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March 2019

Peculiar

Rusted-wall
Remember I said I liked that multi-colored wall at Urban Plates? Here is an example closer to what I enjoy - something that shows the effects of age and time. I found this image by searching for 'wabi sabi' images. Here's a definition (you can learn more by clicking on the words and reading the Wikipedia entry):

Things are always more beautiful for

bearing the marks of age or individuality.

 

I have been reflecting on my own personal sense of aesthetics recently ... and how that relates to my likes (and dislikes) in quilt making. I think one of the reasons I respond so positively to much of the modern quilt movement is the presence of asymmetry and creative negative space in "modern" quilts. There are things I do not like much in the movement, too, of course. I'm not wildly fond of most non-representational/abstract art and I struggle to find pleasure in what I think of as some 'chopped into pieces' improv works. Shrug.

The other thing I am grateful for with the 'modern' sewing set is the title 'Maker.' That word finally describes me, I think. For years now (20? 25?) I've thought of myself, comfortably, as an artist ... and as a creative ... but 'Maker' really comes to the point, in my humble opinion. :) I just have to make things ... and it makes me happy to do so.

According to some media, we are living in a period of Maker Revolution:

This is not a return to an old way of doing things as much as it is a post- industrial integration of craftsmanship from days past for the sake of making goods that counterbalance our highly technical, disposable world.

Does that sound like ArtSpeak to you? :) Really, Makers are not Luddites or Arts and Crafts back-to-the-past-ers. They (we?:) just want to savor hand craftsmanship and the process of creation in a time when those endeavors are not necessary to physical survival ... but truly are needed for emotional balance and sanity.

Anyway, it seems to me that I am happiest when I spend at least part of every day sewing or being creative. Keeps my brain alive and my sanity intact. LOL.

Today was an odd one for getting something creative done. Sigh. I got up at a reasonable time (about 10 a.m.) ... read and responded to emails, tidied my calendar, and other administrative tasks ... went downstairs to eat breakfast and say hello to my sweetheart (who had tried to wake me up earlier but failed; he went out and mailed off our taxes without my companionship:). I sat down to read for a few minutes while I digested lunch ... and fell asleep sitting in my chair. sigh. I did not wake up until 8 p.m.! Why do I need so much sleep???

I was annoyed when I woke up that I had wasted a perfectly good day so I sat down at my Nina and sewed for a while (maybe an hour?), making the other two flower basket blocks for my guild block of the month sample. Fortunately those are foundation pieced so they were 'brainless' sewing. :P

Here's what I made today:

 

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When I put them beside the two I made previously:

 

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I think they came out fine - two have both areas of trim on the basket, one has bottom trim and one has none. A good variety ... of color, too. Hopefully these little blocks will inspire participation. :)

Fingers crossed that I get more done tomorrow!!

:) Linda


Embroidery Day

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This photo shows something like what the weather was here today. Intermittent clouds and sunshine, high 60's temps. I woke up blink at 9 a.m. this morning - sigh! Don't know why that doesn't happen every morning!? :) 

That gave me plenty of time to get my act in gear, dress, gather my stuff and go out to meet my friend Barbara for lunch at 11:30. She chose Urban Plates at Columbia Mall for our dining adventure today. I rather liked the place - the food was good and healthy, the decor was fun (kind of industrial mod), and the staff was pleasant (though a bit inept - maybe it was too early in the day?:). Here is a shot of decor that I enjoyed (more than I expected:):

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This is a picture of the booth and wall behind it directly opposite my seat. Gave me a tiny frisson of vertigo in the first glance but I re-oriented fine in a flash. :) I particularly liked the wall painting style (many layers of rich old color:) and the plants hanging vertically.

I had roast chicken breast with chipotle sauce and sides of roasted Brussel sprouts and a beet/carrot mix. NOM! :)

Afterwards we drove to Barbara's house and spent the afternoon in sewing bliss (well, I did, anyway; Barbara was doing her homework for the Baltimore applique class she is taking with Barbara Burnham at Patches in Mt. Airy). As always, conversation runs the gamut from local plumbers to various basting techniques to family doings and beyond. :)

Here is how far I've gotten on my current punch needle project:
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Pretty hard to tell from this photo what I'm making, eh? I am not working from a kit or pattern on this one so the color placement is strictly on me, for good or ick. :) I love the way the finished stitches feel!

I am planning to spend this weekend divided between working on my to-be sewing space and quilting my New York Beauty mini. Oh, with a brief trip out to mail off our taxes and to help Skip buy new eye glasses. :P

:) Linda


Basket Day

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This is a Star Magnolia tree in flower - I saw the first one for this season flowering today.

Hugh and I took advantage of the beautiful sunshine today to go out to grab some fast food lunch (after I stupidly slept through the entire morning - another 'could not wake up' day - he woke me up at 1:30 this afternoon). I was really annoyed with myself for zoning out of yet another guild meeting ... but I really don't have much control over this situation. Exacerbated as it is right now by my breathing problems - I woke up around 4 a.m., panting, and had to sit up for a couple of hours before I could breathe laying down again. Grr.

I had a doctor's appointment at 3 p.m. this afternoon which was very important for me to keep. It was a follow up with my primary care doctor to talk about my breathing issues. He ordered a CAT scan for me and wants me to see my cardiologist - both being 'just in case' tests to be sure whether I have some physical or systematic issue that is interfering with my breathing. We'll see what all that shows up before I panic. :P

I did manage to do a little bit of sewing this evening while Skip was away at bowling. The block I drafted up for the lottery this month at Faithful Circle features flower baskets. So, I made two - they are foundation pieced and 6" square (finished) for each basket unit.

 

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For this one I chose a print that I could feature as basket trim, too, by fussy cutting it.


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I didn't think this basket needed trim so I pieced the entire thing from one fabric. Had fun making this one. :)

I had some trouble finding appropriate scale floral prints to feature in the space under the basket handle. I don't buy many flower prints and most of the ones I do buy are pretty large scale. :) Luckily I gather scraps from everywhere!

Tomorrow I get to spend the afternoon sewing with my friend Barbara. Always the high light of my week.

:) Linda


Sewing Again

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Every year I show a photo of this same stand of daffodils in bloom at about this time. :) They grow along the walk right near my front door and I truly count the day they bloom as my own personal First Day of Spring. :) They make me happy. I saw a plum tree in full bloom when I was out on Monday afternoon - and the Forsythia bushes are bright yellow in my neighborhood now. No green leaves, yet, but Spring has definitely started. :)

Monday afternoon was the monthly Wool Club meeting at Springwater Designs which I actually got to attend (this is only the third meeting of this session but the first one I've been to). It was so good to see what folks were working on - there is always inspiring show and tell. :)

I picked up two pretty floral prints while I was in the shop to finish off my painted monarch butterfly - I think I'm going to make a pillow. I also got one of the last Stonehenge monument prints and was glad to get it. That place is on my 'bucket' list to visit - it was my ancestors (along with who knows how many other peoples':) that built the place. Not sure what kind of quilt I will make using the panel but I look forward to dreaming it up in my odd minutes of reverie. :)

Monday evening at the weekly Faithful Circle Quilters meeting I got to hang up some things on the gray walls to share and photograph. Here are some 'finishes':

Coneflowers close

This is a close view of my first punch needle project - coneflowers. I don't know if they naturally occur in this hot pink coloring - it's my fantasy garden so they are my colors. :) I truly love the texture of the embroidery. It feels like a velvet carpet. :)
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This is how I have bordered the piece (the embroidery measures about 4" x 7" or so). I still have to sandwich, quilt, and finish it. Sometime soon ...

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This is the flimsy for my New York Beauty swap mini for Instagram. I am so excited about this piece. :) I am eager to sandwich and quilt it ... but could not work on it today as I did not sleep well last night and was feeling extra clumsy (one of those days when two plus two equals FIVE very happily:).

So, what did I do today instead? I did some improv piecing to make a border for the Quilt In A Box project I have to work on this month (I think it belongs to Denise from Baltimore Modern quilt guild). I looked up a well written tutorial online and made twelve free-pieced trees (her project is a Christmas quilt based on two cute Cori Dantini panel prints).

Evergreen border

The strip sewed up to be 5" wide by 36" long so I did not take a photo of the whole thing. :) It was fun to make (kinda mindless sewing except for cutting the pieces to the correct sizes:) ... and I think I'll try to make something else for the Box before I hand it on, if I have time. The fabrics were pretty. :)

I had a nice FaceTime chat with my daughter and her family tonight. Baby Theo will be one year old on Friday and is walking a LOT, chatting in multisyllabic strings of baby talk, and has just learned to point at things. Otto was helping his Dad make dinner so I basically only got to wave hello to him. Makes me happy to see and talk to them all. :)

Tomorrow looks to be a quiet day ... hope there is sunshine!

:) Linda

P.S. Linking up with Let's Bee Social this week. :) Also with Design Wall Monday. Go look at all the pretty things! 


Happy Spring!

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I am thinking that Spring is a state of mind more than anything these days. :) There are now a few hopeful signs here near me - my periwinkle and the pachysandra in the front yard are both flowering. These are both small signs - along with colorful buds on my daffodils. :) The wild tulips aren't getting enough sunlight to bloom but they come up with courage every year at this time with lovely green leafy shoots. There is a pair of cardinals nesting in one of our front trees that come to my feeder - it's so sweet, they take turns ... one watches for trouble while the other snatches a few seeds and then they switch. :)

The last few days have been busy, quilt-wise. Thursday morning was the regular monthly meeting of Village Quilters and the speaker was fun.  A teacher named Jackie Kelso came to show off her eye-popping collection of class sample quilts. She is a Judy Niemeyer certified teacher and her quilts show it - many complex and foundation pieced designs (click on her name and go look at the modest gallery on her certification page).

I took a lot of photos but I am only going to share two here. These are the two quilts I saw (out of a couple dozen great ones:) that I'd really like to make (apologies for the quality of the photos - these were taken with my camera as she lectured).

Rocky mtn bear claw

This is called Rocky Mountain Bear Claw. I like the spikey-ness of the design! I can see making some of these for fun. I am guessing that they call to me for the same reason those New York Beauty blocks flip my switches. :)

 

Cabin fever

This is called Cabin Fever. I did not notice as I was looking at this quilt that it is based on a log cabin design - didn't see that until I found it in the pattern list on the Niemeyer website. I could get excited making this - I envision putting a couple different compass rose patterns inside one or two of those circles. :)

My friend Patty and I went together to the VQ meeting. As part of their monthly get-together they always have pot luck luncheon. Gosh the food is good! NOM. :)

Friday I got together with my friend Barbara for our usual Friday afternoon sewing date. We had lunch first at the local Cheesecake Factory. I think I had two days worth of calories at that lunch! The New England clam chowder was the best I ever had ... and the Very Cherry Ghirardelli Chocolate Cheesecake slice afterwards was probably twice as big as I should have eaten ... but sooooo yummy. :) No wonder I never lose weight!

I FINALLY managed to get my carry-along punch needle project straightened out that afternoon at Barbara's. I got both containers of 'stuff' together in the same place and put all the bits for my newest punch needle item together (sorry, didn't think to take a photo). Third time really is the charm. Whew!

Today was another good quilting day. Patty and I had signed up to take a fabric painting class with Linda M. Poole through Faithful Circle Quilters. Now, I've messed about with various fabric painting techniques over the years ... but this was certainly the most FUN class I've had. :)

I was _supposed_ to pick Patty up at 8:30 a.m. (class was scheduled to start at 9) ... but ... I could not pry my eyes open and so texted her to go on without me. Sigh. I finally woke up and got there around 11 a.m., a little while before they broke for lunch. Even so, I managed to more-or-less finish my project:

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Here is my finished bit as of now. After we broke at the end of class for photos and I got to see some of the other students' work, I got some ideas for more details - one student shadowed behind the butterfly with a darker blue that really made the insect pop (might try that:). I would call this my 'coloring book' method of shading on the flower. :)


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Here is a closer look at the butterfly itself ... as Linda said, I have a variant sub-species here. LOL. What the heck, I did not feel any great need to be zoologically correct. :) 

Over the years I have acquired a number of coloring books (the recent fancy adult versions) - I think I might pick one or two images that I really love out and try this with them. I find this kind of fabric painting to be soothing and meditative. :) (When I was a little girl, a coloring book and new box of crayons was the height of delight!:)

Tomorrow I plan to spend some quiet time at home ... a little housework, a little sewing (got to put the last seam into my NYB swap mini and sandwich it for quilting) ... and maybe some letter writing.

:) Linda


Modest Progress

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Isn't this an interesting image of 'progress'? Notice that all the people depicted (besides the ideal itself) are male? Hmmm. If you click on the photo, you can go read the Wikipedia article. Myself, I have less lofty goals and metrics for 'progress' - mostly measured in thread and fabric. :)

The weather has been improving here - it's more like very early spring now than late winter. Only in a place as mild climate-wise as eastern Maryland could you actually make that distinction, I'm thinking. :) My daffodils have buds on them and the birds are singing more (likely establishing territories and advertising for nesting mates:).

Sunday afternoon was the monthly meeting of Sew & Tell at my friend Barbara's house - I heard the distinctive song of redwing blackbirds while I was sitting amongst my friends sewing. I took along this month's block of the month project to hand sew. I started it at guild last Thursday morning, continued on Friday afternoon and finished it on Sunday. Such as it is ... it is actually square and flat; this photo was taken with the block slumped on top of my tote bag.

IMG_5070I was hoping to get those small lines in the background print to rotate around along with the tulips but I could not work it out. Shrug. I think this is a sweet design - there are some pretty ones already made in the guild's block box. Mine is rather softer in color than the others. Hopefully when more of them are turned in there will be enough variety for them all to work together. :)

The only other project I have going right now is the swap piece for the New York Beauty project on Instagram. I finished the second large block this week:

IMG_5069I am very happy with all the constituent pieces I've made - two large blocks (about 10" on a side, right now) and four smaller ones (6" squares). I am currently applying circles on the major arc of each of the small blocks. When I finish that, all that is left is to assemble the top and quilt it. :) I've been thinking about the final appearance all the time I've worked on this ... and still cannot decide how to proceed. Every time I lay out the blocks, I see different design ideas. Not such a bad problem to have, really. :)

The sun is shining nicely today. Maybe I'll go for a walk before I sit down to sew.

:) Linda


Sunshine!

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We've come to the shank end of winter here in eastern Maryland ... or the bare beginning of spring. Depends on your outlook. :) It has been nine days since I posted here ... which is generally not a good sign. :P

'Ups' over the past nine days include a trip to Bel Air, MD (1.5 hour drive north-east of me) to visit a well-reputed bariatric surgeon for the first time. Dr. Timothy You at MedStar Health was recommended to me by Susan Strauss and he has excellent interpersonal skills. The process includes a series of monthly classes (before surgery) with instruction on healthy eating, exercise, etc. We'll see how it goes for me. :) I managed to get home intact from that trip and spent the afternoon with my two besties, Barbara and Patty, sewing at Barbara's house. Well, I spent most of it sorting scraps for Barbara as the project I brought to work on was short some important bits. Grrr. :)

Also on the 'up' list was Saturday's monthly meeting of the Jinny Beyer Club at her shop in Falls Church, VA - lots of great show and tell for visual stimulation. :) Barbara and I ate lunch at the local Mexican bistro (yum!:). Another 'up' was the Sunday afternoon meeting of the Baltimore Modern Quilt Guild at the Arbutus Public Library in Catonsville. Again, incredible visual stimulation - as well as emotional and mental excitement from the lecture by Jackie Gehring on the subject of creativity. Affirming. :)

'Down' days included at least two spent horizontal. Sigh. Monday (yesterday) I was under the weather and missed the monthly meeting of Mimi Dietrich's Grad Class. Sniff. Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday last week I spent pretty quietly as I felt poorly, too. Sure am tired of gray winter skies!

Today there is sunshine and the weather is mild (50's?). I did my Tuesday house chores (gathering and putting out recycling for pick up) and then spent some time sewing ... for the first time in 9 days. :P I finished putting together the New York Beauty block I blogged about in my last post. Here is how it looks now ... when I was a kid in school, I was in marching band (from 4th grade until I graduated high school); this block makes me think of Sousa marches. :)

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I'm pleased with this block. Now I am debating whether to make another one using the same pattern or to use a completely different block design for the balancing large NYB block for my swap mini. More research and sketching. :)

:) Linda


Wheels, Wheels

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We got more snow today ... not much accumulation but it was dreary and gray and precipitating most of the day. Luckily, I could stay inside in the warm and SEW. :)    

One of the fabrics I'm using has bicycles printed on it - makes me think of spring. :) Yesterday I managed to make the other two 6" blocks for the main sweep of my mini quilt. Today I started on one of the two large blocks. Here's how it's going:

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This is one arc of the larger block. I decided to go with drama and energy with the prints. :) I only managed to sew half of the arc this evening - I plan to finish it tomorrow.


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This shows the lower two arcs of that bigger block - the bicycle print and the 'rainbow' color array of spokes. The b&w spikes will go atop this.


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Here are the two smaller blocks I made yesterday. I think they look like bicycle tires with decorated spokes (shades of parades through the neighborhood:).

I am pleased with the way this project is going along. I hope to finish it this week ... but more work is to be done yet.

:) Linda


More Snow

Lost-mojo

 

mo·jo  /ˈmōjō/  noun  US  A magic charm, talisman, or spell. "Someone must have their mojo working over at the record company". Magic power.

 

Well, today I started on the path toward getting my 'sewjo' back. Akin to MOJO (see above:), sewjo is sewing power or enthusiasm. :) I've been 'well' from the lung nasties for at least three weeks now and just have not had any interest in sewing. Shrug. Winter, s.a.d., low energy, who knows?

However. I have this swap I joined back before the viral nastiness that I really want to be productive for ... so today I bit the bullet and started sewing.

I sketched out a rough idea for design, sorted through the four New York Beauty block designs I chose from the gazillion available and started in to work. Had my pile of a dozen fat quarters mustered beside my Nina ... and began to cut bits. 

The blocks I started making are 6" finished and, therefor, a bit finicky. Here's what I got done in about three hours (!) this afternoon:

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Here are the first arcs I made. The design calls for circles to be appliqued onto the dark arcs. I tried to get the stripes of that b&w print to move around the arc - with limited success. Extreme precision of fabric placement takes practice and I have not had much lately. Sigh.


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For these two blocks I decided to use the medium gray bicycle print for the background. I like the soft contrast with the dark arcs ... but I might have to change my mind when I look at this from farther away. I hope not.

I have two more blocks drawn out (I'm foundation piecing them) to sew tomorrow. I am actually looking forward to sewing. :)

It snowed over night last night - I was hoping for many inches but it looks like we only got two or maybe three. Supposed to be very cold rain tonight and then snow again on Sunday. Weather certainly isn't dull here. :)

Luckily, I have no appointments or meetings scheduled for this weekend (that I know about:) so I can stay in the warm and SEW.

:) Linda