Monday, January 31, 2022

Weekly update: a flimsy, scrappy backgrounds, an unexpected finish, and reading


Red Baskets is a flimsy!  

I thought I'd counted out 800 HSTs for the sashes but I had to make more, and more again.  

I purchased a "retro" print for the border (Lori Holt) but it didn't work. I searched my stash and, voila -- a contemporary print that has just the right amount of white and red to be compatible with the 30's prints.  

6-1/2 yards by weight.  82 x 82.

I liked the effect of the crumb background for the Modern Mini (see last week) so much that I pieced two similar panels.  They'll be ready when the Applique Fairy comes to visit.  

Left:  gray 1-1/2" strips left over from last summer's wedding quilt  

I put both on dark fabric so you can see them.

Right:  a lot of neutrals. 

Both of these efforts helped me consolidate scraps. 

Last spring our guild hosted a Zoom workshop with Eleanor Levie.  She taught us how to weave a quilt .  I finished the weaving and put the sample aside.  Now it's a tote bag.   I will add books to the bag and donate it to an upcoming fundraiser.  

The back of the bag is similar-but-different since it's the other half of the woven panel.

My tote bags always turn out higher and narrower than I'd like. I must figure that out....

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(Nancy Pearl, reader's advisor extraordinaire, recommended this. I'm SO glad I took her up on it.)

Laird Hunt's crystalline prose is perfect -- not too much, not too little, precisely enough. I wanted to read fast to find out what would happen but I wanted to pull back to savor every single word. I was reminded of Wendell Berry, Elizabeth Strout, and Marilynne Robinson.

Zorrie Underwood was an extraordinarily ordinary woman and that is the heart of this story.

She was born in 1909 in a small town in Indiana, orphaned young, and raised by a strict and unyielding older aunt. When her aunt died and left nothing she found a job at the Radium Dial Co. in Ottawa, Illinois, where she made friends and unwittingly exposed herself to carcinogens. "Back home in Indiana" was a stronger pull and she returned. She married a local man and kept up their farm after his death in WWII. She befriended her neighbors and their emotionally damaged son. Months turned into years and years turned into decades. "You have to come to terms with things, but not by carrying them out to the field and burying them under the beans" (53). That practical attitude did not preclude imagination or emotion; rather, it centered Zorrie and allowed her to carry on with some regrets, small delights, and love on many levels.

How many of us have our own versions of Zorrie's story?


This is the February selection for the P.E.O. online book club. They've arranged for the author to visit. 

1950's, northern India. Lakshmi escapes from an abusive marriage to seek an independent life in the metropolis of Jaipur. Over ten years she grows her business painting henna designs and providing herbal remedies, especially to enhance fertility. Her hidden business is providing herbal abortifacients. Lakshmi's success for all of these endeavors depends on word of mouth endorsements by her affluent women clients. Her hard-won success takes a sharp turn when her teenaged sister Radha arrives. The two have a difficult adjustment. Bad judgment and gossip compromise Lakshmi's business and her very independence. There are more sharp turns but Lakshmi is resilient. The proverbial closed door leads to wide-open windows with new possibilities.

The sequel, The Secret Keeper of Jaipur, was published last summer.  I'll pick it up at the library today.

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Linking up with Design Wall Monday  Monday Making  

Sunday, January 23, 2022

Weekly update: hurrah! and on to new creations + reading


Kathy and I took a shift at Feed My Starving Children on Tuesday as the Zion Woman's Club's "day of service."  FMSC packages a fortified rice mix that is shipped worldwide.  Though it would be easy to automate the entire process their model is to get people involved and motivated to donate by inviting them to pack the product.  

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WHEW.  I finished the two big projects that have preoccupied me all month.  

One is the annual reporting for the GFWC (General Federation of Women's Clubs). That documentation not only qualifies our club for awards but also helps the international organization leverage its influence with partner agencies like Heifer Intl., Operation Smile, and others.   (This photo is the statistical spreadsheet. There's narrative for each section, too.) 

And, ta da!  My MQG swap entry is QBL (quilted, bound, and labeled).  I had planned to deliver it in person  at QuiltCon in Phoenix, but I'm not going so Iwill mail it.  

The applique design is by Piece O'Cake. The crumb/slab background was inspired by Jen Kingwell. 

24 x 24 per the swap instructions. 

This is my OMG for January.

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I got out the red 30's baskets that I made earlier this month.    How about triangles for the sashes?  If I use all 41 baskets I'll need 100 sashes and thus 800 HSTs. 

 I had a ziploc bag with 1.5" HSTs.  

There were 350 in the bag.  

Guess what I sewed Saturday evening? I got up 500.  (Update:  as of Sunday, 10 p.m., there were 740.)

I didn't have anything that would work for the setting triangles and border.  Sew & Save in Racine had an inventory sale. I went up to see if they had any 30's remaining (they've been phasing them out). All gone. The clerk suggested looking at Lori Holt's retro prints.  I found a couple that may suit. While I was there I succumbed to the $5/yard clearance selection.    

If I can't resist buying fabric at least I can get bargains! 

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Did I say triangles?  An email from Quiltfolk announced a February sew-along and contest.  It may be just the thing to use these HSTS that have been in the Parts Department for a long time. 

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By coincidence the two books I read are mysteries set on college campuses.  The similarity ends there.  The first is a police procedural and the second has some sharp send-ups of academe. 

Three years ago Candace Swain went missing after a philanthropic/social event hosted by her sorority at Northern Arizona University. Her body was found a week later but authorities never found a perpetrator let alone a motive. Now NAU senior Lucas Vega is using the cold case as the subject of his capstone project, a multi-episode podcast. Regan Merritt, former U.S. Marshal, is back home in Flagstaff after her own family tragedy. She's living with her father, the retired county sheriff. Lucas's NAU advisor asks Regan if she could consult on Lucas's project. She agrees and gets pulled in. Someone doesn't want this old business dredged up. Is it one of the sorority members or an outsider? The plot gets more complex and the threats extend to Lucas and Regan.

Liesl Weiss is called back from her sabbatical from her long-time job as assistant director of the Department of Rare Books and Special Collections when her equally long-tenured boss Christopher suffers from a debilitating stroke. Liesl's first task is to account for the library's newest big-ticket acquisition, a polyglot Bible. But where is it? Not in the safe where it is supposed to be. One thing leads to another and another as Liesl has to deal with the university president, the wealthy donors who want to see the results of their donation, and the library staff -- plus her emotionally fragile husband.

Liesl is presented in all her complexity -- something of a mess, really, as she deals with lack of confidence about her professional abilities, drinks a LOT of alcohol, and keeps her husband on balance (and herself in the process). When one of the staff goes missing she chastises herself for not being a more attentive supervisor. She is tempted to rekindle a long-ago fling with one of the other librarians. Evidence of more theft and deception comes to light.

Anyone who's dealt with academics will recognize the personalities. (Are they only slightly exaggerated for effect here?) The mystery is resolved, the motive is revealed, and the new library director is named.

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

P.S. One of the four big blossoms on this year's amaryllis.

Friday, January 21, 2022

Friday check in: QBL and some progress

82 looks good, doesn't it?

 Look who had a birthday on Tuesday!  We had pancakes as a celebratory breakfast.  I posted the photo on Facebook and reported to him the number of comments and "likes."  He was surprised and appreciative. 

The tumbling ribbons wall hanging from last weekend's workshop is QBL -- quilted, bound, and labeled.   

I decided on a simple pieced border for the floral applique wall hanging. It's under the needle now.  I will wait until it's finished to post pictures.

I made the setting "triangle" and corner units for Rhododendron Trail.

Here's the initial layout. There are more blocks than this.  (Because my studio is in the basement the ceiling is low and thus the design wall isn't tall.  Many of my quilts get put together sideways.)   

I think my "garnets" are very dark and some of the pinks are quite light.   The skinny turquoise sashing will provide both breathing space and a pop of contrast.  

Linking up with Finished or Not Friday   

Sunday, January 16, 2022

The lime in the g & t: Kaffe webinar + TECHNIQUE

When Quiltfolk announced a webinar with Kaffe Fassett I signed up right away.  That was months ago.   Finally the weekend arrived.  The class was held for three hours Friday and three hours Saturday.

The event was called Kaffe Fassett’s Laboratory of Color: A Virtual Workshop With Jenni Smith.  The blurb:  "Host Jenni Smith will take attendees on a tour of the colorful, surprising, and rarely seen home and studio of world-renowned artist and textile designer Kaffe Fassett. Then, back at Jenni’s studio in Yorkshire, she’ll teach you how to make her unique Ribbon quilt, which was designed during her visit with Kaffe and celebrates a few of his favorite things —- the Tumbling block, stripes, and flowers."  

It was all in webinar format so attendees (600+) only "saw" one another through the comments.  It was nice to see Sue from Stashbusters, and Ginny who's a librarian, quilter, and P.E.O. friend.

The book cover
There were videos shot when Jenni visited Kaffe and Brandon (Mabley) in their London home.  (The book "Kaffe Fassett In the Studio" expands on that  home tour.) 

Jenni with Kaffe and Brandon in their yellow kitchen

 I couldn't write fast enough to capture all of Kaffe's comments but here are a few:

* About quilt backs -- "I like the party to keep going on the back of the quilt."
* About antique quilts -- "The excitement is the creativity and the panache." 
* When asked "How can you sell your work?" he responds, "Damn yes! I want my things out in the world."
*  On designing:  "Making that daring choice in the patchwork could be the thing that brings it to life."
                  -- "Take away what distracts. Keep what's juicy and exciting.  It's the lime in the G&T.
                  -- " It needs a structure. Not so tasteful that it falls asleep."

The class project is where the TECHNIQUE comes in.  (Technique is my word of the year for 2022.)  The ribbon quilt that Jenni Smith designed features tumbling blocks.  Her version used 60-degree diamonds and equilateral triangles. The patches were sewn in rows (=ribbons) so there were no inset seams.  I have had a 60-degree diamond ruler in a drawer for years and years. I used it for the first time this weekend.  

You can see the class sample in this photo from the class overview  

This is the project Jenni adapted. It's featured in the studio book.

My version is Kaffeine-free -- no Kaffe fabrics at all.  Instead I used an Australian print as the focus fabric and other prints from my stash as the supporting cast.  I had a FQ of a lively stylized floral that provided just enough for the appliques.

I'm quilting it now.  The back is another Aussie print (thinking back to Kaffe's comment to keep the party going).  

I have no idea what I will do with it once finished -- it doesn't go with anything -- but Kaffe would be quick to say not to worry about the destination. It will finds its purpose.

I'm so glad I splurged on this workshop!

Linking up with Oh Scrap!

Weekly update: red baskets, red spinners, and beautiful blues + reading


(Note: see the next post for the wonderful Quiltfolk workshop with Kaffe Fassett!)

I sewed and I sewed until I'd made 41 four-patch basket blocks.  I used up ALL of the red 30's print.   I had a 3" x WOF piece of red that I cut in half and sewed back together along the long edge. That gave me enough for three large triangles and the rest of the small triangles to get the count to 41 and achieve a symmetrical layout.

I put the blocks away for the time being as I attend to other projects.

I'm making spinner blocks for the Rainbow Scrap Challenge this year.  I'm going to try for 20 in the monthly color plus neutral (here, gray).  The blocks are 6.5" unfinished.

I am stuck on the border for the mini quilt. 

I've done nothing on Rhododendron Trail!

This fabric (32 yards by weight) arrived on Thursday.   It's a legacy from Celia, our beloved Magpie friend who passed away in 2020.  Her daughter is slowly cleaning out the house and has gotten to the stash.  Such a beautiful array of blues, none of which I have (or have had).

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Reading/listening to this book was like going through an old photo album and remembering past days. 

This is the 18th in the long-running Cork O'Connor series but it is the first in chronological order. (So is it #19 or #0?)  Set in the early 1960's, the summer Cork was 11, the story provides insight into how Cork becomes the man (sheriff, detective, husband, father) that we have come to know so well.

The conflicts are familiar --white people in town (wealthy mine owner, abused wife, various everyday locals) and the Ojibway on the reservation. (Compare that to the books set in the 90's and 2000's -- has very much changed?) The setting is familiar -- the house on Gooseberry Lane, the Pineview Broiler, Sam's Place, St. Agnes Church. The characters are old friends -- Cork of course.  His father Liam, former Chicago cop, now sheriff of Tamarack County. His half-Irish, half Ojibway mother.  His grandmother Dilcey, Ojibway schoolteacher. The house on Gooseberry Lane. Cork's mentors Sam Winter Moon and the mide (wise man/healer) Henry Meloux.

(Note: I listened to the audio version narrated by David Chandler. I know that if I ever meet Mr. Krueger in person I will expect him to sound like Chandler.)

Wow. Wow. Wow.  This is an important book.  Read it!

Elizabeth Packard was an exemplary wife and mother. She was also intelligent and articulate -- and because she disagreed with her preacher husband on the tenets of Presbyterianism he had her committed to the Illinois State Hospital for the Insane. That was 1860 when a husband had that kind of power over a wife.

Elizabeth lived at the Hospital for three years. Instead of settling down on the quiet ward with women like her (they did a lot of needlework and reading) she began to investigate conditions at the hospital. She was assigned to another ward with women who had pronounced mental illness. She kept investigating. She wrote down all her experiences (on scraps of paper, on the pages of a Bible) and concealed the pages (in her bonnet, behind the mirror in her room). She wrote of patient abuse by hospital staff (the installation of bathtubs seemed like a good thing but only led to waterboarding). Her nemesis was Dr. Andrew McFarland, the hospital administrator. Politics kept him in power with little regard for medicine and none at all for patients' rights. Her friends and allies persisted on her behalf and in 1863 she went on trial -- and the jury declared she was SANE.

Elizabeth spent the next 30 years as a tireless advocate for the right of women's self-determination, for mothers to have custody of their children, and for the conditions at insane asylums. This was decades before women had the right to vote. She had to convince male legislators to sponsor her bills -- and in state after state they did.

Strong. Courageous. Determined. Pioneering. Indomitable. All of these apply to Elizabeth Parsons Ward Packard. Her name should be on every list of notable women in American history.

Kudos to Kate Moore (author of Radium Girls) for bringing Elizabeth's story to a wide audience.

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Linking up with Rainbow Scrap Challenge   Oh Scrap!   Monday Making  Design Wall Monday

Next post:   the lime in the g & t!

Sunday, January 9, 2022

Weekly update: not quite ready for Broadway, the mystery, unexpected baskets, and reading

"Lovebirds" (c) Phyllis Cullen 
In the past our winter guild meetings often had to be cancelled at the last minute due to severe weather (snow or cold).  We meet at night and members live as far as 25 miles away.    Adding to that the uncertainty of pandemic restrictions, the board decided that the January and February meetings will be by Zoom.  This week though the skies were clear it was quite cold.  Our speaker was art quilter Phyllis Cullen coming to us from tropical Hawaii!  She told us how she creates portrait quilts.  

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My attempts at art quilting are far more modest.  My Modern Mini is underway. I chose an applique design by Piece o' Cake. Their technique and hence their instructions are for hand applique, not fusible, so their patterns are right-side up.  To reverse them I took a piece of pattern tracing stuff, traced the design, then flipped it over. (The lines are visible on the reverse.)  I used that tracing to trace the shapes onto fusible web. Then I tried out fabrics, fused the shapes, and cut them out.  Now I'm auditioning placement on the original pattern.   When I'm pleased with all of that I will have a rehearsal (to continue the theater analogy) on the crumb-pieced background.  

Gotta work on the color balance some more . . . specifically, the middle flower on the left. (That's a fussy cut. Yellow, maybe?) 

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While all that is taking up space on my cutting table, I finished the 20 blocks of Step 7 of Rhododendron Trail.  It's not at all what I expected.   (It's a traditional block called Clown's Choice. Last week's block is  Christmas Star.  Both Barbara Brackman and Maggie Malone list them under those names.)

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The 30's bin stubbornly refused to go back on the shelf after I finished the shoofly flimsy.  Look what happened!   

I used up all the 2.5" HSTs in the box and made some more.  (Bonnie H's Essential Triangle Tool is put to good use.)  I have four blocks yet to assemble and about 1/4 yd of the red fabric left.  

I'm grateful to Cathy for introducing me to Four Patch Baskets.  

Here's a pre-assembled block so you can see the "four patch" -- upper left, four HSTs; upper right, 2 HSTs + rectangle; lower left, 2 HSTs + rectangle; lower right, big HST. 

I used this block in another colorway for our guild BOM this. fall.  (That reminds me that several of you wanted to see all the basket BOMs we're doing. I'll present them in another post soon.)

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The detecting odd couple returns with another intriguing story. A divorce attorney is murdered when someone bashes him repeatedly with a wine bottle. (Clue: it's a very, very expensive bottle of wine.) The perpetrator could be any one of at least six people. Former police detective Hawthorne is called to find who did it. He pulls Anthony Horowitz off the set of Foyle's War (which the real-life Horowitz wrote) and together they find clues, disprove clues, and uncover that a long-ago caving accident was only somewhat accidental. Horowitz thinks he's got it (several times) but Hawthorne is (as usual) three steps ahead of him.

"You know how death is. Your body goes, but your ideas don't. Your impact lingers on, even when it's poisonous. Some bodies get put into the ground and daisies bloom. Others encourage the sprouting of weeds, weeds that work to strangle whatever's living and growing around them." (p. 38 after the death of Cotton Mather

I would not have read this book had I not been invited to participate in discussion about it with other community leaders and students at our local high school. (The discussion is this coming Thursday.) It was very interesting -- "not a history book," the authors kept saying -- but I remember the old saw, "the reason history repeats itself is that not enough people pay attention the first time." Now's the time to pay attention!

Linking up with  Monday Making    Oh Scrap!  Design Wall Monday

Wednesday, January 5, 2022

Midweek: Shoo-fly border


I got two blocks down the street on my errands yesterday and saw this red-tailed hawk having a squirrel for lunch. When I got out of the car to try to snap an even closer photo he lifted off, his meal firmly gripped in his talons.  

(BTW, that's the hood of my car in the photo. I picked it up from the body shop where it's been for three weeks. (We've been using Stevens' car in the meantime.)  Someone sideswiped the car when it was parked (photo here). Repair entailed replacing the rear side panel and the rear bumper. No clue who did it, but that vehicle would have sustained considerable damage, too.)


My dwindling 30's stash included a box of 2.5" (unf) HSTs.  I used most of them for the shoofly border.  The inner/outer borders used up nearly all of the 30's blue/blue print (Aunt Grace 20th Anniversary, per the selvage).  

The flimsy uses 6-1/8 yards by weight. 

Linking up with Midweek Makers.

P.S. I snapped this photo just before sunset last evening.  It's so cold and windy today that we're staying inside. 

Sunday, January 2, 2022

Weekly update: a good start to the year


I made a few extra units of each step of the mystery just in case.  I didn't count the  HSTs, which became HSTs with wing triangles, which became corner units -- all sets of 4.  

It turned out that I made *16* extra sets.  I went ahead and made them into blocks (setting aside three sets of four -- one per Bonnie's instructions and the others just in case!). 

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My One Monthly Goal for January is to complete the Modern Quilt Guild mini swap.  I showed photos of the initial fabric pull last week.  

Well, all those batiks have gone back into their bins. A design by Jen Kingwell gave me another idea.   Here's the background.  It's a big crumb/slab block about 26" square.  The swap size is 24" square and this allows for trimming.  I'm still deciding exactly what I'll applique.

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Way back in 2014 I set out to bust my stash of 1930's repro fabric.  I've made several quilts (there are 12 posts with 30's Bin Bust labels) but This Is The Year to use 'em or ship 'em out.   

I made these shoofly blocks (6") this week. 

I'm  working out the border.  

Here's what's left.  A bin with chunks (less than FQs) and three small boxes with HSTs and squares.  

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This week's reading:

Last week I reviewed A Line to Kill, the third Hawthorne/Horowitz mystery.  The Word Is Murder is the first.  It's a very Christie-like plot:  a woman goes to a funeral home to pre-plan her funeral and hours later she's found dead.  A decade earlier she was the driver of the car that hit twin brothers that killed one and permanently disabled the other.  The judge ruled it an accident and she went free.  Did the boys' parents' resentment lead to her murder? If not, who did it, and why?  The suspects are interconnected and the end is a surprise.   I really liked this one!

(I listened to the audio edition narrated by Joan Allen.)

This political thriller is full of veiled but au courant references. The former POTUS left a pile of diplomatic turmoil that the new POTUS and his Secretary of State (the protagonist) must deal with, not the least of which is a nuclear bomb threat. Who is the High Level Informant and will they get to him in time? Three Pines and Inspector Gamache make only a cameo appearance (though the SOS quotes Ruth Zardo!). The Clinton/Penny collaboration is a nice gimmick but it doesn't add much dimension to a rather predictable Good Americans vs. Bad Iraqis/Iranians story.

Once I figured out that the setting is an alternate Old West I could adjust my mindset and enjoy the story. It's 1894. Ada lives in a small town somewhere west of here and east of there. She married young, as girls in the town do, but when she doesn't get pregnant right away, nor in the next year, she's considered a dangerous threat. Maybe even a witch (since her mother is a midwife/healer and knows about medicine). Ada escapes to a convent, but not for long. She's sent to an outpost high in the hills called the Hole in the Wall where The Kid is the ringleader of a very improbable (and thus completely believable, as far as this story goes) gang of bank robbers. Early reviewers said this is mashup of The Crucible and True Grit. I'd add The Handmaid's Tale. The ending is unexpected but completely right for this great fantasy.

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