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


  1. That workshop looks like a totally fun diversion from all the blahness that surrounds us these days. And I like your little additions of the drunkards path blocks at each end. A challenge to be sure, this entire design, but you have 'nailed it' as they say!

  2. Wow..this Zoom workshop looked so interesting and your results and results and comments are so wonderful. I'm doing a Zoom class with Margarita Korioth in September. An opportunity, even without Covid, that I wouldn't have been able to do in person. Can't wait!

  3. That is an amazing quilt and I am sure yours is going to be outstanding. I have been wanting to try out a zoom workshop, need to do some searching to find one that gets my attention. Thanks for sharing your experience.

  4. Looks like it was an awesome class and I love your quilt top!

  5. Wow- the shading and dimension in your class project is really wonderful! Thanks for pointing out the advantages of distance classes. The at-home thing is a big plus, but I had not even thought of all the supplies we have to pack up and lug to workshops. You were able to make excellent progress this way. Your first paragraph really summed things up to a T! As long as we stay close to Him, at home or back in the loop, we'll do well!

  6. Thanks for sharing bits of the presentation with us, Linda! Sounds (and looks) like you were a star student. I like your use of Christina's ombre fabric for the background and borders. LOVE that you added the "points" to the ends of your ribbon!

  7. You accomplished a lot with your Zoom class! I'm taking a class with Maria Shell via internet next month, so was interested to see your experience.

  8. Choosing the ombre was certainly worth the extra yardage and attention to detail. It looks fantastic. Amazed you got it all done. I don't have much interest in online classes or even meetings. The longer I'm away from my guild the less I miss it. Maybe because I'm busy with so many other non quilty things right now. Good luck with your presentations. Have a great weekend. We're breathing smoky air here so it's hard to be outside for long. Praying for a week of rain to get our forest fires under control.

  9. I read that Alan Bradley book a few years ago, and remember enjoying it. I must see if my library has any of the others on audiobooks. Live classroom lessons are punctuating my days...! The quilting class would have been especially fun. Good luck with your presentations. I’m sure you’ll be a big hit!

  10. I loved reading about this, from the set-up to what you are listening to right now.
    My friend took this class and was completely enthusiastic about it--I can see why! My friend also talked about the camera over the ironing board, too, and felt that it was a wonderful class. She has also finished her quilt -- the best recommendation for a class! I love how yours turned out. Bravo to you!

  11. Wow there's no holding you back now!! It's all over my head, but I'm so glad you enjoyed it. I have just finished reading The Atomic Girls by Janet Beard which I enjoyed. Another book I have read that you may enjoy is The Walnut Tree by Charles Todd. BTW whatever your President says about NZ is not true. We haven't had a HUGE surge of Covid as he has been saying ....we have about 9 active cases, and Auckland has been put back to Level 3, so we are back to staying home for another week which makes 3 weeks altogether. :)Take care Linda.


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