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April 2020

Pieceful Day


The weather today was overcast and dull, drippy. The grass certainly likes the spring we are having - even if we mere mortals think it a bit drab. My son was telling me this morning after he came in from his walk that it just doesn't feel like spring to him, even if it will be May soon. :P

I spent my day peacefully - and piecefully. :) I have settled into a lethargic routine of gently reading emails and news in the morning followed by a leisurely lunch and sewing in the afternoon. Before I go off to sew I work the daily crossword from USA Today on my iphone ... and check in on Instagram for a few minutes (I get bored easily these days so I don't stay long if the images aren't interesting enough:).

Today I finished sewing the second butterfly in my wreath - Green:


Not nearly as showy as Black, but I'm happy with him. He does green fairly true, I think. Green is the center bottom block of the nine sections so I have enough to sew a column together tomorrow:


I am thinking to back-burner this project for a few days so I can take out the book blocks from my modern guild and start working on a design for the bingo quilt I promised to make. I had a great idea but I think it is too ambitious for this venue - and my local modern buddies agreed with me when I asked - so I am just going to make a nice quilt. :) I have gathered all the blocks but I haven't even counted them to see what I have to work with. Sigh. Time to get it done!

I am still working on my sewing room - now I have to start on clearing out the closet so I can store away the bits and bobs laying all over the house inside. Wish me luck!

The only other sewing I've done recently was to design and make two blocks for Faithful Circle Quilters - one of the members (Nancy Meyers) thought it might be good to have a way to use up the mask making scraps busy guild sewists have generated so I designed two 'commemorative' blocks:



I used the scraps from the masks I made for myself and my husband and son to make these blocks. The background prints I chose are to  express my philosophical support for science-based reasoning. :) Guild members are still voting on whether to use our blocks for a drawing as is usual or to use them for making a raffle quilt to raise funds for charity.

I did manage to make a nice dinner tonight - spaghetti and meatballs. Pretty tasty, if I do say so myself. :) One thing about the shutdown, we are cooking real meals here at home WAY more often than normal. I am even finding it a bit fun (and certainly more interesting than our usual fare).

:) Linda



Walk In


Today has been moist and cloudy all day - the temperature is still in the low 50s at best, so it's dank and chilly, too. Spring.

Luckily I have my sewing space to retreat into - happy, happy place. :)  I actually managed to sew quite a bit yesterday and today (for me). I sewed up the center block in my butterfly wreath design, the floral center:

Center flower

I must say that I am quite pleased with how it came out. :) Tomorrow I will work on the next butterfly motif, the one situated below this flower. Then I can sew the center column of three blocks together. :)

I did not work on the butterfly today because I got sidetracked onto another job. My 'traditional' guild, Faithful Circle, has a LOT of members who have been sewing masks, scrub caps, etc., for local hospitals. Our president asked me to work up some designs for members to use their scraps from these projects to make commemorative blocks. I spent a couple of hours this evening making two blocks to test my designs and I'm pretty happy with how they came out, too. :) I sent photos off to the powers-that-be for approval ... once I get the nod, I will share them here (no big deal:).

It is extremely wonderful to be able to just walk into my space, sit down and SEW. I have missed doing that and I'm so glad that my 'sewjo' has come back to me. Happy sigh. I am even enjoying cleaning the room up now that the worst drudgery is over (I _think_; heaven knows how I'll feel when I really have to start doing the hard sorting:). I look forward to getting my son to help me spread out the carpet I bought to go under my machine.

I attended a Zoom meeting this afternoon with my Baltimore modern guild friends - getting to be a welcome pattern (we've met for three Saturdays now). So nice to discuss the world's problems with like minded folk. :)

I talked to my daughter and two grandsons yesterday ... I am SO glad we don't have small kids at home during this shutdown! I loved my children dearly but taking care of small kids is exhausting, thoroughly. Whew! Of course, as a grandma, I can spectate and laugh at their antics (harder to do when you have to be the peacekeeper:).

Tomorrow I get to sew on Green Butterfly. Fun! Fun!

:) Linda



Today I did a little happy dance in my now-set-up sewing space - still crude but useable! :) My machine does not look like the one above (might be fun to color that one, eh?), it looks like this:


Mine (this one's from an online search) sits down in a table with it's sewing top flush ... I enjoy the extra space to work a lot. :)

In between sewing seams, I spent some time unloading random piles of fabric into the empty chest of drawers in the corner (temporary storage while I think about other methods) - my 'low volume' backgrounds and solid fabrics filled the top drawer. Three more drawers to go. And more trash to be hauled out so I can use the closet ... happy days ahead. LOL.

I _finally_ got started working on the pattern testing I promised to do for Julianna. Here is the first section out of nine with my 'neutral' butterfly:

Black butterfly testing

It's not perfect but any mismatched seams are my fault entirely. The pattern is flawlessly designed. :) I am eager to see this finished and quilted! Even so, I only had the sewjo for one section today - otherwise I did cleaning and sorting and hauling chores. :)

I think I will sew up the central section tomorrow - it makes up a large hibiscus-like flower around which the eight butterflies dance.

We had a surprise power outage yesterday evening - from about 8:10 p.m. until 8:45 pm. This is an extremely rare event here in Columbia - all our power lines are buried underground and so are not subject to the usual weather problems. BG&E must have created/caused the outage themselves because I texted in the outage notice about a minute after everything went dark and they already were onto it. Looking out our house windows, front and back, the outage only affected our street - the neighbors to the rear (on the next street) were all  lit up. Shrug.

:) Linda

How Many Weekends?


Honestly, I've lost track. :P I would have to drag out my calendar and count on my fingers to be sure ... but I _think_ this is the beginning of the fifth? sixth? week of quarantine. We've settled into a sort of routine here, Chez Schiffer - at least as much routine as any of the three quirky folks who live here can sustain. :) My husband and I are sleeping on opposite clock patterns - he is not able to sleep for more than three hours at a time right now ... so even if we go to bed at the same time (maybe three nights out of five), he wakes up in the very-early-morning o'dark time ... then naps in the middle of the afternoon. I sleep all morning and am only active in the afternoon (generally from 11 a.m. until about midnight:). Our son, right now, is sleeping at night, too, but unevenly. His body clock is as flexible as his father's. :)

The weather has been alternately rainy and sunny here. The temperatures are mild - I have known temps in the 80s by this time in April in years past - we've had mid50s to low 70s. Every beautiful thing is flowering (which makes allergy issues tough but is lovely to look at:).

Friday Hugh and I went grocery shopping. That was a challenge for me - we went to BJs Warehouse which is a typical big box store with hard concrete floors. I usually ride an electric cart (so glad they supply them!) .. but none of the three available actually worked on Friday morning so, for a change, I had to walk all over the store. That amounts to roughly three times as many steps as I have been taking recently and was _exhausting_ for me. Probably good for me in the long run, but difficult to recover from. Soon as we unloaded the car and put everything away, I took a nap. :)

I spent the rest of Friday and almost all of yesterday (Saturday) cleaning in my 'new' sewing room. I cleared away enough space to set up my machine and start sewing again. By the time I was finished Saturday afternoon, I was too tired to sew ... so I sewed today. YEAH! :)

It has been a long time (by my standards) since I used my Bernina ... setting it up to sew felt like visiting a homeland I've missed. :) Took me a comparative age to get it all ready to go. My first assignment was to make the April block for the Stash Bee (hive #4) I'm in:

Stash bee april

I didn't even press the block before I whipped out my phone and took this photo. :)  This month's Queen Bee asked for bright saturated solid fabrics in her block - I hope she likes this. The only solid fabrics I have in my stash are left over from my temperature quilt project last year ... I have a fair bit of yardage to use up from that endeavor. :

I happened across some pictures of group quilts that were shown at QuiltCon back in late February in Austin, TX. Two of them looked familiar and, sure enough, my name was listed as a participant. These were two group quilts resulting from the MidAtlantic Mod retreat last year:

Transparency_Quilt_largePieced By: Colleen Wiest, Jackie Laba, Linda Schaffer, Rachel Rossi, Tricia Scott, Robin Tilswoth, Rose Daley, Melodye Marks, Lynn MacKay-Atha, Summer Rankin, Helaine Lobman, Maureen Ciemian, Juanda Gikandi
Machine Quilted by Jackie Laba

Quadrants_largePieced By: Jessica Levitt, Alyson Olander, Hina McCree, Sarah Fader, Heather Kojan, Nicole Folino, Jessica Skultety, Paulette File, Shari van der Grijn, Linda Schiffer, Rose Daley, Haley Crawford


The first quilt's theme was Transparency; the second quilt was, I think, called Quadrants. No, I don't remember which bits I made ... and likely they will have been modified quite a bit by the time the quilt was finished, anyway. :) I enjoy working on group projects like this - always fun to see how other people's brains work. 

Tomorrow I will go on working on moving my crap quilting stuff into the new space and sorting it all out. And (fingers crossed) I will start sewing on the next most urgent project - the butterfly wreath pattern testing.

:) Linda



Today was sunny and warm-ish (60s). Nice spring day. :) When I went out today, among many other lovelies, I saw the first-to-me dogwoods in bloom. One pink one like above and a white one. So lovely!

Why did I go out? As I was reading my email this morning, I realized that the new issue of Simply Moderne magazine should be out. I ordered a copy from my local quilt shop, Springwater Designs, and decided that today was a good day to drive over and pick it up. :) The store is closed but she is doing 'curbside delivery' - color me a happy woman! New reading material.

As long as I was outside, I stopped at Giant (grocery store) to pick up a few items for cooking dinners. Hugh had intended to get them when he went out walking this morning but forgot. Sad when going to the grocery store is an Adventure, eh? :) I wore my new mask and it worked pretty well - except that my glasses kept fogging up. :P When I'm in the car by myself while driving, I can uncover my nose and that allows me to see correctly ... while in the store (and this with nose covered:), I put my glasses on my head and made do with short sight. Adapting to the times. :)

As usual, I enjoyed this issue of SM. I adore the cover quilt - I am always attracted to this kind of design and have seen many versions (and love them, every one:):


I have my green leaf quilt to finish ... but this one above has to go on my list somewhere. :)

I will share one other quilt in this issue that I liked enough to think about making (there were others ... but you should get your own copy to enjoy:):


I am always enticed by interwoven lattice patterns and the one above, being interwoven curves, rings even more bells for me. :) I think this would be a blast to make!

I spent a goodly number of hours Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday working in my to-be sewing room. Cleaning, sorting (trash, recycling, charity, keep), and moving stuff around. By the end of this afternoon, I was physically exhausted and aching but triumphant. Tomorrow my son and I plan to load a whole bunch of stuff into the car and haul it to the dump/recycling center. Then he will help me move my sewing machine into the new room and I can SEW. 

Well, probably I'll be so sore after all that hauling I won't be _able_ to sew until Saturday. Still, it's about time! :) 

I even got a bit crazy and ordered a new area rug for my space ... Can't get the carpet in there replaced right now with the virus going on ... so, until then, protect my feet from the nasty 'rotting chrysanthemum' shag carpet. :) Here's what I ordered (will be delivered on the 23rd):


I used to have some batik fabric with a similar pattern - loved this at first sight. :) The color scheme (if you could see my room right this instant, the _idea_ of a color scheme would make you laugh) I have in mind is turquoise/hot pink/gray. :) This isn't a very big rug (7'x9'?) and I will use it in the room after the carpet is gone, too.

So, today was reasonably positive. I am feeling somewhat happier under all my muscle aches. Tomorrow will be even better. 

:) Linda

Easter Weekend

Easter tag8

I love this Easter graphic (I got it from the Graphics Fairy website several years ago). First because the girl is dark haired (most Easter graphics I have seen feature blond children) ... and then because she is handling violets. Here in my front garden, in eastern MD, the violets began to bloom this week. I adore violets - first because they are beautiful but tough and can grow and reproduce in hard scrabble places and second because my niece Amy (whom I adore) loves them and I always think of her when violets are near. :)

If you can't read the fine print at the bottom of my image, it says 'love and peace reign at Easter'.

Spring is my favorite season and I adore all the pagan Easter icons - bunnies, eggs, violets, lilies, etc. Happy, happy.

We don't celebrate Easter here chez Schiffer as we are not church-going Christians. I respect all religions (well, almost all - I draw the line at Satan worship and other such negative outlooks:) ... and cleave to none, truthfully. If I had been born 20,000 years ago, I would most likely have been the clan shaman or maybe healer ... spirituality but no doctrine. My daughter says I am philosophically a Transcendentalist (from the school of Thoreau and Walden Pond:).

I have been busier than usual this weekend. I got up yesterday (Saturday) morning full of ambition to work hard in my to-be sewing room (my son's now-abandoned bedroom). My physical state is such that I work hard for a half hour and then sit to rest for a half hour or more ... then back to work. :) I made considerable headway (three large black bags of trash, two of clothing to donate, etc) ... but did not have the energy to finish completely. 

I _thought_ I'd go back to work today ... but I discovered multiple muscle pains and decided to let my body rest today. I had exactly the opposite of my normal sleeping experience last night - I could not sleep. Sigh. I woke up 'blink' at 7 a.m. and got up ... ate breakfast ... and gathered my tools and fabrics to hand sew.

My son, husband and I desperately need masks for wearing when we go out, so I set down to sew them. I decided after reviewing umpty-leven versions of masks to make the sort that is fitted to the face (as opposed to the rectangular pleated ones) - pattern C. What swayed my choice was the fact that the more fitted masks are supposed to be better for not fogging up your eyeglass - all three of us wear them. Also I enjoy fussy cutting and the fitted mask lends itself more to that fun. :)

I still don't have my sewing machine set up so I hand sewed everything. I enjoy it as meditative work ... but found myself being pretty clumsy for the first hour or so today. It has been at least a month since I sewed anything and my hand muscles apparently needed quite a bit of warmup. :) I started out listening to an audiobook while I sewed (Bunnicula, one of my favorites from my kids' younger years).

My niece Stephanie called sometime early in my working and that distracted me ... I never went back to listening to the story after I finished chatting with her. :) I most often work with silence - I LOVE music and books but somehow sewing is such a zen experience for me that I rarely get into a mood to have sounds in the background. Shrug.

Anyway, I chose two positive/negative batik prints - I _think_ they were one of the special fabrics we had made for Quilters Quest one year - for my husband's and son's masks. Here is a photo of my son wearing his (fwiw):

Hugh in mask

Yes, he does need a haircut - don't we all? :)

I thought this photo showed the fabric better - it's a patriotic style design with wingspread eagles, American flags and firework bursts. The outer print has a navy blue background and the lining print has a sky blue one.

I found some very nice leather thongs in three different colors (brown, gray, olive green) in some stuff I sorted in my sewing area so I used those to make the kind of ties that go all the way around - you situate the middle of the single length at the back of your head then gather up the ends and tie them behind your neck. I thought that would be easier than having separate ties for the top and bottom of the mask ... and I don't have any elastic on hand. I do have some coming in the mail from a friend so I might change the mask mounting if Hugh decides he'd rather have the elastic. :)

I completely finished his mask (he is going out walking early every morning and I feel some pressure to be sure he is covered:). I am almost finished with my husband's (I thought I'd finish sewing it this evening after we ate ... but my short night of sleep is catching up with me so I guess I'll do that in the morning:). I have the pieces cut out for mine but haven't started sewing it.

I did find that my accuracy, comfort and sewing speed increased quite a bit as the afternoon went on. Muscle warm-ups I guess. :)

I cooked dinner this evening which we have all come to enjoy as a treat. When we bought Seminole Sampler (May 1st, 1999), I told my family I was finished being the chef. Previous to that I had been chief cook and bottle washer for about twenty years ... and it was not a duty that I enjoyed most of the time. Things change ... now I am finding cooking relaxing and it's fun to find new recipes. 'Course, I still don't do it every day and I _definitely_ do not consider it my personal chore even now. No doubt that helps my attitude. :)

I had a phone call from my daughter this afternoon just as we were sitting down to eat dinner. Both of her boys were looking tired - they were quietly sitting with Eva and watching tv (Octonauts?). Love my peoples! :)

Tomorrow I hope to finish getting my sewing area set up to function (it will be ages before the room is completely cleaned and decorated as I am imagining it, but I will take a functional sewing machine right now with joy!:) ... then I owe a Stash Bee block and want to work on the pattern testing of Julianna's butterfly wreath. Exciting times ahead.

:) Linda

Times Keeps on Slippin'


I picked up this visual from a blog I was reading today (I neglected to note where I got it and does not find it). IF this is your image, please let me know so I can give you credit. :) 

I can't say that I have experienced any fear with this tedious world-wide time out ... probably naive of me. Shrug. I have been learning (although, as usual, there is some question as to how much of it will stick to me:) ... bits and pieces of history, new sewing ideas, etc. (more about that anon). As for having ambition - there doesn't seem to be any at all  in my makeup right now. :)

The weather has been alternately glorious and spring-y (50s to low 70s in temperature, sunny, breezy to outright windy) then gray and rainy. Typical spring here in MD. I still have not managed to get outside to wash off the second half of my chaise lounge - it rained and then today was so windy I feared sailing away (my lounge DID sail across the deck and have to be rescued:). Maybe later this weekend as it is supposed to be nice for a few days before rain sets back in for a while.

I am pattern testing a new (to be free) design by Julianna (first one shown with the butterfly ring). I spent two hours yesterday printing, cutting out and size checking all the pieces for her rather complicated 20" square foundation pieced block. I am eager to get to the choosing fabric and sewing stage - still have to finish tidying at least one corner of my sewing space. Fingers crossed I can finish that tomorrow.

I spent today on some housework (gathering trash for the weekly pickup tomorrow; cooking dinner; cleaning some in my room) ... and some reading ... and some educational video watching this evening. There is a fascinating (to me, anyway:) site on the BBC with short videos about a wide variety of topics. I watched things from mud-larking on the Thames to ancient boat burials in Sweden to Faraday's experiments with electricity and on ... fun!

Yesterday I came out to find this in my front yard:

Redleaf spring
Overnight the leaves on my red leaf Japanese maple burst out of bud and opened. The very gray skies and soft steady rain gave a nicely gentle background to those brilliant dark red leaves. Spring is without a doubt here at long last.

This is the end of the fourth week I have been in social seclusion/distancing. I think we - nearly everyone in the civilized world - will look back on this period in time as strange, even in years to come. At least we are all in it together (willye/nillye). :) I am completely losing my sense of days - I find that I have to look at my Apple watch or my iPhone to see what day of the week or calendar date it might be - the days are blurring one into another in my memory. :P

Here is another graphic I picked up somewhere yesterday or today that I really like:

We can do it

I am so grateful that there are busy do-ers who are making masks and other PPE supplies (think about all the specialized words we are learning through this!). So far I am not one of them, sadly. My son and I are the designated go-out-to-do-essential-things people for our household and neither of us have a mask, yet. We need to go get groceries tomorrow and I'm sure we'll be chided for the lack. Sigh.

:) Linda


Beautiful Spring Day


Today was gloriously beautiful, weather wise. Excellent spring day! As has become usual, I slept until early afternoon (still not getting a handle on this sleep thing). I absolutely HAD to go outside because it was so pretty. Fortunately, we have a nice, sturdy, still-new deck that I could go out onto. :)

Years ago I bought a plain chaise lounge and small table so I could sit out on the deck - the kind that is covered in sturdy white plastic strapping, with a raise-up-and-down back. When they worked on the deck last fall, they moved my chair and table down onto the step near the back door and it has been sitting there ever since ... through rain and shine, with grass clippings flung onto it whenever the lawn was cut. 

I had my son drag it up onto the new deck and brought out a nice bucket of hot water, fortified with a generous dose of Murphy's Soap, and started cleaning it off (preparatory to sitting on it, I had hoped:). I struggled for an hour and only managed to clean off half of it before my stamina gave out and I had to surrender for the nonce. :)

My neighbor next-door-behind was mowing his grass (I LOVE the sound of lawnmowers, who knows why) and another neighbor across the grassway (beneath the high-tension power lines beside our neighborhood) was playing fetch with his two small (yappy) dogs. It was actually a great pleasure to be outside in the neighborhood today. :) Such simple pleasures ... and so precious.

I am still not sewing ... but I _am_ cleaning (slowly, very slowly, as my stamina allows) and getting closer every day. 

:) Linda