Wednesday, February 26, 2020

TexFestDos and QuiltCon

The Magpies flocked together in Texas last week for our biennial in-person meet up (called TexFestDos because we had TexFest in 2016).  QuiltCon was in Austin. Our hostesses live in San Marcos and New Braunfels. They provided both quilty inspiration and hospitality.

Most of us arrived on Wednesday, either to San Antonio or Austin (that was Anna and me).

Carla and Gary's ca. 1900 farmhouse southeast of San Marcos was our central meeting place.

There were 16 of us from Maine, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, Virginia, Illinois (two), Missouri, Nebraska, Nevada, California, British Columbia, and Texas (five). Two friends from Colorado and Texas came and one husband (plus the hostesses' husbands).

Most of us stayed at a hotel just a mile away. (Several had rental cars (including me) so transportation was easy.)

On Thursday we all went to the Austin Convention Center for QuiltCon.  There was inspiration and artistry in abundance!

I met two friends:  Karen (KaHolly) recognized me at the ticket booth.  Dale is a librarian and quilter who lives north of Austin.

Modern quilts have evolved from the large block / minimalist / mostly solids of just a few years ago.

 [Upper left is by Victoria Findlay Wolfe, part of an entire retrospective exhibit of her work.]

I have the details for each of these if you want to know more about them.

To qualify for the charity quilts exhibit the quilts had to be made by a group, feature words, and use only black, white, and gray.

The antique/vintage Amish quilts are from the Esprit Collection.

We indulged in retail therapy at the many vendors and had time for a group photo.

Friday was a free day.  I drove back to Austin not to revisit the show but to have lunch with long-time friends, both librarians, who live in Austin. (Pat has retired and Laurie is almost-retired.)  It was lovely to catch up. 

Saturday was busy!  We began with a FaceTime call.  Australian Magpies Terri and Gilly were in London and British Magpie Caroline came down from Sheffield to meet them.   We also called Canadians Lynne in Toronto and Diane in Victoria, BC.

We got into various cars and headed for San Antonio.  First stop:  Las Colchas, a charming quilt shop just north of downtown.  How do they pack so much fabric into that little yellow house?

A "suspicious package" at the Alamo meant it was closed to tourists until the police declared it cleared.  Instead we went down to the Riverwalk and took a boat/barge ride.  Well, eleven of us did. We spotted three other Magpies on one of the bridges. They had the R.C.T.Q. banner (that's the newsgroup where we met online lo those many years ago) and unfurled it as our boat went past.  (The boat pilot temporarily stopped his schtick as we hollered, "RCTQ! Go Magpies!")

That evening it was dinner and a show at Marie and Ronnie's in New Braunfels.  We enjoyed barbecue (beef, sausage, pork) and all the fixings (slaw, potato salad, beans) in the bunkhouse dining room.

After that Ronnie, Gary, Ronnie's sons (and friends) gave a calf roping demonstration.  [They compete on the national circuit.]

Sunday was another free day.  I drove 80 miles east to Brenham, the town where I had my first professional library job (1975-79).  I arrived in time for the worship service at the church where I was an active member. The welcome was very cordial. I recognized one couple (she knew me right away). Two other women introduced themselves to me after they were reminded who I was. (I've reconnected on FB with a church member who's a quilter but she wasn't there. I only decided to make the drive late Saturday.)   After church I drove around the city seeing the library (the new building opened a couple of years ago), a glimpse of the garage apartment where I lived, and other neighborhoods.  Yes, it's grown, but the backbone network of streets from the oldest parts of town (it was settled in the 1840's) hasn't changed.

My apartment was the upper floor of the white building at that you can barely see behind the house.   I was not bold enough to go farther than the curb. 

Back in San Marcos Sunday evening:  we wound down from the emotional high of our busy, memorable weekend.   Everyone was tired and we turned in early.  

Debs, my roommate, had an early flight out of San Antonio and was up at 4 a.m. Monday.   Anna and I left for the Austin airport at 8:30 -- her flight was before noon, mine after noon, but it was just as easy for us to ride together.  

I was HOME at 6 p.m.  My husband was happy to see me and I was happy to see him!  

2022 will be the Magpies' 25th anniversary.  We're already talking about where we will gather to celebrate.

# # # # # # # # #

The tote bags that I made as favors were well-received. They are light weight but sturdy and we discovered that they hold a lot of fabric. 

(My tote is the rolled-up green in the center.) 

Here's my stash enhancement -- fabric from the show, from Las Colchas, and some giveaways.  37 yards in all.  I was able to fit it into my suitcase without having to unzip the expansion panel.  I guess I could have bought more! 

Sunday, February 16, 2020

Weekly update: Frolic is almost a flimsy

Blocks + sashing + setting blocks + corner blocks.   The assembly wasn't hard -- all the units fit together nicely -- but it was fiddly.

I will add this post to the OMG February link up when the time comes.  Linking up to Elm Street's OMG Finish here 

What I strive for in a super-scrappy design like this is to have no-two-fabrics-touching, particularly in the really obvious places (like the blue parts of the flying geese that surround the stars).  I wasn't completely successful when it came to the small rectangles in the sashing. If you notice them then you are looking too closely.

It was nigh unto impossible to distribute the colors evenly -- now that I see everything sewn together, the two blocks on the top row, right, are the same in value.  But I know that relocating one block means displacing another and upsetting the balance all over again. They'll stay where they are!

The next step is to trim the edges and add the borders.  That will have to wait until I return from the TexFestDos in Austin/San Marcos with the Magpies. I leave very early Wednesday, Feb. 19, and return Monday, Feb 24.  I have lots to do before then.

Linking up with Oh, Scrap!Monday Making, and  Design Wall Monday

Wednesday, February 12, 2020

Midweek: blocks assembled

I've made all 25 blocks for Frolic. Each matched-up set of units was stored in its own baggie so assembling each block was a matter of sewing part A to part B to part C.

(Now that I look at the photo I see a couple of turned-around HSTs -- top row, second from right, and third row, second from right. Glad I caught them.)

The blocks will be set on point with half-blocks in place of setting triangles. I have to figure out in which box or set of baggies those components are.

Making the blocks is my One Monthly Goal. As I sew I am listening to audiobooks that are entries for the Independent Publishers Group Ben Franklin Awards. I have to get those evaluations in by the end of the month.

Linking up with other quiltmakers (who just may be listening to audiobooks, too) at Susan's Midweek Makers .

Monday, February 10, 2020

Weekly update: RSC, a finish, and a stumble

Here's one of my 2020 RSC projects, with bright green for January and orange for February.

Here's the other:  HSTs in the  monthly color plus neutral.

I quilted Star Crossed with free-motion swoops and swirls.  It's 54 x 66.

I made an 18th tablecloth tote bag (see  this post)  just to be sure I'll have enough for everyone at the Magpie meet up. [No photo.]

Stumble!  "Read the instructions through to the end. Read them again."  I did not follow that advice and mispieced ten sets of units for Frolic.  The HSTs in are supposed to be blue + aqua, not blue + raspberry.

Here's the one block I managed to complete after I realized my piecing error.   The blocks are complex but because all the units are made it's basically a nine-patch.

Linking up with other bloggers:
RSC at So Scrappy
Monday Making
Oh Scrap!
Design Wall Monday

Monday, February 3, 2020

Weekly update: January summary and February plans

 On Friday I wrote that I'd made 13 out of 16 tote bags. I am pleased to say that #14-#16 are finished! Now I can work on other projects.

But first, the January stash report:

Fabric OUT: 95-3/4 yards (which includes 61 yards to the quilt guild Raffle Mania)
Fabric IN: 126-3/4 yards (99 won at Raffle Mania, 11-3/4 from an estate sale, 15-1/2 from my Philadelphia trip), $105.  That's still a bargain at .83 per yard.
Net GAIN: 31 yards
Raffle Mania winnings

Philadelphia purchases 
My new favorite fabric genre is African wax resist prints. I found out more about them. According to WikpediaThey are industrially produced, colorful cotton cloths with batik-inspired printing. One feature of these materials is the lack of difference in the color intensity of the front and back sides. The wax fabric can be sorted into categories of quality due to the processes of manufacturing.
Normally, the fabrics are sold in 12 yards as "full piece" or 6 yards as "half piece".  [One of the PHL stores sold 6-yard pieces.] The colors comply with the local preferences of the customers. Mainly clothing for celebrations is made out of these. In Sub-Saharan Africa these textiles have an annual sales volume of 2.1 billion yards, with an average production cost of $2.6 billion and retail value of $4 billion.
During the Dutch colonization of Indonesia, Dutch merchants and administrators became familiar with the batik technique. Thanks to this contact, the owners of textile factories in the Netherlands... received examples of batik textiles by the 1850s if not before, and started developing machine printing processes which could imitate batik. They hoped that these much cheaper machine-made imitations could outcompete the original batiks in the Indonesian market, effecting the look of batik without all the labor-intensive work required to make the real thing.
# # # # # # #

I assembled the blocks for Star-Crossed before I went to Philadelphia.  
Now that I look at it there doesn't seem to be enough contrast in the b/w blocks on the center of the top row but I am not going to fuss with it. 

The Rainbow Scrap Challenge color for February is orange.  While we watched TV Sunday evening (no Super Bowl for us) I made 31 pairs of orange/neutral HSTs (29 for February and two extras because I miscounted :)).  These 4.5" HSTs are my RSC units for 2020. 

 My other RSC project is 3.5" rail fence blocks in the monthly color. I'll need 46 each month for the project I have in mind.

It's time to declare my One Monthly Goal for February"  I plan to assemble the blocks for Frolic, the 2019 Quiltville Mystery. (If I get the quilt top set and bordered that will be a bonus.)

Linking up with
 One Monthly Goal
 Monday Making
 Design Wall Monday
 Oh Scrap!

Sunday, February 2, 2020

ALA Midwinter Report: books, art, and fabric

The American Library Association bylaws stipulate that the association will have two business meetings a year. One is the Annual Conference and the other is the Midwinter Meeting.  Not only do ALA Council and Executive Board meet but also the boards of all the ALA units -- divisions, round tables, interest groups.  The trade show helps pay the bills -- publishers and vendors of library supplies, furniture, etc., etc. demonstrate their latest wares.

This was the sixth MW I've attended in Philadelphia. (The others were in 1995, 1999, 2002, 2008, and  2014.)   Based on the experience I had with AirBnB last September (P.E.O. convention in Des Moines) I tried AirBnB rather than a conference hotel.  The location was billed as "adjacent to the convention center" which it was, though ALA was at the other end.   It was at the entrance to Chinatown and above this bar/lounge/nightclub -- the doorway is at the center of the photo.  My roommate was my longtime friend, Denise. We liked the bargain price (half the cost of a hotel) but weren't so wild about the disco music that played from midnight to 2 a.m. one night and loud comings-and-goings in the hallway. It was an adventure!

I attended several board/committee meetings, the most important of which were the Retired Members Round Table (which I chair) and the Freedom to Read Foundation (to which I am a liaison from RMRT and United for Libraries).

Book and author events abound, with free ARCs (advance reader copies) of forthcoming books.

HarperCollins' Library Love Fest is always on Saturday morning.

 Mystery editor Otto Penzler has a new line of reprints of classic detective fiction.

Simon & Schuster's spring preview breakfast featured Janet Skeslien Charles novel The Paris Library.  "Librarians vs. Nazis," she said. "The librarians win." (Based on the true experiences of the staff at the  American Library in Paris which celebrates its centennial this year.)

I met Scott Simon, host of NPR's Weekend Edition.  He not only knew where Winthrop Harbor is, but he told me about a famous person from here. (And now I've forgotten the name.) He also sang a song about Kenosha.

The Gala Author Tea featured these six authors.  I'm most eager to read The Light of Days by Judy Batalion. It is the true story of Jewish women who fought in the resistance during WWII.

The Reference and User Services Assn. announces the Book and Media Awards at an early-evening session. Awards are in a variety of categories -- Notable Books, Best Reference Book, Audiobooks.   This is the adult version of the Monday-morning Youth Media Awards  when the Newbery and Caldecott winners are revealed.

Chanel Miller was the closing speaker. She is the Stanford rape victim called Emily Doe whose attacker got six months due to his family's influence on the judge. Chanel is creative, courageous, and charming.

Visiting with friends and seeing the sights in the host city make the conference all the more enjoyable.

 The pipe organ in the former Wanamaker's (now Macy's) department store is the largest still-functioning pipe organ in the world with 28,750 pipes in 464 ranks (read more here).  I watched the 5:30 p.m. Thursday concert.

Denise and I and our friend Peggy got tickets for a docent-led tour of the Barnes.  The Barnes Foundation (and the official site) is renowned for its collection of Impressionists and other important turn-of-the-20th-century artists.  (Back in 1995 when the museum was relocating from suburban Merion, PA, to Philadelphia, I was fortunate to see selections on exhibit at the Philadelphia Museum of Art.  There is a documentary about it -- The Art of the Steal -- that I haven't watched yet.)

Barnes grouped his collection according to themes he determined (e.g. similar shapes, or colors) with antique furniture.
There are 125 Renoirs (which we didn't count) and eight Van Goghs (we saw three).

Denise left Tuesday morning. I set out for Fabric Row.  There aren't many stores left on the Row and they specialize in home dec/upholstery and fancy fashion fabric (bridal, sequins, etc.) -- but I found a big selection of my new favorite genre, African wax resist prints, at three stores. Just $6/yd!  You can see my selections in the upper left. Mr. Baldwin, proprietor of a tailor shop and school, showed me his latest vintage acquisition, a white Featherweight in a pristine case.

Tuesday afternoon I met Carol at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts. (We became acquainted on our 2018 Road Scholar trip at Acadia National Park.)  We wandered through the galleries until the museum closed and then enjoyed dinner at a Burmese restaurant.

The flight back on Wednesday was uneventful. I got home at 4 p.m. -- good trip, good memories, and lots of great reading ahead!

The final box arrived on Monday