Sunday, March 31, 2013

Happy Easter!

It seemed as though we got all our winter weather in February and March this year.  The back yard was still under snow cover until mid-week. I snapped these crocuses on Good Friday. They are such pretty little flowers and they come and go so quickly!

The paschal moon has been beautiful!  I took this when I went out to get the newspaper....about 6 a.m. Thursday.  (On our way to Rotary 45 minutes later the moon was still full and the sun was up!) 

The daughter and son-in-law of friends of ours raise bison.  They'd butchered one recently and had meat for sale.  On Saturday morning we went out to their farm/ranch in Bristol, Wisconsin (about 20 miles away).  We got liver, tongue, heart, and some steaks -- all this for $70!  I got to feed apples to the bison in the pasture.  

Easter Sunday has been mild--the warmest day in a long time.  We had breakfast at church, then went home to read the newspaper, and back for the Easter service.   We had roast leg of lamb, asparagus, and new potatoes for dinner, with lemon cheesecake for dessert.  I am such a traditionalist with holiday meals.  (The lamb cooked while we were at church....what an enticing smell when we got home.

It was warm enough for the first beach walk of the year.  I had it all to myself this afternoon.

Lingering snow on a north-facing slope

Sunday, March 24, 2013

DWM: backing, boats, bargains, and a finish

B is for backing.

I finally pieced the backing for Orca Bay.   The red check is cotton bedsheet. The blocks are leftovers.  The blue fabric is vintage -- 36" wide.  Doesn't it look like  contemporary print?  I finished the flimsy back in January, 2012. You can see it here .  The subliminal message (I think) is that until I made the backing I could put off making the commitment to have it professionally quilted.  I'll be calling Wendy (the long-armer) this week!

Contemporary look, but vintage

When I piece a back I try to make it non-directional--note the placement of the two red/white prints on both side panels.

B is for babies, and boys, and boats.  I have quilts to make for two baby boys (one of whom has been born, the other of whom is due this summer).  I thought that sailboats would be fun and I found a pattern in McCall's "America Makes Fast Quilts" (Autumn, 2009).  I'm making the sails out of novelty fabrics (a decision made after the I made the test block, which is the one on the lower right). 

And here is this week's finish!  I made Diamond Stamps last May.  I took it out of the box, pieced the backing, basted it, and got to work.  I'm pleased with the freehand pumpkin seed design in the blocks.   To my horror I discovered pleats in the back -- not bad, but pleats nonetheless, and surrounded by quilting that I did not want to rip out.  Instead I washed the quilt in hot water and dried it in a hot dryer. The crinkles camouflage the pleats. Whew!  The border quilting is "almost feathers," a design with which I'm getting proficient.

Closeup of the quilting

No, that's not a pleat -- I folded the quilt to show the pieced back.

And B is for buying.  I needed more light blue tone-on-tone for the sailboat sky and wanted a medium blue for the sea.  I bought both at Joann's....and then found two beautiful lemon yellow-and gray prints that will make a great jacket to go with the new gray slacks I bought at the Boston Store.....Just 8 yards, total, and on sale -- bargains!

You can see what other quiltmakers are up to at Judy's Patchwork Times. 

B is for Book Review

This spring I'm presenting three book review programs within a month's time.  Fortunately for me there is no overlap among the members, so I can talk about the same books to all of them -- and I'm sharing them here as well.   

Fever, by Mary Beth Keane.  (Fiction)
We use the term “Typhoid Mary” to describe a person who spreads something undesirable, whether knowingly or not.  Indeed, there really was a Typhoid Mary – an asymptomatic carrier of the typhoid bacillus.  Mary Mallon emigrated to New York from Ireland. From 1900 to 1907 she was a cook for wealthy New York families. When the people in those households fell ill (and some died), she simply resigned, left no forwarding address, and moved on to another house.  Eventually the public health authorities found her and quarantined her.   Mary Beth Keane presents Mary as a person, not as a textbook case, adding a love story and a picture of the exciting metropolis that was pre-WWI New York.   

The Kashmir Shawl, by Rosie Thomas. (Fiction)
                Two locations, Wales and Kashmir, and two decades, WWII and the present, are intricately interwoven – like fine fabric.   When Mair Ellis cleans out her parents’ house in Wales she finds  an exquisite pashmina shawl left by her grandmother.  Wrapped in the shawl is an envelope with a lock of child’s hair.  There is no note, no explanation.  Mair knows that in late 1930’s and through the war years her grandparents were missionaries in northwest India (now Pakistan). She goes to Pakistan to see what she can find out about her Grandmother Nerys.

Mary Coin, by Marisa Silver. (Fiction)
Do you look at portraits (photos or paintings) and wonder about the subjects?  Marisa Silver does, too, and created Mary Coin to tell the story of the woman in the iconic “Migrant Mother” portrait by WPA photographer Dorothea Lange. 
In the early 1930’s Mary and her family left Oklahoma for the promise of better work in California. Her husband died, leaving her and their six children. She was a farm worker when photographer Vera Dare (=Lange) took Mary’s picture.  It was published on the cover of Life magazine. Decades later: historian Walker Dodge teaches college students how to interpret the historic evidence in photographs.  Yet he is too close to his own family history to be able to see the clues to so much of his past. 

Lots of Candles, Plenty of Cake, by Anna Quindlen. (Biography)
             Occasioned by her 60th birthday, novelist/columnist Quindlen presents wry musings – alternating between aging gracefully and wondering how the heck that happened so fast.   I had many ah-ha’s of sympathetic recognition all the way through the book.    

The Midwife of Hope River, by Patricia Harmon. (Fiction_
Rural West Virginia, 1930’s.    Patience Murphy is the new midwife, willing to care for those most in need which means she is often paid in firewood or eggs.  The road she has taken to her profession is as rough as the actual roads she travels to get to her clients.   Her previous life has given her a heavy burden which she strives to keep secret from her assistant, the young black woman Bitsy, and her neighbor and friend, veterinarian Daniel.  Patricia Harmon is a nurse midwife who lives in West Virginia, so she writes with knowledge and experience.    

The Secret Daughter, by Silpi Somaya Gouda. (Fiction)
                Who is “family”?  What is the value of a daughter and a mother in a society that places greater importance on sons?
                Kavita lives in rural India. When she finds out that her baby is  girl she walks to town to give the baby up for adoption. Her husband wants a son.  (The next baby is  boy who grows up as a spoiled only child.)
                Somer is an American pediatrician married to Krishnan, a neurosurgeon born in Bombay and educated in the U.S.  Unable to have children, they adopt a baby girl from India. They name her Asha, which means hope.  They raise her with full disclosure about her adoption, but they have difficulty accepting that she wants to return to India to find her birth parents and learn why she was given up for adoption.  
                The story is told from the points of view of Kavita, Somer, and Asha.  Each woman sees  a different India and appreciates the county in different ways, but they bear out the saying that “Mother India does not love all her children equally.” 


Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Council Candidacy

Note: to continue the alliteration of recent posts, today's letter is C.
If you're not an ALA member you can skip this post. :)
Voting opened today for the 2013 American Library Association election.  I am on the ballot as a candidate for the United for Libraries  Division Councilor. 

As ALA's governing body, Council establishes policies and priorities, and approves the budget.  There are 180 people on Council who include the Executive Board, Chapter councilors (representing state and territorial library associations), Division and Round Table councilors (representing those entities), and at-large councilors (elected by all ALA members). I've served in all these capacities except as a Division Councilor.

A division councilor informs the division board of matters on the Council agenda, particularly those that may affect the division.

Here is my candidate statement:

“Good libraries create good communities. Good communities create good libraries.”  I have taken that statement to heart and I see it in action every day at my public library.  Library advocates and library practitioners share their love for libraries and know that libraries have the power to change people’s lives.  It is our collective effort delivers the library message to city halls, to state capitols, and to Washington.  Funding is essential and equitable access is critical.  ALA is the recognized voice for libraries and librarianship. ALA Council determines ALA’s policies.   I have served as a chapter councilor, at- large, and on Executive Board.  As UFL councilor I will speak for Friends, trustees, and advocates in the shaping of ALA policies to ensure the best library service for all. "

If you are eligible to vote for me, I would be most appreciative.  If not, but you know people who are (ALA membership + United for Libraires membership), I am grateful for your referral. 

Sunday, March 17, 2013

DWM: palindromes, pi(e)s, precautions, podiums -- plus progress and pinwheels!

The letter this week is "P," to continue the alliteration from last week's post.

* 3-13-13 was a palindrome day (when you don't know if you're coming or going).

* 3-14 was Pi Day.   The library staff association hosted Pie Day.  I made a quiche with bacon and Swiss cheese and a dollop of "Sunny Paris" seasoning from Penzey's (garlic, shallots, chives, basil, bay leaf, peppercorns, tarragon, dill weed) and there were no leftovers.

* 3-15 was that day of precaution that Caesar did not heed.  Actually, every month has "ides," which just means  "the 15th day of March, May, July, or October or the 13th day of the other months in the ancient Roman calendar." 

* 3-17 is St. Patrick's Day.  With temperatures in the low 30's
and a brisk north with I'm glad I didn't have to be in any parades.

* Podiums -- more precisely, podium.  This weekend the library, the Winthrop Harbor Chamber of Commerce, and the Zion Area Chamber of Commerce cosponsored candidate forums for the upcoming consolidated election.  This biennial election, in April, is for trustees for municipal, township, school, and other units of local government (like libraries and park districts).  I was the moderator for the four forums:  Winthrop Harbor Village and School District 1 on Friday evening; Zion-Benton Township High School district 126 on Saturday morning; Zion Township and City on Saturday afternoon; and Beach Park Village on Sunday afternoon.  (The other units of government, including the library, have uncontested races.)  Attendance was not overwhelming -- Zion drew 45, Beach Park about 40, ZBTHS about 9, Winthrop Harbor about 14 -- but everything went smoothly.  You can see the video here:  ZB Guide .

* Progress

I created "Bright Bento Box" last summer.  It came to the top of the stack of flimsies and I had just the right backing fabric for it.  I quilted a large meander in the center and the center border and parallel lines in the inner and outer borders.  The backing and binding took 3-1/4 yards.   

I thank everyone who offered an opinion about sashing fabric for the strippy pinwheels.  Carla liked the red flowers, saying that she likes "noisy" prints.  La Vella suggested that I make a triple sashing with the red flowers and narrow strips of green on either side.  I liked both of those ideas.  Then my stash yielded the red/green/white/pink striped fabric ("Beatrix Potter 2002" on the selvedge).  It didn't work as a border with those red flowers.  But some more stash-searching turned up this pink/red/green rose print (by Tracy Porter) which is ideal perfect! The stripe became the sashing.  The flimsy is 78 x 73 and used 6 yards. I'm calling it "Joyful Noise," with thanks to Carla.  I think it will be my contribution to the AAUW holiday auction in December.

After I took the photo and looked at it I realized the bottom border is oriented differently from the other three. I removed it, turned it the other way, and reattached it.

Catch up on what other quiltmakers are working on this Design Wall Monday at Judy's Patchwork Times.

Sunday, March 10, 2013

DWM: Sunday sights, scraps, swaps, sashes, and stamps

The Sunday sight: a pair of cranes at Illinois Beach State Park.  They were right next to the road when we first saw them, but by the time I got the iPhone camera aimed at them they'd set off across the meadow.
Scraps: given to me at Wednesday's guild meeting by a friend who knows I'll be able to use them eventually.

Swaps:  fabric from my guild Secret Pal (top) and batiks swapped for polka dot fabric.  
These "Tam's Patch" black and white 8" blocks are my contribution to an upcoming BlockSwappers' exchange.
Sashes:   I put the pinwheel blocks up on the design wall in a couple of configurations.  The strippy setting appeals to me. I need to make 13 more green blocks.   
 What sashing fabric should I use? Here are the four I'm considering. 

And, finally, stamps:  the box of postage stamps -- 1.5" squares -- is getting full again. These blocks measure 5.5" unfinished.  I've just gotten started and there will be a lot more!

P.S.  I can't think of an "s" word for this:  I backed/basted/quilted/and bound this flimsy
this weekend!   2.5 yards for the backing and binding.

Thanks once again to Judy for hosting Design Wall Monday where you can see other quiltmakers' current projects.


Sunday, March 3, 2013

Design Wall Monday: Jelly beans, a finish, new flimsy, and genre labels

 It's March already!   The cardinals are establishing their territories and letting the neighborhood know every morning. The lengthening daylight is welcome.  A heavy snowfall Tuesday closed the library early and postponed the board meeting for a week, but sunny skies prevailed this weekend and I was able to get out and walk.

Sew Many Swaps hosted a Jelly Bean Swap again this year. Here's what I got from Sheila G. who lives in Omaha but who's been in Vermont this past month.  (In return I sent her three FQs, thread, a bag of Belly Flops (seconds) from the Jelly Belly factory just over the state line, and a memo pad from the Library of Congress.  I hope the box will be waiting for her when she gets back to Omaha, 'cause that's where I mailed it.)

The Block Swappers exchanged 6" churn dash blocks in Civil War reproduction fabric. The swap blocks came this past week, the same day as the jelly beans. I put them up on the design wall and by Saturday evening here's what they turned into. The light setting fabric is a shirting print.  The blue setting fabric and the border are different prints.  Setting and borders used 2-3/8 yards.

 I finished quilting "Dot Takes the Cake"
which you can see in its entirety here .  These two pictures show closeups of the cakestand quilting and the continuous curves in the border blocks.
The backing and binding used 3-5/8 yards.

(I've used 6 yards of fabric so far this month! )

The ALA Biblioquilters are making a genre label quilt for this summer's scholarship auction. Here are my contributions. The skull-and-bookend is from an illustration that I cut out of Booklist (ALA's book review journal) about 25 years ago. 

These two blocks have been at the top of my procrastination list. I just couldn't wrap my brain around how to make them. I nearly told the quilt coordinator I would have to back out....but I pulled out fabric, traced the letters, and in less than an hour they were finished.  I spent more time worrying about them than it took to make them. (Isn't that the way with so many things we procrastinate about?)

See what other quiltmakers have on their design walls at Judy's  Patchwork Times .