Monday, December 28, 2020

Weekly update: hiking, feasting, quilting, reading

 Thursday evening:   the first Christmas Eve service I've attended with my sewing machine.  That was so we could watch the Lessons and Carols on our church's YouTube channel.   We fervently hope that this was a one-and-only and that next year we can worship in person.  We dimmed the lights and lit candles for  Silent Night.  

Christmas dinner: roast beef, acorn squash, braised parsnips. Pear/spinach salad.  Cranberry-pumpkin upside down cake.  The vintage tablecloth just covered the table. (The table is mid-19th century and not a standard size.)   And when was the last time you used a pickle fork?  LOL. 

We went to Lyons Woods Saturday afternoon.  Ornaments were hung -- randomly -- on trees along the trail.  Once I caught on I kept walking to see if I could find more.  Two women I passed said they'd counted more than 40.  

Though we are in a "snow drought" it's still gotten cold.  There was ice in the tree roots at Illinois Beach on Sunday.   Shoreline erosion toppled these trees within the past two years.  

Lower center:  There is a bike trail (finely-packed gravel) under about a foot of sand.

# # # # # # # # # # # 

In the studio:   Nine-Patch Churn Dash is a flimsy.   I used "All in a Row" by Kim Diehl as the starting point.  

The next CWRSRP (Civil War Repro Stash Reduction Project) is nearly a flimsy.  

The design idea is from a quilt called Blue and Gray by Etherington/Tesene.  

Here are the 9-patches, flying geese, and red units for Clue 5 of Grassy Creek.  

When I began the mystery the fabrics were neatly arranges in the box.  Five weeks in, not so much. 

It's time to post December OMG finishes.   I said I would piece the quilt code-named Welcome Home.  (This is all I will show because it's a surprise.)  It is on the long-armer's schedule for the end of January.  

The photo shows the flimsy and the backing (a black/white thrift-shop sheet).  

# # # # # # # # # # 
Kerri Arsenault's memoir Mill Town: Reckoning With What Remains has been named to several "best of 2020" lists.  The accolades are well-deserved.  
Arsenault lovingly, critically, fearlessly, and lyrically describes the past and present of Rumford and Mexico, Maine, the community where she grew up. Her father, grandfather, and great-grandfather all worked at the paper mill that for 150 years has produced cardboard and coated stock. The bleaching process uses chlorine; its byproduct is cancer-causing dioxin -- and cancer is the primary cause of death many, many millworkers and members of their families. Arsenault probes to find documentation and to tries to get corporate admission of malfeasance. She describes growing up in the town where the smell of the mill meant the smell of money. She explores her family's journey from 17th century France to P.E.I. to early 20th century Maine. She acknowledges the challenge to Rumford/Mexico: how do company towns endure in an era of leveraged buyouts, takeovers, and offshore production? (She details how Rumford -- desperate to diversify revenue -- sold significant access to its water supply to Nestle/Poland Spring.)
An important book, all the better for Arsenault's extraordinarily fine writing.

Wednesday, December 23, 2020

Midweek: design epiphany

 I took a long walk Tuesday afternoon down a new-to-me trail at the north end of Illinois Beach State Park.  I wanted to go farther but I could only go until I was half-tired to save the other half for the walk home.  

A front is coming through today (Wednesday) with temperatures dropping by 40 degrees.

It was overcast both Monday and Tuesday evenings.    We're not going to see the Great Conjunction (Jupiter and Saturn). 

(Spring Bluff forest preserve is across the road from the state park.) 

Left: abandoned red-winged blackbird nest. Right: muskrat den.

# # # # # # #

(c) Kim Diehl
In the studio:  I finished the nine-patch churn dash blocks and mulled over how I would set them. Here's Kim Diehl's pattern. My blocks are larger (10.5" fin to her 7.5" fin). 

Though I have yards of  CW repro fabric I don't have long pieces for borders, at least not in a print that I though worked with these blocks. At breakfast I had a design epiphany.  (Epiphanies are appropriate for the Christmas season, right?)  

Here's how it looked at the end of the evening. 

I made 100+ HSTs that are 3" unfinished.

Linking up with Susan and friends at Midweek Makers

and Jennifer's Wednesday Wait Loss

Monday, December 21, 2020

Weekly update: the solstice, some sewing, some reading

The first day of winter!   The sun was behind the clouds at 7:13 a.m.   The sandy bluff where I usually take sunrise pictures, such as the one six months ago for the summer solstice, is closed to vehicles for the season.  Thus this photo overlooks the empty boat slips at North Point Marina

I took the photo on the right on my Sunday afternoon walk.  The ravine is at the end of our street. The creek flows to the park adjacent to the marina. 

In the studio:  

Grassy Creek, clue 4. 

I've made 17 out of the projected 20 9P churn dash blocks.  I hope to get these to the flimsy stage this week. 

 I got the ARC (advance reader copy) of Kendra Atleework's memoir at ALA Midwinter; it was published in June.    It's a fierce and loving tribute to place and to family.   The place is Bishop, California, in the Sierras -- the water source for Los Angeles.  The family are her father, her mother (who died when Kendra was 16), and her sister and brother. Atleework went to college in Los Angeles and to graduate school in Minnesota (where the green-ness was astounding and disconcerting) -- and finally returned to Bishop. 

Linking up  with:  Oh Scrap!  Monday Making  Design Wall Monday  

Friday, December 18, 2020

Friday check in: better with a border -- and on to the next project


Not only better, but also bigger.  Note that I made a new block to replace the upper left checkerboard so it's more balanced, as well. 

I came across Kim Diehl's "All in a Row" pattern as I perused the stack of Civil War-themed quilting books and the file of printouts and magazine patterns.  I printed a picture of All in a Row back in 2014 (the printout is dated). Since then I've acquired two Martingale books that feature it.  I figured that was a sign that it's high time to make my own version.   Her blocks are 7.5" finished.  I'm making mine 10.5" finished.  Uses more stash that way, you know. 

Some of you have asked how long I will continue the CWRSRP (Civil War Reproduction Stash Reduction Project).  I began with 239 yards. I have added a few yards (example: the cheddar shown in the checkerboard baskets) and I have a bin of "Civil War-sort of" prints that work nicely with the repros.  I thought I would use half the stash before going on to other things but I have found that purposeful stash busting is slow going. I've made 9 flimsies that use an average of 4-1/4 yards each.  Now I'm thinking about a date rather than a quantity -- as in, December 31.  I am working on the Grassy Creek clues each week.  In January I will be working on a challenge/swap that requires batiks. I'm starting to consider design ideas for that as I work on the CW blocks. 

Linking up with Finished or Not Friday  and Can I Get a Whoop Whoop?

Wednesday, December 16, 2020

Midweek: checkerboard baskets so far

 The checkerboard and basket blocks are assembled.  60" x 72", 4-1/8 yds.  I'm contemplating adding a border because I'd like it wider.   

Maybe I'll swap out the block on the upper left.   UPDATE:   I did!   I like the change.  Photos to come.

One of the designs that inspired this one has borders on the sides only. 

Linking up with  Midweek Makers

# # # # # # # # #

Photos from Sunday afternoon at Illinois Beach State Park. 

Sunday, December 13, 2020

Weekly update: hikes, waves, some quilt making -- and this week's reading

 We still have a few forest preserves to visit!  On Thursday we went to Nippersink .  

The gravity-defying tree has another outstretched limb pointing straight ahead.

A front came through and it rained Friday afternoon and all day Saturday.  The weather forecast said waves would be high on the lake and I went to see for myself.  

In the upper photo: the seawall (on the left) used to be at the water's edge. The round thing in the middle is a concrete storm drain that used to be covered by sand and gravel and a good 10' from the water.  Erosion is so severe that now it's in the water. 

Just two years ago the sand that you see was at least six feet above and twenty feet behind the water line.

# # # # # # # # # #

The Zion Woman's Club's holiday service project was a "reverse advent calendar" food collection -- 24 food items to represent December 1 to 24.  Those who participated took selfies at home with their contributions. On Friday we met at the two food pantries in our community to deliver the bounty. (We were close for the photos but for just a couple of minutes, and we all wore masks.)   Abiding Love Food Pantry has gone from serving 200 people a week in 2019 to more than 325 a week in 2020.  Giving Point Food Pantry distributed 500K lbs of food in 2019 and will exceed 1M lbs in 2020. 

# # # # # # # #

In the studio:  I finished Code Name Welcome Home.  It's a surprise so I will only give you a sneak peek.  A set of black-on-white cotton sheets [actually: twin flat and fitted and queen flat -- all the same print] will be ideal for the backing.  Because it is 84 x 84 and has big pieces I will have it professionally quilted.  I'm on the long-armer's schedule for the end of January.    [The flimsy used 8-1/4 yards.]

I have a bag of left over  black and gray cutaway triangles to play with.  I am thinking about pairing them with RSC colors in 2021.  

Here's Clue 3 for the Grassy Creek mystery.  

This is the next installment of the CWRSRP (Civil War Reproduction Stash Reduction Project).  The blocks are 10".  I'm aiming for 20 checkerboards and 12 baskets.   As I look at the photo I wonder if I should make all the checkerboards dark/medium (not dark/light) so the baskets will stand out. 

# # # # # # # # #

I followed last week's book about the Florida land boom with another on that topic.  As its title clearly conveys, this one concentrates on the development of Palm Beach.   It began with Henry Flagler and ends with Donald Trump -- with a lot in between about the "industrial wealthy" (as opposed to old money wealthy) who built mansions and established exclusive clubs on the narrow island between the Atlantic and Lake Worth.    I learned a lot about Marjorie Merriweather Post.  She was the wealthiest woman in America and could well afford to build the fabulous Mar-a-Lago.     

I finished Julie Kibler's novel in a day and a half.  The Home was a real place in Arlington, Texas, in the early 20th century that pledged, "we will not give away your child."  That was counter to the norm of putting illegitimate babies up for adoption.  Kibler bases the early characters on women who lived at the home. That story alternates with the contemporary story of Cate, a librarian and archivist at the university that is on the land where the Home had been. When a new student assistant comes to work for Cate she has to come to grips with issues from her past.  It's a good story!

Linking up with Oh Scrap!     Monday Making

 Design Wall Monday

P.S.  The parking lot guardian on duty at Nippersink.   

P.S. 2   Christmas Medley made $360 for the AAUW Greatest Needs Fund.  This post explains the genesis of the quilt. 

Sunday, December 6, 2020

Weekly update: a walk on the bluff, estate sale score, and more

 I remember going out to Sunday brunch in the 1960's at the Hotel Moraine on the Lake  in Highland Park. [Click on the highlighted link to learn about its glory years.]  Since we've been exploring parks and preserves in Lake County this fall I thought I'd try to find the site. It's a city park now.  The boardwalk to the beach is closed for repair so I could only go to the edge of the ravine. 

(The gold berries were on a tree. I don't know the species.)

Less than a mile to the north -- but just south of Fort Sheridan (whose forest preserve we hiked in October) -- we found the Openlands Lakeshore Preserve .  There's a paved walk, a tall bridge over the ravine, and definitely no beach access.  

I would love to take a boat ride to see the lakeshore from the lake -- to see the high spots (Evanston to Lake Bluff) and how the terrain flattens out from North Chicago to Waukegan up through Kenosha. It gets higher at Racine.  (I suppose a drone could do the same thing.) 

Upper left:  Queen Anne's Lace gone to seed.

# # # # # # # #

This weekend there was an estate sale in nearby Beach Park. The listing showed fabric. I deliberately waited until the final day, today, with everything 50% off.   I just grabbed the tub with quilting cotton said I'd take it all.  I paid $40.  At home I weighed all of it (1 lb = 4 yds) -- 70 yards.  That's .57 (fifty-seven cents) per yard.  Nice stuff, too.  

I also got all 12 months of a BOM by Sue Garman, c2000, for $12.00.  (Original price $11 per month.) 

(Plus a box of Christmas cards, two fancy memo pads, and a package of Christmas printer paper.  There was a lot more stationery and office supplies but I really, really don't need any more file folders or label stock.)

# # # # # # # #

There is progress in the studio!  I finished Clue 2 of the Grassy Creek mystery -- 25 sets of hourglasses.  

I have five of the nine blocks needed for the Code Name Welcome Home quilt.  The piecing isn't hard but it requires precision.  Here is a peek.

# # # # # # # # 

This week's reading:  one of the characters in the wonderful novel Florence Adler Swims Forever,  which I read several weeks ago, was caught up in the 1920s Florida land boom.  When Bubble in the Sun was well-reviewed I was intrigued -- and now I know a LOT more about the early 20th century real estate wheeling and dealing that made modern Florida.  Knowlton doesn't write only about the land guys -- he also includes Marjory Stoneman Douglas who crusaded to preserve the Everglades.  It's quite a story and it's very well-written.

Linking up with Oh Scrap   Monday Making   Design Wall Monday

P.S. Sunset on Friday.