Wednesday, November 29, 2023

Keeping Up/Catching Up

Keeping up with, and actually being slightly ahead of Amy Friend's @duringquiettime Satisfaction QAL, these are the blocks I made this week. All blocks are foundation paper pieced.

"Etching" is my favorite-looking block thus far. It's 18" X 18" block #9 of 12 blocks. Background fabric is Christina Camelli's "Moongate" which was released in 2020. 

Block #10 is "Spark," and it too is made with "Moongate" which is the blue background. The green tropical foreground print is the same fabric I used to make my ukulele case!

I put all the Satisfaction blocks on the design wall, so I'd have an idea what colors to choose for the last two blocks. 

Here's the finished 60" X 92½" quilt back I made for the MQG's "Use It: Quilt Back Challenge." With so many seams in the back and quilt front (which is the Summer Camp Modern Mystery QAL), I'm looking to sandwich this with the thinnest batting possible: either Quilter's Dream Request (lowest loft), or a wide flannel. 

Wednesday, November 22, 2023

Backing Challenge

I've added another project to my mix of WIPs. I joined the MQG's four week "Use It: Quilt Back Challenge." The idea is to make a quilt back using what you have on hand. The backing can be for a top you've already made, or a top you might make in the future.

This is the ideal project for using-up orphan blocks and leftover bits from finished projects... or, in my case, some tried-and-failed block ideas. In fact, I have so many such bits and bobs, I realized I can't use ALL of them in a backing, even one that's 60" X 93"! I have enough parts - a whole canvas bin full - to make several backings.

Initially, I put lots of parts on the design wall.

I rearranged. Took pictures. Sewed a few blocks together. After several days I thought I should cut back on the number of seams in the backing. Hundreds of seams are in the quilt top, so more seams in the backing hold the potential for making domestic machine quilting more challenging. So I scaled back on blocks, and added chunks of plain fabric. 

The backing is mostly sewn together: 60" wide, and 6" to 8" more need at the bottom, to get 93" in length. See how I tried to position larger pieces around the perimeter? I have only 2½" of excess on each side for centering the quilt top. Nope, I don't like to waste fabric.

Though Instagram commenters have said my backing looks like a quilt front, I'm definitely using it to back my 55" X 88" Summertime Modern Mystery QAL top, completed August 3. I'd really like to get this quilt finished before the end of 2023. 

It's Week 7 (of 12 weeks) of the Satisfaction QAL with Amy Friend @duringquiettime, and this time I was fussy-cutting to make the Diamond block. I opted to highlight this Florida-appropriate flamingo design. 

So far, this is the easiest 18" block we've made. 

Since December 1-10 has already been scheduled as the busiest time of the month - Christmas celebrations, and recognition occasions (gift-giving time) for volunteer leaders in my activity groups - I worked ahead to finish Week 8 of the Satisfaction QAL by making the Crystal block. I'm getting better at foundation paper piecing following Amy's method. That means fabrics are being pieced directionally, and with less fabric waste.  

Book Recommendations
A Noise Downstairs
by Winwood Barclay captured me from the opening chapter when Paul Davis is driving home, and happens to see his work colleague driving somewhat erratically. Could his friend be drunk? Paul follows him to make sure he's okay, and watches him throw something odd-looking into a dumpster, then driving to a different, more remote location. When Paul steps out of his car to check on his friend, his world changes. 

The story picks up months later, when Paul is seeing a therapist to help with the nightmares he's been experiencing. Paul's wife, Charlotte, encourages him to fully recover and return to work. Charlotte surprised Pauls with an old typewriter - just what Paul envisions himself using to write about his experience, and perhaps cleanse himself of the whole thing. 

However, when Paul begins awakening in the middle of the night to the sound of the typewriter - that Charlotte doesn't hear - he questions whether he's getting better. When the typewriter begins leaving typed messages, he engages his therapist further to help him get through whatever is happening. 

This story has an unexpected, twisted ending that I didn't see coming.

By the way, last year I gave Linwood Barclay a 4.3 score for another title, Take Your Breath Away, so you might want to add him to your authors-to-read list. 

Linda's score: 4.2/5.0

Her Family Secret
 by Melissa Weisner opens with June, the account for her husband's company, and an over-worked mother of two young girls. She's busy, and seemingly happy. 

When she receives a phone call while on the road, her shock at the news she hears - her father (a man she remembers only from her childhood) is dead and has left June and her two sisters all of his estate - causes a car accident. What' shocks them all is who he is - a famous artist. Their mother never told them! 

Needing to recover from the accident, and then learning about her husband's infidelity, June decides to visit her father's estate in Wishing Cove, Washington. There she meets Caleb, her father's apprentice, and begins to wonder whether it's time to revisit her own artistic interests - ones that were set aside so she could "parent" her two younger sisters. 

Linda's score: 3.9/5.0

Tom Lake
 by Ann Patchett begins with high-schooler Lara, who helps guide auditions for the local community theater's performance of Our Town. Lara realizes she could perform "Emily" better than those auditioning, and so begins her journey as an actress. 

The remainder of the story is told from Lara's perspective, during the pandemic, as the 57 year-old mother of three young women. Lara and her husband own a cherry farm in upper Michigan, and the girls are home to help with picking. That's when the girls demand the story of Lara's brief career as "Emily" and the summer she spent on Tom Lake, doing Our Town and spending time with a man who would become a famous actor. 

This is a story that could be real -- about young love, family, and bonds that last a lifetime. 

I listened to the whole book, thinking how good the narrator was. Then, at the end I learned it was Meryl Streep! 

Linda's score: 4.1/5.0

Florida wildlife often bring a smile to my face. This Great White Egret was in our neighbor's driveway, and gracefully strutted into our yard. 

Happy Thanksgiving! I am wishing all of you - blog-readers, blog-commenters, and friends - a lovely Thanksgiving with special people, and good food. Bless you, Linda

Thursday, November 16, 2023

Feelin' Groovy

Last Saturday, at our Central Florida MQG (CFMQG) meeting, members shared their finished 2023 challenge quilts which you can see here. I've been keeping mine under wraps... until now. 

For our CFMQG challenge, we had four options to choose from. I selected "half-rectangle triangles" (HRTs) which I had never made before. I bought and used Latifah Saafir's HuRTy ruler (see what she did with the name? The letters HRT are capitalized), and I found it a great way to make uniform HRTs. By the way, Latifah has several HuRTy videos available for understanding her cutting logic and how to use the ruler.

I had such a great time making this quilt! It had me "feelin' groovy!" And yes, I still make big quilts. This one is 67½" X 84". 
Feelin' Groovy, 67½" X 84"

I was able to use set-aside blocks that I had thought to use in an entire quilt pieced with quarter-square Drunkards Path blocks, and Triangle-in-a-Square blocks. When I put those blocks on the design wall, and then began adding two sizes of HRTs - each pieced with a solid and a stripe (I had many more striped fabrics in my stash than I realized!) - I could almost feel maximalism coming together! 

QuiltCon 2024 (Raleigh, NC) will show a Maximalist Exhibit (for exhibit only; NOT judged). I thought, "This is the time to give maximalism a real go." 

For backing, this stashed yardage print was perfect. It's a Libs Elliot piece purchased a half dozen years ago.

Bonus: I was able to use more leftover blocks in the lower middle strip that I bordered with a black and white striped print.

Even after considering the busy design of the quilt top, I knew simple straight-line quilting wouldn't be considered maximal. So, I gave the quilt lots of customization with walking foot quilting, ruler quilting, and free motion quilting.
quilt back is a Libs Elliott print

A variety of 50-weight thread colors are on top, and all the bobbin thread is the same neutral color. Admittedly, it took longer to quilt this than it did to piece to the top. I'm so glad to own a Bernina 770QE with an 11" harp space to accommodate quilting such a large quilt. And yes, I buried hundreds of thread tails. Wouldn't do it any other way than with a Sench side-threading needle.

To finish the quilt - still thinking "more is more" - I made several sizes of circles, using only polkadot prints. Again, I was surprised - how many spotted prints I have in my ever-dwindling stash.

I used Appli-pops to make circles, and then cut a piece of batting to put behind each. Not only did I want to prevent shadowing through a circle, but I also wanted the dots to be trapuntoed/appear dimensional. Fifty-eight circles are hand-appliquéd to the quilt top, using 100-weight Aurifil thread. 

This particular area of the quilt gave me its name inspiration. I thought the Drunkards Path blocks and the circle dots looked like a record. Sing along: 🎶 Lookin' for fun, and feelin' groovy! 🎶

The final more came in the binding. As I was auditioning several black and white stripes, trying to decide which to use, it came to me: "Use two!" So with a little calculating, I determined how long to cut each strip, and then sewed them together. I love the effect!

Anyway, I'm extremely happy with this finish. Feelin' Groovy is one of four quilts I submitted to QuiltCon 2024. Entrants are supposed to hear, via email, about our entries by mid-December: "We're sorry... " or "Congratulations!..." 

Special thanks to my friend Donna and her husband, who were quilt-holders in front of the beautiful Senna tree next to their house. Those vivid yellow blooms are glorious!

🎶 Life I love you. All is groovy." 🎶 Linda

Saturday, November 11, 2023

Still Goin'

It's been sort of a lazy sewing week as I made my FPP Tulip block in Amy's @duringquiettime Satisfaction QAL, and started to big stitch quilt 30 Days of Improv Quilt.

Here's the 18" Tulip block. I used Michael Miller "Dumb Dots" for the orange background, and all of a piece of "something" that came from my Mother's fabric stash, so is at least 30 years old. I'm pleased that the block came together much easier than last week's, as I am finding a rhythm to following Amy's FPP technique that uses a light box, and saves on fabric. Six blocks are done now; six more to go. 

Using Coron brand of Sashiko thread (for the first time) to quilt 30 Days of Improv, I'm learning that the thread is a little more difficult to tug through fabric and batting (my quilt batt is 100% cotton Quilter's Dream Select), and can sometimes tangle. Admittedly, pearl cotton glides through a quilt sandwich easier, but I like appearance of the slightly puffy Sashiko thread laying on the quilting cotton, and on linen pieces. 

I'm playing with a variety of stitches, adding fly stitches (center left), X's (center), and seed stitches (center right) alongside straight quilting. 

If you subscribe to the Australian digital quilting publication, Make Modern, in the current issue (November) you'll see my Log Jam quilt in the "Modern Log Cabins" gallery, on page 99. 

I'm honored to have my quilt shown alongside Log Cabin quilts made by:

Maria Shell
Debbie Krajowski
Hillary Goodwin
Brigitte Heitland
and Tara Faughan, among others.  

Log Jam, 68" X 70", sold at QuiltCon 2023 in Atlanta.

Some buyers, after purchasing a QuiltCon quilt get in touch with the maker, but my buyer did not. 😞 

Book Recommendations
Walking Shoes
by Lynne Gentry takes place in Mount Hope, Texas, where DJ and his wife, Leona, have pastored a small church for 18 years. It's where they've raised their two children, David and Maddie, who now live elsewhere, pursuing education toward careers as a lawyer and doctor, respectively. 

They're called home when the unexpected happens, and Leona is faced with huge life changes. Just as she's hoping to restore closeness with her children, her cantankerous mother, Bertie, arrives testing everyone's patience. When Bertie falls and breaks a hip, that calamity on top of others challenges the faith of even the most faithful. This story is written with lighthearted humor, yet reaches into the depths of a person's heart. 

In Lynne Gentry's author notes, I learned that she's a pastor's wife, so has experience some of what she's written about. This book is #1 in the "Mt. Hope Southern Adventure" series, and reminds me somewhat of the Mitford series, by Jan Karon which I read in the mid-1990s, and adored. The first in that series is At Home in Mitford, which I recommend if you haven't read!

Linda's score: 4.0/5.0 

After a recommendation from Cindy @liveacolorfullife, I read Hello Stranger by Katherine Center. I'm glad I did.

Hello Stranger is an intriguing story about Sadie who has an unexpected seizure, needs surgery to remove a nodule on her brain, and suffers the consequences of acquired prosopagnosia - an inability to see faces. 

The timing for such a condition couldn't be worse because Sadie is a finalist in a prestigious portrait-painting competition, one her own mother entered but wasn't able to fulfill. Sadie deals with her condition, while seeing a therapist she adores. When her elderly dog, Peanut, needs care, Sadie meets the veterinarian she may just be in love with. Then she deals with a deceitful step-sister who has reentered her world. But painting a portrait when Sadie can't see faces?! How impossible is her life? 

Linda's score: 4.1/5.0

These are the lovely creatures I saw during my four-mile power walk today. Sandhill cranes seem almost tame, pausing in their graceful movements, while I stopped walking to take their picture. They're wary, but seem to instinctively know we won't hurt them. They're a protected species here in Florida.


Sunday, November 5, 2023

Finger Paints Quilt Finish

I began making blocks in Laura Loewen's @quiltfortco Finger Paints QAL the first week of September 2021. Though the top has been pieced for many months, it took me way too long to get to domestic machine quilting, and finishing. 

Finger Paints is 66" X 66". I like it, though I don't think I was successful in the piecing. When we started, we could either use a ruler to precision-cut pieces, or eye-ball/improv cut.

I opted for improv cutting, but found myself eyeballing sizes too carefully. Rather than being "off" enough to call it improv, I was off enough to call it "poorly precision-pieced." Ha! Some HST corners meet precisely; some don't. 

For quilting, I began with ruler quilting and then filled in with free motion quilting, using about eight different thread colors in the process. 

Gray 40-weight Presencia thread in the bobbin. If you click on the photos, you can see the quilting designs. 

Binding is four different solid colors, one on each side. 

Once again, I nabbed one of my quilting friends at Big Cypress Quilters to hold my quilt while I took pictures. Thank you so much, Flo! (She's a fellow Iowan too!)

I'm happy to have Finger Paints done.

Now I have one more top to quilt and finish - the Summercamp Modern Mystery Quilt. Piecing a backing for it is up next. For certain I'll be cobbling scraps together.

Though I didn't need to participate in Saturday's MQG International Scrap Sorting Day - my print and solid scraps are already sorted separately by color - I'll use the MQG's "Use it: Quilt Back Challenge," running from November 13 through December 8, to piece that backing. Win-win! Linda

Wednesday, November 1, 2023

End of October

On October 31, while at our Big Cypress Quilters meeting, I had the opportunity to bring home free fabric, on our monthly-offered "I don't want it; you can have it" table. A 1½-yard piece of quilting fabric received my serious consideration as part of a quilt backing. But I didn't take it. With difficulty, I'm sticking to my self-imposed requirement to use stash.

I did pretty good in October, in spite of winning 1½ yards of fabric in an Instagram giveaway. 

Most of the yardage used is in the 52" X 61½" top and 58½" X 66" backing of my 30 Days of Improv Quilt. Total: 6.08 yards. For big stitch hand quilting, I've selected this size 8 perle cotton, and some new-to-me Sashiko thread (bought at QuiltCon 2023) that I unwound from a skein and rolled into a ball.

Over the past several months, I've also filled a 21" X 30" bag with scraps, to make a pet bed to donate. Based on the weight of one yard of Painter's Palette solid, which is .63 (Thank you Peggy, for bringing your kitchen scale to Big Cypress Quilters!) I determined that 8.83 yards of scraps are in the pet bed.  

Along with making four FPP blocks for my Satisfaction quilt, as well as a couple of Christmas gifts (You bet I'm planning ahead!) I use 15.69 yards of fabric this month! Hoorah! 

Book Recommendation
The Weight of Blood
by Laura McHugh is about a teen girl, Lucy who lives with her dad in an Ozark Mountain town, Henbane. Everyone knows each others' business, while turning a blind eye to darker activities.

Lucy's special friend, Cheri, goes missing. For more than a year, there's speculation that she's run away. When Cheri's body is discovered, mangled and caught in a tree along the river, speculation reignites. 

While cleaning out an old mobile home, Lucy comes across Cheri's necklace, one that Lucy gave her. Questions arise that Lucy wants answers for. With help from her new friend Daniel, Lucy begins to find answers, and is surprised to learn more about her mother, Lila, too. Since her dad and uncle won't talk about Lila, Lucy is in disbelief as she begins to piece together the truth.

Oddly enough, Lucy's mother (Lila) is from Waverley, Iowa, and Lila's parents met when they both attended the University of Northern Iowa, in Cedar Falls. All are parts of Iowa I'm very familiar with!

I liked this story because the author made me feel the essence, beliefs, and close-mindedness of a rural community.
Linda's score: 3.9/5.0

In October, I listened to ten audio books. In order, these are the top six that I gave a score of 4.0 or better. 
  • My Antonia, Willa Cather, 4.2
  • Gone Tonight, Sarah Pekkanen, 4.2
  • The Soulmate, Sally Hepworth, 4.1
  • Thereby Hangs a Tail #2, Spencer Quinn, 4.1
  • To Fetch a Thief #3, Spencer Quinn, 4.0
  • The Pearl, John Steinbeck, 4.0
Another SpaceX rocket was launched this week, on October 30. According to the website, there have been 277 SpaceX launches! We can see most of them if we take time to look. This was at 7:20 pm Monday.

As you might guess, I had been in that brightly-lit room - my sewing room - until I hurried outside to look for the rocket. Linda


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