Dec. 4th - WIPEOUT

My hand

I spent almost an hour writing a post, following the prompt Cheryl set for the 4th of December - 'favorite tools.' Detailed, with links and pictures, denoting my most favorite quilt making and sewing tools. Then the computer ATE the entire essay. I'm sorry, I don't have the heart to repeat the effort right now. :(

Going to bed while shaking my head in disgust.

Linda


Friends

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Today was a day spent with friends. My favorite kind of day! :) As is usual for Friday afternoons, Patty and I met with Barbara at her house (I almost wrote 'new house' but she's been living there four years now:). Barbara had decorated with her Christmas tree (Patty helped, apparently:) and lots of lovely tchotchkes with a Noel theme. Very pretty! 

I took along a bin filled with bits to finish my English paper pieced cicada ... which is destined to be appliqued onto a quilt top intended for my oldest grandson. :) Probably the most intricate EPP design I've ever made - certainly the one with the most parts! Here is how it started:

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I had made most of the right wing already but put the thing on hold due to boredom with the procedure. Gotta get it done, though - I have too much time invested to trash the whole idea. :) You can see part of the body peeking out from behind my pattern drawing (needed to keep things aligned as I construct things - so far only glue basted together). I finished the first wing and then tackled the second one. I don't know that I would have persevered if not for the pleasant company to distract me while I worked on it!

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This shows the first wing a bit closer. As you can see, there are a lot of (non) moving parts to this bug.

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Here is the entire first wing completed and attached. By the time I got the second wing constructed and glued in place, I was so tired of the thing I forgot to take a photo. Grin. Now I have to decide whether to sew all the parts together by hand or machine. THEN it has to be appliqued onto the quilt top. Making quilts is a long process and each step has to be celebrated (or you wait a really long time for the tadas!).

The weather was very gray and chilly today. It looked like rain the entire day. Poor Skip admitted to me that he was too depressed to go grocery shopping (usually he and my son go about every 10 days or so) ... and asked me to order online. So, after I got home from Sewing Together and had dinner, I sat down to the iMac and perused BJs order form. We got our delivery around 7:30 p.m. which I thought was pretty prompt. YEAH! I did the dishes today, too (before going off to sew) ... good housewife gold star for the day, I guess. LOL.

Felt sick to my stomach again after eating dinner. Slow, slow improvement. Sigh.

:) Linda 


My Sewing Space?

535_straightCheryl's prompt for today's post is 'sewing space.' Hah! I am an organizationally challenge person (in non-politically-correct speech that translates as MESSY) and my sewing area shows it. My current sewing-at-home machine is a Bernina 535 which my husband bought for me as a 60th birthday present. My former machine, a B1090, now lives with my daughter; I used it for 26 or so years thanks, again, to my husband. His policy on buying tools is 'buy the best you can possibly afford so your tool won't limit your ability.' Works for me! :)

The room my machine lives and works in is one of the smaller bedrooms in our home. It used to be my son's (before he moved into the larger one formerly occupied by his sister) and still has several of his possessions in it. There is also about half a room full of 'stuff' we brought home from my quilt store when we closed it up - that I still have not gone through. Sigh. Nina sits on a drop-in table and within arm's reach there are my commonly used tools and most of my fat quarter collection. The rest of my stash is shoved into corners here and there throughout the house (I am in sore need of a serious clearing-out!) and is mostly lost to me. Not enough strength or energy to tackle that problem, yet. :P

I used to make my own clothes - came to quilt making from garment making - but have not done so in years. So-called fast fashion is so much cheaper I lost the desire (in the face of family making busy-ness). I am coming back to wanting to sew for myself, though. I have learned a bit about fitting over the years - enough to feel brave about making muslins from desired patterns and then fitting them to myself. I have ZERO experience with knit fabrics and that is what I most like to wear .. so that learning hurdle will have to be overcome at some point. :)

My sewing space has a wall of windows (well, half-windows as they don't go to the floor) and is nicely lit on sunny days. Could use more lighting for work ideals but I haven't decided on just how to tackle that. Most probably I will buy standing lamps as the room does not have overhead fixtures. Our house was built ('springing up like mushrooms' comes to mind) in 1974 and is, um, pared down in style. :)

I have a picture in my mind of how I'd like the room to look ... but it means work and energy I don't have right now. :P  I have tried looking at 'decorating' ideas for sewing areas but many of their suggestions seem ... odd to me. Take a look at these. I don't need a BEAUTIFUL place, I need a FUNCTIONAL room with good organization. :P

We had some sunshine today which I enjoyed briefly before falling asleep in my comfy armchair in the living room. Slept from about 2 until 5 ... which put paid to cleaning the oven area of the kitchen today. Guess I'm either still healing or I didn't sleep well last night. Shrug. Will tackle the kitchen this weekend at some point.

:) Linda


Giving In

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Twice before I've taken part in Cheryl Sleboda's post-every-day-in-December challenge ... and thought I would try again this year. It helps me get through the darkness of the early winter season. No pressure - if I miss a day for some reason, I won't beat myself up over it ... I'll just pick up with posting again. :)

Yesterday I turned over a new leaf and began what I hope will become a regular pattern of behavior. On alternate days I have decided to choose an area 40" wide or so in my house to clean/declutter/spiff up. I started in the kitchen as we all spend quite a bit of time there ... yesterday I cleaned/cleaned out our refrigerator. Sure looked nice and shiny white with clean veggie drawers when I opened it to find breakfast this morning! :) The deal (with myself) is that on alternate days I am allowed to just sew/knit/embroider/craft as I want, without guilt. 

Today was my 'sewing' day ... so I made blocks for Kristen of the StashBee (these were _supposed_ to go to her by the end of November, so I am admittedly LATE). Here's what I made for her:

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I packed them up and will put them in the mail tomorrow when I go out. YEAH! This is the last mailing I am obliged to do for StashBee this year ... and I sat on my hands to avoid joining for this coming year. I am determined to spend 2022 on my personal health and goals. (gritting my teeth)

The weather has finally convinced me to give in and wear my winter coat ... it has been chilly to downright cold here and mostly gray. Not my favorite time of year, to say the very least.

I started a new knitting project to keep my hands busy (am between embroidery workings). I have been cherishing a five skein set of merino sock yarns I bought some time ago ... they range from dark blue gray to dark plum, light plum, dark blue and soft gold. I hope to make this simple cowl so the colors run nicely. I had to consult my research buddy DuckDuckGo today to find a tutorial for an i-cord cast on. Eventually I will do an i-cord bind-off, too. I thought the i-cord edgings might give the cowl some stability. (fingers crossed). I am using this easy pattern. I decided to start with the blue gray yarn ... so far, so good. :)

Tomorrow my work area is the stove/cupboards. Wish me luck?

:) Linda


Happy Together

LeafytreesThis is the time of year that my Japanese bloodleaf maple trees really get showy! Their dark red leaves turn bright scarlet overnight sometime after the first hard freeze and the front yard lights up! :) Besides the mother tree that sits in the middle of our front yard (and has maybe tripled in size since we bought the house in 1987)l, there are three 'baby' trees that grew from seeds of the mommy. Also in our rather small front yard are two swamp maples and an ash tree. And, as you might guess, not much grass. :)

I came out to go to see my surgeon yesterday and found this beautiful carpet on the front driveway:

LeafycarpetLovely red carpet all around with that wonderful walking-in-leaves sound (my daughter says she feels like she's walking in cornflakes:). Ahh, Fall! :) The birds are heavy eaters at my feeder these days with visiting squirrels added into the mix. Must be the beginning of breeding season because they are chasing each other around the yard, up and down trees and across the eaves with vigor.

Today was the monthly meeting of my Sew&Tell group of friends. So nice to see everyone in real life! As usual, we met at my friend Barbara's house. Some of us actually had show and tell to share and, for a change of pace, I remembered to take pictures.

BethsqulitBeth was hand sewing the binding down on a rainbow I Spy baby quilt. Soooo cute!

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Kathy was starting a new project - a kit from Bear's Paw in Towson for a wool applique block that I really like.

I quick copied down the designer's website so I could go buy some of her designs.

Might have to give the shop a call. :)

SandiessamplerSandie won the prize for most items to share today! Here was the first one -

a sampler that will likely go to her brother-in-law.

SandiesmachineI've seen a number of sewing machine patterns but this one Sandie made was pretty eye-catching.

SandiesamyThis top was made from parts gifted to Sandie by another of our members,

Amy, who got tired of making four patches. I think Sandie said this is Amy's Revenge. :)

Sandie'sblockThe last thing she shared was this 18" pieced block that is part of a design series (wish I could remember the designer's name) ... I quite like this block and might like to make some for myself. The little 2" pinwheel units were gifted to Sandie by a past S&T member who has since passed away.

 

Behind Sandie you can just see two of Barbara's quilts on her work wall - a Halloween black

cat and (just peeking out) a nice Sawtooth Star in browns and slate blues.

 

As usual, we shared a pot luck lunch together (I was pleased to find things to eat that were easy on my stomach - AND managed not to get overfull). Eating together is a time-honored social activity and I've been feeling a bit anxious about how that would work for me now. I feel much better after today's lunch with my ability to exhibit self control and still have fun :)

Chilly and wet on the way home ... and a quiet evening reading and resting. Wonderful day!

:) Linda


Tootling Along

IMG_4830 (1)Do you know about Rachel Daisy and her jazzy quilts? :) If not, you are missing out on a whole lot of cheery! :) As a birthday gift to myself, I signed up for a Zoom class with Rachel (sponsored by a Florida shop called The Red Thread) ... and it took place this past Thursday afternoon, direct from Australia. I really enjoyed her teaching style and the class was great. :)

As usual, I was not particularly well prepared ... and had intended to just take notes as my energy level was pretty low. Cheerful faces and a great class vibe prompted me to take better-than-usual notes. I even learned a thing or two! Grin. I am eager to try out some of Rachel's ideas to make this Razzmatazz style quilt (see photo above). 

My class was a welcome change from the other events-of-note this past week. On Tuesday afternoon I had a post-operative appointment with my primary care physician (which went very well) ... he put me on continuous doses of heavy duty muscle relaxant for my neck pains for this week. Today was the last day of that regimen ... and, alas, the irruption has not quieted so the next likely prescription is a shot of cortisone into my neck's spinal column. :P I've done that before and it does work ... so can't complain, I guess.

Friday afternoon I had my five week post-op appointment with the surgeon. I have to say I really like this guy (Dr Christopher You) - he listens well and responds promptly to all my questions which always pleases me (trust me, I've had way too much experience with non-listening doctors). My weight loss is two pounds more than the statistical expectation at this stage, so that is good. He had some good advice for me on how to avoid the recurring nausea ... and dragged in his dietician to give me a great thirty minute discussion about what to add to my diet to increase my protein intake. All together (except for the hour-long drive each direction to his office) a satisfying meeting, again.

The weather had been fairly mild - mid 40s to 50s during the day though a bit too windy for my taste, and mostly sunshiny. My Japanese maple trees turned color to the brilliant red they express every autumn - the only time of year our house has any kind of flashy 'curb appeal.' LOL.

Other than my razzy class sewing, I'm still doing hand embroidery when I have the energy to do anything at all. I am almost done with the last block for the Halloween mystery project. Time to finish making the wonky Dresden frames for the unfinished blocks and think about a setting arrangement.

Birthday is getting closer.

:) Linda


Awfully Fall

Happy-birthday-to-me-10NO, not today but soon is my birthday. Somewhat like the proverbial 1950s housewife, this one ends with a '9'. :) I doubt I'll be getting a fancy chocolate cake either (will make me sick:). I"ll  have to wait and see, eh?

The weather has been quite pleasant so far this month though we have had a couple days of very wet grayness. The most difficult thing about November for me is the shortening day length. :P It gets dark long before I think it should this time of year. I always glory in the long evening hours of summertime and mourn them when they are gone!

Most of my attention is being taken up still with my healing journey. I am continuing to have periodic troubles with nausea. A lifetime of eating habits is having to be relearned oh so slowly. :P

I bought myself a copy of this book which arrived recently - I am reading it very slowly as there is only so much sadness my heart can process at once.

SjsThere are lots of opinions on either political side about the issues of racism in our society ... myself, having grown up in the south during the civil rights struggles of the 60s, I have personal memories - I never really understood what was going on as a child. I'm a pretty pragmatic person and had (still have) a hard time understanding the worldview that says one person is less deserving than another. Sigh. Having trained as a biological scientist and geneticist, we really are all human - all one species. Shrug.

My dear daughter sent me a birthday gift with plenty of shipping leeway this year. I got a beautiful book from her the day after the one above and have been slowly reading and cherishing it.

TravelsI am so enjoying the whole idea of keeping travel journals. I do keep a drawing journal as I travel (I have thought several times of doing this at home, too) and I have pages from many trips in the past. Of course, nowhere I travel is exotic (well, to me:) - Wisconsin, Kansas, Nebraska, etc. To see beloved family members. :)

Tomorrow is supposed to be a pretty autumnal day. I hope to get out for at least a short walk around my neighborhood. I am planning to attend my modern guild's sew-in this weekend as well. Fun times!

:) Linda


Potentially TMI

CardThere is a hymn I love that is maybe not obviously appropriate here ... but I will quote anyway: "Glory! Glory! Halleluiah!"  :) I am ready to admit today that I might be all right eventually. :P

Let me backtrack. If you have followed my ramblings for a while, you might remember that I had planned to have bariatric surgery (Rouen-Y). I had that surgery on Tuesday morning, October 12th. I am, today, nearly done with the 13th day post-operative. This blog serves as my personal diary so I am going to be recording here some notes about my experience. This may strike you as too much personal information - for which I apologize in advance. Feel free to skip this is you are squeamish. :P

My two week post op appointment with the surgeon is scheduled for tomorrow afternoon. Hopefully I will learn that I am healing on schedule - though I am having problems with nausea and difficulty eating enough calories. I have mostly managed to drink enough fluids (48 to 60 ounces) and to ingest enough protein (60 g per day) ... and my basic meds. Trust me, in my state of mind that is a lot of balls to keep in the air at one time. :)

Today was a lovely fall day - I think the high was around 72 or 74. For the first time in two weeks, I had the grit to take a slow peaceful walk to the mailbox and back. (Maybe tripled the number of steps I've taken in each of the previous ten days) Felt good!

I actually sat in my sewing room this afternoon, chatting with some of my modern quilt making friends via Zoom. I did not have the energy to sew, but it felt really good to chat and catch up. :)

One result of my surgery date was that I had to miss the modern guild's retreat (which I had signed up for) ... a sweet coordinator dropped off my door prize this morning on my front step, along with a lovely card (see the photo above) signed by friends at the retreat. What a heart warming thing to receive!!

Here's what was in my bag - fun stuff:

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FqI quite like the pouch pattern ... and I think that Dalmatian print fat quarter will make a great lining. :) The quilt looks like a great scrap idea, too. The little tool holder went right next to my sewing machine to hold the thread snips I keep dropping on the floor. LOL.

When I went through the mail I brought  in from the box later in the afternoon, there was a wonderful fabric postcard from Linda Anderson, a guild friend and bariatric surgery advice-giver from Faithful Circle:

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Then, to cap things off, later in the afternoon I got a very funny text message from my former brother in law that made me laugh right out loud. ;)

So many blessings to be thankful for today!

:) Linda

PS For my own records, please note that after two weeks of a liquid diet (no, not alcoholic:) I lost 12 pounds, in preparation for surgery. I have not weighed myself since surgery (should have, no brains to think of it) so it will be interesting to see what tomorrow's doctor's appointment will show. Especially given that I am managing to eat about 400 to 600 calories a day right now. :P


Done!!

230721_HorhamHall09-scaled-930x1240Have you ever heard of typewriter art?? I am so impressed with this work by James Cook - he creates original drawing/sketches using typewriters with their limited fonts and careful spacing. You can read more about his amazing products here. :) Human being are a never-ending source of wonder and inspiration!

I am very pleased indeed to announce a finish AT LAST of my 16 Halloween blocks. I"m so happy to be finished with this task! I've been feeling a bit of pressure to complete them as the exchange meet is set for this coming Saturday afternoon. There are several other jobs I'd like to tackle before my surgery next Tuesday. :P Here is my design (mind you, not all my blocks look exactly like this one - I do allow some variation from block to block to prevent boredom:):

IMG_0160@0.5xI hope the other members of the swap like this design. It is by Jaded Spade Creations. I liked it as soon as I saw it on Instagram and bought the pattern. :)

Things are going along fine otherwise here at Chez Schiffer. My meals are not lively but I'm not having any more hunger pains. By the end of today (one meal left to eat) I will be halfway finished with my pre-surgical preparations. I am thinking to weigh myself tomorrow morning (fingers crossed that I remember) to see whether I've lost any weight. I don't feel any lighter. Shrug.

:) Linda


Weekend News

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I love the combination of embroidery and botany in this artist's work! She, Solange Nunes, is an inspiration to me. :) I have done embroidery on birch bark (from my daughter's trees:) but never on leaves. I am hoping to grab some nicely colored ones this Fall and try (I think they will have to be preserved with some kind of anti-evaporative coating to prevent drying out, though). Ever eager to experiment. :)

The weather has been GLORIOUS this weekend - mid 70s during the day, sunny blue skies and pleasant breezes. Quite cool in the early morning and at night - Autumn has definitely arrived. The crickets are singing in the evening which is my personal marker for Fall. So nice to sleep with our bedroom window open - but I need to put quilt number three on our bed for the nighttime chill. :)

I have done some obligatory sewing this weekend as well as starting on my liquid-only diet in preparation for bariatric surgery. So far the diet is fine - I have to remember not to automatically reach for solid foods (got two regular food eating guys living with me so no empty shelves or fridge:) but I have managed to keep it real so far. 

The doctor's instructions say I should suffer hunger pangs until my metabolism goes into ketosis (starts breaking down fats) ... I have not felt any pangs, yet. I'm eating every three hours which seems to be sufficient even though my meals only have 150 calories each (five times a day, yes, this is EXTREMELY calorie restricted). Don't know what ketosis feels like (accumulating fat stores is more my usual:) so that will be interesting.

What I've been sewing are my September and October Stash Bee blocks. Here are the two I made for Jennifer (Sept. Queen):

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This was the first one I made (it finishes about 15" square). When

I finished it, I decided that the central nine patch was little

too 'heavy' for the surrounding prints. So, I made another

one with the same fabrics in different places:

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I thought this one worked out better - the center

nine patch unit feels more balanced with the surrounds

and that narrow blue/green inner round stands

out nicely, I think.

 

I am sending both blocks to Jenn, fwiw.

Today I mostly spent the day visiting with my sweetheart and watching him play Fallout 4? (Forget which iteration - it's a very popular video game series). I find it fun to chat with him as he builds settlements in a post-apocalyptic Boston area, filtered through the 'eyes' of 1950s popular science. :) 

I did manage to sew the two blocks for the October Queen, Dawn:

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If you are paying attention, you can see that these blocks

are mirror images of one another. I enjoy freehand curved

piecing so this was an easy set of blocks for me to make.

I had to dig a bit to find two solid colored fabrics I liked together - I don't have many solids in my stash as I prefer reads-as-solid prints. :) Mailing these off tomorrow, too. 

Tomorrow I go back to sewing the edges of my Halloween blocks, having added the 48 bats for my design last week. We are getting together on the 9th to swap our blocks around and I am really looking forward to seeing what designs the other makers chose. :)

Onward and upward, as my Daddy used to say!

:) Linda