Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Midweek: the tree farm is growing

It took a couple of blocks to get the hang of cutting the 2.5" strips into the required lengths. (White strips are 1.5" to 8.5" and red strips are 2.5" to 8.5".)  There is some duplication from block to block but not within each block. I tried to put the duplicates in different rows.

The blocks are 14-1/2" x 16-1/2" unfin.

This evening I began cutting strips from Christmas green prints. There will be six green-and-white blocks to alternate with the red-and-white.

Cyndy, who blogs at Quilting is More Fun Than Housework, offered to swap novelty prints for "happy pinks and yellows." I took her up on the deal.   What she sent is a great addition to my novelty stash. I'm glad we could help one another out.

I'm linking up with Midweek Makers. Thanks for hosting, Susan.

Monday, August 28, 2017

Weekly update: unplanned and an OMG start

Another scrappy detour!  I credit Wanda, who blogs at Exuberant Color, for my recent infatuation with batik HSTs.  

After I made Batik Jewels in June I still had a stack of 3.5" HSTs.  A quilter posted a photo of this block design to the Scrap Quilt Enthusiasts FB group and I prudently saved the picture. (Hers was fall-colored homespuns.)

The sashing pieces were cut 2.5 x 6.5.
This flimsy is 68 x 72 and used 5-1/2 yards.

I *must* get going on the AAUW holiday quilt.  It needs to be done mid-October so I can sell tickets at the fall workshop.  We'll be on vacation for two weeks in September so that reduces my sewing time.  Every year I know I'll make a holiday quilt and nearly every year I have a heck of a time deciding what to make.

This is "Tree Farm" by Oda May for Moda. You can get the pattern here.  I made one block last evening.

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

Attic treasures: archives and memories

Throwback Thursday on Monday . . . Bear with me as I reminisce!

I hadn't been up in the attic for a long time though it is easy to get to with a pull-down ladder in the hallway.  I use it for archival storage -- keepsakes I can't bear to part with but don't need to see every day.  I've been in a bit of a cleaning-out mood of late and decided it was time to venture up.

Over the years I've acquired a lot of Alpha Gamma Delta swag.  Some of this was in the attic, some was in the basement.  I boxed it all up and sent it to AGD International Headquarters for their archives.

The ponte knit pantsuit was my travel outfit when I was a chapter consultant in 1974-75.  I wore other clothes from that year for a long time afterward but because this had the coat-of-arms patch it went into storage, first at my parent's house and then at mine.  At the top right is AGD-print fabric from 1979. It's bottom-weight twill, poly-cotton, too heavy for quilting. I made a skirt and thought I'd make totebags or aprons but never did.

I found these notebooks in a box in the home office closet. They're from 1992 (two notebooks), 1994, and 2000.

Out they go!  I am still a library advocate but I will rely on more current data.

Note the medium I used to record pithy quotations.  (The catalog cards are from the Auburn Public Library.)

These are annotated book lists from long-ago reading programs.

In 1985 APL was selected for a pilot "Let's Talk About It" reading-and-discussion  sponsored by the Maine Humanities Council with a grant from NEH. I remember having to explain what a book discussion entailed. The initial program ("Working") led to my involvement with planning additional thematic programs.  The brochure at the lower left is from The Constitution at 200 -- a program we held in the spring of 2007, 30 years ago!  (I remember the coordinators' seminar the previous summer. Stevens, son Harry (then 14) and I spent a few days with S's mother in New Jersey. We went into the city for a day.  We went to the top of the Empire State Building. Harry and I looked over the edge, marveling at the view and the excitement of city traffic. Stevens braced himself against the inner wall, his face green. Heights are not for him!....Later we were near Central Park and a man passing in the crowd greeted Harry.  Both Stevens and I were ready to pull Harry along (stranger danger!)  But the man was actually someone he knew, a teacher he'd had in Florida.....Back to the reading program:  We drove back to Maine by way of Vermont. Stevens and Harry dropped me off at the Ascutney Mountain Resort. That was the location for the seminar for The Constitution at 200 site coordinators from the six New England states.  I got a ride back home with the librarian from Castine.)

 Poignant:  my mother's purse calendars from 2000 and 2001 and her appointment book from 2001.  She always wrote down the dinner entree. She prided herself on making varied recipes. (And the results were tasty.)

Our family vacation fifty years ago was to Expo 67.   The melamine ashtray was in a box in the attic labeled "keepsakes."  I remember that it was behind the bar in the basement family room at home. (The bar came with the house. My parents used it as a catch-all, not as a party center.)

The circle pin has always been in my jewelry box, jewelry store box and all.  I wear it once a year or so. I get compliments, though people think it's a snowflake or something until I remind them of Expo.

Friday, August 25, 2017

Teal mini swap and Capital Dames

This is the second year I've participated in Beth Helfter's teal mini-swap.  Proceeds from the participant registration fees go to ovarian cancer research in memory of Beth's mother.

I'm swapping with Liz in Connecticut. She said she'd like a mini-quilt and that she likes bright batiks.  That's no hardship for me!

The flower basket pattern is by Piece o' Cake designs. The border design is by Edyta Sitar. The center block is 12" fin; borders are 2-1/2" fin. so the mini-quilt is 17".

(The teal circles along the basket are the common fabric that all participants are to use in some way for their swap projects.)

Last evening Jenny Riddle   dramatized characters from Cokie Roberts' Capital Dames for the Lake County Women's Coalition's annual Women's Equality Day program. She was very entertaining! And now I've added the book to want-to-read list.

Left: as Dorothea Dix.

Friday link ups:
Finished or Not Friday
Can I Get a Whoop Whoop

Thursday, August 24, 2017


(I meant to post this Monday afternoon.)

The eclipse was on everyone's mind on Monday.  It was also on everyone's social media outlets.  Facebook friends from coast to coast -- specially those on the route of the total eclipse -- - posted pictures and stories.  So many of the pictures looked like us:  upturned faces, eyes behind eclipse glasses.

I ordered five pairs of glasses (because that's how they came). I took the extra three to the library Monday morning.  I later learned that they were spoken for within five minutes.

I sent the selfie to WTTW (PBS) and they included it in their album of viewers' eclipse pictures.

We had pasta salad and melon for a patio

 And THIS was the view at the peak of the eclipse (about 85%) -- clouds.

We did see the opening bite and the ending bite.
In seven years we can try again!

Sunday, August 20, 2017

Weekly update: vintage finds and I Spy finished

I went to a couple of estate sales on Friday. One was right here, in the town where I've lived since 2003, but I had no idea the house was there (nor did I know the family). The other was in Kenosha off a busy highway that I've traveled many times.  I spent a total of $49.

Six unused linen tea towels, a Land's End canvas tote (price tag still attached and silica dessicant packet inside), six new-in-box Sheffield stainless steak knives that we will put to use, an Aynsley bone china vase, and . . .

A cross-stitch quilt kit in the original package.

Three two-yard pieces of vintage cotton, one of which has the original purchase price. (You can see the third piece in the first picture.)

The trims came with a useful plastic box, $5 for all.  I sorted out the still-in-package from the wrapped-around-cardboard.  I wasn't familiar with all of these brands.  Note the rayon rick rack. Nowadays Wrights, etc., rick rack is polyester. Cotton rick rack is still available but it's more of a specialty item, not on the pre-packaged racks.

(I wrote about vintage trims here.)

The I Spy quilt is my August One Monthly Goal.  I finished it Saturday evening.  The blocks are 8" finished.  (The center squares are 4.5" unf. and the border squares are 2.5" unf.  No duplicates!)

Link ups:
Monday Making
Oh Scrap!
Main Crush Monday
Design Wall Monday

One Monthly Goal Finish

P.S.  The eclipse glasses arrived Sunday afternoon -- just in time for the big event Monday!

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Look what happened

I have a list of quilting projects that have due dates.  More accurately, I have a list of due dates for which I want or need to make quilts.

So what have I worked on the past two days?  Nothing on the list!

 Another quilt blogger posted a photo of a jelly roll quilt she'd just finished.  Her quilt   is  here and the design source is this 2016 post from Country Threads.  Inspiration struck like a lightning bolt. I don't buy jelly rolls. For this project I cut 2-1/2" x 10" strips from a variety of gray-and-white and brights.  The blocks are sewn in columns.  No border.  The blocks are 9-1/2" x 16-1/2" unfinished, the flimsy is 54 x 64, and it used 3-1/4 yards of stash.

Easy and snappy!

Wednesday link ups:
 Midweek Makers
Let's Bee Social

Monday, August 14, 2017

Weekly update: the little things

Little things can make a pleasant difference!

I needed a new ironing board cover, not so immediately that it was on my shopping list, but it was in the back of my mind.  I got this one at an estate sale for $5, package unopened.

More bargains:  a black-and-white flat queen sheet and a 2-yard piece of cotton for $1.25 at a church rummage sale.  Sheets make great quilt backs.

I finished quilting the polka-dot circles. I'm auditioning bindings.

I contributed this quilt to the silent auction at the Full Score Chamber Orchestra gala on Saturday evening. We sat at the table with the woman who won it -- she went back several times to be sure hers was the high bid. She was so excited!  FSCO has a new name: Lake County Symphony Orchestra.  We drank our morning coffee from the souvenir mugs bearing the new logo.

My next ZB News column will be about lighthouses.  That required field research:  visits to Wind Point north of Racine and Southport in downtown Kenosha on Friday, then to Grosse Point in Evanston on Sunday.

(I bought these lighthouse fabric panels last year.)
Wind Point

Monday linkups:  Monday Making
Design Wall Monday

Grosse Point 

View from Grosse Point
Grosse Pointe selfie 

Saturday, August 12, 2017

Remembering Verdi

The world is diminished by the death this Tuesday of our dear friend Verdenal Hoag Johnson.  She was 92.  (The obituary is here.)

Her daughter wrote that she was at peace and looking forward to the next great adventure with her beloved Edward.

Verdi was a quiltmaker, needleworker, historian, cook, artist, educator, gardener, birdwatcher, genealogist, and progressive. She was gracious and generous and had a fine sense of humor. "Hello, darling," she answered the telephone.

1999, New Jersey 
I met Verdi more than twenty years ago on RCTQ, the Usenet quilting newsgroup.  In 1997 we were among two dozen RCTQers who created the Magpies so that we could chatter on- or off-topic as we chose.  The Magpies began in-person meetups in 1999. That August Verdi hosted a mini-meetup (just five of us) at her home in New Jersey.  My husband grew up in the next town from hers and I asked if her address was familiar. He said he knew the road and we figured out that he'd trimmed their trees in 1959 when he had a summer job with the Morris County Shade Tree Commission.  (We later learned that her parents were friends of my husband's godparents and we think they may well have met his parents once or twice.)

Verdi and Edward sold the New Jersey house and moved to New Hampshire about 2002 to be closer to their daughters and extended family.  When the Magpies met up in Lowell, MA, in 2006, we had a wonderful seafood supper at their new house.

PieLatch, Vancouver 2004: the Jewel Box quilt the Magpies made for Verdi's 80th birthday.

At the El Paso airport, PieFiesta Dos, 2008.
Verdi had hoped for a male TSA agent for the pat-down.

 Verdi charmed these guys when we went out for deep-dish pizza at the Deep Dish PieFest in Chicago, 2010.

1999, New Jersey: Tami, Verdi, Celia, me.

The whole Magpie gang in 2010.

Verdi made this quilt: each block name begins with a different letter of alphabet. (Anvil, bow tie, churn dash....)

Verdi's off-center log cabin quilt. She made off-center log cabins for all the Magpies in the first birthday block exchange.

Monday, August 7, 2017

Newbery winners from near and far

I’m in the midst of another round of reading Newbery Medal books. Two summers ago I set out to read or re-read all of them. I got sidetracked – so many other books I wanted to read! – and my progress has been sporadic.  The books themselves aren’t long.  It takes time to compose my thoughts and write a review of each one.   

Walk Two Moons (1995), by Sharon Creech

I found a copy of Walk Two Moons on the library book sale rack. It was classified as Young Adult, which it really isn’t; there’s a copy in the J Fiction section.  In 1995 my reading and library interests were on other things than elementary-grade books and the Newbery Awards so I completely missed this one.  Salamanca and her father move from their rural Kentucky home to Ohio after Momma (wife) leaves them and goes off to Idaho.  Gramps and Gram take Sal on a road trip to find Momma and bring closure for all of them.  The grandparents’ long-standing devotion to one another includes endearing sayings and little inside jokes. To while away the hours on the long drive they ask Sal to tell them about her classmate and neighbor Phoebe Winterbottom.  Adult readers familiar with magical realism might think that Phoebe and all the Winterbottoms are made-up but in the end they’re not.  And in the end Sal finds out what happened to her mother. 

This is a serious story effectively disguised as a quirky tale.

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The Matchlock Gun (1942), by Walter D. Edmonds

Trip a trop a troenje;
De varken en de boenjen . . .*
These words, set to music, are my Pavlovian response to The Matchlock Gun (thinking about the title or seeing the book).  They are the first two lines of a Dutch folk song that figures in the story. In the mid-70’s I heard them sung frequently.  I was the librarian at the public library in Brenham, Texas. The children’s collection included a set of filmstrip/cassette adaptations of Newbery books, including The Matchlock Gun. There was a self-contained projector so kids could sit at a table to watch and listen. The filmstrip and tape were coded so that the filmstrip advanced automatically.  TMG seemed to be played every day during the summer. 

The story is based on an historical incident in the Dutch territory in the Hudson River valley during the French & Indian War.  The Teunis Van Alstyne has gone off to stand guard against the Indians.  His wife Gertrude and children Edward and Trudy are alone on the farm.  The Spanish matchlock gun came to the Colonies with Gertrude’s family.  When the Indians make a raid Edward manages to fire the gun and save the family.   Edmonds’ writing style is very measured and even the exciting passages (Indians nick Gertrude with a tomahawk!) don’t make the reader catch his (her) breath.

This is the only one of the audiovisual set that I recall. I have no idea why it appealed to those young library patrons for whom the setting and the situation were far out of the realm of anything they’d know about. Maybe it was just the first filmstrip in the box?  

*It’s a baby-bounce song:  Up and down on a little throne (parent’s knee), the pigs are in the beans…

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Original cover 
New cover, but old illustrations 
Amos Fortune, Free Man (1951), by Elizabeth Yates   

Another 18th-century story, this time a biography (or biographical novel). Amos Fortune was born in West Africa about 1710. In 1725 he and others from his village were captured by slavers and taken to the United States.   He was purchased by a tanner in Boston and later sold to a tanner in Woburn. In 1760 he bought his freedom and relocated to Jaffrey, NH, where he set up a tanning works. He was a respected member of the community until his death in 1801.

The narrative refers to the miserable conditions on the slave ship and the indignity and degradation of slavery, but the story is not mired in the awfulness. The title, Free Man, indicates that better things will happen and indeed they do.  The writing style is dated – turns of phrase that wouldn’t be used today (“In all his long years as a tanner, Amos was never more glad than he was during the first months in Jaffrey that so much of what he needed for his trade was at hand…”)

The Amos Fortune Forum ( was established in 1946. It hosts speakers on a variety of subjects.

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Island of the Blue Dolphins (1961), by Scott O’Dell

For more than 50 years I haven’t liked Island of the Blue Dolphins because I didn’t like the cover art that depicted the disembodied head of a girl who looked as though she was going to be sick.  (The artist, Evaline Ness, was a Caldecott medal-winner. She was married to Eliot Ness, I learned from Wikipedia.)  Current editions have very different covers. 

 Now that I’ve re-read it I appreciate the tale of a real-life Robinson Crusoe.  “The lost woman of San Nicolas” lived alone on the outermost of the California Channel Islands from 1835-1853.  
When Russian and Aleutian otter-hunters threatened their security, the native islanders agreed to let missionaries from California take them to the mainland. Karana’s young brother missed the boat, literally. She jumped overboard to save him and in turn also missed the evacuation.  The sister and brother began a survival existence. He was killed by wild dogs, leaving her to fend for herself for nearly 20 years.  A sea otter hunter rescued her and took her to Santa Barbara.  Alas, she did not live very long afterward.

Archaeological research on the island in 1939 located her whale-rib hut.  In 2009  two native-made boxes containing artifacts  were found and in 2015 the cave where it is believed she took refuge was found. 

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Daniel Boone (1939), by James Daugherty

James Daugherty both wrote and illustrated the biographical novel Daniel Boone.   His artistic style is distinctive: people (and animals) are roundly-muscled, clothing is pleated and wrinkled, backgrounds are busy, attacking Indians are fierce.   Daniel Boone was a heroic pioneer who played a tremendous role in the white settlement of Kentucky.  He was always ready for a new opportunity – fur trapping, settling Missouri, serving in Congress --  though he was not financially successful.   The endpapers are vivid Daugherty-drawn maps that show the rivers, hills, and frontier towns.   In 1939 it was acceptable to portray the Indians as savages – and boy, Daugherty did so.  This Newbery winner has not aged well, but the pictures are memorable.   

For more about Daugherty's art (in this case, a controversial mural):