Wednesday, December 31, 2014

The Annual Reckoning, 2014 edition


2014 was the seventeenth year I have tracked how much fabric I have acquired and used. This is my accounting system. It may not appeal to or work for you.  "Bought" means acquired, whether purchased or received as a gift.  I count fashion fabric but I don't count vintage textiles. I don't track expenses for thread, batting, books, magazines, patterns, and other notions. I don't count the cost of professional long-arm quilting  "Used" means any project at the flimsy stage (not WIPs), blocks made to swap, and scraps given away. 

Here's what I accomplished in 2014:
* started and finished 20 quilts (quilted on my domestic machine)
* created 3 flimsies (not yet quilted)
* made 192 HeartStrings blocks (96 of which made it into finished quilts)
* finished 3 flimsies made in 2013
* had 2 quilts (flimsies from 2014) professionally quilted
* sold 4 quilts ($354)
* donated 13quilts to fundraisers, made 19 charity pillowcases, donated 100 Care Bags
* won two ribbons at the guild show

I did not acquire any fabric for four months (March, April, November, and December). In May I received 192 FQs (that's 48 yards) as retirement gifts.  In July the guild had a fundraiser to sell a windfall donation from a woman who had to dispose of her stash. I got 147 yards for $2/yd.

I emptied 85 spools of thread. (Some had been partially used. Some were big. Some were small.)

Here's how I did with my goals for 2014:
* Finish the 10 flimsies in the box.  There are 9 flimsies in the box, 3 of which were made in 2014. 
* Keep up with the  NewFO challenge.   Though I didn't post to that blog, I did keep keep up.
* Pick a specialty ruler and become proficient with it.  I took a workshop for the Square in a Square ruler/technique.  I may just need more practice, but I didn't take to it. 
* Make 100 Care Bags . Yes!
* Sell 100 yards of fabric.  None at all. 
* Use more and acquire less than in 2013.  More used, same in. That's progress!

What's ahead?
* Bust the 30's stash.
* Learn and practice a new technique.
* Make decisions about the flimsies in the box -- finish them or abandon them.
* Continue to chip away at the Deep Stash -- vintage linens and fashion fabric especially.
* Sell 100 yards.  Make 100 Care Bags. Make 576 HeartStrings blocks (that's 48 blocks per month).
* Enjoy the journey.
* Host one blog giveaway each quarter.

I thank everyone who's stopped by to read my posts this year.  I especially thank everyone who has taken time to leave a comment. I hope that you've had a pleasantly productive quilting year.  Here's to a piece-filled 2015!

The two postcards are from my collection. The first is blank. The second one is postmarked Wausau, Wis., Dec. 30, 1924 and addressed to Nora Buttke in Emden, ND. "Dear Cousin, I must send you this card to let you no [sic] that we are all well again. Erna has another little girl her name is Marion Ethel she was born the 7 of Dec She look [sic] just like Virginia. Good New Year wishes to you call. Herman and Frances." 

Monday, December 29, 2014

The last DWM of 2014

My post-Christmas gift to myself was a cold which kept me sneezing and sniffling most of the weekend. Saturday was the worst and I stayed inside all day Sunday, I'm feeling much better today.

On Friday we went to Evanston to see "Mr. Turner."  It was excellent, though it took a while to get into the story, set in mid-19th century England (great costumes and scenery).  Though we knew who Turner was and we have seen his paintings, we didn't know much about him.  We were not the only people to leave the theater saying, "We need to look him up."  Fortunately for us J. M. W. Turner: Painting Set Free was among the university press books sent to me this month. The book is the catalog for an exhibit curated by the Tate, now at the Getty, which covers the exact period of the movie. (And the exhibit will be at the DeYoung in San Francisco in June when I am in SF for the ALA Annual Conference.)
 Cost Plus World Market was next door to the movie theater.  The Magpies (my online quilting group) had been talking about Violet Crumble, an Australian candy bar. Cost Plus carried them ($3.99 each!). The Marmite will be put to a taste test with the Vegemite we brought back from Australia. I got the Aero bars because I'd never heard of them.  Candy verdict: Violet Crumble is very good though the import price is outrageous. Aeros were also tasty and at $1.79 more reasonably priced.

Quilting update:
The Block Swappers exchanged CW churn dashes in early 2013. I assembled the flimsy right after I got the blocks.  This week I got it quilted and bound.  I'm not thrilled with the quilting (loopy flowers in the churns and meandering in the hourglasses) but it is finished!  54 x 72; back and binding took 2-7/8 yards.

A few years ago I made a "kitchen sink" quilt from leftover units. I entered it in the Chicago Librarians' Quilt Show and to my surprise (and delight) it was purchased!   The buyer said it was "very enthusiastic." I'm trying the design concept again.  The units seem to have two different colorways, warmer and cooler. Maybe I will end up with two kitchen sinks.

(Left: The green/black/neutral pieces began with leftovers from Grand Illusion blocks. Below: the purple/gold/green 9-patches are leftovers from Carolina Crossroads -- after 7 years it's time to use them.)
Forecast: Scrappy With a Chance of Nine-Patches
 I'm linking up with other quiltmakers at Judy's Patchwork Times.

I will post the Annual Reckoning on January 1. Stay tuned!

Friday, December 26, 2014

Boxing Day: clue 5

Here is Grand Illusion, Clue 5.  Next week we will find out how all the units fit together.

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

30's Bin Bust

I thought I should be quantitative as well as qualitative about my 30's bin bust project.  I weighed the stash: 27 pounds. At 4 yards per pound, that's 108 yards. The weighing came after I completed the Pentland Crackers flimsy which used 3-3/8 yds of 30's (and 5-1/8 yds in all).

One shelf, two boxes. (The stack to the immediate left of the boxes is not 30's.)  

30's Crackers. Approx. 72 x 82. 

Holiday quilt link up

Here is my reponse to Bonnie's invitation to post our holiday quilts.
I made Good Cheer! in 2013 with blocks from the Progressive Swap. 
You can read more about it, and see the bargain-Christmas-fabric backing here

I made two patchwork Christmas pillows long ago and bring them out every year. The pine tree was inspired by a Marti Michell quilt called "Cardinal in the Pines." I no longer have the book and I keep meaning to interlibrary loan a copy so I can get thae pattern to make a bed-sized quilt.  The wreath was in McCall's Quick Quilts. The pattern called for appliqueing circles for the berries. I opted for buttons. 

Today's fabric decision: which vintage tablecloth will I put on the table for Christmas dinner? I checked the inventory and found all of these. 
 Same design, two different fabrics (one is linen, the other sort of rayon-y).
 Poinsettias are ever-popular. (I have lots of poinsettia-print quilt fabrics, too.)
 This one is signed.  I have found other Dearden-designed textiles on eBay but haven't searched deeply enough to find out about him.
 Never-used napkins. Four pine boughs, three poinsettias.

Table runners. The one on the left hasn't been used.  You often see evenly-spaced identical motifs on runners or table cloths. That's because they were designed to be able to be cut apart, hemmed, and sold as napkins.

I have some vintage Christmas dishtowels, too, but if I open the dishtowel box I will not get anything else done today.

See other Christmas quilts in the linkup at Bonnie's Quiltville.

December at the beach

We took advantage of a few hours of sunshine on Tuesday and walked on the beach at Hosah Park in Zion.

I hit the beach glass jackpot!

Years ago there were houses along the lakefront.  When lake levels rose in the mid-1970's they were condemned and now the whole lakefront is parkland. Could this be a relic from one of those houses?

(This design is also a quilt block called Bright Hopes.)

Driftwood. Pebbles have been driven into the ends of the roots.

Monday, December 22, 2014

DWM and MM: the 30's project, potholders, and GI step 4

I spent most of my sewing time this week working on Pentland Crackers blocks, the first project of my 30's Bin Bust.  Not only did I reduce the 30's stash (by a bit), but I also put a big dent into a shoebox packed full of white-on-white strips and squares. I used the same WOW in each block, but a variety of WOWs in all the blocks.  There were four cut-off triangles from each block. I  trimmed those as I generated them (a few blocks' worth at a time.)

Each "cracker" is 6.5" unfinished. Per block:
2 - 2.5 x 6.5  print
1- 2.5 x 6.5  WOW
2 - 2.5 x 2.5 print
2 - 2.5 x 2.5 WOW

cut-off HSTs (1.5" unfin)
I think I'll have a narrow white inner border and a wider 30's print outer border.

The quilted potholders we'd been using for several years got irredeemably grody so I made new ones while we watched TV Saturday evening. The Ohio Star began with an orphan block and the other two I made from scratch. These used up the last bit of  Warm Window ,  insulated shade material that used to be sold by the yard at Joann's. (A quick search of the website didn't turn it up, but apparently it's available at Amazon.) What potholder-makers use now is InsulBrite, the stuff in Warm Window, plus a layer of batting.

Here are my units for the Grand Illusion Step 4.  I assume that Bonnie will reveal the assembly with her post on December 26. I can't guess how these will go together.

I'm composing this post early but will link up at Judy's Patchwork Times and Bonnie's Mystery Monday .

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Christmas decor

For many years we used a Norfolk Island pine as our Christmas tree. Actually we had three of them, serially --  it was easier to buy a new one than to move a semi-tropical house plant in January.  Each of the pines grew large enough to accommodate quite a number of ornaments and a string of mini-lights.  In 2007 pine #3 succumbed to the arid climate of forced-hot-air heat in the Wisconsin parsonage. That fall I paid $20 for an artificial tree at the church rummage sale. It lost a tier of branches somewhere along the way so it didn't stand quite straight.  We used it for six Christmases, so I figured we got our money's worth out of it.

This week I splurged and bought a 4' pre-lit tree (half-off at the Zion Ace Hardware store).  It is atop a pine sewing stand (Fargo antiques store purchase) that is covered with a vintage tablecloth.  Our ornaments have been collected over the years. Every time I put them away I think I ought to weed out the ones that aren't particularly significant. I have yet to do so.

The nutcracker collection began with a gift from my mother circa 1990. It's either the soldier on the far right or the soldier who is second from the left.  I found the "twin" at a garage sale.  The blue soldier on the far left was another garage sale find.  Mother gave us three more. The rest I have gotten at TJMaxx or Marshall's. Each season they have a select selection of the previous year's models for half the list price, but they go quickly.  This year I was lucky and got the clockmaker (fourth from right).  These are all German-made.

Season's readings

In 1983 Isaac Asimov was a speaker at the first PLA (Public Library Assn.) national conference.  He recounted his childhood experience of going to the library. His parents limited him to two books a week so he would check out the thickest books he could find since he read so fast. As an adult he had money to buy his own books. "And now," he said, "people send me books!"

At this time of year people send me books, too.  The picture at the left shows Friday's delivery. Here's the story.

One of the most rewarding ALA committee appointments I've had is the University Press Books for Public and Secondary School Libraries committee.   Each year publishers who belong to the Association of American University Presses ( select the new books they think would be useful to public and school libraries and send them to the committee members, who are public and school librarians, to evaluate.  We don't have to read them all. Rather, we rate them as outstanding, general interest, regional interest, or special interest.  Our recommendations are published in a bibliography available both in print and online. (  We write one-paragraph reviews for our "outstanding" selections. At the ALA Annual Conference six of us (three school, three public) give a booktalk for the Best of the Best.  
About 90 books.  Average list price $35 each = $3150

In the fall the AAUP marketing coordinator asks committee members to designate our preferred Dewey Decimal subject categories and assigns accordingly.  This year I hit the jackpot!  I have 200-289 (Religion/Bible and Christianity), 300-305 (Sociology, Anthropology), 550-599 (Earth and Life Science), 640-649 (Home Ec), 730-759 (Art - Sculpture, Textiles, Drawing and Painting), 940-942 (UK and Ireland history), 970-979 (U.S. History).

My history with the committee:  I was first appointed in 1990 and served two two-year terms.  At that time it was a joint AASL (American Assn. of School Librarians) and PLA (Public Library Assn.) committee.  I volunteered again in 2008 and have been on the committee ever since. Usually ALA committee appointments are two two-year terms, but in 2010 when I tried to re-up with PLA I found out that the committee had been dropped when PLA reorganized. (They neglected to inform any of us.) I protested and the PLA board agreed to extend "provisional" status for a year. I was appointed chair. After that year the PLA board decided to eliminate the committee.  It has always been part of AASL. The public librarians sought a new home.  We found it in RUSA/CODES (Reference and User Services Assn. / Collection Development and Evaluation Section).  I was appointed the chair for two years.  Now I'm "just" a committee member. 

When I was working the books were shipped to me at the library.  I would bring home few books  that I thought my husband would like.  This year they are delivered  at home. My husband is astounded (he never realized just what I did on this committee) and he's having a great time looking at them.  I'll get to the work of evaluating after the holidays. Those we don't choose to keep will be given to ZBPL.

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Book Review: The Lost Art of Dress

The Lost Art of Dress: The Women Who Once Made America StylishThe Lost Art of Dress: The Women Who Once Made America Stylish by Linda Przybyszewski
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Nowadays clothing is cheap, plentiful, and ephemeral: wear it for a season and get something new.  That was not the case a century ago.  Up until the 1950's, whether they sewed their clothing, had it sewn for them, or bought ready-to-wear, American women's wardrobes spanned seasons and years.

Linda Przybyszewski tells the story of the Dress Doctors, the pioneering home economists who advised generations of American women how to get from fashion (what designers proposed) to style (adaption to suit the individual). What neckline flatters a round, oval, or heart-shaped face? Update a plain wool dress by changing the collar and cuffs!  Foundation garments can make all the difference. Construction details--plackets and pleats, matching plaids and finished seams--are noticeable.  There was a distinct difference between clothing for girls and teens and clothing for adult women, and fashion favored the latter.

The era of the Dress Doctors ended in the 1960's when mod and youthful became the keywords, with fashions designed for Twiggy-thin bodies. Przybyszewski acknowledges that current fashion has convenience but she encourages less-is-more and quality over quantity.

If only all scholarly books were written with such spriteliness! If you are interested in women's history, home economics, or the evolution of fashion design, add this to your must-read list.

P.S. Kudos to Przybyszewski for writing: "If you cannot walk more than a block in your shoes, they are not shoes; they are pretty sculptures that you happen to have attached to your feet. You could hang them from your wrists for all the good they are doing you in terms of locomotion. Better to put them on a shelf and admire them from afar."

The author teaches at Notre Dame. Here's her blog: -- lots of vintage fashion photos and commentary.

View all my reviews

Book review: A Spool of Blue Thread

 A Spool of Blue ThreadA Spool of Blue Thread by Anne Tyler
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

In 1968 I was a junior in high school when I read a paperback copy of  Anne Tyler's first novel, If Morning Ever Comes. (I know it was published in 1964.)  Forty-six years later she is still writing and I am still reading. We have all known families like those in her books: quirky (dysfunctional is too harsh a term) people that you are relieved you are not related to, though deep down inside you know that your family has its own quirks. I have a sharp mental picture of the houses where Anne Tyler's families live -- spacious but not too big, old but not too old, comfortable and unostentatious, with attics and basements and sun porches, and somewhat overgrown perennial gardens.

Blue Thread is Tyler's 20th novel. She revisits familiar places and themes: the profound effect that the environment of our youth (familial and geographical) has on the rest of our lives.  Red and Abby Whitshank are the second generation to live in the Baltimore house that Red's father built in the 1930's. Three of their grown children live nearby while the fourth, the black sheep, leaves and returns often. Abby, social worker by profession and peacemaker by nature, wants to keep the family together. Red's parents, Junior and Linnie Mae, arrived in Baltimore during the Depression and did not reveal much about their North Carolina origins.

The Whitshanks are stricken by tragedy, which is the opening Tyler uses to tell the reader about Junior and Linnie Mae's story. The metaphorical spool of blue thread is an actual spool, and in the end the family secrets are sewn up and put away for another generation to discover.

I *loved* this book and I am sorry that other readers must wait until February, 2015, to read it.

View all my reviews

Sunday, December 14, 2014

DWM: sewing amid the social whirl

Another finish!  This week I quilted the black/white/bright Heartstrings flimsy.  3-1/8 yards for the back and binding.

Grand Illusion continues. Here's Step 3:

The leftovers from the strip panels yielded these twosies (1.5"):

I am no longer as enamored of 30's prints as I once was.  I have too many to just toss out.  I am joining two long-time participants on the Stashbusters Yahoo Group who are  having  a 30's Bin Bust.  Their stashes are down to bins, while mine is still two shelves....but I'll get there!  Here are strips cut for the first project in that effort.

I'm linking up with other quiltmakers for Design Wall Monday and Mystery Monday .

White elephants, holiday parties, and some vintage bargains

This past week was filled with holiday events!  Monday evening was my P.E.O. chapter's potluck. My friend Erika was my guest. We exchange gifts with a lively "left/right" game (here). My gift was this applique pillow. In return I got a hand-crafted tea infuser and a packet of herbal tea.

FQ bundles 
Wednesday evening was the quilt guild's holiday dinner. I did not take photos but a good time was had by all. The guild has a fat quarter bundle exchange. I brought four bundles so I got four bundles. We have a block exchange--just a single block, which is far easier on everyone than having to make multiple blocks to swap.  We also have a white elephant exchange, also to the tune of a right/left passing game. I got a box with this interesting assortment: a box of tissues, a roll of toilet paper, a bar of very nice goat's-milk soap, and three not-quite-FQs.  Though the exchange does not have to be quilt-related, I always box up scraps--this year packaged in a popcorn tin.
exchange block and Longaberger basket (it held FQs)

UMW "White Christmas" (hence the attire)
Chapter OJ with their new treasures

Thursday noon was the United Methodist Women's holiday lunch. Another white elephant exchange!  I gave three sacks of decorative pebbles (which I got at a garage sale for .50 per sack).  I got a small glass candy dish in the shape of a snowman.  Thursday evening was Erika's P.E.O. chapter party with yet another white elephant exchange. I gave a bottle-turned-into-a-lamp and I got a box with *six* cookbooks which I am enjoying reading.

Saturday was the AAUW holiday luncheon. My ZBPL friend Rosemary was my guest (Erika is in AAUW so she was there anyway ). We have a silent auction fundraiser, which  involves more white elephants.  I took a box of stuff and a box of books. All but three items were purchased; all the leftover books (mine and others') went to ZBPL's book sale; and I spent $1.00 each on these bargello kits.  The price tag says Murphy's, $3.77.  (I found this information about WonderArt:
Fixler Bros, Inc. was founded in 1916 in Chicago and their trademark products were named Wonder Art..... The items were sold thru S.S. Kresge, J.J. Newberry, Scott Stores, G.C. Murphy. F.W. Woolworth, etc stores. There is not a date as to when Fixler Bros lost ownership of Wonder Art but it is now owned by Caron International, Inc in Washington, D.C.)  

 Saturday evening Stevens and I enjoyed the Full Score Chamber Orchestra's "Welcome Christmas" concert at a local church. We are very fortunate to have a professional orchestra based in our community.  The music was grand!

At our church on Sunday the children performed "The Simplest Nativity Play Ever."  A narration of the Christmas story and carols, with kids in costume: wonderful!

The coming week will be far less event-filled. I plan to tackle several assignments that I have neglected for too long.

Sunday, December 7, 2014

DWM and Mystery Monday: step 2, avoiding temptation, and a finish

The stages of Step 2
 I have about 60 of the step 2 units made as I write this post. I may get a few more done this evening.
I'm using Bonnie's third method to make the diamonds. That results in bonus triangles. I've got them all trimmed to 1.5". (Orca Bay generated bonus triangles, too, and the wallhanging here was the result.)

I was out on errands on Saturday and spied a sign for an estate sale. I was tempted by several mint-in-package cotton bedsheets and a table loaded with embroidered linens and dishtowels.   I could not resist this. It had no price tag and the estate sale lady said I could have it! 

I finished quilting Waffle Stamps.  3-7/8 yards for the backing and binding. (More here. )

The drawing for Christmas Stars was at the conclusion of the United Methodist Women's chili supper on Saturday.  The winner was delighted. Ticket sales brought $400 of which $300 goes to UMW and $100 to me (to defray the cost of professional quilting).  (More here .)

I'm linking up with other quiltmakers at Judy's Patchwork Times  and Bonnie's Mystery Monday .