Sunday, June 6, 2021

Weekly update: a few wildflowers, convention and scrappy multitasking, and reading

 Each year I search for flags -- wild iris. This afternoon I found them everywhere I looked. I think that's because it's been so very, very dry (as in ZERO rainfall) that the other vegetation is not as lush as usual.  Even so I'm surprised that the iris are blooming in such profusion. The wild ones like wet feet. This year they're high and dry.  

See the exposed roots?  (Yellow are invasive; blue are native.)

I found another patch of hybrid iris. (Last week I posted a photo of the clump that comes back annually.)  

Daisies are abundant in early June -- very appropriate since the P.E.O. Illinois state convention is always the first weekend.  Ordinarily I'd have snapped a photo as I drove to the convention but this year, of course, was different -- it was held as a Zoom webinar.  

The registrar reported 548 people in attendance (chapter delegates, past state presidents, committee members) but we only saw the people speaking and the slide shows with convention business and videos with committee reports.  

It was very efficient. All the business was finished in an hour and the mandatory program videos took less than an hour on Saturday.   The time of inspiration, time of remembrance (necrology), and honoring 50-year members were by video, all nicely-done.   The keynote address and officer installation on Sunday (webinar format) went smoothly. 

 What was missing, of course, was the camaraderie and excitement of an in-person assembly. 

I attended as both my chapter delegate and as a committee chair, though I had only one vote.

I sat in the comfort of my studio.   Yes, I multi-tasked -- and I didn't miss a thing! 

Here's what I got done.  I showed a photo of the Ohio Stars last week.  I thought about setting them side-by-side. I thought about one-fabric sashing but the blocks have a huge array of blues.  I went completely scrappy and added a few pops of red. It's 63 x 75. 

# # # # # # Browsing is back at the library -- the reading rooms reopened to the public Hooray!

The Souvenir Museum 
        One of the disadvantages to today's instantly-shared digital photographs is that we no longer have the tactile memory of printed photos -- when we made extra prints and sent them to friends ("We took this one on our vacation this summer!") The short stories in this collection are like a stack of those photos. Each one sparks a reminiscence and, in this case, an entire self-contained gem of a story. Five "photos" are from Sadie and Jack's lives -- the time they went to Ireland for his sister's wedding; when Jack was a teenager and apprenticed himself to a puppeteer in London; Sadie's mother and father; and finally when Sadie and Jack went to Amsterdam. Interspersed are "photos" with stories of other people (one related to jack; the others aren't connected, but they might be). Were these strung chronologically they would be very intense and rather depressing; instead, told episodically, the characters are quirky and interesting.

The Lost Apothecary   was an enjoyable historical mystery about a 21st-century scholar who discovers the secrets of an 18th-century woman apothecary whose compounds helped other women in oppressive relationships.  The narration goes from Nella and Eliza in 1791 London to present-day Caroline.   Though things threatened to go terribly wrong in both eras, there's a twist!

I have nearly all of Kaffe Fassett's books and I had to add this to the collection.  It's part biography, part design philosophy, and part studio tour with a couple of quilts, needlepoint designs, and knitting patterns -- and a whole lot of fabulous color.   Absolutely delicious!    

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Linking up with Oh Scrap!  Monday Making  Design Wall Monday

Friday, June 4, 2021

Friday check in: a quilt show.....and the most beautiful fabric in the world (again)

Yesterday I made a spur-of-the-moment decision to go to the Original Sewing & Quilt Expo at the Schaumburg convention center.  The Expo has been held in the Chicago area many times. I've only been once before (when the Quilt Festival was not at Rosemont). The last time I attended an event at this venue was  in 2016.  

It appeared that for most of the attendees this was among the first major outings in our vaccinated world. Some people wore masks, some didn't. (I went back and forth.)  

The exhibits weren't extensive.  That had the benefit of not being overwhelming.  

The Upcycle piece on the upper left, "Net Worth," is by Pat Kroth, a Wisconsin textile artist. I have one of her silk-screened scarves and get compliments every time I wear it.  (This particular piece features plastic-mesh produce bags and other recycled stuff.)   

The convention show floor was large enough to give wide aisles. There were just 48 vendors -- the emphasis seemed to be on machines (sewing, embroidery, long arm) and furniture.  

There wasn't much fabric but some of it came home with me.

One-yard pieces, $6 each.  The man said they used to have a second shop in Cocoa, FL, but closed it to focus on the Orlando shop.  15,000 bolts. That is a LOT of fabric. 

I thought I'd discovered The Most Beautiful Fabric in the World here  (Lida Enche prints by In The Beginning).  Now I have found a new line of TMBFITW.   P. Carter Carpin said she designs the fabric, has it printed, and sells it herself (not in shops).  She has 15+ new prints coming out this fall.  I will monitor her Etsy site! 

I bought a FQ bundle and three one-yard cuts.  I will admire these luscious prints for a while before I decide what to make. 

I was home by 1 p.m. I had time to take my husband to the barber shop and bake a pie (rhubarb/strawberry) before going to Highland Park to meet my friend and double-sister Sue (P.E.O./Alpha Gam) for a catch-up and some committee business.  (I got back too late to cook dinner so we went out for Chinese. We had the pie for dessert.)

This weekend I'll be sewing while Zooming at the Illinois P.E.O. Convention. I'm a delegate so I have to pay attention but that doesn't mean I have to be glued to the computer screen.  

Linking up with Finished or Not Friday and Whoop Whoop

Tuesday, June 1, 2021

Midweek: Stash report, RSC, OMG


I woke up at 4:00 this morning, muttered "Rabbit, rabbit," and woke up again at 6:00.  Here is why.  (I first learned about RR in a Trixie Belden book I read when I was 11.  Only in more recent years have I said it each month. Maybe I need good luck more these days?)

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The stash report for May:

Fabric IN:  19-1/2 yards, $57                                Fabric OUT: 34-3/4                                              Fabric IN YTD: 99-5/8, $158.50 (average $1.59/yd) Fabric OUT YTD: 217-3/8                                                                                                                           Net  reduction:  117-3/4

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The Rainbow Scrap Challenge color for June is purple.  This year I'm making 16 framed four-patches each month and two scrappy potholders for Joy's Table Scraps challenge.  (I figure the 20 potholders I'll have by year-end will be handy for gifts.)  

The blocks are 5-1/2" unf and the potholders are  6" finished.  

My One Monthly Goal for June is to begin the quilt for our granddaughter Rachel's wedding at the end of October. She said they like blue and green, a combination I can easily work with.  Barb-the-quilter has me on the calendar for early September. What I need to do is select the block and/or pattern, pull fabric from my stash, and do a little stash enhancement! 

But, meanwhile, I pulled out some blues and then pulled out more blues and here is another "just because" quilt in progress.  The Ohio Stars are 9-1/2" unf. 

(No, these blocks aren't for the wedding quilt.)

Linking up with   OMG and  Midweek Makers

P.S.  Cue Miss Rumphius !  Lupine at Illinois Beach State Park on Memorial Day.   While I explored a new-to-me trail Stevens enjoyed sitting in the shelter at Sand Pond while I explore....sort of like looking out on a pond in Maine.

Sunday, May 30, 2021

Weekly update, part 2: finishes, a start, OMG, and reading


See the previous post for this week's wildflower photos!

I finished the pomegranate mug rug for my friend who will become Bat Mitvah on May 31. ("Jewish tradition teaches that the pomegranate is a symbol of righteousness because it is said to have 613 seeds, which corresponds with the 613 mitzvot, or commandments, of the Torah. For this reason and others, it is customary to eat pomegranates on Rosh Hashanah. Moreover, the pomegranate represents fruitfulness, knowledge, learning and wisdom." Source: 

It arrived on Saturday, just in time.

  She sent a picture showing it in action. 

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Barb of MB Services did a great job quilting Grassy Creek. I picked it up Monday and bound it this week.  It will be a raffle contribution.  94 x 94 is a big quilt!

I used a vintage print (red) and a rummage sale bargain (9 yards for fifty cents!) for the back.

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I achieved the two parts of my declared One Monthly Goal.  Part one was to piece the back for this quilt. I did that and finished the quilt. 

Part two was to assemble the blogs for the comfort quilt I am coordinating. There were many block-makers. I managed to make all the blocks fit. 

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Last fall I worked diligently to bust my 250+-yard CW reproduction stash.  I barely made a dent, as you could guess.  I tossed usable scraps into a box.  This quilt by Etherington and Tesene caught my eye. They used truly little scraps -- their units are 1-1/2". I took their idea and made 2-1/2" units.  

The gold strips and the green inner border are not CW prints but they work well with the CW palette. 

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Just one book this week -- but it was a good one! (My husband read it first and kept saying, "You're going to enjoy this." He was right.) 

Caracaras are western-hemisphere falcons native to South America documented by European explorers (Darwin) and colonists. On the Falkland Islands the striated caracaras are called Johnny rooks. They are curious, intelligent, and sociable to the point of being pests. Jonathan Meiburg describes their present status on the Falklands, further north in Guyana, further inland on the Altiplano, and life in captivity in nature parks in Britain -- all of which he traveled to. He also writes about their evolutionary history with hypotheses about their future. Oh, yes -- he fits in a lot about the Argentinian/British naturalist and writer W. H. Hudson. 

"The researchers who study our planet today live in an age as full of insights and discoveries as the nineteenth century, and it must be maddening to be confronted again and again with the fact that many people simply don't care. Every scientist I'd met seemed to wonder how often they'd have to repeat that there's far more to learn about the world than we already know, how much of it lurks in the guise of the unimportant, and that all it takes to break new ground in the pursuit of knowledge is a desire to do the hard work of seeing. (p. 260).

Meiburg writes wonderfully. Now for a couple of National Geographic features and a PBS Nature about the caracara!

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

Weekly update: similar but different (part 1)

 [I'm breaking the Weekly Update into two parts.]

It was warm when the week began and I pushed to get the vegetable garden planted.  I bought tomato, herb, and squash and cuke seedlings but planted seeds for beans and sugar snap peas.  Midweek we had a little rain (hardly enough) and a real cold snap -- we had to turn the furnace on!  

The poppies are popping one by one -- the flowers don't last very long.

The peonies have lots of buds but no blossoms yet.

Farther afield:

On Saturday afternoon we revisited Pine Dunes forest preserve. Wildflowers were blooming profusely.  

Ohio spiderwort, water lilies, false Solomon's seal aka false spikenard.

Cow parsnip, broadleaf arrowhead aka duck potato aka Indian potato, tall thimbleweed

Wild white indigo, longbract wild indigo, golden Alexander

Blue flag iris, oxeye daisy

There was not a cloud in the sky.  

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Sunday afternoon we went even further west to Volo Bog .  We'd been there long ago for a guided hike in January. High time to see it when it's thawed out!  

There is a nice interpretive center that explains what bogs are, how they differ from other watery ground (fens, marshes, swamps), and why they are fragile and important.

Tufted loosestrife, Canadian anemone, water arum.

A pair of swans on a very weedy inlet.  (The water levels are very, very low.) 

And I heard, but didn't see, sandhill cranes bugling.

P.S.  The interpretive center has a research library.  Lots of books and media (VHS!).   And....a card catalog!

Thanks for reading!  Quilting updates will be in the next post. 

Sunday, May 23, 2021

Weekly update: wildflower time and some progress

The water is still cold!
  My sister came to visit on Friday.  We walked in the ravine (at the end of our block) and in the state park.  Though the drought continues the wildflowers are beautiful and the migratory birds are trilling away. 

Phlox, false Solomon's seal, Golden Alexander,  Star of Bethlehem (a garden escapee), fringed puccoon aka narrowleaf stoneseed, sweet Cicely, mayapple, wild columbine (aquilegia).

Puccoon, blue-eyed grass, lupine, chokecherry, daisy fleabane, and what the i.d. app calls Umbellate Bastard Toadflax which to me sounds like a Shakespearean insult.

Every year I look for this patch of of hybrid iris alongside the road to the beach (Camp Logan unit). It's flourishing! I imagine someone tossed leftover rhizomes out the window one year. 

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In the studio:

  I set the Magpies' blocks for the comfort quilt. I had to buy (!!) sashing fabric -- not too white, not too creamy, with just a touch of red.  I was sure the border would use a particular red-on-dark blue from my stash but I found out it is a  Indian cotton (think of a soft-hand Madras) and the texture/weave was just too lightweight.  I think I've found a substitute, but if it doesn't do the trick I'm sure a quilt shop can sell me something just right. 

Photo shows the substitute print.

I'm making a mug rug for a friend's Bat Mitzvah. I know it will have pomegranates but I haven't decided to go arty-abstract or lively-graphic. So I have rough drafts of both. 

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I've written of my disappointment with inaccuracies and anachronisms in some of the books I've read recently. That was not the case with the two historical novels I read this week -- if there were errors, the books were so well-written that I didn't notice or didn't mind.  

The Cold Millions.    Spokane, 1909: the town's mining/lumber barons wield power and influence (and corruption) over the city. The IWW has come to town to organize labor protests, led by fiery agitator Elizabeth Gurley Flynn. Gig Dolan is an idealistic drifter who gets caught up in Flynn's orbit. His younger brother Rye treds a safer path to the middle class. It's an absorbing story about a not-so-long-ago chapter in American life.

Margreete's Harbor.    When her mother Margreete's dementia becomes apparent Liddie Furber, her husband Harry, and their children Bernie and Eva move back to the rambling house on the Maine coast to take care of her. Margreete does indeed provide a harbor for her family during the tumultuous 1960's when far-away events (the march on Washington and the Viet Nam war) affect their everyday lives. Eleanor Morse's style is reminiscent of Anne Tyler: people aren't perfect and sometimes their quirks are annoying -- but that is real life.


I was pulled right in to this fast-paced cozy mystery starring small-town reference librarian Greer Hogan.  Author M.E. Hilliard is a librarian and she absolutely nails the library details.   Here's the first page.  Enough said!  (Need I add that I'm a Trixie Belden fan?) 

Linking up with Oh Scrap!  Monday Making    Design Wall Monday