Monday, March 30, 2020

Self-Isolation Activities

Sadly, the condition of the world, and the US in particular, isn't showing signs of release from this horrific pandemic. Our community of 112,000 people has 37 reported cases of COVID-19, mostly travel-related. Villagers love to cruise. I'm glad we don't.

Given that President Trump announced yesterday that Coronavirus self-isolating orders will remain until April 30, those of us who are quiltmakers, crafters, and makers may be some of the few people who come out of this with a modicum of sanity!

Dan has found a clever way to interact with two of our grandsons. Nine year-old Aesa likes to play chess, so Dan searched the Internet to learn the method for making chess moves using an alpha-numeric chess board layout. They FaceTimed to teach/learn how to do it, and once they worked it out, started text-messaging moves to each other.

Ten year-old Tay isn't much of a game-player, but he's interested in cooking. One evening, Dan spent 90 minutes on FaceTime, helping Tay make Pizza Skillet for his family. Of course, Tay had assistance to: turn on the gas burner; chop onions; and drain hot noodles. Tay's efforts received rave reviews from his family, and not one bit of the dish was leftover! Their next adventure is to bake Apple Spice Cake.

On Saturday, Dan put together a meatloaf and grilled it. Since the weather was gorgeous, he monitored the grill and I joined him later to sit under our Bismarck, admire the cloudless blue sky and wave at people passing in golf carts.

Sunday morning I worshipped with Lutheran Church of Hope. So good! Pastor Mike always captures our attention with a cheery introduction to his message. He explained it as "good medicine" (we all need a smile now and then) during these troubling times.

I'm in my she cave every morning for Bible reading and prayer with a coffee, and then quilting.

And quilting. That's all I'm doing as I've made progress on my Victor Vasarely-inspired challenge quilt.

After completing the quilt top, I realized that to use wool batting, I needed to splice the pieces I had in my stash. My technique is to overlap two batting pieces, cut a wavy line through them, and hand-sew the curved pieces together.

I used a ladder stitch. A herringbone stitch works too. 

I had to piece a backing.... (lots of scrounging for pieces that were large enough)

... before I could pin-baste.

And while I was at it, I pin-basted the 36" X 48" Beginner Modern Quilt I designed for teaching. The background fabric is Kona Splash, the 2019 Kona color of the year. 

These two quilts, along with my temperature quilt and Grandma's vintage quilt are why I have nothing else on my agenda but quilting! 

My intent is to complete my Victor Vasarely-inspired challenge quilt by April 6, the date our Central Florida MQGers are supposed to post Instagram pictures of their completed quilts. If you're on Instagram, check out our hashtag #modartchallenge.

For the VV quilt, I've been walking foot quilting straight lines with 28-weight Aurifil thread using the dark color, dusty blue; medium color, purple; and light color, yellow. All the convex curves are quilted using a ruler foot with the .75-inch echo guide, and orange (# 2235) 50-weight Aurifil. 

Bobbin threads are two colors of 50-weight Aurifl. 

I'm guessing my 50" X 62" quilt will be one of the largest ones, if not the largest. At least that's my justification for how long it seems to be taking to make it! 

About 85 percent of the hand-quilting is finished on my vintage quilt. Here's a picture of the back. I love the poofy texture that wool batting adds. 

Neither of the books I've listened to in the past week are on a current or best-seller book list.

I chose The Invisible Thread by Laura Schroff because of the title - "thread"... Sewing? Nope. The book is the true story of successful advertising executive Laura Schroff who, on a Manhattan street, meets 11 year-old panhandler Maurice. Compelled by an unknown reason, "Miss Laura" befriends Maurice and makes a difference in his life. The story is about Maurice's uncertain circumstances, living conditions, and experiences he shares with Laura during the more than 30 years of their friendship.

Linda's score: 3.7/5.0

Beyond the Night by Marlo Schalesky is a faith-infused book about the lives of Madison, a young woman going blind due to genetic Stargardt disease, and her friend Paul. They each begin to realize they're falling in love just as Madison's eyesight begins to fail, complicating their relationship. Neither wants to "pity" the other into a serious relationship. I thought this story moved along v-e-r-y slowly, as the author used it to repeat and often reiterate the question, "Why did God allow this to happen?"

Linda's score: 3.4/5.0

I am fully aware that Coronavirus is no laughing matter, but let me leave you with something smile-worthy. This is a legit Instagram post. Don't you feel for all those parents who are trying to homeschool, many for the first time? 

Hang in there, my friends. Wash your hands. Disinfect doorknobs. Be safe. Linda

Monday, March 23, 2020

From the She Cave

Since the gravity of the Coronavirus settled-in last week, it's been challenging to deal with a range of emotions: sadness, disbelief, hopefulness, despair, gratefulness, acceptance, faith.... You too?

Mostly there's an awful grappling with the surreality of the world.

I FaceTimed last week with my friend Edith @swissquilter in Switzerland, and today with my friend Di @darlingdi in Sydney, Australia. They're each living through exactly what we are in the US. Is it wrong to find a little bit of comfort in that? Like... we're all in this together. But each day the vastness of the pandemic smacks me again in the face.

Di says she wakes up each morning feeling a weight, something heavy on her mind. Then, she's gobsmacked all over again, remembering that coronavirus is threatening everyone, and she is self-isolating. The daily re-realization is still hard to come to terms with.

Then there's learning a new normal. Practice social distancing. Staying at home, and generally accepting that attending activities won't happen for... indefinitely. Last Tuesday, March 17, our Kansas City families learned that schools have been suspended through the end of the school year. Kids won't return to school until August! I can't help but empathize with high school seniors who will miss a graduation ceremony, and more. My sympathies lie with our daughter too, who now must not only run her tech company from home, but figure out how to homeschool nine and ten year old boys. It's the same scenario for our Texas family. Working parents certainly have even greater burdens.

We had planned an early April trip to Kansas City, to celebrate my dad's 90th birthday. Of course, that's postponed indefinitely. But the trip meant missing the April 6 Central Florida MQG meeting where Mid-Century Modern Artist Challenge quilts would be revealed. Though that meeting too has been cancelled, I hadn't planned to enter because 1) I wouldn't be at the meeting for the reveal; and 2) my 2020 goal is to make only large, useable quilts. I had no time to make a big quilt.

Coronavirus changed everything.

As a maker, I am somewhat bolstered by the awareness that I can spend every day in my sewing room.

Except for an hour of daily exercise, I'm now in my "she cave," as Dan calls it, all the time.

From solid fabrics I started cutting out diamond shapes to make a quilt inspired by this Victor Vasarely artwork. I tried a layout with triangle-in-a-square blocks made a couple years ago. No good.

Then, I switched out the triangles with Drunkard's Path blocks made with a Classic Curves ruler. Better.

More blocks, and more iterations of the layout. Darks to the center; lights to the outside. This is near to how it looks as I've begun piecing.

I'm fairly certain I sometimes lose my mind when creating, because I sure wasn't thinking about how  those angles would need to be pieced! They're nearly all set-in seams. I can safely say that more than half of every sewn intersection has been taken apart and resewn to achieve a modicum of accuracy. 

Dan walked in and commented that my she cave had "blown up," and I should take a picture. Don't ya love a creative mess?

Wednesday was my birthday - a birthday I'll now always associate with Coronavirus. Since we couldn't safely go out for dinner, Dan said he'd make me whatever I wanted. No problem! His pizza is amazing, in large part due to the fact he makes a scratch crust. He started it in the morning, refrigerated it, punched it down, chilled it again... and then worked his magic, even adding bacon among the toppings. It was fantastic!

Saturday was "National Quilting Day," and until I saw on IG that South Florida MQG encouraged members to hang a quilt outside (on a front door, across a railing, on a garage door), I didn't think much about it. So, my 2018 Charming Postage Plus quilt hung in the Bismarck palm, along with a sign "National Quilting Day" until two fellas came to mow the lawn in the mid-afternoon.

A testament to how life has changed is Sunday morning worship. I am grateful that I can still attend church online. Sitting in my favorite chair, looking out at a beautiful day, and hearing the good Word from a skilled pastor is the best way to be assured that God is still in control. 2 Corinthians 4:7-9 is a reminder that we're jars of clay, and power is found in the Lord. 

During these days of isolation, if you're in need of a good Word from God, go to this webpage to attend one of Lutheran Church of Hope's many weekend worship services. Also, I highly recommend "Pastor Mike Drop," a new podcast filled with humor and good messages.

In random news... The Modern Quilt Guild has announced a display of temperature quilts at QuiltCon 2022. In their publicity about it, the MQG used a picture of my temp quilt (they first asked for permission). Mine is in the middle.  

Also, the Wollongong Modern Quilt Guild (Australia) created quilt kits from blocks made and sent for bushfire-affected families. My tree of Australia quilt block was included in the publicity about the kits. Mine is the top middle block, and I have a tutorial here on my blog.

On April 15, I'm supposed to begin teaching the first of five Beginner Quiltmaking lessons. Though at this point I don't think the class will start on that date, I'm working on a new quilt design to offer students. I always offer four patterns to choose from, and I wanted a modern option.

This is an EQ8 version of the design I came up with. It intentionally includes features I want to teach: 1) single patches; 2) strips sewn together and subcut; 3) half-square triangles; and 4) borders, as negative space. I'm piecing it now. 

Two more audiobooks are on my "Books Read" list, but neither of them are getting high scores. Since our public library stopped allowing us to check out Hoopla audiobooks, we've been left with only Axis 360 and RBDigital titles. Those book selections are less than up-to-date releases. 

The Bar Harbor Retirement Home for Famous Writers by Terri-Lynne DeFino is about Cecibel, an orderly at a retirement home who befriends several of the home's residents, including a famous author whose work she greatly admires. Lost in her own world of secrets and a tragedy that leaves half her face disfigured, Cecibel becomes involved in the unexpected development of a book that several of the seniors start writing, passing off each subsequent stage of the story to one after the other, without planning the storyline development. Much of this book is about that on-going ficticious story of unattainable love. The story is interesting, but unmemorable.

Linda's score: 2.8/5.0
When I began listening to The Vow, written by Kim and Krickett Carpenter, I was engaged because I quickly realized that the co-authors were writing about their own, real-life, faith-filled story. The book follows the path of their meeting, falling in love, wedding, and a few months later, a horrible automobile accident that caused Krickett to lose her memory of Kim. The rest of the book is about Kim staying with Krickett through her rehabilitation, wooing her, their "remarriage" (Krickett was unable to ever remember their first wedding), and "happily ever after." I loved reading about the power of God and prayer in both their lives. I knew that a movie by the same name had been made in 2012. What I didn't know until writing this review is that after 25 years of marriage, in 2018 Kim admitted unfaithfulness, and they divorced. So much for the vow.  

Linda's score: 2.5/5.0

I hope you're finding peace in your self-isolation. Linda

Tuesday, March 17, 2020

Curated Quilts Challenge

Though the Coronavirus is no laughing matter, it feels good to chuckle. This one got me.

While at QuiltCon (yes, it was "eons" ago - February 20-23) I stopped at the Curated Quilts booth. If you haven't heard of Curated Quilts... it's a publication of modern quilts, written in a journal style. There's no advertising and it's printed on heavier-than-magazine paper.

Each quarterly issue has a theme. Past themes have been: triangles, black and white, curves, appliqué, "well said" (text), etc.

At QuiltCon, co-owners Amy @amyscreativeside and Christine passed out cards with information about the next challenge.

The next mini quilt challenge is half-square triangles using the design technique of subtraction - removing design elements to create more negative space.

The designated colors palette (shown on the postcard) could use some or all of the following fabric colors: soft pink, orange, golden yellow, frosty blue, and cool-tone neutrals such as silver to graphite.

It's a color palette that's "not me." But, I'm usually up for this challenge because quilts need only be between 10" X 10" to 16" X 16" square.

As soon as I returned from QC, I began designing in EQ8, and across several days came up with a satisfactory design. It doesn't knock my socks off, but it fulfills every requirement. My fabric colors are an exact match to the postcard.

I made the quilt sandwich with Quilter's Dream Wool, and used a Fine Line semi-circle ruler to quilt rows of curves across the quilt. Thread is dove gray Aurifl.

I like this brand of ruler because each ruler has a post (or two) that can be held to help guide the ruler.

To keep the quilt within the required dimension, I faced it using this faced binding tutorial on Bernina's "We All Sew" blog.

Here's my finished small quilt is 16" X 16". 

I submitted my entry on March 6. The deadline for submission is April 1, in case you want to join in. Here's where to submit.

As all of us are now fully comprehending, the coronavirus pandemic means we're in for a long stretch of social distancing. And no doubt, like me, you're wondering about the long-term ramifications - to families, schools, small businesses, and our overall economy. It's worrisome enough to make us speculate ourselves into a tizzy. Or at the least, cause sleeplessness.

Several quilters suggested reading Psalm 91 in the Bible where many verses offer comfort and assurance. God is always in control.

Psalm 91:4-10
He will cover you with his feathers, and under his wings you will find refuge.
You will not fear...the pestilence that stalks in the darkness, nor the plague that destroys at midday.
If you say, "The Lord is my refuge," and you make the Most High your dwelling, no harm will overtake you, no disaster will come near your tent.
Believe. Pray.  May you be at peace in the knowledge of His loving care. Linda

Saturday, March 14, 2020

Social distancing? No problem!

Given worldwide concerns about the Coronavirus pandemic, life hasn't seemed quite normal. Though we had company earlier this week and enjoyed a lovely visit with my cousin and his wife, awareness of the Coronavirus cast a shadow on everything. Then, emails began to trickle in, canceling or postponing this or that activity.

I was scheduled to teach a free motion quilting class here, Wednesday afternoon; that has been postponed.

I was contracted to give a free motion quilting presentation to members of Ladies of the Lakes Quilter's Guild in Lakeland. I apologetically backed out. The program person told me their members would be in attendance. Really? At this point, wouldn't it be irresponsible to not adopt social-distancing?

Apparently people have differing views about this pandemic. I'm erring on the side of caution, and have no problem staying at home. After all, I'm a quilter! Does anyone who makes quilts have a hard time ever finding "something to do?"

When I was feeling a little overwhelmed by the worsening Coronavirus news, I turned to "mindless" piecing, or "mood sewing." I use those terms because it's the kind of piecing that's satisfying when I don't have to pay attention to what my hands are doing. I can be introspective. Spend time in thoughtful prayer.

This week's mindless sewing was piecing another dozen blocks for my #colorblockpostagestampquilt. These are 1-1/2" X 1-1/2" squares from my leaders/enders basket, alternated with 1-1/2" X 1-1/2" solids. Each 64-patch block finishes at 8" X 8". I have more solids cut/ready to go.

During travel time to/from QuiltCon in Austin, Texas, I English paper pieced Prudence Quilt blocks. Since I'm randomly using scraps and fussy cutting some yardage, I wanted to see how the blocks look together. I'm liking it! In particular, I'm happy about choosing the small black and white stripe for in-between blocks.

This project was part of last week's sewing activities. Daughter Jill, for whom I made this Moroccan Tiles quilt, requested a table runner from the same fabrics, using the same design. It's 13" X 27-1/2".

Every evening, after several hours of sewing at the machine, I sit down in my comfy aqua-colored swivel-glider, pick up grandma's vintage quilt, swing my Daylight Slimline lamp over my lap, and big stitch quilt X's across the quilt top. I'm quilting with Sue Spargo Eleganza #8 pearl cotton.

You can see exactly where it's quilted! (Gosh, doesn't my new camera take great pictures?!) See the ripples? That's the quilted part. See the smooth fabric a little higher? Especially along the border fabric. That's the unquilted part. 

Compared to last week's lively audiobook review - Where'd You Go, Bernadette - this week's listen is extremely tame. I checked out a Christian book - Esther: A Woman of Strength and Dignity by Charles Swindoll.

I've always liked Esther - the only book in the Bible that doesn't mention God, or use His name. I listened to this because I adore and have watched many times the movie "One Night With the King," a beautiful movie portrayal of Esther's story.

Oh my! I just looked and found the movie on YouTube! Watch it here.

Reverend Swindoll provided numerous insights into Esther's seemingly fairytale story. She's an orphaned Jewish girl being raised by her Uncle Mordecai. She's a beauty, and is invited into King Ahasuerus's (AKA Xerxes) palace to be pampered and adorned to meet the king. When Esther is favored by King Ahasuerus she marries him. Then, after the king's prime minister, Haman, decrees that all Jews must be killed, Esther boldly steps in for an audience with the king. She tells the king that she too is a Jew. Still he grants her every request, even to the point of executing Haman... on gallows Haman had built to execute Mordecai! Esther then issues a new edict that saves her fellow Jews from death. It's an interesting and remarkable account of God's sovereignty. He can do all things, through anyone, and accomplish good. It's a message every one of us needs to hear. 

Linda's score: 4.0/5.0

Be safe. Stay healthy my friends, Linda

Thursday, March 5, 2020

Camera, Ruler Quilting Program, and Favorite Book

It seems I have so many little things to share this week that I don't know where to begin.

Tuesday afternoon, my darling new Canon SX620 camera arrived.

The camera had a work-out as soon as I could unbox it and get the battery plugged in for a charge! I began taking photos to complete the Keynote presentation I gave to the Orlando MQG on Wednesday morning! I had a short amount of time to learn how to utilize the camera's ability to wirelessly upload pictures to the Canon Gateway... and then download the pictures to my MacBook, to insert into my presentation!

It worked though, and on Wednesday morning I happily shared ruler quilting on a domestic machine with about 50 OMQG members.

I gave my program in a big classroom attached to The Sewing Studio Super Store in Maitland.

Even though my Bernina 770QE is a large, I took it with me because I knew I'd feel most comfortable demonstrating on it.

The store has high-tech equipment, including a close-up camera to project my ruler quilting demonstration onto a big screen. I should have gotten a manicure!

Afterward I answered questions, and gratefully accepted positive responses to the program and demo.

Afterward I was given this aqua-colored Orlando MQG zip tote (on the left), filled with swag from their chapter - a drink bottle; can koozie; small zipper bag; notebook; along with a lovely thank-you note. I was certainly treated royally!

Following the meeting, I spent time browsing through the The Sewing Studio, looking through a big variety of fabrics and products. A garment sewist like me really enjoys considering all the possibilities. Fabrics and a few notions came home with me - Who can't use a new, sharp seam ripper? And have you ever seen  a disappearing marker with pink ink? Supplies are to make a special tote.

Also, The Sewing Studio is going to sell my Florida quilt pattern!

The quilt will be displayed, and patterns sold in The Sewing Studio booth at the Original Sewing and Quilting Expo in Lakeland on March 19, 20, and 21.

It's now time to get my sewing room sorted, put everything away including setting up my Bernina, and get back to quilting my temperature quilt. The MQG contacted me today, asking permission to show my temp quilt in their next e-newsletter. Of course I agreed. I must finish quilting it!

Boy, do I ever have a fun book to recommend! It has achieved the status of "my favorite book in 2020. "Where'd You Go Bernadette by Maria Semple was published in 2012, and released as a movie in 2019. Cate Blanchette starred, though I can't imagine the movie is nearly as good as the book. Anyway. I don't know how I missed this, but... oh my goodness, am I ever glad I listened. It is delightful!

Bernadette Fox is a former architect, and reclusive mom to a genius 15 year-old daughter Bee; and wife of Microsoft mogul Elgin Branch whose T.E.D. talk (according to Soo-Lin) is the fourth most-viewed T.E.D. talk on the Internet. By her unusual behavior, Bernadette manages to ostracize parents at Bee's private school, and next-door neighbor Audrey... who herself is slightly psychotic. "The gnats" talk about Bernadette. There's a mud slide. The FBI investigates. Bernadette disappears. Elgin's life changes when Soo-Lin becomes his admin. Bee believes her mom is still alive. Bee and her dad head to Antarctic on vacation. It's just a wild and funny story.

The narrator is actress Kathleen Wilhoite who enthusiastically creates believable characters and voices. One particular scene in which Soo-Lin composes an email to her friend Audrey, had me laughing out loud. Over and over. Of course, my hubs wanted to know what I was laughing about. Now I want him to listen to the book too. It completely tickled my fancy. (Profanity is used a few times.)

If you read it, please let me know what you thought.

Linda's score 4.9/5.0



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