Monday, February 27, 2023

QuiltCon - Gifts, Friends, and Shopping

QuiltCon Atlanta concluded Sunday afternoon at 4 pm, but to get home at a decent hour (a six hour drive), we left at about 1 pm. I could have stayed longer. There was so much to see this year! 

Where to begin?

Well, my QuiltCon posts will need to be in installments!

This one is about friends I was privileged to hang out with, particularly those who I get to spend time with only at QuiltCon, and about shopping... because the first thing I've been doing (after laundry) is putting away my purchases.

As many of you know, I made travel trays to take and give as gifts. For those who may be new to my blog, you can get the free pattern by choosing "Tutorials" from my home menu. Travel Tray is the first tutorial listed.

I rolled-up each travel tray around a slip of paper that explains how to use a travel tray. 

I enjoyed giving these to special quilters. Below... the four quilters in the top row are people from whom I have taken workshops: (L-R) At QuiltCon, Laura taught "Reimagine the Classic Tied Quilt"; also at QuiltCon, Youngmin taught "Jogakbo with Ssamsol Technique"; in 2022 I took Amy's virtual workshop called "Improv Paper Piecing," and we shared an enjoyable dinnertime together in Atlanta; and Sujatah taught me Kawandi in one of her first virtual workshops in November 2020. 

Quilters in the bottom row have become good friends: (L-R) Candi is a member of the Jacksonville (FL) MQG, has taken two of my workshops, and we occasionally FaceTime to talk about quilting. She's standing in front of Rising Tides, her accepted quilt entry in the Windham Ruby + Bee Fabric Challenge; Sandra is a quilt maker from Germany who I met at QuiltCon 2022 in Phoenix; and Clara, who lives in NYC, is the quilter who's making a "Quilt of Things I Love" and is putting my ukulele block into that quilt.

Of course, I missed taking a picture of the first travel tray I gave away to Patty Dudek @elmstreetquilts who initiated and coordinated the making of our group Rube Goldberg quilt Patent Pending. But here we are. Patty, who lives in North Carolina, is on the right. 

Our group picture with the Patent Pending quilt was missing two contributors, but L-R are: me; Patty, Kitty Wilkin @nightquilter; Val @valbetweenquilts; and Charles Cameron @feltlikesweets

Pointing at the blocks we each made...

...with a close-up of my block - an Aurifl thread spool/wheel and a thimble. Patty did a great job of domestic machine quilting it so the viewer's eye could follow the "movement" of the ball, traversing from the upper left side of the quilt to the lower right. 

On the receiving side, three friends gave me these gifts! At the top is a covered notebook from Patty, who foundation paper-pieced a seam ripper using fabric scraps from Patent Pending. The same seam ripper is in the quilt! Patty wrote the sweetest thank-you note too.

The strawberry covered notebook is from Sandra (brought all the way from Germany!) and it already contains notes from a workshop I took.

The capital "L" embroidery in the little hoop is from Clara. She hand-stitched my initial, and the background is entirely hand-stitched palm fronds!

Such thoughtful friends!

The quilt show and vendors were on three floors of the Atlanta AmericasMart. Two floors included vendors - more than I've ever seen at a QuiltCon. By my personal count, there were 97 vendors!

My first purchase was QuiltCon magazine. I love the quilt on the cover! A couple other random items here are a Lego sewing machine kit from Sewtopia, and a color card (free!) of 50 Spoonflower solids.

The magazine cover quilt is Partisan, made by Susan Braverman @wildpoppyquilts of San Antonio for the Log Cabin Challenge. Susan had four quilts in the show, and all four of them sold!
Made by Susan Braverman

Restocking thread was a priority, so these came home with me from Wonderfil, Aurifil, and Material Goods booths. Nine balls of perle cotton are size 8 Eleganza (for Kantha), and two spools of size 12 variegated Spagetti are by Wonderfil (for Kawandi); ten spools of 80-weight thread are from Aurifil (for hand appliqué; I was thinking of you Anorina @sameliasmum!); and on the left is a skein of Sashiko thread that has been suggested for hand-quilting. 

Sallie Tomato, a shop that specializes in tote, purse, and bag-making supplies, offered everything in their booth 25 percent off! What you see below is 2 yards of aqua vinyl; ½ yard of cork, and some hardware. Aren't those zipper pulls cute? (scissors and snips) 

Not surprisingly, my biggest investment was in fabric. On the right are four pieces of Painter's Palette Solids - (a free fq of oyster is on top), followed by cherry bloom, pumpkin, and honey that are new colors; black and white striped fabric (of course!); five pieces of linen; a couple pieces of Kaffe Fassett shot cotton; a package of 12 5" X 5" squares of Kantha (fabric from an old quilted sari that was cut up); and an 18-fat quarter bundle of Anna Maria Horner fabrics. Since I never (or very seldom) buy precuts, you might wonder how I came by the AMH bundle. 

Saturday morning was a QuiltCon "Leadership Mix and Mingle," sponsored by FreeSpirit Fabric who gave away all manner of their precuts. To win, attendees responded to questions. The one that won me the AMH bundle was "Who here has been involved with the MQG for the longest?" I responded, "November 2012" because that's when I hosted the first meeting of quilters to help me start a MQG chapter in Florida.

Of about 40 attendees, I won the fabric bundle, though I quickly realized that I was wrong about when I started in the MQG! In fact, I was a co-organizer, with Doris Brunette @madebyabrunette, of the Des Moines MQG (now Central Iowa MQG) back in 2010. Guess you could say I'm a long-time MQGer!

Not to leave this blog post without more eye-candy, this is the QuiltCon 2023 Best of Show. It's Bull's Eye, 70" X 70" quilt made by Barbara Strick of California.

These close-ups show you how organic her quilting is...

...and what the quilt looked like from the back. 

To see all the 2023 QuiltCon Award-Winners, go here. And I have more quilts to share in another post!  Linda

Tuesday, February 21, 2023

QuiltCon... Go!

In my last post I mentioned that I decided I needed a new shoulder bag for QuiltCon. That happened last Tuesday when friend Debbie S. at Big Cypress Quilters shared with me her good-looking, very practical bag. I decided on the spot I needed one too. When I got home, I bought the pattern online, and promptly printed 40-plus pages of instructions. 

This is the Traudy Triangular Shoulder Bag by Oro Rosa Patterns, a Canadian company. Because time was of the essence, I had to stick strictly with my stash. It wasn't easy to come up with the yardage and hardware needed to make it! 

I didn't have 1 yard of 54"-wide vinyl, so I cobbled together two pieces of leftover vinyl (from making wristlets) to come up with a front and back. Then I chose an Alison Glass print for the in-between sections.

This pattern is not for the faint of heart! The designer says it's for an "adventurous intermediate." I concur! The key to success is labeling all the parts, and keeping the labels on until the end. 

I had to make two trips to shops to get the proper interfacing (including Pellon Decovil Light, which I'd never heard of or used) and hardware. I have now ordered all the vinyl and hardware to make another ba. , Because I won't have grommet installation tools until that order arrives, I visited Debbie where her husband did that bit for me. 

I'm not particularly in love with my bag, mostly because of the colors, but the style of it, with two large zipper pockets, and an interior zipper pocket and slip pocket, will suit my needs. 

QuiltCon is celebrating ten years - the first show was in 2013 in Austin, Texas - and has invited members to post and share pictures from previous years. It was a fun look back through my pictures, and makes me all the more grateful about being able to attend, and have quilts in shows  - a total of 13 quilts juried into six QuiltCons. 

After perusing the QuiltCon vendor list, and thinking of solid fabric colors and thread colors I might want, I inventoried my solids, most of which are Painter's Palette by Paintbrush Studios. 

Getting pieces organized (again) was a good exercise, and helped me identify a few holes. 

And take a look at this! Yep, that's a 2.5 pound bag of spice drops! Incredible, right? These were delivered Monday and were such a surprise because the last communication from Amazon said my order (placed December 19) had been damaged and I'd receive a refund. It appears that gave my order to another supplier because Mother Bear's Candy in Pennsylvania fulfilled the order. Yay! And oh my goodness, they they taste really good! They're the best spice drops I've ever eaten. 

Now that all's right with the world, and spice drops are in my suitcase, I'm ready for QuiltCon! Linda

Sunday, February 19, 2023

Crossroads Quilt

This 43" X 55" baby quilt, for the great-nephew/niece who's due in June, is done. It's my adaptation of a Crossroads Quilts I saw on Instagram. I used as many novelty and "I Spy" type prints in this as my dwindling kid-print stash allowed.
Crossroads Quilt, 43" X 55"
There are lotsa "things" to find in this quilt, so I expect it might be stimulating into toddlerhood. 

The quilt back is pieced with the largest novelty print "chunks" I could come up with. 

Because Crossroads is a pattern, and I haven't made a quilt from a pattern for a very long time, it seemed easy and relatively quick make. With an all-over snail trail quilting design that didn't need many stops and starts, and therefore thread-burying, I merrily free motion quilted on my Bernina 770QE.

Now I'll tuck the quilt away until I have baby details to record on a quilt label. 

Book Recommendations
Every Last One
by Anna Quindlen was a difficult book to read. While I don't want to give it all away by telling you why, I have to say that the story is about losing, by murder, one's closest family members. 

The story begins typically enough with a mom, dad, and three kids - two of whom are twin brothers with personalities as different as night and day. When first listening, I felt like I was in a world that sounded very familiar - about kids interacting with friends, doing schoolwork, bickering among siblings, parents being taxi-drivers and disciplinarians. That was very relatable, reminding me of when my husband and I both worked and raised two teenaged children.

The story's beginning was almost boring, setting the scene for - missing that the intense behavioral response of one teen's friend led to an event that changed the mom's life. While I don't doubt that this is reality for some people, I found it depressing to read about.

Linda's score: 3.4/5.0 

Oh how I love a well-written book by a favorite author! I picked up The Stranger Diaries by Elly Griffiths because Ms. Griffiths authored a favorite series I completed last year - "Ruth Galloway series," If you like a good who-done-it that takes place in Brighton, UK, then this is the book for you.

Claire is an English teacher in the English department of a moderately-sized school. She's divorced, and her 15 year-old daughter Georgie lives with her. Claire's friend, also an English teacher at the same school, is found stabbed to death, with a note quoting a line from a short story: "The Stranger" by R.M. Holland. What's happening in real life, and the story in the book are too similar, and scary. Claire happens to be writing a book about Holland, and therefore becomes more embroiled in the investigation than she wants.

I enjoy that Griffiths first relates what's happening from Claire's perspective, and later relates the same happenings from the perspective of the detective assigned to the case... and then Georgie's teenaged perspective is woven into the story. Add a little bit of "I bet he did it" and "I bet she did it" and you have an engaging tale that will keep you guessing until the end. 

Linda's score: 4.2/5.0

Most recently I've been listening to Lutheran Church of Hope podcasts from the every-Wednesday "Pastor Mike Drop" program. Hope is doing "The Whole Holy Bible in a Year," and the Wednesday reviews of the weekly readings by different Hope pastors are great! Go here if you'd like to check them out. 

At the moment, I'm deep into QuiltCon prep. Of course, I decided I needed to make a new shoulder bag to efficiently carry around everything I need! Now I'm trying to pull stuff together, leaving clothes-packing until the day before departure. Sounds about right, doesn't it? Linda

Tuesday, February 14, 2023

Going at a Trot

Time and activities seem to be speeding-up as QuiltCon approaches. One week to go.

Yesterday, QuiltCon emailed MQG members about the upcoming show. A quilter-friend point out that my 2019 Temperature Quilt is in the photo - lower right. I had missed that!

In the sewing room...

I made February's Dreamlines "dot" strips. These are the smaller-sized ones I made improv style, following instructions by Brenda Gael Smith. February strips are on the left - the yellow and grape-colored ones with bits of black and white striped fabric as "dots." Pink and yellow strips at the top and right are January's "dashes." Let me just say, making these can be addictive! 

It's not too late to join this free project - Dreamlines. Register here, on Brenda's website. 

Also (I couldn't help myself), I've begun another Kawandi. Sigh. I know. I'm hopeless. But I kept seeing the pretty Kawandi that Anorina @sameliasmum is making, each with a color theme, and I just felt the urge. Again. 

As you can see, I'm going with all low volume scraps - white, cream, gray and bits of black - and will use different colors of Wonderfil #12 Spagetti thread to stitch. This is Kawandi #13, and it's 16" X 20". 

Jo Avery's Freehand Halo Appliqué project
Last weekend was a free "Taster Weekend" with Jo Avery, Karen Lewis and Lynne Goldsworthy who make up Thread House UK. They offered this weekend as a chance to check out what they have to teach so you'll register for their Thread House UK Academy.

I've always been a fan of Jo's work, and this Freehand Halo Appliqué interested me. I watched her video which was available for a limited time, and got busy.

Jo uses linens in her demo project. I managed to find seven different pieces of linen in my stash that I'm using as backgrounds. Quilting cotton prints/solids are the halos.

This may become my QuiltCon travel project... if I can keep my hands off it! 

I finished piecing 36 Crossroads blocks, and began free motion quilting snail-trail designs all over the surface of this 43" X 55" quilt. The design has been relaxing and easy to quilt - no stops and restarting. 

Book Recommendations
The House Across the Lake
 by Riley Sager is a book I chose to read after my friend, Cindy @liveacolorfullife read it. As she cautioned me, the book is different.

It starts out all well. Everything makes sense - five cottages on a remote lake; everyone knows who lives where. Casey, a famous actress and recent widow, has been sent by her mother to the lake because Casey is drinking too much and needs to find herself.

When Casey sees a face-down body floating in the lake, she hurries to her boat to save the person. Though Casey is sure she's dead, the woman revives. That's how Casey meets her newest neighbor, Katherine, a rich and famous model. As they become fast friends, Casey realizes there's more going on in Katherine's marriage than anyone might suspect. When Katherine disappears, Casey is determined to find out what happened... and then things get really weird.

The book turns into a science fiction tale. While what happens is not believable, the story is still entertaining. 

Linda's score: 3.6/5.0

 by Jane Harper is a book I couldn't pass by, based on previous Jane Harper titles that I've enjoyed. Whenever I can listen to a story that takes place in Australia - a country I was fortunate enough to visit on four occasions - and is read by an Australian narrator... well, count me in, mate!

Aaron Falk is visiting his friends who live on a family vineyard, because he's been asked to be godfather to their new son. Taking a week away from his demanding job as a federal investigator, Aaron joins his friends who also are participating in an annual wine festival. While with these friends, Aaron hears more about Kim, a woman who went missing at the previous year's festival. Kim hasn't been seen since she left her infant daughter behind, alone, in a pram. As Aaron engages with others - a police friend, and a local detective - he begins to work out what happened. Could another unsolved hit-and-run that happened six years ago, be related? And then there's the woman Aaron met in Melbourne, who is the event coordinator for the wine festival. 

Linda's score: 4.1/5.0

The Spice Drops Saga continues. I am still in disbelief as I share this...

Remember, I told you I ordered Spice Drops (flavored gumdrop candies with a sugar coating) from Amazon? Since I rarely order anything from Amazon, that alone is unusual. I placed the order December 19. Then, just before Christmas, my friend, Sherry, sent me seven small bags of spice drops. Let's just say, those didn't last long! But I had a 2.5 pound bag coming from Amazon.

In January, Amazon let me know the order was delayed. My December 19 order was due to arrive February 12. What else could I do but wait? Dollar Tree is still out of spice drops. 

I followed Amazon tracking... from California, to Kentucky, to one location in Florida, to another location in Florida. On Friday I read: "out for delivery." Then, back to the distribution center. Saturday: "out for delivery." Then back to the distribution center. Sunday: "out for delivery."

I watched and watched. We turned on the porch light when it got dark. Nothing arrived. 

Monday morning this email message arrived:
What can I say? 😢 Linda

Monday, February 6, 2023

QuiltCon Prep

In just a couple weeks - February 22 to 26 - thousands of modern quilters will converge in Atlanta, at AmericasMart Convention Center, for the annual modern quilting event called QuiltCon (QC). I can't wait!

Since I'm taking two workshops, I have a little prep work. 

A three hour workshop with Laura Loewen @quiltfortco is Reimagine the Classic Tied Quilt, where we'll use her (purchased) Quilt Tie Felting Kit - Iroiro roving yarn, needle, felting needle, and Leather Felter's finger guards - to tie an 18" X 18" quilt, and add tiny pom-poms. We're to make and bring with us an 18" X 18" quilt sandwich.

I chose the Quilt Tie Felting Kit that's multi-colored, so the yarn color played a part in the fabric colors I'm using in my quilt. 

Remembering that I'd made a Crosscut Quilt when Debbie @aquilterstable hosted a quilt-along back in 2016, I thought I'd make a similar design. This 36" X 36" Crosscut Quilt is now in the possession of a dear cousin, but is a good reminder of what I could recreate as an 18" square quilt.

I followed Debbie's Crosscut Quilt tutorial, but changed the sizes of the blocks I cut. For neutral print squares, I cut 7" X 7" blocks (Debbie cut hers 9½" X 9½".) 

After adding the first 1½" crosscut insertion, 

...and then the second crosscut insertion, I trimmed each block to 6½" X 6½", and sewed them all together. 

Then, as Debbie says, "Now is where it gets especially fun!" I cut 20 blocks, 4½" X 4½". 

I arranged, and joined blocks to make a quilt top 20½" X 20½" - a little larger than Laura asked us to make.
20½" X 20½" quilt top

Having second thoughts about the size, and all that color, I decided to make another, simpler design.

This one began with one print and one solid, cut in 8" X 8" squares. I paired a print and a solid, randomly cut across them twice, rearranged fabrics, sewed them together again, cut them down to 6½" X 6½", and joined blocks to make an 18½" X 18½" quilt top. 
18½" X 18½" quilt top

I will sandwich them and take both of them with me to QC.

My second QC workshop with Youngmin Lee is Jogakbo with Ssamsol Technique. I don't understand what we'll be doing, but Youngmin too offered a kit to purchase. It was mailed to me - fabrics, thread, and a needle. My initial reaction is "blah" because those definitely are not my colors. But I'm looking forward to learning this hand stitching technique... that I can't even pronounce! Jo-gak-bo? Or Jog-ak-bo?

I've also been making 12 Travel Trays (my free pattern here) as friendship gifts. Each tray takes four pairs of snaps - one on each corner - so I've spent many hours hand-stitching 96 snap parts onto them!

Book Recommendation
This Tender Land
by William Kent Krueger reads like a classic novel. With the flavor of Mark Twain's Huckleberry Finn, Mr. Krueger takes the reader on a 1932 trip through Minnesota and Missouri as he relates the adventures of 12 year-old Odie, his 
brother, their mute friend Mose, and six year-old Emma.

The three boys have been in a pitiless school led by a harsh woman - "the black witch" and her conniving husband. One night, a life-threatening event happens and Odie must get away. The four vagabonds escape in a canoe. Encounters along the way - with a one-eyed pig man; a healing evangelist, Sister Eve; and other destitute people suffering through the Depression in Hoovervilles (shantytowns) - make all of them wary, and yet grateful for the kindness of strangers. Odie's goal is to get to St. Louis. However, when he arrives, Aunt Julia isn't who he expects her to be. Odie must face the truth, and recognize who is his family truly is.

I could easily rate this story higher than 4.2, but I didn't because of the narrator, Scott Brick. I'd heard his voice before, and remembered it from listening to Atlas Shrugged. Though he's apparently very popular, having narrated more than 800 classics, he has a tendency to over-dramatize. It's tough to put into words, but the way he emphasizes certain phrases, with a sort of sing-song timbre, rubs me the wrong way.

Linda's score: 4.2/5.0

When power-walking last Saturday, I nearly bumped into these sandhill cranes! While I always begin walking with my shoulders back and head up, too often by the third mile or so, I'm so intent on my speed, with my eyes looking at the ground in front of me, I could nearly walk into them.  

It's noteworthy that one of a pair always seems to be on "watchful alert" while the other looks for food. I gave them a wide berth as I passed on the opposite side of the street. Linda


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