Long Time?

Lace exampleContinuing my fascination with the making of lace, this example is awe-inspiring, imho! If you click on the photo, you can go read about the making adventures of Agnes Herczeg, a Hungarian artist. Inspiring! :)

It has been half a month since I last wrote - my days are flowing past on an endless loop, feeling as though they change very little from one sunrise to the next. The weather is easing up, at least for this weekend, turning from excruciatingly hot to pleasantly warm and humid/rainy to breezy and drier. Hurricane Ida passed through earlier this week and dropped quite a bit of rain on us, but not nearly as damaging a downpour as happened farther north on this coast in New Jersey and New York (thank you Mother Nature!!). To give a small example of the wonderful weather this weekend, I've had my bedroom window open all day today (I usually only open it at night during the summer - and only then on nights when the temperature gets in the low 70s). :)

I have been doing a bit of embroidery for the past couple of weeks rather than very much sewing. I did finish my class project from the wonky improv class I took online two weekends ago - my Ode to Periodic Cicadas. I have to back the small quilt and finish it soon (it is intended as a gift for one of my grandsons:). I need to get back into my sewing room to work on some Halloween themed exchange blocks for a swap with local guild members soonest!

What has happened otherwise? Hmm... my dear friend Patty's husband Jim died somewhat suddenly and I went to his funeral. I had never attended a Catholic funeral and found it rather comforting, to my surprise. :) 

I've made a couple of shopping forays to favorite quilting haunts ... and had lunch out with my friend Barbara (at the Asean Bistro here in Columbia, where the food was as good as ever and the social distancing was excellent). 

Yesterday my friends Patty, Barbara and I got together in person at Barbara's house to sew all afternoon. It was truly wonderful - the weather was glorious so we sat in Barbara's basement sewing lounge, breathing the fresh air via her open patio door ... and I embroidered while Patty worked on a quilting box project using bright fabrics and Barbara jigsaw-pieced an unusual rail fence quilt top. Blissful!

Oh, I almost forgot, I gave B and P their (very!) belated birthday gifts while we were there. I made each of them a pincushion-with-extras. Some photos:

Barbara's - aqua colors:


Aquaback Aquafinished

Patty's - purple themed:




These were fun to make boro-style small pinnies, filled with walnut shells and lavender buds. :)

Off to relax on a cozy Saturday evening.

:) Linda

Shopping Loss

ChickenscratchpearI finished the embroidery on my next chicken scratch block - a pear. I _hope_ this looks at least vaguely like one. :) It is smaller than most of the other blocks I've made so it only took a couple of afternoon sessions to complete. I'm definitely beginning to think about the final quilt layout as I embroider. :)

Today had some highs and lows, achievement-wise. I woke up quite early (for me), at 8:30 a.m. Rather than try to go back to sleep, I actually got up! I faded out around 2 p.m. and had to take an hour for quietly listening to an audiobook while I closed my eyes - but, unlike my more usual pattern, I did not sleep. Who knows why. Sigh.

I decided, having some extra time in my day today, to go out and look for some storage bins (plastic, completely sealing) to hold the various family history related items I have piled in spots around the house (including underneath my newly tidied computer desktop). My first thought was to go to Walmart ... but ... our more-local one is not a nice place and the parking is lousy. The better Walmart a bit farther away just seemed like too much effort. :) I chose to go to JoAnns ETC which is fairly close (2 miles? away) and I know where in the store the bins are to be found (well, I _thought_ I did, but as usual I was wrong).

So ... nope, nothing that 'spoke' to me as a good option. The bins that were likely choices were hugely overpriced compared to the ones I bought two years ago from that A_ place online. Like 2.5 to 3 times as much!!! I like to encourage supporting local businesses (although I do not really consider big box stores to be very 'local' given that most of them do not pay local taxes AT ALL). Still, that kind of markup over online sources is ridiculous (and yes, as a former business woman, I DO know what goes into pricing items for sale).

I tried the nearby Target next ... their prices were slightly lower (maybe only twice as high as A_) ... but there were none of the kind of bins I wanted on the shelves. Sigh. That just-in-time-inventory management algorithm is not working out, imho.

I dropped two letters off at the post office and came back home in disgust from my shopping trip ... and went upstairs to order what I wanted online. I hate that ... but what is a dutiful conscientious consumer to do? I will tolerate local prices being 50 to 75% higher than online but I have my limits (even counting the carbon burden involved in shipping vs. driving my car locally).

On the way home, I stopped at our cluster mailbox and picked up our mail. There was some happy news - I got Stash Bee blocks from two fellow members:

From Susan Connors:



And from Kristen Beck:

Kristenbeck (I sure hope I got those two names right! Please forgive me if not? The envelopes are still downstairs and my computer is upstairs.:)

So, you win some, you lose some. Life has a way of evening out, yes?

:) Linda

Embroidery August

August_Dachshund_applique_design_grandeOh, to be at the beach with this little guy! :) If you are a machine embroidery aficionado, you can click on the image above and go read how to buy it to make your very own surfing puppy. :)

August has been pretty pleasant, mostly, so far. There have been a few too-hot-for-me days (defined as over 94 degrees F, with humidity:). Since my sewing room is on the second floor of our house, it gets a bit warm on really hot days (despite our whole-house air conditioner and two fans in my area). That is almost certainly why I've been doing hand embroidery (which I can work on in my comfy chair downstairs in the coolth:). 

I did receive my first two Disappearing Rail Fence blocks from a fellow stash hive member this week: (thanks to J DeSantis)



I look forward to seeing the rest of my blocks come in the mail! This will be a bright, happy quilt.

Last Monday (the 9th) I spent a good bit of the afternoon stirring up dust in my bedroom while cleaning off my computer desk. Since my neck pain has eased (due to the series of steroid pills), I wanted to do two things - make room for a riser for my computer and clear space so my sweetheart could install my new computer. He bought me one of the first Apple M1 chip desktop computers to replace my very elderly iMac.

BeforenewThis is my cleaned and spiffy desk (with the old computer on it), waiting for the new hardware. I have not taken an 'after' photo, yet (bad me:) - too busy playing with the new tool. :) I is good to have the screen higher so my neck nerves don't get pinched!

The newest pattern in the Halloween mystery series came in the mail on Tuesday so I spent some time Wednesday evening during the modern guild's sip and sew zoom session tracing off the new pattern.

NewestI am liking this series so much, I finished the embroidery on my block by Friday evening:

Witches hatNow I have to piece together and applique on the oval Dresden frame to finish this block. I had fun doing the work on this one. :)

Besides the hat, I'm still trying to catch up with my chicken scratch embroidery blocks. I am almost finished with the next one - a pear. I am using yellow and pale green floss for this design (like a Bartlett pear:). I'll share a photo when it is finished.

I found myself collecting patterns on Pintrest this afternoon for chicken scratch designs. I guess in my back-brain I am adding to the quilt with some other motifs. I have an empty fabric book with available pages that I might sew some samples into, too. I like the idea of a stitch/motif sampler book for reference. :)

Otherwise, life is quiet (figuratively). We've had some rousing banging thunderstorms this week ... and my Sew&Tell stitch group met via zoom today (always makes me happy). Life is fine here in 21045.

:) Linda


Unusual August Weather

BookI wandered off to Springwater Designs in the middle of this afternoon to pick up a new book. I managed to take a good look at the projects in this book from a publisher's promotional video - which convinced me to buy. :) I really like several of the projects and am eager to try some wool applique the next time I'm rustling around for some hand work. Bright, clean, 'modern' designs. :)

The weather has been remarkably mild for early August here in eastern Maryland - temperatures in the mid80s to low90s, blue skies, mild humidity. Doesn't  happen often. :) It's bound to get hot and swampy again before the end of the month but you have to enjoy the days as they come!

As has become usual for me, I've been dithering along, sewing a bit of this and a bit of that. This month is my turn to be 'queen' in the Stash Bee block exchange group. Thanks to my friend Barbara, I asked for Disappearing Rail Fence blocks ... so I spent some time early this week getting my ideas down on paper and setting up the tutorial info for my hive (#4). It will be fun to see what kind of blocks I get! Here is one of my sample blocks:


I made one new-to-me block pattern for a friend and want to make another. I enjoyed this pattern and it was much easier than I expected to create - I can see myself dipping into this design. :)


I've been trying to make progress on catching up with my chicken scratch embroidery snowflake blocks, too. Finished this one yesterday and started another one today:



Yes, eventually my embroidery blocks will get washed, pressed and blocked to smoothness ... but I have to take a picture as soon as I finish something or I plain forget to record it. :) I did figure out that I have been calculating the size of my background fabric pieces incorrectly (which explains why they've been coming out a bit smaller than I'd like:). I'm starting to think about how I will set the blocks eventually when they are all embroidered.

When I dropped by Springwater today I bought fabric for two other projects as well as my book. I took the top I pieced for my sister and found a backing print I liked to go with it ... and bought a batt. I am thinking to have them longarm her quilt as I've never used their services before (I like to know the work of many of the local quilters so I have choices). Since her birthday was in early July, it will be a late gift in any case.

I also bought some prints to use for making the 16 Halloween swap blocks that are due October 1st. I chose a design last week, and have purchased the background fabric, and now I'm gathering the materials for the remainder of my block. I'm eager to get going on that so it will be finished in good time. I keep _saying_ I won't do any more swaps ... and then jump into new ones with both feet. Sigh. :)

There were lots of other pretty fabrics to distract me in the shop, of course. I bought five fat quarters from the new shibori-style print collection from Moda - have a hard time resisting indigo. :) Had to close my eyes and avoid the row with bright Kaffe collective prints. Leave some to buy another day!

Other than my two hours or so afternoon sewing each day ... I read and eat and cook and do very little else. I did manage to see my (non-surgical) orthopedist early this week. He prescribed a course of steroids that seems to be calming down my 'pinched nerve' in the neck (thanks!!) ... which means I can do more as the pain is going away. Whew!

Gotta get outside  more ... the yard desperately needs weeding and I'm losing all weather tolerance.

:) Linda

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