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April 2019

Continuing Spring


I saw a lilac bush flowering earlier this week - the first for this spring (for me:). I LOVE lilacs - I remember with fondness a big old lilac bush that grew right beside the backdoor of the science building my undergraduate lab was in on the campus of University of Wisconsin in Madison. Every spring when it flowered the scent was heavenly and the flowers lasted for ages (at least it seemed like ages to my green-starved early spring self:). Lilacs are tough plants - if you click on the photo, you can go read an article from an Alaskan newspaper about how to grow them way, way up north. :) There are many beautiful color variants, too.

Wednesday was the quarterly luncheon of Seminole former staff folks - this time we met at Bare Bones in Ellicott City. Five of us ate together and caught up on recent life events. I so enjoy these dates! It's good to stay in touch with my (former) staff friends. :)

Afterwards, Patty and I got door-pick-up service from our friend Barbara. Blue House Fabrics in Westminster had a flash (three day) sale with 40% off on in-stock fabrics. Could NOT pass that opportunity up! :) The weather was lovely that day - sunny and mild - and the drive west into Carroll County was very picturesque. Happy sighs. :) I bought six half yards of prints (mostly 'low volume' for backgrounds except for one bicycle print) and a pattern - Bear's Claw by Judy Niemeyer:


Since we were in the neighborhood (and rarely get out that way), we also drove over to see the new Sew & Sweep store (what used to be JoMax). The shop has an airy, fresh look and is mostly a sewing-machine-centered business (I did see vacuums and air cleaners, too). They had a very small corner of fabrics for sale - but half of them were Kaffee Fassett collective prints so I was in the proverbial hog heaven. :) I restrained myself and only bought eight fat quarters and a die-cut set of Tula Pink hexes (I _think_ they are from the Zuma collection but I'm not positive about that:).

What a great day we had! Thursday (the next day) was supposed to be the monthly meeting of Village Quilters ... but I had another sleep-in episode and did not wake up until 1:20 p.m. Sigh. So much for pretty quilts, happy faces and great pot luck luncheon. (This followed a similar event on Tuesday when I slept through a doctor's appointment). :P

Today was intermittently rainy and sunny. My friend Barbara was busy in the morning so I went to her house to sew together around 1:30 p.m. I am now down to the last swirl on my punch needle project (no photo this week). Barbara spent the afternoon working on her homework for the Barbara Burnham class, Baltimore Garden. I think she was doing an applique bird (the lesson tomorrow is doing bird's eyes:).

On the drive home from Barbara's house, I saw the following on a car ahead of me at the stop light:


I think this is a visual rif on the more-usual people in family stickers for car windows. Made me giggle right out loud - these folks are definitely kindred spirits! :) In case you can't make sense out of my shot-through-the-window photo, those are Star Wars style StormTroopers, adult and children sized. :)

I got busy on Thursday evening (disgusted with myself over the sleep issues) and started sewing with the Tula Pink hexes. I quickly got lazy and cut them across to make half hexes - this let me mix up the 42 pieces a bit more. I tried to keep them color sorted to get some kind of colorwash effect. I'm only halfway done making this, so a bit messy photo:
I plan to finish sewing this tomorrow afternoon. (fingers crossed with hope) I like how it is going together so far. :) I think it will become a wall hanging for the Faithful Circle show's Silent Auction.

I also want to share a picture of the New York Beauty mini I received in the Instagram swap - made by Geta:

I like everything about this little quilt! Hopefully I will get it hung in the living room gallery soon.

Just for completeness, I want to show here the name tag I finished for our swap in the Baltimore modern guild:


Someone left this really nifty name badge pouch on the freebie table at Faithful Circle recently (along with two other black ones). I thought it was too nicely made and too handy to leave behind ... so I appliqued some isosceles triangles in bright colors and Claire's name onto the pouch. She's already gotten it so I feel free to share it here. :)

Tomorrow I have a date to help my last remaining private student with her quilt project (for her first great-grandson!). After that, I hope to SEW!

:) Linda




Spring Air


Spring weather is getting more reliable here in Columbia. I went down to dockside one afternoon earlier this week to eat my lunch and enjoy the fresh air. Of course, there were lots of other folks enjoying the weather - walking, biking, chatting. So nice not to be cooped up in the house!

My Japanese maple tree has finally leafed out in its spring shade of red:


A bit softer than the brilliant crimson it turns in Autumn. :)

I read an interesting article on one of my blog reading jaunts this week - all about dyeing with natural plants in prehistory. Here is a tiny piece of a Chinese textile more than 2000 years old:


If you click on the picture, you can go read the article - all about dyes used in China and Peru (odd combination of places, eh?). Apparently the green bit showing above is the time-degraded result of dyeing with indigo. No surprise there - indigo has been used for millennia to dye plant-based textiles. :) Speaking of indigo, I've been reading more of the book I bought about Cotton and Indigo. Beautiful eye candy photos and lots of interesting info. 

Every day I see new things flowering when I go out ... and the grass is finally beginning to green up. :) The trees are getting a thorough watering this weekend with rain on Friday and some yesterday, too. Looks like it might rain again today (overcast skies are pretty common here), but no telling if it will actually fall. I get tired of the gray but the green depends on rain.

I have mostly been home this week - still fighting with my sleep issues. Slept right through the monthly meeting of Village Quilters last Thursday ... and through a doctor's appointment on Tuesday. Sigh. 

I have managed to do some sewing this week. I met with my friend Barbara on Friday for our usual afternoon sewing together. I managed to get quite a bit done on my punch needle heart project:


As you can see, I just have the upper left bit to fill in yet. As I go along, it gets a bit trickier to choose colors since whatever I put in now has to look good beside what I've already done. Fun! :) I have managed to retain the whirly structure of some of the swirls but lost it on others. No matter how long I do this color stuff, my eyes still cannot always predict what will happen between two shades or tints. I think the un-know-able-ness of the results is part of what keeps me playing. :)

I also sat down to work on my Sisterhood Swap wedges yesterday. I stopped at Springwater Designs on Saturday in the early afternoon to say hello to my friends in the Columbia group of the Baltimore Modern guild (they were having a sew-in). I was just too verklempt to get my act together to sew, but I did want to gossip. :) It was good to get to see faces and projects as folks were working. While I was there, I picked up some 'flesh' colored sold fabric, some of Karen Buckley's Perfect Circle templates, and a new bottle of Best Press (my favorite 'starch'). 

The pattern for my Sisterhood wedges includes applique for the faces/heads of each figure. I am not very good at making circles ... um ... smoothly circular .... so I decided to use a technique learned from my friend Barbara for making them. I cut squares of my 'flesh' fabric big enough to wrap around the appropriate sized circle template (thank goodness the package includes four of each size since I have to make eight:) ... then dipped each circle in Best Press and wound it tightly around a template. I could not find any rubber bands so I used thread to tie off each square. After they dry, I can remove the templates and the circles are perfect! Trim the seam allowances down from the square and off you go to applique smooth faces/heads on each wedge. :)

I managed to sew up half of  the necessary  wedges for my swap yesterday. Here's one example:


Kind of hard to tell what's what in this photo, eh? No face/head on it, yet. The triangle of pink print is supposed to be her dress. Those white lines with speckles are her arms. Finding 'flesh' fabric was kind of an adventure. 

I used to have a stock question I asked whenever a customer would come into my store and ask for a 'flesh colored' fabric - "Whose flesh?" :) Skin comes in a huge array of colors from pale, almost transparent white (like my Mom's skin which you could see her veins through) to deep black ... and every neutral shade of pink, peach, beige, brown, yellow and black in between. When I was at Springwater, I found a solid that I _thought_ was yellow-tinted white (I, personally, have the skin of a red-headed person, with the abundant freckles to prove it) ... but, when I sewed it into my wedges, my chosen shade blended right into the 'low volume' background prints we were instructed to use. Sigh.

I tried adding freckles with my Pigma pen but it just looks silly (I think I will keep that particular wedge for myself:). I am thinking to draw eyeglasses on that figure's face, just to top off the wedge. Chuckle.

Well, off to make my other four wedges and to pack envelopes for mailing. I think I will devote the coming week to cleaning up the sewing corner in  my living room and sorting out projects that need finishing, once my swap obligations are complete.

:) Linda




The redbud and dogwood trees are flowering here, now. So lovely! I caught this one in the act early this afternoon, on my way out of my orthopedist's office. They have a lovely lower level garden by the building. I saw two beautiful dogwood trees but could not find a spot to stop and take photos.

I need to take a trip to Oak Hall (to the town post office) to mail a lot of stuff tomorrow early (well, as 'early' as I ever do anything:). I FINALLY finished my New York Beauty swap mini quilt and I need to send it off to its new 'mommy'. :) I also have to buy stamps and mail some bills and letters (less pressing).

Here is how my 24" square quilt turned out:

Cycling beauty

I am really pleased with how this came out. I think you might be able to see some of the quilting lines in this picture? I finished the perimeter with a back-turned facing and rick-rack edging. I hope the new owner likes it as much as I do! :)

I have gotten some nice post recently, too. I WON a copy of this book from a blog drawing - many thanks to author Teresa Wong  and to Patricia at Okan Arts!Book cotton

I actually sat and read this book over a couple of low-energy afternoons last week. Having owned a quilt shop and dealt with industry agents from the wholesale/retail end, it was fascinating to learn about the agriculture/processing end of the fabric industry, too. I highly recommend this book if you have any interest at all in the cotton growing or fabric making world. :)

I find Ms. Wong's writing clear and enticing. I recently bought a copy of Cotton and Indigo and love it - those of you who know me probably know how much I enjoy Japanese indigo fabrics. :)

I also received my first copy of a new-to-me magazine, Curated Quilts last week. The current issue is about curved piecing, another favorite aesthetic of mine. I am still working on reading my way through this issue ... will report more on that another post.

Now that I have finished my most deadline-urgent project (the NYB), I can get my other obligations finished this week - bee blocks, a name tag for a friend (for another swap in which I am late), my Sisterhood Swap blocks, some more for the Quilt In A Box I have on hand ... might be another week before I can go back to 'normal' sewing again.

I think I will lay low on incurring any more sewing obligations for a while. I think the two bees I am in already with my local modern guild are more than enough to keep me busy! Oh, plus two bingo quilts (for two different guilds) I need to make ...... plus .....

Better rev my sewing engines!

:) Linda


Judy_gallagher_38170799382_37892bef63_bToday was overcast but warm (mid 70's) and pleasant. I had trouble sleeping last night (sigh) so did not get up until noon. :P I had my semi-annual teeth cleaning appointment with my dentist (Dr. Katkow) early this afternoon. I like my dentist and I really like having clean teeth so was prompt. :) 

On my way out of the driveway, I saw a big bumblebee flying from flower to flower (the periwinkle is flowering). Poor thing, I hope it has some place to hide away if the weather gets colder (which it almost certainly will, this being spring). If you click on the photo, you can go read about the various bees native to Maryland; maybe there will be something about their cold adaptions.

Speaking of flowers, this area has hit SPRING big time. On my way to the dentist I manage to shoot a quick picture of flowering cherry trees (Japanese) through the car's front window:

IMG_5098I love the way the white/faint pink blossoms of Japanese cherries seem to float ... a lovely visual illusion. 

Of course, the pears are blooming so there are lots of white flowers showing against their dark bark ... and daffodils everywhere. In front of the dentist's building I found these:
Magnolia flowers. :) The dentist and his hygienist both mentioned these flowers - I think the folks in that office building appreciate the little trees.

Other than my tooth-y outing, I spent the rest of my afternoon finishing up the quilting on my New York Beauty mini quilt. No photos, yet - I want to bind it first. Planning to do that tomorrow a.m. Hope the sun shines tomorrow - I'd like to take photos before I mail it off to its new home.

:) Linda

Oversleeping, Underproducing


Sleep experts think that sleeping too much is just as bad for you as sleeping too little (click on the kitty's picture and go read the article). :P I'm living proof of that - or else I'm turning into a cat (with no diurnal cycle). :) Did you know that dogs actually sleep more than cats? Random trivia that floats across the surface of my brain.

I"ve been struggling to sandwich and quilt my New York Beauty mini quilt for the past seven days. Wednesday I had the CT scan of my lungs ... that was an adventure (of the sort you might not want to repeat). Took two hours, two IVs, an ultrasound device and two doses of iodine contrast fluid ... but I found out that I do NOT have a pulmonary embolism. So, that's a positive step. :)

Struggled to get up but made it to my guild meeting on Thursday ... saw lots of pretty show and tell quilts (benefit of actually going, besides seeing quilty friends:). Managed to eat great lunch on Friday with my friend Barbara (at Mission Barbeque) and got a little more done on my punch needle project:


As you can see, the lighting was directly over my head when I tried to take this photo ... so here's a shot to the side (but skewed view of embroidery):


I was working on that pink swirl when I quit in the late afternoon. Had a brutal headache all day Friday - thought at the time that it might be sinuses (downside to living in a place with such lovely spring flowers is ultra high pollen counts to set off respiratory system). Now I think it might be the pinched nerve in my right neck. :P Too many ways for the human body to mess up.

I spent almost all of Saturday asleep - could not stay awake. So, did not get my NYB top sandwiched until today. Managed to finish about 3/4 of the quilting. Hopefully can finish and bind tomorrow.


Hope the sun shines tomorrow - could use a little light here.

:) Linda