Sunday, June 23, 2019

Seven Year Anniversary

Seven years ago today, on a Saturday, we finished the last leg of our long drive in a car and a U-Haul truck from West Des Moines, Iowa, to The Villages, Florida. We were welcomed by Tropical Storm Debby, who began her deluge within 90 minutes of unloading the truck into the garage. She didn't subside for three days!

The Villages itself has changed so much since we arrived and made this home, along with 90,000 other Villagers.

Some current Villages stats:
  • 125,000+ residents
  • 32 square miles in three zip codes
  • 78 "villages" within The Villages
  • 200-250 new homes sold per month
  • 12 country clubs
  • 25 family pools (children permitted)
  • 52 neighborhood pools (adults only)
  • 10 sport pools
  • 8 fire stations
If you're as amazed as I was when I first heard about The Villages eight years ago, you can find more information here. And yes, this is a golf community; we do not golf.

Living in as-close-as-we-can-get-to-Paradise-on-earth, it can be easy to take for granted the mild weather and scenic beauty around us. So it's time for a review of what we enjoy about living here.

Farmer's Market is held at one of The Villages's three squares: Brownwood. It's here that we buy our weekly produce for making daily fresh-pressed vegetable juice. It's nice to know several vendors by name. 

We never take for granted that we get to go nearly everywhere on a golf cart (top speed: 20 mph), as  many other Villagers do too!
golf cart parking at Brownwood
The Villages has more than 90 miles of golf cart roads, some of which are shared with walkers, joggers, and cyclists on designated "multimodal paths." Because golf carts aren't permitted on state highways, tunnels throughout The Villages get us where we want to go.

Like Publix, Walgreens, and more. The Villages has 13 commercial areas, with golf cart access to the library, banks, and doctor's offices too. It couldn't be any more convenient to get around.

Multimodal paths take us past ponds, wetlands, golf courses, and lovely scenery.

We go everywhere in our golf cart, and this is the second one we've owned.

Since January 2015, we've put 23,156 miles on our golf cart!

Sometimes the golf cart road is a lane alongside automobile traffic. 

Also The Villages has many automobile roundabouts. Like several dozen of them. We always know when out-of-towners are here because many of them drive like they don't know what they're doing... and they don't!

The Villages' 35 recreation centers are where more than 2,500 clubs and activities happen, like my weekly Big Cypress Quilters. Outdoor courts for shuffleboard and boccé are popular, especially as neighborhood activities.

The exterior of our house certainly looks different than on move-in day. That Bismarck palm, planted in August 2013
August, 2013
...has become a real show-stopper, and gives lovely afternoon shade for my sewing room. 
June 23, 2019
This is our view out the front door. I adore that Bismarck, and the smaller European fan palm on the right. I'm still all about palms!

We left Iowa because our two children no longer lived there, and well... the weather. Winter snow and extremely cold temperatures made it inconvenient and uncomfortable to be out-and-about. We lived in West Des Moines for 22 years and 10 months, and I certainly left friends behind. Though I still miss them, we're no longer in touch. Lives move on.

Also what I miss more than I can express, is belonging to a church. In West Des Moines, we were active at Lutheran Church of Hope which is now a mega-church. Churches in this area aren't the same, and believe me, we've tried them! We have worshipped at 13 different churches in the past seven years, even going so far as to attend new member classes at three of them. Each time, we've been surprised and disappointed to read through a "membership covenant" to find a "rule" or expectation that doesn't sit well, that we're expected to sign. Whatever happened to a simple verbal commitment to believe in Jesus Christ as Lord, and in the Holy Trinity? Sigh. Lately we're worshipping at a Baptist church with an excellent preacher, though I've resigned myself to never belonging to a church again. So you might understand how grateful I am that twice a year I have opportunities to participate in women's Bible studies (7 to 10 weeks long) in recreation centers. These studies and women are "my church."

On the healthly side of life in The Villages, Dan and I are both in much better physical condition than we were in Iowa (my breast cancer and peripheral artery disease aside, of course). He's lost 23 pounds since taking up regular Tai Chi (he takes a class and teaches a class), yoga, and abs workouts, and I'm about ten pounds lighter saying active with line dancing, power walking, and Zumba. Along with daily juicing, we both feel healthy.  

So all in all, living in The Villages is still our happy place, and hope it is for another seven years. A few times a year I desperately miss our children and grandchildren, but I know I'm not alone in those emotions. Lots of my grandmother-friends share the same feelings. That's when we go for a visit
And now, something more quilt-y related...

If you like fabrics, or English paper-piecing, Sashiko, or any hand needlework where quality threads are used, sign up for Red Thread Studio's newsletter. Jen, who came to Central Florida MQG last November to teach EPP, has an online shop in Palm Coast, Florida.

If you register for the newsletter through my link, I earn points. So if you're inclined, go here. And thank you! Linda

Thursday, June 20, 2019

Taught Again: Wedge Quilt Workshop

On Wednesday I spent six hours teaching 11 members of Quilting Guild of The Villages how to use 9 degree and 10 degree wedge rulers to make "Carousel" quilts. It was delightful to have four members of my own chapter - Big Cypress Quilters - in the group.

These are the quilt makers. (In hindsight, I could have taken a better photo by putting my camera on something higher than a chair. Duh me.)

These are some pictures of their work.

Isn't that background fabric interesting? It's a color gradation of large roses. Ombré Roses. Rene is thinking to put a whole rose in the center of her wedge circle.

Yvonne used a Zen Chic print, Kona Snow, and Kona Splash (the color of the year) to make her Carousel.

The more of these I see - such a variety that all look good! - the more I realize that the most successful Carousels are made with high contrasting fabrics.

It was delightful to spend time with these quilters! They were each perfectly lovely individuals, and feel like I made new friends. Special thanks to Pam K. and Bo H. for attending, and ensuring everything went smoothly.

As the workshop was ending, we noticed the clock in the room. The clock face is wedges! We'd been doing verbal math all day, calling out quantities of wedges for quilters using 9 degree rulers, and quilters using 10 degree rulers; and test-and-trim measurements at 30 degrees, and 45 degrees - 60, 90, and 180 degrees. After so much practice, we easily knew that this clock face is made with 30 degree wedges. Smart quilters, hey?

I woke this morning to find an Instagram (IG) direct message letting me know I won an IG giveaway.

I was stunned to learn that 3,962 people had commented on that IG post in attempts to win. And my name was chosen!

Ironically, just a couple weeks ago, I had seen the Prudence Quilt pattern and English paper piecing kit on Jen's website: and seriously contemplated buying it. What had me reconsidering was the cost: $105 for the pattern, papers, and cutting template (no fabric).

So you can imagine my surprise to find I won it! Not only will I receive Prudence quilt supplies, but 10 fat quarters of Bespoke Liberty Collection. Liberty fabrics are something I've never bought, never used, and quite honestly seem much too flowery for my tastes. But I'm going to be open-minded, and see what they're like when they arrive - all the way from Australia. The entire giveaway is valued at $240!

Dan wants to buy a lottery ticket today.  Linda

Tuesday, June 18, 2019

Ring Me Finish

It doesn't feel like I've made very many quilts this year, and I haven't. I've made four wallhanging-sized quilts, but this is the first big finish. "Ring Me" (because I can't think of a better name) is an adaptation of Amanda Jean Nyberg's quilt from her book No Scrap Left Behind. It's 70" X 82".

I managed to coerce DH outside, in between rainfalls, to hold up the quilt for about 20 seconds to snap a few pictures. This is the best photo, and shows off - to the right of the quilt - the glorious Bismarck palm in our front yard. Those bay windows on the left are my sewing room.
Ring Me, 70" X 82"
I'm pleased with my decision to quilt concentric rings across the quilt, though I thought it would never end. The quilt has 49 full-size ring units, and 22 partial-ring units along the sides. Each unit is six rings. Whew. But who's counting?

The top quilting thread is white 40-weight YLI, with light gray 50-weight Aurifil on the back.

I appreciate everyone's suggestions for removing color bleeding in several places where one particular raspberry-colored, hand-dyed fabric stained the white background. I'll be trying a few of your ideas.

That black and white striped Riley Blake fabric makes a good binding, don't you think? Usually I sew striped binding on the bias, so it looks like a barber pole (Do you even know what that is?), but this time I wanted the angularity of boxy-looking binding to mimic the pieced solids.

This is the status of quilting on my selvage quilt, though it's difficult to see. I am using 50-weight Aurifil thread and a low curve ruler (and Bernina ruler foot) to stabilize all the pieced and selvage areas before I begin big stitch hand quilting in the white squares.

I'm using about 18 different thread colors to match each selvage unit. While using the needle threader to change out a thread color, the threader stuck in the needle's eye and started making a noise and vibrating. I quickly turned off the machine, and just as quickly the entire needle threader sprung apart into pieces.

I learned from my friendly Bernina dealer, Sharky's, that a needle threader isn't warrantied (I bought the machine last November), and that they keep replacement threaders on hand for $34. It's easy to swap out that piece of light gray plastic, so I'll be doing that myself. Darn it anyway.

Still, I'm lovin' this machine, especially for ruler quilting. I made a video of myself using The Low Curve ruler by Amy of and quadruple sped it up. I really, really wish I could do ruler work this quickly! The video includes repositioning the fabric and ruler, and removing basting pins.

I expect to finish machine quilting this week, and hopefully start big stitch hand quilting. 

Tomorrow (Wednesday) I'm teaching my Modern Wedge Quilt workshop from 9:00 am to 3:30 in a member-to-member workshop for Quilting Guild of The Villages. The workshop is limited to 18 people due to space, but thus far only 11 have registered... out of more than 1,200 members of Quilting Guild of The Villages! I'm surprised the class isn't full, but maybe $25 is too expensive. Or quilters aren't into making a modern design?
?? Hmm 💭 Linda

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


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