Wednesday, July 20, 2022

Improv and Book Reviews

Five yards of Painter's Palette "Clementine" arrived (mail ordered from Pineapple Fabrics), and once again I'm reminded why I love this line of solids by Paintbrush Studios. In my quiltmaking history, having had two quilts suffer from fabric bleeding (though I am a life-long fabric pre-washer), I'm always cognizant of the possibility that fabric will bleed. Kaufman Kona has failed that test on several occasions. 

Yet every time, when I pre-wash Painter's Palette, the Color Catcher (can you see it in the lower left corner?) comes out white! I hope Paintbrush Studio never stops manufacturing their solids this way. As well, this Clementine exactly matches the small (less than a yard) piece of Clementine I already have in my stash. 

No bleeding? Matching dye lots? What more can a quilt maker ask for?

Now I have everything needed to begin foundation paper piecing the EQ8 improv design I came up with, however, another project has jumped into the queue - an improv log cabin quilt. 

One of several challenge themes for QuiltCon 2023 is "APQ Modern Log Cabin Quilt Challenge." (MQG members: read challenge information here.) I've never liked log cabin blocks, and have never made a log cabin quilt. However, I asked myself, "How could I make a log cabin block different, so it would be fun?" Such questions are sort of what "making modern" is all about. 

Could I make curved improv logs? Digging through and choosing colors from my bin of all solid colors (quantities of a fat quarter or less), augmented by smaller scraps sorted by colors in shoeboxes, I started with an orange center (traditional log cabins have a red center) surrounded by four values of a color. 

Since I've wanted to learn how to add "skinny inset seams" that seem to be appearing in modern quilts, I Googled to find a 2015 inset seaming blog tutorial by Stephanie Ruhle @spontaneousthreads. Stephanie made straight insets, but it wasn't difficult to make them curved, and cut from black and white striped fabric. I like where the project is going, though the layout is a big question mark. 

This is a good place to share something I heard in the book Since We Fell (review below). The character is writing a book and reflected that on some days words flowed better than other days.

I'm paraphrasing to describe a quilt maker's creative flow: 
Some days creativity flows like a faucet. Other days it's like cutting an artery.  

Ha! It's true, isn't it? When a quiltmaker is trying to make an original design, it often doesn't come easily.

Though I've been trying improvisational piecing for several years now, taking workshops as well as making my own attempts (see log cabins above!), improv remains my most personally challenging modern quiltmaking method. I have plenty of space to learn more. 

So, I registered for the free "30 Day of Improv Quilt Along" being co-hosted by @shannonfraserdesigns and @broadclothstudio. We'll be making improv blocks during the month of August. Today, the quilt along features a free Zoom lecture by Pat Bravo (Art Gallery Fabrics) who will talk about color.

It's not too late to join in. Go here to register on the form that looks like this.

Book Recommendations

The House at Sea's End is the third book in the Ruth Galloway series by Elly Griffiths. Since listening to the first book, I haven't been able to get them as audiobooks, so this is another e-book that I read on my iPhone.

Dr. Ruth Galloway, a forensic archeologist, continues to work with the local police whenever a body is discovered. So when six skeleton's are found lodged in a seaside cliff that has begun crumbling away, Ruth is called in. As she investigates, and works with Detective Chief Inspector Harry Nelson, she's still uncertain about her relationship him. He's a married man with two daughters. Ruth's own daughter, Kate, has a naming celebration organized by druid Cathbad, and Kate is also baptized.  

Linda's score: 3.8/5.0

The New Neighbor by Carter Wilson is about Aidan the father of twins who, on the same day he buries his wife, also learns he's won the lottery. Now a millionaire (several times over), the story picks up weeks later as he's moved himself and children into a grand home in Bury, New Hampshire. What Aidan doesn't learn until he moves in, is that the house has a history. More than a year ago, the previous owner and several family members went missing, and still haven't been found. Aidan begins receiving threatening notes, and even though his past sins begin to loom, he's determined to find out what happened to the family. His efforts lead to more fear and danger for Aidan and his twins.

Linda's score: 3.9/5.0

Best Friends Forever by Margot Hunt is an unlikely story about a chance meeting in an airport between two women who live near one another in Jupiter, Florida. One of them, Kat, is unhappily married and super-rich and the other, Alice, is somewhat happily married with two children, but struggling to pay bills. 

When Kat's husband is found dead, having fallen from the balcony of their gorgeous mansion, suspicions are roused when a witness reports seeing a woman on the balcony with him. Both Kat and Alice are suspect, and two detectives are determined to identify the murderer.

Linda's score: 3.8/5.0

Since We Fell by Dennis LeHane reminds me why I don't often read books written by male authors. Of course there are exceptions, but this book isn't one of them. There's entirely too much unnecessary "f-bomb" dropping, and the story moves very slowly. I nearly left it unfinished, but I wanted to know what happened to Rachel. 

When the story begins, Rachel's mother has just died, having never revealed to Rachel the name of her father. So she begins her search starting with detective, Brian, then to a friend of her mother's, and finally to her father. Rachel, who is a Boston TV reporter, has a break-down while on air, is in an unhappy marriage, and becomes a recluse. She reconnects with Brian, and he's almost too good to be true. He leads her on a path she never could have imagined herself on.  

Linda's score: 3.2/5.0
I guess you can tell that I've been tearing through books as I've spent time in my sewing room (still hand quilting that "bless-ed" Kantha quilt!) and power walking frequently. I apologize for the brevity of the book reviews. Writing these still feels like an unpleasant homework assignment, but hopefully my scores give you the guidance you need to decide whether or not to read a title.

You may be interested to know - and perhaps a little happy for me - that we have made the decision to NOT have our Bismarck palm removed. A second tree man, who actually came to the house to access the tree, affirmed that it's beautiful, healthy, and asked: "Why would you want to take it out? Trees grow in Florida." So, instead of taking it out and selling it (which he told us he would do), next week we'll have it groomed to remove a few broken/dead fronds and seed pods. By the way, we also learned that our Bismarck is a "he." 

We are relieved and happy about this momentous decision which was "more difficult than buying a new car," according to hubs. We'll continue to enjoy the palm for many years - truly a "flourishing palm." 



Deb said...

So glad the palm is saved! That is great as I know how much you love it, and it is too beautiful. I had signed up for the improv class as well, but injured two fingers on my right hand, so am out of action for a bit. I always use color catchers when prewashing, and most of the time they weren't needed, but I will continue on. I don't think I'm the only one out there who enjoys your book reviews. I've never been disappointed. Thanks.

Nancy said...

I'm happy the tree will be groomed rather than removed, too! A second opinion helped. Your curvy Cabin blocks look great- that little insert is intriguing. And the clementine color- just so pretty. You are staying plenty busy through these hot summer months. I appreciate your book reviews, too.

Anonymous said...

Happy to hear your tree is staying. It's beautiful! The log cabin blocks are coming along nicely. Like that little inset touch a lot. Keep going.

Anonymous said...

I'm happy you decided to keep your palm as it is a beauty!!
I do like your rake on the log cabin.
I tried clicking on the link for registering for month of improv but it would only open to your blog.

FlourishingPalms said...

Please note that the link to register for Shannon Fraser Designs "30 Day Improv QAL" has been fixed. Though Blogger made it difficult to make it work!

FlourishingPalms said...

Thank you Anonymous for your lovely comments. We're delighted to be keeping the palm, and feel very satisfied about our decision. And yes, I am continuing to work on those log cabin blocks with the skinny inset strips. I'm committed to it now and will see it through to the end... though I'm not exactly sure where it's headed!

KatieQ said...

As much as I enjoy reading about your quilt projects, I really appreciate your book reviews. I just finished the first two books in the Ruth Galloway series and have really enjoyed them. I'm delighted the palm tree will stay. When my parents lived in Florida, lots of what appeared to be healthy palms (although looks are deceiving) were cut down in her neighborhood. It looked so sterile afterward.

Nancy @ Grace and Peace Quilting said...

Glad you can save your palm!!! Interesting to hear about your experience with Painter's Palette compared to Kona. All the shops around here carry Kona. Hmmm. Awesome on your skinny insets and improv log cabins!

Robbie said...

Love your wonky blocks! So clever! I have inserted 1/4" strip but not 1/8" by cutting 3/4" strip and using the seam as a guide to inserting the strip. Gives a nice even strip. Will have to try your way.
May I recommend: Behind Closed Doors by B.A. Paris and Judgement by Joseph Finder.

Debbie said...

I've really been loving seeing your curved log cabins. I think it's a fun idea. And yay for the palm. That IS good news!

Mary said...

I'm way behind on reading blogs and responding, but I'm happy to have info on the improv quilt-along. I signed up and we'll see what happens next. Thanks for the link!

Live a Colorful Life said...

I love your improv log cabin blocks, especially with the tiny inset. And I put the first two books on my TBR list.


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