Sunday, February 28, 2016

DWM: Happy Saint Oswald's Day! (and quilting, too)

When I wrote the weekly Rotary Club bulletin on Thursday I added some trivia about February 29.  I learned that it's the feast day of 
St. Oswald .  Here's more about him: 

Born into a military family in 10th-century England, Oswald was a nephew of the archbishop of Canterbury, who raised him and played a crucial role in his early education.Oswald continued his studies abroad in France, where he became a Benedictine monk.  Following his appointment as bishop of Worcester, and later as archbishop of York, he founded monasteries and introduced many reforms. He supported—and improved—scholarship at the abbeys he established, inviting leading thinkers in such fields as mathematics and astronomy to share their learnings. He was widely known for his sanctity, especially his love for the poor. The final winter of his life was spent at the cathedral in Worcester that he so loved. At the start of Lent in February of the year 992, he resumed his usual practice of washing the feet of 12 poor men each day. On Leap Year Day, February 29, he died after kissing the feet of the 12th man and giving a blessing.  The news of Oswald's death brought an outpouring of grief throughout the city.
I also learned that 
* The practice women proposing in a leap year is different around the world. In Denmark, it is not supposed to be 29 but 24 February, which hails back to the time of Julius Caesar. A refusal to marry by Danish men means they must give the woman 12 pairs of gloves. In Finland, it is not gloves but fabric for a skirt and in Greece, marriage in a leap year is considered unlucky, leading many couples to avoid it.
* The chance of being born on a leap day is often said to be one in 1,461. Four years is 1,460 days and adding one for the leap year you have 1,461. So, odds of 1/1,461.

And now for the weekly quilting report.

The Block Swappers have an annual birthday block exchange. Each participant decides the block and colorway she'd like the others to make for her.  There are eight participants this year.  I made the March block (lower left) and while I was at it I made the other seven.  Mine is the 8" Dutchman's Puzzle in the center. (I want to make a "modern" poinsettia for this year's AAUW Christmas quilt.)

The batik Storm-at-Sea is made from the pattern on Qulters' Cache. I printed the paper-foundations from that website, carefully scaling the printer so that the 1" test square was 1".  When I did that the unit on that page was 1/4" too large!  Rather than fiddle with making reduced-size printouts I just drafted templates.

Now all I have to do is remember where I've put the blocks so that I can mail them as each birthday month comes up.

The finish is Summermint, the HeartStrings flimsy I made in August.  I used a thrift-shop cotton sheet for the back.  I quilted it with free-motion curlicues rather than meandering.

This photo shows the front folded over on he back. I think you can see the curlicues.

Every spring the Zion Woman's Club assists the Zion Conservatory of Music with a fundraising luncheon/recital.  I will put four or five ARCs (advance reading copies) of forthcoming/new books in this tote as a donation to the silent auction.  I made four batik Pine Burr blocks some years ago for a swap that didn't come to pass. The block is 11" and the tote is about 13 x 15 x 3.  (Stash used: 1 yard.)

If I am energetic I will make the other Pine Burrs into similar totes.

This St. Oswald's Day I'm linking up with
Oh Scrap
Monday Making
Design Wall Monday

Monday, February 22, 2016

DWM: ladders set + Care Bags

Thanks to all who offered advice about setting the Jacob's Ladder blocks.  Here's how the flimsy turned out. It's 64 x 64 and used three yards of stash.

Most of my sewing time this past week was devoted to making  Care Bags.  They are ditty bags that are filled with toiletries and provided to children and teens who experience disaster or displacement.  I first heard about this charity when a local library newsletter had a program for children in which they decorated Care Bags.  Over the years I've sewn more than 500 bags.  If you would like to find out more, the website is here . There is also a FB page called Care Bags Foundation.  Note that they'd like you to contact them for instructions--that's their preference, not mine.

Drawstrings for Care Bags are 48" long. I've used many kinds of cord, including expensive upholstery/drapery trim, gift wrap cord, clothesline (20 ft. for .50 at Big Lots), and pillow piping (cheap, esp. with the Joann's coupon, but flimsy because it's made to be covered with sturdier fabric).  When we were on Grand Manan last year we visited a fisherman's chandlery (supply house) and I bought a 1-kg spool of 3mm nylon rope for $15.  That's enough cord for several hundred Care Bags!

Most of the 100 bags in this batch were made from fabric from Lillian's legacy -- the contents of the storage locker given to our guild last fall. That included the bright Mexican yardage (tablecloths and placemats) and corduroy.  I also made 12 totes out of the bright pencil blocks that I won at our guild's Block of the Month last fall.  [I did not count Lillian's fabric as "fabric in" so I can't count it as "fabric out."  It's a wash . . . and, actually, when I did wash the Mexican fabric it tinted my husband's t-shirts a lovely lilac that did not come out in two subsequent washings-with-bleach!]

I'm linking up with
Design Wall Monday
Oh Scrap!
Monday Making

Sunday, February 21, 2016

A world of beauty -- literature, art, and botany (with umbrellas!)

At the beginning of the month the editor of our weekly newspaper, the Zion-Benton News, asked if I would write a "My Perspective" column for the February 25 issue.   That deadline forced  encouraged us to visit three very different local attractions this week.

#1   Shakespeare
A copy of the First Folio is on display at the Lake County Discovery Museum, on loan from the Folger Shakespeare Library in Washington, DC.   The full title is “Mr. William Shakespeare’s Comedies, Histories, & Tragedies.”  It was published in 1623, seven years after the Bard’s death, and includes 36 plays including 18 that had not been published. Without the First Folio we would not have Macbeth, Julius Caesar, Twelfth Night, The Tempest, Antony and Cleopatra, The Comedy of Errors, or As You Like It.  Only 750 copies of the First Folio were printed.  There are 233 known copies in the world today. The Folger owns 82 of them, and one of those is on tour in the U.S. – the copy that’s at our museum through February 28. 
Appearances can be deceiving:  the volume is about 9x14, bound in red leather.  It’s not as big as an unabridged dictionary or a family Bible.  But it is one of 750 vital building blocks in literary history.  And we got to see it!

#2  Art Quilts and Umbrellas  

“Deeply Rooted” is the theme for the art quilt exhibition in the sunny galleries of the Anderson Arts Center in Kenosha.  Fiber artists from Illinois,  Iowa, Nebraska, and Wisconsin have explored the meaning of connection and being rooted in the Midwestern soil, in communities, in families.  

layered organza; hollyhocks on both layers

the lupine petals are neckties

 The group Women’s Journeys in Fiber also has an exhibit at the Anderson.  Their theme is “Umbrellas: Open to Ideas.”  Each of the 32 pieces features a real umbrella that has been embellished with embroidery, beading, paint, or other media.  Each artist wrote a statement about her interpretation of the theme.

 Both exhibits run through March 19.


#3  The Orchid Show
More than 10,000 brilliant orchids are on display now through March 13 at the Chicago Botanic Garden .  Orchids are found in the wild on every continent except Antarctica. They grow at high elevations and at sea level, in deserts and in tropical forests.  There are 17 species that are native to Illinois.  Orchids have been commercially grown since the 1850’s with more than 110,000 hybrids registered. They are the most popular houseplant in the U.S. 

The Orchid Show features hybrid orchids in three greenhouses, each with a different climate. There are orchids on the ground, in trees, and suspended from the ceiling.  It is impossible to take a bad photo!

Monday, February 15, 2016

Monday's vintage bargains

Leslie and Heather lay out the blocks
I spent the morning at Buttons and Bolts with four other women from our guild working on our 2016 raffle quilt. It's Judy Niemeyer's  Flowers for My Wedding Ring -- it will be beautiful, but, boy, it's a toughie.

There are two antiques malls en route to the quilt shop. I stopped at both of them on my way home.  Look what I got!

This Dresden Plate is 80 x 96, hand-quilted.

The Bonnet Girls were too cute to leave behind, despite the faded streak in the center. 72 x 80. Their skirts and bonnets are neckties. The green sashing is some kind of synthetic blend. (50% off the marked price--I paid $29.98!)

And these Vera placemats and napkins were a bargain, too.

Sunday, February 14, 2016

DWM: more ladders, two finishes, and bargain fabric

My sister's birthday is Valentine's Day so for our family February 14 is partly a holiday and mostly a birthday. (She called this evening to thank me for the books I gave her and said she had a nice day.)

I'm not sure where the week went!  It was productive, both quilt- and otherwise.

I made a Valentine mug rug for my UMW (United Methodist Women) secret pal. I included it in a gift bag with a book, a mug, and some cookies.

I decided I'd make 30 Jacob's Ladder blocks. I found out I'd made enough brown HSTs for 33 blocks, so I went ahead and made more four-patches.  Dear readers, do you have any suggestions for settings?  (I don't want to make all the alternate blocks for Cathedral Stars .)   Should I make sashing and cornerstones?  I have some red-and-brown print fabric but not enough for sashing or for borders. Thanks for your advice!  

I wrote that the NLCQG charity project this winter is HeartStrings blocks and that I said I'd quilt five flimsies made from guild members' blocks.  Helen gave me two assembled flimsies at the February 2 meeting.  I quilted them both this week.  Stash for backing and binding:  5-3/4 yards.

Yesterday I went to the Gurnee Salvation Army. I found, and bought, a nice wool challis Coldwater Creek jacket.  Then I went to the Community Thrift Store. That's a commercial entity (there are signs that say, "We are not associated with any charity").  The merchandise isn't any nicer than Sally Ann and the prices are usually higher. Still, I've gotten some good stuff there over the years, not the least of which was a set of very good quality everyday dishes.  This time I got 7-1/2 yards (1-1/2, 3-1/2, and 2-1/2) of quilting fabric for $10.50, and three all-cotton bandanas (gotta replenish the stash I used for the mug rugs).   The blue check fabric is dated 1990 and the gray kite fabric is dated 2013.  (No date on the garish floral.)

I'm joining the linkups for
 Monday Making
 Oh, Scrap!
 Design Wall Monday

Sunday, February 7, 2016

DWM: Goal! plus a bit of brown, and some string blocks

I don't care about the Super Bowl, but I did make a goal this week.  Here are the 17 mug rugs for the Magpies' Texfest meet up next month.  Making them was my  OMG -- One Monthly Goal -- for February.  They used a bunch of bandanas and 2-1/4 yards of fabric.

I folded 1-1/2" squares into triangles and sewed them into the binding for so the mug rug can be used as a wallhanging. (The backs were a variety of bandana prints.)

Brown is the color for this month's Rainbow Scrap Challenge . I made the nine brown Snail's Trail blocks for the Block Lotto in January (and posted the photo last week) so I thought I should come up with another project for the RSC.  When I sewed 2" squares into nine-patches for Dancing 9's (photo last week) I pulled out all the red squares and started leader-endering them. What to do with those twosies?  Jacob's Ladder would be fun. But what to use for the HSTs? Ah! Brown!

These blocks are 9-1/2" unfin. I don't know how many I'll make or how I'll set them.

NLCQG (my guild) members made Heartstrings blocks at the January charity sewing meeting.  I said I'd quilt up to five 48-block quilts if they'd make the blocks. At this week's meeting the blocks began to come in -- more than 125 so far, with more on the way.  We'll donate the quilts to a local agency.

I'm linking up for
RSC Scrap Happy Saturday
 Oh Scrap!
Design Wall Monday
Monday Making

P.S. My Super Bowl commentary: