Wednesday, December 29, 2021

Midweek: Rhody Trail with a bonus, and the Best of 2021


The left box overflows with the completed Step 5 units for Rhododendron Trail.   The HSTs were Step 1 and the wing triangles were Step 3.  Step 5 nvolved sewing large pink triangles and then smaller neutral triangles. That resulted in cutaway triangles which I promptly sewed, trimmed, and pressed. They're 1-1/2" unfinished. I have no immediate plan for them but they'll be ready when inspiration strikes.

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I'm joining Cheryl's Best of 2021 Linky Party 

Here are my most memorable quilts of the year. Click on the highlighted title to read more about the design or the recipient or both. 

Code Name Welcome Home   

Its real name is Labyrinth Walk. I made it for my friends B & K.  "The backstory: B does not sew. Not buttons, not hems, and certainly not quilts. Five years ago a picture of the Labyrinth Walk quilt popped onto her Facebook feed and she was teased about "her" quilt. It went viral--she says 40,000+ reposts--even though she clearly stated that she DID NOT MAKE the quilt. Last fall B and her husband K suffered from a house fire. They've been living in temporary quarters." B & K have since moved back home.

Spiked Batiks

In which I used the Studio 180 Split Rects ruler for the first time.


A mug rug for my friend Mimi who became Bat Mitzvah in May.

For granddaughter Rachel and her husband Austin. 

The story of this quilt takes several posts. It involved a lot of time with the seam ripper.


Here's to the Rose

The guild challenge was "Birth Month":  make a 20 x 21 (2021) quilt using the flower and jewel for your birth month.  I'm June, so roses and pearls. Read the post to find out why I chose red and yellow. 

Holiday Baskets

Ann won the 2021 AAUW holiday quilt raffle. It was great to have the drawing at our in-person luncheon after so many months of meeting by Zoom.

Linking up with Midweek Makers as well as Best of 2021  

Sunday, December 26, 2021

Weekly update: OMG, RhodyTrail, an unexpected finish, and reading


Christmas Day was sunny and mild. While the roast beef was in the oven* we went to Lyons Woods.  Someone has hung many ornaments on a pine tree along the trail.

*The roast was delicious. I deliberately bought a big one and we will enjoy the leftovers.  

I bought 20 Agatha Christie mysteries at a fundraising auction and gave them to Stevens for Christmas. These will keep him occupied for a while.

(These 20 are not a complete set. Apparently there are 83 in this edition,) 


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My December One Monthly Goal was to decide what I will make for the Modern Mini Swap.   The 24 x 24 quilt needs to be mailed to my partner in February.  I think I know what I'm going to make.  Here are some of the preliminaries.

Earlier in the week I finished all the hourglass units for Clue 4 of the Rhododendron Trail mystery.   Clue 5 will be issued tomorrow (December 27). 

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Several months ago I made a set of 48 HeartStrings blocks and put them aside.  Now they're a finished quilt.  

I had fun with the back.  The top fabric is a vintage (36"w) border print.   It was probably intended for kitchen curtains or aprons.  

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I finished two good books this week. 

Daniel Hawthorne and Anthony Horowitz are invited to a literary festival on Alderney in the Channel Islands.  The ostensible purpose is to talk about their  collaboration in which the writer documents the detective inspector's famous cases. The resulting books are best-sellers.  Once on the island they soon become involved in a new murder investigation. The cast of suspects is reminiscent of a classic British crime novel and red herrings abound. Hawthorne doesn't give anything away and Horowitz bumbles along trying to come up with the solution.

The real-life Horowitz (principal writer of Foyle's War and Midsomer Murders) pulls off the tricky author-as-character device deftly. Great fun!

Animals: we love them in the abstract and (pretty much) respect them in reality until they enter our territory on their terms. That includes bears who raid campsites and enter houses (neatly turning the doorknob to open the door); deer and moose who collide with cars and trucks; Indian macaques who grab food out of people's hands; and leopards, gulls, blackbirds, stoats, and mice. Mary Roach traveled the globe to document our attempts to outwit "vertebrate pests." It's no spoiler to say that these efforts are never completely successful.

In the process Roach answers questions that may have occurred to us. She goes further and finds the answers, or more accurately explores the multi-layered responses. Her approach to investigative science reporting is both informative and very funny.

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Linking up with OMG December Oh Scrap!   Design Wall Monday Monday Making   

Friday, December 24, 2021

Friday check in: Solstice week and Christmas Eve edition


I was at the marina on Tuesday to see the sun rise on the solstice -- 7:14 a.m.   (I went out at 4 p.m. to try to get the sunset but it was overcast.)

Yesterday we enjoyed pre-Christmas luncheon with my sister and her husband at their house.  No photos, just good conversation.  We had delicious crockpot venison from the deer my sister shot and field-dressed herself!

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The slab quilt is finished!  

A scrappy top deserves a scrappy back. I remember getting the tropical floral on the right when we were in Bermuda in 2008.  (Up close these prints don't go together thematically -- upper right pansies, then tropical, then black butterflies on yellow, then green pears on blue.  Middle left pink peonies, below that watermelons, below that orange/lime green buttons.  But from a distance you see only the shapes of the prints and the colors.)

Gotta get going -- dinner preparations for tomorrow and other errands.   


P.S. A merman (mermaid?) on the breakwater, dressed in holiday style.  

Sunday, December 19, 2021

Weekly update: on the trail, a concert, a flimsy!, and reading

 The ornaments I hung along the trail last week pretty much survived the severe winds (gusts of 65 mph on Wednesday).   Two had blown off their hangers onto the ground and I rehung them. Some lost the red paint (lower right).  And two were joined by someone else's contributions. 

We enjoyed the Lake County Symphony Orchestra Christmas concert on Saturday evening.   They played woodwind, strings, and brass medleys  of Christmas songs arranged by Leroy Anderson and the entire orchestra played Anderson's well-known Sleigh Ride.

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In the studio:   I finished step 3 of the Rhododendron Trail mystery.  I ran out of neutral triangles and cut a bunch more. Then I found that a stack of them had been pushed under the finished units.   The triangles will come in handy for another project. 

 I kept sewing scraps together until I had 20 slab blocks.  I fussy-cut cornerstones from a floral print which then limited choices for sashing.  I tried several prints before I found one that suited.  Then I searched for a border print.  Ah-ha!   I had enough of the fabric I used for this quilt -- fortunately a piece 20"w x 80" long.  

The flimsy is 66 x 82 and used 6-1/4 yards by weight.

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The week's reading:

"The summer of 2020, that year of imperfect vision, would hold them together forever." (316)

Boccaccio and Chekhov meet COVID-19 in a very contemporary novel about enduring friendships and rivalries. Novelist Sasha Senderovsky, his psychotherapist wife Masha, and their daughter Nat (Natasha) have moved from New York to their upstate country compound to escape the pandemic. Sasha invites his high school friends to shelter-in-place in the compound's cottage--Karen (a Korean-American app-inventor millionaire) and Vinod (an Indian-American one-time professor, once-aspiring writer) -- and three others: Ed (a Korean jet-setter), Dee Cameron (get the Boccaccio reference?) (a former student of Sasha's), and the never-named but obviously famous Actor. Alliances form, break apart, and re-form. COVID reaches their rural retreat. (In twenty years what will they remember about this year?)  

In the early 1990's the Quilters' Guild conducted a nationwide search for historic quilts in England and Ireland. Hundreds of people brought their quilts to the appraisal days. This book summarizes the documentation. The textile experts also describe in technical detail the design elements, the types of fabric used, how the fabric was produced (weaving and dyeing). It is a thorough--and thoroughly interesting -- discussion.

Linking up with  Oh Scrap!   Monday Making     Design Wall Monday

P.S.  75 years ago -- 12/14/1946 -- David George Blaine and Marion Hamilton Carothers got married.  I'm glad they did!  


Sunday, December 12, 2021

Weekly update: the social whirl, bargains, a finish and a start

 There were more festive gatherings this week.  On Monday evening my P.E.O. chapter met for dinner at a restaurant. We exchanged holiday socks (a chapter tradition). Everyone brought gift cards that I will deliver to a local agency.  

On Tuesday the Zion Woman's Club had a holiday luncheon.  I didn't get a photo of my vintage Christmas tablecloths in use.  We had box lunches which made serving very easy.  A white elephant exchange meant each of us got something to take home.  We also collected food for the two local food pantries. That all went into my car until Thursday when we met to deliver it.

The chair of the AAUW holiday luncheon conducted a poll to see how many would like an in-person event this year. Twenty said yes -- and 44 sent in reservations!  That was Saturday.  It was SO great to see AAUW friends and their guests (many of whom come every year).  It was our first in-person gathering since February, 2020. 

This was the, hmm, 18th? year that I have donated a quilt as a fundraiser.  Ann has faithfully and enthusiastically bought dozens of tickets over the years -- and this year she won!  

The raffle raised $385 for the AAUW Greatest Needs Fund.  The 50/50 split-the-pot raised $138 for our local STEM scholarship (and $138 for the lucky winner).

More fundraising -- the Rotary citrus has arrived.  I spent this afternoon (Sunday) delivering to those who ordered through me.  We have a case of oranges and a case of grapefruit in the garage for ourselves.

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I stopped at a couple of thrift shops  this week and got some bargains.  The print on the left was $2 for 4 yards. The other two are a cotton flat sheet and a twin sheet set totalling 15 yards for $8 in all.   (I also got an ironstone salad bowl that will go nicely with the winter dishes and a never-worn L.L. Bean flannel shirt. The shirt was $8.75. That's higher than I'd normally pay at a thrift shop but I knew it would go quickly. And, after all, the catalog price is $49.95.) 

The CW Repro Nine-Patch Strippy is quilted and bound.  

You can't see the back very well. I used a mid-vintage (44"w) and a real vintage (36" w) on the back. 

I finished Clue 2 of the Rhododendron Trail mystery.  

I know that Clue 3 is an easy one but I worked on a new project instead.  These slab blocks are 12-1/2" unfinished. I'm going to make 20 for a 4 x 5 setting unless I get ambitious and make 30 for a 5 x 6 setting.  

My scrap box never gets very full because I cut scraps into specific sizes as I generate them.  (1-1/2" and 2" strips; and 1.5", 2", 2.5", 3", 3.5", and 4" squares pretty much.)

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I am 3/4 of the way through a novel. Since I haven't finished it I won't report on it. 

I indulged in this holiday quilt book.  Historian Sue Reich  invited fellow art quilters to create mini-quilts based on the quatrains of  A Visit From St. Nicholas, better known as The Night Before Christmas.  Among the contributors are Barb Vedder and a long-time librarian colleague Bonnie Dwyer.   Sue Reich tells the story of the poem and provides quilt designs based on some of her 19th-century green and red quilts. 

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P.S.  Last year I saw Christmas ornaments hung in the trees in one of the forest preserves.   I got 8 red ornaments for $1 at a rummage sale this summer. I hung them on my walk in the state park on Friday afternoon.  We had very gusty winds that night (the same storm system that brought tornadoes to Kentucky and southern Illinois). I'll have to back to see if any of these are still hanging.  

Linking up with Design Wall Monday   Monday Making

Sunday, December 5, 2021

Weekly update: OMG for December and a book review

The boys are back!  My nutcracker collection began with a gift from my mother in 1980, the first year we were married.   She gave us two more.  I've gotten others at TJ Maxx/Marshalls, an antiques mall, and estate/garage sales.  The latest is #8, a $2 estate sale score last month.   (They are all German, mostly Erzgebirge.) 

Holiday events are underway.  The GFWC Tenth District luncheon was Tuesday and the Lake County Women's Coalition luncheon was Saturday. The quilt guild holiday party was Wednesday -- scaled down considerably from years past with a box supper. We continued our guild traditions of a fat quarter bundle exchange (four FQs per bundle) and a handmade ornament exchange. We also trade white elephant gifts--every year they ask me to read a "passing story" to mix things RIGHT up so no one is LEFT out. Hilarity always ensues.  

Friday evening our friends Debbie and Bill joined us for dinner followed by  Carthage College Christmas Concert .  In past years the chapel was packed.  This year there was assigned, distanced seating.  (I bought our tickets October 1, the day they went on sale.)    It seemed that there were fewer students in the choirs and orchestra, but nonetheless the music was wonderful.  

Sunday evening we went to see Wayne Messmer and Friends, put on by the Lake County Community Concert Association.  Messmer is known in Chicagoland for singing the national anthem at pro sports events. He quipped, "I will show you that I do know the words to more than one song."  He certainly did! Easy listening classics (Sinatra, Crosby, Torme, Tony Bennett, Nat King Cole, and more) with piano, bass, woodwind, and brass accompaniment.  We saw a dozen of our friends in the audience, too.  

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In the studio:   the CW nine-patch strippy (shown last week) was on the top of the flimsy stack and I chose it as the next to quilt.  I'm halfway done -- no photos yet.   

I finished the first clue of Rhododendron Trail, the Quiltville mystery.  I haven't begun the second. 

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My December OMG -- One Monthly Goal -- is to plan what I'll make for the Modern Mini swap sponsored by the Modern Quilt Guild.  The minis are to be 24 x 24 and are due in February.  The thinking and planning require concentration and definitely inspiration.   

I also hope to quilt several more flimsies and keep up with the Rhododendron Trail clues.  

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The intrepid senior citizens Joyce, Elizabeth, Ron, and Ibrahim -- aka The Thursday Murder Club -- return! Former MI6 agent Elizabeth's ex-husband shows up at their retirement community. He is on the run from a British crime boss and from the Mafia because they want the 20m pounds' worth of diamonds that he has hidden. He is murdered but there's no time to mourn as Elizabeth must decode the clues to the loot that he has left. Joyce (retired nurse, widow, inveterate diary-keeper) contributes spot-on observations that surprise no one but herself. Union organizer Ron is the ever the fierce champion of the workingman. To add to the complexity psychotherapist Ibrahim, the cautious over-thinker, is attacked by a young thug to the outrage of his three friends. A local drugs boss, a young MI5 agent, handyman Bogdan, local police detectives Chris and Donna (oh, and Donna's mum Patrice who is dating Chris) join the cast of characters. There are a few missteps. All ends well (and lucratively) with an intricate sting operation that involves everyone.

It's a grand caper novel with endearing heroes.   (And if you haven't read the first in the series -- The Thursday Murder Club -- by all means, do!) 

Linking up with Oh Scrap!   OMG December  Monday Making   Design Wall Monday

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P.S.  Good advice!