Spring Bursting

VincaThings are bursting into flower all around me here in eastern Maryland. The vinca in my side yard is blue ... the grape hyacinth is blooming in counterpoint to the dandelions that all burst into bloom at once yesterday ... and the critters are getting a mouthful - like eating my hosta as soon as they come up. Grrr:

Eaten hostaWe are having quite a bit of rain with thunderstorms - I guess the trees and flowers will love it but also the humidity is rising. Funny thing - many people (and animals) are afraid of thunder and lightning. Myself, I enjoy them. Who knows why? :)

I just finished the very last border assignment for this year's Faithful Circle Quilters round robin. The outermost border below is my design (the rest made by other participants; I don't know whose piece this is but I look forward to finding out:)

EntireI took a closeup of my border round so you could see  the details:

My borderCan you see the small blue circles I added on top of my green background? The corner squares on point are the chosen focus fabric for this piece. There was not enough of it to make the last border entirely from the focus so I winged it. I _think_ the grass green print was a good choice as it brightens up the entire design. Still, bright is a value choice - I hope the top's Mommy likes my choices! :)

Tomorrow I plan to take the rr bundle back to the coordinator and start in (again) on quilting Hope. I have finally set up my Bernina on his table and cleaned up the surface so there is space to manipulate the sandwich. Fingers crossed I do a good job.

:) Linda

PS My son got his first vaccination shot this afternoon. Soon we will all be finished with that. Whew!


Catch Up!

Daffodils-in-Bloom

Here in my neighborhood in eastern Maryland, spring has DEFINITELY come. My daffodils are blooming wildly - my personal benchmark for the arrival of spring. The area has blooming pear, apple and cherry trees ... I've seen several spring magnolia trees with their pale pink blossoms floating. Such a beautiful time of year! My husband had his first vaccine appointment this past Sunday afternoon and we got a view of all the blooming things as we drove south to the shot site and back.

Growing bulb flowers here in the south (we are in growth zone 7a) is challenging - if you click on the pretty picture above, you can go read about how to get the best growth/beauty from your bulbs. :)

It has been 16 days since I've written in this blog. That is a surprising amount of time passed for me - I rarely let that many days go by without recording my life. Hmm. I have been doing things, though the days keep flowing past in a blur. :P

So, in no particular order, here's what I've been sewing lately ... first I did manage to work on this round of the Faithful Circle round robin. This time I've finished the (I _think_) next-to-last round of bordering. The project I had to work on this time was charming ... but in the interest in secrecy (we are not supposed to reveal the project before they go home to their 'mommies'), I will only share the border I put on and the immediate predecessor. :)

Border2I am not sure that I actually followed the guidelines for the border I did (blue  and green above) ... but I like the way it looks on the whole work so I'm not reworking it (can't anyway as I've given the round robin bundle back to the coordinator:). That green fabric is the focus print the originator chose.

I took an online class with Brenda Gael Smith of Australia in improvisational curved piecing and decided to use that technique to explore the theme of 'leaves' that I set for this month's exploration with the Columbia Friends bee. Here is my proof-of-concept patchwork:

CurveyleafIt was a challenge to make my curves produce a leaf ... but I did it. I want to come back to this theme again sometime in the near future (after I finish quilting Hope). So my piece didn't get lost in the chaos of my sewing room, I finished it into a composition book cover (my comp book has graph paper in it and will serve as a new volume of my quilting journal). Here's how that came out:

JournalNow at least my leafy bit won't go missing and sink below my conscious memory (out of sight is literally out of mind with me:).

I made this month's block for my Stash Bee hive (#4):

StashblockI am really pleased with this. You cannot tell from this photo but the star points are a green cotton-and-silk print (I think the collection was called Radiance) - I had a small scrap left from a fabric line out several years ago when I still owned my store. The color is actually a soft sage-ish green (not the brown-y tone it looks above). If you embiggen the photo, you might be able to see the soft shine - the fabric has cotton threads woven in one direction and silk in the other.

My daughter sent me two books to help with my gardening efforts (I have pretty much given up trying to landscape or grow flowers here as we have a serious suburban deer infestation in my area and they eat almost everything I try to plant). Gotta get reading! The county is sponsoring a native plant sale at our local community college soon and I want to invest in some new perennials. :)

Deerbook2

Deerbook1

What else has been going on? Hmm. I hurt my back and ended up having to take a series of steroid pills for a week to heal. That seems to have settled the problem but I'm not sure what made it crop up in the first place. :P I am not good at being infirm (grumpy me).

I got my first Covid shot and am going to take my second one this coming Saturday. Truthfully, I am relieved to have done that. I'm looking forward to having slightly more freedom of movement around the local area. My husband and son still have to be completely vaccinated so things will only ease up gently. Every little step forward!

My younger grandson had his third birthday a couple of days ago. Time just flows over me - I often feel like a rock in the creekbed, watching things run past. 

:) Linda


A Week of Change

Crocus

Snowdrops

There are flowers blooming in my front yard and spring is well and truly sprung. :) The little crocus was blooming all on its lonesome at the edge of the pachysandra bed (below our Japanese bloodleaf maple tree). I think the squirrels must have put a bulb there as I never planted any crocus in that particular spot. :) There are also three tiny stands of snowdrops blooming in the middle of the same bed - surely again put there by squirrels or birds as I've never seen any of those there before. Lucky us! :)

The weather has been blustery but mostly pleasantly sunny for several days now. I listen to the wind whistle around the house corners as I sit in my bright sewing room in the afternoon and enjoy the contrast. Actually, not much sewing is getting done.

I did take a class this past weekend and enjoyed it immensely. The Baltimore modern guild had Brenda Gael Smith from Australia teaching improvisational strip piecing. What a great class!! Mind you, I did not learn anything new, technique-wise, but it was a very satisfying class. Brenda is an excellent, methodical teacher and made things very clear. She shared a LOT of her quilt making and gave me plenty of ideas for using the curvy piecing techniques I've been sewing for years (the skills just sit in my mental bag of sewing tricks, usually).

The most magical thing about taking the class was that Brenda - who lives a bit north of Sydney in a little town called Copacabana - is situated in sight of the beach and gave us a view out her window of the Pacific Ocean. The marvels of Zoom!! :)

I managed to sew an entire strip section during class ... this is about 10"x20" or so:

Strips

StripscloseBrenda was particularly complementary about my use of that red stripe. :) I am thinking I will quilt this and turn it into some kind of pouch or bag. Later, at leisure, when my plate is a little less full.

I got my Bernina back from the shop on Wednesday this past week. I drove, again, down to LaPlata in more-southern Maryland than I am (about 65 miles each way, part of it along the Washington Beltway). After I picked up my now-healthy (fingers crossed!) machine, I shopped for a little while before driving home. I particularly was looking for fat quarters of a seasonal nature (why in a moment) and some new 'low volume' background prints to replace those I've used up. Here is my haul:
Fabrics2
Fabrics2
Fabrics2
I also bought one pattern that appealed to me:

FracrionspatternAnd these:

ClipboardThe two zippers are destined to make a pouch for a friend in those colors (teal-ish blue and hot pink). The clipboard I hope to use to display small pieces of collage or fabric art. :)

The seasonal fqs are intended to be used as background prints in blocks for a swap in Mimi Dietrich's Grad Class. Hopefully I will get one or more finished soon to share here (I'm two months behind in my obligation).

Other than those activities, my time is flowing past. One day becomes another without many ripples and I very, very slooooowly get things done. If it doesn't get checked off my list today, there's always tomorrow. Sigh.

:) Linda

PS. I almost forgot! Another piece of news of import is that I got my first Covid vaccine shot on Thursday afternoon this week. The second one is scheduled for April 3rd. I got the Pfizer brand shot and so far have had no significant after-effects other than a sore arm the next day. :)


Spring is Coming

73794-Lets-Get-Blooming-Spring-Is-ComingI'm pleased to say that even though it is still late winter here in eastern Maryland, it is becoming clear that Spring is near. :) The days are getting longer, my Japanese maple trees have swollen leaf buds on them, and sunshine is a daily occurrence lately. Huzzah!!

I've been doing my best to sew at least a couple of hours every afternoon so I can take advantage of the lovely sunshine coming in my windows. Right now I am working on making the Sandhill Sling bag from Noodlehead Designs. Anna is hosting a sew along and doing a right fine job of it. Here's how I'm doing as of now:

Bag front outsideI've been saving this Echino cotton cavas fabric for some time,

looking for just the right project. I found it! :)

This is the front with a turn-lock pocket fastening

Bag outside backThis is the back of the unassembled sling bag showing the strap;

I chose to cover the webbing I bought for this with fabric

(including the purple selvege).

Bag inside pocketThis is the lining pocket I made, complete with zipper.

Maybe the next time I show photos of my bag it will be completely assembled and finished (fingers crossed). We are at the stage of sewing together the front, back and gusset sections right now. I am finding the instructions for this pattern very well written! So far the bag is going together easily and I am pleased with the results.

I have more of this fabric so I might make another one as a gift sometime in the future. :)

I also bought myself a new book last week - I ordered it ages ago but it came last week (am I the only one who can't remember what I've ordered by the time it arrives?:). I bought it full retail from Quiltmania and am pleased with it:

Kokeshi bookI don't know that I will ever make the whole quilt ... but I can see myself making small vignette quilts using these designs. I find them adorable (the book includes many different kokeshi as well as daruma doll patterns).

Onward and upward as my Dad used to say. Tomorrow I am planning to drive down to Material Girls quilt shop in LaPlata to retrieve my Bernina from her spa treatments.

:) Linda


Lovely Sunshine


2744

2744

Yet another beautiful example of the intersection of art and science (well, nature anyway:) is the embroidery work of Hilary Fayle - done on a substrate of leaves. You can read about her in a newspaper article here or take a look at her website here. Beautiful, inspiring work! I chose two examples that appealed to me - and happen to be rather geometric in design - but she does luscious flowing organic lines as well. Go take a look and enjoy! :)

QuiltCon was this past weekend and I got rather tied up with that ... and with finishing my class project from last week's Zoom class with Carl Hentsch. Here's my take on Carl's design FoxHole:

FoxholeI am really pleased with this piece. Right now it measures about 22" square. I have hung it up on my blackboard and am debating whether to add a border or to finish it as is now. I have to say that I have not done any curved piecing for several years ... but this project went together very easily. I was impressed with myself, truthfully. :)

Look carefully and you might see the fourth bicycle whirling off on the right side ... this kind of reminds me of those big barrel things trick riders show off in at the circus - Wall of Death. LOL!

QuiltCon is the modern quilt movement's dedicated annual convention/show. This year they substituted QuiltCon Together, a completely online virtual show. I was truly impressed with the entire event! I took two half day classes and enjoyed both. The first was with Daisy Aschehoug, Bojagi Inspired Patchwork. The second one was given by Karen Lewis, Screen Print Your Own Quilt. Each of them was an excellent teacher and I learned quite a lot. I listened to each pre-recorded class twice and took careful notes. Now I have to make time to actually do the work. :)

Today was a bit of extra exciting for me. I have not driven more than 5 miles at a time since November 2019. Today I drove down to LaPlata MD to visit Material Girls quilt shop ... a trip of more than 2 hours each direction, all of it along 'superhighway' routes (I95 to I495 to MD 5/301). MG is a Bernina seller and where I bought my personal machine (a Bernina 530). I loaded my Nina into her Tutto case and into my Jeep and off I went. The sun was shining and the temps were in the high 60's (quite a change from the 30s we had three days ago!). It was a pretty day. I must admit I was a bit shaky as the traffic level was what I would call 'normal' (meaning non-rush hour) levels and that is pretty crowded by most standards. Lots of visual stimulation that I have become not used to dealing with. :P 

I made it down fine, though (although I did see a major collision about three cars distance in front of me on I95 south). Ate lunch at the nice little deli around the corner from the quilt shop (Apple Spice Junction) - all masked and social distancing. Was a very not-usual day on the whole compared to the past year!

:) Linda

PS.  I almost forgot! This past Sunday, Feb 20th, was the anniversary of the date on which I became a mother 40 years ago. Time whiplash, anyone? It was my daughter's birthday ... and I think she was much more calm with it than I was. :)


Good Golly!

Gr1_lrgIt is rare for me to get a chance to see the intersection of my fiber love and my science training but here is a fabulous example. These are embroideries of classic illustrations of different kinds of cells in the human brain. You can go here and read all about this exciting and worthy project. Also see more pictures. :)

It has been 13 days since I last posted ... shame on me! Really, I don't have a lot to show for that time out ... but I have been doing things, at my own slow pace. Like most of the US this month, we have been getting real winter weather here with snow, ice and pretty-cold-for-us temperatures. Nothing like the dumps other places have dealt with and certainly not as painful as the southwest is dealing with (we still have power, heat, light and telephone service!) ... but a lot of really good days to stay inside and sew. :)

What have I been doing? Hmm, well, eating some delicious Valentine's Day candy and enjoying a fabric postcard from my modern guild buddy Barbara (who drew my name yet again for this swap:).

Postcard
Postcard

I indulged in one block of the month program this year, a 'chicken scratch' embroidery quilt by Blair Stocker of Wisecraft that I am greatly enjoying. We have gotten our first set of two block designs and I have finished embroidering them. I am thinking about quilting these by the block (which means I need to jump onto that part before the next set come out or fall behind; I have sworn to myself that I will NOT allow this b.o.m. program to languish like way too many others I've subscribed to).

Here are my two blocks:

Snowflake1

Snowflake1close

Snowflake2

Snowflake2closeI really enjoyed making these blocks - the embroidery is pretty simple and feels very 'zen' while stitching. Good for my sanity. :)

What else ... hmm. I started quilting on the first quadrant of the Hope charity quilt my friend Barbara Bennett and I are making. 

HopefirstI am planning on mostly doing straight stitch walking foot quilting on this project. Sadly, I will have to remove most of what I've done so far - my machine was not doing the stitch lengths correctly. Had no trouble doing very short stitches for my foundation piecing (see later) but never managed a decent longer, quilting stitch. I am planning to take my Bernina to have her annual spa treatment and adjustments early next week (weather pending). Fingers crossed that solves her quirks. Sigh.

This past Tuesday I took a (virtual) class with Carl Hentsch via Flying Geese quilt guild, northeast of Baltimore. The class project was a foundation pieced design called Foxhole from Carl's third book, featuring flying geese in a circular layout. It is described in his book New York Beauties and Flying Geese (click for a review). Here are some photos:

Class

Class2

I got this first quadrant done during class.

Classsecondhalf

Here is my second quadrant which I finished during my Wednesday night Sip&Sew zoom.

I am almost finished with sewing together my third quadrant. My plan is to complete the circle and then add a squared off frame to it for a mini wall hanging. Well, as mini as a 20+ inch circle can get. :)

Other than those projects I've been reading, cooking, eating and doing the usual daily things peculiar to this odd time we are enduring. The vaccine progress in my area has gotten to the stage where my husband and I could get shots IF there were vaccines available. So far it appears that doing so will involve a lot of browser jockey-ing and patience. :P

:) Linda


Belated Christmas Joy

Belated-cat-humor-christmas-ecard-lg(With a tip of the hat in the direction of Kitten Academy) I managed a very late holiday gift excitement this week. In the Baltimore Modern guild, we had a holiday swap way back in December. My poor sender, Barbara Shelton, had to wait forever for me to open my bundle of joy. :) I have to tell you, I had mixed feelings when I did - I was totally bowled over by all the incredible goodies she sent me ... and ashamed (in retrospect) of how little (in comparison) I did for the person to whom I sent (Judy Dunlap - I owe you for sure J.D.!).

Knowing that my favorite color combo currently is hot pink and orange, Barbara sent me this bunch of great swag. I think I will put it all together and make the ultimate travel sewing kit. :)

CardFiber theme card to set the mood

ExtrafqBeautiful fat quarter of batik to make my tote

MiniCute mini quilt for my sewing nest

MinicloseClose up to show the details

MugrugfrontMug rug with my own initial monogram

MugrugbackBack of my mug rug

Needlebook frontPert needle book for my needles and scissors

NeedlebookinsideCute insides with orange felt pages and pocket for tiny snips

 

NotebookNotebook cover with monogram

NotebookinsideInside with page marker and replaceable notes

 

Pinnie

Pincushion with monogram and pretty pink pins

Pouchoutside

Zipper pouch to hold my goodies

Pouchinside

With plenty of pockets and room inside

Fob

Pull tab goodie

TularibbonLovely Tula Pink ribbon to decorate my tote

I can tell you that it was Christmas all over again as I unwrapped and petted all these pretty things. Sewing friends are the best friends after all!

:) Linda


Jackpot

SlabfinalHere is how my scrap 'slab' turned out  in the end. It is about half the size I'd like for making a placemat (my current go-to use for random piecing:) so I know I will make more at some point. :) I found a very interesting Pintrest board for quilts made with slabs/crumbs here that you might find fun.

Today was my usual Columbia Friends zoom - my modern quilting buddies meet from 1 until about 3 pm  every Saturday to sew and chat. Today I cut a new gingham block and started the embroidery for my first Snowflake Sampler block. Last night I browsed through my 'chicken scratch' pattern archives and found some other designs I might work into this project before the end ... most of them could be little inserts to make the quilt larger or to include in a border. :)

By the time I finished today I had done a little more than half of the star block embroidery. Progress! :)

Tomorrow is a zoom sew-in with even more of the modern quilt makers. The sew-in target is to make the Snowflake quilt but I will be working on a different project - I ordered a nifty background fabric for my quilt but it has not yet arrived (sigh). Instead I'll be working on making Tea Time  by Jordan Fabrics using a strip roll of Christmas prints. I don't have a Christmas quilt and I thought a sofa throw might be a nice touch. Bought the roll from Bear's Paw in Towson, MD the last time I was there. :)

The title of this post refers to my snail mail pile from this afternoon. I definitely hit the jackpot of deliveries today!

I got a new-ish book I need for a zoom class I am taking later this month:

Book

The class project is a round design with flying geese and a New York Beauty from this book. I already know how to do this my way (could have drafted every pattern in this book:) but I always like to see how other people solve the same problems - can always learn something new. :) 

I also got a cross stitch booklet for the 12 Days of Christmas - I quite liked this designer's style when I saw the pattern. I think I will be making separate ornaments from each 'day'.

12days

Finally, I got my mini quilt for the Modern Quilt Guild's swap. My swap partner, Jane Bitz in Washington (state) sent a glorious small quilt that I LOVE:

Swallows

I love the swallows flying motifs, the swirly quilting design that looks like wind, the colors, the way one 'bird' is fading away and others are approaching (visually). Delightful! She even hand quilted the entire piece:

Swallowone

See her lovely stitches? :) This little gem goes up on my living room gallery wall as soon as I can get my son to post it there ... and I'll be enjoying it for ages. Happy sighs.

So, on the whole I had a good day today. Did not try to use my Bernina again .. maybe I'll remember to do that tomorrow since my Tea Time blocks will beg to be joined together into a top.

:) Linda

Ps: I almost forgot to tell that I attended an interesting lecture zoom presentation by Tamara King this evening, hosted by the Lake Oswego Library. Ms. King talked about quilts used for story telling and personal expression, especially for social and political commentary or outrage. The talk was recorded so I'm sure you can find a link on the LOL system's website if you are interested. I found it fascinating!


Friday Sunday

Picture8In today's random walk around the Web I found this picture of an antique offering basket from Bali. All that white stitchery holding it together includes white beads. I think it is beautiful and felt like sharing. :) If you click on the photo, you can go read about what the basket is for and how it is used to share the wealth.

Today was a rare beautiful winter day - mild temperatures (mid-40s), sunny blue sky, fresh clean air. :) I spent most of the sun shine time in my sewing room, visiting my friends Barbara and Patty via Zoom.

I started off trying to quilt another Valentines Day placemat. Had problems with my machine, though. The stitch length kept being too small - when I machine quilt, I set the stitch length to about 3.5 (maybe 8-10 stitches per inch?). The machine kept making much smaller stitches, consistent with maybe a setting of 1.0. Grr. I rebooted it, cleaned the bobbin race, rethreaded, cleared the memory ... nothing made a difference. Guess it really IS time for Nina to go to the cleaning spa. :)

Since I could not do any machine stitching, I picked up my newest handwork project to start on. I signed up for the Wisecraft Snowflake block of the month for this year which includes designs done with 'chicken scratch' or 'depression lace' embroidery. This is a technique I've wanted to play with for some time ... and now I have a chance. :) As embroidery methods go, this one is fairly elementary ... but the visual effects are pretty imho.

The design is worked on gingham fabric (a woven simple check print) and the pattern creator calls for 1/4" gingham - that is, gingham with each square being 1/4". Nowhere local could I find gingham fabric of any kind so I researched it online - every place with 1/4" gingham fabric was sold out. I found 3/8" gingham eventually (Kaufman kitchen window gingham) and ordered that as the closest available. Of course, if a pattern is drafted to size for 1/4" squares and I have 3/8" squares, I will need more/larger fabric portions to make the same design.

Ok, so the designer recommended cutting 11" squares for a finished 10" block ... and I cut 12" squares. Turns out that is not enough bigger to do the job.

Here is my measurement of the gingham size:

3:8inch

Yes, indeedy, those squares measure 3/8" each. :) So I started in on my first design ... before too long I discovered that the background square I had cut at 12" was NOT big enough:

ToosmallSee the square right at the edge where my needle is 'parked'? That is where the next row of stitching is supposed to start. Nope, not happening. :) RATS, I will have to cut another - larger - background gingham piece.

I have the floss I want to use on order (of course it's not here yet) ... in the meantime, I thought I'd use the bit of gingham I have been stitching as a kind of swatch and try some different threads to see how they compare. I could not find any plain white size 12 perle cotton for the X stitches (what's called for in the pattern) but I did have some other pretty white threads with glimmer I could try. Also had some lovely things to use for the 'o' part of the embroidery (6 strands of regular embroidery floss like DMCs is the recommended thread). Here is my experiment:

Leftover

Leftoverclose

You might have to click to embiggen the image to see the shine on these threads. Some of the 'x' stitches are embroidered with Dazzle which is a spooled thread with mylar in it for shine; I _think_ the rayon thread I used to compare it to is Candlelight but I'm not sure (no label on the spool of thread).

I worked the 'o' stitches in several kinds of thread - #12 valdani hand dyed perle cotton, some variegated DMC floss, and some size 12 Aurifil thread. You can see there is quite a variation in the diameters of these threads and thus the thickness of the line created.

Mind you, I did all this in the hour and a half of chatting with my friends on Zoom. Tomorrow I hope to cut a bigger gingham square and make my first block. (fingers crossed) Who knows, maybe my Nina will have gotten over its snit and will sew to spec - one can always hope.

:) Linda


Snow Sewing

Bird tracks

Little song bird tracks on my front step, near the feeder.


Bird tracks

Icicles hanging from the gutters in sunshine.

We still have snow on the ground and the forecast is calling for more this weekend. Rare in Maryland for snow to last so long on the ground. :) Not unheard of, just unusual. I have been sewing in little bursts, trying to take it easy on my arthritis pains. :P

I am the block of the month pattern coordinator for my 'traditional' guild, Faithful Circle. Here is the February block - I try to choose simple shapes and designs that don't take a lot of time but that can be set in several ways, according to the drawing winner's desires. :)

Blue yukonThis one is called Blue Yukon and I think

a block-to-block layout would be exciting.

I did manage to make some scrap slabs using a new-to-me technique (which I have clearly not completely mastered, yet:). It was much more time consuming than my usual mile-a-minute constructions, but I think it has visual appeal.

Red slab
Red slabI got almost all of my red/pink/hot color scraps sewn up by the time I had finished and joined these two slabs. I"ll probably do this again with the smaller bits in my soon-to-overflow scrap basket ... practice will help. :)

The last thing I managed to do since my previous post was to make the February block for Rochelle, this month's Queen Bee in my Stash Beehive. Off to the post office to send it to her later this afternoon. :)

Feb

This is a 16" block. I got to use my new 6.5" BlocLoc ruler to trim up all those half square triangles. I was pleased with the accuracy I managed. Scrappy, of course, which is my favorite (and, thankfully, ok with the Queen:).

Other than this sewing which I did in twenty minute bursts, I have been eating and reading and occasionally cooking. Life as usual in a socially distancing household waiting for a vaccine appointment.

:) Linda