Sunday, December 31, 2023

End of December

I'm beginning my end-of-December post with a pretty picture of fabric! This stack of Painter's Palette (PP) solids, all of which are among the newest colors, are from KC Maker Studio, a Kansas City brick-and-mortar and online quilt shop that stocks every color of PP solids. Likely the shop stocks all 210 colors of PP solids because Paintbrush Studios, the company that produces PP solids, is headquartered in Kansas City.

A couple weeks ago, I succumbed to a one-day sale. Regularly priced at $8.99 a yard, I snagged 25½ yards at $6.30 a yard, a price that includes shipping. While this added greatly to my monthly "In Yardage", I know I'm set with solids for a while! 

Though I managed to use-up nearly 10 yards of fabric in December, that big PP purchase set me back, leaving me with a gain of 15.59 yards for the month.

Much of what I did use was put into my Satisfaction quilt, made during 12 weeks of the Satisfaction quiltalong with @duringquiettime Amy Friend. The quilt along began October 2, I'm delighted to share that just today I put in the last binding hand stitches. 

Satisfaction finished at 54" X 72" and was made entirely from stashed fabrics. 

Batting is Hobbs 100% cotton, an accidental, mis-ordered purchase. It seems nice enough. I quilted with 40-weight Aurifil thread, in #2110 pale yellow, and used a @Sariditty "Rolling Waves" ruler to quilt an on-the-diagonal 1" grid across the whole quilt. 

It's a first for me to quilt an all-over ruler design like that, across the whole of a quilt. 

I like the texture it created. 

I had as much fun piecing a backing as I did making the quilt front! Now that I've discovered how nice it is to use orphan blocks and a 2.08 yard piece of fabric (an Alexander Henry piece from 2015) to piece a backing, I plan to continue that practice. 

Book Recommendations
Tomorrow and Tomorrow and Tomorrow by Gabrielle Zevin was a trending 2023 title, so I thought I should know about it.

Sam Masur and Sadie Green meet in a hospital. Sam is there because he's been an a car accident and has a broken foot. They connect by playing video games together, sharing the controller with one another as they became friends. 

In young adulthood, they reconnect in Cambridge where each is attending college. Sadie falls into depression after a difficult break-up with her married, college professor, and it's Sam who draws her into the challenge of developing a video game they call Ichigo. It becomes a huge success and is the basis for their new company. 

The story follows them to California where they set-up an office, hire staff, and have more success. Then there's a tragic death, all the while as they each have an inability to fully understand one another. Personally, I thought Sadie was self-absorbed, and too-often rushed to unfair judgements about Sam. 

Maybe this story didn't resonate with me because I'm not from the video game era. Admittedly, some of the language and imagery went over my head. To me, the only redeeming feature of this book was learning new vocabulary words! Numerous times I stopped the recording, replayed a bit, and looked up the word. A few new-to-me words are: ersatz, emesis, bloviate, palimpsest, verisimilitude, tautology, and kenophobia.

Linda's score: 3.4/5.0

Block Party
 by Jamie Day takes place in an upscale neighborhood, on an Alton Street cut de sac where neighbors are friends; they involve themselves in one another's lives. Every Memorial Day they have an outdoor party, in the cul de sac island. 

Alex and Nick have a teenaged daughter, Lettie, who's in her senior year of high school. A new family moves in next door, and though Jay is a college drop-out, Lettie wants to get to know him better. She engages him in seeking revenge on another teenager in the neighborhood, Riley, who was once Lettie's best friend. Meanwhile, Alex, who drinks too much wine, runs a successful divorce mediation business, and knows things the other women have shared in confidence. The men have secrets too. 

Linda's score: 3.9/5.0

With time on my hands in December, while quilting and power-walking, I listened to 12 audiobooks. Here's a recap for the month - the top eight titles I gave a score of 4.0 or better.

1) The Last Remains by Elly Griffiths, 15th and last title in the "Ruth Galloway" series 4.4/5.0
2) The Wife Upstairs by Frieda McFadden 4.3/5.0
3) Keep Quiet by Lisa Scottoline, 4.3/5.0
4) Catching the Wind by Melanie Dobson, 4.2/5.0
5) The Push by Ashley Audrain, 4.2/5.0
6) What Alice Forgot by Liane Moriarty, 4.1/5.0
7) The Engine House by Rhys Dylan, 1st book in the "DCI Evan Warlow" series, 4.1/5.0
8) A Fistful of Collars by Spencer Quinn, 5th book in the "Chet and Bernie" series, 4.0/5.0

This past Thursday evening, at around 8 pm, SpaceX launched another Falcon rocket from Kennedy Space Center. Sometimes the trajectory doesn't allow us to see much, so it was wonderful to view this one so clearly! 

At first, I didn't think I'd see much - after all, we're more than 80 miles away from the launch site, and we've had a lot of cloud cover lately. But it was a happy surprise to see it shoot above the cloud bank. When we moved here 10½ years ago, I never would have guessed we'd get to witness this. And so frequently!

I'm concluding 2023 on a pleasant, relatively quiet note. We enjoy a delicious homemade meal of shrimp and cheesy grits, and a little champagne bubbly. 

Now I'm wishing all my blog-readers and friends a very happy New Year! Linda

Wednesday, December 27, 2023

Modern Mystery Quilt Finish

I hoped to complete my Summer Camp Modern Mystery Quiltalong quilt before the end of 2023, and I did. Whoo-hoo!

We didn't have a family Christmas gathering. I immersed myself in quilting and sewing. In about two-and-a-half days I quilted this  54" X 86½" quilt. 

As I often do, I walking foot quilted first, to stabilize the solid Poseidon blue-colored spaces. Then I free motion quilted different designs in each.  

The top is quilted with Aurifil 50-weight, color #4093, in the blue areas.

Lastly, I walking foot quilted a plaid design over all the pieced blocks using a pale gray thread.

The quilt finished at 54" X 86½" which is much taller and skinnier than any quilt I've ever made. 

The most exciting part of this quilt is the back! It came out so well that I will likely admire the quilt from this side. This is the backing that was a winner in the recent "Use It: Quilt Back Challenge" sponsored by the MQG. See winning quilt backs here. In February I'll receive a Hobbs queen-sized batting as my prize. But to get this quilt done now, I batted it with Quilter's Dream Request (lowest loft), 100% cotton.  

I consistently used a 40-weight gray-colored thread in the bobbin.

Our special Christmas dinner was pizza! Hubs always makes the best pizza, and this one is my absolute favorite. Compared to a regular pizza, this one has no meat, and is a little more expensive to make because of pricey ingredients: Brie; Monterey Jack; pesto (my homemade); green onion; zucchini; fresh mushrooms; and red bell pepper. It also takes more time to prepare, which is why we probably won't eat it again until there's another special occasion. 

With time on my hands, I've been listening to books while I make. Here are two more excellent titles to recommend.

Book Recommendations
What Alice Forgot
by Liane Moriarty begins with Alice returning to consciousness after falling during a spin class. She thinks she's pregnant with her first baby - hers and Nick's little "sultana" - and they're the throes of fixing up their first home. Alice doesn't remember what's happened over the past ten years. 

The thrust of the story is that Alice is trying to come to grips with the fact that her mum looks strange, and is remarried; her sister has gained weight and is stand-offish; her next door neighbor won't speak to her; her house looks fantastic - and there's a pool?!; Dominic is sending her flowers; and Nick isn't speaking to her. 

While the story is improbable, it does take an in-depth look at the emotional aspects of infertility, and the challenges of raising children.

Since Ms. Moriarty is Australian, the book is narrated by an Australian... and you know how much I enjoy listening to that accent.

Linda's score: 4.1/5.0

Keep Quiet
 by Lisa Scottoline begins with a dad, Jake, wanting to make a connection with his teenaged son, Ryan. Jake is the parent who drives to pick up Ryan after seeing a movie. When Ryan asks if he can drive them home at the wheel of Jake's Audi, Jake agrees, even though Ryan has only a learner's permit. That was the first of several impossible split-second decisions.

The story unfolds as Jake and Ryan pile lie upon lie. The burden becomes too much for Ryan who breaks down and confesses everything to his mom, a Pennsylvania judge. As always (in these stories), things are not what they seem. After being blackmailed, Jake plays detective to figure out why. When the blackmailer is murdered and detectives come calling, it's apparent that the whole event is much more than it seems.

I could not stop listening to this story! It really captured my imagination as I tried to work out what was really going on.

Linda's score: 4.3/5.0

Saturday, December 23, 2023

Christmas Presents

After seeing my friend Debbie's (A Quilter's Table) version of an "On-the-Go Project Bag," (Debbie's blog posts here and another here.) I had to make a couple of them too. From an online store selling used books, I bought Svetlana Sotak's, That Handmade Touch which has these instructions. My book came from a Goodwill store in Austin, Texas! 

I used denim, and a canvas-weight print for each. Handles are ¾"-wide leather from Sew Hungry Hippie.  

The denim on the bottom was made that way - embellished with tiny metal studs. I bought the denim in November, 2006, when we went to Dubai, United Arab Emirates. Fabric there was very inexpensive... at that time, anyway. 

Hopefully, my line dance instructor, and my hair stylist will make good use of these. 

Next, I sewed these Half Zip Fabric Wallets, following a YouTube tutorial by Sewing Times. 

Instructions are free, and the video is nicely-done, but no where could I find which measurement was vertical and which was horizontal - essential information when making this wallet from a directional print like those Tula Pink elephants. I had to stop the video and use a ruler against the computer screen to determine which measurement was which. I also asked the question in the comments, and though Nancy (of Sewing Times) replied, at that point I had already finished making the wallets. So, if you make a wallet, check comments to verify measurements! You can thank me later. 😁

I was happy to finish each wallet with a little charm, found at Hobby Lobby. 

After making wallets, I made a 10½" W X 8" H purse organizer to coordinate with the elephant print wallet. This Purse Organizer pattern is also by Sotak Patterns. The mesh pockets are sized to hold a cell phone.

Since I didn't have a snap the pattern called for, I made a buttonhole and sewed a clear button in that spot. 

The organizer and wallet makes a useable combo. 

Lastly, I made six Bowl Buddies - AKA Bowl Cozies. I couldn't find the original pattern I followed when first making these in 2013. So I made a version that's a combo of YouTube videos. I also wrote-up a little description of what a bowl buddy is and how to use it... so people who opened the gift when I wasn't around, would know what to do with it! 

I thought it was appropriate to send the Florida fabric bowl buddy to my virtual Bible study leader in Iowa. The bowl buddy made with peace symbol print fabric went to my "Peace, Love and Ukulele Club" leader, Mary. 

In 2021, I made Mary a ukulele pillow. Blogged here. Mary recently sent me a picture of ukuleles she and her husband have hanging in their music room, and I love seeing how they've displayed the ukulele pillow - the colorful one in the middle.  

My favorite part of giving presents, especially quilts, is seeing gifted items in action, used - and hopefully loved - by the recipient.

Monday, December 18, 2023

Red Letter Day

I must say! Today is a red-letter day. I learned I am one of eight winners in the recent quilt back challenge, sponsored by the Modern Quilt Guild and Hobbs (batting). In February, I'll receive a queen-sized batt from Hobbs. 

In October, MQG members were invited to register, and then over a four-week period respond to suggestions and prompts to piece a quilt back from blocks, parts and bits already in our sewing stash. It was the "Use It: Quilt Back Challenge."

My 60" X 92½" backing used:
  1. blocks begun in a workshop or an along - See pieced strips from making a few Dreamlines shapes?
  2. discarded ideas for a new quilt design - See three pieces that are shades of blue with a curved end? 
  3. leftovers from other quilts - See the middle-right, white background with pairs of navy blue "sticks?" Those were leftover from making Polka Dots and Moonbeams, a quilt accepted into the QC 2024 Scrap Challenge. A row of 6" blocks (lower middle) remained from the Summer Modern Mystery QAL.
  4. and, all manner of leftover parts of solid fat quarters. I intentionally tried to keep the largest fabric chunks along the outside edges. 
Anyway, the whole challenge made me pull out long-forgotten orphan blocks and parts. And now that I know how many more of these I have left, you can be sure I will be piecing more backings. "Use" is sort of my mantra these days. 

In today's weekly email about the Satisfaction QAL, Amy Friend @duringquiettime mentioned my quilt back. She's also encouraging quilters to piece their backings. 
Speaking of Satisfaction, this is week 12 of the along, to make the last 18" block. I've completed mine. This is "Rosette." Both prints are by Alison Glass, and I'll just say this made a bright block!

Choosing fabrics for this along was challenging, as I often found that fabric combos I liked weren't do-able because I didn't have enough of one the fabrics. Nonetheless, I'm glad I participated. I couldn't wait to arrange and piece the top, so here it is at 55" X 73." 

Putting my money where my mouth is, I'll be digging into my orphan block bins to see what kind of quilt back I can piece. 

By the way, now that the along is over, if you like the pattern you can buy it from Amy here

As I mentioned in my last blog post, I watched a Youtube video to learn how to twine - a finger-twirling thing you do with scrap strips to make twine. I followed the Handmade Home video that suggested cutting and twining ¾"-wide strips. I made 3⅓ yards of twine and wound it onto an empty Aurifil cone. 

Then, I cut 2"-wide strips from my scrap bins, and turned out 12 yards of twine! It's colorful and pretty! And I must tell you, twining is a quick thing to do.

To use it, I'm considering whether to: 1) try zig-zag stitching this together flat, so as to create two rectangles for a bag; 2) try zig-zag stitching to make a bowl (and what would I do with a bowl?); 3) or, weave it on my peg loom to make a table runner. That would look nice with my multi-colored Fiestaware.

Since setting aside twining, I've been working on the improv curves design begun in Cindy Grisdela's workshop. I am really pleased with the addition of "cogs" (those gear-looking bits) and skinny insert strips that give the quarter curves more interest. However, I am not pleased with the mushiness of the overall design. This needs more work! I've happily used up almost a whole yard of Kona Crush that Candi, in St. Augustine, gifted to me.

Still chugging along listening to audiobooks while I'm in the sewing room, power walking, and doing housework (turning up the volume to hear over the vacuum cleaner!), I hit 100 books read in 2023 when I  finished A Fistful of Collars, book #5 in the Chet (the dog) and Bernie series by Spencer Quinn.

In this tail tale, a famous movie star, Thad, has come to town to make a Western film. Bernie's been hired, for big bucks, to make sure the star doesn't get into trouble (drugs, booze). As Bernie's on the set, watching and listening he learns that no one wants to talk about the time Thad lived in the area. As Bernie pursues information, the people he wants to talk with turn up dead.

In the meantime, Suzy, Bernie's girlfriend has relocated; Chet and Bernie are driving another new-to-them Porsche (their third); and Chet has to figure out how to interact with Thad's cat, Brando. 

Linda's score: 4.0/5.0

Reading Gilded Girl by Pamela Kelley, was like watching a Hallmark movie. Too sweet. And very predictable. 

Like her mother who has recently passed away, Eliza has spent her life in service, as a lady's maid,  to a titled English family. One day a letter arrives. Eliza learns she's the illegitimate daughter of an extremely weathly New York businessman. He's just learned about her and wants her to come to New York, meet her grandmother, sisters, and him. 

From the moment she leaves England, she's awed by her new-found entitlement. The family home on Fifth Avenue rivals those of the Astors and Rockefellers. And though her father and grandmother are warm and welcoming, her two sisters are not. During a season of socials, dinners, and balls, where Eliza is in demand, the sisters contrive to ignore Eliza, and ultimately take her out of the picture. But Eliza is resilient, and due to her interest in business and a certain carriage driver, she will manage. 

Can you say, "Cinderella?" 

Linda's score: 3.8/5.0


Thursday, December 14, 2023

Middlin' Activities

With Christmas presents made, wrapped, and ready to be delivered, I'm catching up on my last 2023 obligations. 

Foundation paper-piecing the last two blocks in the FPP Satisfaction QAL with Amy Friend @duringquiettime, "Compass Rose" is block 11 of 12. I wanted purple in this quilt. Though I have a very limited purple print stash, I came across this piece purchased after being in Australia. I remember buying it because it reminds me of the first time I saw blooming Jacaranda trees, in Sydney. The pink print is an old Blueberry Park leftover. If I do say so myself, I think this is a striking block.

I'm also preparing QuiltCon quilts to ship. That means making labels, and making and hand-sewing sleeves for hanging.

For my Feelin' Groovy maximalist quilt, I decided that a plain 'ole muslin sleeve wouldn't cut it. So, I picked a print that's more in keeping with the maximalist style... and hoping Feelin' Groovy attracts a buyer at QuiltCon who will want to hang it in their home or office. 

At our Central Florida MQG annual holiday party last Saturday, December 9, those of us who wanted could participate in a $15-$18 gift swap. My gift was an 8-piece fat quarter bundle of Painter's Palette solids that was snagged by my friend Donna. As we open gifts and/or "stole" each other's presents, I was the last to have a chance to steal this plastic case for storing fabric strips. 

I moved my strips (I've never bought a jelly roll, so my strips are leftover from other projects) from this rectangle bin... 

... to the new, long bin. I love it! Notice the two "bars" on top that hold down the strips? Genius.

Having gotten these strips organized, I thought to do something with them. My latest squirrel interest was prompted by an email/newsletter from Denyse Schmidt. In it, Denise mentions traveling with Amy Butler to Morocco, and teaching fabric twining. Denyse uses jelly rolls.

I promptly cut some of my strips into ¾"-wide pieces and began to make skinny twine. Next I'll try twining with wider fabric strips. Not sure yet what I'll do with it, but I'm thinking "purse." 
By the way, I'm fabric-tracking this too! I figured out that after it's been twined, a length shortens to about 60% of the original length.

Book Recommendations
The Wife Upstairs
 by Frieda McFadden is the third title I've read by this author, and it's a good one.

The premise is that an extremely handsome, and popular NYT best-selling author, Adam Barnett, meets Sylvia as she's preparing for a job interview. When he learns that she's looking for work, he offers her a lucrative position, including board, as a companion to his invalid wife, Victoria, in their remote Montauk home. 

When Sylvia takes the position, she does so with apprehension. The huge, gorgeous house gives her the creeps, yet she's determined to offer her best to Victoria who's partially paralyzed and capable of speaking only one or two words. Victoria leads Sylvia to her journal. In its pages, Sylvia reads how Adam and Victoria met, their idyllic romance, and how the hidden side of Adam began to emerge at their wedding shower. Sylvia comes to understand that her apprehensions were justified, though she's not sure who she should trust.

Very engaging! This was an I-can't-put-it-down read. 

Linda's score: 4.3/5.0

Catching the Wind
 by Melanie Dobson is another WWII story. While I most often decline reading WWII stories - I have to be in the mood to become sad about a refugee's plight - this one took a different approach. 

Two young German children have escaped the Gestapo, walking and hiding for months through Germany and Belgium, aiming for London. When they're separated, each promises the other that they will find them, 

In present-day London, Quenby Vaughn is a journalist, looking for the next story that will let her keep her job. She's pursuing a lead about a wealthy British family that may have hidden their support for Nazi activities during the war. As she's beginning to chase the story, she's unexpectedly contacted by Daniel Knight, an elderly man whose story intrigues Quenby. He wants her to locate his childhood friend, Brigitte, the young girl he escaped with from Germany more than 70 years ago. In spite of many reasons she believes she should not take on the job, for reasons of her own she wants to help him understand what happened. As she investigates, everything she's ever wanted to know about Mr. Knight's story, and her own, are revealed. 

I enjoyed following Quenby's efforts to uncover the truth, and the unexpected twists the author wrote into the story. 

Linda's score: 4.2/5.0

I've gifted two quilts for Christmas presents.

Crumb-y, the 71" X 85" quilt I pieced into Harvest Moon blocks after making fabric from scraps, now belongs to my excellent and dedicated line dance instructor Helen. I've been dancing with her for ten years now. She said she loves the quilt. 😀

In case you're interested, this is the quilt label I created for Helen's quilt, using my MacBook Pages software.

I typically note as much information as possible, including the recipient's full name, and my name with maiden name. 

Labels are printed on EQ Printables, a paper-backed fabric cut into 8½" X 11" sheets. I print them on my Canon G6020 inkjet print, a wireless printer with refillable liquid ink tanks.

Separately, I fold into the quilt a print-out of instructions for quilt care. Here's my Quilt Care PDF, in case you'd like to use it.

I hope your holiday preparations are coming along smoothly. Linda


Related Posts Widget for Blogs by LinkWithin