Thursday, February 27, 2020

Bye-Bye Bloglovin', and QuiltCon

Bye-Bye Bloglovin'
If you are reading this blog post, thank you! Today (Thursday, February 27) I made the decision to REMOVE my blog from Bloglovin' and close my account with Bloglovin'. I'm sorry to have done that if you use Bloglovin as your blog-reader. But after figuring out that in ONE week, 11 of my "new followers" were using fake names (often, "Bloglover") and promoting sex sites, I was fed up. Bloglovin' does not provide any way of blocking perverts, and I've put up with it for years. Enough is enough.

Thank you for being here on your own!

To QuiltCon and Back
So... I was away from home for less than a week, but it felt like so much longer! On the other hand, the days passed in a blink!

I traveled by car to QuiltCon in Austin, Texas, where I stayed four nights in a time-share arranged by a friend. Five of us stayed in the Railyard Condos, directly across the street from the Austin Convention Center. It was a handy location! I could see the convention center doors from my loft window, and was a quick run across the street when it rained!

Pictures make the place look charming, but it had plenty of "honey-dos" that needed doing. We were on the third floor. No elevators. We climbed a lot of stairs. Hauling a suitcase up/down that spiral staircase wasn't easy.

But we agreed that the convenience was a nice trade-off. So close to the show. And lectures. And classes. Even a quick run to the condo for an apple and power bar was nice.

This is the Best of Show quilt called "Starring You" by Peter Byrnes of Toronto Canada. I had a chance to visit with him about his quilt and he told me that he domestic machine quilted it on a Janome machine, and tracked 200 hours of quilting. At one point he said he threw the whole quilt on the floor of the closet because he was sick of it. It pays to persevere, right? I am telling myself that after how many hours of quilting my temperature quilt?!

This is Peter with another of his award-winning quilts called "Cityscape." It won Best Machine Quilting: Frameless.

This is Marla Varner of @pennylanequilts who I also had a chance to visit with. Her quilt, "For the Love of Squircles" won Quilting Excellent Award and is entirely hand-appliqued and big stitch hand quilted.

This is Marla's quilt from the back.

I took my beloved Canon S100 camera with me to QuiltCon (QC), and only managed to take two pictures before the camera stopped working. I was glad to have my iPhone as back-up even though the picture quality isn't as good as the Canon. I'm not exaggerating when I say I took more than 300 pictures at QuiltCon! Therefore, I'm finding it difficult to pick and choose the quilts I want to share.

This quilt really attracted my attention. "Triangle Color Study III" was made by Nicholas Ball @quiltsfromtheattic of the UK. About a week before QC, he started an Instagram #improvtrianglesewalong. Some gorgeous quilt tops are appearing! I'd love to give this improv design a try.

Here's a detail photo. Tiny matchstick quilting was in abundance at QC. 

Another favorite is "Let's Get Loud" by Kathryn Upitis @kupitis, a doctor who lives in Canada. Love the quilt name and that she received a third place award in improv.

Our Central Florida MQG participated in the QuiltCon Charity Quilt Challenge, and managed a meet-up to get a group picture in front of our quilt. You can read more about our quilt here

Lots of other MQG chapters made quilts too. Quilts could be only black/gray/white (no color), include words, and be made in designated dimensions. 

Hands down, the best quilt in the display was made by the Tulsa (Oklahoma) MQG. It's "A Day in the Life of a Quilter" and is meant to be "read" beginning at the upper left-hand corner. I read the quilt several times, giggling more each time. It's just clever!
The lightening bolt and wink at the end... 😂

I saw a lot of "old" friends, who I'd met at previous QCs, and new quilters I "know" through Instagram... and forgot to take pictures of most of them! I was so caught up in conversations that taking a photo never occurred to me. Thankfully, my California friend Elizabeth, who blogs at, suggested a picture together. Our chat time was way too brief, Elizabeth!

When I met up with @mtweedel, another Instagramer who's from Texas, we chatted our way through the quilts, and suggested taking a picture of me with my quilt. Thank you, Melissa! What a coincidence that I dressed like my quilt that day! I'm now very grateful to have this picture because... my quilt was purchased! Yes! Entrants can indicate whether a quilt is NFS (not for sale), or put a price on it. "L Cabin" was bought by an Australian! I'm tickled that someone liked it enough to buy it, and the money will cover the cost of my new Canon SX620 camera! Isn't it funny how some things just work out? Win-win.

I attended several wonderful lectures presented by: Heather Black @quiltachusetts; Steph Skardal @stephskardal; Maritza Soto; Victoria Findlay Wolfe @victoriafindlaywolfe; Teresa Duryea Wong; and Mary Fons @yomaryfons and her mother, Marianne. For a couple years, I worked for Marianne and Liz Porter, when they were publishing Love of Quilting magazine in Winterset, Iowa. It was especially interesting to listen to this mother-daughter team talk through the changes in quiltmaking. Their lecture was: 50 Years of Quilting in America. (Yes, that's an open wine bottle and wine glasses on the table between them.)

As I was leaving the lecture hall, who should I see but Liz Porter (on the left). Apparently she lives in Austin, and was hosting a mutual Des Moines friend, Lynn W. They were rushing out for a dinner reservation, so we didn't have any chat time, but Lynn suggested taking a picture. I haven't seen either of these women for at least 17 years! This is another of the reasons I adore QC... unexpected meet-ups.

If you've been following my blog for a while, you know that in 2018 I made an improv quilt based on then-eight year-old grandson Austin's artwork. I entered "Owl Always Love You" into QC in 2019 and 2020, and the quilt was rejected both times. 

This visit to Austin was the perfect time to finally deliver the quilt to Austin who is 10 years old now. He was thrilled about getting it. and asked questions about how it was made. I read the quilt label to him. 

He agree to let me keep the artwork that inspired the quilt. (This pic was taken in 2018.)

He wanted to sleep under it as soon as I gave it to him. Thinking about this, I'm just warm and fuzzy all over.

I'll soon write another blog post about my impressions of QC quilts... like that so many of the quilts included big stitch quilting. In the meantime, go here to see pictures of all the award-winning quilts. I think you'll agree that they're wonderful! Linda

Thursday, February 20, 2020

Another Cross-body Bag

I like my orange-and-cork Zippy Crossbody bag (pattern by Sallie Tomato) so much, I wanted another one in aqua. It seems I wear aqua more often than orange, so it was the best color choice.

You can see how much I like aqua. Pics were taken in my sewing room, in my aqua chair.

Aqua cork, purchased during QuiltCon 2019 in Nashville, looks good with Christa Watson's "Fandangle" fabric by Benartex. If you're really observant, you'll have noticed that my orange crossbody bag is also made with Fandangle, in the orange colorway.

Two zippers are on the front side, and one is on top.

On the back is another zipper, and my addition of an ID badge pocket.

Every wristlet, tote or bag I make gets the added feature of an interior zipper pocket. I follow this Easy Zippered Pocket Tutorial by VanillaJoy. That pocket is such a good place for keeping important items secure.

I mustn't neglect to thank Dan for his help!

I discovered I was out of D-rings (two are needed for each side of the bag), and he drove the golf cart 16 miles (round trip!) to JoAnn Fabrics (!) to buy two swivel-clasp/D-ring sets for me. And as long as he was there, bought three yards of Pellon SF101! What a champ to do that so I could keep sewing! Though I'm not sure how much sacrifice it was for him to take a leisurely drive on a beautiful day, while enjoying a cigar!

I'm not in the business of making items to sell. For me, it's no fun making things over and over and over and earning a pittance for it. But when a line dance class acquaintance asked if I'd turn a bag of MandMs into a zipper pouch for her military daughter stationed in Afghanistan, I agreed. I'm still saving bags, mostly coffee bags, to make more. They're such nice gifts. If you haven't yet made any of these, here's a good YouTube video to watch.

My latest audiobook listen is Sixteen Brides by Stephanie Grace Whitson. The story takes place shortly after the Civil War and follows 16 women who sign up to travel from St. Louis to Coyote, Nebraska expecting to leave their pasts behind, and acquire homestead land. Unaware, until they arrive in Plum Creek, that they've been duped, the pluckiest among them make alternate plans. In the process each acknowledges her own innocence (in certain matters), and develop the spirit, backbone and fortitude needed to make their way in an untamed land.

Each chapter begins with a pertinent Bible verse and the plot is liberally sprinkled with faith references to their faith. I find that a refreshing change from the hard language in more trendy novels. The narrator, Ruth Ann Phimister, gives a nice read, but it's apparent she's unfamiliar with farm terminology. Several times she read "hay mow" literally - like "mow the lawn" - rather than the proper pronunciation of "hay MAU" as rhymes with cow. Missed details like that drive me nuts!

Linda's score: 4.0/5.0


Tuesday, February 18, 2020

Florida State Fair

Last Thursday, February 13, Dan and I spent a day at the Florida State Fair in Tampa. It was the first time we'd attended, so we picked a day when a senior ticket discount was offered. It was $9 each to get in; parking was free. The weather was perfect!

Because we're seasoned fairgoers, having attended the Iowa State Fair many consecutive years, I couldn't help but make comparisons during the eight hours we were there.

We watched some of the draft horse pull competition. I didn't take pictures because the arena was in shadow.

Typical for a fair was a focus on agriculture, though Florida's emphasis is on a smaller scale. This container garden included kale.

Kids around a stand were making fresh-squeezed orange juice. We never saw anyone doing this at the Iowa State Fair! 

It seems that aerial rides are a state fair standard, but few people were riding. 

A "big slide" must also be a state fair standard too, though no one was sliding when we looked.

We know how often political views - and candidates - appear at the Iowa State Fair. Often! This is the only booth I saw at the Florida State Fair. 

What Dan and I noticed most, and commented on several times, was low attendance. It's likely more challenging for the fair to complete with all the huge, and wildly popular theme parks. The Florida State Fair is also held during school; Iowa's is in August, before school starts. 

Not one customer to see the albino alligator.

Quilts, needlecrafts, photography, artistry, woodworking, aquariums, and even Lego structures (!) are displayed together in the "Florida Center," a permanent building on the grounds. 

Display space was in abundance, but I didn't see even one modern quilt.

There's also a spacious demo area in the center of the building, but few demos were happening. Likely, different crafters demonstrate on different days. I'm sorry to have missed the weavers, as I am fascinated by loom weaving. Believe it or not, even with more than 1,200 club and activity groups in The Villages, I can't find one that does weaving.

I got a kick out of this "dress" on display. It's "made" of paint chips!  

We listened to a couple bands that we enjoyed, and one of them - Southbound 75 - was especially good. It's too bad that only 40 or so people attended their free show. If they'd been performing somewhere else, doubtlessly they would have attracted a huge crowd.

We stayed until 7 pm or so, to wait until an I-75 Interstate traffic jam cleared. That morning, at 8:20 am, a cattle truck crashed through a guardrail near the exit to Wildwood. We were southbound that morning and we passed more than four miles of stopped northbound traffic.
I felt sick for all the people who had to wait until 4 pm for the road to reopen after gathering 19 dead cattle and rounding-up 83 cattle - "baby cows" according to the news article.

At night, the ferris wheel is especially impressive. It changes colors and radiates various designs.

We concluded that the Iowa State Fair is the one not to miss.

It's included in the book 1000 Places To See Before You Die.

Fair admission is $12 for adults, and parking ranges from $10-$15.

It's more. Bigger. Crowded. Attendance during the ten days of the fair tops 1.3 million people.

Here's one of my blog posts about the Iowa State Fair.

I read the second book in the Jessie Hunt series - The Perfect Block, by Blake Pierce.

Jessie is learning how to become an expert criminal profiler who was herself victimized as a child. Between that horrible experience (watching her father murder her mother), and her soon-to-be ex-husband's attempt to kill her, she carries a lot of emotional baggage while working to enhance her profiling skills as a detective with the Los Angeles police department. She's assigned a case involving the death of a wealthy socialite, and faces personal challenges while trying to solve it.

While I enjoyed the first book, the second book didn't measure-up. The author gives Jessie an unhealthy/unrealistic dose of life challenges, while she behaves incautiously... when she is supposedly gifted with a sixth sense. Also, I still can't figure out how the title relates to the story. Jessie doesn't live on a block; she visits cells blocks. Or maybe "block" is about the subterfuge of a high-security inmate who blocks-out (arranges) Jessie's leads. Hmm.

Linda's score: 2.8/5.0


Friday, February 14, 2020

1,001st Blog Post

I've heard more that one quilter say (write) lately that blogging is making a come-back. This is somewhat heartening news, and is encouraging to me. I have blogged for 11 years. This post is a mile-stone - I've posted 1,001 times! - and more than 1.5 million views of my posts have occurred!

A few interesting statistics about blogs:
  • Most bloggers post 3 to 6 times a month
  • On average, a blogger spends 3.5 hours writing a blog post
  • On average, a blog-reader spends 37 seconds reading a blog post
In light of how challenging it has become to comment on blogs, I am especially grateful for those of you who continue to comment.

{Start Rant}
Blogger (the platform I use for blogging) has "done something" - I am not technologically literate enough to understand  - that no longer allows ME to comment on OTHERS' Blogger blog posts. To be perfectly clear, I cannot comment on anyone's Blogger blog post from my MacBook computer. I must use my phone to comment, and have been doing so since mid-December.

Before you ask... yes, I have attempted changing my computer's security level, and I have loaded and used a browser that isn't Safari. Neither made a difference. I also spent one-on-one time with an Apple tech who concluded that Blogger has a problem. I am SO OVER tapping out comments from my phone! I wrote up my "issue" in Google discussions. No one has replied.

I know I'm not alone with this problem. It all conspires to make blogging even more challenging.
{End Rant}

Did you hear that Paula Jean's Creations, the company that makes Kwik Klip basting tools is shutting down in June?

Just like the demise of Thread Heaven a couple years ago, Kwik Klip tools will no longer be available. When I teach beginner quiltmaking, it's one of the tools I suggest students try, to close their safety pins. Now I'm wondering if I should stock up!

No doubt you're getting tired of seeing my temperature quilt show up in every blog post! But honestly, it's the only thing I've been working on except for occasional brief periods of hand quilting grandma's vintage quilt.

I'm seeing steady progress, especially if I can make myself quilt every day! Ha!

My temperature quilt status report:
  • 378 four-inch blocks
  • each block takes 15 minutes to domestic machine quilt with rulers and free motion quilting
  • 256 blocks have been quilted (64 hours of quilting, so far)
  • 122 blocks have not been quilted (30 more hours needed to finish quilting)
  • I'm 67 percent finished

This week I gave my "Big Stitch Quilting and More" presentation to members of the Central Florida MQG (read about it here). Afterward I received several lovely emails thanking me... something that makes a teacher's heart swell with grateful appreciation. My friend, Jane, took a few pictures of me teaching. When it comes to quilting, I really get into whatever technique I'm talking about!

Odd as it may seem, I'm starting this week's book recommendations with a book I didn't read! Well, I read the first three chapters and then stopped.

Dear Edward by Ann Napolintano flat-out gave me the willies. The book is about a passenger plane flight from Newark to California. Readers get to know quite a few of the passengers before the plane crashes and everyone dies except a 14 year-old boy.

I am terrified of flying. It's all I can do to force myself to walk into an airplane. Listening to the book, I found myself sitting in a seat, anticipating a crash that would inevitably happen. I consulted with @gynconnie who had read the book, and she agreed that it's not a book for me. In fairness, I can't rate it; I won't ever finish it.

The next book, The Dutch House by Ann Patchett was good. The house is outside Philadelphia, and is a stunningly designed home, built by a cigarette baron. Upon the passing of that family, the Conroys move in, wherein the reader gets to know the four Conroys - children Danny and Maeve - and the life they make, including a remarriage, and how they do and don't get along. The plot is charming without any obvious or hidden, motive or mystery. The audiobook is narrated by Tom Hanks who I, at first, found a little off-putting: he doesn't "do voices," as other narrators do. However, as the story unfolds from Danny's perspective, Mr. Hanks does a wonderful job of inflecting believability into his character.

Linda's Score: 4.0/5.0

Thursday, February 6, 2020

More Quilting, This and That

I'm a happy MacBook user again! The Apple store repaired/replaced our MacBook batteries in six days. We picked it up Sunday, and it's working beautifully. I will never stop appreciating what I can do on a computer, as I've been putting the last touches on a "Big Stitch Quilting and More" presentation that I'll present next Monday, February 10 to members of my Central Florida MQG chapter. I'm also working on a "Domestic Machine Quilting With Rulers" presentation that I'll give on March 4 to members of the Orlando MQG. And EQ8 has been invaluable for designing a modern baby quilt for the beginner quiltmaking classes I'll start teaching in April. Hooray for technology!

This is still going on. Quilting my 2019 temperature quilt. Endlessly it seems. 

By my latest count, I've quilted 211 of the 378 Drunkard's Path blocks. That means I'm 56 percent done. My aim is to quilt 10 blocks a day, which takes about three hours, because I'm changing thread colors often, and tying off thread tails as I go. So that means at least 16 more days of quilting - unless I really go for it! 

For a brief respite from quilting, last weekend I made this Zippy Crossbody bag (pattern by Sallie Tomato) using orange cork and Christa Watson's "Fandangle" fabric. As you can see, the front side has two exterior pockets with another at the top, and one on the back! (Pockets are why I like the pattern.) I used skinny strips of cork as zipper tab ties.

Though I followed the pattern, I made two additions to it, the first being a clear vinyl pocket on the exterior back, to hold my Villager ID card.

My second modification was to add one more interior zipper pocket.  

That's a total of five zippers in this 8" X 8" bag! Love it!

A couple weeks ago we went to Blue Spring State Park, near Orange City, Florida, specifically to see the manatees. When the weather turns colder, these amazing creatures swim away from the colder ocean water to inland rivers and springs. The day we visited, the park's manatee count was 293. 

They're such graceful creatures. I love the "shushing" blowing sound they make when their nostrils break the water for air. They come up every two to five minutes, but can remain submerged for as long as 20 minutes.

Every dark shadow in the water was a manatee. 

I'm so glad we had a chance to visit and afterward, eat a good Cajun lunch at Fire on the Bayou.

If you're interested in life in The Villages, all I can say is "It's still growing!" I don't have numbers to hand, but at least 2000 more houses are in the works. Where we were once considered "living on the south end," we're now in the middle. As The Villages sprawls farther south (even along Interstate 75!), the need increases for more rec centers, shopping, and golf cart accessible roads.

This is the only place you will ever find golf cart bridges crossing major highways. The first of three new golf cart bridges was set in place in August 2019, but hasn't yet been used. It crosses state highway 44, but there are no golf cart roads to/from the bridge! Yet.

This is my picture of the second of two golf cart bridges that will cross four lanes of highway 44. Video here. Each bridge is constructed alongside its location. Then, on a designated night, the highway is closed so the bridge can be lifted into position. It's fascinating, I think. 

A third golf cart bridge will cross the Florida Turnpike! This is an artist's rendering of it. 

Being able to go everywhere in a golf cart is one of the reasons we love living here. Our golf cart (the second one we've owned) will be five years old in March and it has nearly 26,000 miles on it.

Each Saturday Dan and I take our golf cart to the Farmer's Market to buy a week's supply of vegetables for daily juicing. Every juicing includes spinach, celery, carrots, cucumbers, lemon, turmeric root, ginger root, and kale - along with mother's apple vinegar, flaxseed oil, and apple (for me). Lately, the kale has been absolutely gorgeous! This is three huge bunches that more than filled one side of the sink. Can't you just see "healthy"?

Since visiting the Apple store on Sunday, my audiobook-listening has gotten easier. While at the store I inquired about AirPods - wireless earbuds, and happily I came home with them.

They're so easy to use! Just charge the little case, and then slip the pods inside the case (they're magnetic, so they pop right in) to charge them.

The audio is very clear, and they're great for phone conversations. Now I'm lovin' that I can quilt at my machine, with the quilt piled all over, and not worry anymore about the cord (between the earbuds and iPhone) getting tangled in the quilt. In fact, the AirPods work 40 feet away from the iPhone! 

When I'm listening to a book, and need to hear something (someone) else, all I have to do is slip a pod from my ear, and the book (or music, or radio) stops. When I put the pod back in my ear, the sound resumes right where I left off before removing it! How great is that?!

All of my audiobook-listening has been through my public library apps: Hoopla, and Axis 360. As of February 1, books are now also available through RBDigital. Happily, that gives us Outlander (by Diana Gabaldon) lovers access to the Outlander series audiobooks. Yay! Even though I've already listened three times, a fourth listen would be just fine. Don't you agree? I would also like to listen to Gone With the Wind which I read 50 years ago (not kidding), but I can't find that title on any of these three apps.

So, from RBDigital I borrowed The Innocence of Father Brown by G.K Chesterton. Because I enjoy the Father Brown public television series, I thought I'd get a different perspective from the books. Apparently Mr. Chesterton is the second most-famous British detective author, right behind Arthur Conan Doyle who wrote Sherlock Holmes books. Mr. Chesterton's Father Brown character first appeared in a series of short stories in 1910. The Innocence of Father Brown is a compilation of those first dozen stories.

After listening, I especially admire the acting skills of Mark Williams who plays Father Brown on TV. I kept picturing him in each story. Still, the short stories didn't hold the same appeal. Perhaps it's because Mr. Chesterton's Father Brown smokes a cigar; or he travels to different places (doesn't seem to have a parish of his own); or that his friend is a Frenchman, Flambeau, a former "bad guy" who changes his ways and becomes a detective (there's no always-irritable Inspector Mallory); or that Father Brown doesn't pedal anywhere - though he does carry a ratty umbrella. The writing style was archaic and involved frequent conversations discussing ethical and moral philosophies, apropos to the time, but not my cup of (English) tea.

Linda's score: 3.2/5.0



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