Midweek, Midsummer

MidsummerIsn't this a lovely picture? Apparently midsummer is celebrated in Sweden with vigor. If you click on the photo, you can go read an article about the details.

The weather here has been pleasantly midsummer-ish (for Maryland) - hot and humid. Temperatures have been in the high 80s to low 90s (which is moderate for summer hereabouts) ... and there have been roaming evening thunderstorms some days. The days are long (that is the part that I like best about summer:) and the evenings cozy.

I have been taking a break from sewing and focusing on catching up with my embroidery this week. I am a couple months behind in my snowflake/chicken scratch block of the month project so I've been reveling in the a/c and doing embroidery most afternoons.

I did go out today for a little while to pick up some sports themed fabrics a guild friend cut into block sized pieces for me (thanks, Marcia!!) and to get lunch for Hugh and I (drive through at Chikfila). Luckily my Jeep has a full tank of gas as the prices seem pretty high to me in our neighborhood stations (over $3/gallon). 'Course, I don't buy much gasoline these days as I mostly drive the Bolt (our electric car).

This past Sunday my Baltimore modern guild had an outdoor sew together at a local park. I was annoyed with myself for sleeping late so I didn't get there until mid-afternoon. It was WONDERFUL to see people for real, though! So good to know that everyone is ok and happy to chatter together. :) I took my embroidery there, too.

I think I am going to have to set aside a couple days each month to work on my guild's charity quilt projects. I've been doing the block of the month patterns for our monthly newsletter for a couple of years. Recently the membership decided to change from a monthly lottery drawing for the blocks made to a charity quilt making project. So far the response (number of blocks made) has been good ... so I need to start producing the tops. :) Someone else will be quilting and finishing them. Faithful Circle has an active Love Quilt program and I'm sure they will be happy to receive whatever I make.

Here's the embroidered section I finished earlier today:

Just finished

Just finished closeI was very happy with that rainbow variegated thread I used for this section. :) Here's a little piece of the next section I started:

Newest bitI have been randomly choosing colors for my different blocks as whim takes me. Eventually I will have to lay out my finished sections and do some color balancing, I imagine. :)

I talked to my daughter last night. She is growing a great garden this summer - she spent time, money and energy earlier in the spring building raised beds and is happily experimenting with an assortment of heritage vegetable varieties. She also laid out a bed for each of my grandsons so they could play, too. They all seem enthused with the project.

:) Linda

Favorite Fridays

Vogart-671-Bluebirds-Friday 2a02cd664ea8d92e63384639c0d6678aI love the old redwork designs that were used to embroider kitchen towels (above are two examples). The ones I've seen to illustrate 'Friday' are divided between Friday-as-house-cleaning-day and Friday-as-baking-day. 

Personally I look forward to Fridays because that is the day my friends Barbara and Patty meet with me on Zoom (formerly in person) to stitch/sew together. :) Today was a pleasant meeting (with Patty joining in from her husband Jim's hospital room) and I worked on my Chicken Scratch embroidery some more. 

The design is graphed out and I have had no trouble making the first three patterns for this project (a block of the month endeavor). For who knows what reason, I am having real trouble following this month's graph. I've had to mark each block of embroidery as I do it to keep track of where I am. I don't THINK I've made any mistakes, yet, but I am not confident that I could really tell. 

I did decide to use some of that rainbow sashiko thread to embellish my embroidered block and the resulting colors are quite improving my attitude about this block (ready to throw it against the wall, truthfully, before the color injection:). :P I will grit my teeth, persevere and finish it as I do want to create the resulting quilt.

Today's mailbox afforded me a pleasant delivery. I ordered these things from Artistic Artifacts in Alexandria, VA:

EppI enjoy English paper piecing and quite like the various block patterns by Brimfield. This little 'kit' has the acrylic templates and papers enough to make four blocks of the Soleil design. I will probably do at least one block for my Saturday morning sampler quilt (a previous bee quilt project). :)

New fabrics

These fabrics might seem ho-hum to you ... but I have a passion for batiks and for irregular stripes. The minute I saw these, I had to order some (I did restrain myself from ordering every color they are made:). I am hoping that they blend with my Earth Made Paradise prints as I picture these as lovely stems for my applique. :)

Artistic Artifacts is a fun shop and their delivery is always fast. I ordered these goodies (online) on Sunday and they arrived yesterday (the following Thursday's mail).

I have several tasks to complete, sewing-wise, in the next few days:

    Write my block-of-the-quarter column for the Faithful Circle guild's newsletter;

    Write up the directions/tutorial for my block for Stash Bee (I'm the designated August Queen:);

    Design the applique pattern for the central medallion of my Paradise medallion project; 

    Choose and plan out my block for the Faithful Circle guild Halloween block exchange;    

    Various and sundry household improvement chores that are never ending.

Life is never dull!!

:) Linda


885819-bigthumbnailWhen I think 'peaceful summer day,' this is the kind of image my mind imagines. Placid sounds of water flowing gently, insects buzzing, dappled sunlight, maybe a soft breeze. :) What I'm getting this summer is entirely too much of  our house's interior. :P The weather does not inspire me to be outside during the middle of the day (way, way too hot and humid) ... but I'm sure tired of indoors! Hard to motivate myself to go out ... so I sew or read or nap. (Truthfully, I'm spending entirely too much time asleep)

I'm still working on the Earth Made Paradise central medallion. I have three sides of the first patchwork border sewn on and am making the fourth side now. My sewing time is limited by my body - looking downward right now is aggravating my neck and causing considerable pain. I am reluctantly coming to think it is time to go see my (non-surgical) orthopedist again. :P

I am also making obligation things. Yesterday I sewed together a block for the July Stash Bee (Hive 4) Queen, Mary:

July blockEach of those square unit measures 2.5", finished, so it's a fairly large block. I think her quilt will be pretty awesome. :) In the course of sewing it up, I finished off another large spool of Aurifil thread:

Dead spoolI don't empty many spools so I always feel that it is worth a photo to record the accomplishment. :) That spool was white thread of which I did not have any more when I looked in my thread boxes ... so now I am using light gray.

I also bought a new pattern this week (real copy rather than pdf download). I am eager to try making this one:
Gathering patternI remember the calls of quail and bob-whites (as my Grandfather called them) from my childhood summers on the farm in western Virginia (Wise County) ... fondly. 

I started working on my Snowflake embroidery project again - with Wise Handcraft - since there appears to be a break in the Halloween embroidery mystery patterns (Meg has been issuing them one at a time). Once I get caught up with the chicken scratch, I plan to start working on this quail quilt. A just-for-fun-and-bright-colors project. :)

Time for bed ... and dreams of new quilts to make.

:) Linda

Hot July!

“Youʼre under no obligation to be the same person you were 5 minutes ago.”

— Alan Watts


I don't know whether the weather this July is worse (or better) than last year - I just know it is HOT and HUMID outside. Sigh. I tend to get cabin fever in the summer because I stay in so much. The winter weather here in Maryland is easier for me to bear than the summer. I can always wear more clothing to stay warm in winter but it is difficult to take my skin off when I'm too hot. :) I should complain - if that is the worst thing life has to hand me, I live on Easy Street! :)

My sense of time is still on Covid-float ... the days roll past and I do pretty much the same from one to the next. Today I did something different. I drove my friend Patty to Reisterstown to renew her driver's license at that area's DMV office (where she could get an appointment). I took the easy way out and stayed in the car while she dealt with the bureaucracy and got her new Real ID driver's license. She gave me a lovely two yard chunk of Hoffman 1892 batik ('watercolor' in pale blue) for my trouble.

I had an immediate use for the yardage - as a background for my Earth Made Paradise project. 2 yards won't be enough for the entire quilt but it will make a lovely central body for the medallion. I spent the time during this evening's (zoom) modern guild sit & stitch meeting putting the first border on the center of my quilt. Feeling my way at each stage, like I did with the Aboriginal medallion quilt. Fun!

Yesterday I went to bed really pleased with myself. I finished my fabric covered book project yesterday evening! Ali Manning of the Handmade Book Club led a five day challenge to create this book and I was very pleased to finally take the plunge and work along. Here's my book (there are lots of mistakes - as anyone of you who is a book maker can tell, I'm sure - but it is finished and I can use it:).


Book front

Book back

Book open

Book spine

In a way this was an up-cycling adventure, too. The cover fabric (designed by Laurel Burch) was given to me as a freebie by a fellow quilt guild member. The book board used for the covers was recycled from a broken log book I had (the original was spiral bound and the wire was broken and mangled). The pages were recycled from a school essay paperback book. As you can see, the pages are grid paper (4 to the inch). I will use this book as a maker's journal for my various fabric and fiber projects. :)

Another paper arts project that I finished recently was making four swap pockets to trade with a fellow paper artist named Lydia in California (the swap was arranged by the Handmade Book Club leaders). I thought I would share the pockets I made today and the ones Lydia sent to me maybe in my next post. The idea behind these pockets (which are made from single sheet of paper and then embellished/filled) are that they can be tipped into (added) another book, scrapbook, or other paper project. :)

Far east front

Far east back

Ballet front

Ballet back

Sewing front

Sewing back

Vintage front

Vintage back

I haven't done anything I would call 'creative' for a while. It was a real joy to sit and dream these things up and then make them to my imagination. :)

Summer rolls onward. I have quilts to make and things to do before I sleep.

;) Linda

Fireworks Plus


Yesterday I was sitting in my cushy armchair in the living room, eating my lunch and filling in my daily crossword puzzle (on my smartphone:). Suddenly, I heard a loud bang - a bird had bashed into the big glass door beside me. Startled by the noise, I looked to my left to see not only the bird fluttering away into the bush nearby but also the red fox that was trying to catch it! I am pleased that here in suburbia we see so much 'wildlife' that has adapted to living near human busy-ness - squirrels, rabbits, coyote, ground hogs, skunks, raccoon, and now foxes. This is actually the second time I've seen a fox in the daytime in our neighborhood but the first time so near a house. :) The fox I saw was slender and somewhat small. I couldn't tell its sex or age from looking. It/she/he looked disgusted with itself for missing the bird and then walked off through the bushes, obviously keeping its eyes open for more bird-jumping opportunities. I have heard them barking and calling at night (the breeding call of a female fox is an eerie scream like a terrified woman).

Life has a too-quiet-for-me pattern here chez Schiffer. Broken occasionally by trips to the post office or for doctor's appointments, I generally sew or do other hobby working in the early afternoon for two or three hours. I spend the rest of the day reading books, visiting Instagram to look at quilts or playing solitaire on my computer. I have a number of regular weekly Zoom meetings that keep me socially engaged (as well as one can be engaged without face-to-face meetings). Otherwise, I rather feel as if I'm composting. :)

Lately I have been spending an hour or two in the early evening watching my husband play video games and chatting with him. Since he doesn't watch television, it's our only opportunity for screen time together. :) Anything video-wise I watch is done streaming from my desktop computer as I long ago canceled our cable tv service.

Once a week my daughter calls and I get to chatter with her and my two grandsons (6 and 3 years old now). I deeply enjoy those chats even though they are generally small talk about our daily lives. One thing about the virus lockdown is that I have become convinced how important simple daily life is to my well-being. :)

I have two new projects going on at present in my sewing room. Earlier this year I bought a half-yard bundle of Kathy Doughty's newest fabric collection Earth Made Paradise by Free Spirit. It is rare for me to buy that large a selection of a collection - usually I limit myself to fat quarter bundles. I really like the colors and 'feel' of this one, though, so I splurged. Now I am finally starting on making a quilt with the beauties. :) I dug out my Go! accuquilt diecutter and cut a set of 4" tumbler patches using one strip of each of the  17 prints in the collection. 

Now I am sewing them together in rows, trying to do a somewhat random arrangement of each print. Here is my first four rows:

Tumblers startI've hung this piece vertically for space but I imagine this as a horizontal beginning to a central medallion of eight rows of eight tumblers each. As you can see, two of the opposite edges are slanting. I think I will use those two spaces to do some applique work a la Kathy's book, Organic Applique. I decided as I sewed a second section this size today that I will make another medallion quilt with my fabrics (rather like the Aboriginal medallion I made last year which now lives on my cushy living room armchair). I will decide as I go along what borders to create/add. The only decision I need to make soon is what color the 'background' fabric should be (I'm thinking to find a soft blue-gray like the background of the print with pink parakeets you see above). Market forces will determine what I find, of course. :)

The other thing I'm working on at the moment is a fabric covered book with sewn binding. Ali Manning of the Vintage Handmade Books group is leading a week-long challenge and teaching this project. So far I have made my two fabric covered book boards and the eight signatures of paper (I'm using quarter inch grid paper as I expect to use this as a quilting journal). Still to come are punching the holes and sewing together the book. I probably won't do that until early next week as I need to prepare for the Modern guild monthly meeting on Sunday afternoon. :)

So, not bored but not too busy, either. Life is flowing along here ... with a summertime casual beat.

:) Linda


AquafrontHere is a teaser of something that I'm working on sporadically these days (waiting for shipments to complete). I quite enjoyed the 'boro' style hand sewing I did on this little cloth sandwich - I expect to make more of these over time. :)

The weather has been more-or-less glorious so far this month. We did have one unpleasantly hot and humid day on Monday last week - the effective temperature was in the low three digits (about 95 degrees and 59% humidity outside). I had to run errands that day and felt like I was going to expire every time I had to get out of my car. That kind of temperature milieu totally wipes me out. :P 

Tuesday it rained heavily all day, on and off. I had to go out to my hairdressers for my every-six-week cut, mani/pedi date. Self indulgent to the max! :)

By Wednesday a cold front had blown in (with the rain) and it has been gloriously in the mid70s with blue shiny skies ever since. :) Wednesday I had my first dentist appointment (cleaning) for a year and a half. New dentist (Dr. Fixelle) in the practice whom I did like quite a bit. My technician was her wonderful sweet self (Felicia).

Meanwhile in the background there are various 'arguments' going on (tax people in Kansas who lost my check; various sew-alongs and classes; block made for the guild's raffle quilt; etc...) and activities happening. None of them leave a lot of imprint on my mind (this is why I keep a calendar, still, and this blog - so I can have SOME hope of remembering what I actually do with my time:). I feel like I'm not getting much done ... and I'm really not, compared to what I COULD be doing ... but there is quite a bit of niggling detail in each day. :)

I did manage to finish doing the embroidery on my most recent Haunted Halloween mystery block:

ToadyI like this old toad and his stools (I wonder WHY they are called toadstools?:). I am in the process of sewing together his Dresden frame today (during my Friday afternoon Sewing Together zoom with Patty and Barbara). Hope to finish it tomorrow. 

Meanwhile all the plastic shoeboxes filled with fat quarters are sitting every where in my sewing area. No job worth doing is worth finishing, apparently. :P Gotta get back to clearing away the mess and tidying up. I bought a rolling cart at IKEA last week? month? to help with that - gotta put it together and install some order! :)

Every day has a pattern now - sleep, wake, eat/read, sew, cook, read some more, play solitaire, sleep. All the other happenings fit into the open areas between those activities. Not the pattern I had thought I'd use in retirement but it seems to suit me.

:) Linda 


Pleasant is a very old-fashioned name. The only person I've ever known of, personally, to bear that name is the lady who started Pleasant Company, to make American Girl Dolls. :) I'm sure there were a number of worthy Quaker and/or Pilgrim ladies with that name, too, but I don't know any. 

The weather here in the Balt-Wash region has been incredibly pleasant for the past couple of days - mid 70s to 80s in temperature, blue sunny skies and breezes. We did have a day of outright rain, mostly heavy with some thunder and lightning thrown in occasionally, on Saturday. I expect the grass and trees are happy about all that! I finally took my few houseplants out onto our back deck for the summer - they enjoy the boost in growth in the free air (on the north - therefor shady - side of our house). 

Things have been mostly quiet here. I did have a glorious outing last week on Friday. The Quilt Vine in Trappe, MD is closing (the owner wants to retire) and three of us (myself, Barbara and Polly) went out there to shop their sales. This required crossing the Chesapeake Bay Bridge which is a major bottleneck for traffic journeying shore-ward. 

We had lunch at a very nice place in Trappe, Coffee Trappe. Built in an old bank, they had good food and a lovely staff. :) On our way home, we stopped at Bonheur Pie & Ice Cream in Easton. Talk about tasty!! I had a single scoop of butter pecan with dark chocolate shell. Delicious! 

The Quilt Vine itself was pretty busy - I heard the clerk say they were really slammed on Thursday (the first day of the sale). I managed to stick to buying some fat quarters and a nifty pattern for a crab-themed quilt. Polly found some real treasures including several great background prints. Barbara and I had a huge laugh at ourselves - she tried to find some things that Patty was looking for but none were to be had ... so we found a butterfly print in the scrap tidbits bin and bought it as a consolation. Both Barbara and I saw butterflies on the print ... Polly saw puppy dogs and we teased her about needing her glasses to shop ... until we took a good look at the print and realized that Polly was RIGHT and we were deluded:


Mind you, this little bit is about 2" square, folded as it is. We had a huge belly laugh on ourselves over it. :)

The BEST part was just being out with friends! Been so long since we could go out day-tripping together. I'd have been happy to just ride and chatter. Happy sighs! :)

Things are hot at the Space Telescope this weekend - Skip is working about twice as many hours as usual this week. Hope they settle down, soon. I think he's getting closer to thinking about retirement - he says his stamina is not up to full time work any more (and his sleeping cycles are kind of messed up).

I started in on sorting out my fabrics and boxing them into the cartons (shoe box sized plastic bins) I bought at IKEA last week. I'm at that stage where your mess covers twice as much space as it did before you started. :) Another day or two should be good to finish it and I can move on to sorting out my projects. Happy times. :P

I did manage to finish the spiderweb block for the Haunted mystery:


Yesterday I took a (Zoom) class with Kathy Doughty of Material Obsession (in Sydney, Australia) on Organic Applique (her most recent book) which I REALLY enjoyed. Love her color sense!

:) Linda


“Do things for people not because of who they are or

what they do in return, but

because of who you are.”

                    Rabbi Harold Kushner


This has been my philosophy for treating fellow humans most of my adult life. My husband who swears he is _not_ a 'people-person' taught me to respect others and take into account their foibles. Good lessons. :) Without him, I expect I'd be more gruff with others.

I have been doing things but slowly, slowly. We have moved from late spring into real summer weather here in Maryland with hot days (well, by Alberta standards - 90 degrees F is just warm by local standards:). 

I had a zoom workshop with a Canadian quilter/designer last week (learning to make improvisational Economy blocks) and she was panting with the heat (of 90:). 'Course, no air conditioning up there - very, very few houses here exist without a/c; generally they are much older (pre-WWII).

The 17 year cicadas are still humming loudly on any day when it doesn't rain. My car windows look like I've been driving through the midwestern farm country - lots of bug splats. :P Every day there is a new layer of dead ones on my front step/walk.

Much of the sewing I've been doing has been for making gifts, so I won't share any of that until the gifts are given. I did make both the May (late!) and June blocks for my Stash Bee hive (#4):

MayblockThis was the May block - I enjoyed making this one. I was thinking this might be a good block for my guild drawing as it uses scraps really well.


This was Carrie's chosen block as the June Queen. I enjoyed this one, too, since I'm such a Halloween lover. :) I was tempted to make an aqua pumpkin like the ones Farmer Frank (who bought my Mom's farm) raises ... but decided to do the traditional (had more orange scraps:). You can see one here

I also finished the embroidery for the third Halloween mystery block last night. Here's the state it is in now - still have to add the Dresden framing:

SpiderwebLike my spider? That's the special orange edition belly color. :)

This week marks our household's transition back to 'normal' life. All three of us are fully vaccinated so I told Hugh and Skip they had to go back to doing the grocery shopping in person (we've been having our food bought and delivered by Instacart since the local area Covid surge last November). 'Course, Hugh felt unwell today and I ended up going shopping with Skip ... in 92 degree weather. I am so spoiled - the heat was really hard to bear after all this time indoors. :P Gotta go outside more!

I have to drive up to the White Marsh area (north east of Baltimore) tomorrow for a nutritionist appointment (bariatric surgery prep) ... and am thinking of stopping by IKEA (about a mile from the medical offices). We'll see how the drive goes and whether my physical energy holds out. :)

One of my favorite quilt stores - Quilt Vine, out on the eastern shore - is shutting up shop soon. They are having a closing sale so Barbara, Polly and I are planning to go there on Friday to browse. The shop has lots of wonderful modern fabrics and great patterns ... mostly I am looking forward to having a day out with quilting buddies!

:) Linda

Behind the Din

Ememem-9-1536x1024There is a French mosaic artist called Ememem doing amazing work near Lyons - using his skills to repair/refresh the city's potholes and erosions. If you click on the photo above, you can go read about his work - I personally think it is exquisite! :) Here are two more examples:


Life is flowing along quietly here chez Schiffer. I sew a couple of hours every day - I always thought I'd sew all day long when I retired but I have found that my body just cannot perform for more than about three hours before I have to sit quietly in a corner and rest. Looking down at the machine (which is supposed to be the best angle) aggravates my neck and my hands go numb. :P My attention span appears to be about 1.5 hours before my mind wanders off what I'm doing. (That _is_ an improvement from the 45 minutes I could manage when running my store:) 

One good thing that I started during the pandemic is cooking real food for our suppers ... I manage maybe three or four evenings a week, which I count as a success. Especially considering how much I do not enjoy meal planning/meal production/grocery shopping, etc. LOL.

Today I finished making and attaching the Dresden frame to my second embroidered block for the Halloween mystery bom:


I love his ruff! This is another design by Meg Hawkey of Crabapple Hill Studio. I was just thinking today (as I gathered the fabrics to make this frame) that I want to incorporate some of my other archived Halloween patterns in this quilt when I finish the embroideries. :)

As I'm sure you know, the big environmental news in my local region right now is the eruption of Brood X of 17 year cicadas. I took some photos in my front yard and made a video to remember the sound level of their cries, fairly early on in the whole process.

Cicadason azaleas

Cicadason azaleas

If you look carefully, you can see some of the cast off shells of emerging cicadas along with the more mature bodies of older ones getting ready to fly upward into the trees. They chew on the growing tips of leaves and the males make a high-decibel cacophony while calling to the females to mate. If you sit and watch anywhere under trees right now, you will see regular flights of females dropping out of the trees onto the grass to lay their eggs and start the cycle again. Apparently the females lay their eggs in the leaf tips (where the larvae hatch, eat and then drop to the ground to burrow down to the root level); those females flying down must be exhausted and going off to die? Cycle of life stuff. :P

We will have a quiet holiday weekend - we never travel during holidays if we can help it (got enough of that when our kids were little, going to see family:). Hope to do some meaningful sewing.

:) Linda

This Day in May


I saw a really exciting (well, to me:) article in National Geographic recently about research being done on an area of Maryland very near to me. If you click on the photo above you can go read about a rock outcropping near here that is a piece of a long ago ocean's seabed - a piece of the crust that has been thrust up to our surface by plate tectonics and is now exposed for study. Here is a picture of the geography (little tiny box shows 'us'):

Ngscience-2104-appalachian-ophiolites_primary_ai2html-desktop-smallI think I actually know where these rocks are ... but am not sure enough to find them. :) Just a bit of local news.

My days are flowing past, growing increasingly summer-like. The cicadas have emerged in my front yard as well as the rest of this area - I need to take some photos of our trees covered with spent cicada shells. :) Haven't found any wings, yet, but it is still early days. Brood X has a ways to go before it is finished with it's every-17-year emergence. Luckily I am NOT a bug phobe so I find the entire event rather exciting. :)

I have been sewing a bit but have rather less than usual to show for it. I did manage to finish making a new workbasket for myself - this is a Juniper Basket from Sew Modern Designs and I really am happy with it! I made the size large and I think I could house the knitting for an entire sweater in this. :)

Juniper2I only had enough of that sewing machine fabric to make one side of the basket (my last precious bit:) so the other side is a remnant of the canvas I used to make my Sandhill Sling. Notice that there is an external (inset zipper) pocket and an internal pocket (simple slip in).

Remember I showed you my avatar and the first (unfinished) block of my self-portrait in fabric for the Grad Class swap? I've made progress and finished my blocks through May to be mailed off. Here is a representative sampling of them (I ended up free-hand drawing the features because my hand shakes too much to trace them).

Lindamay2I'm sure you can see the variations in features ... none of which actually look like me, of course, but realism was not the goal with this project. (thankfully!) :)

I also finished the embroidery for my next Halloween block from Crabapple Hill. I LOVE this raven:

RavenI think his ruff is hysterical - and very a propos. :) I think he should be named Nevermore. :)

I went in search of some brainless sewing to do today and found a roll of 1.5" strips from the Cider collection by Basic Grey for Moda. I decided to make quarter-square log cabins with it ... happy sewing! :)

:) Linda