Friday, August 14, 2020

Assorted Makings

Making has been a little slower since I have fewer projects to work on. I'm caught up and working only on a few old UFOs! Can you believe it? This "no need to push myself" feeling leaves me feeling a little guilty, yet finding things to fill my days. Just not so frantically.

Rather than watch TV, Dan and I have been playing Backgammon, Gin Rummy, and Rummikub more frequently in the evenings. We seems to be fairly matched as we manage to mostly take turns winning. I'm not a good loser, but really do try to keep a smile on my face. 

After admiring a picture of fresh tomatoes on my Iowa friend Kim's Instagram feed, and commenting how much I missed Iowa tomatoes, guess what arrived in the mail! Kim sent a box of tomatoes and a jar of the pepper jelly that she has turned into a business - Your Mom's Canning.  

Kim plants and grows all the peppers in her own backyard (West Des Moines, Iowa) for making into jelly.   The jar she sent is her Italian Herb Jelly - my favorite. Just spread cream cheese on a Triscuit and top with the jelly. Mwah! I don't like spicy-hot, but her Jalepeno Jelly is also a favorite. We first bought a sampler pack to try, and now always keep it in the house.

Several of those tomatoes have ripened now, and this is what we'll be enjoying after the flavors meld. Salsa... can't wait!

Anyway, as a thank-you for Kim's thoughtful package, I decided to make something for her. Though we haven't seen each other for more than eight years, (we both worshipped at Lutheran Church of Hope and made quilts together), I remember her once telling me she "doesn't do zippers." So how perfect was it to make a Sew Together bag for her? 

Remembering that she likes sunflowers, I chose this Kate Spain "Grand Canal" print as the focus fabric.

The green fabric is linen, and I'm pleased with my choice of 28-weight yellow Aurifil for quilting.

Pockets are grunge, two Moongate prints, and Grand Canal, with a creamy white Lori Bee print inside.

In the past, I've had problems understanding the Sew Together bag pattern, but with the third making of it, it's a little easier.  I hope Kim likes the surprise she'll find in her Friday mail.

Peg loom weaving is still high on my "new toy" list of things to keep me busy, so I've begun making kitchen table chair pads. Following the theme of our table setting (Fiestaware that I love!), each chair pad will be a different color. 

Quilters have been somewhat appalled to learn I'm cutting up stash to weave chair pads, but I've been happy about pulling out fabrics of each color to discover that many pieces are almost-gone, as well as being older, duller prints. They're easy to cut into! 

To get 65 yards of fabric for weaving a 15" X 15" chair pad, I need 2.43 yards of fabric. Using up this way makes me very happy!

I cut them into 1½"strips. Then I randomly choose strips, overlap the ends, and chain-piece them together with a 1.9 stitch length. I feed the l-o-n-g strip through a Clover #18 bias tape maker and press, and press again to fold into a ⅜"-wide strip. 

This is the set-up for my peg loom. Double strands of wool blend yarn - Lion Brand, Wool Ease, Thick and Quick, from JoAnn Fabrics - for the warp gives a little more "cushiness," and strands are attached to rug thread with a lark's head knot. 

I wound the 65 yards of fabric into a ball that's five inches in diameter. I left it that way for a couple days before starting to weave.

The first chair pad I made is green. Had to work out a few issues - unweave and re-weave - before I could call it done, so the orange chair pad is coming along more smoothly. 

I'll make a yellow pad and an aqua pad before deciding if I need to make two more for the fifth and sixth chairs that often remain unused. 

Continuing to crochet my Moorland afghan, I have only five more color changes left to do. Then, thread tails to bury, and one last lap around the perimeter. Yay!

Since my last post, I've attended four Zoom get-togethers. On Saturday there are three Zoom events I could attend! How is it that everything gets bunched together?! I considered my options: 
  1. All day sew day with Big Cypress Quilters
  2. 1 pm South Florida MQG "Aurifilosopy" lecture by Sheri Cifaldi-Morel @wholecirclestudio
  3. 1 pm "Twice Cut Drunkard's Path" workshop with Jenny Hayes @pappersaxsten
I chose option #3 because I've always liked her quiltmaking style. This workshop is one I've wanted to take since "forever." Who wouldn't want to learn how to make this? This is her Hole Punch Ribbon. 

Jenny lives in the UK and is offering her workshop to us in the Eastern time zone from 1 to 4 pm Saturday and again on Sunday. I can't wait!

My audiobook recommendation this week is The Glass Ocean by three authors: Beatriz Williams, Lauren Willig, and Karen White.

The main character is Sarah Blake who achieves success after writing the book Small Potatoes. Income from the book sales goes a long way toward paying for her mother's care, but Sarah needs more money and inspiration for another book. After opening a trunk that she was told to never open, she finds her great-grandfather's watch that leads her to the UK to meet a man who, if he's willing, can lead her to answers. That course of discovery depends on learning what happened in May 1915 aboard the cross-Atlantic voyage of the Lusitania, and the subsequent May 7 German torpedo attack on that vessel. This historical romance is one of my favorite kinds of reads where I am educated and enlightened while being entertained.

Linda's score: 4.4/5.0 

Yesterday, Dan and I carted to a rec center to cast our early votes in the local primary. On the way, we saw this fella, who was right across from the polling place. No alligator deterred us from voting! 

Wednesday, August 5, 2020

Working on WIPs and Weaving

If nothing else, this interminable pandemic has forced me to consider what-all I have in my she-cave. 

Initially, the enforced time at home felt like a party - a chance to catch-up on projects on a list as long as my arm. Not that I'm a "list" person, 'cause I'm not. But I definitely had time to focus on the most pressing to-dos. As of a few weeks ago, I've felt "done." I can't remember the last time I felt so caught up on my makes.

In the past week I've been considering the long-languishing projects - a few UFOs I stopped counting, and a couple enduring WIPs that I've been in no hurry to finish. Most of them are hand projects, meant as something to do during car trips. Well, that's obviously not happening!

With the continued intention of slowing down quiltmaking, I've resurrected a couple oldies that will be finished in a month or two. 

Finishing the Unfinished

First up is my Moorland crocheted afghan. In February, 2017, a neighbor and I ordered Stylecraft Special DK yarn from the UK to make the Moorland Blanket according to instructions by @attic24 in the UK. I've been working on it only during winter months. 

Thus far it's 44" wide and 49" long, and needs only 20 more color rows and a border. Love those pops of orange!

Second is my "Starfish" quilt. Thank goodness I've been blogging for many years because I was able to search and find my first blog post about it - on February, 21, 2011! Yep, this is a nine year-old UFO. In the way of fabrics, it's not exactly what I would choose today, but because it's bright colors, I think it's redeemable. 

This is a hand-piecing project that accompanied me in March 2011 to Indian Rocks Beach, Florida, where we vacationed when we lived in Iowa. I'm not sure I've touched it since. 

When choosing a hand-piecing project, not only do I look for a design I like, but I intentionally choose one with curved piecing and matching points, as that sort of detailed piecing isn't always successfully achieved on a sewing machine. 

I recall buying this Spinning Star acrylic template from a vendor at an AQS show in Des Moines. Though I initially thought to join the stars with white spacers, for whatever reason I chose Kona Charcoal - possibly because, at the time it was a trendy modern color. 

Along with the partially-pieced top, I found 33 more star blocks already pieced. 

I've begun piecing it again using Auriful 50-weight charcoal-colored thread and a size #8 straw needle. 

When I first taught myself hand-piecing, I made a running stitch from seam to seam. But I later learned that piecing is more secure if a backstitch is made every 3-5 stitches.

So, load the needle, pull it through, and then step back a stitch to load the needle with the next 3-5 stitches.

Already I'm seeing progress. Hand-piecing seems to be going quickly. I have to believe that if I was trying to join these curves on a machine, I'd probably be stitching at the same pace. 

It's possible that I'll run out of star blocks and/or charcoal Kona before the top is a usable size. Since I really want to use only stashed fabrics, I'm already puzzling through how I might change-out the gray in-between color, perhaps to Painter's Palette Aluminum (a lighter shade of gray) around the outside. 

Peg Loom Weaving
Using 4/4 cotton rug thread, a few days ago I loaded the warp for my peg loom, and made another small rug. It's smaller because I used all the assorted-width fabric strips I had!

Anything leftover strips from cut-away backing, or binding -  between 1" to 2-1/4" wide - was put in this rug. I joined strips, end to end, with short sewing machine stitches and then wove them directly onto the pegs. 

This 22" X 27" rug looks a little more "rugged" than the first one that was made with selvedge edges, but I'm satisfied. Each time I use the loom, I feel better about how to achieve consistent tension. 

Next I plan to make chair pads for the chairs at our kitchen table. After swapping messages with messaging an Instagrammer-weaver in Scotland, I've learned which warp yarn to choose for a softer seat. 😁 I plan to cut fabric strips from my stash, join them at the sewing machine, and then feed the length through a bias tape maker before weaving on the loom. Will see how that goes! 

Finger Pot Holders
We've tried out the crocheted hot pad (see last blog post), and though it's a little thick, it's a winner. It will probably soften after washing.

Now I've made finger pot holders from fabric and Insul-brite. The verdict is that they are okay, but Dan felt the warmth of the 400-plus degree heat of the pizza pan through the layers. No burn, but warmth.

Additional online reading about using Insul-brite suggests using a layer of batting with the Insul-brite, to protect from heat that's greater than 400 degrees. I'll do that next time.

Book Recommendation
The Better Liar by Tanen Jones is about estranged sisters. When Leslie travels from Albuquerque to LasVegas to track down her sister Robin, and finds her dead, she frantically tries to figure out what to do. Leslie will only receive half of their father's inheritance if both sisters, together, visit the lawyer's office to sign papers. When Leslie meets Mary, a waitress in a dead-end relationship who's been saving money to go to L.A. to become an actress, a plan takes shape that appears to solve their problems. 

This is one of those I-didn't-see-it-coming books with an underlying message revealed at the end. It was worth a bit of extra listening to hear the author's intention behind the book. Good stuff!

Linda's score: 4.3/5.0

The truth will (hopefully) make you smile.

Thursday, July 30, 2020

Labels, Hotpad, Bag, Pillow; No Quilts

Quilt-making has come to a halt, but that doesn't mean my hands have been idle.

It was past time to make labels for eight of the ten quilts I've made thus far in 2020. 

I design labels on my computer. Being on a MacBook means I design in Pages. The PC version would be Word. For me, creating a label isn't about making something pretty, but to provide information. I tend to add details, imagining that sometime in the distant future, someone will come across one of my quilts and be curious about it. 

My labels usually include:
  • quilt name
  • quilt dimensions
  • "my original design" or pattern name
  • piecing technique - example: English paper piecing; foundation paper piecing
  • domestic machine quilting info - walking foot; ruler quilting; free motion quilting
  • sewing machine brand and model number
  • who it's been made for
  • my full name including my maiden name
  • my blog/Instagram name
  • month/year started and/or month year finished
  • city/state I live in
  • special characters like a palm 🌴 and a Christian cross
  • optional: a photo pertinent to the quilt

When several labels are laid out, leaving about ¾" between labels, print on paper first, for proofreading. Inevitably, I find an error or two, so it's worth taking the time for a review before printing on fabric.

In the past, I've use Printed Treasures brand of paper-backed fabric for labels. However, after purchasing Printed Treasures that did not work as directed - the paper backing is impossible to peel off the back, and must be soaked in water and scraped to remove - I found another brand that's much better.

⇦ EQ Printables is also fabric, but backed with clear plastic for an inkjet printer. I purchased a 6-sheet package for $16.95. (I have no affiliation.) 

The negative about printing labels on a 8½" X 11" page is that, to make it economical, several labels should be printed at once. That means "saving up" labels to print four or five to a page. It's nearly impossible to lay leftover label fabric pieces in the printer tray, though I've been known to try by taping it onto a sheet of regular paper to send it through the printer. It doesn't always feed properly. So, play it safe and print multiple labels on one page,

After printing and cutting out each label, leaving ⅜” on each side, I piece narrow fabric strips to all four sides. It’s easier to hand-sew through fabric than the stiffer edges of the label fabric. 
Blank places are where personal information has been removed

The blue-edged label in front was printed on EQ Printables. The rest were printed on old Printed Treasures fabric (trying to use it up) that had to be soaked and scrubbed to remove paper. Also, the printer colors appear brighter and clearer on EQ Printables. 

Other makes...

Crocheted Hot Pad
My friend, Selina (the same friend who sold me her peg loom) posts her makes on her Selina Quilts blog. When I saw the crocheted hot pads she's been making, I asked for the pattern. This free Turn on Itself Hotpad is made with Sugar 'n Cream yarn, a size H hook, and a single crochet stitch. It took only an evening to make my 7¼" X 7¼" hot pad (without the hanging loop). Once it's been hubs-tested and approved for usability, I may/may not make more.
     L: starting side with 42 chain stitches   R: finish side with slip stitches

Peg Loom Bag
I made a bag for my peg loom! After seeing it, hubs commented that I obviously "don't have enough to do," but I thought I was being pretty creative. I used an already cut-up pair of old blue jean legs and pocket to fashion this bag. The pocket holds the loom's 24 pegs, and the package of floss threaders used to thread the pegs. My order of 4/4 cotton warp thread just arrived from The Woolery, so I'm all set to begin my next peg loom weaving project using fabric. 

The English paper pieced square in my previous blog post is now a 16" X 16" pillow.

I machine appliquéd the square onto a background square, sandwiched it with white Quilter's Dream Cotton Request batting and white muslin, and walking foot quilted with Mettler Transfil (invisible thread) with 50-weight Aurifil in the bobbin.

For the envelop back, I used Christina Cameli's Moongate fabric (purchased locally at Sew Together Quilting) and I was happy to discover the print had a diamond-shaped design that could be walking foot quilted to make a diamond grid! Without marking, it took no time at all to quilt! I used 50-weight silver-gray Aurifil. 

With an envelop backing a pillow form can be removed when the pillow needs to be washed.

It's easy to assemble a pillow with a binding. Just place the pillow parts wrong sides together, baste around the sides, add 2¼"-wide binding by machine, and finish with machine edge stitching. Love my Bernina edge stitch foot #10D for easily accomplishing that! Doesn't it look like cording?

I continue to have a love-affair with Dalgona. I find it's very filling, perhaps because it's on top of iced milk. This has to be good for me, right?

Book Recommendation

Another great read! American Dirt by Jeanine Cummins follows Lydia and her eight year-old son Luca, the only two people who survive a massacre of 16 family members. While fleeing Alcapulco, trying to second-guess how widespread may be the reach of the cartel tracking their escape, Lydia recalls meeting the charming Javier who is head of the cartel, and Lydia's journalist husband who writes about Javier.

The story is riveting - about middle class people escaping for their lives. How desperate la migra/immigrants leave Mexico on la bestia/trains to go el norte/North, and face the uncertainty of what they're running toward.

Narrator Yareli Arizmendi was excellent, speaking English, but also Spanish. In context, it wasn't difficult to understand. Linda's score: 4.5/5.0

My goodness. This is my 45th book finish in 2020! I read 43 books in all of 2019. That’s what a pandemic will do for your literary enlightenment! Linda

Saturday, July 25, 2020

Pandemic Stuff

After the busyness of making my Jiggle-Joggle-Jee quilt (previous post); taking step-by-step pictures; writing a blog tutorial and pattern; and scanning and uploading the pattern and FPP templates to Google Drive, the last few days have felt like a vacation! 

I've continued to sew - mug rugs and and several EPP Prudence blocks. Next up is to finish this too-old EPP into a pillow.

Oh! And I must make quilt labels! These eight quilts all need labels!

Though my intentions for 2020 have been to slow down quilt production, the pandemic has given me time to finished nearly all my WIPs. I still have just two, slow-going quilt WIPs. I'm relieved to feel caught up, and embrace the arrival of a new direction for me - to do more handwork, and make other non-quilt things. When an order of 4/4-weight cotton warp thread arrives, I'll begin another peg loom weaving project. By the way, I ended up buying the peg loom from my friend. 

Recently, Dan golf-carted to Barnes and Noble to come home with new games to learn. After months now of playing gin rummy, we're ready to try something different to change-up our evenings - Rummikub and Backgammon. Notice that he picked up the "large numbers edition" of Rummikub. Perhaps is's no surprise that's the only version our B&N sells!

As many of are doing in our area, we're still staying home, postponing haircuts, and going to the grocery only when necessary. Also, Farmer's Market is on the weekly schedule for buying fresh produce. A trip to the post office was necessary to mail Nana-made face masks to our granddaughter who will return in August to her last semester of college. 

And speaking of her.... Celina and I received the best news on Friday. The quilt she and I made together was accepted for publication in Curated Quilts! 

If you're not familiar with this journal, read more about it here. Curated Quilts is printed quarterly on high quality paper, without advertising. Subscribe here with the code PALMS and you'll receive a 10% discount.

Celina and my quilt, "The Road Between Us" will appear in the October 2020 issue, in the "Youth Challenge" gallery.
The Road Between Us, 10-1/2" X 10-1/2"

Celina improv-pieced the quilt top with me over FaceTime. Then she mailed me the little top and the leftover fabrics. I added the burgundy hand-appliquéd "road" and "roundabout," hand-quilted, and finished it with faced binding. 

It was such a treat to call Celina, put the whole family on speaker phone, and share the happy news that our quilt was accepted into the journal's quilt gallery. We all chuckled that Celina could add this recognition to her job search resumé. Her degree will be in finance.

Have you tried this trendy whipped coffee drink? It's called Dalgona. Lots of pictures/recipes have been showing up on Pinterest.

It's easy to make. Use an electric mixer to whip together equal portions - 1:1:1 - of hot water, instant coffee, and sugar. I used 2 tablespoons of each (decaf instant coffee for me), and spent two minutes with the mixer, whipping it into beautiful peaks. Put ice and milk in a glass, top it with the whipped mixture, and spoon it together for drinking. I like it!

The taste is unusual - somewhat like very strong coffee, but with a tang. Since I didn't use all of the whipped part for this drink, I stored the leftover in an airtight container in the fridge. The next morning I used it as coffee topping. I'll be making it again. 

Book Recommendations

Good Girls Lie by J.T. Ellison is about the Goode School in Virginia, a prestigious all-girls boarding school where the elite send their daughters before admissions to ivy-league universities. The story follows Ash, a newly-arrived student from the UK, and her introduction to the school, the dean, and some of the students. Ash is bright and capable, but her experiences aren't as positive as she wishes, beginning with the sudden death of a teacher. When a student dies, Ash understands that someone knows what she's been trying to hide. This fast-paced physiological thriller is on the order of The Lying Game by Ruth Ware. I couldn't put it down.

Linda's score: 4.3/5.0

Hidden Valley Road by Robert Kolker is the (unbelievably) true story of a family, raised in Colorado Springs, near the Air Force Academy, in the 1940s to '60s. Donald, who worked for the Academy and NORAD,  and Mimi Garvin had ten boys and two girls. Their household was turbulent, and when the girls came along, the abuse began. Six of the boys developed schizophrenia, an incurable illness that made them subjects for further study. Schizophrenia research has continued into the 2000s in the form of genome research. Though the story of this family's experiences with schizophrenia is difficult to read, an understanding of the illness - from Sigmund Freud to today- is completely fascinating. If you're familiar with CRISPR (this YouTube video explains CRISPR well), you'll appreciate the way this family has impacted genetic understanding.

Linda's score: 4.0/5.0



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