesterday.  All the strings are homespun or yarn-dyed plaids, 2" wide.  The blocks are pieced on fabric foundations.  Counting the foundations, this used 8 yards of stash.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Design Wall Monday: Dallas

My design wall is empty today because I'm at the ALA Midwinter Meeting in Dallas. It's been a good conference. I've had hours of meetings, heard good speakers, met authors, and gotten lots of books. I've seen many friends and acquaintances.

Here are the EPP hexagons I've pieced during the conference. There are more to come.

With the Old Craft Store staff
 Just after I arrived on Thursday Carol and I took the DART train to Carrollton and went to the Old Craft Store.   On Saturday my friend MJ and her friend Betsy came to the Convention Center to "do" the exhibits. They're not librarians and weren't sure what to expect -- they were gobsmacked by the vendors, the totebags, the giveaways, and THE BOOKS!  I met them after my morning meeting (when they had taken their second trip to the car with their loot). We went out to lunch and they took me to Quilt Country in Lewisville where they both work.  QC is a tremendous fabric shop!  Yes, I indulged....but my purchases were from the sale table.

Betsy, MJ, Nann at Quilt Country
I'm sorry I didn't get a photo of the colorful mural outside Quilt Country.  
Belo Mansion -- Oxford U. Press reception on Saturday.

ALA Uncommons: knitters on Saturday afternoon
Needlepoint cushion in the inglenook at the Belo Mansion

Go to Patchwork Times to see what other quiltmakers have on their design walls this Monday

Old Red Museum -- former Dallas County Courthouse, now the Dallas Co. Historical Museum. Wonderful exhibits! (Reception here Friday evening.)

Tuesday, January 17, 2012


 The quilting bee met last evening and had a belated gift exchange.  The first photo shows the fun assortment from Joan: three fat quarters, a box of postage stamp squares, a bookmark, a needlebook, and (hidden) a little plastic box.
This nifty pin tray was made by Dawn . She even blogged about the project, but I had no clue that she was making them for us!  I have a selection of little porcelain dishes of my own that could be similarly repurposed.

 This is the back of the porcelain dish showing the magnet glued to it.
Today's mail bought this gift! I won it when one of my quilts got the most votes in the Quilting Gallery   weekly contest.  The Moda Candy Bar precuts are 2.5 x 4.5 rectangles and come with a project sheet.  The prize was supplied by Jojo's Quilt Shoppe in Elk Grove, California. 

Thank you, Michelle (QG) and Jill (Jojo's)!

Sunday, January 15, 2012

DWM: Leftovers

I quilted and bound Postage Stamp Chain this weekend, so I have one fewer flimsy in the box! I used salmon thread which blended well with the Pepto-Bismol pink.  The chains have a sort of chain-vine and the trapezoids and the border have loopy flowers.  Because I dislike marking I am trying to get good at no-mark free motion quilting.  (Backing and binding used 2-3/4 yards.) 
While casting about for something, anything, to sew (at the same time trying not to start anything new and avoiding selecting another flimsy to baste and quilt) I came across a project I started long ago (two years, perhaps).  It uses units that didn't get put into other projects, experiments, and leftovers.  I added a few rows--on the right you can see blue string blocks  from Orca Bay and on the left red rails  blocks from a quilt I made last summer.  It's 48 x 63 and that's big enough.  My estimate is that this has 3 yards of fabric--I am NOT going to measure the square inches in each piece!

Be sure to tune into Judy's Patchwork Times  to see other design walls today.

Book review: Irish People, Irish Linen

Author: Kathleen Curtis Wilson
Published by Ohio University Press, 2011

I made a note to get this book when I read the prepublication review in Library Journal . It came in two weeks ago and I have had a grand time reading it.  
Flax and linen culture are found in many countries, but in the English-speaking world "linen" and "Ireland" are interwoven (pun intended).  There are several reasons.  Northern Ireland was an ideal place to raise flax and convert it to linen, a process that requires a lot of fresh water.   The Irish adapted new technologies, going back to the 18th century home-work system and modernising to mills (for spinning) and factories (for weaving).  They were astute marketers, finding uses for their products in grand and humble households, with transportation (ocean liners and train travel), and even in the air (shellacked linen was the 'skin' of early aircraft).   And Irish emigration, which from the eighteenth through the nineteenth centuries spread Irish culture (and with it, linen) to the U.S., Canada, Australia, and South Africa.

Wilson describes all the steps in getting from flax to cloth, starting with the processes in pre-industrials times.  It is a complex process. The outer bark is "retted" (rotted) to get at the inner fiber. The fiber is "scutched" (beaten to get all the bark off).  Then the fibers are "hackled" or combed to untangle the fibers. Finally the fiber is spun into yarn and then thread.  Woven linen must be bleached and beetled -- the first process makes it white and the second gives it a characteristic sheen. 

Thousands of Irish home-workers made lace: Carrickmacross, Clones, drawn-thread, and cutwork.  Wilson emphasizes that for most families the income from home-work put food on the table.  She adds that we think of embroidery as a traditional craft, but in the 19th century these women worked "for the marketplace according to the dictates of fashion; they were not creating heirlooms [for their families]."

The book includes sidebars that explain textile terms that are still part of our vocabulary.  We use the word "linen" not only for the fabric but also to describe household textiles ("linen closet" to store sheets and towels") and personal garments ("air your dirty linen") because underclothing was made out of linen whereas outer garments were made out of wool or silk.
"Knocking off work" originated in the 19th century when looms were connected by belts to the steam engine that powered them all.  "If a weaver wanted to stop she reched up and knocked the belt off the pulley; her loom stopped but the others kept running."  A "slop" was a one-size-fits-all men's shirt.  The term eventually was applied to baggy pants and other loose-fitting clothing and "slops" was a shirt that was not custom-made. The term "sloppy" now refers to oversized and rumpled clothing and from there to unkempt habits. 

I see the words "Irish linen" every day because we use souvenir linen towels as our dish towels. My vintage textile stash has many such towels.  Now that I've read Kathleen Curtis Wilson's excellent book I will appreciate the history and heritage behind them.

Monday, January 9, 2012

Design Wall Monday: OB finished, leftovers, and another tote

Here it is!    My husband said, "Very nice. It's rather busy, isn't it?"  I agree.  I put a 1.5" black border on the outer edge to stabilize it.  Thanks, Bonnie, for another wonderful mystery! 

OB used 10-1/2 yards of fabric, partly because I some of the units I made weren't the right size so I needed to make more.

Here are some of those extra parts.....

Another tote bag transformation is underway. (You may recognize the block from last summer's BWGP  .)  The tote will be filled with advance reader copies and contributed to the Boys & Girls Club silent auction fundraiser.(The library gets ARCs from publishers.  They can't be re-sold.)   I'll be on the lookout for more totebags to transform when I go to the ALA Midwinter Meeting later this month.

P.S.  I transformed a Rotary District 6440 briefcase last week. I'm keeping this one. :)

Visit other bloggers to see their Quiltville efforts. (Not Orca Bay any longer!)  Not every quiltmaker has created Orca Bay....see what's on other Design Walls on Judy's blog. 

Friday, January 6, 2012

Beach, January

We've had record-setting mild weather thus far in 2012.  DH and I went to the beach for our walk this afternoon.  The lake was calm, just gently lapping the shore.  There were a half dozen other people hiking, dog-walking, or biking when we were there.

Interesting red roots on this downed tree
Wood duck house on a pond (about 200 feet from the shore)

I always think these pebble pictures would look so good in fabric

On our way out, taken from the car window. We were that close.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

The Annual Reckoning, Orca Bay 7, and Final Piecing of 2011

Since 1998 I've kept track of the fabric I've used and bought.  My tally method is idiosyncratic. It works for me; it may not work for you.  I count quilting and fashion fabric but not vintage textiles.  Expenses are for fabric but not for batting, thread, magazines, books, patterns, or long-arm (professional) quilting.  
The most significant accomplishment for 2011 is that I bought 31-5/8 yards of fabric and I used 307 yards.  I am truly proud of myself for my restraint and I hope that I can maintain the new behavior in 2012.
Here's what I sewed this year:
* 4 skirts and 1 jacket
* 5 gift bags  and 60 Christmas ornaments
* 7 wallhangings
* finished 10 flimsies from previous years
* started and finished 11 quilts
* created 6 flimsies
I sold 3 quilts and 41 yards of fabric.  I donated quilts to a number of events and agencies, made blocks for other people's projects, swapped blocks, and gave away strips and scraps.
I have more than 30 flimsies on hand.  In 2012 I want to get at least half of them quilted and bound. 
 Bonnie has revealed the design for Orca Bay in its entirety.  It's another stunner!  I've made half of Step 7, the flying geese units. I haven't done the border units yet.  More than a few of my wing units are wonky, and I don't know if I'll be able to use them or if I'll have to make some more. 

I finished piecing this 29 x 33 wallhanging at 11:15 p.m. on December 31.  I had a bunch of undersized half-square triangles from Orca Bay. I trimmed them to 1.5" and made 17 little (4.5") Cake Stand blocks.  The black sashing finishes to just 1/2".  The green print was the first one I pulled off the shelf. It's just the right color and there was one yard of it.
Check out other Orca Bay blogs and see what quiltmakers across the country have on their design walls on Monday.