Friday, February 17, 2017

Jam-packed Week

The entire week has seen Di and me going from activity to event to activity.

On Monday we headed out early on the golf cart ride to visit the Sharon Rose Wiechens Reserve, where we went to look for alligators - and saw only one that made a few ripples in the water.

Then Di visited my improver/intermediate line dance class, followed by an ultra beginner class for her. We stopped at Starbucks before going to the Central Florida MQG meeting that evening (read about it here) where Di gave a program to 34 modern quilters called: "Meanderings of a (Moderately) Modern Quilter." She shared a little of her traditional to modern quiltmaking journey, and talked about the similarities and differences between quilting in Australia and the US. Her program was wonderful! 

As a thank-you, Central Florida MQG President Karen (also a former Iowan), presented Di with a Pixie Basket filled with 50-weight Aurifil threads.

On Tuesday Di gave the same program to Big Cypress Quilters, a chapter that is part of Quilting Guild of The Villages. Again, she did a great job, and everyone was impressed with the quilts she showed in her presentation.

Following her program, she gave a demo to make a Cathedral Window Pin Cushion. I was her stunt sewist, following her instructions and sewing on my Bernina to demonstrate the steps to make pin cushions like these.

Here Di is attempting to turn the pin cushion (the last step) through the too-small opening I left for turning the pin cushion right side out. I'm glad she managed to smile through that effort! 

When needing to push out the corners of the pin cushion, a quilter let her use a Precision Turning Tool. It's all metal and has a small ball on the tip that doesn't poke a hole through fabric. It worked so nicely that Di and I have already been to local Sharky's Vac 'n Sew to buy one for ourselves ($14.99). 

We spent all of Wednesday at Epcot. Though I was there last June with family, it's quite different visiting without grandchildren. 

I saw this a lot... Di taking pictures and more pictures.

I think we rode/saw seven different attractions, and though we had Fast Passes for three of them, only "Soarin'" (my favorite ride, though I had to look away a couple times because of my fear of heights) had a line that made the pass worthwhile. Otherwise, we walked into most attractions with only a 10-15 minute wait. It was a good plan to go to Epcot before March 1, and the start of spring breaks.  

It rained a little in the afternoon, which chased out many visitors, but we contentedly stayed into the evening. I don't remember ever seeing the space ball at night, with colored lights. Very pretty.

Thursday morning after I line danced, we drove about an hour east to Homosassa Springs State Park. It was my third visit to this Florida wildlife park, and was the best visit yet! Wild manatees were in the channel to the springs where they keep warm when the ocean waters are cold. We saw lots of them, including this mama and baby.

This manatee was the cutest one there!

We also enjoyed watching the flamingos that were doing some pattern "dancing" and squawking. As a group of about 20, they would repetitively run the length of a stream, potter around by waving their wings and weaving their beaks through their back feathers, squawking, and then running back the opposite direction to do it all over again.

The color of these American flamingos is definitely not Robert Kaufman Kona Pink Flamingo fabric, the 2017 color of the year, but they sure are pretty! While their bodies are pink toward the bottom, their upper bodies and necks gradate from coral to nearly orange on their heads. Quite striking among the other white, brown, and bluish waterfowl (white and brown pelicans, ibis, blue herons, and more) in the park.

No pictures were taken Friday, but we went to Bible study, and then to a luncheon for ladies on our street. Di and I are next preparing to drive north. Savannah, Georgia and QuiltCon are our ultimate destination. But before that, our first day of driving will get us to the Biltmore Estate in Asheville, North Carolina. I've heard such wonderful, positive things about it.

Di too is blogging about our activities, so if you want to see it all from her perspective here is where she blogged about The Villages. Here is where she blogged about some of our good eats!

Di gave me these lovely gifts when she first arrived - two hand-covered, padded hangers, one of the pin cushions she taught how to make, and a clock set to Australia time ๐Ÿ˜Š that will most assuredly be hung in my sewing room.  She's so thoughtful. 

And we're having such a good time together! A great friendship. More adventures, including QuiltCon, coming up soon! Linda

Sunday, February 12, 2017

Di's Arrival

Friday evening at the Orlando airport, at about 8:30 pm, I was thrilled to once again see my friend Di (DarlingDi on Instagram) of SnippetsnScraps. (Her latest blog post was written while she was high over the Pacific Ocean, on a Quantas flight to the US!)

Yes, Di is a taller than me, by three inches.

The last time I saw Di in person was when I was in Sydney in April 2010. Happily, we haven't forgotten one another and have Skyped and FaceTimed a number of times since then. We've often talked about Di coming to visit me, whether in Iowa or Florida.

Now that "the day" has finally arrived, we're making the most of her month-long visit, with an extensive itinerary of activities. Due to the fact that this is her first visit to America, every store, restaurant, facility, event, and activity is fair game for memory-making. Suffice it to say that we've already been on the go!

Amazingly, Di seems to have rebounded to the time change due to an herbal tablet called No-Jet-Lag which she took periodically - per instructions - throughout her 30-plus hour trip. She slept soundly Friday night, and was up and ready to go - all day - Saturday! We went to the Farmer's Market by golf cart, bought a coffee, produce, looked around the lovely sales office and then going up close to see the bronze statues of cattle, a cowboy on his horse, and dog at the entrance to Brownwood.

Later we stopped in to say hello to seven Central Florida MQG members at the Saturday Sew-In, and moved on to JoAnn Fabrics; Bed, Bath and Beyond; and dinner at the local Oakwood BBQ. Perhaps not exciting things in themselves, but seen from a foreigner's point of view, very fun and interesting. No surprise that Di has commented several times on the size of the stores.

We have so many things on this coming week's agenda, that I will have lots of photos to share. How I'm enjoying all this, seeing it through her eyes!

I can now share what gifts I made to welcome Di here. Using my all-time favorite wristlet pattern - The Essential Wristlet by DogUnderMyDesk - I made a pink wristlet (her favorite color). She's already been using it, so I think that means she likes it! I followed the Fobio pattern by Lazy Girl to make a matching key fob.

We're heading to a square tonight for some live music, and maybe dancing. Linda

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Quick(er) Finishes

If you know me at all, you know that I like to mix-up the sewing I do. While quilting is still number one on my list of ways to create, occasionally I like to make other items. The gratification from a quick(er) finish - as compared to the process for making a quilt - goes a long way toward making me feel like I'm accomplishing something.

Over the weekend I managed a few finishes. First done was the Dainty Tote started a week ago. It turned out pretty cute. Get free instructions to make your own, here.


A wristlet will always be my favorite way to carry the few small things I need, but I think I'll use this now and again. If it has a zipper top, it's a good-un.

See my ukulele? It's now hanging on the on the wall in my sewing room, on a "String Swing," where I can easily grab it whenever I have a few moments. Practice, practice, practice. I'm lovin' it!

Second done was this knit top. Pink flamingo fabric came from The Cloth Pocket, when I visited that Austin shop in December. When Liesel and Co. had a 40 percent off sale on patterns I nabbed this Maritime Top. The fit is perfect!

My third finish is what I spent most of the weekend making. A ukulele case.

Not surprisingly I located an online tutorial. It's here. Since I have a concert-sized ukulele (versus the soprano size in the tutorial) the tutorial was more of a guide for me.

Freezer paper came in handy for drawing an outline of my uke, to which I added ease and seam allowances.

I had the inspiration to give the case extra padding by adding Annie's Soft and Stable. And then ran out before cutting out all the pieces! Neighbor-friend Becky came to my rescue with a package of Bosal I-R-Form.

So, the layers are: home dec fabric; Pellon 987 fusible fleece; Soft and Stable or In-R-Form; and the cotton print which is from JoAnn Fabrics.

I wanted to give structure to the case, so I spiral-quilted both pieces of the case body. Airfoil 50-weight is still my go-to quilting thread.

The case came together by trial and error - by sewing, unsewing, and resewing. After adding the sides (no easy task with that piping!), I tried it on for size and found I'd made it a too deep. I trimmed it down. Have to mention that I was tickled to purchase a heavy duty double-tabbed, 36"-long zipper from the Etsy shop, ZipIt. I highly recommend the shop for its economical prices, and accurate prompt service (from Wisconsin). It's where I buy all my zippers.

What didn't go well was the lining. I pieced it from orange-colored Grunge, and then hand-sewed it to the inside. It's slightly too big, so it's wrinkly. In hindsight, I should have fused it to the inside of the exterior, perhaps with basting spray. Since the inside doesn't show, I'm trying not to think about how it is... because if I do, I may yet unsew it and remake it!

Dan is predicting that when I show up with this at Ukulele Club, I'll be asked about making them. I'm ready! "Sure, for about $200 $300." Ha!

Time is whizzing by, and before I know it, Di will be here. Her flight from Dallas (via Sydney to Dallas) arrives Friday evening! Both of us are trying to get our heads around the fact that her long-planned trip (like more than five years!) to visit me is really happening. I've written an itinerary with our activities in Florida, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Georgia, documenting travel dates/times; attractions and activities; addresses; hours of operation; phone numbers; costs; and reservations and confirmations for the 28 days we'll spend together. The list of possible add-on activities is long too!

For sure, we'll be at QuiltCon (February 23-26). It's exciting to think of being in Savannah with friends from the Central Florida MQG chapter (about 20 of our members are going!), and thousands of other modern-loving quilters. Di's taking four classes, I'm taking two, and we both have all-lecture passes (18 lectures, in total). Then, we'll no sooner return home than we'll be off to Daytona Beach for the AQS show that's March 1-4.

Di will also be at Central Florida MQG, and Big Cypress Quilters, (a chapter of Quilting Guild of The Villages). She's giving a talk to both groups - "Meanderings of a (Mostly) Modern Quilter" - and leading pin cushion-making workshop for Big Cypress. Aren't these adorable?!

So much quilt-y good times ahead! I hope to help Di make some really good memories. Linda

Friday, February 3, 2017

Quilt Show

The Quilting Guild of The Villages "Showcase of Quilts" was last Friday and Saturday. How does a week fly by so quickly?! It was a busy, fun, and hard-working three days, what with helping Lora to finish setting up her DragonflyQuiltworks booth in the vendor area, cutting fabric - LOTS of fabric - and showing some of her new products - Kona Pink Flamingo, and these quilting mitts made by a woman in Brazil - and then tearing down her booth late Saturday afternoon. Now that was some physical labor.

Lora sells fabric on the bolts as well as bundles. She leans toward 108"-wide backings, and as those are always priced more affordably than 40" to 42" wide fabrics that also have to be pieced, it's a great shop from which to stock up on wide backs. Which is what I did. ๐Ÿ™€
Lora and me
I wish I had pictures of all the "old friends" who surprised me while I was working in the booth! Lola Z., an Iowa quilter with whom I was once in a small group; and Gayle, a Virginian I knew from quilt market in Kansas City and hadn't seen for 15 years - she had no idea I lived in The Villages! And then these new friends who are friends with my Instagram friend Dena (LivingWaterQuilter). How fun that I would meet Dena's friends before meeting her! Wish you'd been here, Dena.

As for the show... I earned two ribbons (only two quilts entered per member). Prism won third. I'm so tickled about how well this photographed! I've never looked at Prism in a way that so dramatically shows up the quilting.

This is the blue ribbon winner in the same category. It was long arm quilted. 

And my Florida quilt also placed third. 


This is the blue ribbon winner in the same category. It too was long arm quilted.

You might rightly guess that I'm championing for a domestic machine quilting category at the 2019 Showcase. And a modern category would be nice too.

After numerous comments about my Florida quilt, and inquiries about a pattern for it, I am doing just that... writing a pattern. Since I have lots of experience at it, it's proving to be not too much work to pull together. Only my lack of design software is somewhat inhibiting. I plan to sell the pattern as a download only; not a paper pattern. I'm just not up for printing, packaging, shipping, distributing and such.

So what with pattern writing, ukulele practicing, a Central Florida MQG executive committee meeting, and prepping for Di's arrival from Australia next Friday! (OMGosh!) I've started and not finished a Dainty Tote, a free pattern from Three Owls Handmade. I'm making it just because.

This week I also received a yarn order from WoolWarehouse in the UK. Attic 24 is offering crochet-along (CAL) to make a "Moorland Blanket." The designer's yarn colors are gorgeous, but not terribly suited to Florida. So neighbor-quilter-friend Becky and I collaborated to pick yarns to make our own version. I haven't crocheted a blanket in many years. It felt good to remember how to hook single, double, and triple crochets to check gauge.

The yarn is Stylecraft DK Special, and feels luscious! Now I'll be crocheting a little bit too.
The world is so full of a number of things, I'm sure we should all be as happy as kings!
- Robert Louis Stevenson
Linda

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