More Quiet

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Is it a beautiful flower? A file from the William Morris archive? Nope. This is Covid19, the coronavirus upsetting the nerves (and lives) of the human world right now. Even deadly things can be beautiful, eh? (tigers come to mind immediately).

I was overly optimistic in my last post. This has been a pretty quiet week ... but I'm ok. Just resting and recovering. :P

Tomorrow is looking up, though. I have my regular weekly meeting of Faithful Circle's day group ... then I'm off to Springwater Designs for a sewing date with my Vintage Housewife making buddies. Looking forward to setting up blocks three and (dare I hope?) four in the series. :)

Hugh and I tried some archive resurrection of our own today. For our Wednesday cooking project this week, we tried to re-create Spam Casserole (don't wince, please:) - or rather Not Spam Casserole - a dish that I used to make when my kids were really little (and we were living on one income and quite a bit less affluent than we are now:). We made a pretty good stab at it (I tried to find the recipe -  the original came off the back of a box of ingredients in the early 80s - without any luck; we were running on organic and very fallible memory:). Needs some tweaking still but I think we are within the ballpark now - pretty good for an old lady's recall. LOL.

Hoping for sunshine tomorrow, as always.

:) Linda


Gray Week

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This has been my opinion for most of this week. Do you 'speak' Cat? This one has a truly pissed-off expression on his/her face. :) Downright gloomy Gus. LOL. I have been spending my week just over (finally!) mostly asleep or in bed. :P I had a flu shot this fall (as always) and I think it helped me escape real illness ... but my body has been fighting something off and it has been a serious series of blah days. Sigh.

Today, however, is brighter - both literally (mid60's temperatures with nice sunshine) and figuratively (I have most of my energy back and actually managed to do a couple of useful things on my To Do list today). I even went for a pleasant walk to my mailbox (we have cluster boxes here in Columbia; it's about 150 yards to our box from my front door) and back.

Speaking of mail, I got some nice things mixed in with the more usual junk and advertisements. I got the newest issue of Block magazine - they are clearly trying out some new ideas as this issue is wordier than past ones. I like Block because it is a shorthand way to collect easy-to-make quilt designs (perfect for sharing with family who might like a quilt:). I also like that I can easily refer to all the issues digitally (with their Ap) if I happen to want to sew something when I'm away from home (at retreat, etc). 

I got my monthly Sew Sampler box from the Fat Quarter shop:

Feb sew sampler box

I LOVE red, white and blue fabric collections (made my Patriotic Quilt  in 1992 and still haven't worked the love out of my system:). This month's box has two charm square packages of Macinac Island, a set by Minnick and Simpson, that I really like. Also some lovely 80 weight Aurifil red thread, a half-hex template and some nice washi tape for marking seam allowances on my sewing machine (most likely I'll use it on Blue). Such fun!

I got a pattern I had ordered online, too:

Spin drift

I have a weak spot for Jen Kingwell designs and this one calls to me. I'm pondering what kind of fabrics to use with this one - maybe those beautiful Morris prints I've accumulated? :)

The only other 'fun' item in my pile of this week's mail was a new template from Virginia F. Wolfe for a small version of her curve braid cascade quilt. I've admired that design ever since I first saw it and I  look forward to sewing up a small version. :)

I missed several events while under the weather this week - the Fabric Collage class I registered for was Tuesday, the monthly meeting of Village Quilters was Thursday, and my Friday Sewing Together Day with Barbara all went by the wayside. (Tears) Sigh. Well, at least I am feeling better.

The cooking on Wednesday event that Hugh and I have been sharing got postponed until Thursday evening...and even then I participated by sitting in a chair and reading the recipes to him. He did a great job (at least according to him and his Dad:) making spare ribs with sauerkraut and potatoes ... I didn't eat any of it due to a very, very queasy stomach. :P I realized that we need to collect the recipes he and I are making (along with our creative judgements) in a cook book so Hugh will have a reference text he can use when I am not here any more. :) It so happens that I made a very nice cook book notebook last year in a paper crafting class at Photoscraps - I am happy to have found a use for it at last. :)

I got a phone call from my Aunt Janice (my Mom's youngest living sister) this afternoon. Apparently the weather was nice today in southeastern Ohio as she reported that the family and their pastor interred my two brothers' ashes with my parents this afternoon. I feel so grateful to them for doing that ... and for caring so much. I need to send some flower starts for decorating their graves I think.

On the whole, I am glad to be feeling better. I am twitching to get back to sewing again ... so my energy is more normal than it has been over this winter. I noticed today that we have two patches of snowdrops blooming in our front yard - I had completely forgotten planting them. Praise mother nature for spring surprises!

:) Linda


Half Week Review

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This past Sunday (the 9th) was the regularly scheduled meeting of the Baltimore Modern Quilt Guild ... and we had a sort-of old-fashioned bee. We did a sew-in for making charity baby/kids quilts. I have to say, the programming people outdid themselves. :)

Our meeting was held at the Catonsville Public Library, right on Frederick Road in downtown Catonsville. I'm not overly fond of this meeting room (any library is a wonderful place in my humble:) as it is downstairs. You have to drag stuff right through the middle of the checkout area and down stairs or the elevator (in my usual case) to get there. Strangely enough, the elevator empties right into the quiet reading room which seems like poor planning to me - the patrons looking for quiet can't help but be disturbed by the foot traffic. :P

The group was broken into four? five? sewing sets (identified by mascots - I was assigned to the Flamingo group:) - each set included someone who brought a machine to piece, someone else who would machine quilt, two people to be cutters/assemblers and a third person to do hand work and ironing. It worked like greased machinery! We worked from about 1:30 until 3:30 or so - and we worked steadily. I took Blue to work as the machine quilter in my group (also schlepped my ironing board and iron along for the group to use). It was a chance to use the walking foot I bought for my Featherweight a couple of weeks ago at the how-to-do-maintenance class.

Maria O'Haver was the sewist in my group. If you've never met Maria, suffice it for me to say that she is a genuine energizer bunny! :) She assembled three (I think) tops (6" squares) that afternoon - I was fascinated to watch her do it with chain stitching and webbing assembly (something I've seen but never done myself). Once we had a top assembled, the helpers basted it all together and I machine quilted it.

The walking foot worked well enough but it is not nearly as good as the one on my Bernina - the clearance between the bottom of the foot and the feed dogs was fairly small - I had to take the foot off at times to maneuver the sandwich to the correct starting place. I did simple diagonal lines across each square for the quilting design. Since I did not know (other than 'cotton') what kind of batting we were using, I decided to sew in both directions so each square ended up with an X of quilting stitches. Most likely that was over-quilting the baby - but I'd rather be sure it would hold up to repeated washing than have it fall apart with use. All three quilt tops featured scrappy and cute juvenile prints with alternate colored squares.

I tell you, that room bristled with enthusiasm and busy-doing! I did not hear how many quilts got finished (anything unfinished got taken home to bind, etc) that afternoon - they cut enough squares for two quilts per group. So much fun! :) Since I was crazy busy, though, I did not take photos (sigh). :)

Monday was a busy day. It was raining and cold (40s) all day which made a mess of getting around. :P First I had luncheon with some of my former staff members from Seminole Sampler. We met at Bare Bones and had a nice lunch (as usual, I enjoyed their Memphis pulled pork sandwich:). It is so good to see my friends and to catch up with their lives. :)

I had a doctor's appointment just after lunch - a follow up with my pulmonologist to check on the new BiPap machine I'm using for sleep apnea. I'm still struggling with some aspects of using it and the doctor had good suggestions (Dr. Holden is a great doctor!) for dealing with some of it. He did tell me that the next time we meet (in May) I will have to take the breathing tests again. I can say that things are slowly getting better - my shortness of breath issues have eased up quite a bit, though I still don't have much in the way of stamina. :P

Monday evening the meeting of Faithful Circle quilters was held at Springwater Designs quilt shop - the church where we usually meet serves as a cold weather shelter this time of year. I managed to find some good fusible interfacing to reinforce the fabric squares I need to cut for the Sew&Tell group quilt. I also found a kit for a good tote bag made with some gorgeous fabric I think my niece will like. Now to sew it up!

Tuesday was grocery shopping day so Hugh and I had lunch together and then visited Giant in our neighborhood to get the supplies for our Wednesday cooking experiment. This week we decided to have curried chicken with rice and apple pie for desert. Yum! I actually enjoyed grocery shopping - it's nice when you aren't in a rush and stressed out. :)

Today I went to my quarterly appointment at the allergy clinic. I am about halfway through the second year of shots (self-administered) and thought maybe I had lost track of things with all the traveling and grieving time I've had over the past four months. The nurse and I went over my records and she decided that I was ok to continue (whew!) so I'm back on schedule. In a couple of months they will give me the tests again to see how much progress the treatment has made. :)

Other than that, I just managed to cook dinner, eat (turned out well:), and watch some tv (working my way through NCIS: New Orleans now). The second half of my week is filled with fabric time so I am looking forward to that.

 

:) Linda


Excitement?

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Today was bright and sunny in the morning but got cloudy by evening. The wind died down from yesterday (thank you!) so the sunshine felt lovely. I had as close a brush with catastrophe as I can tolerate this afternoon. NO, I'm fine but Barbara and I got to witness (from a distance) a very large fire. Here's how it happened.

Today is the second Saturday of the month and thus the regularly scheduled meeting of devotees of handwork at Jinny Beyer Studio in Great Falls, VA. Barbara and I met early today - around 10 a.m. - to drive down. Well, as usual, Barbara drove. :) We left early so we could stop at a new-to-us fabric shop in Alexandria that Barbara found about from an ad in the Country Register newspaper. Called The Fabric Place Basement, it's on Route 1 in the Beacon Center shopping area (behind Panera Bread). We went to look for fabrics with texture and touch appeal.

We have a mutual friend who is suffering from the first stages of Alzheimer's Disease. She (the friend) is a lover of bright colors ... and a long time quilter with a big heart. Our group decided that we would make a lap sized 'fidget' quilt for her using assorted textured fabrics and colors ... and since neither Barbara nor I use anything other than quilting cottons (for the most part on my side:), we needed to shop.  It's a really good thing we left early!

We took 95 south to the Baltimore-Washington Parkway and then to the Washington Beltway toward Alexandria (around the east side of D.C.). From as far away as the parkway we could see a huge column of dark smoke rising straight up into the sky. There are no factories or other legitimate sources of smoke in that region so I kept my eye on the smudges while Barbara negotiated the traffic. I could see flames rising up at the bottom of the column of smoke from quite far away. As we got closer to Alexandria, it became obvious that the fire was directly near where we were going (following 'she who must be obeyed,' Barbara's car GPS.

By the time we got off the highway and onto Route 1, we found the road closed and traffic was being detoured around the center of the business district. I could clearly see the fire - biggest one I ever saw - raging in front of us. The photo at the top of this post is just one I pulled off a news network story. You can go here, here, here and here to read more about the event.

We ended up crushed into traffic along with everyone else who had thought they'd drive down route 1 past the business district. Things were a bit uncertain since many of us had no idea where we were to go ... and others knew the local roads and were darting around on alternate tracks. Barbara kept her cool and we managed to convince the GPS to avoid route 1 to find our destination ... and finally arrived. The cross road we ended up taking was, luckily, the southernmost boundary of the road closing. 

Our arrival at the store was almost anti-climactic after all that! I was pleasantly surprised by the shop - it was clean and bright, the staff was uniformly friendly and helpful, and the prices were much lower than I expected (like batik fat quarters were $2.50 and 'regular' fat quarters cost $1.99 - whereas the typical quilt shop prices in the region are $3.50 for a fat quarter). They had a nice quilting fabric area - not latest release prints but plenty of decent quality. Lots of luscious garment making fabrics. And a surprising number of remnant bins. Barbara and I found more than enough 'texture' fabrics to get in trouble. :) 

The fire was still being tended (five alarms!) as we left so we carefully GPSd our way westward to Great Falls. We took so much time with traffic, we had to eat lunch quickly so we opted to visit Bollywood Bistro again as it is a buffet and faster than waiting for service. As before, the food was spicy and good. We actually got to Jinny's shop with a little time to spare (which gave Barbara enough space to get into 'trouble' with Jinny's flat fold special). 

As always, the show and tell was wonderful - but, sadly, I left my phone at home this morning so did not get any pictures. One new attendee brought the first quilt she ever made (25 years ago) and some beautiful hand embroidery she had done - some Hardanger work and a lovely quilt-themed cross stitch piece that I would love to know the source for. :) Barbara took the 'wilderness animals' quilt she finished recently to share. I see that she hasn't written about this one yet on her blog - keep an eye out 'cause the story is worth reading. :)

Poor Barbara - by the time we drove back around the DC Beltway and home, I think she had seen more than enough of the inside of her car. :) Since I got back, I've been lazing around the house, too tired to concentrate on anything meaningful.

Tomorrow is scheduled to contain yet more sewing excitement.

:) Linda


Sun!

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Seeing blue sky and sunshine makes my heart lift - even when it comes with a wind so strong it blows the door shut in your face. :) Yesterday and the early part of today were gray and rainy ... along with most of the early part of the week. Not my favorite weather. Oh, and about 40 degrees. :P Sometime after noon today the clouds all blew east and the sun came out - hurray! :)

Yesterday was the regularly scheduled Thursday morning session of Faithful Circle Quilters. There was a great turnout - first meeting of the month. As always, there were Love Quilts to be tied, labeled, etc. Also wonderful show and tell ... and a very interesting Quilter's Evolution by Linda Bernard. Lots of visual stimulation and inspiration. :) Being the first meeting, I got to draw a winner for the December-January block of the month lottery (pieced evergreen trees was the block). Someone made a block for the new pattern - Log Cabin Rose (I was grateful to them as I completely forgot that I needed to do that - more scattered brains).

Afterwards, five of us went to lunch at Asean Bistro. Yummy! I had General Tso's chicken (my default Chinese food order) with broccoli and brown rice.  By the time I got home, I was so cold ... it took me all afternoon to warm up. I managed to knit another half inch on the shrug before I gave out and went to bed.

I woke up early this morning - at 8:30 a.m. Blink! Blink! It was so dark and gray (our bedroom faces north) that I was not sure the sun was even up. My alarm (my iPhone) was dead so I got up - did not want to oversleep. Hah! It was actually pleasant to move around gently, shower, dress and gather my goods for a day out, sewing.

Today was open sewing at Springwater Designs and I met Sue Hilton and Carol (oh, sigh, can't remember her last name; she was a good customer for years, too) to work on our Vintage Housewife quilts. My friends Barbara and Polly were there, working on their applique and both Georgia and Barbara Laskowski came, too. All together there were twelve quilt makers in the classroom through the day, working on various projects and chatting up a storm. :)

I got a LOT of work done ... but only managed to photograph half of it. I made the 'canning' block and the 'baking' block but here is the former:

Canning

These designs are by Lori Holt. I did not want to use Lori's color palette (just being contrary - nothing wrong with her colors:). I walked around the shop for a while and amassed a pile of fat quarters that looked nice together in my opinion (precuts were on sale, too:). We'll see how it all turns out eventually. I could not find a single background print I liked enough for a whole quilt so all my background fabrics will be varied - very scrappy, just the way I like it. :)

Besides the colors, I did make some minor changes in the patterns. See that cup looking green object on the middle right? That is supposed to be a canning funnel (if you've never canned before, you use the funnel to fill the canning jars with your hot stuff - peaches, pickles, strawberries, whatever:). The handle Lori used looked like a teacup to me so I chose to change the handle to a shape more like the one my Mom used. Mom's canning pot was spatterware and dark blue - but never had a rickrack border on it. Grin.

The 'baking' block is a very retro style stove/oven. Mine is definitely what I'd call a custom paint job - I'll share it when I take a photo (tomorrow, I hope). :) Think gold and green. 

Busy weekend - meeting tomorrow and Sunday. I think I will be ready to stay home by Monday (although I know I will have to go grocery shopping that afternoon to get the makings for Indian chicken curry:)

:) Linda


Half Week Review

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Sunday I was _supposed_ to go to an exhibit of quilts at the Maryland Historical Society ... with my Baltimore modern quilting buddies. In my own unique out-to-lunch manner I neglected to read my calendar for the weekend (other than to note that I did not have anywhere I needed to go on Saturday) and so completely missed my tour date. Major Sighs! No big problems, just completely scatterbrained. I was really annoyed with myself in the late afternoon when I finally realized it! 

Looking at links to the word 'scatterbrain' just now, I find opinions ranging from LOSER to get-it-together-idiot to a woman who specializes in what she calls scatterbrain quilt making to an interesting essay on why people who are scatterbrained are actually more intelligent than others. Society sure can't think what to make of us disorganized dreamers. :)  Well, I was annoyed with myself, anyway ... nothing to do with it but grumble to myself, of course.

Monday was the monthly meeting of Mimi Dietrich's Grad Class at Bear's Paw quilt shop in Towson. Mimi did say to me that she missed me (and was worried that I might have been sick) ... and that the modern quilters were an awesome group - friendly, studious, interested, and eager. I was surprised that several of the ladies present (the average age of members of our group is certainly over 60), in idle chatter during lunch, expressed the opinion that modern quilt makers were the saviors of the quilting industry in today's world. I guess we are all conscious of being the group most subject to the attrition of time's passage.

There were a lot of pretty show and tell items at the meeting ... and I worked on my first block for the Granny's Garden project that we are doing together (a year long sew-along) in the group. The quilt was designed by Lori Holt whose quilts I enjoy ... and I like the design well enough but I have  no desire to re-make Lori's quilt. :) I decided to use Kaffe Fassett fabrics for my flowers and a dark, dark purple flannel for the background. At a break in the meeting, my friend Sue and I found some wildly colored rickrack I bought to use as an appliqued circle around my blossoms ... but I'm still debating whether to make alternating blocks with purple/light background/circles or what .

I am meeting with Sue and some other friends (including Barbara and Polly) on Friday at Springwater to work on the project ... and on my Vintage Housewife quilt (also designed by Lori Holt). I have made even fewer decisions about the housewife design ... but I want to make it because it reminds me so very much of my grandmother Hampton and of my own mother (who was a working woman all her life, a nurse, but really aspired to be a good housewife in addition). I've always told people I am a good homemaker but a terrible housewife ... so some of my attraction could be due to that love-hate relationship, too. :) I have thought about doing the VH quilt in 30s repro prints (which I do have a fondness for) - mostly because my grandmother was a young motber during those years. She was born in 1904 ... and my father (her fourth child) was born in 1931. 

Tuesday I took my Jeep for its first ever servicing - tire rotation, oil change, and I had them check on software updates for the CarPlay stuff. I neglected to keep up with that on my Dart and it sometimes mattered so I'm trying to be a more thoughtful owner with the Jeep. :)

After the service (which took a little over an hour), I drove to Catonsville and had my favorite lunch at Peace a Pizza. - a whacking good salad. :) That afternoon I ate a Santa Fe salad (vaguely southwestern with grilled chicken). Luscious! I had an appointment in the early afternoon at the Beauty Bar for a haircut and spa - pedicure, manicure, waxing, the works. :) I have not been in since late October (and I usually go every six weeks or so) and really enjoyed it. I don't do a lot of overt self-indulgence but it certainly has its place in life. :)

Today, Wednesday, has been quiet and pleasant. It is our 'cooking' day and Hugh and I chose beer-boiled bratwurst with sides of sauerkraut and baked beans for our menu. Worked out well and we all enjoyed eating dinner. :) Next time I'll make the brats on a grill, though - I like them that way best. Hugh did not like the beer flavoring so we'll likely skip it next time, too, as neither Skip nor I care one way or the other. 

In the evenings I am watching movies (re-watching James Bond oldies and nature documentaries right now) while knitting. My daughter requested a shrug and so I am knitting this one with some luscious deep red (Cereza) Malabrigo Rios yarn. Very tactile. :) I get bored with just doing stockinet knitting after a while, but I manage an inch or so each evening so the project moves along. :)

Sooo looking forward to sewing some more, even by hand. My long sojourn into grief is starting to lift at last. Life is like that - and what little I have learned in my sixty-plus years here on Earth leads me to just roll with the punches, so to speak. This, too, shall pass (sadly).

:) Linda

 

 

 

 

 


Friendly Encounters

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I like this circle-of-friends quilt (click on the photo to go read about it and others like it). Yesterday and today have been lived along this theme line. :) Thursday mornings are the regularly scheduled times for meetings of the day group of Faithful Circle Quilters. I managed to wake up in time yesterday to attend (YEAH!). The first meeting of the month is always well attended and yesterday was further filled with members who wanted to buy fabric.

 A group of helping quilters were handling the sale of a very large stash remaining after the passing of a well-known local quilt maker (her husband apparently decided to carefully liquidate her gatherings). I, too, browsed through the boxes and bought a pound of prints ($6 worth) to use in my Town & Country quilt. One of the problems of my being so organizationally challenged is that accessing my stash is problematic. Sigh.

There were also lots of show and tell quilts which was visually exciting. My friend Patty had finished her four block top from this year's Bonnie Hunter mystery quilt, Frolic. Bonnie specializes in multi-pieced scrappy quilts with fairly small block units. Patty doubled the size of her units and made a nice four block sofa quilt following the mystery. Of course, there were other enticements. :)

Patty and I went to lunch at Boston Market afterwards (I had chicken pot pie) and then on to Michael's. I needed to buy storage/tote bins for my T&C project. JoAnns ETC carries bins but I've pretty much given up looking for them there - since their bankruptcy and reorganization, JoAnns management seems to be following the Business School model of just-in-time-supply. To me, that always ends up with empty shelves and no choices for the consumer. :P I had not been in a Michael's store for several years (Patty suggested it) and was pleased to find a nice collection of various sizes of tote bins. (I bought a medium sized one for my T&C and a small paper-case sized one for the Granny's Garden/Vintage Kitchen project).

Today was my regular Sewing Together with Barbara day. We started with lunch at Ranazul -  new-to-us restaurant in Maple Lawn, south of Columbia. I was blown away by the quality of the food - better than _any_ of the other places Barbara and I have ventured over the past year! At $20 for the lunch, not badly priced, either. I definitely will be going back there (even if I do have to parallel park to attend:). Maple Lawn is a fairly new neighborhood in Fulton, near the Advanced Physics Laboratory. Very tony. Grin.

Since Barbara had determined that we were to start working on T&C today, I had brought my new bin and the fabrics I knew I wanted to use ... along with the patterns for the first round of buildings - the city center - and ideas for real places I might substitute. The quilt has a medallion structure with nested squares of building blocks, ranging from center city to outer countryside. I spend quite a lot of time puttering with what replacements I might make that are more important to me, personally (like including the Owen Brown Community Center, the Teacher Building (previously the headquarters for Rouse Company that designed Columbia), the National Aquarium in Baltimore and the Maryland Science Center - both places my family loves to go - and other Baltimore sites like the Shot Tower). It is going to be a challenge to reduce these iconic places to fit inside a 4" square! 

Barbara has been thinking about this quilt since we first collected the patterns in 2016 and had a long list of places from her life that she wants to work in ... and photos she had gathered of them. I think she might have to write an actual novella if she wants to explain them all on the label. :)

We also worked on laying out a set of extra blocks Barbara has, left over from an applique leaf quilt she had just gotten back from her favorite long armer, Maria O'Haver. Another project she worked on with me at my shop on our Thursday evening get-togethers. Here is how we eventually laid them out:

Leaves

This photo is a bit dark and does not really show how vivid and saturated these Kaffe Fassett prints are - the background print is a mottled soft-colored choice that reads-as-solid-light in this photo, but really isn't. :) I LOVE these blocks - I enjoyed watching Barbara work on them (she used fusible raw edge applique which she hand blanket stitched around with vivid threads) - and I wish I had made it. :) On the big quilt, she used a drop-dead gorgeous print for the border (that I also own some of:) ... and decided to construct this top before she starts thinking about borders. That fabric square in the upper left corner is to make a 36th block.

I had the idea to arrange the blocks in a color wash array with blue across the diagonal. We had lots of fun rearranging the blocks to create this arrangement. My kind of fun, anyway. :)

I do not _have_ to go out this weekend so I'm looking forward to some puttering and maybe some excess stuff sorting. I need to get my sewing area functional!

:) Linda

 


Food and Fibers

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Isn't this a lovely photo? I'd be happily at a beach right now if I could have anything in the universe. :) If you click on the photo, you can go visit a blog post about fibers and fun in Florida. (I'm on an  alliterative roll here:)

After the excitement Saturday of my Featherweight class, I spent a quiet day at home on Sunday. Read, played cards and Stardew Valley, puttered. Monday was the scheduled monthly meeting of the Wool Club at Springwater Designs. I took my crazy tiles embroidery (finished!) and the log cabin mat I finally finished as well to share. Show and share, as always, is my favorite part of any fiber get together. :) Sadly, I fell asleep at home after club and did not make it to my evening meeting of Faithful Circle quilters.

On Tuesday, Hugh and I ran errands and visited the grocery store to buy supplies for our now-weekly Wednesday evening dinner. We had half the beef left from our cooking on Saturday and he decided to make crock pot beef stew with it. It has been so long since my kitchen was cooking-worthy, we have to buy all new basic goods even (flour, sugar, salt, spices, etc).

Hugh has not been feeling well for about a week and this morning I drove him to see his physician for an exam. He spent more time than I expected with her and, I think, was reassured by her thoroughness. We are waiting for some blood test and urinalysis results, but I think it likely that he is correct in assuming all the malaise was associated with his passing yet another kidney stone, poor man.

I decided that our weekly cooking exercises should include a teaching element so I made Hugh do the cooking today and I simply sat on a chair and provided moral support (and occasional explanation of cooking terms). The beef stew he made was delicious! I chose a recipe from an online source which worked well (although we all three decided to leave out the tomato paste in future versions:).

He and I are feeling enthusiastic about our culinary dabbling - I am remembering that cooking can be fun ... and he is adding experience with the medium as well as getting something different/special to eat. I think Skip is just enjoying being a spectator (and eating goodies:). We've already decided that we might make beer-boiled bratwurst and sauerkraut next week ... maybe with a side of German potato salad and cherry pie (a meal right out of his father's heritage:).

Tomorrow is the daytime meeting of Faithful Circle which I am looking forward to attending. More fiber, more fun. Life is otherwise quite uneventful (probably a good thing).

:) Linda


Gray Days

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Please forgive me if I sound grumpy while I reconstruct this post for the _third_ time. Grrr. I am clearly in a more clumsy state than usual as I keep losing my in-process typing while searching for links. <Deep Breath>

That, up there, is a class Singer Featherweight sewing machine. If you've been reading my blog for very long, you probably remember that I won a Fwt several years ago that I call Blue (for her custom painted color). Ever since I acquired Blue I've been trying to find a local class on maintenance so I can care for my machine correctly. I even managed to sign up for one a while back (at Jinny Beyer's shop in Falls Church), but it got snowed out. Sigh.

Dawn at Springwater Designs arranged for Kathy The Machine Lady from Pennsylvania to teach such a class and I was a very happy student in it this morning. I highly recommend her class - I feel pretty confident now about cleaning, oiling and maintaining my baby properly. I also respect her business ethics ... and bought some goods from her after class (a really good machine oil mixture with an excellent container, some cute hot pink tweezers to grab stray thread tangles, a walking foot for Blue which has been on my wish list, and a cute little white doily to put under the thread spool). The information in the class was clear and useful - with lots of fun details about the history of the machine for those folks who like to collect (not me!). :)

Most of the days of this past week have been bland with very little of true interest happening chez Schiffer. I am having some digestive troubles associated with taking these heavy antibiotic doses and I'll be glad to be done with the stuff (fingers crossed that it works this time to kill of the stomach bacteria; I have no idea what comes next if it doesn't). I felt really blah on Wednesday and Thursday ... and so missed my guild meeting on Thursday morning (my social outing). Since Monday's evening's guild meeting fell on MLK Day and the church (where we meet) was closed, I was really happy when Friday's session of Stitching Together came around. :)

Barbara and I decided to have lunch at a new-to-us (and probably pretty newly opened, too) restaurant called Indigo which serves Indian (subcontinent) buffet. The food was quite good I thought and I enjoyed our lunch.

The name tickles me, too - I think of indigo fabrics as Japanese since that's where I was first exposed to the use of the historic blue dye ... but there are strong indigo dyeing traditions is India, middle America and Africa, too, that I've read about. Of course, many of my ancestors probably were indigo loving (those 'naked' Celts going into battle wore woad - the native indigo plant of the British Isles - as an infection prevention and probably as personal decoration). 

Side trails ... sorry, my mind jumps around like a cricket. :)

Anyway, our friend Patty came to Barbara's house after lunch to sew, too. She brought along the spool blocks she won at Village Quilters this month - the block of the month design was a single spool of thread with the 'thread' portion of the design made of striped fabric. Patty made 10 blocks for the drawing and won 14 more (if I remember what she told me correctly:) ... and ended up with enough for a decent sized bed quilt. It was fun to lay them out on Barbara's design wall (about 6 by 6 feet) and play with the arrangement. :)

Barbara was sewing foundation patterns for a design by Judy Niemeyer she is making in a class at Jinny Beyer Studio. I forget the name of the design (and don't have the patience at this moment to wade through all of Judy's patterns to find the right photo) - but it will be a spectacular quilt when Barbara is done! I have never learned Judy's methods for doing foundation piecing (although I did have someone teach them at my shop) and it has been interesting learning tidbits as Barbara works. I doubt that I have the necessary patience to tackle such a monumental undertaking. Barbara does, though (her Ladies of the Sea quilt is certainly a major undertaking).

Oh, I almost forgot ... Barbara made an executive decision and declared that she and I will be starting to work on our town and country quilt next Friday. We've been contemplating this project since the pattern came out in 2016 and she just decided to put her foot down. :) I have dithered about what colors to use (I thought about using Japanese taupes a la Yoko Saito as well as the blue backgrounds featured in the original quilt) ... about what exact applique technique to use (I am tending toward wool applique on cotton with hand embroidery, now) ... and just generally being indecisive over the details for several (um, four, I guess) years. 

Town20and20country_quilt

Push has come to shove with this project and I need to make some decisions. This will be an adventure! I am hoping/planning to work in details of places significant to me - from my childhood, my travels, my parents' farm or my current home - in this quilt. Wish me luck!

:) Linda

 


Wet and Cold

Friendship quote

The weather was cold and gray yesterday. I made two strategic errors when getting ready to go out - I decided (looking out my bedroom window) that I did not need to wear leggings under my dress (WRONG!) and I left my cane at home. :( The wind had cold jagged teeth and my bare legs were not happy. :P Also felt tippy from the wind which is why I carry the cane. Why do I do things like that to myself??? Sigh.

Most of yesterday was good news - it was Friday and so my friend Barbara and I went out to lunch. Yesterday we visited Urban Plates in Columbia Mall. I had grilled chicken breast with a side of macaroni and cheese (comfort food, you know:) and another side of sweet potato/carrot/curry. The first two ingredients were tasty but the last was way too spicy for my tongue. Should have stuck to something a little quieter. :)

It was windy and chilly standing on Barbara's front 'porch' (it really is a recessed entryway which usually keeps the wind out nicely), waiting for her to come home. Our friend Patty joined us later in the afternoon. I do love stitching with my friends. :) I embroidered the next-to-last wool rectangle on my carry-around project and started on the last one. I decided to embroider my name on the last block (just 'linda') and still am thinking about what to put on each side of it.

Today I had a chance to visit with more friends as it was sew-in day for the Columbia Friends group (from my modern guild). There were four of us at Springwater Designs. Today was the first time I used a sewing machine since November 1st ... that is a long, long time for me. :( I worked on making up a block for the January Stash Bee (hive 4) group:

Mixed

This photo is more washed out than the colors really are - they are all bright yellow-green prints. I was thinking of the willow leaves in early, early spring - always a lovely yellow green. :) After I pieced this block, I looked at the directions again and realized that I did not assemble my subunits correctly - this is what they were _supposed_ to look like:

Correct

Um, the prints were supposed to be together by texture, each in their own quadrant of the block. Oh, well, I will send both blocks to this month's Queen Bee and she can decide where to put them in her quilt. :) Of course, I did not use the same prints in both blocks - why use four when forty will do is my motto. Grin.

The weather today was worse than yesterday but it never developed quite as nasty as the predictions. We had mixed snow, freezing rain, tiny ice pellets and massive gray skies hanging overhead. When I left the shop to come home, my car had little frozen icicles hanging off all around the bottoms of the panels. Brrr!

Tomorrow is the monthly meeting of my Sew&Tell group. I'm looking forward to it - more stitchy friends.

:) Linda