Wednesday, July 28, 2021

Handwork and Quilting

Handwork is something I always have at the ready. It's what I pick up whenever I'm on a phone call, or just need a break from sitting at the sewing machine. It's surprising how much can be accomplished in a little down time... if your handwork is ready to pick up. 

A couple months ago, I prepped a whole bunch of Glitter blocks. Since I'm making them with a combo of machine-piecing and hand-piecing, a pile of blocks have been ready for hand-stitching at the four corners.

I keep a Zappy Dots Needle Nanny handy, with a a pretty Zappy Dots Scissors Fob on my snips. Lots of cute Zappy Dots designs are available, including leggings, if you're into that sort of thing. I would be if the weather in Florida was a bit cooler! My matching notions set is "O Happy Day" by Timna Tarr

Since I'm caught up on all the blocks I prepped, I thought it was a good time to count and reassess. These are 52 blocks of the 152 needed for the quilt. I'm 34 percent done.  

I'm lovin' the color! In the next batch of prepped blocks, I think I'll make enough to replace those two blocks that have a little aqua color. 

Mostly I've been focusing on quilting my QuiltCon Artisan Cotton Challenge quilt. Lots of walking foot quilting in several different colors. Though I haven't been able to find quilting thread to match that dark teal. 

For the circle in the diamond, I used polyester sewing thread. I don't like it, but can't find a matching cotton thread. Straight quilting lines are irregular so I can go back in a fill spaces with big stitch quilting. Even with the big stitch, I'm gonna have a problem with dark teal thread - I can't find a matching color of #8 perle cotton. 

Book Recommendations Today I've got two more books to suggest. 

The Feathered Bone by Julia Cantrell is a little bit unsettling. It's about several issues: the unimaginable fears experienced by parents whose child is abducted; understanding a spouse who devalues his wife; suicide; and the unexpected challenges of living through Hurricane Katrina. 

Best friends Amanda and Beth, whose daughters Ellie and Sarah are also best friends are all on a sixth grade Halloween field trip to New Orleans when the unthinkable happens. It takes years for family and friends to come to grips with and understand the loss of someone dear. While the story is about many negative events, its underlying message is spiritually uplifting. Though sad, outcomes are also affirming. Lives continue, and do so with positivity and hope. 

Linda's score: 4.0/5.0

A Cry From the Dust by Carrie Stuart Parks is the first book in the Gwen Marcey series. 

Gwen is a forensic artist - a gifted woman who can sculpt a face with only the bones as clues, and skillfully draw a likeness from memory. While reconstructing three faces of Mountain Meadow Massacre victims at a new Interpretive Center - where the massacre took place in 1857 - Gwen becomes entangled with several disgruntled visitors. When one of those visitors is found brutally murdered, and Gwen realizes that one of the faces she has restored looks like Joseph Smith, founder of the Mormon church, she finds herself involved in a police investigation. The Avenging Angels have targeted Gwen because they believe she has something they need. She must protect herself, her daughter, and her best friend - the friend who helps Gwen uncover the truth of the massacre and Mormon history. Learning the truth in time may not prevent another massacre.

After I'd finished the book, I read that the 1857 Mountain Meadows Massacre really happened. I'm looking forward to reading another book in the Gwen Marcey series. Linda's score: 3.8/5.0


Saturday, July 24, 2021

Future Projects

Two new projects are on my horizon for this fall. The first is one you can join too.

On Instagram, one of hundreds of quilters I follow is Coloradoan Laura Loewen. She used to be @loewensewen, but a few months ago she changed her online name to @quiltfortco

Anyway, Laura is hosting the "Finger Paints Quilt Along" starting the end of August. Finger Paints is a quilt Laura designed and made, and that appeared in QuiltCon Together, earlier this year.

More than a half-dozen quilter-friends in Central Florida MQG are participating in the quilt along, so I'm joining too - mostly for the camaraderie, but I also like the design. I'm thinking to change-up the colors, of course 😄.

In case you'd like to know, the PDF pattern, with Florida taxes, cost me $13.02.

I'll also be making a mini quilt because I've been invited to participate in the introduction of Kelly Young's new book, Scrappy Improv Quilting, published by Landauer, an imprint of Fox Chapel Publishing. Friends will note that Landauer is the company that published my book in 2006: First Time Quiltmaking.

According to Kelly, the book
"contains 22 fun mini quilts that use an improv technique to create texture and interest. Not only does this book give an alternate method for constructing the improv pieces, it is also perfect for beginners because it contains full instructions for finishing your quilt, as well as tips for displaying them."

Starting in mid-September and into October, Kelly is hosting a blog hop. You'll see the mini quilt I make, here and on Instagram on Monday, October 18.
Find Kelly on Instagram as @myquiltinfatuation, and her blog by the same name is here.

Currently, I'm working on the quilt I intend to enter in the 2022 QuiltCon Artisan Cotton Fabric Challenge being sponsored by Windham Fabrics. Artisan fabric is one of those two-toned woven collections (similar to Oakshott) that so many quilters like. I've never used it before.

Though the bundle of four fat eighths still hasn't yet arrived, I jumped in a few weeks ago. That's because this is one of only a few times I've had design inspiration! After seeing the 1950s artwork of Frenchman Auguste Herbin, I knew I wanted to translate his concepts from paint to fabric.

I used EQ8 to create a rough design and calculate yardage so as to purchase fabric.

In three days I cut and pieced a 52" X 57" quilt top, made a backing, basted, and started quilting! It's an incredible feeling, knowing exactly what I wanted to do! Such a change from my usual hemming and hawing.

The Artisan fabric colors seen in my photo as teal, rose, purple, and gray are the four challenge fabrics - three of which are required in the quilt design. I chose to add dark gray and light beige from a list of allowable neutrals. All fabrics are from the Artisan collection. The yellow and orange blocks on the right side of my design wall are Glitter blocks I've recently hand-pieced.

From Artisan fabric leftovers, and two other quilting cottons (a backing may be from any fabric), I pieced a backing..., and started stabilizing walking foot quilting. 

Now that all shapes are stabilized, I'm going back in to quilt more, but intentionally leaving open areas for big stitch hand quilting. 

I'm having so much fun with this project! It's an amazing feeling, and makes me feel grateful that I get to enjoy this novel experience - knowing where a project is heading! So much joy!

By contrast, both my Central Florida MQG "Chips and Charms Challenge" and South Florida MQG "Curve Around Challenge" projects are stalled, and have no clear direction. I'm hoping inspiration will strike, and my vision for each of them will become clear!

Book Recommendations
Because I love all things related to Scotland (I really want to visit someday), I thought reading stories that take place there would be enjoyable. These historical romances are a bit of Scotland and lots of romance.

Romancing the Scot, and It Happened in the Highlands are the first two books in 
"The Pennington Family" series of six books, written by a husband/wife team using the pen name May McGoldrick. I was immediately drawn into each story because of the exceptional acting and voice skills of Saskia Maarleveld. You already know about her talent if you've listened to The Rose Code, or The Alice Network. Saskia makes characters come to life!

Romancing the Scot, centers on Grace who has walked into a scene of murder and must run from men who want her dead too. She hides, stowing away in a crate that's loaded on a ship bound for who-knows-where. Hugh Pennington, a viscount in Scotland, has ordered a new basket for his hot air balloon, but unpacks a crate to find much more than he expected. Grace, who is near death, still fears for her life, and feigns knowing who she is. But the handsome and ever-patient Hugh breaks down her defenses, helps her come to understand that not all people have evil intentions, and protects her as she uncovers the truth of the murders. 

It Happened in the Highlands is the second book in this series. Though I've reviewed books #1 and #2, since reading them, I learned there's a book #1.5. Who knew authors do that?!

Lady Josephine is the younger, adopted sister of sister of Hugh Pennington. Years ago, Jo was jilted by Captain Wynne Melfort a week before the wedding. Though she has put Wynne out of her mind, and has also given up trying to find her birth mother, the arrival of a pencil drawing of a young woman who looks remarkably like Jo, leads Jo to visit an asylum to meet the man who drew the picture. An unexpected encounter with Wynne and his eight year-old son, causes Jo to stay longer than she intended. Together, they begin to uncover clues that could lead to Jo learning who she really is, where she comes from, and the realization that love never goes away.

Just a heads up... both of these books have steamy romance scenes!

Linda's score for both books: 3.8/5.0 Linda

Wednesday, July 21, 2021

Urban Abacus Quilt

In August I'll be teaching two guilds how to use the Quick Curve Ruler by Sew Kind of Wonderful. I need samples of the patterns they chose, and to give myself a piecing refresher, so the Mini QCR Runner (see this post), and Urban Abacus are what I've been making. These gentle curves are fun to sew - not intimidating - and it's been nice to have a reason to free motion quilt again. 

Urban Abacus is pieced using the full-sized (original) Quick Curve Ruler. Mine finished at 52" X 67½", a nice size for snuggling while watching TV or reading. 
Photo of quilt hanging in our Bismarck palm

I used Quilter's Dream Cotton Request for batting. The backing is pieced leftovers from the front, and a couple other blend-able fabric leftovers. 

Quilting threads are Auriful 50-weight - orange, green, gold, and pale aqua. Orange-colored thread was in the bobbin.

After piecing the backing, I made scrappy binding too. 

This is my favorite binding method: No Tails Binding: Mitered Corners by Machine. (Wondering if it's time to do an updated tutorial. This one is from 2009.)

I've discovered that it helps to mark the binding center, so as to achieve a nice 45° angle for machine sewing the corner.

I like how the corners match with different fabrics.

From the back with palm shadows and the sun shining through.

Since we no longer have a clothesline, I always appreciate being able to hang quilts, for picture-taking, in our front yard Bismarck palm. However, Dan has recently sawed off the lower branches (they die as the tree grows), so I can no longer reach a lower branch from a step stool. Now I have to drag the six-foot step ladder out of the garage. 
Within another year or two, I won't be able to reach the lower branches at all! 😞
Urban Abacus, 52" X 67½"

This is hawk was our next door neighbor's roof three mornings ago. It captured my attention when I heard an unusual bird sound and looked out the bedroom window.  I'm grateful my camera has good zooming capabilities, so I could capture these pictures. The hawk stayed in this spot for about 15 minutes, apparently grooming itself. 

It looks a little scruffy, like it's molting. See the feathers at its feet and on the roof? Several other birds occasionally swooped by, trying to shoo it away. He didn't pay any attention to those birds. 

So... I'm back to cutting and piecing again - working on one of three challenge projects that I want to finish by the end of October. As I sew, I'm listening to audiobooks and will have reviews in my next post. Linda

Friday, July 16, 2021

Mostly Quilting

It's been 11 days since I posted. Not sure why I haven't felt motivated to write a post. Maybe it's because it's summer. Real life has recommenced with more people vaccinated. I've been keeping up with activities - daily devotions, ukulele, line dancing, housework here and there, and sewing.

Actually, as I was searching for an old piece of embroidery that I thought to finish, I came across too many jumbled messes of sewing-related stuff. Started projects set aside for more favorable projects. Though I've never thought of myself as a UFO collector, I have a fair share of items that have me wondering, "What will my kids do, and think, when they find this stuff after I'm gone?!" My excesses are a bit embarrassing. You know. Materials and supplies bought to make items... that never got made. The "stuff" has me feeling disappointed in myself, and a new resolve to rectify that, even a little bit at a time. 

For example, I found this box full of hexagon English paper piecing papers, and cut hexagon fabrics, along with charm packs, pieced triangles, and other random fabric pieces. I've vowed to get it sorted, and figure out a way to use it.

Some of the pieces will go into this which has reappeared on my design wall. Blocks have hand-appliquéd circles for our Central Florida MQG Chip and Charm Challenge. None of the blocks have been squared-up. I'm mulling over how many more I need to make, and how to arrange them. I have a long way to go on this one.

Since making the Mini QCR Runner (last blog post), I've been making another "Urban Abacus" quilt, a pattern by Sew Kind of Wonderful. Did you notice I said "another" Urban Abacus quilt? I gave away the first Urban Abacus quilt I made in 2014. It couldn't be with a sweeter Iowa family. 

But, I'm teaching the Urban Ababus project twice in August! So, here I go again. 

Last Saturday I completed the top; Sunday afternoon I pieced a backing with leftover fabrics from the front, and pin-basted the sandwich with Quilter's Dream Cotton Request.

This week has been about quilting, starting with ruler work. I'm quilting on my Bernina 770QE.

Each abacus was curved ruler quilted first, followed by straight line quilting using a 6" Fine Line Ruler by Accents in Design.

This video is five times the normal speed.

Lastly, I added free motion quilted circles.

This video is at four times the normal speed.

Last Friday I received my complimentary copy of Curated Quilts - "Stripes" issue #16 - that includes my 14" X 14" Dance Around quilt in the Mini Challenge section on page 78. This is the fourth time I've been fortunate enough to have a quilt selected for challenge publication, and the good feeling about it never gets old. I'm honored to be included with so many super-talented quilt designers. 

As I've been quilting, lots more book-listening happens, so I'm having a catch-up today on my last three reads that brings my year-long total to 40 books.

Book Recommendations
Though the title The Sewing Machine, by Natalie Fergie is certainly attractive to a sewist, the story didn't measure up to my expectations. It's about a young woman who helps build Singer sewing machines in a factory where wages and conditions were less than ideal. Attempts to unionize the company failed, and women made sacrifices, working had to earn a living by sewing for others.

Have you thought about being able to sew only while near a window? When the sun is still up? The story spans several generations that caused me to feel a bit of confusion about who I was learning about, what year it was, and what circumstances the characters were in. Though the story concludes with the present generation - a male descendant (though not really a descendant by blood) learning to sew on an old Singer used by an ancestor - I found the genealogy and relationships a little difficult to follow.

Also during listening, I was reminded that sewists layer different thread colors on their bobbins, a common practice on old sewing machines. Do you do that? I sure don't. But is there a reason not to? Because we can afford to buy more bobbins, perhaps? Linda's score: 3.6/5.0

 By reading Eight Hundred Grapes, by Laura Dave, I learned that it takes approximately 800 grapes to make a bottle of wine.

You might guess that this story takes place in wine country: Sonoma. The main character is 30-something Georgia, who is on the cusp of marrying a British man. When she sees him with another woman who's a famous actress, with a young girl in tow, she runs back home. There she learns about more secrets - her parents  are divided, her brothers are at odds over a woman, and the most startling news, that the family vineyard, "The Last Straw" is being sold. 

This is another book that looks into family situations and attempts to offer insight, understanding, and resolution for each character. Linda's score: 3.8/5.0

The It Girls by Karen Harper is about sisters Elinor and Lucile Sutherland, brought up on Jersey (a British island off the northwest coast of France - I looked it up), who dream about what their futures could be. Each of them wants to have "it." The "something" that makes a person special. Nellie wants to write; Lucy wants to design clothing. The girls are different, yet each experiences an unhappy marriage, liaisons, and tragic circumstances (the Great War; and a trip on the Titanic) that help them grow into the "it" girls they become. But at what cost? Famous people such as Winston Churchill, Zeigfield, Mary Pickford, and Charlie Chaplin pop up in the story.

In the end, each aging sister is led back to what's most important - family and love. Linda's score: 3.6/5.0

So are you reading FlourishingPalms blog posts via Follow It? (142 of you are.) Is Google's Feedburner gone now? Linda

Monday, July 5, 2021

The Fourth and Beyond

Independence Day is usually low-key since our community doesn't put on a fireworks display. Still, we got out. This was the scene at one (of three) of our town squares. It was hoppin'! Twirlers, a drill team performance, stilt-walkers, a live band, street vendors, a car show, and people! And it was hot! The temp was 88F with 70 percent humidity, so the feels-like temp was 97F (36C). Guess that's not a whole lot different than what other parts of the US have been experiencing. 

With Hurricane Elsa heading toward the Florida Keys, and expected to become Tropical Storm Elsa by the time it hits the Florida Gulf coast, we're anticipating strong winds and rain to be in our area by late Tuesday/early Wednesday. In anticipation, I've been doing project prep work. I went to Sew Together (quilt shop) to get background fabric and binding to make an Urban Ababus quilt. I paid $12.99 and $13.99 a yard for fabric - higher prices I predicted would come about in 2021. Many things are increasing in price, so this isn't unexpected. 
Urban Abacus pieces cut

As well, fabric has arrived that I bought from Sewtopia for the QuiltCon Fabric Challenge with Windham Fabrics Artisan fabric. When I first looked at Sewtopia's Artisan colors online, each was $9 a yard. Several days later, when I placed my order, four of the six fabrics I needed had gone up to $11 a yard. Could it be because they're challenge colors? Or because quilting cotton prices are rising? 

This will be the first time I've sewn with two-tone woven fabrics. I always pre-wash, so I enjoyed pressing each one, studying color shifts between two different warp and weft colors. From top to bottom the colors are: charcoal/white; coral/aqua; aqua/blue; tan/beige; wine/pink; and blue/orchid. 

I've worked-up a rough design in EQ8 for a large quilt, and am excited to get started. 

Currently though, my Curve Around Challenge quilt is on the design wall. This is the latest block I've pieced. I don't think it has a name (couldn't find it in The Encyclopedia of Pieced Quilt Blocks), but I saw it in a mid-century modern art painting and wanted to to try to duplicate it. I did so using the Classic Curve Ruler to cut half-circles, followed by a whole inset circle, and Applipop circles as embellishment. I plan to make more of these. 

I've been focused on quilting and finishing the Mini Runner (free pattern), made with the Mini Quick Curve Ruler by Sew Kind of Wonderful. I used the ruler to mark curves that I quilted with a walking foot. 

Then, I quilted straight lines with a ruler, and finished-up with free motion quilting. 

It felt so good to quilt again! The runner is 14½ X 35".

It looks good on the dining room table, and will coordinate nicely with our colorful Fiestaware. 

From the back.

Binding is single-fold, cut 1¼"-wide, and sewn with my favorite machine-mitered corners. 

To finish my latest spiral-braided rag rug, I picked up these pieces at Goodwill for only $17: two household textiles (sheet and tablecloth) and two t-shirts. I'm excited to get back to braiding!

Actually, I'm excited about all my projects! That's why I've been project-hopping - doing prep so fabrics are ready to sew and braid.

Now bring on Elsa! I'm ready to hunker down. 

Book Recommendation
Skylarking by Kate Mildenhall begins as a charming story about best friends, Kate and Harriet, growing up together along a desolate coast of Australia. It's the 1880s, and Kate's father is the lighthouse keeper. The girls spend their days helping their mothers, and escaping on adventures from the cliffs to tide pools, and the brush to the rocky shoreline. When a single man moves into a nearby cabin, the girl's thoughts and dreams turn to the women they must become: wives and mothers. However, Kate wants more adventure, but it's Harriet who gets to leave for three months to experience life in the big city of Melbourne. When Harriet returns, nothing is as it was once was. Womanhood forces them to leave childhood behind, and look at the future in new ways.

I wasn't familiar with the term "skylarking" before listening to this book, and felt sad at the negative use of it in this story.

The narrator, Kate Gilbert, did a great job of conveying Kate and Harriet's innocent, and I adored how she spoke the Australian accent with the up-rising vocal notes typical of Australian speech patterns. 

Linda's score: 4.2/5.0

Just in case you haven't yet registered to receive my blog posts via email, I'm reminding you (one last time) that you can do so by submitting your email address on the Follow It form at the top right of this home page.

Google is discontinuing its email delivery of blog posts (called Feedburner) sometime this month... if it hasn't happened already. I know; these are changes none of us want, but there's not a bloomin' thing that can be done about it. 

More than 1,500 email addresses followed my blog with Feedburner. Now, with Follow It, 128 of you are following me by email. That's great! I'd rather have 128 followers willing to engage, than hundreds who do not. Thank you very much! Linda


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