Wednesday, January 27, 2021

12 Years Ago, and Yesterday

Yesterday, January 26, was Australia Day. On that date in 2009 - 12 years ago! - I wrote my first blog post. It was to show making my first Pav (Pavlova). Have you ever made it?

Twelve years of uninterrupted blog posts is a milestone by my reckoning!

Yesterday was also a special day because, along with quilt-y pals Karen Foster and Jo Avery, we presented a live Webinar to 518 members of the MQG. Our topic, "The Highs and Lows of Temperature Quilts." This is how I set up my space for the webinar.

Upper left: MQG Communications Manager, Brenna; lower left: Karen, in California; lower right, Jo, in Scotland.

It was such a treat to participate in the panel because we learned that each of us had different approaches, and techniques for making our temperature quilts: Karen used prints to make improv-cut rectangle-shaped blocks; Jo cut different-sized freehand-drawn circles (based on her mood) that she is hand appliquéing to a background square; and I used a Classic Curves Ruler to cut solids-only drunkard's path blocks.

I made my temperature quilt in 2019, and finished it in May 2020.

If you missed the webinar, MQG members can watch it anytime through the MQG website. 

Sewing-wise, I'm making slow progress on my Central Florida MQG Scrap Challenge project. After joining the inset circles and inset rings to make a top that measures 71" X 82", I began playing with scrap strips, arranging them to enhance the design. I'm still moving strips around, and beginning to sew them to the top. 

Feeling the need to finish something, I followed a Riley Blake YouTube tutorial to make a "Fun and Useful Clear-view Tote." In the video the tote is made from cut fabrics to measure 12" X 12".

I thought it would be more efficient to use orphan blocks and scrap fabrics, already cut. Two 8½" scrappy orphan blocks suited perfectly. 
back of tote

The black and white stripe was in bits that I pieced for the zipper insert and binding. No waste!

It's difficult to see, but the lower section of the front is vinyl. 

I filled my pouch with finished blocks for my EPP Prudence Quilt - lots of stripes going on in that pouch! It was a fast and fun make that I'll make again. 

It feels good to have even a small finish. My WIPs continue to be WIPs. An audiobook is a WIP too! Baby steps these days. Linda

Saturday, January 23, 2021

Webinar: The Highs and Lows of Temperature Quilts

It's Saturday morning, and the MQG just publicized next Tuesday's webinar: The Highs and Lows of Temperature Quilts.

Join me via Zoom, along with Jo @joaverystitch (Scotland) and Karen @capitolaquilter (California) on Tuesday, January 25 at 2 PM EASTERN time.

This is the 2019 temperature quilt I'll be talking about. Last May I blogged about finishing it

To register, you must be a member (individual, or belong to a chapter) of the Modern Quilt Guild. REGISTER HERE

It would be great moral support knowing you're attending. Thanks! But if you can't, a video recording of the webinar will be available on the MQG website, on the Resources page. 

Thank you in advance for attending! Linda

Friday, January 22, 2021

Disturbing Week

For several reasons, the past six days have been disturbing. Happenings beyond my control relentlessly continue. COVID-19 is still rampant.

Friends here in Florida who received their first vaccination (for ages 65 and older) are learning that second doses aren’t available. They're justifiably very upset. 

News from overseas is that doctors are concerned about COVID-19 mutations that may potentially be more deadly than current vaccines can prevent.

And in my own community, on Tuesday a friend’s spouse died from COVID-19.

In a week of these and other discouraging happenings, it’s been difficult to be upbeat.

I’ve searched for refuge in the Word and unexpectedly found the word to adopt in 2021.
Late last spring I spent several weeks memorizing Psalm 91. It has repeatedly proven its relevance to these challenging times.

Verse 2: I will say of the Lord, “He is my refuge, my God in whom I trust.” 

Also, Psalm 46:2 - God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble.

The Life Application Bible explains: God is our refuge in the face of total destruction. He is our eternal refuge and can provide strength in any circumstance.

"Total destruction." That's what this week has felt like. 

Refuge not only reminds me of who is most important, but also tangibly relates to my where - the physical refuge space of my sewing room.

As cluttered as my sewing room has lately been - more so because of sewing with scraps - this is where I read the Bible, pray, create, and escape into an audiobook or a movie. It's my refuge.  

This week's making felt plodding. I cut more pieces for Glitter blocks.

I hand-stitched the Kawandi that's nearing a finish.

And made progress on the scrappy inset circles quilt top. I forced myself to work on it, really not knowing how to proceed. 
All the scrappy circles and rings are now joined in one section. Next I'll add white scraps along both sides, asymmetrically, to fulfill the challenge requirement of "negative space." Then, I will figure out how to make the whole thing look cohesive, possibly by applying scrappy stripes. 

Whatever I do, the top must be off the design wall by next Thursday when I start my second virtual workshop with Maria Shell. It’s an in-depth, 12-hour course called “Asymmetyrical Symmetry.” I am very much looking forward to it. Openings are available, if you're interested. 

To add to my overall disappointing week, my Whist card-playing losses with hubs continue. He’s now 6:0. Sigh.

Book Recommendations
Two books I’ve listened to have been a welcome escape, especially since both of them took me back to Australia. I have visited Australia four times, and though I never made it to the Outback, it was pure pleasure to listen to stories about that region. Both books are narrated with Australian accents. 

The first book to recommend is The Lost Man, by Jane Harper, a story that opens with the hot sun on the body of a dead man, Cam. He's brother to the two men, Nathan and Bub, who find him lying near the grave stone of the stockman. It's incomprehensible that a man would leave his vehicle, loaded with water and provisions, to die in this lonely place. The story unfolds from Nathan's viewpoint, and through revelations about their shared backgrounds, a picture of life on a cattle station becomes clear.

I thoroughly enjoyed this book, and hope you’ll give it a listen.

Linda's score: 4.4/5.0

The second book to recommend is A Town Like Alice, by Nevil Shute. It was written in 1950, and adapted for a TV series in 1981. The story is timeless... about Jean Padget, a young British woman who finds herself in Malaysia during Japanese occupation. Jean, and 30 women and children, are taken prisoner and forced to walk across the country, towards a non-existent women's camp. After the war Jean returns to England to work as a shorthand typist, where she is contacted by a solicitor who informs her of an inheritance. This allows her visit Malaysia again, and go to Queensland, Australia to find Joe Harman, a prisoner she met during the war. This was an extremely engaging story about a woman's fortitude, independence and vision of what life can be. I couldn't stop listening!

Linda's score: 4.7/5.0

As far as I know, my (with Karen Foster and Jo Avery) MQG webinar about making a "Temperature Quilt" is still on for next Tuesday afternoon, January 26, though the MQG hasn't yet publicized it.
đŸ€· Linda

Thursday, January 14, 2021

So It Goes

It's apparent that 2021 is in full swing! This is the week that Zoom meetings have resumed - four with: 1) Central Florida MQG (See the CFMQG blog post I wrote about that meeting); 2) Big Cypress Quilters; 3) South Florida MQG (Sip and Sew); and 4) South Florida MQG (program and meeting). 

Sometimes I'm able to work on projects during Zoom calls. I've become spoilt by having all my projects nearby, and will someday have a difficult time readjusting to in-person meetings. 

Because all three projects I've been working on involve scraps, my sewing space has been extra-messy. But I've been more than pleased about being able to slide a bin (aqua canvas, on the left) back into its cubby without having to mash the pile to get the bin to slide in! Progress. 

On the design wall, my Central Florida MQG Scrap Challenge quilt is progressing. I worked out putting some of the blocks together, in several instances with 45°inset corners (yikes!). From the created negative space, I cut and pieced to insert rings. 

Cutting into the background fabric of the quilt top is the scary bit. If I choose the wrong spot, or cut an incorrectly-sized concave circle... well, I don't want to think about all the work I'll make for myself. So, triple-checking it is!   

I've cut lots and lots of pieces to make "Glitter" blocks. 

For expediency, I've worked out that instead of hand-piecing the entire block, I can machine sew the center portion...

...and hand-sew only the four corners. 

I need mark only the Y-seams, so as to accurately hand-stitch them to the center portion. 

In the evening, I often pick up this Kawandi which is coming along nicely. 

Dan and I still occasionally play games in the evening, but I've been very discouraged with card-playing lately.  The last two times we've played Gin Rummy, he's won. And since learning Whist, and playing four games... I have yet to win! 😟Where's the fun in that?!

Two weeks ago I had to toss my not-very-old (purchased August 2019) T-Fal iron because, even though it was turned on, it wouldn't heat up without being unplugged and replugged-in. Rather than stew over which brand to buy, a trip to Wal-Mart (first time in a store for months!) resulted in this Hamilton-Beach Durathon iron, for $25. What I'll say about it is that it steams! Actually, that's been nice, not only for pressing fabric, but for warming up the sewing room! It's been chilly lately, and we haven't turned on the furnace!  

Here in Central Florida,  COVID-19 vaccinations are happening. At least a half dozen people I know have already gotten their first shot. We know which website to visit to register for an appointment, but we haven't taken any action. Though we meet the "over 65" requirement, we know that others, because of health issues need the vaccine more than we do. Also, the process for getting the vaccine has had its share of hiccups. We know someone who got her first vaccine two weeks ago, but still doesn't know when or where to go for her second one. We're thinking it's prudent to allow the process to work out issues, and perhaps result in shorter wait times. Maybe when the Johnson & Johnson vaccine is released, which is supposed to be a "one and done," we'll get appointments.

Sometimes, in all the indoor busy-ness of my days, it's good to step outside and appreciate what's happening around me. This is an untouched photo of this evening's view from our front yard. Of course it was even more stunning in real life.  

Pastor Mike's Sunday sermon was spot-on, as it relates to our political events. In this snapshot, he was pointing out that it doesn't matter if you're Left or Right (blue or red) the Devil is after us. All perspectives will do well to focus on Jesus. 

Book Recommendation

One True Loves
 (plural) is not a typo. This story, written by Taylor Jenkins Reid is about Emma who one day learns that she not only has a fiancĂ©, but also a husband! Readers learn about Emma's past, how she occasionally worked in her parent's bookstore alongside Sam. And while a  teen, met Jesse, a swimmer with Olympic potential. The story follows Emma's life with Jesse, and her reconnection with Sam. The reader will certainly wonder how on earth Emma will resolve having two true loves in her life...with sweet insight, understanding, and appreciation. 

Linda's score: 4.0/5.0

In some exciting news- and you're the first to know - I've been invited to be on a three-person panel for an upcoming MQG Webinar. Along with Karen Foster @capitolaquilter and Jo Avery @joavery, we'll present information about making a Temperature Quilt. If you're a member of the Modern Quilt Guild, you'll be able to watch our live presentation on Tuesday, January 26 at 2 pm Eastern time, or access it afterward on the MQG website. Lots of preparation will be happening in the next week! Linda

Friday, January 8, 2021

She-Cave Refuge

In a week, when it feels like life in the US has blown up again, and Coronavirus numbers are ever-increasing, refuge in my sewing room/she-cave is where I feel safest... where I pray about concerns and fears, find solace in God's Word, and make. 

Scrappy inset circles that first received attention in December, have evolved. Experimenting with circles has been of great interest, after seeing (on Instagram) blocks made by @mariquilts. Marianne doesn't provide info about how she makes them, so I attempted to figure it out. I came up with this scrappy ring. It turned out okay, though I'll say that it takes longer to piece scrappy squares of fabric from which to cut concave and convex circles than it does to actually cut and sew an inset circle!

I wrecked the beauty of the ring when I set a striped circle into it. UGH! It looks like a woman's ugly purse! We learn from our failures, right? This will be discarded, or possibly put on the back of a quilt. 

You may have noticed that the first scrappy circles I made were were set into the background at angles. Well, I decided I didn't like that look... after making 11 blocks! Of course. That's exactly how I operate.

So, I took each block apart and reset every scrappy circle perpendicularly. I'll like them better because I want to try inserting vertical and horizontal scrappy strips. I don't know how the composition will evolve, but here I am. 

During the day, I seem to work best at the sewing machine. By evening I'm ready for hand work.

I love hand piecing, but have yet to finish a hand-pieced project. The last piece I worked on was this Starfish quilt. Progress came to a halt in September because I ran out of gray background fabric. Thus far I have been unable to determine which Kona (if it IS Kona) gray it might be. I bought the fabric in 2010 or 2011, because I began hand-piecing in March 2011. Yep, it's been around for too long and I'd like to finish it. But how to accomplish it. I'm thinking to introduce a different background color around the entire perimeter of the 53" X 55" piece to make it bigger - useable.

For now, I'm moving on.

About three years ago I bought Jen Kingwell's book Quilt Lovely, sole-y because I have always admired Glitter a pattern on page 7. After buying the book I made a test block using the book's paper templates to cut fabrics and machine sew. What a disaster! Another big failure. (Whew. Today's confessions are painful!

Below is Jen Kingwell's scrappy version of Glitter from the book. You can also see my Kiwi friend, Wendy's Glitter quilt here. She hand-pieced it and won an award!

When Glitter acrylic templates were recently on sale @sewmodernchicky - online here - in Jacksonville (Florida), I took the opportunity to start another hand-piecing project. 

Choosing fabrics from my scrap bins, I set myself to make a test block. It's nice to have templates from which to cut fabric, but especially to mark the seam intersection dots. Then it's connect-the-dots to draw a seam line. I do this line-drawing step on fine-grit sandpaper, so the fabric doesn't stretch while I'm dragging the pencil across it.

Each 13-patch Glitter block measures 3½" X 9⅛" unfinished.

VoilĂĄ! One down; 151 to go. My plan is to use solid and print scraps in a color combo that's orange, yellow, hot pink, and (maybe) red. Few reds are in my stash or scraps, so I'll see how that goes.

During "limbo week," between Christmas and New Year's, I started Kawandi #4 with more of my grandmother's vintage fabric. It's coming along nicely.

Book Recommendation

I'm happy to share my first 2021 book recommendation! It's The Water Dancer by Ta-Nehisi Coates. Hiram Walker is a Virginia slave, and half-brother to Malcolm, the tobacco plantation owner's son. When Malcolm and Hi tumble into a river, Hi experiences a mysterious power that saves his life, and changes it. Though Hi has received some education, and is better treated than others, he wants to escape and take Sophia with him. But an unexpected intervention changes Hi's plans, putting him in a place where he can save others, and develop the ability handed down to him from his grandmother.

The author refers to slaves as "taskers," never using terms or language that I'm accustomed to reading in books such as Gone With the Wind. The story delivers greater understanding of the underground railroad, tasker families, their lives and an empathy for their desire to be reunited with family.

Linda's score: 4.3/5.0 

Through Lutheran Church of Hope (West Des Moines, Iowa) I've begun a six-week online Bible study called Get Out of Your Head with Jennie Allen. In the first video lesson, Jennie shared this nugget that is surely the only way to fix the world's wrongs.

Amen. Linda

Sunday, January 3, 2021

2020 Reflections

Each of us has certainly had our fill of gripes and grumbles about 2020 that begin and end with the Coronavirus pandemic, and other not-so-nice events in between. These events serve to remind us that we're not in control. 

In the past months, and as recently as yesterday, I've heard quilt makers and other creative sorts give voice to how the pandemic has impacted them. They either: 1) experienced an emotional withdrawal from their creative process that caused them to drastically reduce, or completely stop creating; or 2) experienced a  renewed, almost frenzied focus on creativity, fueled by a determination to fill each day with therapeutic productivity. The latter is what happened to me.

As many creators have remarked: "I can't imagine what people are doing who do not have a hobby!"

Reflecting on 2020 means acknowledging that early-on, I reckoned the pandemic would last a few months. And so I determined to use my time wisely. I didn't want to come out of lock-down and all that at-home time with nothing to show for extra sewing room time. Ha!

But I made. As if in a frenzy. And I kept making. It was therapeutic. 

In addition to finishing 18 quilts (see 2020 Quilts tab, above), I also made:

lots of totes, bags, cases, and zippered pouches; 

masks, a pillow, hot pads, bowl buddies, and finished a crocheted afghan; 

bought a used peg loom to teach myself peg loom weaving and made two rugs and four chair pads;

and sewed clothes for myself.

And because wonderful virtual learning opportunities arose, I took five virtual workshops that have fueled three new creative loves:

1) patterned improv quiltmaking
"Jazzed," 43" X 43"

2) Kawandi, hand-stitched according to the method used by Siddi women in India; 

3) and braided rag rugs. 

I expect these techniques to appear often in 2021 makes.

I also spent time in my role as Central Florida MQG media coordinator, learning Wordpress and moving our website/blog from Blogger to Wordpress. Though there's been a steep learning curve, Wordpress doesn't present the roadblocks Blogger does.

My latest Blogger issue is that I am unable to upload photos from Iphoto on my computer to Blogger. Now I have to first move photos from IPhoto to the computer desktop, and then upload them to Blogger. Ergh. There's always something. 

We missed four different planned trips in 2020. The holidays were very quiet. And though I'm tired of being at home all the time, a positive is that as Dan and I spent time more time together, we learned two new card games: Gin Rummy, and most recently Whist (an old-English gentleman's game). We also bought and learned to play Backgammon and Rummikub. 

Dan is an excellent cook who makes all our meals, and he managed to improve upon his already delicious, wickedly good pizza. 
before baking

after baking

Upon further reflection, I want to thank those of you who regularly comment on my blog, Your support and encouragement in 2020 has meant more than you know! Since March, I haven't spent any in-person time with friends (or family, for that matter). I depend on phone calls, FaceTime, Zoom meetings, blog comments, and Instagram remarks for all my socialization. So even email interaction is vital! These virtual relationships and friendships kept me going in 2020, and I expect  that will continue to be the same for many months to come. 

Because of the good and not-so-good aspects of the past year, I've been compelled to more frequently turn to God. In prayer, I can express frustrations brought on by the pandemic, and find a measure of willingness to accept and  find peace. Though each of us may wonder what the purpose has been for so much angst, if these anxieties draw us closer to him... perhaps that is His purpose. God is the only Light that can illuminate the darkness of 2020, and give us hope for 2021. 
Now Lord, what do I look for? My hope is in you. - Psalm 39:7 
Bless you all. Linda


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