Monday, August 31, 2020

Hole Punch Ribbon Quilt

I began making this quilt in my two-day (six hour) virtual workshop with Jenny Haynes @pappersaxsten on August 15-16 and finished the hand-sewn facing on Friday, August 28! Wow. One of my fastest makes. It's 37" X 61½". 

Fabrics used for piecing were solids, and a bit of Moda Grunge (the white part of the "holes"). The background is orange Moongate ombré by Maywood Studios. I love how it looks like a soft colored pencil wash. 

I tried some new things with this quilt - in fact this quilt has two new-to-me features.

First, see how "square" the quilt came out? Even after quilting all those waves? After I'd pin-basted the quilt sandwich, I edge-stitched around the entire perimeter of the quilt, ¼" from the outside edge. I added this step this after reading Amana Murphy's new book The Ultimate Guide to Rulerwork Quilting by C&T Publishing. (I was given a copy to review and will be sharing info in an upcoming blog post.) I learned that Amanda edge stitches her quilt sandwich, so I did too. I think it helps keep the quilt on-the-square. 

The second new-to-me thing about this quilt was using Hobbs 80% Cotton 20% Wool Batting. There's no denying that it gives definition to those waves and swirls. In a Hobbs batting virtual program I attended, this batt was suggested for "show quilts." Though I have no intention of entering this quilt in a show, I sure like the result!

This picture of how I face a quilt (WeAllSew tutorial here), also shows the batting texture. I'm very glad I was able to buy a king-sized batt when it was on sale at

The finished edge. 

Painter's Palette solid light aqua is the backing fabric. The quilt front is orange so I quilted with orange Aurifil 50-weight. Aqua Aurifil 50-weight thread was in the bobbin. 

Here's my now-obligatory quilt-in-a-Bismarck-palm photo. I'm so pleased at the waves I was able to quilt with a walking foot, though I used rulers and a little FMQ too,

I'm thinking to rearrange the quilts hanging on our walls, to make a place for this one. I like it that much. 😍

Book Recommendation

Such a Fun Age by Kiley Reid is a thought-provoking story about 25 year-old Emira, a black woman who babysits for a wealthy, white Philadelphia family. She loves Briar, a prickly, quirky, and precocious three year-old. When parents Alix and Peter ask Emira to take Briar out of the house - the police are on their way after a reported egg-throwing incident - Emira finds herself with Briar at an affluent grocery store, confronted by a security guard accusing her of kidnapping. The book continues to reveal the intertwined work and personal lives of Emira and Alix, comparing and contrasting privilege and wealth along racial divides. This was, as the title says, "fun" and engaging.
Linda's score: 4.2/5.0

Today is the one-year anniversary of losing our dear boy, Hogan. I hoped that by now, thinking of him wouldn't make me cry... we miss him very much. 

But, we're all looking for something uplifting, aren't we? In 53 seconds, this Alabama doctor expressed how I've been feeling during our interminable, incarcerating pandemic. Linda

Wednesday, August 26, 2020

Quilting, Sewing, Crocheting, Celebrating

Thinking to collect and purge them from my mind, I made a (too) long list of all the bad things 2020 has presented. Alongside the list I wrote scripture from Psalm 25:
Turn to me and be gracious to me, for I am lonely and afflicted.

Relieve the troubles of my heart, and free me from my anguish. 

Praying into this Word through these tough times - not only for myself but for others- is all I know to do. There's nowhere else to turn but toward God.

As you might deduce, I'm not happy about still staying at home. It's getting old. It makes me sad.

But I'm also trying very hard to count my blessings: manageable good health; mobility that I can exercise and take long power walks; (too) good food to eat; and a lovely, safe harbor in which to live and pass pleasant days creating. I'm also grateful that my dad is safe, though alone in independent living in a care facility; our kids and spouses still have jobs; our grandkids are returning to a different-looking school year; and no one in the family has contracted COVID-19. 

For us personally, everything is fine. It's just tough not to carry the weight of the world, including anxiety for all the people living in the path of Hurricane Laura. While at QuiltCon in February (that seems years ago, now) I met, for the first time, an Instagram friend @mtweedel who lives in Beaumont, Texas. I've been in touch, and she has evacuated.

Making hasn't stopped. I've continued to quilt my Hole Punch Ribbon quilt. The wavy designs I had in mind are coming along nicely. 

While this is mostly walking foot quilting, I've put on the FMQ foot a few times too, for some of the curves that are a little tight. 

To quilt this design, I used a blue wash-out marker to draw divisions along each side of the quilt. I drew about ten of them - five on each side of the center design. That "vertical" wave in the center is one of them. 

Then, starting at the bottom, on one side, I filled in that section. When it was complete, I moved to the opposite side (still at the bottom), and filled in that section. Thus, I've been alternating from side to side, section to section. I have two more sections to quilt. 

An aqua solid probably wasn't the best choice for backing, but it's the only fabric that looked okay with the front, and for which I had the yardage needed. To allow for an orange top thread and aqua bobbin thread, I change the Bernina's tension to 4.75. That's so the aqua thread isn't visible on the quilt top. 

The quilting texture is showing very nicely, probably due to using - for the first time - Hobbs 80/20 that's cotton and wool! I bought a king-sized batt to try, so will happily use this again in another quilt.

After 2½ years, I finished crocheting the Moorland afghan. It's 46" X 62", and it covers me nicely while watching TV under the ceiling fan. Of course, I didn't use the colors called for in the pattern, but substituted my own range of 15 Florida colors.

The other fun I've had is prepping to make some clothes. Using two different downloadable PDFs made for quite a bit of printing and taping paper together to get the patterns I wanted, so doing that as well as cutting out garments, took most of a day. But now I have four garments ready to sew: knit dress; chambray dress; knit top; and bottom weight shorts. Depending on the sizing and fit, I anticipate making more clothes so as not to make so many quilts!

Today is our 48th wedding anniversary. Our celebration looks different than past anniversaries, as we're staying at home, jointly preparing a special meal (I'm making French bread and sort of tiramisu dessert), eating by candlelight on the lanai (if it isn't too hot), and opening a bottle of Reverie wine we bought in Napa Valley in 2011. Here's my old blog post about that out-west trip.

We were so young! My talented mother made my wedding gown and created my headpiece. 

Book Recommendation #50! 

I've read, reviewed and rated 50 books so far this year!
The Light in the Ruins
 by Chris Bohjalian is another story that's told between two times: 1955 in Florence (Italy) with detective Serafina; and 1943 in the Italian countryside villa of then 18 year-old Cristina Rosati and her family. Serafina must find a killer, and that leads her to search for remembrances of her own war story. To figure out "who done it," the reader is returned again and again to what happened during the war among German and Facist regimes, as Cristina falls for a German officer and the Rosati family's villa becomes the scene of history, war, and lost innocence. The narrator is one you've likely heard before: Cassandra Campbell.

As much as I often like this kind of book, for a while I intend to lay off of fictionalized stories of WWII. I've read plenty of such books that are excellent - think Nightingale by Kristin Hannah, and The Lost Vintage by Ann Mah  - but I'm ready for topics that are a little lighter.

Linda's score: 3.8/5.0

If you comment on this blog post, you'll notice that I've added "word verification." That's because, since last week I've had more than a dozen smutty, foul and disgusting comments posted on old blog posts. Just as soon as I reported each one as spam and deleted it, another appears on the same post! I felt it necessary to put a stop to them with word verification. I'll return comments to the old format when I think it's safe again. Linda

Thursday, August 20, 2020

Being a Virtual Student

The days are long, but the years (weeks, too!) are short. 

How is it that while standing still (aka staying at home), each day passes slowly, but when I turn around a week has passed? Some days I feel like I'm simply existing my way through my life, and other days are full of meaning, with focus to achieve small personal goals. 

I am reminded of a Bible verse in Psalm 91, a chapter I memorized in April, when we were beginning to settle-in to the ramifications of this pandemic. The last verse, 16 says: With long life will I satisfy him, and show him my salvation. A long life spent at home can still be a life well-lived. So, I continue to engage in activities that make each day worthwhile. 

Last Saturday and Sunday I attended, via Zoom, Jenny Hayne's "Twice Cut Drunkard's Path" workshop, along with 23 other people from all over the world. Jenny led the workshop from her home studio in Sheffield, England with students joining in from Finland, Denmark, and US states: Washington, California, Massachusetts, Georgia, and... Florida.

Jenny has a great teaching set-up with three cameras! She primarily speaks to the class from this view. At the center left you can see the trapeze sort of mount that's holding her phone with which she demonstrates cutting and pressing. Another camera is aimed to watch sewing at her machine. All of the views are interchangeable, along with occasional looks at her computer screen with pattern instructions. 

This is one of the screens she shared, showing some of the possible quilt layouts of the "Hole Punch Ribbon Quilt" (the one I made) and the "Hole Punch Hoop Quilt."

After shopping my stash for materials, and realizing I didn't have enough of needed background fabric, I visited my LQS, Sew Together Quilting, to buy yardage for a couple options. The fabric I chose for the background is an ombré print by Christina Cameli for Maywood Studios called "Moongate."

It sure wasn't the easiest way to go, because I had to be very careful about which direction to cut, but I like the effect an ombré gives. I bought 3 yards, when only 2¼ was called for, and used nearly all of it.

Jenny began by demonstrating cutting and machine piecing, and concluded with how to trim each block. It was the piecing that tested my skills - sewing without using pins to join tight oval curves on 4"-tall blocks. 

I'd begun cutting out fabric Saturday morning around 11 am, attended the workshop from 1 to a little after 4 pm, and after eating, continued to work on blocks until 11:30 pm... and that was just to keep up for the next day's lesson! Of course, there was no need to keep up - as Jenny reminded all of us - but that's just how I roll. In fact, some of the students only attended the workshop, and didn't sew at all. That's understandable if your cutting and sewing area aren't in the same room as your computer. In any case, the nice part was that Jenny recorded herself giving the lesson and answering questions, and emailed us the video as reference for later reviewing. It was pretty easy to conclude that she knows what she's doing, and is good at it!

In fact, I've discovered that learning virtually is preferable to learning in-person!

No one has to pack up a sewing machine and supplies (and maybe forget something) to go to a workshop.

All of the students can see, close-up, what the instructor is doing. None of the students have to take turns moving closer to see the teacher's sewing machine demonstration.

Virtual learning is so appealing, it may be the only way I'll want to take future workshops! 

This is basically what we made during the workshop: two rows of 7 blocks. It kept me on my toes, keeping the front/back and right/left fabric pieces properly arranged. Besides the ombré background, the only other print I used a Moda Grunge for the white holes inside the ribbon. The remaining four fabrics are solids.

Jenny meant the quilt to be viewed horizontally, but vertical looks good too.

On Monday I completed the 39" X 65" quilt top with my personal addition of two large drunkard's path blocks at the ends of the quilt that give points to the ribbon, rather than blunt ends as in the pattern.

Tuesday I pin-basted. Because I often see quilters pin-basting in regimented rows, I offer a picture of how I prefer to baste: randomly.

Here's why:

Right: An irregular pin layout, and change of pin directions, picks up more warp and weft threads across an expanse of fabric.

Left: A regimented, columns and rows pin layout captures the same warp and weft threads over and over and over, placing more strain in concentrated areas of the fibers. 

I was anxious to move onto quilting because Jenny offered some of her collected Papper, Sax, Sten Pinterest designs as ideas. Since the quilt design is three-dimensional, she pointed us to three-dimensional drawings that illustrate how dense lines create depth, while widely-spaced lines suggest nearness.

I attempted to apply that concept to the "dowel shapes," and "holes" in my quilt. I used a ruler foot for free motion quilting curves, using the side of the foot to eyeball the distance between stitches, and used a straight ruler for quilting vertical lines. 

Now I'm considering whether waves of ribbons are doable for the background. I seldom see the whole quilting picture, but rather work quilt designs as I go along.   

Other Makes
In quieter moments I've finished the second (orange one) of four chair pads. Yellow or aqua will be next. Crochet continues on my Moorland afghan too, and it's nearing a finish. 

Book Recommendation
The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie by Alan Bradley is the first in a series of books about Flavia de Luce, a precocious 11 year-old who is unusually adept at chemistry, and figuring out a mystery. It's 1950 and she lives in Buckshaw mansion (England) with her philatilist (stamp-collecting) father and two annoying older sisters. Flavia's adventure begins when a dead bird, with a stamp skewered to its beak, is left on the doorstep. She then overhears her father in a late-night argument with an unknown man, and when she goes into the garden the following morning, she finds a man lying in their cucumber patch, breathing his last breathe. It's then that Flavia takes off on Gladys, her bicycle, to pursue answers - to police questions, and her own. 

Linda's score: 4.2/5.0

The story is told in first-person, from Flavia's point of view. I kept reminding myself, she's is only 11 years old! But Flavia is a charming, intelligent girl whose adventures I would like to read about further. The second book is The Weed That Strings the Hangman's Bag. However, as it often happens with my public library, the first book in a series is an audiobook;  the rest are in print! Why isn't a series that begins as an audiobook made available entirely as audiobooks? There must be a reason. 

Zoom Presenting
It's exciting to me that I'll get to do some Zoom presenting next month! While I won't be "live" as Jenny was, through Powerpoint-type presentations I get to share some of how I do what I do. 

On September 15 I'll give a "Quilt Photography" presentation to the Big Cypress Chapter of Quilting Guild of The Villages, sharing a little of how I take pictures of quilts

On September 19  I'll present "No Tails Binding: Mitered Corners by Machine" to the South Florida Modern Quilt Guild, sharing the atypical way I add binding to a quilt, machine-join the four corners, and then trim.

I'm very honored to have been invited, and excited about these opportunities because such things give purpose and meaning to long days and short weeks! Linda

Friday, August 14, 2020

Assorted Makings

Making has been a little slower since I have fewer projects to work on. I'm caught up and working only on a few old UFOs! Can you believe it? This "no need to push myself" feeling leaves me feeling a little guilty, yet finding things to fill my days. Just not so frantically.

Rather than watch TV, Dan and I have been playing Backgammon, Gin Rummy, and Rummikub more frequently in the evenings. We seems to be fairly matched as we manage to mostly take turns winning. I'm not a good loser, but really do try to keep a smile on my face. 

After admiring a picture of fresh tomatoes on my Iowa friend Kim's Instagram feed, and commenting how much I missed Iowa tomatoes, guess what arrived in the mail! Kim sent a box of tomatoes and a jar of the pepper jelly that she has turned into a business - Your Mom's Canning.  

Kim plants and grows all the peppers in her own backyard (West Des Moines, Iowa) for making into jelly.   The jar she sent is her Italian Herb Jelly - my favorite. Just spread cream cheese on a Triscuit and top with the jelly. Mwah! I don't like spicy-hot, but her Jalepeno Jelly is also a favorite. We first bought a sampler pack to try, and now always keep it in the house.

Several of those tomatoes have ripened now, and this is what we'll be enjoying after the flavors meld. Salsa... can't wait!

Anyway, as a thank-you for Kim's thoughtful package, I decided to make something for her. Though we haven't seen each other for more than eight years, (we both worshipped at Lutheran Church of Hope and made quilts together), I remember her once telling me she "doesn't do zippers." So how perfect was it to make a Sew Together bag for her? 

Remembering that she likes sunflowers, I chose this Kate Spain "Grand Canal" print as the focus fabric.

The green fabric is linen, and I'm pleased with my choice of 28-weight yellow Aurifil for quilting.

Pockets are grunge, two Moongate prints, and Grand Canal, with a creamy white Lori Bee print inside.

In the past, I've had problems understanding the Sew Together bag pattern, but with the third making of it, it's a little easier.  I hope Kim likes the surprise she'll find in her Friday mail.

Peg loom weaving is still high on my "new toy" list of things to keep me busy, so I've begun making kitchen table chair pads. Following the theme of our table setting (Fiestaware that I love!), each chair pad will be a different color. 

Quilters have been somewhat appalled to learn I'm cutting up stash to weave chair pads, but I've been happy about pulling out fabrics of each color to discover that many pieces are almost-gone, as well as being older, duller prints. They're easy to cut into! 

To get 65 yards of fabric for weaving a 15" X 15" chair pad, I need 2.43 yards of fabric. Using up this way makes me very happy!

I cut them into 1½"strips. Then I randomly choose strips, overlap the ends, and chain-piece them together with a 1.9 stitch length. I feed the l-o-n-g strip through a Clover #18 bias tape maker and press, and press again to fold into a ⅜"-wide strip. 

This is the set-up for my peg loom. Double strands of wool blend yarn - Lion Brand, Wool Ease, Thick and Quick, from JoAnn Fabrics - for the warp gives a little more "cushiness," and strands are attached to rug thread with a lark's head knot. 

I wound the 65 yards of fabric into a ball that's five inches in diameter. I left it that way for a couple days before starting to weave.

The first chair pad I made is green. Had to work out a few issues - unweave and re-weave - before I could call it done, so the orange chair pad is coming along more smoothly. 

I'll make a yellow pad and an aqua pad before deciding if I need to make two more for the fifth and sixth chairs that often remain unused. 

Continuing to crochet my Moorland afghan, I have only five more color changes left to do. Then, thread tails to bury, and one last lap around the perimeter. Yay!

Since my last post, I've attended four Zoom get-togethers. On Saturday there are three Zoom events I could attend! How is it that everything gets bunched together?! I considered my options: 
  1. All day sew day with Big Cypress Quilters
  2. 1 pm South Florida MQG "Aurifilosopy" lecture by Sheri Cifaldi-Morel @wholecirclestudio
  3. 1 pm "Twice Cut Drunkard's Path" workshop with Jenny Hayes @pappersaxsten
I chose option #3 because I've always liked her quiltmaking style. This workshop is one I've wanted to take since "forever." Who wouldn't want to learn how to make this? This is her Hole Punch Ribbon. 

Jenny lives in the UK and is offering her workshop to us in the Eastern time zone from 1 to 4 pm Saturday and again on Sunday. I can't wait!

My audiobook recommendation this week is The Glass Ocean by three authors: Beatriz Williams, Lauren Willig, and Karen White.

The main character is Sarah Blake who achieves success after writing the book Small Potatoes. Income from the book sales goes a long way toward paying for her mother's care, but Sarah needs more money and inspiration for another book. After opening a trunk that she was told to never open, she finds her great-grandfather's watch that leads her to the UK to meet a man who, if he's willing, can lead her to answers. That course of discovery depends on learning what happened in May 1915 aboard the cross-Atlantic voyage of the Lusitania, and the subsequent May 7 German torpedo attack on that vessel. This historical romance is one of my favorite kinds of reads where I am educated and enlightened while being entertained.

Linda's score: 4.4/5.0 

Yesterday, Dan and I carted to a rec center to cast our early votes in the local primary. On the way, we saw this fella, who was right across from the polling place. No alligator deterred us from voting! 

Wednesday, August 5, 2020

Working on WIPs and Weaving

If nothing else, this interminable pandemic has forced me to consider what-all I have in my she-cave. 

Initially, the enforced time at home felt like a party - a chance to catch-up on projects on a list as long as my arm. Not that I'm a "list" person, 'cause I'm not. But I definitely had time to focus on the most pressing to-dos. As of a few weeks ago, I've felt "done." I can't remember the last time I felt so caught up on my makes.

In the past week I've been considering the long-languishing projects - a few UFOs I stopped counting, and a couple enduring WIPs that I've been in no hurry to finish. Most of them are hand projects, meant as something to do during car trips. Well, that's obviously not happening!

With the continued intention of slowing down quiltmaking, I've resurrected a couple oldies that will be finished in a month or two. 

Finishing the Unfinished

First up is my Moorland crocheted afghan. In February, 2017, a neighbor and I ordered Stylecraft Special DK yarn from the UK to make the Moorland Blanket according to instructions by @attic24 in the UK. I've been working on it only during winter months. 

Thus far it's 44" wide and 49" long, and needs only 20 more color rows and a border. Love those pops of orange!

Second is my "Starfish" quilt. Thank goodness I've been blogging for many years because I was able to search and find my first blog post about it - on February, 21, 2011! Yep, this is a nine year-old UFO. In the way of fabrics, it's not exactly what I would choose today, but because it's bright colors, I think it's redeemable. 

This is a hand-piecing project that accompanied me in March 2011 to Indian Rocks Beach, Florida, where we vacationed when we lived in Iowa. I'm not sure I've touched it since. 

When choosing a hand-piecing project, not only do I look for a design I like, but I intentionally choose one with curved piecing and matching points, as that sort of detailed piecing isn't always successfully achieved on a sewing machine. 

I recall buying this Spinning Star acrylic template from a vendor at an AQS show in Des Moines. Though I initially thought to join the stars with white spacers, for whatever reason I chose Kona Charcoal - possibly because, at the time it was a trendy modern color. 

Along with the partially-pieced top, I found 33 more star blocks already pieced. 

I've begun piecing it again using Auriful 50-weight charcoal-colored thread and a size #8 straw needle. 

When I first taught myself hand-piecing, I made a running stitch from seam to seam. But I later learned that piecing is more secure if a backstitch is made every 3-5 stitches.

So, load the needle, pull it through, and then step back a stitch to load the needle with the next 3-5 stitches.

Already I'm seeing progress. Hand-piecing seems to be going quickly. I have to believe that if I was trying to join these curves on a machine, I'd probably be stitching at the same pace. 

It's possible that I'll run out of star blocks and/or charcoal Kona before the top is a usable size. Since I really want to use only stashed fabrics, I'm already puzzling through how I might change-out the gray in-between color, perhaps to Painter's Palette Aluminum (a lighter shade of gray) around the outside. 

Peg Loom Weaving
Using 4/4 cotton rug thread, a few days ago I loaded the warp for my peg loom, and made another small rug. It's smaller because I used all the assorted-width fabric strips I had!

Anything leftover strips from cut-away backing, or binding -  between 1" to 2-1/4" wide - was put in this rug. I joined strips, end to end, with short sewing machine stitches and then wove them directly onto the pegs. 

This 22" X 27" rug looks a little more "rugged" than the first one that was made with selvedge edges, but I'm satisfied. Each time I use the loom, I feel better about how to achieve consistent tension. 

Next I plan to make chair pads for the chairs at our kitchen table. After swapping messages with messaging an Instagrammer-weaver in Scotland, I've learned which warp yarn to choose for a softer seat. 😁 I plan to cut fabric strips from my stash, join them at the sewing machine, and then feed the length through a bias tape maker before weaving on the loom. Will see how that goes! 

Finger Pot Holders
We've tried out the crocheted hot pad (see last blog post), and though it's a little thick, it's a winner. It will probably soften after washing.

Now I've made finger pot holders from fabric and Insul-brite. The verdict is that they are okay, but Dan felt the warmth of the 400-plus degree heat of the pizza pan through the layers. No burn, but warmth.

Additional online reading about using Insul-brite suggests using a layer of batting with the Insul-brite, to protect from heat that's greater than 400 degrees. I'll do that next time.

Book Recommendation
The Better Liar by Tanen Jones is about estranged sisters. When Leslie travels from Albuquerque to LasVegas to track down her sister Robin, and finds her dead, she frantically tries to figure out what to do. Leslie will only receive half of their father's inheritance if both sisters, together, visit the lawyer's office to sign papers. When Leslie meets Mary, a waitress in a dead-end relationship who's been saving money to go to L.A. to become an actress, a plan takes shape that appears to solve their problems. 

This is one of those I-didn't-see-it-coming books with an underlying message revealed at the end. It was worth a bit of extra listening to hear the author's intention behind the book. Good stuff!

Linda's score: 4.3/5.0

The truth will (hopefully) make you smile.


Related Posts Widget for Blogs by LinkWithin