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May 2021

Behind the Din

Ememem-9-1536x1024There is a French mosaic artist called Ememem doing amazing work near Lyons - using his skills to repair/refresh the city's potholes and erosions. If you click on the photo above, you can go read about his work - I personally think it is exquisite! :) Here are two more examples:


Life is flowing along quietly here chez Schiffer. I sew a couple of hours every day - I always thought I'd sew all day long when I retired but I have found that my body just cannot perform for more than about three hours before I have to sit quietly in a corner and rest. Looking down at the machine (which is supposed to be the best angle) aggravates my neck and my hands go numb. :P My attention span appears to be about 1.5 hours before my mind wanders off what I'm doing. (That _is_ an improvement from the 45 minutes I could manage when running my store:) 

One good thing that I started during the pandemic is cooking real food for our suppers ... I manage maybe three or four evenings a week, which I count as a success. Especially considering how much I do not enjoy meal planning/meal production/grocery shopping, etc. LOL.

Today I finished making and attaching the Dresden frame to my second embroidered block for the Halloween mystery bom:


I love his ruff! This is another design by Meg Hawkey of Crabapple Hill Studio. I was just thinking today (as I gathered the fabrics to make this frame) that I want to incorporate some of my other archived Halloween patterns in this quilt when I finish the embroideries. :)

As I'm sure you know, the big environmental news in my local region right now is the eruption of Brood X of 17 year cicadas. I took some photos in my front yard and made a video to remember the sound level of their cries, fairly early on in the whole process.

Cicadason azaleas

Cicadason azaleas

If you look carefully, you can see some of the cast off shells of emerging cicadas along with the more mature bodies of older ones getting ready to fly upward into the trees. They chew on the growing tips of leaves and the males make a high-decibel cacophony while calling to the females to mate. If you sit and watch anywhere under trees right now, you will see regular flights of females dropping out of the trees onto the grass to lay their eggs and start the cycle again. Apparently the females lay their eggs in the leaf tips (where the larvae hatch, eat and then drop to the ground to burrow down to the root level); those females flying down must be exhausted and going off to die? Cycle of life stuff. :P

We will have a quiet holiday weekend - we never travel during holidays if we can help it (got enough of that when our kids were little, going to see family:). Hope to do some meaningful sewing.

:) Linda

This Day in May


I saw a really exciting (well, to me:) article in National Geographic recently about research being done on an area of Maryland very near to me. If you click on the photo above you can go read about a rock outcropping near here that is a piece of a long ago ocean's seabed - a piece of the crust that has been thrust up to our surface by plate tectonics and is now exposed for study. Here is a picture of the geography (little tiny box shows 'us'):

Ngscience-2104-appalachian-ophiolites_primary_ai2html-desktop-smallI think I actually know where these rocks are ... but am not sure enough to find them. :) Just a bit of local news.

My days are flowing past, growing increasingly summer-like. The cicadas have emerged in my front yard as well as the rest of this area - I need to take some photos of our trees covered with spent cicada shells. :) Haven't found any wings, yet, but it is still early days. Brood X has a ways to go before it is finished with it's every-17-year emergence. Luckily I am NOT a bug phobe so I find the entire event rather exciting. :)

I have been sewing a bit but have rather less than usual to show for it. I did manage to finish making a new workbasket for myself - this is a Juniper Basket from Sew Modern Designs and I really am happy with it! I made the size large and I think I could house the knitting for an entire sweater in this. :)

Juniper2I only had enough of that sewing machine fabric to make one side of the basket (my last precious bit:) so the other side is a remnant of the canvas I used to make my Sandhill Sling. Notice that there is an external (inset zipper) pocket and an internal pocket (simple slip in).

Remember I showed you my avatar and the first (unfinished) block of my self-portrait in fabric for the Grad Class swap? I've made progress and finished my blocks through May to be mailed off. Here is a representative sampling of them (I ended up free-hand drawing the features because my hand shakes too much to trace them).

Lindamay2I'm sure you can see the variations in features ... none of which actually look like me, of course, but realism was not the goal with this project. (thankfully!) :)

I also finished the embroidery for my next Halloween block from Crabapple Hill. I LOVE this raven:

RavenI think his ruff is hysterical - and very a propos. :) I think he should be named Nevermore. :)

I went in search of some brainless sewing to do today and found a roll of 1.5" strips from the Cider collection by Basic Grey for Moda. I decided to make quarter-square log cabins with it ... happy sewing! :)

:) Linda


Orkney-potters fingerprintDo you ever think about the past - as in the distant past, prehistory, and such? I like to think about (and read about) what life might have been like long ago ... back when there were few of us on Earth and growing plants in one place to harvest later was a radical idea. :) The photo above shows a small piece of pottery - fire-hardened clay, nothing fancy - with a fingerprint from the pot's maker baked right into the side of the pot. Kind of like looking at the fossilized footprints of early people ... a 'we really were here' signpost. :) That particular piece of pot was crafted in the Orkney Islands (North Sea, distant northern edge of what is now the British Isles). Gives me shivers when I think about it. :)

I have been living in a semi-random pattern for some time now. The weather is improving daily - we have started to enjoy late-Spring/early-Summer environs here in Maryland. The trees are all green, lots of pretty flowers are blooming, grass gets cut every day (almost eye-searing green this time of year:). People are enjoying the outdoors more and more. According to the local news blogger the county I live in has a 75+% vaccination rate for 16 and older residents ... and the governor has agreed with the CDC that fully vaccinated folks (like me:) can do without masks for the most part. 

I went into my local quilt shop this past Saturday without my mask ... quick trip to pick up some zippers ... and felt naked without my mask. :) I felt so daring! LOL Maybe some 'normal' will resume?

I've been sewing and making but not keeping very good records. My 'what have I done lately?' photos are kind of random here:

AvatarI am participating in a 'me' block swap with members of Mimi Dietrich's Grad Class this year. I am woefully behind in my production ... and am waiting on some new Pigma pens I ordered to arrive so I can finish a big batch to mail out. My block is based on an avatar I cobbled up for myself from FB:


I have chosen a series of seasonally appropriate fabrics for the backgrounds of my blocks. Originally I thought I'd use a scrappy set of flesh and hair prints, too ... but that scissors print makes me giggle so I'm using that for all my blocks, so far. My hair is dark (not black but dark brown) and shot with gray (in what my hair cutter calls a 'distinguished' pattern:) ... but scissors just seemed so appropos. :)

BlaackcatblockMeg Hawkey of Crabapple Hill Studio is slowly releasing a block of the month Halloween series that appeals to me. I've embroidered the first block (black cat, above) and made the framing 'Dresden Plate' applique. Now I'm working on the second month's design which features a raven wearing an Elizabethan style ruff. ;) Hand embroidery is what I save my hands to do (too much arthritis makes me limit my hand work pretty strictly) ... so I am loving this project. :)

BlackcatembroideryHere's a close up of the embroidery, pre-pressing.

WishThe round robin project I've been working on with members of Faithful Circle quilters has finally ended and I've gotten my own piece back. I LOVE it. You might not get the full impact of the cheerful pink and blue palette in this photo - I think this fabric is just plain happy. :) I'm not sure what size this piece is (maybe 45" square?) ... but I plan to use the remainder of my prints to make more borders to at least size this up to a lap quilt. 

This is the block I started my round robin with:

FirstblockMy Columbia Friends group has been doing a challenge every month or so for a while. Our current topic is to use something from either the natural or the architectural world as inspiration for a piece. Pretty broad ideas, for me, but I've settled on an attempt to interpret this photo into patchwork:

MyhandThis is the back of my right hand, showing the loss of subcutaneous padding on my skin (lizard skin) as it ages. I remember distinctly when I first noticed this happening to me (being, as I am, somewhat, ahem, overabundant in flesh, I have mostly looked younger than my age for most of my life; poor hands put paid to that!). Ought to make something interesting in stained glass or some such. Plotting patterning.

Today I finished making my version of a large Juniper Basket by Sew Modern. Forgot to take a photo (hope to remember tomorrow). Intend to use it for holding my handwork near my comfy living room chair. 

:) Linda

Saving Scraps

Summary by Linda Schiffer

Originally given as a demo at Faithful Circle Quilters guild

*There is an excellent discussion of this entire issue on a blog I read regularly - check it out

Why Keep Scraps?
    Do I want to use scraps?  If not, find a friend* to gift them to

        (*’friend’ could be literal or freebie table at guild or student/seniors group, etc.)

    If so, what will you make with scraps? experiments? utility quilts? gifts? charity?

What is a SCRAP to me?
    What size is ‘too small’ for regular stash for YOU?

    Do I need an organized system? Do you use your scraps immediately - maybe you don't need a 'system.'

    The key to any system you choose is that it must be EASY for you to use when you want to use it. It must be EASY for you to maintain.

    Starting a new-to-you system can be a burden (Queen of Procrastinators speaking!:). Try to take advantage of your own daily rhythms and play habits to make it more fun.

    Ideas for FUN: get a buddy to work with (work on each one’s mess together via Zoom or in person; you cut mine, I’ll cut yours exchange, etc).

MY PERSONAL SYSTEM - your mileage will likely vary.

    For years I gave my scraps away - to friends in the guild and later to my Aunt Jean.

    MY personal definition of ‘scrap’ is smaller than most makers’ - smaller than about 10” square. (Really tiny trimmings and such go         into a cloth tote bag for recycling.)

    After retirement, with more time to sew, my scraps started piling up and annoyed me. I decided to dedicate my scraps to making charity quilts.

    Here is my highly evolved (chuckle) current method, built around my own slap-dash personality:

    This is a common wicker laundry basket. It sits to the left of my sewing table and I toss ‘scraps’ into it as I make them, in whatever shape. My goal is to never allow the basket to fill (Scrap Overload!!).

    When I am between projects or just not up to thinking very hard, I take an afternoon to cut up the scraps I’ve put in the basket. My cutting guidelines are, depending on the size of my fabric bits:

2.5” wide strips or squares
1.5” wide strips or squares
Sometimes* 2” strips or squares

*but I try to minimize

    I keep the cut up scraps sorted by size in ziplock bags in my basket (to separate them from new ‘scraps’). When I sew with my scraps, I further sort them by value NOT color, generally.

    This ‘system’ is simple - easy for my brain and organizational challenges to create and maintain - easy to sew into quilts. YES, this limits my quilt design choices but the ‘system’ works for ME.

    When I choose to use my cut up scraps, I can create simple quilts that satisfy my need to sew without taxing my brain or patience. I save experimenting with new designs for non-scrap sewing, usually. I use my scraps to sew for charity - usually baby quilt sizes:




    *Some quilters like to make nice colored baskets or bins to sort their scraps by color (use some scraps to make these!).

      Complete set of boxes

    *Others sort them by size like my friend Barbara Bennett - into baskets/bins with fabric bits in sizes “strip,” “crumb,” or “chunk.


    Bonnie Hunter’s Scrap User’s System: 

        Bonnie lectures and teaches with her methods regularly. She cuts her scraps into useful-to-her sizes and keeps them in drawers. She uses scraps in almost all her quilts. Many quilters swear by Bonnie’s method.

    Scrap Therapy by Joan Ford: 

    Joan also cuts her scraps into useful-to-her sizes. She has a number of books of designs using these sizes. I used to teach her method at Seminole Sampler. It works for most quilters.

    Quilter’s Lumberyard by Cheryl Coffman and Patty Bowers:

    These quilters travel/teach their system and how to use it. I found a good YouTube video by a devotee to explain the basics:

    Just Get It Done by Karen Brown:

    Karen has several Youtube videos about scrap saving and using. Here is a beginning. Here is one about starting a new system. Here is a video by her about using your crumb scraps. Here is a video featuring blocks that use up strips/strings.



    There is a group of scrap-using makers that meet via email called Stashbusters:  Participation is free and the group is moderated.

    Likely there are similar groups on Facebook, Instagram, etc.