Friday, May 31, 2013

The Queen Bee Says

June is my month to be Queen Bee in our Mid-Century Modern Bee. I have to say that I struggled to find just the right block to ask my 12 bee mates to make for me. Thus far in our hive, five of them have had us sewing wonderful, bright, modern blocks that I love! Each of them is going to have a beautiful finished quilt.

For my turn, my frugal German heritage has been fighting for control, demanding that I be prudent and reduce the number of projects on my UFO list! So, instead of asking for a dozen new blocks that I could make into yet another new quilt, I'm asking them to help me finish a UFO.

The UFO I selected is from the Blogger's BOM Quilt Along that ran from September 2011 to September 2012. I blogged about these finished blocks (two made each month) and there they've been waiting ever since.

I'm setting each 8" block into a square or an on-point diamond that's made from Kona White or Kona Ash. "Strawberry Fizz and Lime Pop," the name I've given this quilt, should tell you a lot about the other colors. I'm asking my bee mates to sew blocks with the same two solids and color prints too.

Here's the block they'll make. Unfinished, it measures 9-1/2" wide by 12-1/2" long.

I found the original design here, called Stacked Bricks, but I've modified it for my needs since I want a rectangle-shaped block with Kona White on one side of a print, and Kona Ash on the other.

After cutting a bunch of 1-1/2"-wide strips of the two solids, and 12 different lime and strawberry-colored prints, I sat down at my sewing machine to sew various lengths together. I used the handy tape measurer on my Gidget II sewing table, to cut all the sewn strips between 10-1/2" and 11" long.

I pressed open the seam allowances and then arranged the prints, making sure solid white was on one side and solid ash was on the other.

After sewing them together (by the way, in between sewing strips together, I pieced leaders and enders and put together three 16-patch blocks!) I pressed seam allowances all one direction.

Allowing at least 1/2" of a solid on each end of a print, I trimmed it from this... this - 9-1/2".

Here's a picture of the Stacked Bricks block as a border alongside a Blogger's BOM block I've sewn onto a setting of Kona White. I'm not yet sure if I'll place the border blocks with the gray to the outside...  

...or the white to the outside. Some of the setting blocks will have Kona Ash backgrounds too.

In any case, I'm just as pleased as can be that my Mid-Century Modern Bee-ers are helping me toward a finish! Thank you! Linda

Thursday, May 30, 2013

What's New Around Here

June 23 is our one year anniversary of living in The Villages. So we could submit any repairs within the one-year warranty period of our new home, we recently had a professional home inspection. Then, six different service professionals came to: replace a couple screws, recaulk along a countertop, regrout a few floor tiles, fill in some cracks, touch-up paint those cracks (inside and out), and replace a roof shingle that had blown off. We're as good as new again! Though I'm still adding the occasional home accessory - quilt on a wall or table, silk plant, or such - we're as settled as can be... except for personalizing our landscaping. We still don't have a palm tree, and that's something I hope to rectify in the next few months. This week I attended a palm tree lecture put on by the county extension service, and I learned that there's a whole lot to know about choosing the right palm species for a residential property, and growing, fertilizing and pruning them!

Anyway, we recently had a kitchen upgrade. Being the cook, it was my hubby who wanted this improvement.

While we love the size of this double-door pantry, it wasn't always easy to find what we were looking for in the dark depths.

The Tupperware/saver cabinet was always stacked to toppling, and two other cabinets with pots and pans, and kitchen utensils, were also somewhat disfunctional. Roll-out drawers were on the bottom, but those half-shelves were worthless.

So, one morning we unloaded everything...

... and had roll-out drawers professionally installed. Putting things back into cabinets afterward was hubby's responsibility, and he enjoyed it. The whole third drawer is his arsenal of spices and seasonings.

It now looks like this, and we even gained an additional shelf/drawer!

Every cabinet looks so much better, and it's much easier to put our hands on things.

All around us, the neighborhoods are filling in. Our Village is "old news" as newer ones - Gilchrist and Pinellas - are becoming the hot spots for new houses. One hundred two thousand people live here now, and more are moving in every day.

A sales agent - one of 218 sales agents - recently told me that in April, The Villages set an new, all-time sales month with 525 houses sold (200+ of them pre-owned homes), and that May was setting up to break the April record! A neighbor who works in the closing office related that 42 percent of houses sold are paid in full, in cash! 

In the next year, this open field will fill quickly with new houses. Another service professional told us that only 20,000 lots remain (The Villages lands will then be "full") and that the names of 34,000 people are on a waiting list for a house. Demand is making housing prices climb!

New regional and neighborhood recreation centers are going up too. Under construction now is the Eisenhower Regional (that means, "really big!") Rec Center, in the picture below, with yet another place to swim. If you were so inclined, you could visit a different rec center swimming pool in The Villages every day for 68 days!

On the far south side of The Villages is Brownwood, the third and newest town center where live music and dancing are available (free to the public) every night from 5-9 on the square - Paddock Square. Around the square, retail businesses and restaurants are beginning to open as streets of new stores are being built.

It's pretty exciting to live in an area where there's such growth! Across the road from Brownwood, huge excavators are moving earth in preparation for more retail stores (Maybe a Costco? And a DSW?)  including a new Publix grocery.

We know that we're still livin' the dream - in paradise. Just last night, it was shown to us when we went outdoors and saw this, right over our house (brown-roofed). The hint of a second rainbow can almost be seen too.

God has blessed us. Linda

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Life Well-Lived

So much has been going on that I can't believe a week has past since my last post.

I spent a day taking care of Austin. We went to the hair salon, I took a hesitant breath, and then asked for a "really short hair cut that could be spiked." Doesn't he look like a little linebacker? Thankfully, his parents liked the haircut!

Our neighborhood held a golf cart rally/treasure hunt that we participated in with two other couples. Points were given for guessing clues and then taking a group photo with each of our answers. We guessed the answer to "There are 50,000 of these in The Villages" as "golf balls." We were wrong. It's golf holes! 

My blog-friend Lora and I gave a "What is Modern Quilting?" presentation to Country Road Quilters of Ocala (Florida). After our 50-slide Powerpoint presentation, we had a small show and tell of our own modern quilts. Here, Lora showed three versions of the same quilt, emphasizing her progress in "sewing modern."
Lora and her first of three quilts
I'm not sure what I'm saying here, but you sure can see me. Yellow isn't a color I often wear but I am embracing it as Florida-appropriate. My earrings matched too - yellow stones in the middle of sewing machine bobbins! Appropriate, don't you think?
Quilt-holders with one of my quilts - Circle of Geese
The quilt I had been frantically machine-quilting, hoping to finish for the presentation, didn't get done, though I showed it anyway. It still isn't done, but it will be by June 11 for the next "What is Modern Quilting?" presentation Lora and I will give to Bradenton Chapter of Quilting Guild of The Villages. If you're in the area, do come! It's free.

So what did I do instead of finishing that other quilt? I started a new one... of course! Please tell me you too sometimes have those "to heck with everything else" feelings and plunge into something new. 

What I created is my adaptation of Weeks Ringle and Bill Kerr's "Making Waves". The extent of the piecing was sewing strips together - including parchment and orange "Painter's Canvas" by Laura Gunn, and one orange piece from her "Edges" collection - then cutting and sewing a single wave across the top. I spent more time quilting than piecing. Once again, my set of nesting acrylic rings came in handy for marking (with a purple Frixion pen) half-inch apart quilting circles.

I must rave about using 505 Spray and Fix basting spray. This is only the second time I've used it, both times on wall quilts. But oh my! It it does make FMQing much easier! No need to stop quilting to remove safety pins. Though instructions on the can say to spray it onto cotton batting, I used it successfully on Quilter's Dream Request Poly. And I even spray-basted in my sewing room, without any overspray.

As much as I love this quilting design, I'm not happy with the slubs that formed at the start/stop of each ring. That's because I quilted with YLI polyester thread which tends to fray when clipped. This is one of those times when I would have been smarter to take the time to bury thread tails in the batting. 
quilt back
Neither is the YLI evergreen-colored thread forgiving when it comes to bobbles and start/stops.

Still, I like my creation. I've named it "Citrus Wave". It's 36-1/2" X 45" and does hang straighter than this picture shows.

I'm very pleased with the colorful statement it makes, right inside our front door.

Now let me share with you how I can sometimes be good for a chuckle!

When we went to Kansas City in April to visit our daughter and family, I didn't have much one-on-one time with Celina because she was in school or doing homework. But on a Saturday we went to JoAnn Fabrics together to shop for Celina's school (eighth grade) assignment - to make something from a pattern. At my suggestion, we bought a pattern for elastic waistband lounge pants and aqua flannel fabric. Celina has since made the pants and received an "A" for her effort and construction. The teacher told her, "It's a good thing I don't grade on fit!"

You see. Celina's ditzy Nana (me) selected a pattern she thought was multi-sized. Indeed, it was multi-sized - L through XXL! Size 2 Celina can share her lounge pants with friends, or her little brother!


Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Lotsa Free Motion Quilting

Feeling great these days, I'm spending as much time as possible in my sewing room. I have such a list of to-dos, several of them with deadlines, that I hardly know which thing to work on next!

This hasn't yet been mailed, but the Mid-Century Modern Bee block I made for Susan at PatchworknPlay, will be winging it's way to Australia this week.

You probably recognize that it's Anna Marie Horner's feather block. Susan asked for aqua and orange on this solid background. I opted to separate the colors, and if you look closely midway through the aqua side, you can see the "by Susan & Linda" that I cobbled together from selvages and inserted as a strip. Susan is getting some gorgeous feathers! 

A couple fabric parcels recently arrived, and this bundle of almost entirely Lizzy House Pearl Bracelets is thanks to a March birthday gift certificate from my thoughtful friend, Deb. Thank you very much, my dear. I will think of you when I sew with them.

Then, a coupon code sale at gave me the chance to buy up more of "Painter's Canvas" fabric by Laura Gunn. I just love the texture in this almost-solid, and I'm happy to say I now have it in eight colors. I have plans for using some of them very soon.

In some rush sewing, I've finished up this donation quilt that's been given to Project Linus. I'm ashamed to say how long it's been since I've made a quilt for the express purpose of giving it away, so this is long overdue. 

You might recognize the quilt as being the one I used to write the "How to Sew a Web" tutorial
36" X 48"
It was a easy quilt on which to FMQ, and play with an Aurifil blue variegated thread.

From the Project Linus website, I downloaded the logo (Linus with his blanket, and Snoopy) to create a label. Making a label for a donation quilt is just as important as making a label for every quilt I make. You too?

On another, modern quilt, I'm FMQing... and almost wish I hadn't started this sort of density! Now the whole quilt has to be quilted this way. And the quilt is 55" X 70"! It's likely I won't have it finished by Thursday, as I'd hoped.

"Why Thursday?" you might ask. Well, that evening is when Lora of DragonflyQuiltworks, and I co-present a "What is Modern Quilting?" program to Country Road Quilters in Ocala. We've been planning and preparing for weeks - a 50-slide Powerpoint presentation about the growth of modern quilting, the history of The Modern Quilt Guild, characteristics of modern quilting - with lots of pictures of quilts - all followed-up by showing about 15 of our own modern quilts. We're both excited to be sharing modern quilting to an audience of mostly traditional quilters.

We'll be giving the same presentation on June 11 to quilters and guests at the Bradenton Chapter of Quilting Guild of The Villages, and then again to Tree City Quilters in Gainesville in November!

It's great being "on the road," with such an enjoyable subject to share. I hope you're having fun wherever your quilting road is taking you! Linda

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Playing, Piecing and Quilting

Sometimes it's simply amazing to me that I can be retired, living a leisurely lifestyle in Florida, and yet be so busy! With breast cancer a thing of the past, and feeling more than 100 percent my old self, I've gotten into activities again. Perhaps too much so!

Last weekend our son, DIL and grandson visited. Little Man Austin turned three years old on Monday, so pretty much all of Saturday and Sunday was spent celebrating his birthday. 

Sunday afternoon, after we all worshipped together, he climbed on a stool to help me in the kitchen as we prepared a salad for our lunch. He seemed fascinated with peeling carrots, and I made sure he helped me as much as possible, realizing that when he helped, he was much more amenable to actually eating some of that salad, a rare occurrence given his tempermental eating habits.

Not being a cake-eater, or much for eating sweets in general, some of Nana's from-scratch brownies sufficed for a "cake" with three birthday candles. 

We're very grateful we could spend his birthday with him. Not surprisingly, of the several gifts we gave him, including Duplo blocks and a Captain Hook pirate ship, stickers were just about the most fun.

Quilting-wise, the past several days have been a hub-bub of activity. We had a good turn-out for our Central Florida MQG meeting, with more quilters than ever showing interest in our chapter... translating to paid membership. Karen and I who are the only two people leading our chapter at this point, are encouraged by expressions of interest, and offers of much-needed help.

During the meeting we shared our latest Bay Area Modern BOM blocks. Here are my own Snail's Trail... 
12-1/2" unfinished
... and Spring Mod blocks
12-1/2" unfinished
Perhaps it's a little sad to admit, but most of my best friends are in the blogging community. I don't know what a psychologist might say about that, but in the past four years I have met and become friends with some of the nicest, friendliest people in the blogosphere. One of those lovely persons is Karen who blogs at NanaGirlQuilts. Though Karen lives in Florida, as I do, we have yet to meet. We're both hoping a face-to-face meeting will happen in the not-too-distant future.

Reading Karen's blog a few weeks ago, I learned about an LED light that attaches to your sewing machine to make free-motion quilting - and all machine sewing, for that matter - easier to see. It's an Ecolux Light. At Karen's recommendation, I sucked it up and ordered the light for my Pfaff Grand Quilter, the machine on which I do my free-motion quilting. Now $80 poorer, I'm relieve to report that I'm happy to have made this investment. 

Here's a picture of my Pfaff with only the light that's built into the machine.

Here's what it looked like after installing the Ecolux Light. Big difference!

Unfortunately, I haven't touched FMQ (free motion quilting) since receiving my breast cancer diagnosis on March 4, so you can imagine that it's felt good, and different, to be back at machine quilting. I'm just finishing quilting on this 36" X 48" quilt to donate to Project Linus. 

This is the how it looks quilting without the Ecolux Light turned on.

And here it is with the Ecolux Light turned on. I don't at all regret making this purchase.

I've also been doing some online fabric shopping - and pretty soon I need to get to some sewing of said fabrics! - finally getting to spend my birthday gift certificates. Team Di who live in my favorite city in the entire world - Sydney, Australia (I am blessed to have visited Sydney four times) are responsible for these fabrics that are now in my quilting stash. Clockwise from the top: Zen Chic Commas/Asterisks, Lotta Jansdotter Glimma, Lizzy House Pearl Bracelets, Alice Kennedy Matilda Chevron, Lucie Summers Summersville Spring. I love them all and will happily play with them to create my next modern quilt. Thank you Di's!

If you happen to live near Salt Lake City, you have the opportunity to visit the Home Machine Quilter's Showcase going on these next few days - May 9-11. I've entered three quilts in this show. If you're able to attend, you'll see:

And my most recent creation, made for the Madrona Road Challenge, "Belts and Buckles," blogged about here.

No "good lucks" are needed. I'm simply honored to be sharing my quilts with others. Linda


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