Sunday, September 29, 2013

DWM: another idea for the apples, and third quarter review

I appreciate last week's suggestions for the apple blocks setting. I think the brown blocks were too intense for the light backgrounds of the apples.  I made these Prairie Queen blocks a couple of years ago.  The colors are much better, but the 9" blocks will be awkward to fit around the 5"x 8" apples.  I like the idea of a complex border, but I'll have to cogitate about this design some more.

While the apples continue to ripen I quilted, bound, and labeled  Joyful Noise.  This will be raffled at the AAUW Waukegan Branch holiday party.  I want to sell tickets at the  AAUW-IL fall conference at the end of October, hence my desire to get it done now.  This is finish #29.

My studio looks much better this week than last. Specifically, the floor looks better. We had the carpets cleaned, upstairs (main floor) and down (studio). I would much rather have vinyl flooring on that basement floor, but the carpet was recently-installed when we bought the house.  Now the logistics of moving everything out to rip up the glued-to-concrete Berber are painful just to contemplate. The cleaning is a great improvement.

I'm pleased to report that I did not buy any fabric in September! 
My quarterly report:  Aug-Sept, fabric in: 71-1/4 yards ($151), fabric used: 56-3/8 yards.
Total for the year:  fabric in: 328-7/8 yards ($911 or $2.76/yd), fabric used: 176-1/8 yards.
29 finishes, of which 13 are pre-2013 and 16 were begun in 2013. There are 9 flimsies in the box.

See how other quiltmakers have wrapped up the third quarter at Judy's Patchwork Times. 

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Beach, end of September

We have had week of superb weather here in northeasternmost Illinois.  Cloudless sky, warm days, cool nights.  

 We went to the beach this afternoon.  The surf was up!  It looks more like the ocean than Lake Michigan. 

There has been a tremendous amount of beach erosion this year. You can see the difference with this driftwood log, which I photographed in June: here  It is now nearly in the water. 

I looked up "beach erosion" and found this :  The Illinois coast of Lake Michigan is a dynamic setting influenced by waves, ice and changing lake levels. The potential for coastal erosion exists along nearly the entire Illinois coast.   
Two aspects of coastal erosion along the Illinois coast are important as a framework for understanding past, present and future erosional trends.  
Prior to any human modifications, the natural setting along the Illinois coast was nearly all erosional. There was an abundant supply of littoral sand moving along the shore. However, this sand was in transport to a depositional zone along the central Indiana coast. The exception to the erosional trends was the southern part of the Zion beach-ridge plain from near the mouth of Dead River southward to the North Chicago shoreline. This was the state’s only accretional shore. The accretion resulted from the southward translation of the beach-ridge plain.
Meanwhile, back in the beach ridge woods:  asters are in their glory! 

Estate sale: the envelopes, please

I went to two estate sales today (Saturday). This was the last day for both, which had begun on Thursday, so there were bargains to be had.  The first was being conducted by the women of a local church on behalf of one of their pastors. He and his wife are on a long-term mission appointment abroad and they said they wanted to sell everything.  I didn't buy anything, but I reminded the women that the library would be happy to take any books, movies, or music that didn't sell.  Their eyes lit up!  And I expect one of them will pull up to the back door of the library with a car full on Monday.

The second sale was at the home of an AAUW friend, Louise G., who passed away three years ago this month. Her husband has moved to Michigan where one of their sons lives. I've been to many meetings at that house!  

The top row of pins recognize Louise's contributions to AAUW's Eleanor Roosevelt Fund. The two pins in the second row are for her gifts to her college sorority, Kappa Alpha Theta. Though these are just thank-you-for-giving pins (rather than something valuable, like her Theta badge), I felt obliged to rescue them.  And they were only .50 each.

 I've been very good about not buying fabric, but vintage linens don't count, do they? The linen dishtowel is folded in half-- note the irony that it is "made in Ireland" and it depicts Buckingham Palace. The "new song" is a banner, also linen.

Christmas, birthday, all occasion!
And here is what I meant by the title of this post.  I bought ALL these cards at the sale -- many Christmas cards, many note cards, some greeting cards.  Most are fairly recent but there is one Hallmark Peanuts card that cost .35.   I wish I'd figured out years ago that such miscellaneous stationery was to be had at garage sales and thrift shops. Who on a Christmas card list will know that the sender's cards don't match?

Part of the stash

Mind you, I don't NEED more stationery.  My mother was a contender for Queen of the Little Note, and I inherited note cards, envelopes, postcards, and stationery from her.  I've added to the stash with other thrift/garage sale purchases.  

Paper....fabric:  I guess I'll get a daily dose of fiber one way or the other!

Hotel stationery

Sunday, September 22, 2013

DWM: advice, please

It was a busy week, with meetings MTWTh evenings plus Friday morning (usually a day off for me, since the library is closed). Saturday was the 7th LibraryPalooza, our annual celebration of library resources and services. That did not get off to a good start:  the HVAC unit over the closet that houses the computer system malfunctioned.  The servers were flooded some time Friday afternoon or evening. That meant we had no computers or wi-fi Saturday, and we'll most likely be off-line Monday, too. (Thank goodness for prompt service by our IT and HVAC contractors, even on a Saturday.) 
This year's LibraryPalooza included a bagpiper (who lives up the block from me--it's grand to hear him practice) and two Victorian ladies (portrayed by two of our teen-aged patrons, one of whom is my next-door neightbor).  Cha-Cha, the tree frog mascot from Rainforest Cafe, also paid us a visit. 

Saturday evening DH and I enjoyed an evening out at the Capitol Steps performance at the College of Lake County. We've seen the CS several times. We love the satirical parodies!

Though my evening meetings didn't allow much quilting time, I did finish the bookshelf wallhanging pictured in my post last week -- finish #28 for 2013!

Several years ago I coordinated an apple block swap with the BlockSwappers.  About the same time I was given a large bag of scraps that included lots of 19th century reproductions. I cut those into triangles and paired them with a cinnamon/cheddar Jo Morton print.  (Trust me, squaring up all those HSTs was quite a chore!)  These blocks resulted. I have had it in mind that the apples and the 16-patches could be combined. I put them up on the design wall.  I'm not convinced yet. What would make the design work -- sashing and cornerstones? Another border?  I have more of the cinnamon/cheddar....

Your opinion is welcome this Design Wall Monday! 

Sunday, September 15, 2013

DWM: Tote bag and bookshelf #31

I wrote that my quilting to-do list included a tote bag.  Rather than repurposing a vendor totebag (see here , for example), this one is made out of batiks and is adapted from a design by Heather Willms of  Hopscotch Quilt Shop . 

I used a technique I learned from another tote pattern. It results in enclosed seams. I think it's easier and neater than creating a separate lining that is inserted into the tote.
1. Piece the outside. 
2. Quilt the outside to the batting.
3.  Attach handles.
4. Put the resulting top/batting right-side-together to the lining.
5. Sew along the perimeter, leaving an opening for turning. 
(Be sure that the handles don't get caught in the seams.)
6.  Turn right side out. Stitch opening shut. 
7.  Sew side seams.  Create squared-off box bottom if desired.

This tote will be filled with advance reader copies and donated to Lake County CAP for their fall fundraiser.

Here is another project to check off my to-do list. This is bookshelf quilt #31, to be presented in a couple of weeks. I made the flimsy today (Sunday) in a concentrated afternoon and evening in my studio.  I have meetings MTW evenings so the quilting will come later in the week.

I'm linking up with Judy's Patchwork Times for Design Wall Monday. 

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

A couple of days off

I've had three days off at home this week.  I had a meeting at the state library on Monday. 
Since that grant project was paying my mileage and one night hotel stay, we thought we'd make it into a little vacation and leave on Sunday, return on Tuesday.   My husband didn't grow up in Illinois and as a consquence he has never "done the Lincoln sites."  (Going to Springfield is a grade-school rite of passage for many Illinoisians, including me.) 

It didn't work out that way. My husband spent two nights in the hospital! Fortunately he is okay, and I brought him home Tuesday afternoon.

But, meanwhile, I'd scheduled the time off.  I've used it productively to get various chores done (well, not ALL the housecleaning, but some of it).  I found an upholsterer who will re-do the two living room armchairs (fabric bought three weeks ago) and was home when he came to get the chairs. I scheduled the furnace servicing (though it's been in the 90's this week, fall is coming); got the car's oil changed; balanced the AAUW checkbook; wrote the next column for the Zion-Benton News; wrote the "coast to coast" book review (see previous post).   True, the list of to-be-dones is still lengthy, but not as much as it was.

I wrote that I had some quilty to-do's to attend to.  Here are three of them: from yardage to flimsy in three days!

A long-time member of my P.E.O.  chapter is moving out of state. She's been a mainstay of the group and we will miss her.  I said I'd make a good-bye gift. The January, 2007, issue of McCall's Quick Quilts was on the giveaway table at last week's guild meeting. I looked through it and, voila! the perfect pattern.It's by  Pat Sloan who visited the quilt guild last month and gave an applique workshop .    I had all the fabric in my stash -- that lime green check leaped from the shelf the cutting table and the rust basket fabric wasn't far behind. 
Pat's version is called "Snowflake Basket."  I substituted daisies for snowflakes.   This is an odd size -- 23x 43.  I will distribute signature squares to P.E.O. sisters and incorporate them on the quilt back.  [P.E.O.'s emblem is a gold star and its flower is the marguerite, or daisy. There were seven founders. You can count the stars and daisies. :)]

This fall our P.E.O. chapter will have the quadrennial official visit from a state officer. We will also have a report from our delegate to the International Convention. (I was the delegate in 2011: here is my account.)  These 14 x 16 wallhangings will be our thank you gifts for their presentations. 

Back to work tomorrow. 
The next wallhanging due is a bookshelf quilt.  I'm ready!

Book Review: fall mysteries from coast to coast

My two top picks for fall reading span the continent.   Both are set in the 1920’s, one in Oregon and one on Grand Manan Island (New Brunswick).      

The Impersonator, by Mary Miley
Minotaur/St. Martin’s, Sept. 2013. ISBN 9781250028174 

In high school freshman English we learned about the doppelganger theory – the idea that people have look-alikes.   Novelist Mary Miley and I were classmates and we both remembered that lesson.  Years later, Mary has used the literary device to great advantage in her first novel, The Impersonator. 

The vaudeville circuit in the 1920’s was an often-tough way to make a living.  Leah Randall knows that all too well.  She’s been on stage since she was a tot.  Now she’s playing adolescent characters as long as she can though she’s in her twenties.  After one performance in Omaha as one of the Little Darlings, a man meets her backstage.  He has a business proposition for her. 

Leah is a dead ringer for Oliver Beckett’s niece Jessie Carr.  In 1917, when Jessie was 14, she disappeared.    It’s seven years later.  If Jessie does not step forward to claim her inheritance by her 21st birthday, the family fortune will be distributed.   “Uncle Ollie” wants to hire Leah to play Jessie.  When she claims the money they will split it.    

Leah agrees to take on the role of a lifetime.  Ollie coaches her in Jessie’s life story.  They return to the Carr family mansion on the Oregon coast where “Jessie” is warily received by her grandmother and stepbrothers.   Carefully staying in character, Leah seeks to find out what really happened to Jessie.  Someone in the house knows she’s acting and tries to stop her before Jessie’s birthday. 

Mary is a historian by profession.  Her extensive research  ( means that the period slang and other details are authentic.  The story is suspenseful and lively.  This is a book that both Mary and I would have loved to read when we were in high school – and it is every bit as enjoyable now. 

Discussion questions
·         “You look just like…” Has anyone said that to you?
·         Did your grandparents or parents have stories about Prohibition?
·         Would the story be as effective set somewhere else? 

Note:  Mary received the Minotaur/Mystery Writer of American First Crime Novel award for The Impersonator.

On the Rocks, by Sue Hallgarth
Arbor Farm Press, 2013. 978-09855200-0-7 

Grand Manan Island is in the Bay of Fundy.  It is part of New Brunswick though it is just 15 miles from the coast of Maine.   Once a port for privateers, it became known for its fisheries and shipbuilding.  In the late 19th century it was discovered by tourists – an island haven, private but not too remote.   

Novelist Willa Cather and her companion Edith Lewis found Grand Manan in 1922.  They were among the intellectuals and artists who spent their summers on the island.  The quiet allowed Willa to write and Edith to paint.  Their close friends were “the Cottage Girls,” a group of independently wealthy, well-educated women. 

The mystery story is set in 1929.  Edith is out on the cliff above Whale Cove, painting, when she sees a flash of red – and watches a man fall off the edge to his death.  Who was it? And more importantly, who pushed him and why?  How were the other Cottage Girls connected?  Willa and Edith help the island police chief to answer those questions and solve the mystery. 

Sue Hallgarth is a former English professor who has studied and written about Willa Cather.  Her portrait brings the novelist to life as she describes the challenges of literary fame and the need to write to meet the publisher’s deadline.  Cather is known as a Midwesterner (her girlhood in Nebraska, setting for O Pioneers and My Antonia) and for her love of the southwest (Death comes for the Archbishop).  I didn’t realize that she spent so much time on the east coast as well.  I will re-read Cather’s work while I wait for Sue Hallgarth’s next Willa and Edith mystery.    

Discussion questions
·         Were there “independent women” in your family?  How did their life experiences affect you?
·         Prohibition was a U.S. law that had an impact on Canada.  Would the border between the countries have been less, or more, significant without prohibition?
·         How much license can an author take when using a real historical personage in a made-up story?

Sunday, September 8, 2013

DWM: a new nine patch

I made red-and-white hourglass blocks until I got tired of them.  I auditioned several red-and-white prints for the setting triangles but they were either too red or too white. I chose turquoise tone-on-tone. After I had the center assembled I began to look for border fabrics. The only turquoise-and-red print I had was a 19th century repro that was too subdued next to the setting triangles.  At first I thought this bright print (a clearance-table purchase) was too bright -- but now I think it zings!  (The flimsy is approx 60 x 70 and used 5-1/4 yards....all those little pieces add up.)

I need to make three wallhangings and a totebag for October events.  This is enough of scrappy playtime for a while -- but I can attest to the therapeutic value of such  playtime!

See what other quiltmakers are working on at Judy's Patchwork Times.

Sunday, September 1, 2013

DWM: Labor Day edition -- a finish and a new start!

Finish #25 for 2013 -- Tall Sails!  Here's a closeup of the quilting in the blocks. The back & binding used 3-1/8 yards.

The Block Lotto block for September is Tall Boomer. Here are my first two.

An accumulation of mini-9's
Arrived in Saturday's mail

The  Block Swappers host three swaps for 3-1/2" 9-patches each year.  The most recent swap return arrived yesterday.  Rather than just toss them in the box, I put some up on the design wall.  Hmmm.  Earlier this year I made a pile of red-and-white hourglass blocks. Many of them were used in Good Cheer!  (which is my favorite quilt of the year, so far).  I have a sufficiency of 9-patches but it looks as though I'll be making a few more hourglass blocks.....and so a new flimsy is born.

See the fruits of other quiltmakers' labor at Judy's Patchwork Times.