Friday, December 30, 2016

OMG: December's Coastal Lily

 My December OMG was to complete the embroidery for the 36 blocks in Coastal Lily.   I thought it would be a good project as I recovered from surgery.  If you look back on my posts this month it turned out that I did a lot more machine sewing than hand sewing.

Yesterday I embroidered the last five units.  I used Karen Kay Buckley's Perfect Circles template for the 180 anthers.  They're fused and machine-appliqued.

One lily in bloom, 35 to go.

See what other OMG'ers have accomplished in the December finish link up 

Thursday, December 29, 2016

Best of 2016

Thanks to Cheryl at Meadow Mist Designs for hosting this link up. 
 Here is the main page with other quiltmakers' posts. 

 I made many quilts this year.  I'll count them up when I post the Annual Reckoning on January 1.
Meanwhile, these are my favorites. 

Stars in Her Crown 

Honoring Lulu Corkhill Williams.
Read the story in this post

Professionally quilted. 

Midnight Stars

Professionally quilted and donated to the ALA Silent Auction.

Read the story here

It All Adds Up

My entry in the Charming Plus quiltalong.
Quilted by me.

Read the story here

Chasing Rainbows

Quilted by me and donated to the Full Score Orchestra Gala in October. 
Blocks were the 2015 Rainbow Scrap Challenge.

Read the story here

Baby Bird's I Spy

My own design, quilted by me. Made for Calla, who was born in July.

Read more here 

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Midweek: two shoes! and solstice sampler

Goody! Two shoes!

Podiatrist visit this morning:  pin removed (he said I could keep it if I wanted to, but I declined).  I can wear a shoe again.  My sneaker was a bit tight so I am borrowing one of my husband's for the time being.

I'm going to try Pat Sloan's Solstice Challenge .  Here's block 1.

Here is block 2.  I am going for turquoise and plum. Or plummy brown. (Not quite purple, not quite brown.)

These 12" blocks  seem huge compared to most of the blocks that I make.

Monday, December 26, 2016

Weekly update: mystery and a scrappy week

I am quite proficient sewing with my left foot as my right foot recovers from bunion surgery.

Part 5 of En Provence, the Quiltville mystery, was a snap.  64 3.5" HSTs.    My guess is that the yellow and green fabric will be the sashing/border for the purple, magenta, and neutral units we've made so far.

[Didja see? Bonnie included a screenshot of my FB post of these units  on her blog !]

I assembled the pieced string blocks I showed last week.
 Last week I had begun these rail fence blocks.  They started with 2" x 9" strips, trimmed to 8.5".  I sliced them diagonally.

I reassembled them.

Did I empty the 2" strip bin? Hah!  (But I used up almost all of this red-on-red print. Hooray!)

But wait, there's more!

I've seen this block design in several sources. The immediate inspiration came from the fall/winter issue of Quilts and More. That designer used 1-1/4" strips to make 6" blocks. I chose to use 1-1/2" strips which resulted in 8" blocks.  Each block requires a width-of-fabric cut from 40" from two fabrics.  Of course you could use wider strips.

When the blocks are assembled the flimsy will be 56 x 64.

Here is a pre-constructed block so you can see how it fits together.

I'm joining the Monday link up parade with these bloggers:
Main Crush Monday
Monday Making
Design Wall Monday
Oh Scrap!
Quiltville's Mystery Monday

Weekly update: Merry Christmas!

The week leading up to Christmas was quiet and uneventful at our house.  The stitches were removed from my foot and the podiatrist warned me again to "take it easy."  I kept errands to a minimum -- the library, the bank, and Wal-Mart. (I prefer to get groceries at Aldi and Jewel but I needed some non-grocery items so Wal-Mart was more efficient. We went early Thursday morning and avoided huge crowds.)

This is the third year we've used this 4' prelit tree.  It's fun to hang the ornaments each year and remember where and when we got them.

This porcelain polar bear is from our 2007 Newfoundland trip. There's a little hole in the back for one of the tree lights.  The polar bear is the Bowdoin College mascot. (My husband's alma mater.)
 I have lots of squirrels, year-round as well as Christmas. "Skiouros" is the Alpha Gamma Delta mascot. (Coincidentally this ornament is in the Alpha Gam colors of red, buff, and green.)

Christmas Eve service was at 3:00 Saturday afternoon.  That seems early but it is convenient for those who'd rather not be on the road in the evening and for others who do need to travel.   We were home in time for supper which was pasta with clam sauce, for which I used the can of clams I bought in Providence back in January. (We know from experience that souvenir food should be consumed, not saved for years.)

When Christmas Day is Sunday there's a morning church service.  This year the organist/music director told us the history of classic Christmas carols and we sang each one. The coffee hour was a "birthday party for Jesus" with party hats and cupcakes.

Gifts were minimal this year, not because of straitened circumstances but because that's just how it turned out. The New Hampshire family sent us a gift basket of comestibles that we'll enjoy.

We had "roast beast" (as the Grinch called it) for Christmas dinner.  It was accompanied by roasted root vegetables (potatoes, sweet potatoes, parsnips, beets, carrots, and onions) and broccoli slaw. Dessert was cranberry-pecan pumpkin upside-down cake.  You're welcome to come for leftovers!

My Christmas quilt -- made in 2013.

Monday, December 19, 2016

Weekly update: En Provence, string setting, and another scrappy start

I got caught up on all the parts for En Provence, the Quiltville mystery.  The V-block ruler is a great tool to make the isosceles triangles.

   I have two more Snapware boxes in this size to hold the next units.

 I alternated the  En Provence units with the Block Lotto pieced strings blocks.  Which were the leaders and which were the enders?   When I had about 36 string blocks on the wall I auditioned a skinny black sashing strip. Nope. I surveyed my stash and a bright Australian print (bought at the Madison show in September) popped to the top. Ah-ha!  Here's the work in progress.

The string blocks are 6.5" unf/6" fin. As shown, 54" x 66". Maybe I'll add a narrow outer border of the Aussie print. Maybe I won't.

I cut a bunch of 2" strips to 9", pieced them in fives, and trimmed the resulting blocks to 8".  Stay tuned!

This week's link ups:
Quiltville Mystery Monday
Monday Making
Main Crush Monday
Design Wall Monday

Monday, December 12, 2016

Weekly update: the social whirl, string piecing, and that mystery

We went to the podiatrist on Tuesday. He pronounced the second procedure successful and scheduled the next appointment for December 20.  I'm *trying* to favor my foot.

The first week of December is when many of the organizations I'm in have their holiday parties. I had to skip two of them (Monday evening and Tuesday noon) but I went to three others.

FQ exchange and scrap bags 
 The quilt guild dinner was Wednesday evening.  We have a fat quarter exchange -- package four FQs any way you'd like. Draw a number and take your pick of someone else's FQs. I brought four sets so I got to choose four sets.   There were scrap bags left over from our quilt show last month. We were invited (begged!) to take them home, so I helped myself to three.  [15 yds., no cost]

The United Methodist Women luncheon was Thursday at a local restaurant.  Liz picked me up.   I had to hunt for a suitable white elephant for the gift exchange. I sold a lot of that sort of stuff at my garage sale in August. (Technically I could have boxed up fabric scraps or empty spools. I wanted to give something nicer.  I found an English china cup-and-saucer and a package of fancy tea. Perfect! And the recipient was pleased.) (In return I got a pair of glass candleholders that are already in the box for the next garage sale.)

The AAUW  holiday luncheon was Saturday. Since I am branch president I had to be there -- and besides that, it's always a lovely and lively event. My friend Rosemary was my guest and my chauffeur.  We have several fundraisers -- a silent auction ($631.50), a 50/50 ($110 to the winner, $110 to the branch), and the raffle quilt that I make ($400). [Proceeds will be allocated among AAUW Funds (national) and  our branch scholarship, convention, and community funds.]

Dorothy won this year's quilt, "Winter Stars." She won "Holly
Basket" in 2006 and took pictures of the two on her sofa.

The guild scrap bags were  "irregular strips" ranging from 1.5" to 2.5" with a couple of chunks thrown in. I dumped them all into a box and started using them.   The Block Lotto December block is pieced strings.  Each 6.5" block has one strip with a least three pieces.  There's a limit of 9 lotto entries but I can't quit making them. (I added three more after I took this photo.)

In 2015 I knocked myself out to make twelve   Heartstrings quilts, each with a different colorway/theme.  Earlier this year I quilted several of them (and I sold three, unquilted).  The  influx of strips motivated me to make a couple of blue-centered blocks. But why stop? And here is the latest HS flimsy. (4-7/8 yds used)

And, finally. The project I was NOT going to start.  Magenta is the constant color for En Provence, the 2016 Quiltville mystery. I found the perfect magenta on the shelf and I slid right down that slippery slope.

I bought Deb Tucker's V-block ruler at the guild quilt show. I'm using it rather than Tri-Recs. I had to read and re-read the instructions to be able to use the markings correctly. I think I have the hang of it.

Monday linkups:
Quiltville Mystery Monday
Design Wall Monday
Main Crush Monday
Oh Scrap
Monday Making

Monday, December 5, 2016

Weekly update: stash report and plaid flimsy

Sunday brought the first snowfall of the season. This is the view out the front door, late afternoon.

Stash report for November:
Fabric in:  33 yds, $15 (scrap bags at the quilt show)
Fabric out:  21-7/8
YTD fabric in: 378-1/4, $1353 ($3.57/yd)
YTD fabric out: 280

In order to come out even for the year I'll need to use (or sell or otherwise de-accession) 98 yards this month.  I don't think I'll manage to do that, but I may get close.

On Thursday evening, before the second surgery, I attached all the borders for Paths and Stiles. (5-1/8 yards, part of the December stash count.)

I kept my foot elevated most of the weekend.  I sewed some (see the previous post about my OMG handwork) and read a lot.  The post op appointment is Tuesday afternoon.

The weekly linkups:
Main Crush Monday
Design Wall Monday
Monday Making
Oh Scrap!

Saturday, December 3, 2016

OMG for December

All this year I have been an enthusiastic participant in One Monthly Goal.  I am pleased that I have finished the stated goal each month. December is problematic because I don't know when I will be able to return to my studio with the full range of activities (selecting fabric, cutting, sewing, pressing, basting, quilting).

Thus my OMG is handwork: specifically, completing the embroidery for the 36 lily units in Coastal Lily. The pattern is by Minick and Simpson. The colorway I am making is by Thelma Childers. It was published in American Quilter, July 2015.  Each lily has three stamens. The anthers will be appliqued. The rest of the quilt is pieced. 

As I write this post I have 22 units finished. 14 to go. I am doing outline stitch with DMC 414.
I am listening to semi finalists for the annual Audie awards.  Here is  my setup.

I am linking up to OMG at its new home on the Elm Creek Quilts blog:  here

Newbery reviews: Onion John

Original cover
Onion John (1960 Newbery Medal winner)

A library-bound copy of Joseph Krumgold's second Newbery-Medal-winning book was on the library booksale shelf. I'm sure the collection retained one copy with newer cover art and that one copy is sufficient. I doubt this gets checked out very often. 

I read Onion John when I was ten or eleven. All I could recall was that I didn't like it. Upon re-reading it I have changed my mind. 

This story of twelve-year-old Andy and Onion John, the eccentric Eastern European immigrant who becomes his friend, is poignant and charming. The townspeople, led by members of the Rotary Club, decide that Onion John needs a modern house, not the cottage he has cobbled together out of leftovers and junk.  

Andy's dad owns the hardware store. He projects his own unrealized dreams on his only son.  He urges     Andy to take a job at a nearby manufacturing plant to better prepare to go to M.I.T. and have a career in engineering.  Andy really likes helping out at the hardware store.  [Whoa, Dad! Andy is only 12!] 

The book can be viewed as a period piece -- late 1950's, small town (everyone is white).  It's a time when the eccentric guy is just that (nowadays we'd be afraid of a criminal or pervert).  Fifty-five years later the object lesson is still relevant: no matter how well-intended we are, we need to consider the wants/needs/preferences of the person, or people, for whom we want to do good things.  

P.S. I am a Rotarian so I appreciated the service effort! 
New cover 

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

More indulgences: nutcrackers and thread

Most years on the Sunday after Thanksgiving I bring up the boxes of Christmas decorations from the basement storeroom. This year I managed to bring up two of them before my foot protested.  But I got the nutcrackers arranged on the mantel!   The greenery and mini-lights I put around their feet are still in storage. Since I am now forbidden from going up or down the stairs At All it will be a while before  I complete the arrangement.

The nutcrackers are all German-made by Erzegebirge, Steinbach, or Ulbricht.   My mother gave us four of them on four Christmases in the 80's and 90's. (By chance this year they're all on the left.)  The two on the far right were garage-sale finds. [Can you find the twins?] All of the others are from Marshall's or T. J. Maxx -- far cheaper than full price.  Those stores have a limited selection and some years they don't have any that I like.

This year I indulged and bought two!  These little guys are now in the center.  (Technically the one on the right is a smoker, not a nutcracker.)

Craftsy had a sale on selected sets of Aurifil -- $71.50, regularly $120.00 -- and free shipping.  I indulged!   The sets are named for designers who presumably use these colors -- from  left, Pat Sloan ("perfect box of neutrals"), Ann Kelle, and Angela Walters. Only one color is duplicated among the three sets.  Alas, I won't be able to break open any of the spools and sew with them until I can navigate the stairs!

[Tomorrow I have to go to my primary care physician for a pre-op physical. Mind you, I had a pre-op physical on October 25 for last week's surgery. The hospital requires that the physical be within 30 days of the surgery. Thus I am out of the 30-day window for the December 1 procedure.  And when I have the other foot done -- late January, I hope -- I'll need yet another physical.  Sigh.]

Monday, November 28, 2016

Weekly update: left-footed sewing and and indulgence

Our Thanksgiving weekend was pleasant and purposely uneventful:  no company, no shopping. Lots of turkey, accompanied by roasted root vegetables, our favorite cranberry relish,* green salad, and pumpkin pie.

The pumpkin puree came from one of our uncarved Halloween pumpkins. I know that pie pumpkins are sweeter but by the time I add spices and sugar to the puree it tastes just fine. And I feel thrifty.

Pepto-Bismol pink!

*It's Mama Stamberg's relish. NPR special correspondent Susan Stamberg recites it on Morning Edition the Friday before Thanksgiving.  Here is this year

Just before Thanksgiving in 1990 one of my coworkers raced into the library  saying she'd heard a great recipe on NPR on her way to work. She wrote it on a catalog card and photocopied it. I still refer to that photocopy when I make the relish. 

My right foot is healing nicely, I think. I can't see it under the splint and bandage, but the only pain I've had is in my heel because I rest my weight on it.  Well, it's not. At the post op visit this afternoon I was informed that I overused my foot this week. I need to keep it elevated and iced as much as possible.  I am scheduled to go back to the hospital at the crack of dawn Friday for a follow up procedure to realign the metatarsal.  Sigh.  However, the restriction has reminded how much I usually move around when I sew -- bending over to get fabric from the shelf, standing up at the cutting table, going to the ironing board, returning to sit at the sewing machine.  (Add to that going up and down the stairs since my studio is in the basement.)

Martingale had a warehouse sale. I indulged!  These 20 books were $5 each and free shipping. (I still have some of the quilting books I got from their warehouse sale back in the 1990's when the company was called That Patchwork Place. I remember ordering copies for myself and for the library.)

Here's my work-in-progress.  The block is a variation of Path and Stiles. Evelyn Sloppy used homespuns in her example in Forty Fabulous Quick Cut Quilts . I made it several years ago (here) .   My blocks are 9" finished.

I had two long strips of nine-patches left over from this quilt . That made shorter work for the border.

I have outer border strips cut and ready to attach.

See how other quiltmakers are working off Thanksgiving calories:
Oh, Scrap!
Main Crush Monday
Design Wall Monday
Monday Making

Saturday, November 26, 2016

Ideals are timeless

(My column in the Zion-Benton News, 11/24/16.)

                “Two is a pair. Three is a collection,” goes the saying. I have several collections.  Fortunately I manage to contain and control them even as I augment them.   Searching for additions to my collections provides me with a reason to go to estate sales, rummage sales, and thrift shops.  I set restrictions (“no more than fifty cents for an XYZ,” “only editions published before my birth year”).  That forces me to search for bargains and ensures that I will not complete a collection any too soon.

                Ideals magazine is one of my slow-growing collections.  I bought a dozen more issues at a sale in Winthrop Harbor earlier this month.  (They met the fifty-cent restriction.) 

                I first encountered Ideals in the 1950’s when my mother subscribed to it.   I was learning to read in those days and I was drawn to the colorful photos and scrapbook-like format of the quarterly magazine.   Some pages had illustrations like those in picture books. Other pages featured poems or Bible verses with beautiful lettering and ornate borders.  (Years later I learned the terms “calligraphy” and “engrossed”). 

                This week as I interfiled my new acquisitions with those I’d gotten earlier I wondered about the origin of the magazine.

                In the 1940’s Van B. Hooper was the public relations manager for the Louis Allis Co. in Milwaukee.  He liked to supplement the in-house newsletter, the Messenger, with poetry and inspirational quotations.   The additions made a big hit with employees.  Friends of employees who saw the publication wanted copies, too.     In 1944 he published a Christmas anthology of those bits and pieces.   Nostalgia and homespun wisdom were welcome in the dark days of wartime.  Hooper struck a chord with readers and Ideals magazine was launched.

                Each issue of Ideals had a theme.  Christmas was the standard-bearer, joined each year by Valentine’s Day, Easter, and Thanksgiving.  Other themes varied from year to year with topics like “Neighborly,” “Hometown,” and “Candleglow.”  An article titled “The Corner Grocery” might be followed by a poem by Walt Whitman and a photo of the Golden Gate Bridge.  A Christmas issue had a meditation about winter, a retelling of the Nativity story, and a description of Yuletide in Scandinavia. There was no advertising, making Ideals seem more like a book to keep and re-read.  The covers were plastic-coated and the interior pages were printed on heavyweight paper, contributing to that feeling of permanence. 

                Maryjane Hooper Tonn succeeded her father as Ideals editor and publisher until the late 1980’s. Under new management the company relocated from Milwaukee to Nashville, TN, and in 2000 it was acquired by Guideposts.  It is now produced by Worthy Publishing .  Though it is no longer available by subscription, Christmas and Easter issues are sold at bookstores including Barnes & Noble and  (In my opinion the old (Milwaukee) issues are a lot more interesting than the newer ones.) 

                Perhaps there are a few copies of Ideals on your bookshelf or in your attic.  Dust them off and enjoy some homespun nostalgia this holiday season!

# # #

Note 1: there is little information online about Ideals.  There's a Facebook group.  I have one article:  "A Merry Magazine," by Donald-Brian Johnson, published in Treasures Magazine, December, 2013, which I photocopied at the library.  I called the Milwaukee Public Library local history department. The librarian said they have a file folder of clippings, but nothing has been digitized.  I didn't have time to go to MPL.  (I'm surprised that no one has written about Ideals for the Wisconsin Magazine of History .)

Note 2:  As I leafed through the back issues I was very much aware that the nostalgic world Ideals romanticizes is very white, Eurocentric, and Protestant. 

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Quilting result . . . and Tuesday surgery

Here is  my new footwear.  I had a bunionectomy at 7:30 this morning. That necessitated our checking in at the hospital at 6 a.m. which in turn meant we woke up at 4:30.   I came out of the anesthesia at 9:30 and we were home by 10:30.  It took a couple of hours for me to sleep it off.  As I write this (late afternoon) the local anesthesia is starting to wear away. Guess I won't escape the predicted pain after all.

I plan to sew left-footed until I get the all-clear (a month, maybe?).

In anticipation of the surgery I hustled to get the batik log/rail flimsy assembled.  I did use the lime green sashing thanks to your encouragement.  The pattern name is "Solidly Built."  Maybe I will call this "Path to the Cabin."  Any other suggestions?

It is 72 x 78 and used 4-3/8 yards.

Monday, November 21, 2016

Weekly update: back in the studio

I worked on the Baseball Swap this week.
I was the BUPchucker for this year.  (A BUP is a Big Ungainly Package. The chucker is the one who sorts all the bags of squares.)

The Baseball Swap began on the newsgroup Rec.Crafts.Textiles.Quilting in 1999 or so.  We spun off as a YahooGroup a couple of years later. We swap 6.5" squares of quilt fabric according to the results of Major League Baseball games. Each participant can back a National or American League team, or one from each. For each game your team wins, the backer of the losing team owes you a square.  Fortunately one swapper has a spreadsheet to keep track of who owes whom.  There were 16 participants this year, though we've had as many as 40.

I backed the Cubs and the Red Sox so I got a lot of squares this year.  (The box behind the stack has squares from previous years. They come in handy when I need a little of this color or that color.)

Here's my new project. The pattern, "Solidly Built," was in the Fall/Winter Quilt Sampler. I didn't realize until after I'd begun that the featured shop is in Auburn, Maine, where we used to live. (The shop opened after we moved away.)

Here are four sashing possibilities -- batiks in my stash in sufficient quantity.  The magazine uses dark teal.  My husband likes the green on the right.  What's your opinion?

Of course now that I have broken my no-buy resolution for November I could go out an purchase a yard and a half of dark teal batik . . .

Here are the resolution-busting scrap bags purchased at the quilt show.  33 yards of scraps for $15.00.

See what other quiltmakers are up to on these  linkups:
Design Wall Monday
Main Crush Monday
Monday Making
Oh, Scrap!