Friday, November 25, 2022

Post Thanksgiving

Whether you spent Thanksgiving with family or friends, I hope you all had a nice holiday. Neighbors invited us over and we had quite a feast that included my homemade contribution - a from-scratch apple pie which was my mother's specialty. I'd like to think she'd be pleased with my effort. 

Since Jonathan apples are non-existent in Florida, an inquiry among quilty friends had me using a combination of Honey Crisp and Gala apples for this pie. Thanks to my pie chimney, the juices didn't overflow in the oven, though according to my dad, a running over apple pie means it's a good pie! 

A little more hand sewing time and I now have 80 Glitter blocks. Progress means I now need to dig into stash to cut out 72 more blocks.

Looking at the two quilt pictures above, you're probably noticing similarities in colors. I'm embarrassed to agree that I seem to be in a color rut - orange, yellow - more orange and yellow - and a smattering of rosy colors like pink and burgundy. I will change that.

When Snuggly Monkey recently had a 25 percent off sale, I selected a few items: my first Dropcloth Sampler (Debbie @aquilterstable, you've had an influence on me!); and three Clover water soluble pencils. I'm already trying out the blue pencil as I'm quilting Tilted Tiles. 

Here's walking foot and free motion quilting progress on Tilted Tiles. Each block has a little different design than the block next to it, but I'm repeating designs. 

Intentionally leaving unquilted areas, I will add big stitch hand quilting using a few new-to-me colors of Wonderful Eleganza (size 8) perle cottons also from Snuggly Monkey.

With both of my guilds making quilts for babies and children's charities, I cut up scraps to make this 36" X 47" quilt to donate in January to Healthy Families Florida.

Using stashed fabric as backing, I free motion quilted from the back. A light green top thread is on this side; the bobbin thread (on the front) is YLI variegated 40-weight. 

I drew in red the quilting paths I followed. With the right backing print/pattern, it's sure a quick way to quilt. 

Have you ever following a fabric pattern for quilting? What did you think?

Book Recommendation
I've been on a waiting list to read The Mountain Between Us by Charles Martin, available to me only as an e-book. I checked it out yesterday and finished it this morning! My goodness. Yet another Charles Martin book that had me riveted!

Dr. Ben Payne is on his way back to Jacksonville, Florida after attending a medical conference. Ashley Knox is on her way back to Atlanta after an interview for a magazine article she's writing. They're both in the Salt Lake City airport, awaiting a flight that's been delayed due to an incoming snowstorm.

When the flight is cancelled, and Ashley reveals she's desperate to get home for her rehearsal dinner and wedding, Ben finds a charter pilot to get them to Colorado ahead of the storm. When the worst happens, and they're injured and alone in a million acres of wilderness, Ben's medical skills and mountain-climbing experiences become the only things keeping them alive. 

This book was written in 2010, and though it was made into a 2017 movie with Kate Winslet, after watching the trailer, I'm not a bit interested. I could readily see that the movie took liberties with the plot, adding bits that weren't in the book. No movie could be better or more engaging than this book! 

Blog reader-friend KatieQ says she "blubbered" her way through When Crickets Cry by Charles Martin. I admit to doing the same with The Mountain Between Us.

Linda's score: 4.7/5.0


Friday, November 18, 2022

Assorted Quilt-y Things

Though motivation for machine quilting has been difficult to find, finishing this Tilted Tiles quilt - a pattern for MQG members, written by Charles Cameron - is a priority because our Central Florida MQG January-due challenge is to make something from the MQG website. Whether it's a block, a pillow, or a quilt, we're to explore the MQG website and use a resource to make something. My choice is Tilted Tiles which I pieced while on a September quilt retreat.

I always feel grateful to have two hollow core doors that I can lay across IKEA Finvaard trestles to make a large basting table. I've gotten a bit lazy about exclusively using masking tape to hold down the backing sides, having become comfortable using large plastic clamps, from Lowe's, to hold a couple sides in place. In this pic, the clamps are at the far end of the table.

Gosh, look at the difference in fabric colors between daytime natural light and overhead daylight bulbs (above), and only nighttime lighting from overhead daylight bulbs (below). Interesting! 

Anyway, quilting has begun - a combo of walking foot quilting; ruler quilting; and free motion quilting. 

I also cut fabric scraps to piece a 36" X 48" baby quilt for a Central Florida MQG charity. 

It will be a combo of solids and prints that I'll work on during Saturday's Central Florida MQG Sew Day at the nearby Oxford Community Center. 

Sherry, a friend in the South Florida MQG texted me this photo a few days ago. She was shopping at Michael's and found the quilting book First Time Quiltmaking, written by me and published in 2006. She commented, "I spy Linda!" This picture is in the back of the book. Gosh... this was 16 years ago! The photo of me, friends, and students in my beginner quiltmaking class was taken on interior steps in our church: Lutheran Church of Hope, West Des Moines, Iowa. It's remarkable that the book is still in print. 

New MQG Modern Tenets

In early October, the MQG (Modern Quilt Guild) put out a request for member applicants who would be interested in participating in a group effort to update the written characteristics of a modern quilt. I applied on October 10 and learned via email on November 2 that my input was invited.

The MQG asked us to consider the "tenets" of modern quilts. I'm accustomed to using the word "characteristics," but they mean the same thing.

Basically, the MQG wants to know if we agree that the current list of modern quilt characteristics tenets is still applicable, and if any new tenets need to be added. This is the current MQG description of a modern quilt (tenets are in bold):
Modern quilts are primarily functional and inspired by modern design. Modern quilters work in different styles and define modern quilting in different ways, but several characteristics often appear which may help identify a modern quilt. These include, but are not limited to: the use of bold colors and prints, high contrast and graphic areas of solid color, improvisational piecing, minimalism, expansive negative space, and alternate grid work. “Modern traditionalism” or the updating of classic quilt designs is also often seen in modern quilting. 
Over the course of ten days, I consulted with MQG friends - Karen, Beth, Rosemary, Sherry, and Maureen - to discuss the survey I was asked to complete. Did I agree that the tenets already listed are still relevant?  


As well, I was asked to identify, describe and provide 12 quilt photos that supported any new tenet(s) I proposed.

With friends guiding me, these are the three new tenets I submitted:

MAXIMALISM - Maximalism is more-is-more. It's a design tenet that attracts interest by its expression of bold playfulness. A quilt might be considered busy with a repetitive single shape, but maximalism takes design further with the dense use of many shapes in the same quilt. These are not limited to: squares, polygons, triangles, and circles. Whether improv-cut, or deliberately pieced, a combination of many shapes and fabric colors give maximalism it’s strength and interest. 

COMBINATION QUILTING -  As machine quilting with hand quilting (on one quilt) gains popularity among modern quilters, this intentional focus makes quilting a second (quilt top design is first) visual element that adds texture while retaining a quilt’s functionality. With combination quilting, a quilter purposely machine quilts leaving space for hand quilting with thicker thread, giving more surface interest and texture to the finished quilt. 

REPURPOSED - Choosing to create a modern quilt with reclaimed, older, cast-off, or vintage fabric is not only thrifty, but can make an especially significant quilt. Materials used are, but not limited to: blue jeans/denim; cotton shirts; pajamas; hankies; tablecloths; sheets; flour sacks, and vintage quilt blocks. 

I provided 12 photos in support of each tenet. Today was the survey deadline. Those of us who submitted tenets (I  know of two other quilters who are participating because they talked about it on Instagram) will hear again from the MQG by mid-December, at which time they'll let us know next steps. 

Thus far, it's been a privilege to participate and speak on behalf of modern makers. Thank you friends for supporting me in this endeavor!

Top Ten Books

Periodically, I like to review my books-read rating sheet to see how titles rank in order. Since I last did this in May, these are my top ten-rated audiobooks:

1) The Water Keeper, Charles Martin

2) When Crickets Cry, Charles Martin

3) The Diamond Eye, Kate Quinn

4) Remarkably Bright Creatures, Shelby Van Pelt

5) Dirt Creek, Hayley Scrivenor

6) Not a Sound, Heather Gudenkauf

7) The Many Daughters of Afong Moy, Jamie Ford

8) The Good Sister, Sally Hepworth

9) The Reading List, Sara Nisha Adams

10) Daisy Darker, Alice Feeney

I can't say enough good things about the five books (so far), I've read by Charles Martin who lives in Jacksonville, Florida. I'm a huge fan!

Book Recommendations
It probably won't come as a surprise that I really enjoyed The Letter Keeper, Charles Martin's second book in the "Murphy Shepherd series." (The first is The Water Keeper.)

This book finds Murphy back in Colorado at the safe compound he and Bones have created for abducted girls. While making another trip to rescue a girl, Murphy is nearly blown to bits in an attempted assassination. He spends weeks recovering, while he and Bones try to determine who is after Murphy, When they realize their safe place might be in peril, they make plans to take everyone into hiding. 

But as they're making plans, on a day that should be one of great celebrations the hospital is attacked. Once again Murphy must draw on every investigative skill and resource at his disposal to find and save the people he loves most. 

Linda's score: 4.5/5.0

The Lantern Men by Elly Griffiths is the 12th book in the "Ruth Galloway series" and it doesn't disappoint. Two more books remain in the series.

Ruth and her daughter Kate have moved away from their isolated salt marsh home, are living in a house with Ruth's partner Frank, and Ruth has taken a teaching position at Cambridge. Of course this takes her far from DCI Nelson, and her previous work as a forensic archeologist, helping the police investigate buried bodies. 

Yet a case arises in Norfolk where March has been accused of two murders. When March demands that Ruth be called in to unearth the bodies - after March tells her where they're buried - Ruth and Nelson are working together again. When it turns out that Ruth has just returned from a writer's retreat where she has befriended Crissy, who is the ex-wife of March, Ruth and Nelson are thrust into a collaboration to find the truth. Doing what each of them does best, and with multiple cases to solve, they must determine who has been killing young blonde-hair women, who were last seen pedaling a bicycle. 

Linda's score: 4.0/5.0

The Cloisters by Katy Hays begins in Walla Walla, Washington where Ann Stillwell is mourning her father's death, has graduated from college, and is anxious to get away.... to New York city for a summer internship at the M.E.T. She unexpectedly finds herself assigned to The Cloisters, a museum of medievel art where she works as a researcher with Rachel. Together, they're trying to find information for the Cloisters director, who wants to create an exhibit about fortune telling. 

 Ann becomes involved with the gardener, Leo, who knows more than most people about deadly herbs. When she uncovers a 16th century set of tarot cards, she senses their power and finds herself with an uncomfortable ability to discern the past and future. They're each embroiled in relationships that vie for control, and could even turn into deadly ambition.

Linda's score: 3.9/4.0


Sunday, November 13, 2022

On My Design Wall and Pouches

Feeling somewhat in between projects, and still - to my surprise - looking for reasons to do handwork, I've picked up my Glitter quilt project again. This is a pattern and block found in Jen Kingwell's book Quilt Lovely. I bought the book about five years ago and attempted to machine piece a block using the paper template in the back of the book. After that failure, I crossed the project off my list... until I found the plastic template set on sale. 

Having the exact shape to cut around has made all the difference in block consistency, as I also learned a lesson about machine piecing those corner units! Don't! Now I'm only machine piecing the center section which, when it's tipped at an angle is much like piecing a nine patch block. When the center is pieced and pressed, I pencil-draw seam lines on the four corner pieces, and set it all aside for hand piecing. 

Since I've made only 74 of the 152 blocks needed for a 66" X 73" quilt, I have a way to go. I'm in no hurry  though, as I intentionally chose this for a long-term project. Maybe a 2024 finish? 

Though I have two quilt tops awaiting machine quilting, I decided to get a jump on a couple pouches for Christmas gifts. I've made this pattern before using my Grandma's vintage fabrics. Those pouches turned out so well that I decided to raid my scraps for these. They're each 7" X 11" and use a 10" zipper. 

I learned long ago that it's best to use a light-colored lining inside a pouch or bag, to make it easier to find things "in the dark." I also sewed one of my "Handmade by Linda H...." @flourishingpalms labels to the lining. 

The free pattern for "Scrappy Pouches" is a YouTube video tutorial by Just Jude Designs. 

Book Recommendation
The Water Keeper by Charles Martin is about Murphy Shepherd, a priest, living alone on an island off the east coast of Florida. He has restored an old tabby church with no parishioners, tends an orange grove, and rescues people. 

Now Murphy is mourning the loss of a friend. Intending to scatter those ashes, he travels on his Boston Whaler along Florida's intercostal waterway where crosses paths with Summer, a woman who's trying to rescue her teenaged daughter; Clay, an ex-con with a medical problem; and a Labrador he finds paddling in the ocean. Through each encounter the reader learns more about Murphy, and what's behind his aloneness and singular determination to rescue people... specifically young girls. 

I couldn't stop listening to this book! The narrator voice is the ideal intonation and cadence that make Murphy seem real. As well, since the story has bits of faith and Bible verses woven through it (not in an in-your-face way, though), it's a sensitive story with an important theme. 

I'd like to make The Water Keeper "required reading" for anyone living in Florida, as Mr. Martin gives a thorough visual picture of waterways along Florida's east coast, all the way to the Keys. By the way, Mr. Martin (age 53) lives in Jacksonville, Florida. 

This book is the first in a three-book series with The Letter Keeper next (I'm listening now), followed by The Record Keeper that was released in July. 

I can't say enough good things about the five Charles Martin books I've read thus far. I'm a huge fan! 

Linda's score: 4.7/5.0

In the current issue of Make Modern magazine, a digital publication produced in Australia, you'll find an article about temperature quilts. I am honor to have been asked to share my 2019 temperature quilt in the article. Mine is in the center of this photo.
Just have to show you my blooming African violet. Can you believe that cluster of blooms?! This plant was gifted to me in January 2020, and though I have no other houseplants, I've managed to keep it going. It's had two blooms since I received it. A few months ago I transplanted it into a larger pot and filled it with soil just for an African violet. Guess that made it happier! 

Thursday, November 10, 2022

Ponies on Parade

As I write this blog post, I'm in my sewing room listening to former-hurricane-now-Tropical-Storm Nicole blow and whip rain across our roof, intermittently pound windows, and make our Bismarck palm sway.

The palm has lost numerous chunks of "bark" - for want of a better term for the overlapping trunk wrap that's characteristic of most palms - and another frond has broken. I say another because on September 28, Hurricane Ian broke a frond that's been dangling ever since. The tree is too tall for us to reach and cut off broken fronds.

On Tuesday, Big Cypress Quilters hosted our annual baby shower for Children's Home Society of Florida. Our project coordinator, Patty H., went all out to make it seem like a real baby shower. We played a game while enjoying this adorable butterfly cake that Patty baked and decorated.

She baked cookies that looked like onesies, bottles, buggies, and footprints.

And made this cute-as-can-be fruit bowl. 

Thirty-four of our 68 members turned out, bringing all sorts of gifts, including quilts and Patchwork Ponies. (Patty's in the middle, in the orange top.)
Twenty patchwork ponies were made and donated! It was difficult to get them all in one picture, so I took a bunch of photos that I resized and cobbled together so you get an idea of what they looked like lined up along a wall. 

One of the cutest pictures of them was their little pony bums. 

Once again, all of us at Big Cypress Quilters are giving a huge thank you to Jo Avery of @joaverystitch 
She permitted us to use her Patchwork Pony pattern to make these ponies for this worthy charitable organization. 

Book Recommendation
I've enjoyed Kate Quinn books in the past, but Mistress of Rome is not her typical style. Taking place in 80 to 90 A.D. this story is about all the intrigues, promiscuity, brutality, and debauchery that was the Roman empire. 

Thea is a slave woman whose mistress is the awful, self-centered Lepida who adores the gore and bloodshed of games in the Colosseum. Lepida desires the gladiator Barbarian, who Thea unwittingly befriends. When Thea and Barbarian's friendship goes further than Lepida likes, she tears them apart. Thea becomes a well-known singer and lyre-player who attracts the attention of the Emperor, putting her in the position of concubine to him. She longs to be away from his cruelty just as Lepida is conniving to take Thea's place in the Emporer's household. 

I've just completed a virtual Bible study with Lutheran Church of Hope (in Iowa) called Gospel on the Ground by Kristi McLelland, so reading a book like this was timely. Gospel on the Ground focuses on the early church (Acts) and how challenging it was for new Christians to carry their message of Jesus into the "Empire of Entertainment" - what Kristi called the Roman Empire. If what Kate Quinn wrote is based on truth, indeed it was brutal. In several instances, I thought Ms. Quinn's language and conversations used terms that were too contemporary for the time, but it got the point across. Overall, it was entertaining, if not a bit fantastical. 

Linda's score: 3.8./4.0


Thursday, November 3, 2022

Spiral Quilting by the Dozen

Without many quilt-y things demanding attention these days, I'm catching up with three quilt tops that need quilting. Here's good progress on the first one which should be completed today. 

It's an original design with 12 charcoal-colored linen fabric squares pieced in the top. Drawing a circle in the center of each square by tracing the end cap of a spool of Aurifil thread with a white pencil, I used my walking foot to quilt 12 spirals with 12 different colors and weights of thread (50-, 40- and 28-weights). Overlapping spirals make lovely texture with Quilter's Dream Select Cotton batting.

I'll have to say I'm feeling pretty comfortable spiral quilting! Practice helps! If you haven't tried it, but would like to, be sure to check out my blog post: "10 Tips for Spiral Quilting Success." 

Though charcoal linen would look good as binding, I don't have enough. Not sure what the edges will be finished with. 

At our weekly Big Cypress Quilters meeting we got to see examples of the finished ribbons our chapter members made for the upcoming January 27-28-2023 "Showcase of Quilts," the biannual quilt show of Quilting Guild of The Villages.

On two occasions, we spent time measuring, cutting, sewing, and gluing to make more than 120 ribbons that will be awarded at the show. We're very grateful that one of our members, Peggy, works for a custom embroidery business and did all the embroidered text for us. She saved our guild a lot of money! 

As you can see, this show celebrates the 30th year of Quilting Guild of The Villages. We were told that 485 quilts have been entered - more than expected! Three of them are mine. 

Next Tuesday Big Cypress Quilters will host a baby shower for Children's Home Society of Florida. Besides mine, there will be a whole stable-full of Patchwork Ponies donated. Pictures will be taken! 

A few people have commented that they didn't realize how large a Patchwork Pony is:

H14" X W13" X D2½"

Book Recommendation
23 Summers
 by Erin Hilderbrand has entertainment value, but not a lot else. If you're averse to sexual promiscuity and/or adultery, this is not the book for you. 

The story premise is based on an old Alan Alda movie, Same Time Next Year. A man and woman make a connection, and it's meaningful enough that they promise to meet again the following year, "no matter what." Thus, each year, beginning in 1992, Jake and Mallory start meeting over Labor Day weekend at her oceanside cottage on Nantucket Island... for 28 summers. Through the years, Jake goes his own way, always longing for Mallory even when he has a family. Mallory goes through men, always comparing them to Jake. No one measures-up. Yet she teaches high school English, has a son, and no one is the wiser about their relationship, including her brother and best friend. 

While listening, I found myself muttering "Stupid man." If you feel the urge to do that too, this is the book for you. 

Linda's score: 3.5/5.0

Other than quilting and listening to audiobooks, I've been regularly practicing my tenor ukulele. I love it! As I've been doing plucking drills, I'm hearing gradual improvement in my picking ability. I'm trying to memorize "Edelweiss." Learning something new is slow, but the sense of accomplishment is sure nice. 



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