Thursday, May 31, 2018

May Wrap-Up

Unbelievable. Five months of this still new year (?) are history already. Looking back over May's activities, I am realizing that while I am having a good time, I need to focus more on my stitching.

May began with a trip to Siesta Key, FL, for 5 days. What a great get-away! That's what is showing in the first frame, and while away, I finished my semester at the branch with an on-line final. Back home, DH and I hiked to a high peak near Chillicothe for the spectacular view shown  in the second frame. The third frame is a block in a QAL I began, but doubt I will finish, as I don't have enough fabric to do all the blocks. I'll talk more on that topic soon.

In the middle row, a progress pic of my Lake Effect EPP project is followed by a group picture from Mother's Day, where 4 of the 5 "McKenzie Kids" are posing with our dear Mom. The last picture is my only finish for the month - the Village quilt top.

In the bottom row, a basket of quilts that I shared with the guild from Ashland, which was such a fun experience for me. Then our dog Steve is loaded into the back of the car for a date with the groomer. Steve is about 16 years old, and getting him into the car was no small feat! However, he looks happy to be going for a ride, doesn't he? The final picture is fabric I purchased in that sweet little Siesta Key shop, The Modern Sewist. I am still dreaming up a project for that little splurge.

Tomorrow, I am afraid I might splurge even further as the Frankfort Girls have a big day of shopping planned. We are going to several shops in eastern Ohio - leaving really early - and planning for the entire day. I will try to control my spending, as Lord knows my current stash is big enough. Stay tuned for a report on how that all goes. *wink*

Speaking of the Frankfort Girls, we had our regularly scheduled get-together last Friday at Sheryll's, and look at this fantastic coffee cake she served. Man, was it tasty. She got the recipe from Pinterest - look for Blueberry Muffin Cake, or something close to that, if you go searching.

And here is one finish by who else but Jan. She is the most industrious woman! Her love of all things in primary colors continues to reflect in the quilts she makes. And did you notice the pretty quilting? Nice.

So May is wrapped up. Hope your month has been wonderful. Now, I intend to make June even better! How about you??

Happy Quilting, Friends!

Wednesday, May 30, 2018

Claudia Update

Sometime last week, I received a couple of emails from Claudia with pictures of her recent sewing. She simply amazes me in how far she has come in her sewing and quilting journey. About a month earlier, she took a mystery class at Creations Sew Clever in Chillicothe. While she did not get to finish her quilt that day, she has finished it now, and here is her quilt top all ready for layering and quilting.

She asked me about how to have this quilted, and I deferred to my standard - loose meandering. I know there are some fantastic long-arm quilters who create works of art with their stitching. I don't have that vision, which I guess can be developed over time. Would you have given her a different answer?

She sent this picture, too, of a little repair project she tackled. It appears to be a resoundingly successful effort.

She recovered a pair of old visors with some colorful patriotic fabric, and added embellishments for amping up the glam factor. They look great!

Great job, Claudia! You just keep on impressing me with all you are willing to tackle!

Happy Quilting, Friends!

Tuesday, May 29, 2018

Village Top Finished

Saturday afternoon I spent a couple of hours at the sewing machine and attached the remaining rows to my Village quilt. Overall, I am quite pleased with how it turned out, and for a quilt that was nowhere near my radar at the beginning of April, I have a fun, cheery quilt to show for my efforts!

My version is slightly different from the pattern. It is designed to make use of Charm packs, and I did that, but I didn't have enough to do all 132 houses. My version has 100 houses - all Corey Yoder fabric lines -- Lulu Lane, Sundrops and Flower Mill. Even the yellow I used for my background is CY.

All the time I have worked on this quilt, I have thought these houses look like sherbet or fruit parfaits. Shall I call my quilt Sherbet Village? Parfait Village? It's a sunny neighborhood with that happy yellow background, so maybe it should be Sunshine Village Parfait? Parfait Sunshine? I don't know.
Whatever I decide, I know I am happy to have another quilt top in the finished column.

Happy Quilting, Friends!

Monday, May 28, 2018

Memorial Day

While we here in America kick off the beginning of summer, we take a moment, too, to remember those fallen heroes who fought for our many freedoms.

Here locally like so many communities across the country, we will have parades and picnics, and services honoring fallen military buried in local cemeteries.

While you enjoy your kick off to summer, take a moment to remember our heroes.

Happy Quilting, Friends!

Sunday, May 27, 2018

Slow Stitching Sunday

It has been a few weeks since I have shared progress on my Lake Effect stitching. The task continues to be enjoyable, and finally, the long pieces are beginning to look like waterfalls or pools of water.

These pictures show my progress, which really isn't very different from the last time I showed my progress; but when I basically only work on it every other Friday, the going is slow. A bit of a problem is occurring with some of my hexies when they don't come together exactly as they ought. I confess that I made my own hexies with a copier and scissors before the laser-cut ones came in. So precision is off because of my impatience. I am trying not to obsess too much over it, as I know that once the papers come out, the stitching can be eased in and adjusted just fine. You can see one problem hexie in the next photo.

Below, you can see what I have done in a few places. I sew all around the problem and leave the "gappy" parts open. After I take out all the hexie papers, I will go back to those unsewn areas and whip them into place. No stressing for me over this! I refuse to let this sort of thing bother me. It will look fine in the end, I am sure of it.

That's my slow stitching report for this week. The gang is partying over at Kathy's and her weekly Slow Sunday Stitching party. Go have a look around!

Happy Quilting, Friends!

Saturday, May 26, 2018

Shopping In Ashland

Tuesday's big trip to Ashland for the quilt guild engagement allowed me an ideal chance to connect with Dee, a dear friend from my early teaching career. We very likely were hired as English teachers at the same board meeting in August of 1979. While my career kept me at the same school for my entire career, Dee's veered off into several other districts and even into another career path as a librarian.

Dee has recently retired and is getting more deeply into quilting, particularly baby quilts as, like me, friends of our children are having babies. Above Dee is pictured holding one of those babes on the receiving end of one of those quilts.

When this speaking engagement came up, Dee was more than willing to take on the task of entertaining me with fun places to shop and eat. Our lunch stop was a beautiful restaurant called Bella Bleu's, situated on a lovely lakeside property. We relaxed and talked nonstop, catching up with each other. We managed to cover lots of topics - books, quilts, travels, children.

Our shopping excursion took us to the nearby village of Shiloh, location of Country Fabrics. The area is heavily populated by Amish and Mennonite communities. The quilt shop is a renovated barn, moved from another location to this, massive in size, and filled with fabrics and a wide assortment of dry-goods and home-goods items. There was even a shelf of beautiful Polish Pottery for sale.

The photos above are just a random sampling of pictures taken while shopping at Country Fabrics. You can see the immensity of the barn in the top picture, which shows that magnificent ceiling. Displays and class quilts enticed shoppers and the staff was super helpful. Ruth is shown in the bottom picture cutting one of my selections the old-fashioned way - with sharp scissors.

And here is what I bought. The Charm Packs of Larkspur by 3 Sisters/Moda will join the small collection of Larkspur that I already have, so this will enhance. I found some solid yellow which I hope to use in finishing off my Village quilt. The Judy Rothermel fabric will be put to use on Lunch Box Social, a Kim Diehl pattern I plan to start soon. Those tiny calico prints just appealed to me in the moment. I have begun collecting similar pieces of late, so these three half-yard cuts will join those and await some future quilting inspiration.

Spending the day with Dee was absolutely delightful. All of us, I hope, have certain friends with whom, after months or years of infrequent contact, without missing a beat, can pick right back up as if no time at all has passed since last visiting. This is the nature of our friendship. We had hoped to include Sharon P. in the day's activities, but circumstances for her did not permit it. We do, however, plan to make that happen before the summer's end. A day similar to this would be perfection.

Hope you have a wonderful Memorial Day Weekend!
Happy Quilting, Friends!

Thursday, May 24, 2018

What a Fun Day!

Ten months ago or more, I agreed to speak at a quilt guild meeting in Ashland, OH. At the time, that seemed like a long, long way off, but you know how time just flies, and now that meeting has come and gone. I am basking in the glow of new acquaintances and fresh ideas.

My Tuesday began early - so many stops to make before arriving in Ashland, and a timeline that was iffy, at best. I needed to stop in Columbus to meet my daughter who was handing off a basket of her quilts for me to share. The next stop - a quick drive-thru breakfast at McDonald's. Then we headed to Coshocton, my DH's hometown, where he would spend the day visiting his dad and siblings. From there, I headed north on 83 to Wooster, where I was to meet my long-time friend Dee at her home. We transferred the quilts to her car and she did all the chauffeuring for the remainder of the day. On to Ashland for lunch and fabric shopping. Finally, we wound down for a bit at the library, before moving on to the main attraction for the day - the quilt guild meeting at a local church.

Oh, my whirlwind life!! *heheh*

The Ashland Quilt Guild - or more properly called The Old Uniontown Quilt Guild - is probably as wonderful as any guild - and I'm no expert, but guilds are made up of quilters - the absolute most friendly, sharing, caring and giving people in the world. The meeting for this particular group on this particular evening consisted of reports on charity projects, a summer quilt show, plans for future events and ended with a members' show-and-tell of projects made since the last meeting. Oh, how very inspiring it was to see so many quilts made for donating to worthy causes. When the meeting started, a big empty laundry basket had been placed on a table off to the side, and at the end of the meeting it was full of donated quilts. What love! These women do good work - and that is meant to be taken two ways. The workmanship on their quilts was exquisite, and so, too, is the work they do on behalf of their community's needs.

My talk came after the business meeting, and for an hour I rambled and gushed and blabbed and yakked - about quilting! What better topic!?  My spiel consisted of 3-parts. First, I talked about blogging; I tried to share a bit of how and why I started, what I have learned and how it has broadened and expanded my awareness of the industry behind quilting. Of course, I have since thought of several things I wish I would have said or forgot to include. (I need a do-over!)

I should have said that while I love writing this blog, I struggle often at doing my best writing in every post. I fear I settle for mediocre far too often. I do think I have become more alert to catching some of my lazy habits, but I could be stronger in the writing department. Also, I wish I would have said a word or two about photography and editing. I am such an amateur in these areas - I really would benefit from some classes.

Oh well.

From blogging, I transitioned into a talk about my successful 2017 Year of UFOs. I brought all twelve projects from that challenge, and talked about each one, the problems each presented, or the reasons behind why it had suffered a long UFO life. I had fun revisiting each of them, for they were definitely labors of love. Sometimes aggravation, but mostly love. *wink*

Finally, I shared random quilts - some finished, some flimsies. I had several hand-quilted finishes, along with one machine-quilted finish. I brought along two or three very recent finishes, something more "modern," and some that I call "free" quilts, because I made them from scraps leftover from earlier quilts. I really ran the gamut.

My hour was up way too fast, so time for questions was limited. Many wanted to look more closely at the quilts, which was thrilling. One woman was interested in how I pressed my seams; another asked about my varied "styles" - from repro to Kaffe. Because I'd mentioned that several of my quilts had been hand-pieced, one lady was particularly interested in this, so I hope she was satisfied and maybe even inspired.

I will close with a picture of my friend Dee (right) and her friend Audrey, who invited me to the guild to speak. It was lovely meeting one of Dee's friends, and Audrey was just as gracious a hostess as could be. I sure was feeling good, both from Audrey's warm welcome and the feel-good vibes from the group.

I am still processing the evening's events. No doubt I have forgotten tons of details. As I think of things worth sharing, I will be sure to add them in the coming days.

Happy Quilting, Friends!

Sunday, May 20, 2018

The Lost Week

Good morning! I am up early and writing in real time today. I have had nothing about which to write, as I have done next to nothing in the quilting room. I came down with what I thought was a bad cold, but ended up going to urgent care - twice - to treat a sinus infection. My brain has been fogged up all week, and now that my second round of antibiotics seems to be kicking in, I am feeling human again.

I did spend an afternoon in the sewing room, though, during which time I fixed two items in my mending pile - a kitchen towel (loose applique needing reattached) and a bench pad made for a long bench on our screened porch.

I show you my work space for the bench pad - it was too long for the bench, so I removed a block, and then I could tell that the batting was not staying together, so I opened it up, put things right, and then restitched it all, adding more quilting. I should have done it in the first place, but I took shortcuts. I know, I shoulda' known better.

The more fun thing from this lost week was doing some online fabric shopping. That great little shop I discovered in Sarasota, FL, earlier this month was having a sale and naturally I took advantage. Those ladies at The Modern Sewist have been so fun to work with! Both in the store and now online, I can safely say that shopping with them has been super-easy with friendly service every step of the way. A-Plus all the way!

I found two coordinating fabrics to go with the yardage I bought while on vacation. Since I still have absolutely no idea what I will finally make with this fabric, I will now have a bit more to work with when that decision is made.

Here are the two new fabrics laid atop the existing collection, and I am really liking how this looks. I have spent hours skimming through Pinterest, Instagram, and blogs for an inspiration of what these fabrics would like to become. I have zeroed in on a couple of loose ideas, but will continue my quest.

So, this upcoming week will be a busy one. The quilt guild in Ashland, OH, meets on Tuesday, and this will be the meeting at which I am their speaker! Geesh! That date seemed so far off and now it's here! I have my plans and will pull my quilts today and tomorrow. All will be packed and ready for travel by Monday evening.

Yes, I will report fully after the event. And, yes, I think these meds are going to have me well enough to do a good job. Thirty years of teaching gives one more than a little practice at speaking to a group whether I'm at 100% or not.

Hope you have a beautiful Sunday!
Happy Quilting, Friends!

Monday, May 14, 2018

Quilting and Coincidences

People who don't know quilters well might be of the belief that we make our quilts in the quiet of our homes, with little interaction from the outside world - a lonely pastime, perhaps.

No way!

This hobby is the most social and open hobby ever. Having Sharon over once each week is just a beginning. We also have a wide circle of friends who enjoy lugging their machines and projects to someone's house for a day of stitching together. Our Frankfort Girls group meets every-other-Friday morning to do just hand-stitching.

And then there are retreats and quilt shows and classes. And I haven't even touched on the community that can be found in cyberspace.

This lengthy introduction is surely going somewhere, and it describes just one instance of how all these various spheres of quilters eventually are bound to intersect.

A week ago, my neighbor and friend Dorothy shoots me an email saying that she and her daughter are taking a mystery class at Creations, a quilt shop in Chillicothe. Across the table from them are Claudia and Denise, my students off and on for the past couple of years! What a small world.

For some history on all these friends, you can check out some backstories, if you like. I first wrote about Dorothy in 2017 when she wanted help making a picnic quilt for her son and daughter-in-law. Claudia and Denise have been the subject of many posts over the past 3-4 years, and here's just one that represents a bit of the kinds of things we have tackled together.

Now, let's get to the pictures of the work Dorothy, Sarah, Claudia and Denise did in the mystery class.

The bottom photo is from Claudia who has her mystery parts laid out at her home. She is in the process of sewing the top together.

The emails I got from Claudia really speak to the nature of "community" -

Denise and I enjoyed meeting two of your friends from Frankfort yesterday at the Mystery Quilt Sewing Day at the Creations store in Chillicothe. There were seven steps. The photo shows Denise with her quilt at step 4 I believe. There would be five of the strips like she is holding next to each other. Her batik fabrics are beautiful. I left a little early as there were farm chores to do at home before evening, but I think Denise finished hers before she left. Just before I left at 5pm the first quilt was completed. It was fun to arrive to well marked piles of fabric and a little sheet (CLUE) to follow. And fun to meet new people with the same interests.
And Claudia is a true "learner" in every sense of the word; she later sent this with the picture above:

Here is my Mystery Quilt down to ten pieces. I had asked for red, white & blue figuring I would get something patriotic with stars, stripes, etc. but with the green in it too it is far from patriotic looking. I now know that I have to be more specific. At step 3 I had a snafu. I tried very consciously to match the two corners but alas my matching (which was with an angle) made the piece off center and I had to take them all apart and redo matching the sides and not a center seam. I just didn’t understand “quilters” language. Ugh!!
 You can be sure Claudia will know this "quilters language" next time - she learns fast!

I hope this post makes sense; I am a bit under the weather with some crazy congestion - maybe allergies? Maybe upper respiratory again? I think I will have a cup of hot tea, and take a nap.

Happy Quilting, Friends!

Sunday, May 13, 2018

Happy Mother's Day!

Not much stitchin' going on around here the past few days. Both daughters are coming in today for an easy lunch and later in the day we'll all head to Hillsboro to celebrate my dear momma with our first homemade ice cream of the season! 

Here's a relatively recent picture of Mom; we'd been celebrating an OSU football victory when this was taken.

Hope you have a great day!
Happy Quilting, Friends!

Friday, May 11, 2018

Village Update

In all the random block-making, I have not forgotten that Village is my more pressing WIP. Just before we left for Florida I had begun putting rows together. Since I have only 95 blocks to work with (the pattern calls for 132), I need to figure out my setting plan for them. So far I have just sewn then into groups of two or three.

I need to sit down with graph paper and pencil to sketch out a plan. I am not opposed to leaving some wide open space next to a house if need be, nor am I opposed to buying more background fabric, as I think I might run out. The pattern does not call for borders, yet with my smaller version I will consider them.

Neighborhood-building does continue, therefore, just at a bit slower pace. Consultations with the zoning committee and the city engineer are ongoing. *grin*  Here's a click-back to my introduction to Village.

Happy Quilting, Friends!

Thursday, May 10, 2018

Random Blocks

Since grades have been submitted and I am out of school for the summer, I have been doing a bit of catching up on various projects. Through the winter semester I was totally faithful about printing out patterns for two projects that interested me, both of which are quilt-alongs. One is a block-of-the-week, the other is block-of-the-month. In quilter's lingo those would be referred to as BOW and BOM.

Making any headway on these two projects just didn't happen while I was teaching, and this first week of the break has given me a chance to breathe a little bit and devote some time to them. It feels really good to work on things without the stress of grades and lessons and deadlines.

The BOM project is hosted by the well-known quilt historian Barbara Brackman. I have followed her blog Material Culture for years because she is so knowledgeable about dating quilts and fabrics. She has hosted many quilt-alongs which I have just watched from the sidelines. The current quilt-along, Antebellum Album Quilt BOM, I am going to try keeping up; a new block pattern is released on the last Wednesday of each month, and it started this past January. Here's the link to the first block which includes some of the details about the quilt-along.

My first block, Wandering Lover, was made way back in February. I shared it on Instagram and even got a comment from Barbara Brackman herself approving of my fabric choices! Whoo-hoo!

Above is block #2. It is called Lend and Borrow. My color is off in the upper right corner of this photo; must be a lighting thing. The truer color for the neutral is what you see in the lower left corner.

And I have also made block #4, Quaker Pride. This was super-easy, as you can see. You also might have noticed that I skipped block #3. It was a template-made design, and I cannot for the life of me figure out how to get that bugger to print at the proper size. So I will hold off until I can get some technical help. (Usually in the form of my kids!)

Now the second quilt-along, a BOW, is hosted by a pair of quilters I have "met" through Instagram, Maureen Cracknell and Sharon Holland. Both links are to their blogs.In March I made Dovecote, shown below.

I decided to use my leftover scraps called A Day In The Country by Joanna Figueroa and Lisa Quan of Fig Tree Quilts/Moda - ages old stuff. I know I will not have enough to do all the blocks, I may begin searching the interwebs for some bits of this long-lost line.

This week I have made the second block (they've now released 10 or 11 blocks), this one is called Kitty Corner.

If you are trying to figure out where you've seen this fabric before, think back to last year when I was doing my UFO challenge and my July project.

So, one of these days I will get back to houses for my Village quilt, but this week I have just felt like playing around a little bit. It definitely is giving me some steam to get going this summer.

Happy Quilting, Friends!