Sunday, December 29, 2019

2019 in Review

I think it's nice to review what's been made throughout a year of sewing. For me, it helps to know I wasn't always spinning my wheels and stalling on projects!

According to Instagram
These are the pictures I posted to Instagram that received the most likes. Looks like most of them are really liked, as they appear twice! Those are:

Top row: Plaidish quilt twice! (No credit to me. It's a great design by @kitchentablequilting.) And Cascade quilt.
Middle row: Temperature quilt, Cascade (again), and my "Quilt" mini that was not accepted for publication in Curated Quilts magazine
Bottom row: Temperature quilt (again), and Selvedge quilt twice!

The Quilts - This past year, I made 17 quilts (To see them all, click "2019 Quilts" tab, above.) There were 6 small-sized; 5 medium-sized; and 6 large sized quilts. Seven of them have been given away.

I also kept up making Drunkard's Path blocks for a 2019 temperatures quilt. Even the label, which will appear as a block on the quilt front, is finished.

A Decade of Quilts
For sure, from 2013 through 2019 (basically, since moving from Iowa to Florida) I made 94 quilts! I know because I've been keeping track. So when I consider how many quilts I've made in the past decade, I can safely estimate it's between 115 to 120 quilts! No wonder I'm running out of closet storage space!

The Leavings
This past year I've begun turning old wall hanging quilts into open-mouth sacks into which I can toss trimmings and bits of thread. This year I filled two large sacks-full that I sewed closed to make pet beds for an animal shelter.

QuiltCon - In February I attended the entire four days of QuiltCon in Nashville, Tennessee, where three of my quilts were on display: Roulette; Wrinkles Fade Away; and O-O-Orange (See pictures in "2018 Quilts" tab, above.) Earlier this month, I learned that my "L Cabin" quilt was accepted into QuiltCon 2020 in Austin, Texas.

The Other Makes - In between making quilts, I like to sew other, faster projects. In the past year they included:

row 1: men's travel kit; two pouches - all gifted
row 2: three wristlets
row 3: 10 travel trays; zippered snack bags
row 4: more zippered snack bags
row 5: tote; reversible hat; 6 washcloth travel rolls
row 6: skirt; tops; leggings

Teaching - I taught free motion quilting; two modern wedge quilt workshops; demoed English paper piecing, and demoed ruler work quilting twice. (For my 2020 teaching schedule, see "Schedule" tab above.)

The Rest - In February we went on our first cruise, to the Eastern Caribbean. In November we bought a new car.

In July, immediately after a rigorous four-mile walk, I experienced a dramatic recurrence of P.A.D. (peripheral artery disease). An August visit to a new-to-me cardio-vascular doc resulted in the removal of a four-inch blood clot in my left femoral artery. (You do not want to see that picture! Gross.) A few weeks later, oncology blood work revealed anemia, and the need for two iron transfusions. Prescribed drugs and over-the-counter supplements, and doctor-ordered regular exercise continue to be mandatory.

The most challenging, and still most difficult days are related to missing our dear boy, Hogan. He was put down in our home on August 31 at the age of 15 years/11 months. Though we prepared ourselves, and still remind each other that Hogan lived a full life after being rescued by our daughter Jill, he left a huge hole in our lives. We're still trying to adjust.
Hogan on July 5, 2019 
Overall, it was a good, but challenging year. We faced difficulties and persevered with the good Lord's help.

The Books - I read, by audiobook, a total of 40 books. In March, at the request of a very good friend, I began posting book reviews and ratings.


My 40th read was "The Girl With All the Gifts" by M.R. Carey. I chose it, innocently enough, because I imagined it was about a gifted young girl. Well, it was that. But it's mostly a haunting thriller about living in a post-apocalyptic world - in the UK - following a biological infestation that turns people into "hungries" - meat-eaters whose strongest desire is to consume anything living. The story centers on ten year-old Melanie who, along with other children, is imprisoned in a military facility, and attends school while under medical observation. The story takes an intense turn when their facility is invaded, they flee, and find themselves in a land where survival is slim. Descriptions of killings and dissections are pretty ghoulish, and the language is occasionally foul, but if you like Stephen King books, I think you'll like this.

Linda's score: 3.8/5.0

And on that note, I'll end 2019 posts. My next blog post looks toward 2020 intentions. Linda

Friday, December 27, 2019

Washcloth Travel Roll

Christmas was quiet. I have no pictures of a tree, decorations, pretty packages or family gatherings. These weeks have been spent eating Dan's great cooking, and watching TV or listening to a book while sewing, or continuing to crochet my pull-it-out-once-a-year afghan. 

During this season of thoughtfulness about the meaning of Christmas, a wonderful Christian movie/TV series about Jesus came to my attention. It's called "The Chosen." Each program is so very well done, presenting Bible stories from the perspective of other people.

The first six programs are free, beginning with this 20 minute program that started it:


Following that is Episode 1. 

I can't recommend these highly enough. If you become hooked, as I did, download and watch the rest of the series on the free app called "The Chosen."

I follow Lee Chappell Monroe's blog - MayChappell - and when her Washcloth Travel Roll Tutorial popped up in July, I knew exactly what I'd make as Christmas gifts for family members. 

First I went shopping for new washcloths at an outlet store, selecting those appropriate for each guy and gal. Then of course, even more fun was choosing stashed fabrics to coordinate with each washcloth. 

I like this so much because it's useful. How many times have I been traveling and found myself with a wet toothbrush? 

The washcloth folds over wet bristles and then is rolled up for travel!

A new toothbrush and toothpaste went into each one, to help the recipient understand how it's meant to be used.

You might notice that after making one with ribbon ties, as Lee suggests in her tutorial, I made them with elastic bands.

I'd like to believe everyone will use these when they're on the go. I know I will use mine!

Another audiobook listen and review is for The Giver of Stars by JoJo Moyes. It takes a close look into the mid-1930s lives of women who work for the WPA (Works Progress Administration in the Roosevelt-era) as pack horse librarians. The story follows five women who ride mules and horses to deliver books, comic books, magazines, and scrapbooks to rural families in a coal-mining area of Kentucky. Alice, a British bride, joins the library group and befriends Margery, who must face a difficult challenge. Through their struggles, Alice learns about herself, and is empowered to become the person she's meant to be.

Linda's score: 4.5/5.0

I hope everyone had a lovely Christmas, and is enjoying this winding-down time in between Christmas and the start of 2020. Linda

Friday, December 20, 2019

Not Much

It seems that a new project has squirreled it's way into my sewing room.

Are you familiar with that squirrel reference from the delightful movie, "Up"? Dug, the dog, is distracted by a squirrel.)

Melissa @mtweedel posted a quilt picture on Instagram - a wall hanging of house blocks made from all solids. After thinking, "Squirrel!" I thought, "What a good way to use up solid scraps!"

I used EQ8 software to come up with a similar block, and I've started cutting and piecing.

And cutting. It's a messy business to cut scraps and small pieces of fabric into usable dimensions.

One of my 2020 goals is to make large quilts. First of all, they'll keep me occupied longer, and second, I will be able to more easily give them away because they're useable. It will take 182 houses to make this a large quilt. I'm in!

Friday morning we woke to realize that a Cape Canaveral launch was imminent. Boeing was sending up Starliner - an unmanned rocket. We rushed outside to see this at about 6:40 am. 

Here are the contrails after separation. At first we thought the rocket was falling toward earth, but then realized that the flight path simply followed the earth's curvature. We later learned that within a half hour, the Starliner failed its mission, burning more fuel than anticipated, and therefore unable to meet its Sunday rendezvous with the International Space Station. Still, it was quite a sight to behold, albeit expensive

Red Thread Studio, here in Florida, is having a contest to win an all-expenses paid (except from your house to the airport) trip to Florida to take a class with Rachael Daisy from Australia. I'm sharing it here so all my friends have a chance to enter. I'd love it if you won!
Two audiobook finishes: "This Is How It Always Is" by Laurie Frankel, wasn't a favorite. In all fairness, the topic - how to raise a male child who wants to wear dresses and behave like a girl - is relevant by today's cultural standards, but I found it disconcerting. Still, I stuck it out to learn how parents Rosie and Penn handled this son - the youngest of their five boys. Four year-old Claude becomes Poppy,  and the family moves from Madison, Wisconsin to Seattle, Washington, keeping the secret. Moments of revelation happen when Poppy is ten years old and must begin to choose who she/he will become. I've since learned this is the author's own story. I certainly respect any parent who must travel this road less traveled. Linda's score: 2.8/5.0


"Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine" is a delightful read by Gail Honeyman. Told from Eleanor's (first person) perspective, I smiled and giggled about her insights and perspectives from the viewpoint of a 30 year-old who grew up in a challenging and unusual environment - who, due to the influence of a psychotic mother and life in numerous foster homes, never quite learned how to interact with others, or understand social clichรฉs that most of us intuit. She led an extremely sad life, but with encouragement from a counselor learns before it's too late, how to live a satisfying, fulfilled life. Linda's score: 4.4/5.0




I don't have anything Christmas-y to share, as we'll be at home for Christmas, and family is far way. We'll spend our days quietly, worship, and enjoy the mild weather. It's nice to have the sliding doors open to the screened-in lanai. Linda

Tuesday, December 17, 2019

Plaidish Quilt

I cut out this quilt before going on a week-long quilt retreat. It takes lots of fabrics sorted into light, medium, and dark to make the plaid pattern come through. Though I used many scraps, I was challenged to find enough different darks in my stash to cut all the needed pieces. I pieced the top while on retreat.

Now it's finished!

I quilted a simple design using an arc ruler to quilt diagonally across,  in both directions, followed by vertical and horizontal serpentine stitching with a walking foot.

The quilt back is a P&B Textiles colorweave 108" wide back in the color sky. 


This Bismarck palm in our front yard has become my new favorite place to photograph finished quilts. Those branches are unbelievably tough, and cupped on the upper side so binder clips hold the quilt in place. I only had to use a step stool to be able to reach this limb! Plaidish is 65" X 83".

You can find the free Plaidish pattern here.

I'm pretty sure this will be my last 2019 finished quilt. It's number 17-  six small quilts; five medium quilts; and six large quilts. I will not make this many quilts in 2020! Linda

Sunday, December 15, 2019

Clothes and Quilting

I've recently enjoyed garment sewing, making four leggings and four tops. I don't have a dress form on which to display clothes for pictures, but here are two favorite pieces. I adore the color and cutwork at the ankles of these leggings. This lovely knit is from The Sewing Studio in Maitland, Florida.

I'm especially pleased with one of the tops I made because it's patterned from the pieces of an old, favorite, but now pilled, knit top. Believe it or not, I bought this size 14 children's top clearance-priced from Kohl's! 

As I took it apart I discovered that the top had been pieced first, and then painted with stripes! Is that a faster way to manufacture clothing? The seam allowances have no print. 

My top cost $13.48 to make, plus thread. It's a Riley Blake knit from Fabric.com. 

This keyhole back opening is a unique feature. I'll definitely be sewing this pattern again!

Since that spurt of clothes-sewing, I reconfigured my sewing room for quilting and pulled out my already pin-basted Plaidish quilt. I began quilting diagonal ruler-guided arcs across the quilt.


Aurifil 50-weight aqua-colored thread is in the bobbin, and YLI variegated polyester thread is on top. The YLI is some of the $300 worth of thread I won in 2013 for placing third with a domestic machine quilted wall hanging. I don't think I'll ever use up all of it!

After ruler quilting, I used the serpentine stitch to quilt wavy lines through the skinny strips. On my Bernina 770QE I chose stitch 4, and then set the stitch width to 5.0 and length to 1.90.

The top is so busy the variegated thread colors and quilting don't show. So here's the back, a pretty Kaufman wide back.

Binding is up next, as I listen to an audiobook. Linda

Saturday, December 14, 2019

Replies and Blogger Problems

Updated 12/15/19 with information about how to fix this problem. 

I really appreciated comments from 14 of you who took the time to remark and encourage about my QuiltCon entries, and quiltmaking in general.

Three of you - JCinTX, Debbie, and Unknown - are "no-reply commenters," so I was unable to email you in return. So, as I usually do when a commenter is "no-reply," I went to my own blog post comments and tapped "reply" to each of you. This is where a new Blogger problem has developed.

I wrote a thoughtful response to each of you, hit "publish," and my reply promptly disappeared.

Likewise, this is happening when I attempt to comment on other Blogger's blog posts. My comment disappears. It seems that even though I'm logged into my Google account, when I write a comment and choose to comment with my Google profile, I'm not there.

Searching for answers on Google, it's suggested that bloggers change their comments from "embedded" (appearing at the bottom of a blog post) to "pop-up" (appearing on a separate page). I have done this.

While this may enable me to see all the posts, it still does not allow me to publicly reply to commenters who are "no-reply commenters."

Sigh.

After much online searching through discussions about this problem, I figured out what my issue is  was. This will apply to you if you use Safari as your browser, as I do. Safari is on my MacBook and my iPhone.

When using the Safari browser to comment, Safari settings must be set to turn off “prevent cross-site checking.”
Safari, Preferences, Privacy 
The thing is, cross-site checking was turned off on my MacBook, but it was not turned off on my iPhone! Since they’re in sync with my Google account, the iPhone setting was the problem.

No more. Hooray! I can comment on other's blogs from my MacBook and iPhone, and can reply to no-reply commenters. 

While I enjoy technology, and appreciate the fact that I've been able to blog for ten years (!), I'm not a bit happy when technology companies mess with a good thing, and thereby create problems. I believe this problem arose when I installed Safari security updates. 

In any case, I deeply appreciate every comment from my previous post. If you've never blogged yourself, you can't imagine how nice it is to receive feedback. Linda

Wednesday, December 11, 2019

The Truth and Whole Story

My biggest dream is to have the modern quilts I make be modern enough to be accepted into QuiltCon. That's the truth of it.

But too often for comfort, I find out that I'm missing the mark. If my quilts aren't accepted into QuiltCon because QC receives too many entries, the fact remains that three jurors are choosing the quilts to be accepted. Many more quilts must rejected than accepted.

As much as I try to keep my expectations low, I've learned I'm going to be disappointed.

More than ever, I'm asking myself... Why do I enter QuiltCon? After my more than 40 years of making quilts, I think I enter to find out if my original designs are modern enough. 

This year I entered six quilts into QuiltCon 2020 at $15 an entry. While two entries were specifically designed to enter in the show, I submitted several entries because I thought: "What the heck? Why not try?"

QuiltCon accept/reject emails arrived this morning. It seems I must continue to look for that illusive "something" that makes for an amazing modern quilt. 

One quilt of my six entries was accepted.

It's the quilt I spent the least amount of time making! It's the quilt that thought I wouldn't make for our Central Florida MQG challenge!

It will be displayed at QuiltCon 2020, from February 20-23, in Austin, Texas. 

๐Ÿ‘ "L Cabins" (name courtesy of my Ocala friend, Nancy) 43" X 48"
L Cabins is made entirely of solids, and is straight line, walking foot quilted. I like the way a picture makes it look dimensional, but in person I don't think it looks quite like this.

Five of my six rejected entries have already been seen in previous blog posts. 

๐Ÿ‘Ž "Broke the Rule: Jewels" 32" X 39-1/2" 
This is the Indah batiks quilt I thought to make for the QuiltCon Challenge. Unfortunately, I didn't follow the rules - to add only solids to the prints that were provided. I added other prints. Too late I discovered my mistake, but entered the quilt into another category.

๐Ÿ‘Ž "Artificial Sweetener" 31-1/2" X 31-1/2
I made this quilt for a Central Florida MQG challenge. It's the first time I've put together a truly improv quilt. I used colors I don't normally use, and some ombrรฉs. It's ruler work and free motion quilted.

๐Ÿ‘Ž "Carousel" 33" X 33"
This quilt is a result of playing with the ten degree wedge ruler and Christina Cameli's book Wedge Quilt Workshop. In fact, I've taught two workshops to make this quilt. I especially like this one because of the two-colors of hand-quilting in the center.

๐Ÿ‘Ž "Owl Always Love You" 58" X 68"
This is the second time I entered this quilt into QuiltCon. It was also entered (and rejected) for the modern quilts display at the International Quilt Festival in Houston. 

Owl Always Love You holds a special place in my heart because it's based on grandson Austin's artwork. Here's the story behind it. I'll now finally give the quilt to Austin.

๐Ÿ‘Ž "Motto" 63" X 66"
No one has seen this quilt. I made it in July and kept it completely under wraps because I knew its message would be controversial to some people. Whether QC jurors rejected it on design merit, or because of the message, I'll never know. But I am most proud of this quilt which was inspired after reading the news in June 2019, that South Dakota passed a law that our national motto was to be placed on public school walls by the fall 2019 opening of school.

Here's the description I submitted with this quilt:
In March 2019 South Dakota joined a growing number of U.S. states passing legislation that public schools are to prominently display our national motto. Visual reminders reaffirm our historical heritage, and encourage patriotism. Three fonts represent how we view these important words. Silver gray letters symbolize our nation's foundation; dark gray letters are those stenciled on public school walls; and green letters represent our currency. 
Motto letters are pieced and foundation paper pieced into an improv-pieced background. This is domestic machine quilted. 
I spent many hours making this quilt. The background is entirely improv-pieced. 

Two different fonts were foundation paper pieced. 

The currency print was the most difficult to make, as I used a basic foundation pieced alphabet and then individually added serifs to each letter.  

The quilting is a combination of walking foot quilting, ruler quilting, and free motion quilting. I used a difficult-to-quilt design as background behind each letter. Believe me when I say that I buried hundreds of thread tails because of so many stops and starts. 

In November I spent most of an afternoon taking photographs of my quilts for submitting to QC. No fancy equipment here! I sat the camera on top of a pile of containers to get it level with the center of the quilt. 

When I say I put my heart into my Motto quilt - In God We Trust - that's the truth. The whole story. In God I trust is who I am. That's why today isn't an easy day. 

These rejections have me thinking about what quiltmaking means to me, and why I continue to make quilts when I certainly don't need them - 80 to 100 quilts are in the top of our closet. Making a modern quilt challenges me, and I embrace that aspect of the process. Making quilts also, for me, is about fulfilling a relentlessly strong urge to create. Will that ever go away? I guess today has made me pause to realize that there's no need to enter my quilts into shows, and it's probably time to stop throwing my money away on entries. 

The truth is, that above all, making quilts is about interacting with people who make the process enjoyable. The very best part of quiltmaking is the friendships I've made through the years.

Bless you all! Linda

Monday, December 9, 2019

Monday Melee

In the bustle of activities, particularly the pre-Christmas melee, it's almost astounding how the days fly by. As I remain on-the-go, it's still surprising and disappointing (in myself) that writing a blog post takes a back seat to other things. So many other things.

Like online shopping. I'm not one to enjoy shopping among crowds, so when online deals came to my attention, that's where I focused my time. Among Black Friday specials, weekend deals, and Cyber Monday sales, I found fabrics too good to pass up.

These fabrics are from two of the three places I shopped: ChristaQuilts.com and Fabric.com. Another order is yet to come from PineappleFabrics.com.

On the left, from Christa I bought five one-yard pieces from a couple of her Benartex fabric collections. Then, surely because she and I are friends, she generously included six-inch sample squares of each print from her newest "Gridwork" collection coming out in January. I love the bright boldness of her fabrics.

At the top middle are two wide backs for finishing already-made quilt tops.

All the remaining pieces are knits! Three double-brushed poly knits on the right to make legging. The plain aqua fabric has cutwork along the edge that will look nice around my ankles. This piece came from my Thursday, first-time visit to The Sewing Studio in Maitland. Poly knits in the lower center are to make swing tops to go with the leggings.

You might wonder that I didn't buy more quilting cottons, but honestly... do I need to make any more quilts?! Storage space is at critical mass, as our master closet is overflowing with quilts. Like about 80 or more of them. In the weeks ahead I'll be activity choosing places to sell or donate them. I have several outlets in mind.

When Jill visited over Thanksgiving, she brought with her the latest box of fabric found at my grandparent's farmhouse in Ohio. You may recall that in July, I handled the first round of fabrics, including quilt tops, which I shipped to Monica in Austin, Texas.

This box has more of the same vintage fabrics, many of which have been cut into squares, and a large pile of four-patch blocks. Note the piece of cardboard that says "1968." I can only assume that is the year these squares were cut and sewn. 

At first I thought all the four-patches were hand-pieced (left), but just as many were machine-pieced. If grandma machine pieced these, I'm sure it was done on her Singer treadle machine. 

Thanks to Monica's @ButtonCounter series of Instagram posts about how she washes old fabrics, I will use her detergent recommendation to hand wash these fabrics and blocks. 

These two new fabrics are what I'll use to finish the quilt top that belonged to grandma. 

Since one border is missing, and there's no fabric to match, I plan to remove the three borders, incorporate the blue print into each one, and re-attach them. The 108"-wide piece of white muslin is to put behind the hand-pieced quilt top, to add stability, as I make the quilt sandwich. I plan to machine quilt the piece which will be given to granddaughter Celina who requested it.
 

I made three more zippered snack bags, two of which have already been gifted. The Haribo Goldbears (gummy bears) bag and it's contents were given to my line dance instructor who has previously shared with our class that her Wednesday night card club eats gummy bears soaked in various kinds of alcohol. I understand that these bears have already been drinking rum!

I also caught up to December 2 on my 2019 temperature quilt. It was a couple months worth of cutting and piecing, and what a relief to see a return to some cooler temps! The top right block represents an overnight low of 35F, a refreshing color change after a long summer of hot pink, red, and burgundy. Two more columns of drunkards path blocks will go onto the right-hand side, and will include a color key to the temperatures ranges, so the quilt should end up at around 72" X 84". For backing, a rainbow ombrรฉ wide back print is coming from Pineapple Fabric. 

Otherwise, I've been sewing clothes again. This is how my sewing room looks, rearranged so I can turn between my Bernette serger and Bernina 770QE. This past week I made three leggings, and three swing tops.

For leggings, I used this free online pattern. For tops I've made several modifications to Kwik Sew pattern #3766. I've added width and length for "swing," switched from short to 3/4 to long sleeves, and changed the neckline from low to regular, and even boat neck. Google has all the answers for this kind of pattern hacking! Drawing on freezer paper that's been pressed onto pattern pieces is how I keep making changes. Now to have more cool weather so I can wear these things! 

This is the 1,000-piece jigsaw puzzle, Seashore, that Jill bought at Barnes & Noble when she was here. We worked on it together, and while I love working on a puzzle with others, I'm very slow on my own. Still, I finished it Friday, and felt satisfied to re-box it and put away the card table until another visit.

We've noticed that one of our two Hawaiian Ty plants, outside the front door, has begun to bloom! We've never seen this, even though we've had them for six years. Blooms in December?! Does anyone know what prompts these blooms? The colors are gorgeous!

I've listened to two more books, and have reviews for you.

Lies by T.M. Logan is a story that takes place in the UK, and is about a happily married man, Joe Lynch, whose life changes when he and his four year-old son follow "mom's car" into a hotel parking garage, and stumble into her volatile meet-up with another man. From the husband's point of view, everything that happens is a mixed-up misunderstanding, even when the police are interrogating him. The storyline uses Facebook and lots of technology to explain what's happening. From the reader's point of view, we "get" what's going on. But in the end, reality surprises everyone! This is a who-done-it without a body, or much evidence.

Linda's score: 4.2/5.0

This is a psychological thriller that also takes place in the UK. I found Our Kind of Cruelty by Araminta Hall to be very frustrating. It's about a man, Mike Hays, who is obsessed with his girlfriend, Verity Metcalf. During an eight year relationship, Mike and V come to love and know each other so well that they create signals and a pick-up-a-man game they call Crave. When they break-up, and V subsequently marries Angus, Mike accepts the blame for their failed relationship and assures himself that V is surely continuing a version of their Crave game. The story is told by Mike, and I kept wanting to yell, "You're wrong, wrong, wrong!" He's a man who is delusional... obsessed... scary... I disliked the story because I strongly disagreed with his point of view, but the author had me in her clutches. Hence...

Linda's score: 4.4/5.0

I have another book to recommend. Though I haven't yet finished it, it's perfect for the season, and for quilters.

The book is Wrapped Up in Christmas by Janice Lynn. It's about a man who's honorably discharged from the Army. After receiving a Quilts of Valor quilt, he goes looking for the quilt maker so he can tell her how much the quilt means to him.




This morning I'm off to Peace, Love and Ukulele Club, to play and sing my heart out. ๐ŸŽต It's always a cheery time, starting with our opening song: "With a Little Help From My Friends." Linda

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