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




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):


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:


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:


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

16 Cats

IMG_0148Early autumn weather has finally arrived in Maryland! I've been enjoying the days - moderate temperatures (low 70's to 80's), sunny skies with evening or overnight rainfall, and pleasant breezes. Here in the Baltimore/Washington region, I suffer through the hot, humid days of summer to enjoy this kind of fall loveliness. :)

Good grief - I have REALLY been slacking on writing my blog posts. Sigh. I plain have too many irons in the fire lately (as the saying goes). September is 'birthday month' - both my husband and son's birthdays are in late September (once upon a time so were my father's and my brother Alan's, both of whom are gone). It is back-to-school month, of course - my grandson O started in first grade this month. His first in-person school experience since kindergarten was spent being virtual. So far he seems to be enjoying the expansion in his life. :)

I also have a bit too much going on in my quilt making life. Besides my monthly Stash Bee blocks (which I am behind on), I joined a Halloween block exchange with members of Faithful Circle Quilters - 16 of us! Which means I am struggling to finish 16 of the same block design (almost done) - this accounts for the eponymous 16 cats title above; that's how I spent yesterday - cutting out, carefully, 16 black cats to fuse onto my chosen block design (to be revealed after the exchange happens on Oct. 9th:).

Then I have to add in my final preparations for the bariatric surgery (Oct 12th is THE date). I saw two doctors today and have two more to go (had one this past Monday already:). Etc, Etc.....

I seem to have lost whatever skill I developed at multitasking during my business career ... I drop tasks all over the place and have to pick things up and apologize/atone repeatedly. :P I am actually looking forward to my recovery/healing time from surgery as a quiet rest. LOL.

I did receive more blocks from my Stash Bee mates from my turn at Queen Bee in August (just being slow at recording them here):

IMG_0141 IMG_0143


I'm looking forward to working on this quilt ... later in the fall. :)

There have been some fun acquisitions for my stash, too, but I can't remember them all. I did get my copy of the new Jen Kingwell book today. I LOVE the cover quilt and really want to make it. The recipes inside sound yummy, too, but two things deter immediate experimentation - losing weight (minimize sweets you know:) and translating from 'British' style directions to American cooking standards. Later. :)

Will try to do better with posting - this is supposed to be my diary so gotta get back to recording my pretty much ordinary life. :)


Long Time?

Lace exampleContinuing my fascination with the making of lace, this example is awe-inspiring, imho! If you click on the photo, you can go read about the making adventures of Agnes Herczeg, a Hungarian artist. Inspiring! :)

It has been half a month since I last wrote - my days are flowing past on an endless loop, feeling as though they change very little from one sunrise to the next. The weather is easing up, at least for this weekend, turning from excruciatingly hot to pleasantly warm and humid/rainy to breezy and drier. Hurricane Ida passed through earlier this week and dropped quite a bit of rain on us, but not nearly as damaging a downpour as happened farther north on this coast in New Jersey and New York (thank you Mother Nature!!). To give a small example of the wonderful weather this weekend, I've had my bedroom window open all day today (I usually only open it at night during the summer - and only then on nights when the temperature gets in the low 70s). :)

I have been doing a bit of embroidery for the past couple of weeks rather than very much sewing. I did finish my class project from the wonky improv class I took online two weekends ago - my Ode to Periodic Cicadas. I have to back the small quilt and finish it soon (it is intended as a gift for one of my grandsons:). I need to get back into my sewing room to work on some Halloween themed exchange blocks for a swap with local guild members soonest!

What has happened otherwise? Hmm... my dear friend Patty's husband Jim died somewhat suddenly and I went to his funeral. I had never attended a Catholic funeral and found it rather comforting, to my surprise. :) 

I've made a couple of shopping forays to favorite quilting haunts ... and had lunch out with my friend Barbara (at the Asean Bistro here in Columbia, where the food was as good as ever and the social distancing was excellent). 

Yesterday my friends Patty, Barbara and I got together in person at Barbara's house to sew all afternoon. It was truly wonderful - the weather was glorious so we sat in Barbara's basement sewing lounge, breathing the fresh air via her open patio door ... and I embroidered while Patty worked on a quilting box project using bright fabrics and Barbara jigsaw-pieced an unusual rail fence quilt top. Blissful!

Oh, I almost forgot, I gave B and P their (very!) belated birthday gifts while we were there. I made each of them a pincushion-with-extras. Some photos:

Barbara's - aqua colors:


Aquaback Aquafinished

Patty's - purple themed:




These were fun to make boro-style small pinnies, filled with walnut shells and lavender buds. :)

Off to relax on a cozy Saturday evening.

:) Linda

Shopping Loss

ChickenscratchpearI finished the embroidery on my next chicken scratch block - a pear. I _hope_ this looks at least vaguely like one. :) It is smaller than most of the other blocks I've made so it only took a couple of afternoon sessions to complete. I'm definitely beginning to think about the final quilt layout as I embroider. :)

Today had some highs and lows, achievement-wise. I woke up quite early (for me), at 8:30 a.m. Rather than try to go back to sleep, I actually got up! I faded out around 2 p.m. and had to take an hour for quietly listening to an audiobook while I closed my eyes - but, unlike my more usual pattern, I did not sleep. Who knows why. Sigh.

I decided, having some extra time in my day today, to go out and look for some storage bins (plastic, completely sealing) to hold the various family history related items I have piled in spots around the house (including underneath my newly tidied computer desktop). My first thought was to go to Walmart ... but ... our more-local one is not a nice place and the parking is lousy. The better Walmart a bit farther away just seemed like too much effort. :) I chose to go to JoAnns ETC which is fairly close (2 miles? away) and I know where in the store the bins are to be found (well, I _thought_ I did, but as usual I was wrong).

So ... nope, nothing that 'spoke' to me as a good option. The bins that were likely choices were hugely overpriced compared to the ones I bought two years ago from that A_ place online. Like 2.5 to 3 times as much!!! I like to encourage supporting local businesses (although I do not really consider big box stores to be very 'local' given that most of them do not pay local taxes AT ALL). Still, that kind of markup over online sources is ridiculous (and yes, as a former business woman, I DO know what goes into pricing items for sale).

I tried the nearby Target next ... their prices were slightly lower (maybe only twice as high as A_) ... but there were none of the kind of bins I wanted on the shelves. Sigh. That just-in-time-inventory management algorithm is not working out, imho.

I dropped two letters off at the post office and came back home in disgust from my shopping trip ... and went upstairs to order what I wanted online. I hate that ... but what is a dutiful conscientious consumer to do? I will tolerate local prices being 50 to 75% higher than online but I have my limits (even counting the carbon burden involved in shipping vs. driving my car locally).

On the way home, I stopped at our cluster mailbox and picked up our mail. There was some happy news - I got Stash Bee blocks from two fellow members:

From Susan Connors:



And from Kristen Beck:

Kristenbeck (I sure hope I got those two names right! Please forgive me if not? The envelopes are still downstairs and my computer is upstairs.:)

So, you win some, you lose some. Life has a way of evening out, yes?

:) Linda

Embroidery August

August_Dachshund_applique_design_grandeOh, to be at the beach with this little guy! :) If you are a machine embroidery aficionado, you can click on the image above and go read how to buy it to make your very own surfing puppy. :)

August has been pretty pleasant, mostly, so far. There have been a few too-hot-for-me days (defined as over 94 degrees F, with humidity:). Since my sewing room is on the second floor of our house, it gets a bit warm on really hot days (despite our whole-house air conditioner and two fans in my area). That is almost certainly why I've been doing hand embroidery (which I can work on in my comfy chair downstairs in the coolth:). 

I did receive my first two Disappearing Rail Fence blocks from a fellow stash hive member this week: (thanks to J DeSantis)



I look forward to seeing the rest of my blocks come in the mail! This will be a bright, happy quilt.

Last Monday (the 9th) I spent a good bit of the afternoon stirring up dust in my bedroom while cleaning off my computer desk. Since my neck pain has eased (due to the series of steroid pills), I wanted to do two things - make room for a riser for my computer and clear space so my sweetheart could install my new computer. He bought me one of the first Apple M1 chip desktop computers to replace my very elderly iMac.

BeforenewThis is my cleaned and spiffy desk (with the old computer on it), waiting for the new hardware. I have not taken an 'after' photo, yet (bad me:) - too busy playing with the new tool. :) I is good to have the screen higher so my neck nerves don't get pinched!

The newest pattern in the Halloween mystery series came in the mail on Tuesday so I spent some time Wednesday evening during the modern guild's sip and sew zoom session tracing off the new pattern.

NewestI am liking this series so much, I finished the embroidery on my block by Friday evening:

Witches hatNow I have to piece together and applique on the oval Dresden frame to finish this block. I had fun doing the work on this one. :)

Besides the hat, I'm still trying to catch up with my chicken scratch embroidery blocks. I am almost finished with the next one - a pear. I am using yellow and pale green floss for this design (like a Bartlett pear:). I'll share a photo when it is finished.

I found myself collecting patterns on Pintrest this afternoon for chicken scratch designs. I guess in my back-brain I am adding to the quilt with some other motifs. I have an empty fabric book with available pages that I might sew some samples into, too. I like the idea of a stitch/motif sampler book for reference. :)

Otherwise, life is quiet (figuratively). We've had some rousing banging thunderstorms this week ... and my Sew&Tell stitch group met via zoom today (always makes me happy). Life is fine here in 21045.

:) Linda


Unusual August Weather

BookI wandered off to Springwater Designs in the middle of this afternoon to pick up a new book. I managed to take a good look at the projects in this book from a publisher's promotional video - which convinced me to buy. :) I really like several of the projects and am eager to try some wool applique the next time I'm rustling around for some hand work. Bright, clean, 'modern' designs. :)

The weather has been remarkably mild for early August here in eastern Maryland - temperatures in the mid80s to low90s, blue skies, mild humidity. Doesn't  happen often. :) It's bound to get hot and swampy again before the end of the month but you have to enjoy the days as they come!

As has become usual for me, I've been dithering along, sewing a bit of this and a bit of that. This month is my turn to be 'queen' in the Stash Bee block exchange group. Thanks to my friend Barbara, I asked for Disappearing Rail Fence blocks ... so I spent some time early this week getting my ideas down on paper and setting up the tutorial info for my hive (#4). It will be fun to see what kind of blocks I get! Here is one of my sample blocks:


I made one new-to-me block pattern for a friend and want to make another. I enjoyed this pattern and it was much easier than I expected to create - I can see myself dipping into this design. :)


I've been trying to make progress on catching up with my chicken scratch embroidery snowflake blocks, too. Finished this one yesterday and started another one today:



Yes, eventually my embroidery blocks will get washed, pressed and blocked to smoothness ... but I have to take a picture as soon as I finish something or I plain forget to record it. :) I did figure out that I have been calculating the size of my background fabric pieces incorrectly (which explains why they've been coming out a bit smaller than I'd like:). I'm starting to think about how I will set the blocks eventually when they are all embroidered.

When I dropped by Springwater today I bought fabric for two other projects as well as my book. I took the top I pieced for my sister and found a backing print I liked to go with it ... and bought a batt. I am thinking to have them longarm her quilt as I've never used their services before (I like to know the work of many of the local quilters so I have choices). Since her birthday was in early July, it will be a late gift in any case.

I also bought some prints to use for making the 16 Halloween swap blocks that are due October 1st. I chose a design last week, and have purchased the background fabric, and now I'm gathering the materials for the remainder of my block. I'm eager to get going on that so it will be finished in good time. I keep _saying_ I won't do any more swaps ... and then jump into new ones with both feet. Sigh. :)

There were lots of other pretty fabrics to distract me in the shop, of course. I bought five fat quarters from the new shibori-style print collection from Moda - have a hard time resisting indigo. :) Had to close my eyes and avoid the row with bright Kaffe collective prints. Leave some to buy another day!

Other than my two hours or so afternoon sewing each day ... I read and eat and cook and do very little else. I did manage to see my (non-surgical) orthopedist early this week. He prescribed a course of steroids that seems to be calming down my 'pinched nerve' in the neck (thanks!!) ... which means I can do more as the pain is going away. Whew!

Gotta get outside  more ... the yard desperately needs weeding and I'm losing all weather tolerance.

:) Linda

Midweek, Midsummer

MidsummerIsn't this a lovely picture? Apparently midsummer is celebrated in Sweden with vigor. If you click on the photo, you can go read an article about the details.

The weather here has been pleasantly midsummer-ish (for Maryland) - hot and humid. Temperatures have been in the high 80s to low 90s (which is moderate for summer hereabouts) ... and there have been roaming evening thunderstorms some days. The days are long (that is the part that I like best about summer:) and the evenings cozy.

I have been taking a break from sewing and focusing on catching up with my embroidery this week. I am a couple months behind in my snowflake/chicken scratch block of the month project so I've been reveling in the a/c and doing embroidery most afternoons.

I did go out today for a little while to pick up some sports themed fabrics a guild friend cut into block sized pieces for me (thanks, Marcia!!) and to get lunch for Hugh and I (drive through at Chikfila). Luckily my Jeep has a full tank of gas as the prices seem pretty high to me in our neighborhood stations (over $3/gallon). 'Course, I don't buy much gasoline these days as I mostly drive the Bolt (our electric car).

This past Sunday my Baltimore modern guild had an outdoor sew together at a local park. I was annoyed with myself for sleeping late so I didn't get there until mid-afternoon. It was WONDERFUL to see people for real, though! So good to know that everyone is ok and happy to chatter together. :) I took my embroidery there, too.

I think I am going to have to set aside a couple days each month to work on my guild's charity quilt projects. I've been doing the block of the month patterns for our monthly newsletter for a couple of years. Recently the membership decided to change from a monthly lottery drawing for the blocks made to a charity quilt making project. So far the response (number of blocks made) has been good ... so I need to start producing the tops. :) Someone else will be quilting and finishing them. Faithful Circle has an active Love Quilt program and I'm sure they will be happy to receive whatever I make.

Here's the embroidered section I finished earlier today:

Just finished

Just finished closeI was very happy with that rainbow variegated thread I used for this section. :) Here's a little piece of the next section I started:

Newest bitI have been randomly choosing colors for my different blocks as whim takes me. Eventually I will have to lay out my finished sections and do some color balancing, I imagine. :)

I talked to my daughter last night. She is growing a great garden this summer - she spent time, money and energy earlier in the spring building raised beds and is happily experimenting with an assortment of heritage vegetable varieties. She also laid out a bed for each of my grandsons so they could play, too. They all seem enthused with the project.

:) Linda

Favorite Fridays

Vogart-671-Bluebirds-Friday 2a02cd664ea8d92e63384639c0d6678aI love the old redwork designs that were used to embroider kitchen towels (above are two examples). The ones I've seen to illustrate 'Friday' are divided between Friday-as-house-cleaning-day and Friday-as-baking-day. 

Personally I look forward to Fridays because that is the day my friends Barbara and Patty meet with me on Zoom (formerly in person) to stitch/sew together. :) Today was a pleasant meeting (with Patty joining in from her husband Jim's hospital room) and I worked on my Chicken Scratch embroidery some more. 

The design is graphed out and I have had no trouble making the first three patterns for this project (a block of the month endeavor). For who knows what reason, I am having real trouble following this month's graph. I've had to mark each block of embroidery as I do it to keep track of where I am. I don't THINK I've made any mistakes, yet, but I am not confident that I could really tell. 

I did decide to use some of that rainbow sashiko thread to embellish my embroidered block and the resulting colors are quite improving my attitude about this block (ready to throw it against the wall, truthfully, before the color injection:). :P I will grit my teeth, persevere and finish it as I do want to create the resulting quilt.

Today's mailbox afforded me a pleasant delivery. I ordered these things from Artistic Artifacts in Alexandria, VA:

EppI enjoy English paper piecing and quite like the various block patterns by Brimfield. This little 'kit' has the acrylic templates and papers enough to make four blocks of the Soleil design. I will probably do at least one block for my Saturday morning sampler quilt (a previous bee quilt project). :)

New fabrics

These fabrics might seem ho-hum to you ... but I have a passion for batiks and for irregular stripes. The minute I saw these, I had to order some (I did restrain myself from ordering every color they are made:). I am hoping that they blend with my Earth Made Paradise prints as I picture these as lovely stems for my applique. :)

Artistic Artifacts is a fun shop and their delivery is always fast. I ordered these goodies (online) on Sunday and they arrived yesterday (the following Thursday's mail).

I have several tasks to complete, sewing-wise, in the next few days:

    Write my block-of-the-quarter column for the Faithful Circle guild's newsletter;

    Write up the directions/tutorial for my block for Stash Bee (I'm the designated August Queen:);

    Design the applique pattern for the central medallion of my Paradise medallion project; 

    Choose and plan out my block for the Faithful Circle guild Halloween block exchange;    

    Various and sundry household improvement chores that are never ending.

Life is never dull!!

:) Linda


885819-bigthumbnailWhen I think 'peaceful summer day,' this is the kind of image my mind imagines. Placid sounds of water flowing gently, insects buzzing, dappled sunlight, maybe a soft breeze. :) What I'm getting this summer is entirely too much of  our house's interior. :P The weather does not inspire me to be outside during the middle of the day (way, way too hot and humid) ... but I'm sure tired of indoors! Hard to motivate myself to go out ... so I sew or read or nap. (Truthfully, I'm spending entirely too much time asleep)

I'm still working on the Earth Made Paradise central medallion. I have three sides of the first patchwork border sewn on and am making the fourth side now. My sewing time is limited by my body - looking downward right now is aggravating my neck and causing considerable pain. I am reluctantly coming to think it is time to go see my (non-surgical) orthopedist again. :P

I am also making obligation things. Yesterday I sewed together a block for the July Stash Bee (Hive 4) Queen, Mary:

July blockEach of those square unit measures 2.5", finished, so it's a fairly large block. I think her quilt will be pretty awesome. :) In the course of sewing it up, I finished off another large spool of Aurifil thread:

Dead spoolI don't empty many spools so I always feel that it is worth a photo to record the accomplishment. :) That spool was white thread of which I did not have any more when I looked in my thread boxes ... so now I am using light gray.

I also bought a new pattern this week (real copy rather than pdf download). I am eager to try making this one:
Gathering patternI remember the calls of quail and bob-whites (as my Grandfather called them) from my childhood summers on the farm in western Virginia (Wise County) ... fondly. 

I started working on my Snowflake embroidery project again - with Wise Handcraft - since there appears to be a break in the Halloween embroidery mystery patterns (Meg has been issuing them one at a time). Once I get caught up with the chicken scratch, I plan to start working on this quail quilt. A just-for-fun-and-bright-colors project. :)

Time for bed ... and dreams of new quilts to make.

:) Linda