Monday, January 27, 2014

DWM: dateline Philadelphia

 There is nothing on my design wall this morning because I am in Philadelphia for the ALA Midwinter Meeting.  It's been a busy and productive conference with committee meetings, issues updates, and seeing many long-time friends.

I arrived on Thursday and had free time that afternoon. I headed for Fabric Row (South 4th Street). There are a dozen sops left, mostly upholstery or tailoring/bridal -- but Pennsylvania Fabric Outlet has a fair selection of quilting cotton for $4.98/yd., one-yard minimum cut. I restrained myself.

While in meetings I worked on necktie hexie rosettes.

I have a large (huge) assortment of ALAconference badge ribbons. I want to make them into a wall hanging for the ALA Biblioquilters' auction.
See what quiltmakers who are were at home this weekend are working on at Judy's Patchwork Times.

Sunday, January 19, 2014

DWM: Dim bulb, interchangeable parts, and an I Spy

 The lightbulb on my Pfaff flickered but came back on if I poked it. That worked a couple of times but eventually it didn't. I figured out how to pop the bulb out (thank you, sewing machine manual) and found the spare bulb, still in its packaging, at the back of the drawer. Oops. Spare bulb is for a Singer and it's a different size.  Now the Pfaff is in the shop, not only for a bulb but also for a long, long overdue cleaning. 

I had not used Sweetness, my Singer 301, for a long while.  The insulation on the electrical wire going into the foot control had worn off (about 1/4") -- not surprising after 50+ years of being wrapped around the foot control when it was put away in the carrying case. I am leery of bare-wire sewing!  I had not gotten around to taking the assembly to the repairman. 

With the Pfaff out of commission, and the 301 foot control not-fixed,  I got out the Featherweight.  I looked at its plug. Gee, similar to the 301.  I wonder....and, yep! The the FW cord works in the 301!  So that's what I used to complete the piecing on this I Spy quilt.  It's for a colleague's baby boy (due in March).

I had about 20 of the 64 novelty units already made. The rest went together easily. The border is a stripe that photographed strangely. 

I have the I Spy and last week's Steelers Stars basted. I will retrieve the Pfaff when I get back from the ALA Midwinter Meeting (January 29) and get them quilted.

P.S. These 6" blocks are samples for the Dots and Dashes swap I'm coordinating on the Block Swappers group.  Each Shoo-fly is made from one dotted and one striped fabric. I look forward to seeing the combinations that participants come up with.

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

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Steelers Stars

My best-laid schemes ganged agley this past week. (That's using Burns' words from   "To a Mouse" -- ) .  I came down with a cold on Tuesday.  I sneezed and sniffled and napped at home Wednesday and Thursday.  I delegated, rescheduled, reassigned, and remotely reported as needed for the quilt guild meeting Wednesday, a medical test on Thursday, a community meeting Friday, and the AAUW state board meeting Saturday.   I had to make those decisions in advance, and though I was feeling better by Friday afternoon, I didn't want to push myself into a relapse. 

In between naps I did have time to sew!  I got the Steelers quilt to the flimsy stage Saturday evening.  It is a variation from Bonnie's pattern in that it's all star blocks (she has some plain squares).  I didn't want it to be too folk-arty gold or too modern-lemon-yellow, so I used fabric from both styles and a lot in between.  The Steelers logo has stars with a bit of red and a bit of blue, so I have some red and some blue in with the black/gold/white.   The outer border is black with coppery/gold motifs.  It's darker than I wanted, but there wasn't enough of the one other possible fabric. Now that I see the photo, I think it works well.  

The flimsy is 60 x 72 and used 3-5/8 yards.

See what other quiltmakers are up to this Design Wall Monday at Judy's  Patchwork Times    (Wow! I'm the first to post this week!)

Sunday, January 5, 2014

DWM: end of vacation, stars, and tea towel decision

Tomorrow I go back to work after two weeks' vacation. I'll miss the afternoon naps the most! In addition to catching up on library business, my schedule this week includes the quilt guild meeting on Wednesday (with our annual "raffle mania" event). On Friday morning I host the Coalitionn for Healthy Communities board at the library, after which I head to Bloomington for the AAUW-IL winter board meeting.

I changed my plans for the Steelers quilt.  I couldn't get the wonky stars to a uniform size and the points got chopped off. That would work for one block, but it was glaring when it happened on all of them.  I turned to Random Ohio Stars, one of Bonnie's free Quiltvile patterns.  I'm having fun combining different black, gold, and white prints.  Fun beats frustration by miles! 

  I wrote a post about my hoard collection of towels: here .  Here is the towel I've chosen for the Tea Towel Challenge.  The tropical bouquet from Key West has never been used so it's crisp with sizing.   Next task: select fabrics and consider how to design the borders.
These are the runner-up towels. The two on the right are more accurately screen-printed hangings. The center has been enhanced with embroidery. The right is a chart of kitchen measures and substitutions. (I bought it because of the seven-daisy motif ( P.E.O. had seven founders and its flower is the daisy).  If the Key West bouquet turns out well I may try my hand at repurposing these. 
I'm linking up with Judy's Patchwork Times and with Sophie Junction   

Saturday, January 4, 2014

Travelog: Fete de Noel

(I meant to write this and post it immediately after our return!)

 Q.  Who chooses to spend Christmas in the company of strangers?
A.  33 intrepid Road Scholars!  

We’ve traveled with Road Scholar (Elderhostel) since 1996.  2013 nearly got away from us without a RS program – but we made it just in time with our Christmastime trip to Quebec.  During Stevens’ twenty years in parish ministry he was, of course, at work on Christmas.  Now that he’s retired we have flexibility at holiday time. 

We purposely arrived on Friday, a day early, to allow for bad weather and to provide another day of sightseeing. We’re glad we did because we arrived at the beginning of a snowstorm that socked Detroit and Toronto with extensive power outages. (Three others in our group were delayed 36 hours and another couple didn’t get luggage for two days.)  

Our accommodations at the Hotel Manoir Victoria were excellent.  Located in old Quebec, It is an old hotel that has been extensively renovated Most of our group meals were in its restaurant. The food was excellent.  There were many restaurants in the neighborhood, ranging from Tim Hortons (like Dunkin Donuts) and Paillard (like Panera) to fancier places.   

Sea Dragon

Bowdoin Polar Bear and the real thing

Saturday dawned cold and snowy. We had a free day!  After a Tim Hortons breakfast we called a cab to take us to the Quebec Aquarium.  The brochure said it was open and it was not on the itinerary for Road Scholar. We took a cab (it’s about 8 miles west of the city).  What a wonderful choice!   There were inside exhibits.  Sea rays were swimming in an open pool and we could pet them. It was close to feeding time and they nibbled our fingers.  The jellyfish exhibit featured large tanks, each with a different species. The tanks were lit with revolving colors.  Beautiful!   There were outdoor exhibits, too:  seals, walrus, and polar bears.  The keepers poured buckets of krill into the walrus tank and we watched them flip and twirl to get their lunch.   We had our own lunch in the cafeteria in the largest exhibition building, which had more tanks with “regular” fish (cod, haddock, etc.) and tanks with colorful tropical fish.   We thought we’d need to wait 20 minutes or more for a cab to come to take us back downtown, but we were in luck: we called and the cab arrived just 5 minutes later.

(A note about language:  French is definitely the first language, but French-speakers easily switch to  English.  I thought I had had a pretty good clipped “bon’zhour,” but my accent betrayed me and the reply would be in English.)

The Road Scholar portion of the trip began with dinner on Saturday.  Participants were from as far as Sunnyvale, California, and as near as Barrie, Ontario.  The youngest participant was 8-month-old Harper who was with her parents (from Massachusetts) and her maternal grandparents (from Maine).  There were three physicians (two of whom were retired) and three nurses. I was the only librarian this time.   Susan, our group leader, is a Toronto native who became a tour guide after retiring from a career in corporate HR in Quebec City.  This was her first Road Scholar group.   

Village Laurentien by Clarence Gagnon
After breakfast Sunday we were introduced to Stephen M., a retired teacher who is an expert on Canadian and Quebecois history.  His presentation was easy to follow and I took pages of notes (if I write, I remember).  We then got on a bus for a short ride to the Musee des Beaux Arts.  It was still snowing and we admired the ability of all the Quebecois drivers (cars/cabs, busses) to negotiate the steep hills of the old city in the not-yet-plowed snow.  The museum has collections of local and regional works as well as fine art from Europe.   We had lunch at the museum restaurant.   That afternoon, back at the Victoria, Stephen told us the rest of the story about Canadian/Quebecois nationalism.    Sunday dinner was at a lovely restaurant just around the corner from the hotel, but in the cold and snowy weather it was a long walk.    
Ground cherry garnish

outside Aux Anciens Canadiens
Tasting at Farmer's Market stall
Monday: clear skies at last, but very cold. We bundled up and walked to the Farmer’s Market, which was bustling with Christmas shoppers. Lots of wonderful food stalls!  Our lunch was at Aux Anciens Canadiens, a very old restaurant in a very, very old building.  (I remember eating there when my family vacationed in Quebec in 1966.)  We had traditional tourtiere (meat pie) and with maple syrup pie for dessert.   That afternoon, at the Victoria, Stephen presented the next chapter of Quebecois politics.  (To note:  Canada passed women’s suffrage in 1917 but women could not vote provincially/locally in Quebec until 1940. The Catholic church controlled public schools until the Ministry of Education was created in 1964.  Now the province is very secular.)   Monday dinner was on our own. We chose Paillard (like Panera). 
overlooking the Plains of Abraham
Tuesday, Christmas Eve:  sunny and very cold.  We walked from the hotel to Le Musee des Civilizations. We had a guided tour of the permanent exhibit about Quebec and Canadian history, with many artifacts.   We said goodbye to Stephen M. and the group dispersed for lunch on our own and a free afternoon.   Stevens and I chose lunch at the museum and then enjoyed two other exhibits there:  La Belle Epoque (Paris in 1900) and about First Nations/native cultures in Quebec.  Stevens went back to the hotel. I took a walk to enjoy the snowy streets and the brightly-lit shop windows in the old city. I found myself at the Musee de L’Amerique Francophone – a museum about the French in North America.  It was open, and Tuesday was free-admission day.  My tour was quick and well worth the time.

This postcard was in an exhibit about correspondence from Quebec to the U.S. I recognized the Waterville (Maine)Public Library right away.    The tile floor was in a former chapel now part of the Francophone  museum....quiltmakers take pictures of tile floors!

Holy Door -- inside
Holy Door -- outsde

RS reconvened for reveillon – Christmas Eve dinner – elegantly-presented turkey with root vegetables and a wonderful carrot-parsnip soup.   Christmas Eve services were optional, and we and a half-dozen opted to go to the 10 p.m. mass at Notre Dame Cathedral.  2014 is the 350th anniversary of the parish, which once was the ONLY parish in North America north of Spanish territory.   The  present cathedral was built in 1929.  It has a new feature, a Holy Door – one of eight in the world, designated by the Pope. It’s a real door cut into the exterior wall, made out of bronze with interior illumination.  The sanctuary was packed for the service. The archbishop greeted us in French, English, and Spanish. 
Wednesday, Christmas Day:  sunny and cold, once again.  Breakfast was on our own (Tim Hortons for us). We took a walk in the neighborhood – shops were closed but some restaurants were open.  The group had brunch in the hotel restaurant – another lavish meal.  That afternoon I took a long walk along St. John Street.  I found a branch library (closed, of course) in a former Anglican church. 

At 4:45 the RS group, attired in their finery, gathered in the hotel lobby. We divided into groups of four for horse-drawn carriage rides to the Chateau Frontenac.  Despite heavy lap robes, it was a very, very cold ride. Our driver was a jolly woman who wanted to give us the tourists’ spiel. All we wanted to do was get there!   The event was the Frontenac’s Christmas dinner-dance.  It was glamorous indeed – a six-course meal, a live band – for a crowd of 350.  

Frontenac ballroom

Thursday:  breakfast at 7:00.  Time to say good-bye:  hugs, good wishes, promises to write.  The glow of our shared experience helped make the next hours (somewhat) bearable.  Our flight from Quebec to Montreal was slightly delayed.  Our flight from Montreal to Chicago was delayed 40 minutes.  We were in the air 15 minutes and then called back due to a landing gear malfunction. The pilot could not continue (maximum flying time for the day). The relief pilot could not get through customs (which closed at 8 p.m.) Eventually an incoming flight arrived and its crew could take us to Chicago. We touched down at 11:30 p.m. (CST) and got home at 1 a.m.!   

I restrained myself at the gift shops
We thoroughly enjoyed the trip.  The accommodations and the food were excellent. The mix of sightseeing, lectures, and free time was just right. The group leader and lecturer were knowledgeable.  And, as always, our fellow travelers were interesting and interested.  What a great way to end 2013!

Outside the Cathedral

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Celtic Solstice!

Bonnie published the "solution" to the Celtic Solstice mystery quilt early on January 1.  At 11:15 p.m. my audiobook ended and I had two inner borders and the outer borders to attach. I chose sleep!  Today I firmly told myself to finish my homework (the AAUW-IL midyear financial report) before going downstairs to sew. 

Here is the result of my reward.  Though I used Bonnie's colorway, I used yellow for the inner border. I turned the upper-left and lower-right corner units.  I cut the outer border 3.5" (Bonnie's is 2"). 

The flimsy used 8 yards of fabric.

Thank you, Bonnie, for another wonderful mystery pattern!

UPDATE: I'm linking to the Mystery Monday update on Bonnie's blog:  here

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Annual Reckoning: 2013 in review

Here's my final finish of 2013!  The photo shows a corner of Chevron Strings folded over on the backing.   I used variegated thread and meandered. Easy. And done. [The backing is a Jennifer Sampou print that I got at a closeout sale. The binding was already cut, intended for another project (which I cannot remember).] 

And now: the Annual Reckoning.

 I began sewing when I was in fifth grade.  I began to acquire a stash of fashion fabric when I was in college.  In the 70's and 80's I made most of my clothes.  My stash grew with purchases from independent fabric stores and yard goods departments at dime stores and J.C. Penney.   During those years I also needlepointed and cross-stitched and acquired yarn, floss, canvas, and evenweave, much of which I still have.  In the early 90's I found out that quilts could be pieced and quilted by machine. My course was set. My stash took on an entirely new life. 

In 1998 I began to keep track of the fabric I used and acquired.  In 2004 I started to track what I spent.  My qualifiers:   "used" means sewn, sold, or given way. "Acquired" means purchased or received.  (If I swap, it's a wash.)   I calculate how much I use in a project by measuring the square inches. It is fiddly, but it's easy because I use a calculator. (A quick example: a 9-patch made out of 2" squares is 2 x 2 x 9, or 36 square inches. A quilt top with 100 such blocks -- 45"x45" --  has 3600 square inches.  My all-purpose estimate for a yard of fabric is 1512 square inches (36 x 42) so that 9-patch top is 2.38 yards.)  I don't count what I spend on thread, batting, notions, patterns, books, or subscriptions.

Last January 1 I said that my goals were to end the year with 10 or fewer flimsies in the box and to get good at a new technique.  I met the first goal and sort of met the second goal.

In 2013 I turned 36 flimsies into finished quilts: 14 were created in 2012 or earlier and 22 were created in 2013. 

The "new" technique was not so new, but I got better at it.  My guild hosted a workship with Pat Sloan who taught us her method of machine applique.  I used her technique not only for the class sample (which is done-done: quilted, bound, labeled) but also for this project

Other 2013 accomplishments:
* I made 18 refrigerator magnet Valentines and 70 Christmas ornaments. I repurposed three vendor totebags and made another. 
* I sold 5 quilts for a total of $400. 

In 2014 I want to:
* Finish the 10 flimsies in the box. [See the "Flimsy Completion" tab at the top of my blog.]
* Keep up with the  NewFO challenge.
* Pick a specialty ruler and become proficient with it.
* Make 100 Care Bags.  (Care Bags are ditty bags, about 13 x 14, that are filled with hygiene or school supplies and distributed to kids in crisis/disaster situations.  They use 100 per month and several years ago I made a personal pledge to make one month's worth each year. I've gotten off track and want to get back.)
* Sell 100 yards of fabric.
* Use more and acquire less than in 2013.

Here's to a great 2014 for all of my quilting friends and fellow bloggers!