Sunday, March 28, 2021

Weekly update: something new

I've had Patchwork with Pizzazz for more than a decade. (Author Lisa Bergene is Norwegian.  The original title is Kreative Lappe Ideer Vesker og Bager.)  I pulled  the book off the shelf a couple of days ago and one of the designs began to jump up and down and holler, "Try me!"  I couldn't resist.  

The blocks use split rectangle units. I have probably made them sometime along the way but I know I haven't used them as a significant component of an entire quilt.  I remember being put off by the fussy tedium of the bias rectangle method (That Patchwork Place).  But, ah-ha!  I bought the Studio 180 Split Rects ruler at a quilt show. Time to take it out of the package and use it. 

The ruler makes the units a breeze.  Even the trimming was easy.  I foresee using this ruler and these units often.

Oh, and the project?  Here are 14 blocks out of 20. Or maybe 30 if I get ambitious.  The blocks are 12.5" unfinished.   

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My reading certainly takes me to a variety of places. Last week it was Maine.  This week it's Montana.

Buffalo Jump Blues is the fifth installment of Keith McCafferty's mystery series featuring Sean Stranahan (a fly fisherman, guide, and water color artist) and Marcia Ettinger, the sheriff of Hyalite County.  There are both regular and new characters--charming misfits and the bad guys.  This case has a real (illegal) buffalo jump that purports to recreate those carried out by the Plains tribes before horses and guns.  There's a lot about the factions for bison management (what happens when the protected bison in Yellowstone wander out of the park?).  It's an intriguing mystery and informative as well.   

On our 2016 Rocky Mountains Road Scholar Trip (here) we went to Head-Smashed-In Buffalo Jump in Alberta, now a Unesco World Heritage Site.  (In French: "Le Precipice a Bisons Head-Smashed-In.")  Each year the Blackfeet rounded up buffalo and drove them over the edge of the cliff. They then butchered the buffalo to provide food and hides for the coming year. There are  other buffalo jumps across the plains, but this one has the best archaeological record.

Friday, March 26, 2021

Friday check in: cranes, art show, and a finish

As my friend Steffi and I left the country club [see below] two sandhill cranes strode over the hill and across the sidewalk. They are making their way north to Wisconsin.  They were intent on one another and I was able to get within ten feet to snap the photos. 

GFWC-IL District 10 (General Federation of Women's Clubs-Illinois) held its annual Art Show luncheon on Wednesday.    The country club dining room was spacious and the tables were far apart.  Each table was set for six people (though the tables would ordinarily accommodate eight) so we were spaced.  It was SO nice to meet in person.   Most years there are multiple entries in each art category.  I entered Shelter in Place in "quilts" -- the only entry -- and Cake Stand  in "embroidery, needlework, wall hangings" -- the only entry.  That's a sure-fire way to win a prize -- LOL!  But the judges declared that Shelter in Place was the grand champion, and I had the opportunity to explain how SIP came about.  [ Here -- and previous posts labeled "Shelter in Place."] 

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In the studio:   I finished quilting the batik variable stars. Once again I observe that a quilt with no deadline and no destination comes together easily. 

Many, many years ago I bought a fat quarter of the riotous Alexander Henry feather print.  I had no idea what to make out of it -- I think I chopped it up into squares for a swap.   In 2020  a nearly two-yard piece of the feather print was in one of the two destashes with which I was blessed.  I had to use it in its entirety!  

After I finished the quilting I realized I should have pieced the back so that the long horizontal teal piece went at the bottom.  Too late now.  

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


Monday, March 22, 2021

Weekly update: welcome spring! potholders and reading

 A nor'easter battered the lakeshore late last week. It would be cool but foolhardy to be at the beach during such a storm. Instead I visited two sections (Camp Logan and Hosah Park) on Saturday and Sunday when it was sunny and calm.

Salix discolor -- aka pussy willow or glaucous willow -- is in bloom.  

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I made two green potholders for Joy's Table Scraps Challenge.  That's a subset of the Rainbow Scrap Challenge.  

I pieced the backing for the batik stars flimsy I made earlier this month.  I got it sandwiched and basted and I've begun the quilting.  

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I read two good books this week. 

Missing and Endangered is the latest in J.A. Jance's series about Joanna Brady, sheriff of Cochise County, Arizona. Like other long-running series, it's somewhat formulaic but there is a comfortable familiarity with the characters.  Joanna balances running the law enforcement department with being a mother and wife.  She is dealing with two cases:  investigating the murder of a local man (of course it's not as clear-cut as it seems to be) and the cyberstalking of her daughter's college roommate.  

I noted this passage and emailed J.A. Jance asking what the organization is. She replied a few hours later:  "Thanks for writing and thank you for being a long term fan.  The organization I had in mind was P.E.O.  I’ve done several live events and a couple of zoom fundraisers.  As a high school senior, I received a college scholarship that made it possible for me to attend the University of Arizona.  Although my scholarship wasn’t from P.E.O., I really appreciate what they do."  Her Wikipedia entry says that at book signings she asks that donations be directed to various causes -- some $250,000 raised over the past decade! I shared this on the P.E.O. Sisters Facebook group and someone from a Phoenix-area chapter said that Jance has been the speaker for their annual fundraiser. 

Susan Conley's novel Landslide is a compelling page-turner in a much different way as she describes how a family deals with a crisis.

One autumn in Avery, Maine: Jill Archer is trying to hold things together. Her husband Kit sustained severe injuries in a fishing accident and is hospitalized in Halifax, a seven-hour drive away. Jill's worry about Kit magnifies her worries about everything else: loss of income, housing, the decline of offshore fisheries, her sporadic work as a documentary film-maker, her ailing parents in a northern mill town. But foremost is her worry for their teenage sons Charlie and Sam. They are manifesting their own fears for an uncertain future mixed in with just being 16 and 15. Charlie has a girlfriend. Sam is in a band, is smoking pot, and blowing off school.

The first-person, present tense narration emphasizes the emotional waves (to use an ocean metaphor): there's a crisis, then a too-brief calm, and then Charlie or Sam or Kit says or does something and Jill must keep paddling to keep from being swamped.

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Linking up with Oh Scrap! and Design Wall Monday  

Friday, March 19, 2021

Orphan adoption, 2021: make them disappear

UPDATE:  The winner of the drawing is Cindy Smith. 
Thank you all who entered!

Woohoo!  It's time for Cynthia's spring orphan adoption link up at Quilting Is More Fun Than Housework.   Here is the link  to the event. 

In 2012 I gave a guild workshop on "disappearing" blocks.  That was before Jenny Doan brought the design concept to YouTube.  I  kept all the class samples I made -- the raw blocks, initial cuts, assembled blocks, and flimsies. I lent them to a friend to use in a class and she returned them. They've been on a shelf for ages.

And now you can have them!  You'll get ALL of these -- and  I'll include goodies to fill the flat-rate box.

To qualify to win you must fulfill ALL FOUR of these requirements: 

(1) Leave a comment stating the author and title of a book you've read recently and recommend. It CANNOT be a quilting book.  It CAN be an audiobook.

(2) Enter by 8:00 AM CDT Thursday, March 25.  I will draw the winner that morning.

(3) If you are a no-reply blogger include your email address so I can contact you. 

(4) U.S. addresses only.    

I look forward to hearing from you!              

Friday check in: elephant parade

3/30:  here is the link to the OMG Finish linkup at Elm Street Quilts.  My friends have received the placemats and they are delighted with them. 

 I was going to make simple slab borders for the elephant-block placemats. 

Then I thought I'd use a skinny strip and scrappy neutral borders.  That required piecing more scrappy neutrals. 

I didn't like the "fenced-in" effect.


If I took the fence out the elephants would be swimming in a pool of neutrals.

What to do, what to do?  

I happened to have some scrappy-batik slabs on hand.  I cut them into three-inch strips. 

I have quilted the elephants and the neutral backgrounds on all four.  I hope to finish quilting the borders today. 

(And now I have 16 3-to-4-inch strips of batik neutrals to play with.)

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

P.S. I honestly did not think about Elmer until now.  

Wednesday, March 17, 2021

Midweek: soda bread and elephants

 As far as we are aware, we are not one speck Irish.  (We may be surprised when we receive the results of the Ancestry DNA tests. We spat in the vials and mailed them in about a month ago.)   I baked a loaf of soda bread this morning and have corned beef in the crock pot for tonight's supper.

 That's cultural appreciation, not cultural appropriation.  I have never been to a St. Patrick's Day parade nor gone downtown to see the Chicago River dyed green.


A colleague posted her mother's soda bread recipe on Facebook last year.  The specific instructions are great!  (I used Greek yogurt in place of sour cream. I put a teaspoon of vinegar into the milk in place of buttermilk. I had to retrieve the 20-yr-old jar of caraway seeds from the top shelf of the spice cupboard.  Using 1 tablespoon a year means that jar will outlast me.....And I mixed the dough with a spoon rather than with my "mitts.")

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In the studio:  I pieced many scraps of batik neutrals for the backgrounds and did the applique last evening. They are 10-1/2 x 13-1/2.  Since they'll be placemats I need to make them at least 14 x 18. I thought I'd just add slab borders from contrasting/coordinating batiks but I had another idea.  You'll need to come back on Friday to see!  

Linking up with Midweek Makers and Wednesday Wait Loss

P.S.  I've seen "cornbeef" advertised at two local eateries. Vegan alternative? LOL. 

Monday, March 15, 2021

Weekly update: pie for Pi Day, square dancing, elephants, and reading

 March 14 (3.14) is the day for Pi, Pie, and Puns. I made cherry pie for the occasion.   

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In the studio:  I have finished 20 Nine Patch Square Dance blocks.  I found the perfect fabric for the sashing in my stash -- a Hoffman floral.  The colors are right (not too yellow, not too green, a little pink, a little orange).  The flowers are realistic, not stylized, which go with the realistic flowers in the centers of the blocks.   I need 1 yard.   I have 15 inches. Okay, what can I use instead?  I searched high and low -- in the yellows, the greens, the multis, the moderns, the vintage.  I searched all the other colors and genres just in case.  Nothing.   I don't want to buy fabric during Lent but I drove to Joann's to see if I could find something comparable to that Hoffman floral.  I hadn't been to Joann's for months. Lots of interesting new prints!  But I stuck to my resolve (yay, me).  I returned empty-handed.  

I will put the blocks away.  

I will go fabric shopping after Easter.  

Here is a closeup of the sashing fabric, just in case you might have some . . .

This week I'll work on my One Monthly Goal. I'm making four elephant placemats, a gift for friends who collect elephants.  

I think I'll go with brightly-colored elephants rather than the brown one. And I think I prefer right-pointing rather than left-pointing.  

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I have mixed reactions to short stories. Sometimes they end just when I'm warming up to the characters and the plot. I want to know more.  But in other cases they end perfectly, like a light bulb being switched off:  click!  The stories in Kevin Barry's That Old Country Music are in the second category. They are all set in contemporary western Ireland -- not the sentimental Ould Sod of expatriates but hard-edged, gritty, with love, sex, drugs, hard living--and thin rays of sunshine. 

Miss Benson's Beetle
was such a delight!  It's another unlikely-friendship-adventure story.   In 1950 Margery Benson decided to quit her dead-end teaching job (she wasn't very good at it) to fulfill her lifelong dream of discovering the Golden Beetle of New Caledonia.  Three people responded to her advertisement for an assistant.  She hired the least-bad of the lot, Miss Enid Pretty.   Both the stolid, determined Margery and the bleached-blonde, ditsy Enid had literal baggage -- a Gladstone bag with insect-collecting equipment for Margery and a mysterious red valise that Enid would not let out of her sight -- and a lot more metaphorical baggage -- Margery's father's suicide in 1916 and Enid's past life including her now-dead husband.  During their long journey from London to Brisbane by ship; from Brisbane to Noumea (capital of New Caledonia) by airplane; from Nouema to the northern tip of the island, the two women adjusted to one another's quirks, protected one another's secrets, and forged an abiding friendship.  (Did Margery succeed in her quest for the beetle?  You will have to read the book.) 

Linking up with Design Wall Monday  Oh Scrap! Monday Making  

Sunday, March 14, 2021

A golden anniversary

 Saturday, March 13, was the 50th anniversary of my initiation into Alpha Gamma Delta Fraternity.  That date in 1971 was a Saturday, too.  I've kept in touch with some of my pledge sisters and other chapter sisters all these years.  Facebook has renewed connections with many others. 

(I realize that this picture of Alex and me was taken a different year. Her dress and my hair are different. At spring break, 1973, I got my hair cut short, so this was most likely May of '73.  I made my initiation dress. It had six-button cuffs that fastened through corded loops. What a pain those were to sew!) 

A banquet . . . 

, , ,  and, of course, a party!  (Off-campus, of course.) 
 My search for photos from initiation day went from the handy archives (=front hall closet) to the deeper archives (=boxes in the attic).  I found that freshman year scrapbook and a whole lot more that included high school scrapbooks, grade school class pictures, and junior high yearbooks.  I brought a lot of stuff down and will go through it soon.  ("Soon" is a relative term. And I will probably copy some pictures, share some letters and papers, and then box everything up once again.) 

Saddle shoes were a short-lived revival fad  my junior year.  After 45+ years in storage the uppers and soles on this pair have separated.  The striped shirt ("Levis for Gals") was a just-before-college purchase that I wore all four years.  Poly/cotton will last forever. 

Jogging was new in the 70's.  Several us jogged a couple of evenings a week wearing our Alpha Gam-personalized sweatpants.   The "cool" Greek-letter windbreakers were nylon with yellow appliqued letters. I could only afford a poplin jacket with ironed-on letters.  

In 1973 I repurposed a pair of overalls into a tote bag and added some groovy embroidery. 

Thanks for joining me on this trip down memory lane!