Saturday, June 27, 2020

E-Zine and Other Stuff

Do you read e-zines published by fabric companies? I recently discovered Modern by the Yard e-zine published by Benartex.

Issue #14 of Modern by the Yard, the free Benartex publication was released today. Inside are a couple of free patterns, and a closer look at several Benartex fabric collections. 

Along with two other quilters (Cheryl Brickey @meadowmistdesigns,and Laura Piland @sliceofpi), last month I was invited to peruse the Benartex online fabric collections to put together, and name, a fabric bundle for a section of the e-zine called "Mix & Match." 

On page 7 of the e-zine, you'll see the fabric bundle I put together and named "Tropical State of Mind." No surprise there, I'm sure. I was attracted to the palm frond print, and aquas, and sunny yellow... basically, beach colors. 

This is the screen shot I created to see what the fabrics look like together. That palm print! 😍 I think I need it for a face mask. 

I hope you'll enjoy looking through the e-zine, and past publications too! You'll find quite a few lovely, free quilt patterns. 

Last week I had the opportunity to join a Zoom presentation hosted by the Broward Quilt Expo (Boca Raton, Florida). About 80 of us attended to see and hear a program about Hobbs Batting, led by Stephanie. She sure knows her stuff! Being a Quilter's Dream fan myself, and assuming I knew everything about batting there is to know (Ha!) I learned how much I didn't know! Stephanie definitely knows her wadding, and provided information about different types (poly, cotton, wool, blends), uses (kids, charity, heirloom, quilt show entries), and how to work with them.

Since I often choose wool batting for a quilt I will enter in a show, I was interested to learn about Hobb's Tuscany 80/20 cotton/wool blend - a nice fiber combination with the stability of cotton and the loft of wool. Thinking I needed to try a batt, you can imagine my delight when the next morning I discovered that the daily batting sale (emailed to me) by was for Hobbs' Tuscany Cotton/Wool blend! This is the king-sized batt I'm looking forward to trying. Apparently it's a favorite of Edyta Sitar. 

In any case, should you know of a quilt guild that's looking for a educational program, and a free one at that, I suggest you get in touch with Stephanie at Hobbs Bonded Fibers

I've continued to work on the quilt I'm making for the upcoming release of Kristy Lea's @quietplay new "Create" fabric collection by Riley Blake. My design uses foundation paper-piecing. 

This week I tried the tutorial to make a 7" X 7" Nine Patch Wonder Block Potholder. It's easy to put together! Basically, start with a three-color nine-patch block using 4" X 4" patches; sew the block to itself along the sides; insert a double layer of Insul-Brite; hand-sew to close the opening; and run a few lines of walking foot quilting across it. I'm definitely making more of these. 

Mask-making was once again in my purview as my hair-stylist admired mine and asked me to make her a black one. I made her two, several for family, and more for us. Wanting to keep ours handy, I hung two 3M hooks on the laundry room wall: His and Hers. We'll be able to grab and go out through the garage, and then toss them in the washer when we return home. 

It certainly looks liking we'll be wearing masks for months to come! Florida COVID-19 cases are exponentially increasing - 8,900 new cases on Thursday alone!

Though the majority of new cases are in the Miami and Orlando areas, on Thursday, nine more people in The Villages tested positive.

This chart, from the Florida Department of Health, provides excellent information about cases, hospitalizations, and deaths reported until June 26. Note how each increases as age increases. 

Florida is heading the wrong direction! Re-opening our rec centers July 6? Reopening Disney World July 11? Starting school on August 6? Can these things safely happen? If they do, I'm pretty sure I'll be staying home. Yay me - and you! - for having a healthy hobby that keeps us contentedly occupied!

And yay for reading a very satisfying book!

Ordinary Grace
 by William Kent Krueger undeniably transported me to another time and place - New Bremen, Minnesota. Perhaps because that state has many similarities to Iowa, the author managed to evoked all the sensations of summer in the Midwest - the feeling of dirt under my feet; the oppression of hot, humid air; and the smell of creosote on railroad ties. The story belongs to 13 year-old Frank who, in the summer of 1961 is thrust into the world of adulthood, and looks at deaths. Frankie's 9 year-old brother stutters; his sister is a gifted musician and composer; dad is the Methodist church minister, and mother is an accomplished choir director and vocalist. The is the summer that will shape and change all their lives forever.

Linda's score: 4.7/5.0


Tuesday, June 23, 2020

Eighth Anniversary

Eight years ago today we moved into our brand new home here in The Villages.

I blogged about the entire move:
It took us a while to understand Florida weather patterns which come from all directions, and accept that June/July are basically the rainy season. Still, we embrace the warm weather (don't miss snow, ice, or freezing temps even a bit) and love being able to go almost everywhere locally in our golf cart. 

Then, in spite of my knock-you-flat breast cancer diagnosis in February 2013 followed by the October 2013 diagnosis of severe peripheral artery disease (P.A.D.) in my legs, I've come through these conditions with appreciation for the skilled doctors and progressive medical technology. Both of us are more physically fit than ever, and other than Coronavirus changing our lives (everyone's lives!), we enjoy our favorite pastimes. Only being too-far from children and grand-children in Kansas and Texas makes me me second-guess moving here. 

From My She-Cave
You-all know what I think about spending time in my wonderful she-cave! I clock more hours in my sewing room than any other. Yay for a husband who cooks!

I'm really hesitant to show you the status of the improv quilt that's been on my design wall. I'm not at all satisfied with it. While I like the yellow X's and how they draw the eye around the quilt, the rest of it - particularly the center - looks like mush. It's now pieced together at 55" W X 53" L and definitely needs something more.  

I've auditioned several fabric colors, thinking to insert a huge X or other shape - triangle? - right through the middle of design. This Painter's Palette solid iris looks good, but I'm hesitant to take the next step.

In the past months I've made a few masks for friends and family, using the free pattern by Orange Dot Quilts. After my hair-stylist admired mine and asked for a black one like it, I made more. With Florida's cases of Coronavirus on the rise, quite honestly, I think we'll be wearing masks for months and months. The more masks we have to wash and wear, the easier it will be to have a clean one at the ready.

You can guess which three fabrics are mine. Yep, the tropical prints on the left. Hubs prefers this style mask (not smooth-fitting) and the 1/8"-wide elastic that he thinks is more comfortable than 1/4"-wide that I tried.

Last week, a long awaited parcel arrived from Riley Blake fabrics with 27 different prints/colors. These are a new collection called "Create," by Kristy Lea @quietplay in Australia. Bright colors and prints include hexagons, stripes, stars, diamonds, triangles, and bees with rainbow-colored wings! Fabrics will be available in the US in July; in Australia in August. 

Kristy invited me to be part of an upcoming blog hop, so I have until July 21 to complete my creation with fat eighths. I came up with a design using EQ8 and have begun cutting and sewing. More to come!

Interesting Tidbit
Though I'm not a rugby fan, Dan is. He records Australia and New Zealand matches and watches them at his leisure. He pointed out what the NRL (National Rugby League) has done in Australia, and I think it's genius! "Fan in the Stand" is an initiative at Westbank Stadium in Parramatta, New South Wales, Australia. Since, due to Coronavirus no one is permitted to attend a match in the 30,000-seat stadium, for $22 a fan can have a life-sized picture of themselves seated in the stands! I took this photo of our TV screen when players in the foreground allowed a close-up of the stands. Isn't it a clever concept? A fan is positioned in every other seat in the lower deck, and randomly positioned in single, double, triple and quadruple groups, presumably social-distancing, in the upper decks. As well, matches include crowd noises and music during breaks. All for the sake of the sport, right?  Read about it and see more pictures here

Book Reviews
I apologize for the odd formatting here! I am using New Blogger, and am unable to get it to format with the book picture on the left, and the text on the right - as it appearing (properly) in the second book review. It simply won't work here! Very frustrating. Google/Blogger continues to do an excellent job of attempting to push me away from blogging. Another complaint is that pictures are uploading, but then cannot be found to insert into this post! All I can see is pages of blue question marks. Ergh. WordPress is looking better and better!
After last week's story about a Jane Austen book club, I decided to listen to a Jane Austen title: Emma. While I'm glad to have read such a classic, I can't say I was enthralled with the slow-moving plot. Maybe it's because I knew what to expect, based on seeing the movie. Otherwise, I would have been somewhat lost. Maybe you'll be surprised when I say that it was difficult to understand the archaic language, the formality of conversations, innuendos that escaped my understanding, and even the occasional unfamiliar vocabulary word. "Approbation" was such a word, repeated often enough for me to gather the meaning based on the context. I'm glad I read it, but it certainly wasn't a compelling escapist-type book. I guess I prefer contemporary books. 

Linda's score: 3.0/5.0

Sold on a Monday by Kristina McMorris was the antidote to Emma. It's about a Depression-era newspaper photojournalist who begins to receive feature article assignments and recognition after taking a picture of two boys by a sign that advertises them for sale. Though the picture works to the journalist's advantage, the ramifications of the photo appearing in print haunt him. He becomes involved in finding two children who were sold - a compelling story that gives a glimpse into the hardships of life in those times and the challenges faced by those without resources or a voice. 

Linda's score: 4.2/5.0


Saturday, June 20, 2020

Village Quilt Finish

Village Quilt, 63-1/2" X 77"

This design is by Miss Rosie's Quilt Company, but when I saw a picture of these "Village" blocks posted to Instagram, I did my own calculations to figure out piecing sizes for these houses. I began cutting-up my solid scraps back in October 2019, anticipating this quilt as a long term project for my away-from-home-sewing hours with Big Cypress Quilters and Central Florida MQGers. When those activities stopped, I kept sewing.

In April, Moda made the Village pattern available for free (verifying my calculations) and offering a giveaway to those who posted an Instagram picture of themselves with a block. I did so on April 15, but didn't win the giveaway.
April 15

Being quarantined, I kept piecing. Notice that my houses do not include random chimneys, as in the pattern. Nor did I follow layout instructions about spacing between houses, or the addition of a border. Since "going modern," I rarely border any quilt design.

Quilting was done on my Bernina 770QE entirely with a walking foot. Straight quilting at half-inch intervals is across the houses. One #719 scallop stitch is between the roof and house; and all the roofs and "sky" are quilted with the #4 serpentine stitch, also at half-inch intervals. 

Quilting took only ten hours or so. 

Having bought several wide backs early this year, a perfectly colorful one was in my stash. Batting is a compilation of four different pieces of Quilter's Dream Cotton that I joined using Bosal Batting Tape. In the future, I'll just cut my own fusible interfacing strips. 

Binding fabric is by Henry Glass. The stripe design is on a diagonal, so cross-cutting binding strips makes for a bias stripe. I love that. Of course, I used my No Tails Binding: Mitered Corners by Machine method of attaching binding and machine-joining all four corners. If you're a member of the Modern Quilt Guild, you have access to my No Tails Binding: Mitered Corners by Machine webinar. 

I intend to give away this quilt, because, as all my friends know, I do not need another quilt!

Hopefully, the recipient will appreciate all the bright colors. And isn't our Bismarck palm the perfect quilt-hanging site? This palm delights us, and passersby, everyday. Linda

Wednesday, June 17, 2020

She-Cave Activities

Long Distance Quiltmaking
Granddaughter Celina and I have spent several hours on FaceTime as she begins to make a small quilt for Curated Quilts. The magazine/journal's latest challenge is Youth Mini Quilt Challenge. A newer/younger quilt maker is to work with a more experienced quilt maker to design a 10" to 16" square quilt using designated colors and a theme. The challenge concept was meant as a collaborative effort through quarantine.

After discussing possible themes, we settled on "distance" - she lives in Kansas, attends college in Colorado, and I'm in Florida. Then she drew a couple designs. When the fat quarter bundle of fabrics arrived at her house she colored the design we liked best - roads across the miles between us.

Since the design definitely had an improvisational feel to it, that's how we started. She's sewing in Kansas on my old Bernina 153 that I gave to our daughter after I won my Bernina 440 for Best of Show in the 2012 Machine Quilter's Showcase.

I've been sewing along on my side of the computer too. I'm cutting background fabric, and inserting strips along with her, thinking my block will work into the improv piece that's on my design wall.

Through FaceTime, the curves have proven most tricky, especially as I've had to explain how to line-up the raw edges, rather than pick up her fabrics to show her how to slide and manipulate fabrics edges to make them align. It's been a bit frustrating!

Still, she's remembering some of her first quiltmaking lessons when she was eight years old. The difference now is that she's not sewing in a straight line. We'll get through this!

When the mini top is done, she's sending it to me for layering, quilting and facing. She's already pointed out where I am to add big stitch hand quilting in navy-colored perle cotton.

My Quilty Stuff
As for what I've been doing, I needed to get a couple quilt tops sandwiched - Villages, and Scrap Snap. Because I've been out of large batting, and thinking to piece some of the dozens of batting leftover I have, I bought Batting Seam Tape, by Bosal from my local shop, Sew Together. Usually I've sewn batting pieces together, so this was something different for me.

It worked very well, but after I'd pieced four batt pieces to make one quilt, I ran out of tape to piece together eight batts for the other quilt. 

That's when I pulled out some Pellon interfacing, SF101, that I cut into 1-1/2"-wide strips. It worked just as well as the tape, so I know what I'll be using in the future. 

I'm so glad that about 25 years ago I bought a Kwik Klip to close these one-inch safety pins, as pinning two large quilts, one right after the other, can be hard on the fingertips. 

My Villages quilt will be given away, so it didn't take much time to decide I'd walking foot quilt the whole thing. Using silver-colored YLI polished polyester thread, I started quilting at 1/2" intervals on the "building" parts of the houses, reminding me of concrete foundation blocks. 

Next, I used Bernina stitch #719 to quilt a scallop along the top of the house, where the roof meets the building. And finally I quilted the roofs/sky with serpentine stitch #4. Quilting took only two days to accomplish.

This is the backing fabric, and a diagonally-printed black and white stripe, by Henry Glass, for binding. 

My improv quilt blocks continue to languish on the design wall while I occasionally move around blocks, piece another improv block, and take another small step toward what this thing is gonna look like when it's finished!

Sunday Online Worship
Lutheran Church of Hope sermon, One in Ten, was especially meaningful and effective as Pastor Mike began with a clip from of Mr. Roger's Neighborhood. In episode 195 Mr. Rogers invites Mr. Clemmons to take off his shoes and join him in a wading pool to cool his hot feet. 

Scripture accompanying the message was Luke 17: 11-19, the story of Jesus healing ten lepers of their leprosy, and only one of them - a Samaritan, no less! - returning to thank and praise Him for healing. 

Pastor Mike concluded with a reenactment of the same episode.
Valley High School (West Des Moines, Iowa) Principal David Maxwell and Pastor Mike Housholder

And what does the Lord require of you?
To act justly (Are you fair in your dealings with people?) and to love mercy (Do you show mercy to those who wrong you?)
and to walk humbly (Are you learning humility?) with your God - Micah 6:8

I certainly need to hear and follow-through.

I've not much been in the mood for book-listening lately, but managed this one in the last week.
The Jane Austen Book Club by Karen Joy Fowler is mostly a compilation of insights about the six characters - five women and a man - who belong to the Jane Austen Book Club: two best friends; a school teacher; a talkative woman; a lesbian; and a single man. Each character has a story - about how they know one another, and their current challenges. Some characters bored me.

If nothing else, this book made me realize... I don't recall ever reading a Jane Austen book. But I've seen every movie based on a Jane Austen book! My favorite is Emma with Gwenyth Paltrow. Now I want to read Jane Austen and have begun with Emma. Happily, many classic titles can be found on RBDigital through my public library.

Linda's score: 3.5/5.0

Away From Home Activities
In post-quarantine news, our local recreation centers will reopen the week of July 6, but with limitations. Room capacities have been lowered, and no drinking water will be provided as it once was. While you're expected to wear a mask into the building, once you're in your room, masks are no longer required but may be worn at personal discretion. This means my twice-weekly line dance class at 7:30 am will begin with 30 people permitted in the room. No masks required.

As Florida Coronavirus cases are increasing, including a few in our county in the past week, I think I'll  decide the day before line dance class whether I'm going the next morning.

In addition to weekly Zoom get-togethers with Big Cypress Quilters, next Wednesday Big Cypress Quilters are gathering at the rec center to spend 90 minutes together outdoors. We're to bring a lawn chair, drink and bag lunch for a social distancing lunch. I'm looking forward to actually seeing quilters IRL!


Tuesday, June 9, 2020

Linda Nova Finish

Looking back into my blog archives I began making my Linda Nova quilt n July, 2017.

I don't feel one bit guilty about it taking me nearly three years to make, as that is the plan when I make an EPP quilt. EPP travels with me, and gives me evening-time respite from sitting at the sewing machine. Until my fingers give out, I'll probably always have EPP in progress.

No doubt I began calling this Tula Nova pattern Linda Nova after posting that this quilt doesn't have a single piece of Tula Pink fabric in it. Though I like Tula's fabric colors, I don't like the designs in the prints.

Though there's some print fussy-cutting in individual medallions, I also included solids. I'm still impressed with myself - HA! - that I came up with all those (a middle ring) stripes from my stash. 

It took a long time to settle on a background fabric, finally coming across this one from Hawthorne Supply Company. It's one of their own prints that came in more than a dozen colors. I use the past tense because, unfortunately, it looks like Hawthorne is no longer making this print. Still, they a have a nice selection of unusual prints. Just know that the hand is a little bit stiffer. But for the purposes of this quilt, it was the perfect background.

When piecing the background from two widths, I matched the designs as closely as possible.

Then I machine applied the medallion to the background, and cut away background fabric behind the medallion. I'm glad I did because the cutaway part was what I used to make binding!

All the quilting was done on my Bernina 770QE. After pin-basting Quilter's Dream wool, I used a walking foot to give stability to the entire quilt, followed by a combination of free motion quilting and ruler quilting working from the center outward. 

On Instagram, I looked at lots of other quilted (by longarmers) #tulanovaquilts as inspiration for several different designs that I used. 

Because I paid dearly for that background fabric, I used all of it, leaving about 8" of background outside the medallion. It's meant to have about 4" to 5" of background showing, but why not make the quilt as large as possible? It's 68" X 70".
Linda Nova, 68" X 70"
I miss my umbrella clothesline back in Iowa! Though our Bismarck palm works nicely as a tree-holder, this is about as much quilt that can be clipped to it's fronds. On the positive side, when I'm climbing the step stool to hang a quilt in the palm, I usually receive nice compliments from walkers passing by. A man asked if it was a new yard decoration. Ha. "You're so funny." 

This week's audiobook recommendation is The Home for Unwanted Girls by Joanna Goodman. The story begins in 1950, in rural Quebec, as young Maggie is growing up in a family cared by a mother she dislikes and a father she adores. He's known as the "seed man." Maggie likes agriculture as much as he does, and works in his store while dreaming of someday running the store herself. But it's the 1950s, and women don't do those things. When Maggie falls for a French boy, and her dad disapproves - she's English, after all - (I was ignorant of the animosity between French and English Canadians) Maggie's life drastically changes. As she becomes an adult, works in Montreal, and marries, she thinks about the what-could-have-been. A baby, Elodie, is left alone, raised in an orphanage, and awaits adoption... until the orphanage becomes a hospital for the mentally insane - a true story about Canada's support for orphanages (75-cents a day) and support for the mentally retarded ($2.75 a day) that on March 18, 1955 turned orphanages into mental hospitals. It's a heart-wrenching story. In spite of that, it was so engaging I listened in bed until 2 am to hear the ending! The reader, Saskia Maarleveld, excelled at character voices, speaking French and English with French accents.

Linda's score: 4.4/5.0

On Saturday, for Dan's birthday, we lunched at a restaurant for the first time since March 10 when we ate at the same restaurant, Mojo's in Leesburg, with my cousins visiting from Ohio. We rarely eat out, unless it's a special occasion. Dan's too good of a cook! However, he thinks their Cuban sandwich is the one of Florida's best, with the best being at Kooky Coconut in Indian Rocks Beach.

The masked waitress gave each of us a single 8-1/2" X 11" menu that we're sure was then disposed. When we asked for ketchup (for French fries), she delivered a bowl containing a half-dozen packets. The same for salt and pepper. Returning home we stopped several places - Dollar Tree, Dollar General - for rubbing alcohol (limit one per person) that we're putting in a spray bottle to make wet paper towels to carry with us when we go out. How times have changed. Though we agree that we don't feel unsafe. While we don't expect to ever act the same way we did in January and February, it's good to have almost-normal moments.

Our regular Villages activities haven't resumed due to them being large group or high respiration activities. So, I continue to meet weekly with "Zooming" Big Cypress Quilters. Last evening was our Central Florida MQG monthly meeting, via Zoom.

Hey, speaking of Central Florida MQG, how 'bout that new website and blog?! 😊 Like the little girls says in the old 1968 Shake and Bake commercial, "And I helped!"



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