Monday, September 30, 2019

What I Did in Six Days

Six days away with nothing to do but sew is the best way to be productive. Except for meal pauses and a couple hours spent power-walking, I sewed to my heart's content, and had my hands on nine of the ten projects I'd taken along.

Here are some of them, beginning with one of two quilt tops I put together.

This is Plaidish, a free scrap quilt pattern from Kitchen Table Quilting. Link to pattern. The top is 64" X 82". Making Plaidish is an opportunity to understand value, as dark, medium, and light scraps need to be sorted, identified, and cut to make the plaid pattern appear. I love how this turned out, and I think others like it too. This picture had had more than 600 likes on my Instagram account.

The other quilt top I finished is a String Diamond arrangement from My Quilt Infatuation. Kelly's tutorial is here. It was a good way to scrap-bust green and blue fabrics to make a 36" X 48" baby quilt.

I pieced six more 8" X 8" charming postage stamp blocks, bringing my total up to 17.

It would have been 18 blocks total, but I was two 1-1/2" X 1-1/2" squares short of lime green solid to finish this one!

I've been asked to make travel trays. It was easy enough to choose stashed fabrics, and piece a dozen of them.

But it's much more time-consuming hand sewing four snaps - eight individual pieces - to each of them! Still, I like this tray design best because it's flat in a suitcase, and without Velcro in the corners (an option in the pattern), it doesn't "stick" to clothing. Here's the free travel tray pattern.

This reversible bucket hat has been on my must-make list for several weeks. The pattern is free (are you noticing a frugal theme here?) on the Brother sewing machine blog. Link to pattern. I used my favorite JoAnn Fabrics print for the "fun side." It's the same print I used to make my ukulele case.

This is the plain side.  

Instructions call for one layer of medium fusible interfacing. I used Pellon 101 Shapeflex. When I make another hat, I'll use two layers to give the brim more stability. I'll be sporting this hat whenever I'm on the golf cart, as I've discovered that it keeps my I'm-letting-it-grow-longer hair out of my eyes. 

While my LindaNova quilt is waiting for me to sandwich and quilt, I started a new English paper piecing project - the Prudence Quilt. This is the EPP kit (pattern, templates, and papers) I won from @LilabelleLane on an Instagram giveaway. The two blocks needed for the quilt are the Bloom block (center left) and Cross Block (center right), of which I need 121 total! I EPPed one of each and know I'm gonna love that black and white striped Cross block. More fussy-cut pieces are ready, so I'll be all set when it's time for another road trip. 

I've been listening to one audiobook after another; 30 so far this year. They're fantastic when I'm power-walking (I'm thinking about getting wireless earbuds rather than use the corded buds that came with my iPhone), and are my escape from bothersome medical concerns (due to my oncologist recently diagnosing anemia, this week I will have the first of two iron infusions), and still missing our dear Hogan.

"Those Who Wish Me Dead" by Michael Koryta is about a teenage boy, Jace, who by being in the wrong place at the wrong time, witnesses a murder. Rather than go into a witness protection program where dirty cops will surely find him, Jace is placed in a troubled teen's wilderness program near Red Lodge, Montana. I enjoyed following this setting, as I have been on the Bear Tooth Highway, and in that mountain area. What follows are a series of scary chase-and-escape events that include forest fires. Honestly, this is one of the most intense books I've ever read, and I soon found that I shouldn't listen right before bed. Disturbing, but so well done! 

Linda's score 4.8/5.0

"Missing Molly" by Natalie Barelli is another well done story that takes place in England. The narrator speaks with a British accent, so I'm extra partial to this book. The story is about 12 year-old Molly Forster who witnesses the murder of her parents and sister, and afterward shows up for help at the local police station. She quickly discovers that she must run. In the present day, Molly is 23 year-old Rachel Holloway, working at a small newspaper. To boost their flagging publication, the boss decides that the team will research, write, and air a podcast on an old missing person case: Molly Forster. This was such an exciting read, I couldn't wait to go walking to listen more.

Linda's score: 4.9/5.0

Gosh, but I've had the good fortune to pick up a string of really excellent books! I hope you're keeping notes, and enjoying them too! Linda

Thursday, September 19, 2019

Two Quilt Finishes

Thanks to friends who were willing to be quilt-holders while we we at last Saturday's Central Florida MQG Sew-In, I have pictures of two finished quilts.

My selvedges quilt finished at 59" X 72". I designed the block, and each one finishes at 13" X 13" with a plain white 4-1/2" square center.

I actually completed this quilt in early August, with the intention of using it on August 12 to show big stitch quilting for a "Big Stitch Quilting" program I was supposed to present to Central Florida MQGers. However, my cardio-vascular doc changed all that and decided I instead needed a left leg angiogram that day! 

So, this unnamed selvedges quilt is ready to share when that program is rescheduled, likely at next February's meeting.

I used different Aurifil thread colors to ruler quilt curves across the selvages, and a straight ruler to quilt lines along the outside edges of the quilt.

After machine quilting, I added big stitch hand stitching to each white square, changing thread colors for each of the four concentric circles. 

Pat Sloan designed this selvedge print that I chose for backing fabric. Though the print color isn't as bright as the quilt front, the idea of a selvedge print backing was too perfect to pass up. 

I'm thinking to create a tutorial for this. Would anyone be interested? 

My second quilt to share is "Cascade" from Victoria Findlay-Wolfe's book "Modern Quilt Magic."

I purchased her acrylic curved braid template to cut all the prints from my stash. My quilt finished at 87" X 95", somewhat larger than the instructions for a full-sized quilt.

The quilting barely shows up, which is why I didn't quilt this heavily. Why waste my time quilting a design that can't readily be seen among all those busy prints? I used a curved ruler to ruler quilt across the entire quilt top, and used three different colors of YLI variegated threads - aqua, yellow, and orange. Then, in selected blocks I added free motion quilted bubbles. 

Maybe you can see the quilting a little better from the back. Fabric is "Lava Lamps." 

The best part of this quilt, I think, is the binding. I used the No Tails Binding method to put several different prints along the edges, coordinating the colors to the quilt. As you can see here, five different prints are in action. 

I've continued to immerse myself in audiobooks to keep myself distracted. (I shouldn't confess to still crying every single day over missing Hogan, but I do.)

I listen to a book when I'm cutting out projects, piecing, and quilting, and while walking for exercise. By the way, I'm happy to report that my legs are again capable of power-walking a mile in 15 minutes. So an hour-long outdoor walk of four miles - about 8K steps - impressed my doc, and I'm getting the vitamin D that I need!

Having previously read books by Ruth Ware (The Woman in Cabin Ten; In a Dark, Dark Wood; and The Lying Game), I knew I'd be in for another treat with "The Death of Mrs. Westaway." I wasn't wrong.

Hal (Harriet) lives in Brighton (UK), and has been eeking out a living reading tarot cards from a booth on the pier. She receives a letter, informing her of an inheritance, and uses it as an opportunity to escape from threats from a loan shark. She travels to Trepassen House in Cornwall where she connects with a past, including uncles, she knows nothing about. It's time for Hal to uncover family secrets her deceased mother never shared. Where does Hal fit in?

Linda's score: 4.8/5.0

This story begins innocently with two couples at a dinner party. They are next door neighbors. The evening turns to disbelief when Marco and Anne Conti return home (next door) to find their six month old daughter missing. The entire book transpires during the course of several days, as Detective Rasbach works to uncover the truth of a kidnapping, and the reader is kept suspecting different characters as "the bad guy." I never quite decided for sure which couple is "the couple next door." This was an excellent who-done-it that will leave you surprised.

Linda's score: 4.8/5.0

I'm packing up to go on a six-day quilt retreat, and am well-supplied with cut-out projects for dozens of happy sewing hours. And being with friends. It should be a good, therapeutic time away. Linda

Thursday, September 12, 2019

Back at it

For the past two weeks, I haven't felt quite myself... emotionally. I'm missing Hogan, think of him often, and find it difficult to focus on anything for very long. 

I've also had a rash of medical appointments - four different tests - and seen two doctors, with three more doc appointments coming up. Though my GP told me yesterday that I'm healthy, all these visits are enough to make me think I'm old or something!  

Christina Cameli was here last weekend from Portland, Oregon.

She stayed with me when Central Florida Modern Quilt Guild hosted her for a "Texture Quilting" (based on her book) program and workshop. Read our "Christina Was Here!" blog post on our Central Florida MQG site. 

Not only does Christina have oodles of skills - she's a midwife, has written several quilting books ("Wedge Quilt Workshop" is excellent) and is a talented free motion quilter and instructor - she was a lovely guest who leant a sympathetic ear when I found myself pouring out my grief about Hogan. 

One item I made before Christina visited was a new cover for the bench where Hogan liked to lay in the sewing room window. The padded storage bench was a Craigslist purchase from about seven years ago, and I've been using it to store batting. 

The newly recovered bench is now in the guest room where it serves double duty - a place for sitting, or a suitcase. 

Fabric-covered cording runs along the edges, and the ends are solid fabric because I ran short on the print yardage. It works.

Two quilters I follow on Instagram started making 64-patch blocks, and I needed to join them. (Ha!) Blocks are being referred to as postage stamp blocks (1" X 1" finished) along with the hashtag #colorblockpostagestampquilt. My patches are some of the 1-1/2" square leader and ender prints I've been cutting, saving, and using since October 2011. 

I only need cut my solid scraps into 32 1-1/2" squares to make a block that finishes at 8" X 8". 

I'm really appreciating that I have a wool pressing mat to make all those seams flat! 

Now it's time for me to admit a big mistake.

When I signed up for the 2020 QuiltCon Indah Batiks "Me and You" fabric challenge, I didn't read the instructions properly. We are to use three of the four prints in the quilt front. Good so far.

I thought we could add prints from the fabric line: series 100. In fact, we could add only solids from series 100. I bought print fabric from two online shops, made the quilt top, and basted it before a friend pointed out I could add only solids. I was so upset, and ready to chuck it until I had a thought. "Why can't I enter it in QuiltCon anyway? Just don't enter it in the challenge category." 

I used the Jaybird Quilts Hex 'n More ruler to cut shapes. I spent considerable time getting all those palms (white background with black palms) oriented upright.  

Now I've walking foot quilted a 60-degree diamond pattern across the entire quilt. Next I will fill in with free motion quilting. 

...using some of the filler ideas in Christina's "Texture Quilting" book.

So, my new plan is to finish the quilt, and choose a special name for it: "Rule Breaker" or "Challenge Defyer" or "Insubordinate." Ha!

As I'm waiting for fabric to arrive to use as background to complete my LindaNova (TulaNova) quilt top, I've begun my next EPP project - Prudence - using templates and paper in an EPP kit I won on Instagram. I've cut fabric, including some fussy-cutting, for a couple dozen blocks, but this doesn't look like much. Each block is only 6" finished! Certainly, this will be another very long-term project.

(Becky and Diane: I ended up deciding to use a black and white stripe, just like the pattern shows. My stripe is Cosmo Textile print from Red Thread Studio.)

Just as I've recently been entering my sewing room to "do something" - often wondering what to work on - I've felt the same about listening to an audiobook. Two weeks ago I finished "Little Fires Everywhere" by Celeste Ng (last name pronounced like "ing.)

This story takes place in Shaker Heights, Ohio, and is about the Richardson family (their house burns down) and the family's interactions with a mother and daughter, Mia and Pearl Warren, who rent an apartment owned by the Richardsons. Storylines include high school sex and pregnancy, transracial adoption, and a mother's secret. Judgmentalism plays a role (Elena Richardson) and that character is someone I came to not like. I enjoyed this book immensely!

Linda's score: 4.8/5.0

Last week I resumed regular walking since my left leg is "fixed" (no more arterial blockages). My GP told me this week to "walk an hour a day," so an audiobook is the best way to go.

"Someone Else's Love Story" by Joshilyn Jackson is my latest finish. The story takes places in Georgia where Shandi and her son Natty are caught in a  convenience store hold-up. The situation goes bad, and prompts Shandi to examine her life. She considers the break-up of her devoutly Catholic mother and Jewish father, and her relationship with her best friend. Shandi makes changes and choices that take her life in a new direction.

The author reads the book herself, and does a superb job of putting a distinguishable voice to each character, as well as add just the right amount of emphasis and inflection. I've listened to enough audiobooks to recognize a good reader when I hear one. I definitely recommend this.

Linda's score: 4.5/5.0


Tuesday, September 3, 2019

In Memoriam Hogan

It's been quiet here the past couple weeks because we lost a family member last Saturday, August 31.


Our beloved Hogan had been deteriorating, both in mind and body (the vet confirmed that he had Wobbler's Syndrome, a compression of the spinal cord). Last week we made the difficult decision to have him put down. A mobile veterinarian came into our home Saturday afternoon, and within a half hour, put him to rest in his own bed. The vet was most gentle, loving, and understanding, but the pain of losing Hogan wasn't diminished. We have no doubts that we made the right decision, but we miss him tremendously.

If only Hogan could have talked.

Our daughter Jill, adopted Hogan on October 30, 2005 from a shelter in Kansas City, where he was on "death row." She said she chose him because, as she walked by all the dogs in their cages, he was the only one who didn't jump up as she passed. Then, when she asked to see him, and they went outside to get acquainted, he went to a corner and pee'd. And pee'd and pee'd. He'd been holding himself so as not to mess his indoor space. Jill decided that being cute, as well as housebroken, was a plus. Hogan never pee'd in the house.

And gosh, he was cute! A darling combination of mostly beagle, and a little chow-chow.

A vet estimated that Hogan was two years old when Jill adopted him. So, we recognized his birthday as October 1, 2003. Hogan would have been 16 years old in October.

This is the first time Jill and Hogan came to visit us in West Des Moines, Iowa.

Hogan lived with Jill in Kansas City, and when a work assignment took her to Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates (UAE), he went with her. This is a family favorite picture of him when he lived there. He's got a chew stick in his mouth that looks like a cigar!

In 2006, Jill's new work assignment took her to Sydney, Australia. However, due to that country's animal regulations, Hogan didn't qualify to enter the country. He had canine ehrlichiosis (common among dogs from Missouri who have been bitten and infected by a tick), so his blood count didn't meet Australia's standards. Treatment is an antibiotic. Jill went to Australia without Hogan, while he stayed in Abu Dhabi, living in a kennel and receiving antibiotic injections. Each month, for three months, his blood was tested; he never met Australia's requirements. So, in July 2007, Jill made the difficult - and expensive! - decision to have Hogan shipped via air cargo from Abu Dhabi to Dubai to London to Chicago. Dan and I drove from West Des Moines to British Airways cargo terminal to get Hogan. He has been ours ever since.

At our West Des Moines home, his favorite spot was on this little ledge in front of the living room windows. He could see cars and pedestrians go by on our corner lot.

Hogan absolutely adored winter in Iowa. The colder the better.

I can't help but giggle when I watch this December 9, 2009 video of Dan taking Hogan on a walk during a blizzard. This is one of the few times I saw Hogan rather be at home than in the snow!

Once we moved to Florida, it was apparent that he needed a window spot in our new house. In my sewing room, this padded bench that I covered with batting and fabric was exactly the same height as the window sill. It became one of his favorite places. 

Hogan was a tough boy. Already blind in his left eye due to glaucoma, in 2014 he went through surgery to have that eye removed because it was causing pressure that gave him migraine headaches. The University of Florida in Gainesville is where Hogan received wonderful treatment by a skilled veterinarian.

In January, 2016, here in The Villages, Hogan had surgery on a lump.

The veterinarian found soft tissue sarcoma, explaining that she went through four layers of tissue and still couldn't get clean margins. She suggested we take him to an Orlando veterinarian for radiation treatment. We opted not to put Hogan through that, and were told to expect that he would live only three to six months.

He remained with us for another 3-1/2 years.

Hogan was often my sewing companion, keeping me company during quilting activities. This was our "I'm registering for QuiltCon" picture.

He helped Dan in the kitchen. 

He was a good on-the-floor cuddler. He never slept in our bed.

I like this 2017 video because it's Hogan at his finest... pestering in the evening. Hear his distinctive beagle bark.

These pictures make me smile because Hogan found inexplicable pleasure in hiding his head under our dry bar.

Isn't this a great picture of my housekeeping skills? Hogan was ever-shedding, and hair tumbleweeds were always visible a day or two after vacuuming.

Another picture that makes me smile is from earlier this year when we were visiting Jill in Kansas City. I found Hogan tightly curled up in Milson's bed.

Milson is their teacup poodle!

Hogan, in July, at Jill's Missouri lake home.

Monday, August 26 (our 47th wedding anniversary) Dan and Hogan returned from a very slow walk.
By comparison, in this picture he looks very sad - ears down, tail down. He was likely in pain. When he felt good, that tail was always up, perky and wagging 100 miles an hour!

Our hearts are in shreds, but I know time will heal. I have reassurance in God's promise that Hogan is in His care now, and I will see him again someday.
You care for people and animals alike, O Lord. - Psalm 36:6 (NLV)
I'm grateful to have this blog as a therapeutic means of expressing my grief, and sharing good memories of being dog-owners - dog-lovers - who were loved by a dog.

We love you Hogan. 💔 Linda


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