Sunday, February 17, 2013

DWM: Jelly Roll Christmas and Valentine hearts

I didn't have many sewing evenings this past week -- AAUW branch meeting on Tuesday, NLCQG* board meeting on Wednesday, Boys & Girls Club Have a Heart dinner on Friday (I donated a quilt to the silent auction), and the Zion Firefighters Assn. trivia contest fundraiser Saturday night -- but I did get Crossed Stars quilted and bound.  

Pictured here is another finish for the week. 
 NLCQG* had a charity sewing evening for the February program.  We did Jelly Roll Races, a technique popularized by the Missouri Star Quilt Co. -- you can see the instructions here . Each person brought her own jelly roll (40 2.5" strips).  I went to my Christmas stash for my selection.  I got most of the piecing done that evening and finished the center a day or so later.  This weekend I added borders, pieced the back, basted it, and quilted using meandering in the center and a sort of spiral in the border.  The quilt is 47 x 70 and used 6 yards.  It will be donated to an area agency along with other guild members' jelly roll quilts. 
Block Lotto participants are making "low-volume" hearts for February. These string-pieced blocks feature tone-on-tone or similar non-contrasting prints.  I made two....and I may make more!

See what other quiltmakers have in progress at Judy's Patchwork Times.
*NLCQG = Northern Lake County Quilters Guild.

Saturday, February 16, 2013

My perspective: The world in a mailbox (redux)

[Every six weeks or so I write an essay for the Zion-Benton News, our weekly newspaper. This was published February 14.]
mailbox.jpg 18.2K

Who doesn’t like to get mail?  Not bills and legal notices, but rather greeting cards for holidays and birthdays, postcards from travelers,  and “I’m thinking of you; how are you doing?” letters from faraway friends.  Even in this era of social media when a photo posted on Facebook informs a hundred of your nearest and dearest of where you are and what you’re doing, there’s a thrill to getting a hand-addressed, stamped envelope in the metal mailbox outside your front door.  

The recent announcement that the Postal Service proposes cutting Saturday mail delivery took me back decades.   When I was a teenager I had pen pals.  Many of them.   

“I want to be an author and live in Scotland,” I wrote to ‘Teen magazine’s pen pal column.  That sentence and my name and address were published in the January, 1966, issue, when I was in  8th grade.   The letters began to arrive in mid-December and continued steadily for two months.  One day I counted 35!    I heard from teens about my age from nearly every state.   The idea of a “thanks but no thanks” form letter never occurred to me.  I hand-wrote responses to many and used up every stamp in the house until my parents gently suggested that I could use my baby-sitting money to buy a supply for myself. 

At the same time I learned about an agency that matched international pen pals.  I met teens in Korea, Malta, Sri Lanka, Sweden, France, and Israel.  I quickly learned about aerogrammes , those pre-stamped, fold-over letters that were cheaper than regular postage.
Some of the correspondents fell away.   It takes emotional energy to cultivate any friendship, including epistolary  acquaintance.  But through high school I shared the triumphs and disappointments of adolescence with Beth in St. Paul, Mary Beth in New Cumberland, Elizabeth Ann in Texas, Lynn in Indiana, and Margaret in Chisholm – and Karin in Stockholm, Bernadette in Normandy, and Tae Sung in Seoul.  I managed to meet all the U.S. pen pals at least once, and I’ve reconnected with them with  Google address searches and Facebook.

This ZB News column is the second time I’ve written about my pen pals.  On Sunday, February 23, 1969, my essay “The World in a Mailbox” was published in the “young voices” column in the Chicago Tribune.  I was paid $40 and was honored at a luncheon at the Union League Club for that year’s teen essayists.   That’s the first and so far the only time I’ve been published in the Tribune.  

Writing this column has inspired me to start a new project.  Each month for the next year I will send a hand-written “thinking of you” note to a friend, far or near.  It may not be delivered on a Saturday, but I hope it will brighten the recipient’s day and inspire her to pay it forward.

Sunday, February 10, 2013

DWM: snow, antique quilts, ort jars, and pinwheels

We got 8.5" of snow Thursday evening -- nowhere near what they got in New England, but enough to satisfy any snow-craving we might have had.   

The Northfield Inn

On Saturday I went to my hometown for the memorial service for the sister and cousin of two women whom I've known since grade school.  It was held at the church in which all of us grew up, and it was a lovely service.  Though I've been back to Northbrook many times (for library meetings, among other reasons), I hadn't been to worship at the Village Church  since my mother's funeral in 2002.  Many of the people who came to the service were those I've known for years.   The president of the historical society encouraged me to stop at the Northfield Inn, the historical society building, to see a quilt exhibit.  I'm glad I did!
The quilts are from the Northbrook Historical Society collection.

Lorenz coverlet
This red-and-white quilt is the Dehne Friendship Quilt, with over 800 embroidered signatures collected in 1901 when Shermerville (Northbrook's original name) was incorporated.  (I'm sorry I didn't take a closeup.)

This coverlet was woven by Peter Lorenz in 1843.  

Crazy quilt

Made in 1939
The ladies of St. Norbert's Roman Catholic Church collected these signature squares in the late 1930's. Love the Nile green! 

 This silk triangle quilt was made in 1893 and has 17,712 pieces according to the label. I did not count them, but I did snap a photo with a quarter to provide an idea of the scale.

Back in my studio:  here's what I've been working on.  

 Transformed totebags for the silent auction at the Boys and  Girls Club banquet on February 15.  The totes are conference vendor giveaways.  Each bag will be filled with advance reader copies of spring 2013 books.
 The library annual inservice day is also February 15.  I made ort jars  to hold the cash gifts for the staff who have service anniversaries this year.

"Ort" means morsel, which for quiltmakers means bits of fabric too small to use, e.g. trimmed-off dogears from half-square triangles.  (None of the staff getting awards is a quiltmaker. They can use the ort jars for anything they choose. :))
I was inspired by Melinda's ort jars (tutorial here) in which she uses hand-sewing, embroidery hoops, and fabric glue.  I needed a simpler project. I used  a 1/2"x 10" strip of Peltex to stiffen the top rim. I cut the fabric 10.5 x 12 and folded it over the Peltex, then sewed the rim. I sewed the bottom closed as shown in the right-hand photo. (One is shown inside out, the other rightside out.)  Easy!  The jars are about 5" high. There's enough body in the batik fabric so they stand upright without any interfacing or stiffener.

And, finally, here's what on my design wall! These 6.5" (unfin) pinwheel blocks began with the quarter-square triangles that have I've been sewing as leaders-and-enders.
I don't know where this project will end up.  (How many times have I written that before?)
You can see what other quiltmakers are up to on Design Wall Monday at Judy's Patchwork Times.

Monday, February 4, 2013

DWM: Crossed Stars and Progressive Swap

The 30th annual AAUW networking luncheon was Saturday.  It's a collaborative effort of area branches (chapters) and it's always a nice opportunity to catch up with friends and meet new women.  The speaker this year was to be a former U.S. representative (female).  We're sure she would have been most interesting....had she shown up.   The program chair said she had called Ms. B's office this week to confirm (yes).  We reassured the program chair that it was not her fault.  Ms. B returned the chair's (frantic) phone call about 1 p.m. (as we had finished dessert).  She apologized profusely.  (And we know who we will not invite to speak next year.)

All the Crossed Star blocks that I won in the Block Lotto arrived.  I didn't agonize over block placement and I like the random arrangement of colors.  I used a ruby-red tone-on-tone for the setting triangles. There will be no borders.  I'll use an intense turquoise for the binding.  The flimsy is about 78 x 66. 

Teresa chose a star variation for her Progressive Swap blocks. She requested bright polka dots and white-on-white.  That was certainly an easy combination for me!  Her starter blocks are 12".  I made eight 6" blocks.  (And now I'd like to make a whole bunch of these blocks for myself!)

Polka dot stash!
I took my necktie hexagons (see last week's DWM) to a Super Bowl party yesterday evening.  My husband is not a tremendous football fan, and I don't much care at all, but we enjoyed the camaraderie.  We left shortly before 8 p.m. when the scoreboard power outage delayed the game -- at home we caught up on Downton Abbey  and then tuned in to see the end of the game.

See what other quiltmakers are working on at Judy's Patchwork Times. and the Monday Link Up.