Friday, May 28, 2021

Spiral Braided Rag Rug

I've wanted to make another spiral braid rag rug since finishing my last one! I learned to make a Braided Rag Rug in a two-part workshop with Ilka White who lives near Melbourne, Australia. It was definitely worth two late evenings (until 11 pm my time) at the computer to learn from her. She's a superior instructor! One of the best I've ever learned from. 

Braiding a rug another one of those things, like kawandi, that I've found somewhat addictive. The reason I didn't start a rug sooner is that I was waiting (during pandemic days) to go to Goodwill to shop for old clothes or home dec items that could be made into a rug. But then, I began to do a little closet cleaning. I'm repurposing our own clothes! 

I spent an afternoon cutting strips from:
  • two of hub's shirts (those bright yellow strips!);
  • my own fleece pajamas, and three knit shirts; 
  • and leftover fabrics from making seven articles of clothing

I've happily realized it's an advantage to be a sewist! Small, unusable pieces left from cutting out tops, shorts, and even home dec weight purses/bags, can be entirely used-up in a rug! So much strip-cutting helped reduce my stuffed-full bin of "what's left from making clothes." 

In this pictures, I've just start a braid with two strips clamped onto a clipboard.

Since the first rug I made was round, I wanted to make this one oval. The crochet hook is used for pulling the weaver strand through a loop.

Ilka taught us how to increase the number of braids being used. At this point I was braiding with eight strands. When making my round rug, at one point I was braiding with 14 strands. 

It's just so intriguing to watch the spiral pattern emerge! 

For now, I'm taking a pause with it because I want to see what other things I can strip-cut to make the rug larger than the 25" X 33" it is at this point.

For something to do on late Sunday morning, we golf-carted to Starbucks. It was a gorgeous day. All the bedding flowers are looking really pretty, though we could sure use some rain. 

Book Recommendation
Why the Sky is Blue
 by Susan Meissner is a book about something I have never considered. What does a mother of two do when she discovers she's pregnant as a result of a physical attack of which she has no memory? That's the situation Claire Holland finds herself in. With emotional support from her pastor and his wife, Claire and her husband Dan make an extremely difficult decision - not to terminate the pregnancy, because Claire's history of miscarriages and risky pregnancies will certainly come into play in the days ahead. When the moment comes for the final decision, the heartbreak of the situation makes continuing to go on almost unbearable. Yet, love prevails, and shines through when it's most needed. 

Linda's score 4.0/5.0

Did you catch the lunar eclipse/blood moon early Wednesday morning? Apparently it wasn't as visible here as it was in Western skies, but my little Canon point-and-shoot caught the gist of it at 5:57 am.

Have a great Memorial Day weekend, everyone! Linda

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Monday, May 24, 2021

Kawandi #7

In the past week I started, and finished my seventh kawandi (the Indian word for quilt), since learning how to make them last December in a virtual workshop with Sujata Shah @therootconnection. Sujata's workshop is Stories in Stitches: Siddi Quilt.

My supplies are scrap fabrics; Quilter's Dream Request Cotton batting; Aurifil #12-weight thread in the off-white color 2021; and Bohin Crewel needles size 7. I love my Warm Crochet brand scissors too (won in an Instagram giveaway). 

This 17" X 24" kawandi was inspired by one I saw on Instagram, made by @quilterbeth using only stripes and solids, both of which I have in plenty.

These outdoor pictures really show the texture that hand-stitching gives to the piece. 
back of kawandi

I took this picture on the lanai table to show off the fact that my African violet is blooming again! It previously bloomed in February. 

The piece is now on the kitchen table where it looks good with our colorful Fiestaware. 


If you're intrigued by kawandi, I suggest following the Instagram hashtag kawandi - #kawandi That way you won't miss seeing what others are creating. 

In between times, all I have been doing is prep work for hand projects. It's surprising how much time it takes to choose and cut fabrics for EPP (English paper-pieced) Prudence blocks. 

These little rubber-banded bundles are each a cut and glue-basted EPP set to make one Prudence block. They'll keep me busy for a while. 

See my little Zappy Dot in the picture? That's a needle holder is where I rest my needle in between uses. Because it's magnetized, I can put it on my Zappy Dots bracelet (magnetic dots are interchangeable). Handy, right?

Book Recommendation
Afterlife by Julia Alvarez centers on Antonia Vega who has just retired from a career as a college English professor. Her husband has suddenly died, and she's feeling lost (in a new afterlife). Yet, she must support the people who need her: three sisters, and an undocumented, pregnant, immigrant teen. Because Antonia is a Puerto Rican immigrant herself, not only is her ability to communicate and translate needed, but her understanding of different cultures is valuable. Torn between her sisters' needs and those of immigrants, she must determine how to live in her new life. 

Lots of Spanish is spoken in this audiobook, some of which isn't repeated in English, so the listener is left to work it out in context. The story included lots of references to famous literature, and much of the book is spent focusing on personal character insights.  Linda's Score 3.5/5.0

After going to the Saturday Farmer's Market, we stopped at the grocery store: Publix. This is the new COVID-19 customer policy. While I'm completely in favor of it, isn't it impossible to enforce? How many non-vaccinated people will wear a mask? 

One of the "necessary" Publix purchases was this ice cream. As you can see, it's Publix's "limited edition," so I had to jump on that right away! This flavor has been highly recommended, though I can't yet attest to how good it is. 

Signage from El Arroyo in Austin, Texas, says what I think about ice cream.

I can't end this post without commenting about the topic I shared in my May 12 blog post: Fabric Stash is a Lesson in Economics.

climbing cotton prices
 
Sadly, as anticipated, it happened.

Sometime last week, my favorite shop for buying Painter's Palette Solids at a fabulous price ($5.96 a yard), raised the price to $7.96 a yard.

A $2 a yard jump!
😞

I saw this coming. Well, hubs saw it coming, and explained to me (which I shared with you in the blog post) why the price of bulk cotton would increase, and end in all of us - the consumers - paying higher prices for quilting cotton.

It doesn't feel very good to be right.

The only good news is that this shouldn't affect the price of cotton batting. The reason is that batting is made with "stripper cotton," a different, inferior type of cotton that hasn't seen price fluctuations.

"I told you so," isn't a nice thing to say, but I really hope you stocked up on your quilting cotton fabrics before prices went up. I won't be buying quilting cotton fabric for a long time, unless there's a big sale!

Linda

Tuesday, May 18, 2021

Regular Doings Again

Because I've begun to return to nearly all of my regular activities, I haven't been accomplishing much in the sewing room. Mostly I've been project-hopping, with nothing being accomplished.

For an 11th birthday gift to a grandson who lives in Texas, I made this pencil pouch following a free pattern by Noodlehead.

Though it isn't visible in the picture, on top of the print lining is a layer of clear vinyl. I like adding it to ensure the fabric doesn't get grungy from pencil lead, or crayons.

The pouch was loaded with several sharpened #2 pencils and a little cash. It was gratifying to be on a FaceTime call with the birthday boy and see the big grin on his face as we watched him open it. 


Issue #40 is the latest issue of Make Modern magazine, a digital publication 
from Australia. The cover quilt was made by my Canadian friend, Leanne, who blogs at DevotedQuilter.





A "Gallery" of 17 colourwash quilts are shared in this issue, and mine was one of them!

While there's no compensation for being include in Make Modern, it's fun to have one's quilt publicly shared.

Here's the link to my July 2020 post about making Scrap Snap. It's a quilt that's already been given to my brother and sister-in-law.

Instructions to make Scrap Snap blocks can be found at Kari's blog: QuiltsfortheMaking. My block arrangement is completely different than any layout Kari suggests.

You probably remember that in March, for National Quilting Month, I won an Instagram giveaway of 100 fat quarters of Superior Solids by Benartex. Well. Last week I won two more Instagram giveaways! First, from NotYourMamasQuiltStore in Plano, Texas I won a Quilter's Dream 60" X 60" select loft cotton batt.  Then, I won - along with Charlotte @kirkenoll who's also a member of the South Florida MQG - an on-demand workshop from Carolina Oneto of Sao Paulo, Brazil. I chose this workshop. Whoo-hoo! Feelin' lucky!

Book Recommendation
At the start of Stars Over Sunset Boulevard by Susan Meissner I was totally enthralled with the story of Audrey and Violet, two young women in Hollywood, working in the secretarial pool at MGM studios. Indirectly involved in the production of Gone With the Wind, I was fascinated with an inside look into the making of the movie. I've seen GWTW at least a dozen times, so every time a scene or costume or lines was talked about, I knew exactly what was being referenced. So the front part of the story kept my attention, especially when Scarlett's green velvet hat with gold fringe disappears from the movie set.

As the story continues, following Audrey's separation from her father, and her quest to become a movie star; and Violet's life as a wife and mother, the friendly relationship between the two women becomes (to me) a little tiresome and overfraught with emotional analysis. Still, if you are a fan of GWTW, then I highly recommend this book.
  
Linda's score: 4.2/5.0

Saturday morning was the Central Florida MQG meeting, with lots of great show and tell. Visit our blog to see some great-looking pandemic-made quilts. Then, Saturday afternoon was the South Florida MQG meeting via Zoom. Both chapters are asking for member input for QuiltCon Charity Quilt Challenge ideas, so I've been playing with EQ8. The 2022 theme is "Angles."

I'm still attending church virtually, and Pastor Mike's Sunday sermon was exceptional! He tackled some of the relevant stuff - mask-wearers/not mask-wearers - which is one of the reasons I appreciate his messages. He talks about topical concerns. 

Pastor Mike mentioned that Lutheran Church of Hope has some "mask-optional" worship services explaining that if you want to wear a mask because you have a health condition, or you're not vaccinated, or you want to set an example for your children, you can wear a mask without being judged. You can wear a mask "until Jesus comes, if you want!" 😂

He also showed some NASCAR clips (his oldest son, Jonathan is a NASCAR television producer), so if you have even a little interest, here's the YouTube link to the May 16 service: Ready, Set, Go!

I've been back to line dancing again, twice a week for several weeks now. No mask required as everyone (12-16 people) has been vaccinated. Though I'm experiencing a few muscular aches from dancing in an hour and 50 minute class, it's great to be doing it again. 

On Monday I returned to ukulele club - Peace, Love and Ukulele - for the first time since March 2, 2020.

Thankfully, I haven't forgotten all the chords I learned, and I was reminded that playing my ukulele makes me happy... as does singing, though that was challenging while wearing a mask (required for this group). We're anticipating that by June 1, masks will no longer be requested in our recreation centers. 

FOLLOWING MY BLOG BY EMAIL
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Wednesday, May 12, 2021

Fabric Stash is a Lesson in Economics

One of the reasons I absolutely love blogging (12+ years and going strong) is reading and replying to comments made by you. Some of my best friends are you because we've exchanged multiple emails that started with a comment

Such is the case with a recent exchange with Joy (thejoyfulquilter). I remarked about my solids stash and she replied (in a long email) "Solids stash... what's that?!" She made me smile, as she apparently likes  and prefers prints. Our diverse tastes are what make quiltmaking attractive to so many people. 

But she made me think about my solids stash. 

When the modern quiltmaking movement began in 2009 or thereabouts, I was a long-time traditional quilt maker, preferring to make quilts with prints that were medium and dark valued, in muted, dusty colors. Being a person who is very slow to adopt and adapt to changing trends, it wasn't until 2011 or so that my stash color palette began to gravitate toward light and bright prints. Since 2018 my color palette has transitioned from prints to solids. I like the dramatic impact of pure, intense solids set beside each another. It makes for a strong visual statement.

Thus, through the past 18 months I've added a wide range of solid colors to my storage cabinet. These shelves are stuffed with yardage. I'd guess this is 200 yards that range in quantity from 1½ to 2 to 3 yards of each color.

This bin is full of various brands of solids, in pieces of a yard or less. 

Shoebox bins are where I store small, less-than-a-fat-quarter-sized pieces.

Not only do I like solids for their graphic quality, but the price per yard is lower than prints. When I found Painter's Palette solids for $5.96 a yard ($1.03 less per yard than another popular online shop), I began to stock up.

One reason I stocked-up is based on economics.

In early 2020, the price (value) of raw cotton fell. As a result, fewer cotton farmers planted cotton.

The result is that cotton is now less available.

Have you looked at recent prices for raw cotton? In the past month they've been climbing.

The theory of "trickle-down" is evident. Because raw cotton prices are climbing, the price of quilting cotton will likewise climb.

In fact, it's happening. In April, a renown New York City quilt shop raised all it's fabric price-per-yard by $1. It's a trend that will continue. 

Historically, we've seen quilting cotton prices increase and never return to the previous price. Specifically, I remember 2009 floods in India that ruined cotton fields. The result was an increase in the price of quilting cotton. Those quilting cotton prices never returned to pre-flood "normal."  
Who would have guessed that quiltmaking is a lesson in economics?! 

With print quilting cottons currently costing between $10 and $12+ a yard (USD), I feel completely justified in building my solids stash (at only $5.96 USD a yard) through the pandemic. 

By the way. It's worth mentioning that this cotton value increase will also directly affect the price of blue jeans. Just sayin'... 

So, I'm looking forward to creating my next solids-only quilt that will be made for the South Florida MQG  "Curve Around Challenge." I'll use mostly fabrics from the box of Benartex Superior Solids fat quarters I won in an Instagram giveaway. I've made this 20" test block that I will to work into the quilt.

I've also started another Kawandi. I just can't help myself! I find this handwork very comforting... relaxing. Fellow Instagrammer @quilterbeth made a Kawandi using only scraps of stripes and solids that I liked so much I started my own. If you're on Instagram, I suggest following the hashtag #kawandi so you don't miss seeing what others are making. 

This is 17" X 24" and uses Quilter's Dream Request cotton batting.

Speaking of Quilter's Dream batting... May I just tell you that I won another Instagram giveaway?! Not Your Mama's Quilt Store in Plano, Texas let me know yesterday that I won a 60" X 60" batt of Quilter's Dream Select cotton. I'm feelin' mighty lucky these days!

For the past ten months - through days of frenetic quiltmaking - I saved the littlest fabric, batting, and thread scraps in a king-sized pillow case. This past week I used stashed home dec weight yardage to serge and stuff two large (roughly 24" X 38") pet beds for a local animal shelter. I'm remembering that big dogs need beds too, and can attest that these are pretty darned comfortable!

Book Recommendation
The Girl Who Wrote in Silk by Kelli Estes is about Inara Erickson who has just inherited her aunt's home on Orcas Island in Washington. She visits the house with the intention of selling it. When she accidentally unearths part of a garment that's been heavily embroidered with a pictorial scene, questions arise about its origins and meaning. A university professor helps Inara discover the history of the piece, and secrets begin to immerse. The story behind the embroidery begins a century earlier, when young Mei Lein, an American of Chinese descent, is forcibly removed from her home in Seattle. Along with other Chinese they board a ship to China. When it becomes apparent they will not reach their destination, Mei Lein becomes the lone survivor who has a secret to share through her embroidery.   

This was a pleasant read. But perhaps because of the formulaic plot - apparently disparate lives slowly moving toward a connection - I felt this book was a little bit predictable. 

Linda's score: 4.0/5.0

Linda

Friday, May 7, 2021

Chip and Charm Challenge

Beth, a member of our Central Florida MQG, always comes up with the best quilt challenges for members.

For me personally, they're a good way to stretch myself. Since I'm not a person who has been gifted with an innate ability to have multiple designs always floating around in my head (as others do), being told - given direction - is a good way to get me working, making an effort to come up with an original design. I've found our chapter challenges rewarding, especially as two of my previous chapter challenge quilts have been juried into QuiltCons. 

Our "Chip and Charm Challenge" is due at our November Central Florida MQG meeting. By the challenge name alone, it's pretty easy to guess that chips are 2½" precuts, and charms are 5" precuts. These are the packs in my stash, most of which have been collected at previous QuiltCons. I never knew what to do with them. 

Beth gave us only a few rules: 
  • use as many chips and charms as desired (permissible to cut more from stash)
  • make a quilt that's at least 15" X 15" with blocks no larger than 5" (unfinished)
  • negative space/background can be no more than 50 percent of the quilt design
I'm going with solids only, and given that I won't use brown (ICK!) or black in my quilt, I've been cutting extra chips and charms from solid scraps. 

I sewed chips into four-patch blocks. 

Deciding I wanted a circle in the center of each block, I selected chips that looked good with each four-patch. From SF101 (center of photo) fusible interfacing, I also cut 2½" squares.

Though I have some lovely acrylic circle rulers, I didn't have one that efficiently covered all of a chip. Prescription bottle cap to the rescue! Using an air-erase marker, I drew around the cap onto the non-fusible side of the SF101 square.

With the SF101 fusible side (bumpy side) against the solid square, I machine-sewed on the drawn circle using a shortened stitch length. Using pinking shears to trim the seam, I only need to make a few extra clips to remove bulk from the circle. Slitting an opening through the fusible the circle makes it possible to turn the whole circle right side out.

Now the fusible side (with bumps) is on the outside.

I used this nifty tool to push against the seam to open it as much as possible. 

Then I pressed each circle on an appliqué pressing sheet (so the fusible doesn't stick)...

... and briefly adhered each circle onto a four-patch. 

These blocks - and many more - are ready for hand-appliqué. Since this ring of pre-wound Superior bobbins is portable, I'll use this as appliqué thread.

I don't have any idea where this design will go, but will happily stitch down circles until I have "enough," however many that may be. 

Book Recommendation
The Vanishing Half, by Brit Bennett is about Desiree and Stella, black twins in a small Louisiana town called Mallard. In their teens they take divergent paths. Desiree makes it to Washington D.C. and marries an abusive man; Stella runs away and transforms herself, adopting a lavish new life in a posh California community. Each of them has a daughter, but for more than 25 years, Desiree and Stella live wholly separate lives. When by chance, one daughter sees a woman who looks like her mother, pursuit of more information leads the two cousins to meet and discover a life lived as a lie, the truth of their heritage, and greater self-awareness. 

This story is about the color of one's skin - blacks who look white and pretend to be white; and blacks who look black. It also includes a transgender person whose story I found a little disturbing. Still, the book gave me insights into different perspectives about color and gender. 

Linda's score: 3.0/5.0

FOLLOWING MY BLOG BY EMAIL
By July, Google Blogger will discontinue its email auto-delivery of blog posts by Feedburner. This will affect all of the blogs you follow by email!

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Thank you to 108 of you who have registered to receive my blog posts by email! Linda

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