Friday, June 15, 2018

Improv and Other Things

What can I say about Anne Sullivan's "Design As You Go" workshop? Well, for me it was great!

You can tell by Anne's presentation style that she's a college professor.
Anne Sullivan - PlayCrafts
Anne's workshop was not a techniques workshop, rather, we learned about different design elements, and how they can be used to make an improv design. I'm like most quilters who probably think that design is all about color, but in fact, shapes, lines, negative space, repetition, balance, asymmetry, and other elements can each play a role.

During the workshop, Anne showed me a picture of this quilt called "35 Sisters." Apparently this represents Pittsburgh's three iconic bridges known as "The Three Sisters." Anyway, it was made as a 2018 QuiltCon Charity Quilt by a group Pittsburg Modern Quilt Guild members. They each made improv blocks cut to the same unfinished dimensions, and then pieced them together. Even though individual blocks are different than one another, as a composition, they work well together.

Just seeing this design technique has given me what I need to make a start on turning grandson Austin's watercolor artwork into an improv quilt. All the fabrics are ruler-free rotary cut and pieced curves. Each block is 5-1/2" X 6-1/2".

Over the past few days I've set aside two quilt tops that need quilting to continue making improv blocks, working toward making this a 60" X 70" quilt. It needs to be completely finished by July 9, the date of our next Central Florida MQG meeting when members are supposed to share their "Inspiration Challenge Quilts."

Improv is a messy business! No one ever talks about that!

So-o... all that said about what I need to do... You also know how good it feels to finish something, right? Well, on Wednesday I had the urge to whip up something, so I did. I made a name badge for myself. It's not because I need one, but because I'd seen these mini hexagon name badges on Instagram. This idea comes from Lorena Uriarte (Lorena_in_Syd) in Sydney, Australia who is selling a Hexie Name Badge Kit for $15 (shipped to the US).

Happily, I know how to print English paper-piecing papers on card stock; trace and color the letters of my name onto fabric; and fussy cut a few prints, so that's what I did. I had to get Florida colors, icons, and palms in there!

Lorena's hexagons are 1/2". I went with 3/8" hexagons, so my finished EPP name tag is 2" high by 4" wide.

I backed it with stiff, fabric-covered fusible interfacing and glue. Now to find just ONE adhesive magnetic strip for wearing it! The office supply store wants me to buy a pack of 25!

As much as I'd like to post a tutorial to share with you about how to make a hexie name badge, I didn't think that would be fair to Lorena whose idea it is, and who is in business selling kits. I didn't like it when an Instagrammer - SpoolsandSpice - took a picture of my Florida quilt on display at the AQS show in Daytona Beach, and then copied my design to make for herself. What made me upset is that she posted this picture of her quilt to her Instagram feed without credit to me - and I'm selling patterns. So, I won't be the person who does that to someone else.

Blogger comments still aren't being emailed to me, nor anyone else who has a blogspot blog. Gosh, it's been 22 days and counting. I'm researching WordPress now! Linda

Sunday, June 10, 2018

Comfort Quilt Top, and More Cookies

On Monday morning all of us participating in the ComfortQuiltQAL will have arrived at week 8 when we're supposed to be completing our quilt top. I'm happy to be a few days ahead of schedule. The quilt top measures 73-1/2" X 96-1/2" - twin-size, according to our QAL leader, Amy Ellis (AmysCreativeSide).
Comfort Quilt top, 73-1/2" X 96-1/2"
To finish piecing the top, I needed four white/low volume strips 73-1/2" wide. I was concerned that I wouldn't have enough fabric but I did! I managed to use all prints (no solids), and only one row needed to be pieced using six different low volume prints.

What I've learned about being on a fabric diet is that as my stash reduces, so do the sizes of pieces I have to work with... they keep getting smaller and smaller.

Quilting this Spin Art quilt has stalled. I thought I had a good walking foot idea - walking around the point of a hexagon as one would continue around a spiral, but it didn't work. Seriously, I quilted and took it back out at least six times! In the photo, you can see how the fabric's been abused.

Now the whole thing is "resting" while I wait for a different inspiration to strike. Or a quilter to make a suggestion (hint). 👌

At our Central Florida MQG Sew-In on Saturday, I pieced small solid scraps "Ring Me" quilt blocks. I started this last October in Amanda Jean's (CrazyMomQuilts) workshop - definitely a long-term, no hurry project. I pieced on my small sewing machine too. Though the machine is a little noisy, and it doesn't have a light, it weighs only five pounds, so it's easy to carry in a shoulder tote. I find I use it more than I thought I would.

This past week has found me busily making arrangements for a special guest to Central Florida Modern Quilt Guild. I'm program chair for our chapter this year, and began last November to bring Anne Sullivan (PlayCrafts) to us. She arrives tomorrow morning, and I'll be showing her around The Villages, taking her to Amazing Grace Lutheran Church for an afternoon workshop, taking her to dinner with our executive committee at Mallory Country Club, and returning her to the church for her evening presentation and trunk show. If you're local and are interested in hearing what Anne has to say about modern quilting, you're welcome! Go to our CentralFloridaMQG blog for details.
I had to share these Orange Yogurt Cookies that I made to take to the workshop tomorrow. Yep, after about 20 years of making only Strawberry Yogurt Cookies, I finally got around to trying a different flavor.

Two cartons of orange-flavored Greek yogurt, Watkins orange extract, and red and yellow food coloring, and they're a hit. My hubs thinks they're even better than the strawberry ones - more moist and more intense flavor. Maybe the Greek-style yogurt is the reason for the moistness, and the intensity comes from the Watkins brand extract which is better quality in my opinion. I hope some of you have had a chance to try the recipe I shared here.

In case you don't know, Blogger still isn't fixed! Comments made here won't be emailed to me, but from the post, I'll copy what you say and reply in an email. Blogger's latest June 7 forum announcement says comments will be fixed "within the next week." I don't believe it. I haven't taken time to check further into WordPress, but I may have to do that later this week. Linda

Saturday, June 2, 2018

Doing, and Blogging Hesitantly

Since posting to this blog eight days ago, I've been keeping busy in the sewing room. Though I have some things to share, I have been reluctant to write a blog post due to the problem Blogger/blogspot.com has been having. The issue began May 23.

Blogspot blog authors, worldwide, have not been receiving comments. Though readers comment on blog posts, the blog post author is not receiving notification of comments.

For me that means the only way I know if my post has received a comment is to actually go to the blog post to check. I can certainly do that, but if you've commented and I don't know you, I won't have your email address to reply to you.

Blogger is owned by Google, so I've been following the Google Forum discussions about this. Google acknowledged a problem on May 30 (a week after people began complaining), and said the problem would be fixed "soon," as far as I can tell, nothing has changed.

This has prompted some bloggers, including me, to consider switching from Blogspot to WordPress. It's a change that needs to be understood though, before taking a leap. I have more than nine years of blog posts and photos that I don't want to lose.

In the meantime, hoping that a Blogspot fix is in sight, here's some of what I've been up to.

#ComfortQuiltQAL
For the past six weeks I've been keeping up with making the large and small blocks for AmysCreativeSide quilt along. These are the 20 large and 25 small blocks for week 6.  During the hours of machine time spent piecing those 3-1/2" X 3-1/2" small blocks, I was glad to finally introduce orange-colored pluses to the aqua and green pluses.

Amy suggested we have a little play with all the blocks we'd made so far and this is what mine look like on my design wall. In the blank rows, during week 8, I'll be adding strips of low volume fabrics.

I've been working ahead, and made all the blocks - 20 large and 30 small - for week 7 which begins this coming Monday. All the blocks I made, including those hidden in the piles, are orange.  

Binding
Two quilts have binding sewn to them and are ready for hand sewing! Yay! These are: a quilt I'm pattern-testing for a friend; and "Roulette." I enjoy adding binding, perhaps because it signifies a near-finish. Happily, I have lots of Wonder Clips!

Curated Quilts Mini Challenge
Every issue of Curated Quilts magazine (a friend calls it a "journal" since it has no advertising) is designed with a theme that's also a challenge. For issue 5 the challenge is improv, using "connections," as the theme. 

As with every Curated Quilts Mini Challenge, the quilt can use some or all of the colors, and must be 10" to 16" square. I'm learning that's this challenge is a good exercise of my design skills. (My triangle quilt was accepted into issue 4 that comes out in July.)

This is the improv I started a few days ago... as I beat my head against the wall and wondered what in the world I was doing! Improvisational piecing is not my gift. It's so un-fun for me that I decided I'd rather do laundry. Or clean toilets! Or. Or. I was looking for excuses to not work on it because I didn't know what I wanted to do. 

Yet, I persisted, cutting apart sections - using only my rotary cutter (no ruler) - piecing fabric insertions, cutting again, and repeating. Every action meant trying to figure out where "connection" fit into the piece. This is what I ended up with.  

It didn't take much backing (navy-colored pearl bracelets) or batting (an old hunk of Warm 'n Natural), nor many safety pins, to put the sandwich together.

And quilting was almost a snap - lots of walking foot quilting on the Bernina, and a little free motion quilting through the middle. Then big stitch hand-quilting to accent the "Splices." Yep, that's what I named it. The deadline for submissions is June 15, so I'm happy to submit it to the website a little early. I've never been much of a last-minute person. Only 25 mini quilts are accepted for publication, so it remains to be seen whether this will appear in the magazine or not. Here are the submissions thus far.
Splices, 14-1/2" X 14-1/2"
How do I feel about improv now that this is done? Well, it's still very much a challenge for me. And I can't say I enjoy the process - it's really work - but I am more than pleased with how this one turned out. I will do improv again, and continue to hope that with practice, this design style eventually becomes a little easier.

I'm ending this post with a picture of our sweet old boy. Hogan is now 14 years and 8 months old, and doesn't show too many signs of slowing down. Though his walks are sometimes more like meanders, and he occasionally gets up stiffly from the floor, he can still jump up on his window bench in my sewing room, and he still likes to go and do and even play with toys in the evening. Like his human counterparts, in his head he thinks he's still young. Linda

Friday, May 25, 2018

Quilts With New Homes

Without a doubt, all quilters like to see their quilts in the hands of people who appreciate and love them. That's what happened for me recently, and the pictures mean so much!

Last year my cousin wanted to buy several of my quilts. Of course, I was happy to part with them, but also felt quite guilty about accepting money for them. But, as they were being given as gifts to my own relatives, I agreed to accept the material costs - you know, the cost of fabric, batting, thread.

First, at Christmastime my first cousin, Ginny, received her quilt from her sister, Barbara... who is also my cousin, of course!

Ginny's quilt is Triangle Tango (62" X 74") made in 2015.

Then, for their high school graduations, Angelina and Lauren received their quilts. These sisters are Ginny's grandchildren. So that makes Angelina and Lauren my first cousins twice removed.

Both of their quilts are my own design. Angelina's is Wibble Wobble (60" X 71) made in 2011.

Lauren's is Bay Area Modern (47" X 58"), a modern block of the month completed in 2016.

Angelina, Lauren, and their brothers Daniel, John, and James all graduated from high school this past Sunday. They're quintuplets, born in January 2000. 

Living so far away, I don't know these kids very well, but I do know they've been raised by a busy, devoted, loving mom; and super-special grandparents. An interesting article about them was in the Sidney Daily News, an Ohio newspaper.

I'm sure happy to know where my quilts have gone. Thank you Cousin Barbara! Linda

Monday, May 21, 2018

Cookie-Worthy News!

I'm beside myself with joy... relief... disbelief. This morning, at my oncology visit, I heard the news I hoped for. Actually, I didn't really believe would happen.

This is the result of the Breast Cancer Index, conducted in April on the tissue removed during my lumpectomy in March, 2013.

The left side of the report indicates the chance I have of breast cancer recurrence - 2.8%.
The right side indicates what benefit there might be in remaining on Arimidex - low.

Oh my goodness! All morning I have been alternating between squeals of joy, and happy tears. 

I didn't even have to take Arimidex this morning - yay, yay, yay! I was told that as the drug leaves my system over the next ten days, I'll have fewer and fewer hot flashes. More yays! 

This news could NOT have been any better. 

I was told about a woman who, just last week, received the news that her type of breast cancer has a high risk of returning, and that the benefit of remaining on the breast cancer drug is low. How would that news make you feel? I can't imagine. 

So I am clinging to the relief I'm feeling about this positive outcome, singing worship songs of praise, and praying sincere thanks to God. I am blessed!

As thanks for everyone's care, interest, and happiness for me, I've been baking!

I wish you could smell and taste these Strawberry Yogurt Cookies - moist, cake-like, and lightly crispy on the bottom. 

This is what more than 13 dozen of them look like - a double batch. 

If you see me this week, be sure to have some. I'll be taking them to friends and neighbors. And no, I'm not eating any... that diet, you know. And now I have even more motivation to stick with it. I won't be fighting the side effect of Arimidex!

In case you aren't familiar with Strawberry Yogurt Cookies (I cannot find a recipe for them on the Internet), I'm sharing the recipe. They're a family favorite and I'm often asked for the recipe.

Strawberry Yogurt Cookies
2 eggs
1-1/2 cup sugar
1 cup shortening (Crisco)
1 cup strawberry yogurt (almost 2 cartons)
1 tsp. strawberry extract
3-1/2 cups flour
2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt

In a large bowl, cream shortening and sugar until light and fluffy. Add eggs; beat well. Add yogurt and flavoring; mix well. Stir in flour, baking powder, soda and salt; blend well. Drop by rounded teaspoonfuls 2 inches apart on greased cookie sheets. Sprinkle with sugar. Bake at 350-degree for 10-12 minutes or until lightly browned around the edges. Makes about 72 cookies.

I've made these cookies dozens of times, and always say I'm gonna try some other yogurt flavor... and I never do. The strawberry flavor is yummy enough, though they don't look strawberry-ish. Sometimes I add red food coloring, but didn't have any on hand.

The recipe is on my Google drive. Access it here for easy printing. 

Enjoy these cookies! Be happy with me as you eat them! Thank you so much! God is good! Linda

Saturday, May 19, 2018

Confessions of a Quilter

In January, when I decided to not purchase any fabric in 2018, I was so optimistic! I was sure I could do it, though I gave myself a way out, stating that if a fabric was truly needed or required for a particular quilt, I would allow myself to make a purchase.

That's just what I've done.

In April and May, this is everything I bought. You'll note that there are two 10-yard bolts of fabric (white and aluminum); three 108"-wide backings (totaling 10 yards), and 5 yards of Kona aqua. Every piece is needed. Justifiable.

I wasn't able to complete my Spin Art quilt top without solid white, so that bolt of white Painter's Palette has been cut into. After hand-appliquéing the center circle to the background, I machine stitched those 35 "paint splatters" to the background.

All four 108"-wide backings are spoken for, with one of them already used to sandwich Spin Art which measures about 68" X 68".

Other backings will be used for large quilts too, including my Bernina Zen Chic Triangle QAL quilt. The 5 yards of Kona Aqua will be used to complete the quilt top.

While I would have preferred to purchase a Painter's Palette solid to finish the Bernina Zen Chic Triangle quilt top, PP didn't have a background color that looked quite right.

Here's one of the reasons I don't care for Kaufman Kona... it bleeds when washed. Every time. I learned this lesson about Kona several years ago, and now always use a Color Catcher in the wash.

The aluminum gray is so I can finish the wedges quilt, "Roulette" which only needs binding.

So, have I done an okay job of restraining myself from unnecessary fabric purchases? All this yardage will allow me to complete several quilts, and keep making more. Good. Right?

I confess these new additions to my stash. Now don't blame me! I recently won an Instagram fabric giveaway of these 12 fat quarters from the new Paintbrush Studios collection called "On Your Mark." Such "me" colors and prints!

I keep making blocks for the Comfort Quilt QAL, ad nauseam. Cute as they are when finished, they're tedious.

Other than time spent in my sewing room, days pass as they always do: line dancing (now on a two week hiatus); uke-playing; Sunday worship; walking Hogan; staying in touch with family... We did watch a little of the royal wedding of Harry and Meghan - the media coverage and over-the-top interest in the event eludes me, though it's entertaining to watch others going crazy about it - and felt the heartbreak of yet another school shooting in Santa Fe, Texas.

Oh, and I'm dieting. (sigh) The battle is real, and I blame all of it on my breast cancer drug, Arimidex. But Monday is when I learn what the future holds. That's when I will visit my oncologist to get the results of the "breast cancer index." The test, done in March, examined tissue that was removed during my lumpectomy in March, 2013. (Who knew that all that stuff is stored?!) I'll learn what the odds are for a return of breast cancer, and whether I will benefit from remaining on Arimidex as a preventative. I've already been on Arimidex five years and two-and-a-half months, so of course I'm hoping I'll be told I can go off it. It would be so wonderful to not have 7-8 hot flashes every day, and a continual battle with weight gain. But on the other hand, I know I'll be able to tolerate remaining on it if it means keeping cancer away. God is good. Linda

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