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 Amazon.com.  (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!

Quilt show report

Co-chair Jonnie and I put up banners a week before 
The Northern Lake County Quilters Guild biennial show was this weekend. I was co-chair.  I am pleased (and relieved) to report that it was a success!

The location, the Antioch Township Center, was a new venue for the show but not a new site for the guild. It's where we hold our monthly meetings and our workshops.  Eighteen months ago I drove about 200 miles scouting locations for the show. Rents were very high Ours is a fairly small event and we couldn't commit to a $3000 security payment on a $6000 rental. The township center is free! The hitch was that it was a polling site, both for election day and for early voting. We could not use the meeting room until after the county had removed all the voting equipment (a week after the election).

Set up on Friday went smoothly.  Many hands and experienced husbands (with power tools) made the work go fast.

The weather was blustery on Saturday with an early-morning dusting of snow. The sun came out, the wind died down, and we had seasonably great weather all weekend.

quilts checked in

Traffic was steady. The silent auction was popular -- $1200 income on Saturday.  The Sunday sales should be comparable.

Ziploc bags with scraps contributed by guild members sold for $5.00 on Saturday and 2 for $5.00 on Sunday.  I contributed scraps and I bought more!  (I weighed the six bags when I got home:  8 pounds and a couple of ounces.  33 yards for $15.)

The raffle quilt was placed front and center.  The drawing was 3 p.m. Sunday.  One of my Magpie quilting friends is the winner!  I called her right away. She's thrilled!  (She and her husband have built a brand-new retirement home. What a great welcome-home greeting!)

All attendees could vote for "viewer's choice."  Guild members voted for their favorites in each category.  I won members' second place and a third place for my entries,"Stars in Her Crown" and "Forecast: Scrappy With a Chance of Nine-patches."  Regular blog readers have seen and heard about them many times.

Viewer's Choice 
Here are a few photos of other quilts on display.  You can see more on the guild website:  NLCQG .

Monday, November 14, 2016

Weekly update: scrappy campaign

In one week we went from the thrill of victory (the Cubs) to the agony of defeat (the presidential election).  That was the mood at our house. I realize that it might have been the opposite at your house.

As I watched the election returns on Tuesday night I pieced scrappy 25-patch blocks using 2.5" squares.  The scraps were appropriate for this very scrappy campaign season.

Quicker than you can say "presidential transition team" I set them. Then I pieced the back. Then I basted, quilted, and bound it.  66" x 76", 7 yards from my stash.

The fabric on the left is from  2004. I can't always identify when I acquired a particular piece, but that was purchased for a significant project.

Quilting closeup -- free-motion, no-mark.

I cut up most scraps as a generate them, but not always.  Most years I fill a box, wrap it, and take it to the quilt guild holiday party for the white elephant exchange.  This year they're not having the white elephant, so I'm cutting up these scraps and sorting them. 

See what other quilt bloggers are up to! 

P.S.  The squirrel got tired of waiting for us to carve our pumpkins so he cleaned this one out by himself.  (I have now cut up the other pumpkin and boiled it down for our Thanksgiving pie.) 

Weekly update: estate sale score!

 There was a three-day estate sale in town about a half-mile from home.  I have driven past the house numerous times over the years but I don't recall ever meeting the woman who lived there (she passed away in September).   I returned to the sale three times as prices got progressively lower.  I'm always on the lookout for materials to add to the library's local history collection and I got three Zion elementary-school yearbooks (1949, 50, and 51) and two high school reunion memory books (the Zion-Benton Township H.S. class of 1957's 45th and 50th) -- just fifty cents each. [I took them to the library before I took photos.]  

I "rescued" this packet of letters.  They were  from a German penpal in the early 1950's. The photos are of the girl, her mother, and a scene from her town in southern Germany.  ($3.75)

 These are early 20th-century embroidered postcards.  I actually plan to use them as greeting cards . . . some day.   (.25 each)

 These are contemporary paper-crafted cards. Nine for $3.75 is a good deal.

I bought a stack of Ideals magazines (.50 each). These will be the topic of my next Zion-Benton News column. (Writing it is on my to-do list this week.)

I confess that I have Corningware and I use it. I've had the large pan (on the left) for 30+ years and it's pretty scratched-up.  Estate-sale purchase on the right -- just $3.75 (reduced from $15). With lid.

This was the great deal!  My mother had  Pyrex bowls like these.  They were well-used and I let them go in our estate sale. At the time I didn't have an inch of extra storage space.  Ever since I've been on the lookout for the set in good condition at a reasonable price. (The exterior paint doesn't hold up in the dishwasher and the white interiors get  metal-marks from hard use.)   This set was priced at $50 -- and I got it the last day for $12.50.  (No, I won't use them.  I have other Pyrex bowls (I blogged about 'em but it will take an hour to find the post).)

P.S.  As I was checking out my first purchases Mrs. S, the estate sale company owner, was on the phone with one of the heirs explaining patiently but firmly that the contract clearly stated that prices would be reduced each day of the sale.  By the third day when items were actually 75% off Mrs. S said that it took the persuasion of a friend of the heirs to come to that agreement -- that and realizing how much stuff would be left over that the heirs would pay Mrs. S to have hauled away.   Mrs. S chuckled at one purchase:  a 1990's-era Toyota for $500.  The guy who bought it drove it away (after jump-starting it). He rolled down the window and the envelope with the signed title blew out and was lost.  The heirs were not happy knowing they had to go to the DMV to get a replacement title.

Sunday, November 6, 2016

Weekly update (part 2): It all adds up!

Q/B/L (quilted, bound, and labeled)!  "It All Adds Up" is my November One Monthly Goal project and I finished it November 5.

It's also my entry in the Charming Plus quiltalong.

It's 48 x 57 and used 4-1/2 yards, all from my stash.

11/25/16:  HERE is the link to the November OMG Finish page! 
 Here's the pieced back. The print on the bottom is a 1960's/70's vintage piece.
  I've wanted to try a geometric "modern" quilting design. This worked out nicely (and was easy).

A woman who attended the Zion Woman's Club bunco fundraiser in mid-October learned I am a quilter. She contacted me this week asking if I had any quilts for sale.  We arranged to meet on Wednesday afternoon. I took a large tote filled with unspoken-for quilts and two flimsies.  She bought Tumalo Trail and Confetti Batik . (Cash sale: no PayPal fee, no shipping.)

I donated Red Rails #3 to the raffle at Thursday's Corporate Community Spelling Bee.  I was a speller, too -- our team came in second. We got a word that neither my teammates nor I had ever, ever heard of.  As the Cubs say, wait till next year!

Here's the weekly link up:
Oh Scrap!
 Monday Making
 Main Crush Monday
 Design Wall Monday