Saturday, November 20, 2021

New Starts

Last Saturday's Central Florida MQG meeting was the reveal of our Chips and Charms Challenge quilts. While I'm not able to share mine yet, it was nice to see what members came up with. See everyone's quilts here.

Our Viewer's Choice winning quilt belonged to our president, Karen, who made a lovely wall quilt that included big stitch hand quilting. Her prize was EQ8. Everyone received something, and I received this five-piece "Lucky Charms" fat quarter bundle by Figo, from Stash Fabrics. Thank you Stash Fabrics
I've been in the mood to make something improv-y, so I pulled out my Improv Handbook for Modern Quilters by Sherri Lynn Wood, and started making score 9, curve patchwork. These improv-cut curved wedges are pieced with my new African wax prints, and solids from my scrap containers. 

Thought I don't know where it's going...

... I'm letting it settle-on, as I work on it in bits of time. 

Thinking of making Christmas gifts for several instructors (activities in recreation centers are led by volunteers), I bought and downloaded two PDF patterns - Inside-Outside Pouch, and Clear Boxy Pouch by Aneela Hoey. So far, I've made one of each. 
Inside-Outside Pouch

The Inside-Outside Pouch is my favorite because it has a clear-view zipper pouch on two sides, and at the top is a long zipper over an inside section. This recently-purchased Anna Maria Horner "Echinacea" print looks great as a bag.

This pouch is a little simpler make, with only one zipper at the top of a clear pocket. 
Clear Boxy Pouch

Leftovers of Emma Jean Jansen's "60s Scrapbag" fabrics, and Karen Lewis's "Blueberry Park" look good. 

While on retreat (Nov. 5-8), I sat near Courtney, a lovely, young, newer quiltmaker who is passionate about old sewing machines. She's a whizz at their repair and tune-up, and regularly sews on a 1962 Singer. Of course, we chatted about those machines and Featherweights. After seeing her Featherweight with its neat thread-holder, and carrying case, I ordered them too.

Don't ya love that pretty aqua-colored case? These items are from the Featherweight Shop in Idaho. After getting them, I just had to take my Featherweight for a spin, and used it on Tuesday, at Big Cypress Quilters, to piece the Sunny Lanes quilt (my tutorial here) I'm making from my never-ending pile of 1½" X 1½" squares.

Book Recommendation
Every Secret Thing by Laura Lippman was slow-going for me. Though the characters are interesting - two mis-matched young girls are spending their summer in each other's company; one of them isn't so happy about it - but too many insightful thoughts became tiring to listen to. 

Anyway... because of one girl's misbehavior at a swimming pool birthday party, they're both asked to leave. Walking toward home, they come upon a baby seemingly left alone on a front stoop. Deciding the child needs rescuing from parents that don't care for her, they take her. 

Seven years later, both young girls are now in their late teens. They have been released from incarceration. Now, toddler girls are occasionally going missing, usually for only an hour or so. When one goes missing for several days, the mother of the abducted infant (seven years ago) and the police, wonder whether there's a relationship between what happened then, and what's happening now. Police detective Tess Monaghan must sort out whether everyone is jumping to conclusions, or if there's a connection. 
Linda's score: 3.2/5.0

Let me just say it. I'm a huge fan Ruth Ware, author of The Turn of the Key. This is the seventh of her books that I've read, and there's not a one that hasn't been entertaining, if not enthralling. The Turn of the Key was tough to put on pause! First, there are no chapter breaks. Second, the story is captivating. And third, because of the excellent reading/acting ability of Imogene Church whose character voices are spot-on. 

Rowan is contentedly living in London, working for Little Nippers, a day care, when she applies for a nanny position in a remote area of Scotland. Upon learning that she's been hired, she sets off to deliver her best professional abilities to the family and their four young daughters. Upon arrival, Rowan discovers that she's also expected to learn the ins and outs of a high-tech home with security, remote listening and viewing capabilities, and even appliances that talk to her. Though a bit overwhelmed, she's determined to do her best, even as she wonders why previous nannies have lasted only a few months, and in one case, less than a week. When left on her own, she discovers that she has more to contend with than caring for children. Staunchly believing there's no such thing as ghosts, her necklace is missing, a broken china doll's head rolls off her lap, and creaking in the room overhead is keeping her awake at night. Everything has a logical explanation.

Warning: R-rating, for profanity. 

If you can't find this title at your library, don't hesitate to pick up another Ruth Ware book. You won't be disappointed.

Linda's score: 4.2/5.0

I'm wishing each of you a very happy Thanksgiving - a day filled with family and and good food! We all have much to be grateful for. Linda

Monday, November 15, 2021

QuiltCon 2022 Artisan Cotton Fabric Challenge

I've been a reluctant to share my QuiltCon entries. 

When an Instagrammer started the hashtag #celebratemyquiltsubmission I couldn't bring myself to share what I'd made. I must be more sensitive about others' opinions than most quilters who post pictures of their entries and brazenly state "It doesn't matter to me if my quilt isn't accepted. I'm proud of it anyway!" I'm being honest when I say, "That's not me. Acceptance matters. Even if it means more than it should."

I dislike the scrutiny, and what I imagine as critical comments (though unheard) about my quilts. But this post is about one of those entries -  my "QuiltCon 2022 Artisan Cotton Fabric Challenge" quilt. (Rules are here.) Fabrics used had to be from the Artisan collection by Windham Fabrics.
Columns, 49½" X 55"

I don't care for them. While fabrics are meant to "glow" as light hits different colors used in the warp and weft (like Oakshott cotton), the shine wasn't there for me. Though, even before seeing the fabric I bought yardage to make a large quilt. 

Since seeing other quiltmakers' entries on Instagram, I'm prepared to learn (by December 15) that mine is a QuiltCon "reject."  Nonetheless, it was a good challenge for me, as I had to figure out how to make different shapes fit into specified dimensions, and learn that it isn't easy to re-interpret an artist's design. 

Dimanche, by Auguste Herbin (1950)
My design inspiration came from mid-Century modern art created by the French painter Auguste Herbin (1882-1960). His colorful geometric style, and this piece -  Dimanche (1950) - in particular spoke to me. You can probably see how my design built upon his.

It was more difficult than I thought to make each shape fit into particular dimensions. I'm not pleased with the colors I decided to work with either.  But I tried to make the best of it with extras - the addition of raw-edged selvedges from the fabric (see the pink horizontal stripe)...

... and big stitch hand quilting with size 8 perle cotton.

Walking foot quilting came first. Then I put a lot of hand-work time into it. 

Since I didn't much like the fabric, I used up nearly every bit to piece the backing, needing to add a couple stashed prints (allowed in the back) to puzzle it together. 

At least, because it's the size it is (precisely why I prefer to make useable quilts) I will be able to donate it as a "baby quilt."

I attempted to take my usual - and favorite - outdoor photos from our Bismarck palm. However, after dragging out the six-foot ladder, I realized that days of using the palm for styled photos are over. The palm is too big to reach the lowest frond. 😞 I'm totally bummed about that. 

Hubs, understanding my disappointment, offered to hold the quilt. Without a pretty backdrop (Bismarck palm fronds), it's just another picture. Though I appreciate his helpfulness, I must find a new outdoor place to take pictures. Linda

Friday, November 12, 2021

So Much to Catch Up

The days have been zipping by! I can't believe it's been more than a week since I wrote a blog post! That's not like me, but is certainly a testament to how full each day has been. 

Retreat was marvelous! Luther Springs, a Lutheran church camp in Hawthorne, Florida is where Central Florida MQGers have retreated for the past six years. This was the first time we set up in the camp's new chapel, a room designed with quilters in mind: six large windows (no blinds/curtains); great lighting; electrical outlets in the floors; and nice, padded chairs with two legs on wheels. In this panorama photo, everyone was doing "a seventh inning stretch." 

My four-day perspective was this (lower left in the photo above). I spent most of two days quilting and binding the Australian jelly roll quilt I'd pin-basted to take along.  I ended up taking my Bernina 440QE because my 770QE was still being serviced. 

Here is my finished 58" X 65" Australia Jelly Roll quilt which is going to our daughter (she lived in Sydney, Australia for several years). As you can see, once the jelly roll quilt top was made, I cut it apart to make five vertical sashes through it, using seven different color values to create a wash of color.  I like that these strips made the quilt larger. 
Australian Jelly Roll quilt, 58" X 65"

I used a walking foot to straight-line quilt through the solids. 

However, in the busy-ness of the prints, I free motion quilted snail-trail swirls which definitely show up better on the back than the front. Binding on two sides of the quilt was made with the seven solid fabrics, to match the vertical sashing. 

I put my Canon camera on a timer to take a few pictures of all 18 of us who retreated. This is our "goofy" shot. As you can see, we were dressed a little warmer because the temperature turned cool for us heat-loving Floridians. It was 45℉ (7℃) a couple mornings. 

Also while on retreat I finished making the 18" X 18" Dresden Porthole Pillow, a pattern by Sarah Ashford Sarah Ashford Studio in the UK, that I made to pattern-test her design.

It was nice to embroider again. I used 12-weight variegated Aurifil thread to do backstitching, make Colonial knots, and blanket stitch.

When I was home again, I finished my Chips and Charms Challenge quilt. This picture is a collage of the steps for machine-sewn binding corners: "No Tails Binding: Mitered Corners by Machine."

I also picked up my Bernina 770QE from Al at Sharky's and was stunned to learn all the things wrong with it! Keep in mind, it had been 16 months/2,500,000 stitches since it had been serviced. I know; I know! It's NOT like me to let a tune-up pass by. Because I use my machine so much, every six months is how often I should have my machine serviced.

Anyway, these were the problems: 
  1. Tension was way off which caused the seven bent/broken needles I experienced while quilting my Chips and Charms Challenge quilt. I had to finish quilting it with the Bernina 440QE.
  2. Big wad of lint in the upper section, by the take-up lever (I vacuum out the bobbin area every Friday.) When I told Al I use Aurifil because it lints less than other thread brands, he recommended switching to Wonderfil (!)
  3. Something sticky was inside. Al asked if I use basting spray. I rarely do, but I have used homemade basting spray. In the future, I'll keep pin-basting my quilts.
Hubs and I had our COVID-19 booster shots on Wednesday, and while I didn't get nearly as ill as I did after the second injection, the booster sure wiped out my energy! I lost a day and a half because I felt sluggish. And, my arm hurt. All better now, and feeling comfortably safe about continuing to participate in activities without wearing a mask. 

On Thursday I spent several hours writing, printing, washing, fabric-framing, and hand-sewing labels to five quilts! It's definitely time to buy more EQ Printables. 

During Thursday evening's "Sip 'n' Sew," a two hour social/chat time on Zoom with South Florida MQGers, I finished my latest Kawandi. It's 14" X 19" and is the fifth piece I've made with my grandmother's vintage fabric scraps. 

I saved this little fussy-cut frond print to put "just so" in the center. 

I still plan to share my QuiltCon entries in a blog post, but I'm waiting until "challenge reveals" are over. First there's this Saturday's Central Florida MQG meeting with reveal, followed by next Saturday's South Florida MQG meeting with reveal. I made challenge quilts for both chapters and after sharing them with the chapters, I'll share them here. 

Book Recommendation
Rose's Vintage by Kayte Nunn is the second book I've read from this Australian author, and it didn't disappoint. The narrator does an excellent job of speaking with British, Australian, and Austrian accents, and as a toddler. 

Rose goes to work as an au pair for the owner of Kalkari Wines in Australia's fictional Shingle Mountains. She's meant to be sleuthing for her brother who's interested in buying the property for investment purposes. But as Rose becomes comfortable in her new home, cleaning neglected rooms, cooking for two adorable children, befriending the nanny, and getting to know her boss, within months she's experiencing an unexpected fondness for her situation. When the owner's estranged, and demanding, wife returns without warning, reality hits Rose. She must face her true feelings - decide whether to take a stand and stay, or if it's time to leave.  

Linda's score: 3.8/5.0 


Tuesday, November 2, 2021

Retreat Prep

With QuiltCon submissions submitted, and teaching gigs completed for 2021, it's time to go on a quilt retreat! A real one. Central Florida MQG is hosting, and 18 of our members will be attending this coming weekend - Friday, Saturday, Sunday, and Monday. I've got to think about what projects to take because I'm just now finishing up my Chips and Charms Challenge quilt (due November 13).

It's been walking foot quilted, free motion quilted, and then ruler quilted in spits and spurts, and it's looking texture-y, isn't it? This is only the second time I've used Hobbs 80/20 cotton-wool batting. It was a bit of a struggle to quilt because my Bernina 770QE kept bending and breaking needles! Good 'ole Schmetz needles and then Klassé titanium needles! Ergh. After changing needles seven times, cleaning the machine, and basically trying every trick I could think of, Saturday morning I took it to my friendly Bernina dealer - Al at Sharky's Vac' n' Sew. I asked - pretty please - if I could get it back by Thursday afternoon to take on retreat, but I didn't get any promise.  

In the meantime, I've set up my Bernina Aurora 440 to continue quilting. This may be the machine that goes with me on retreat. 

I started another Kawandi. It's the eighth small one I've made.

This is 14" X 19" and I'm still using my grandma's vintage scraps. I'm hoping I can find another family member who will want this when it's finished. 

Also, I DMed (direct-messaged on Instagram) to be a pattern-tester for Sarah Ashford @sarahashfordstudio (UK), and was happy to be one of eight people she chose to make and review her "Dresden Porthole Pillow" pattern.

I've cut out my fabrics, using an Emma Jean Jansen "60's Scrapbag" print as my color inspiration. 

I also decided what to put in the 3½" porthole... a small embroidery. I traced some of the flowers from the 60's Scrapbag print.

Mentioning QuiltCon... I read on Instagram that the MQG received more than 2,000 quilt submissions for QuiltCon 2022! Isn't that incredible?! It's a record number of entries. Given that only between 450 and 480 quilts are displayed, those jurors do not have an easy job ahead. But, as my friend Karen pointed out, it also means that the display of modern quilts at QuiltCon will be awesome!

Book Recommendation 
Two teenage girls living near The Trace (Mississippi) - one the daughter of a  sharecropper, and the other the daughter of a hunter/trapper swamp-dwelling couple, find common ground when a murder happens. Though the death eases their minds, it also presents problems. Secrets must be kept to keep Matilda safe, and Ada must learn how to fend for herself in the stilted swamp shack she finds herself alone in. She doesn't know any other way to live.  

This story is about rough men who have a violent over "their women." Though I felt frustrated reading about their situations, it's probably how life really was for black and white women in the early 1920s. They had few options for accomplishment or fulfillment. But my hearted warmed when Ada discovered a love and talent for sewing. When she gets a sewing machine she realizes she may have a way out of her situation.  Linda's score: 3.8/5.0

Sunday's virtual worship at Lutheran Church of Hope was, as always, spirit-filling. Since it was Reformation Sunday, the sermon focused on the Catholic priest, Martin Luther, and his conviction that church indulgences were wrong, and that people needed to be able to read the Word of God.

Pastor Mike showed a clip from The Chosen - when tax collector Matthew was called by Jesus to become a follower. I was reminded of what a powerful series The Chosen is. Have you seen it? 

Today I learned that in December The Chosen is releasing a special movie-theater production: Christmas With the Chosen. This is a link to the movie trailer. With all the shortages that are anticipated in the coming months, this might just be what returns Christmas to what it was meant to be - a celebration of Jesus' birth.

This afternoon, Big Cypress Quilters held a baby shower for Children's Home Society of Florida, an organization our chapter has supported for the past three years. It's always heart-warming to see the donations our members bring. Lots of diapers, quilts and other baby paraphernalia. 

Now, it's back to prepping for retreat! I've never attempted to do improv at a retreat, but those African wax prints are calling. Linda


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