Thursday, April 28, 2022

Sashiko, and Temp Quilt

Last week I finished the Sashiko sampler I began in my April 12 virtual workshop with Claudia Martinez of Snuggly Monkey. Design dimension are 10½" X 11½". I don't know what I'm going to do with it.

Sashiko is stitched, most often, through only a single layer. I'm a bit chuffed about how nice the back looks, having learned how to start and stop stitching without using knots. 

Two hanks of Olympus Sashiko threads in a dusty blue, and orange/blue variegated came with my kit.

I didn't master using the palm thimble, but I haven't given up!

The palm thimble is best-used with a long needle when stitching long straight lines. As you can see, this sampler didn't have many long straight lines, so I used the shorter needle (of two needles in the kit), loading only two to three stitches at a time because of the curves.

I definitely want to stitch another one though, perhaps after buying the book Claudia recommends. Apparently in the back of this book are ideas for drafting traditional patterns. 

My friend Maureen @maydecemberquilts who's a member of the South Florida MQG, recently attended the Modern Quilt Exhibit at the Bailey Contemporary Arts Center in Pompano Beach, Florida. Maureen was thoughtful to take and share pictures with me of my 2019 Temperature Quilt that's part of the display through June 16.

It looks like a beautiful display. 

The quilting shows best in this photo.

Book Recommendation
It was a pleasant surprise to come across this book/story that takes place in Iowa. The Overnight Guest is by Heather Gudenkauf who was raises in Iowa. Her books take place at different locations in the state. Though all the cities have fictitious names, she real Iowa cities are also part of the storyline. 

The Overnight Guest takes place in Burden, located near Algona and Spirit Lake in northwest Iowa. Wiley has left her home in the Pacific Northwest to get away from her difficult 14 year-old son, and finish writing another true crimes novel. Staying alone in the rural farmhouse where gruesome murders took place, Wiley has just begun editing her book when a typical winter blizzard arrives, forcing her to stay on the farm. But when she finds a small child laying in the snow, and bloody, outside the house, she realizes the only way the child has come from is the distant road. Searching through the blizzard, she finds a woman who's been thrown from a truck - an accident, and there's no way to reach help. When the woman disappears, it turns out there's more to this mystery than an accident. It's about what happened more than 20 years ago.

Linda's score: 4.0/5.0


Thursday, April 21, 2022

Makin' Progress

Seaglass quilt #2 is coming right along! I'm having so much fun quilting this 36" X 48" quilt than I did the first! That's because, instead of starting and stopping after quilting each seaglass piece, I'm quilting right across the linen background to the next seaglass piece. 

Quilting this way is much more efficient, and possible because I'm using Aurifil 80-weight thread. It's nearly invisible on the front, against the linen background. I'm also more heavily quilting this time because the fusible doesn't want to stick to linen. Hence my decision to quilt a snail-trail design in each seaglass piece. 

The 80-weight thread was a freebie from Aurifil Thread because I attended the February 12 Aurifilosophy program that Cassandra Beaver presented to Central Florida MQG. The program was interesting and informative, and everyone who attended received their choice of a thread spool. So glad I picked 80-weight beige! 

From the back, where I used 50-weight gray Aurifil thread, quilting is more obvious, and not quite as pretty. But I love quilting like this (not stopping as each piece is quilted) because it's so fast!

On Tuesday the first instructions for the Alison Glass Stitch Club Kantha Sew Along were released. I was ready with my stack of 22 prints and new Wonderfil Eleganza (size 8) perle cotton threads. 

Explicit instructions, with diagrams, were given if you chose to piece patchwork squares, or jelly roll strips. Disappointingly, for improv-piecing there was nothing more than a written description. Not even a picture!

So I got to it on Wednesday, and by bedtime I'd completed this 58" X 76" top. It's a happy mash-mash of colors and prints by some of my favorite fabric designers: Christina Cameli, Alison Glass, Brigitte Heitland, Sally Kelly, Jenean Morrison, and Christa Watson. Also, a special thank you to Deb, my Council Bluffs, Iowa friend who sent me some of her stash/scraps that included two pieces in this quilt top! (See the orange and aqua large scale print in the center, and bright yellow to the left of it.) 

Last Friday I received a good news email, so this is my PSA (public service announcement) to all you solid-loving quilt makers. Paintbrush Studio Fabrics @pbsfabrics will be releasing 42 new colors of Painter's Palette solids! Whoo-ee!

Along with other quilters, we've noticed that the 168 colors currently in the collection have had some "holes." These new colors should rectify that, and will bring the total number of colors to 210.

If you'd like to view the 42 colors, individually, go here. One of my friends has already written her new color shopping list! 

Another friend shared this BBC article with me: How Instagram Opened a New World for Welsh Quilting." Below is a quote from it: 

As far as I'm concerned, Instagram is where it's at for quilters! I've thought that since I joined in February 2013, and I'm glad to know it's as true now, as it was then. All quilters -  traditional, art, and modern makers! - can find information about quilting, and be in the know, through Instagram. If you haven't yet joined, I highly recommend it:

Thanks to a friend in Central Florida MQG who subscribes to The Quilt Show with Alex Anderson and Ricky Timms, I learned that my "Playin' Around" quilt (recently displayed at QuiltCon in Phoenix) was featured in The Quilt Show newsletter that was delivered to email boxes on Easter morning.

 I wouldn't have known anything about it if this email hadn't been forwarded to me!

This is not the first time its happened that one of my quilts has been shown by someone else, and I didn't know anything about it. 

During the pandemic, I came across an in-person/virtual instructor, Scarlett Rose, whose presentation on "Modern Celtic Quilting" includes a photo of my "Shapes" quilt (seen at QuiltCon 2014 in Austin). Scarlett's presentation credited me with making the quilt, though I never have called what I created "Celtic." 

When I nicely asked her about using my quilt design without me giving her permission or letting me know, she replied that she had contacted the MQG who gave permission.

I've since come to understand that once a quilt is entered in a show, it may be publicized as desired. Surprising, isn't it?  But I am grateful that people who share pictures like this are most often giving credit to the maker. But there may be many other instances I don't know about! I sure appreciate those friends who let me know!

Book Recommendations
Cloud Cuckoo Land by Anthony Doerr was a disappointing read for me. Though it has a high score on Goodreads, I found the storyline rather disjointed, and esoteric for my tastes. 

By my count, this book is composed with at least five storylines - some different characters, and some a single character at different life stages. One scenario happens B.C. and is about a young girl who scrabbles for food and knowledge - stealing ancient manuscripts - while her older sister embroiders fine linens for clergymen. Another scenario is futuristic with a few dozen people on a space mission to another galaxy, and a young girl and her parents who experience an onboard plague that isn't supposed to happen. Yet another scenario is present day, of children at a library, rehearsing for a play scripted from an ancient manuscript, while an overzealous autistic teen engages in detonating a bomb to blow up the real estate office next to the library. Oh! And another storyline is about the ancient manuscript/story that all the characters keep encountering!

It's likely a better book than I can credit it with, but it had me missing the simple pleasure of a straightforward story. 

Linda's score: 3.2/5.0

Irish Eyes is the third Mary Kay Andrews book I've read. I enjoyed this one too, though was disappointed to learn after the fact, that it is book #8 in the "Callahan Garrity" series.

Callahan is a single, middle-aged former police detective who, with her mother, runs a small Atlanta house-keeping business called "House Mouse." She goes to a St. Patrick's day party with her former partner Bucky. While stopping at a bottle shop on the way home, Bucky is shot in the head. When the only witness to the shooting disappears, along with the store's surveillance tape and cash; and Bucky is suspect in the case, Callahan's indignation rises. Some police officers don't appear to be as honorable as they profess. She won't leave the case alone until she finds the truth. 

Linda's score: 3.8/5.0


Friday, April 15, 2022

Slower Pace

After the intensity of working on many WIPs while on retreat, being at home again, with no projects urgently needing to be accomplished, it's been an easy week. 

I sewed up the end of a bag (made from donated fabric) for fabric snippets and threads. It's now a 38" X 48" pet bed for a local animal shelter. Another prepped bag, made from two large bath towels, is already hanging from the machine table waiting to be filled.

On Tuesday evening I took a virtual Sashiko 101 workshop with Claudia from Snuggly Monkey. She lived and worked in Japan for several years, so what she knows about this stitchery form is authentic. Since I don't own anything related to Sashiko, I purchased her beginner's kit that included a printed sampler, two skeins of Sashiko, two needles (long and short), and a palm thimble, all in a Snuggly Monkey zipper bag.

Claudia's a great instructor, but using that palm thimble is proving challenging.

It may be because my fingers are long (an attribute when playing the piano as I did), but I can't seem to get the middle finger to properly hold the needle and have the end of it set in the thimble dish. I've watched a couple YouTube videos too, but it's not easy to see how the middle finger is bent to hold the needle. Still, I'm not deterred! As with any new motor skill, it has to be practiced. I will do so!

After another trip to JoAnn's for more fusible, I am progressing on Seaglass quilt #2. I've gone through more scraps and stash, and put fusible on the back of these small pieces. 

Now to cut more seaglass shapes. 

Twenty-eight quilters in my Big Cypress Quilters chapter joined me to learn how to make thread catchers. These three that I've finished since the workshop was over, were the samples I used to explain various steps. 

I still get a kick out of twisting and turning to collapse and open.

What's interesting is how much different brands of 4" wood embroidery hoops vary in circumference. If you make one, keep in mind that while instructions say to sew a ½" side seam, in fact depending on the size of your 4" hoop, you may need to sew as much as a 1" seam!

Here's the link to the free PDF pattern, originally created by Red Hen Fabrics (now out of business). 

My friend, Patty, received the braided rag rug I made and sent her, and shared pictures of it in the front parlor of her Texas home.

It suits the spot well, doesn't it? She's happy with it, and I'm happy she's happy! 

Audio book listening has slowed as dramatically as I have slowed at creating. I'm listening to a book now and will have a recommendation in my next blog post. 

I hope each of you are pausing for reflection during this Christian Holy Week. Today, Good Friday, isn't the most pleasant day to celebrate because we're remembering Jesus's condemnation and crucifixion. 

Again the high priest asked him, "Are you the Christ, the Son of the Blessed one?"

"I am," said Jesus.

The high priest tore his clothes, "Why do we need any more witnesses?" he asked. "You have heard the blasphemy. What do you think?"

They all condemned him as worthy of death.  -Mark 14:61-64

On Easter Sunday we'll have a reason to have celebrate because the grave could not contain him! 

... they saw a young man dressed in a white robe, sitting on the right side, and they were alarmed.

"Don't be alarmed," he said, "You are looking for Jesus the Nazarene, who was crucified. He has risen! He is not here...  -Mark 16:5-8

He is risen indeed! Linda

Saturday, April 9, 2022

Eight WIPs on Retreat

On Thursday, I returned home from six days of retreating with two groups of three friends. This is where we stayed, in a three bedroom/three bath condo (ground level!) in Reunion, Florida. I got out twice to take four-mile power walks too.

In six days of retreating, a quiltmaker can accomplish a lot, but you have to plan ahead. Though I have only one finish to share, I touched all eight of the WIPs I took with me. Here's the check list I hung on the wall near my sewing station.

In the same order as the list, this is the current state of each project:

1. Stitch Club Kantha backing

Instructions for making the top Alison Glass's 2022 Stitch Club will arrive in email boxes on April 19. In the meantime, I followed a suggested piecing diagram to sew together the 60" X 84" backing. Colors were inspired by the Sally Kelly print (center right). That large yellow piece is from PBS/Paintbrush Studios and is an "oops" in-store purchase I made thinking it was Painter's Palette solid. Nope. It's prairie cloth which looks linen-ish/like a woven. It should be great for hand stitching. 

2. Patty's braided rag rug

My dear Texas friend, Patty, sent me a box of cast-off and leftover home dec fabrics, a towel, valances, and such, and I added three men's XL dress shirts and a bed sheet to spiral braid this rag rug. It's about 31½" X 34. It seemed a little cupped, but once I was home lots of steam ironing flattened it good. 

I will send it to her this coming week. 

3. Seaglass quilt #2

I just couldn't resist making another Seaglass quilt, but clearly underestimated how many scraps I'd need for this 38" X 48" piece of natural-colored linen background fabric. 

I'm liking where it's headed. 

4. Architecture Challenge quilt

As a reminder, here's the photo I used as inspiration for my Central Florida MQG Architecture Challenge quilt. It's the Miami Children's Museum as seen from the balcony of the one and only cruise ship we've ever been on, in February 2019. 

Happily - because I certainly didn't expect I could! - I finished my 66" X 80" challenge quilt on retreat, and it was "due" at today's Central Florida MQG meeting! It's what I spent most of my retreat time working on. I took out more quilting (than I had previously).

I am satisfied with those "empty" narrow vertical columns in the sections of bright colors.

I quilted with three weights and several colors of Aurifil thread: 50, 40, and 28-weight.

I spent considerable time on binding, which I pieced at angles on the sides, so both the colors and angles match the quilt top. That was six seams on one side and eight seams on the other!

This quilt is memorable though because of the tough lesson I learned. Don't use a polyester batting when walking foot quilt lots - only! Batting is Quilter's Dream Puff, which I love when I'm free motion quilting. It's not so good for dense walking foot quilting.  

This morning 15 of us showed our finished Central Florida MQG's Architecture Challenge quilts. My friend Beth @blue_dragonfly5 won Viewer's Choice. I received a nice participation gift - this bundle of four solid fat quarters from Solids are always a nice addition to stash. Thank you Beach Quilting Fabric Shop!

5. Prudence English Paper Piecing

I had every intention of laying out all the blocks to determine an the arrangement for these 60 medallions in my Prudence quilt. Sigh. I had only 58 medallions. The last two are ready to EPP, so I hope to move forward on this over the summer. 

6. Clamshell hand appliqué

I've missed hand appliqué! I don't see many modern quilts with hand appliqué, so I don't do it much, but I may try to work this piece into an improv-style quilt. My fabric color choices were inspired by that lime/aqua/black African wax print that I bought from @kianga_art when I attended the Broward Quilt Expo last fall. I'm using 80-weight Aurifil thread, and I love it because my stitches don't show.

7. Glitter blocks

Okay. This is the only project I really didn't touch. Well. I opened the box, and then spilled much of the contents. But I decided to leave this project as-is. Whenever we travel by car, I need something to hand-stitch. And with the Prudence EPP about to get too cumbersome for stitching in my lap, these Glitter blocks will be just the thing. I've machine-pieced the center part of each block, and I'm hand-piecing to add the four Y-seam corner units. 

8. Sunny Lanes (I mis-wrote it as Sunny Days) blocks with 1½" squares

It was a surprise to get more of this scrap quilt put together and realize that I might just call it "enough." It's 52½" X 69" and it's heavy! With so many 1½" X 1½" patches, there are lots of seams. I'd thought to make it larger, but... 

My Sunny Lanes Quilt design is based on a block in The Encyclopedia of Pieced Quilt Patterns, and I created a tutorial for it. So if you're interested in sewing leaders and enders from 1½" X 1½" patches, check it out.

By the way, I returned home one day early from retreat because we had tickets to a concert by The Ukulele Orchestra of Great Britain. It was a show we had tickets for in April 2020... 'nuf said. No photos allowed, so I'll just say that their show was fantastic! Five guys and two gals played tunes from different genres: bluegrass, jazz, rock, pop, classical, etc. And boy, they can sing too! You can find their videos on YouTube.

I usually have an audiobook recommendation to make here, and I was listening to an audiobook, but abruptly stopped. I returned it yesterday without finishing it, which I rarely do. When I was deep into the story the principal female character began a highly-descriptive same-sex relationship. That's very uncomfortable for me so if you feel the same don't read The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid.

This Tuesday I'll be leading 28 of my fellow Big Cypress Quilters in making thread catchers. I made a bunch of them years ago, and still think they're really handy. They twist to a flattened position and then untwist to stand and hold thread clippings. Great for on-the-go sewing. 

I've cut out three of them, and then partially made each one to show various steps. A heads-up, if you're thinking to make one, be aware that lots of hand-stitching is needed to put one together. The only machine sewing is basting two circles (similar to a yo-yo) and one straight seam. The rest is hand-sewn. But I like that sort of thing, so this is a fun project for me.

It's a good thing I saved this PDF tutorial from www.redhenfabrics because the business no longer exists! Click here to get the PDF. Hoping it goes well Tuesday afternoon, when I share this project, and then the following Monday I'm in Jacksonville to give a Big Stitch Quilting and More program and mini-workshop.

I'm wishing all my blog-readers a blessed Palm Sunday, and a soul-filling Holy Week. Hugs, Linda


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