Friday, June 14, 2019

Presentation, and Quilting

On Monday I visited the 126-member Piecemakers Quilt Guild of Brandon, in Brandon, Florida near Tampa, about 90 minutes from me. I was invited to join seven of them for a restaurant dinner, followed by their meeting that began at 7 pm. Sixty-seven members were in attendance.

I had a good time sharing my Powerpoint presentation with tips and suggestions about domestic machine quilting, followed by a trunk show of ten quilts. Piecemakers quilters were an attentive group, and asked good questions afterward.

At home I've been practicing what I preach - domestic machine quilting. Quilting is all I've done this week as set myself to finish quilting this "Ring Me" quilt. I'm still calling it Ring Me for want of a better name, but it is an adaptation of Amanda Jean Nyberg's quilt in her book No Scrap Left Behind.

Mine has now been washed to remove any residual purple disappearing ink.

I was dismayed to see that a couple fabrics bled in spite of the fact that I pre-wash all my fabrics, and a color catcher was in the wash.

These may have been some bits of hand-dyed fabrics I bought many years ago. All I can do is shrug my shoulders. This quilt doesn't have a home to go to so it really doesn't matter.

I've been auditioning bindings and expect to finish that task in time for Show and Tell at Monday's Central Florida MQG meeting. The middle one might be selected.

Since finishing the quilting on Ring Me, I've moved on to quilting my selvage/selvedge quilt. I used my clear acrylic sheet and dry erase markers to try on different designs, and settled on this one. I'll use an arc ruler for ruler quilting.

I will machine quilt through the pinwheel and selvages with a 90 needle and 50-weight Aurifil thread, changing thread colors to match selvage units.

I finished listening to another book. The audiobook reader, Erin Bennett, was excellent! The Winemakers by Jan Moran follows a romantic plot to uncover family secrets a wine-making mother has kept from her daughter, Carina Rosetta. A present-day (1956) trip to Italy by Carina helps her begin unearthing truths that must be faced at Mille Étoile  her mother's Napa winery. The part of this book I most enjoyed was authentic winery, grape-growing, wine-blending, and wine-tasting descriptions. I wanted to believe that Mille Étoile was a real winery I could visit. Linda's Score: 3.8/5.

This week I walked Hogan near a neighborhood pond and saw this four to five foot-long alligator. Everyone says that every Florida body of water contains an alligator (or more), and it's true!

Friday, June 7, 2019

Status Check

I'm not much of a goal-setter. First, because it takes time to compile and write one's goals when I could be working on the to-do and getting more done! Second, I'm not good at accepting failure. If I say I'm gonna do something and don't do it, I don't need the weight of guilt to make me feel bad.

So, instead of committing myself to accomplish X, Y, and Z, I'm taking a status check of my projects. During the next week, I'll touch each of them. And on Monday I'll go to Brandon, Florida to give a "Domestic Machine Quilting" program to members of Piecemakers Quilt Guild of Brandon.

Free motion quilting needs my attention because I have three quilts to quilt. This one has been waiting the longest. It's my adaptation of Amanda Jean Nyberg's "Ring Me" quilt, a pattern in her book No Scrap Left Behind. Though I pieced blocks with solid scraps and white solid, just as she did, I changed the block arrangement, and set them on point.  

My go-to formula for choosing a quilting design is contrast. For a quilt design with angular piecing, I like to quilt curves, and visa versa. So, to contrast with all the points and angles, I chose circles. I'm quilting concentric circles around each centered one-inch square.

I'm using my 12" nested set of Quilter's Rule quarter-inch thick rulers to draw circles with a disappearing ink pen. Circles are one inch apart, ending with a 12" ring. This is gonna take quite a while, but it will be worth it. 

Saturday is Central Florida MQG's Sew-In, and I plan to go with handwork. It's so much more transportable than a sewing machine. These are the last of the English paper pieced blocks for my LindaNova (actually "TulaNova") quilt. Everything's numbered and labeled for adding to the medallion that's almost finished.

The medallion is about 55" across now. I'll appliqué it by hand to a backing fabric. But gosh, I don't know what fabric to choose for the background! White seems too obvious, and impractical. Maybe linen? If you'd like to weigh-in, I'd value your thoughts. Thanks!

My next pet bed, for donation, is nearly full of fabric and thread snippets. Making drunkard's path blocks for my temperature quilt creates lots of scraps. 

I'm following-through on my plan to turn my smaller, traditional quilts into pet beds. This bed uses two quilts made in the 1990s. Quilters, this is what happens when you've been quiltmaking for 43 years, it doesn't suit your decor, and no one wants it. 

I'm expressing a little sadness here.. I made a point of looking at Blogger's list of people who read my last blog post. Thus far, 75 of you read my June 5 blog post. Three people commented. As a blog-writer, it makes me question how I'm using (wasting?) my time - whether the topics and photographs are of interest to anyone. I'm assessing whether to continue blogging.

Today is National Donut Day, and I wish I was in Kansas City to help my grandsons celebrate! Krispy Kreme in Overland Park is the only donut shop I ever visit, so when I was there last week, I was enthused about getting to visit twice! I even had the chance to try their key lime donut which was off-the-charts good. Though give me a warm, freshly-glazed donut any day! Or three.

Krispy Kreme is giving a free donut to each person who stops in today. I'm feeling sorry for myself because our nearest Krispy Kreme is 42 miles away! Waah.

I'm linking-up with my friend Wendy's blog - WendysQuiltsnMore. Wendy lives in New Zealand and invites bloggers to share a post every Friday. She calls it a Peacock Party. Wanna strut your stuff too? Go here. Linda

Wednesday, June 5, 2019

While in Kansas City

I get to spend time with grandchildren only a couple times a year. For me to visit them, I most often have to fly. I detest flying! I'm not sure when or where my fears began - possibly when seeing and being near the edge of the Grand Canyon for the first time, as a teenager - but pre-trip anxiety is enough to spoil any happy anticipation of a visit.

During take-off, I always pray for the pilot and people in the air traffic control tower - that they've had a good rest, and are clear-headed. Whenever there's turbulence, my mental picture is of God holding the plane in the palm of his hand.

You see, my 2010 experience during a United Airlines take-off from Sydney, Australia haunts me. I blogged about it here.

Once I'm back on terra firma, I pray with thanks, and gratefully return to my more normal resilient self. Very early Monday morning, I flew home from Kansas City to Orlando, after spending eight days with family.

Celina is home from college having completed her sophomore year at Colorado State. In this picture she's ready to head to her summertime job at a technology company. She's also taking two on-line classes this summer. Such a lovely young lady she's grown into after joining our family at the age of eight.

For the two boys, school finished May 24. Tay will be in the fourth grade this fall. For dinner one evening, I mashed an avocado and seasoned it for Jill and I to add to our salads. The boys tasted a some of it and went nuts, asking if I'd make guacamole for them. So, after dinner Tay and I went to Hy-Vee to buy ingredients, and he proceeded to help me make a big batch, chopping and mashing four avocados.

On our day together - just the two of us - we visited Uncle Evan's store - Olathe Pet Shop. Evan's always great about letting kids hold a variety of critters - lizards, turtles, snakes. I just like to take pictures. 😁

Aesa will be in the third grade. He's really interested in plants, so after choosing perennials at Home Depot, he and I planted this small bed of lilies and lantana. He also helped his mom plant a few veggies - tomatoes, zucchini, pepper, cantaloupe (?!), and strawberries.

For our day together, Aesa and I visited Scheel's! The store has a variety of indoor things to do. Aesa is up front, (lime green shirt) on the Ferris wheel. He also bowled, and did some laser shooting in the gallery.

A visit to KC isn't complete unless I spend most of a day with Carla. We met through our blogs (She's about ten years ago. This time we met for coffee at Starbucks. Two-and-a-half hours later we lunched at Pot Belly followed by a visit to the relocated Prairie Point Quilt and Fabric Shop. I love spending time with Carla! Our quiltmaking interests are very similar, so we never run out of things to talk about. The last time we met-up was in February, at QuiltCon Nashville.

The quilt shop I really wanted to visit while I was in the area was The Fabric Chic, a modern quilt shop that opened about a year ago in Parkville, Missouri. Right now, the Missouri River is so high that parking access is rerouted, and threatening Fourth of July festivities at English Landing Park.

Jill took me here, and we found fabrics for a quilt Jill has requested - Moroccan Tiles by Anka's Treasures. She chose Kona Waterfall and Painter's Palette Gulfstream as her main colors. I'll be sharing more about that quilt in the days ahead.

The first thing I did upon returning home was prepare to share English paper piecing with members of Big Cypress Quilters, a 70-member chapter of Quilting Guild of The Villages. I was pleased to see 15 quilters in attendance who hadn't tried English paper piecing. They each had a small grandmother's flower garden kit with which to try hand stitching, and I invited them to take some of my 1" hexagon papers, and fabric hexies I'd cut using a borrowed AccuQuilt.

I shared information about needles (I gave away two sample packs of Jeana Kimball straw needles) threads, thread conditioner (I gave away two Thread Heaven) methods for basting, showed various clips for holding pieces while stitching (Wonder Clips, Sew Tites) and whip stitch and ladder stitch piecing stitches. I suggested they watch a YouTube video to see the "flat back" method of piecing, though I personally don't care for it.  

I also showed some of my EPP books. My favorite is English Paper Piecing by Florence Knapp @FlossieTeacakes. All this EPP talk has me re-enthused to finish my TulaNova quilt - a quilt I renamed LindaNova since I chose stash fabrics and don't generally like or use Tula fabrics. I think I'm due to post an update on that project! 

The only stitching I've done lately is this. While I was traveling, I thought I'd fill this 8" X 12" piece of linen with random stitches in a style called Wabi-Sabi stitching. I loftily thought I'd be able to completely fill a second piece of linen too. Ha! Great expectations!

I'll complete this, and once I have two stitched pieces, will turn them into a wristlet. I'm making as an this example of several types of hand-stitching that I'll share with Central Florida MQG on August 12. My program that evening is "Big Stitch Quilting." (See tab above: "Programs and Workshops") Everyone will get a little kit to stitch using a variety of sample threads. If you're a Central Florida MQG member, I hope you'll come!

I always travel with an audiobook for listening while hand-stitching. On this trip I finished "The Silent Patient" by Alex Michaelides. It's a well-written physiological thriller, in a style similar to my favorite 2018 read, "The Woman in the Window." This story is about a happily married couple, Gabriel and Alicia - she's an up-and-coming artist - her descent into silence following a traumatic experience, and a psychotherapist's determination to get her to talk. The spellbinding story had me guessing until the end.

Linda's score: 4.3/5


Friday, May 24, 2019

Cascade Top

It's been another week of to-dos, and check-offs ✔

My sewing room biggie was piecing Cascade, a pattern in Victoria Findlay-Wolfe's book Modern Quilt Magic. While I adore this design, and all the versions of it I've seen on Instagram (follow #cascadequilt), I thought it was one of the almost the most challenging quilts I've ever pieced. Each curved braid combined bias and curves, and then point-matching when columns of braids were joined to one another.

Here's the acrylic curve braid strip ruler I used to cut all 513 pieces, though in truth I cut out about 560, so I'd have extra to play with.

This is the arrangement of each column of curved braids. Piecing starts at the bottom, and follows a bias curve. Then, each column was supposed to be a straight edge. That didn't exactly work out.

I learned two things...

First, because all the curved braid seam allowances were pressed the same way, when those pieces were joined - in side-by-side columns - that seam was thick!

I found the presser foot pressure control (third picture down, on the right) on my Bernina 770QE, and lessened it. Here it's set on 5, but I later lowered it further, to 0. That helped the foot climb up and down each pile of seams.

Second, as instructed I matched points and pinned columns together.

That didn't always guarantee a match! This didn't make me happy. 

I unstitched and resewed 18 or so seams for a better match. Though usually the mis-match wasn't due a sewing error, but rather to excess fabric between points. Because I cut all the curved braid pieces using the same acrylic ruler, I have to believe that different brands of fabric behaved differently as I sewed. In a few cases, I actually resewed the braid curve seam, to take up excess fabric, and then resewed columns. Whew.

Hours later, and after cutting away extra fabric to straighten the top and bottom, I completed the quilt top. It measures a whopping 88-1/2" X 95-1/2", barely fitting my design wall. I love the way the colors "cascade" through the quilt. Ha! Such a clever, apropos name! It's taken quite a bit of Mary Ellen's Best Pressed to get this as smooth and flat as possible. Of course, as we all want... I'm hoping my quilter will "quilt out" any waves and wobbles. Ha, ha, ha. Guess that's me! 

This week, my first order of 12-weight Aurifil thread arrived. It's touted for big stitch quilting, which I plan to do on my selvage quilt (after machine quilting to stabilize the selvage areas). In the center of this picture you'll see a navy blue box. Do you recognize it? It's Thread Heaven! More than a year ago, that company went out of business. Hand quilters and embroiders have lamented that Thread Heaven is no more. Well, I found it at the online shop (scroll to the bottom), and the owner isn't charging an arm and a leg! Only $3.75. Of course, I bought several.

This picture represents my current to-dos. In the forefront are (from the bottom up): "Ring Me" solid scraps quilt, basted and ready for quilting; selvage quilt, basted and ready for quilting; "Cascade Quilt" ready for basting; and in the background, my 2019 temperature quilt that needs attention. My to-dos are pretty clear.

This week I completed edits on chapter 13 of my dad's autobiography. He's asked for a few pictures to include in his book, and this is one I am happy to provide. It's a framed, under-glass, pencil drawing of my grandparent's farm home outside of Covington, Ohio. The house is vacant now, and in such disrepair that this is how we'd all like to remember it. I drew this in 1968, when I was 15 years old, in ninth grade. I had a wonderful art teacher.

This week's audiobook didn't hold my interested, and it took determination to slog to a finish.

"Good Omens" by Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman, is being turned into a TV series. These fellas also wrote "American Gods" that was turned into a TV series I didn't care for. So why I thought I'd like this book, I'm not sure.

If you're a reader who likes a good fantasy, with schemes between good and evil - literally, the devil and his evil minions, and an angel - then you'll enjoy this. Add some 10 and 11 year old kids, the four horsemen of the apocalypse riding motorcycles, a witch and witch-hunters, and a few opinionated humans, you might get the idea that this is a phantasmagorical story! You'd be correct.

Linda's score: 2.8/5

Thinking of friends and family who have plans for a long Memorial Day weekend... Be safe. Have a good time! Linda


Friday, May 17, 2019


The week of our Central Florida MQG (CFMQG) meeting is always extra-busy for me as media coordinator, and this past week proved even more so as our members showed their challenge quilts - 25 of them, as well as show and tell! I've spent considerable time writing two blog posts and sharing pictures on Instagram. If you're interested, please go here to see our blog. Or, here to see Instagram.

In between photo-taking and writing, I've continued to edit my dad's autobiography. We're up to his 43 page-long chapter 13. At this point, it's 1971 to 1975, and we're living in Mason City, Iowa. It's when I met and married Dan.

In the sewing room, it's been this and that as "squirrels" run all over! ("Squirrels" is a reference to a moment with a dog, in the movie "Up.")

At Monday's CFMQG meeting, I showed my completed "It's All About Color" challenge quilt. It's 31" X 31", uses colors that are definitely "not me," and is my first comfortable play with improv. I also found I adore ombré (gradated) fabrics, and am on the hunt for more. (Quilt Market is in Kansas City today through Sunday, and I understand that Jennifer Sampou is introducing an ombré collection called "Sky.") I completed this quilt with lots of ruler quilting, filled-in with a little free motion.

I completed piecing my selvages quilt top that ended up at 59" X 72".

Thinking a selvage print backing would be too perfect for this quilt, I went on the hunt. The last time I'd seen it was at least five years ago. Though I found some in Etsy shops, there wasn't enough. I texted my California friend, Cindy (LiveaColorfulLife) who is one of several "Selvage Queens" I know. She told me the selvage print fabric was made by Pat Sloan. I went to Pat's website, followed her fabric links, and found nothing. In desperation I emailed Pat - reminding her I'd been on her radio program last December 😀 - and she responded almost immediately! Yes, she had four yards left and would sell me 3-1/2 yards! Yay! This arrived yesterday. I see quilt sandwich-making in my weekend plans!

While waiting, I pulled out my pre-arranged Cascade Quilt. All I need to do is sit at my Bernina and piece! At first it was a little tedious, but I've gotten into a rhythm, chain-piecing two columns at a time. Of course, the most challenging part is remembering from which pile to choose each piece. 

It's unusual piecing because each column starts at the bottom, and the braids have a slight, bias curve that needs to meet "just so" at the skinny end.

These first two columns were my learning curve. Best Pressed spray starch helped a lot!

Currently, I'm piecing columns E and F.

On August 12 I'm giving our CFMQG program, on Big Stitch quilting. In anticipation of a hands-on demo, I've started pulling sample threads (perle cottons and sashiko) and needles (crewel). Even though I've big stitch quilted several times, (see my O-O-Orange quilt that was at this year's QuiltCon) I'm also watching YouTube videos for extra tips. If you're interested, I highly recommend The Fat Quarter Shop's video with Jen Kingwell. You can watch it here.

My recent audiobook finish is "The Woman Who Smashed Codes," by Jason Fagone. It's not a genré I typically look for, but is undoubtedly fascinating. This factual book tells the story of Elisabeth Freedman, and her husband William, who were extraordinarily-skilled code-breakers, and instrumental in revealing plans and schemes during WWI, prohibition, and WWII. While the story isn't one that I could "get lost in," it was certainly eye-opening. Simply knowing that our government kept these activities under wraps for decades, turns the truth into a compelling book.

Linda's score: 5/5

Lately, there's been no grass growing under my feet! Is this how "retirement" is for everyone? Linda


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