Thursday, July 31, 2014

Birthday Party!

An email from sweet Janet started my day off right. She wrote to say that my current Former Leader Ender Blocks remind her of a birthday party.

Me, too. Except I didn't know it.

Birthday Party!

Have found a solution to yesterday's "problem" of not wanting the blocks to end. I'm going to make four more and figure a lay-out to make a queen-sized quilt for our bed rather than the medium-to-large unspecified quilt for unspecified recipient that I'd been planning.

So happy to be on this path!

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Six, Seven

You know how sometimes you get into a book and it is just so darned good that you don't want it to end?

That's kind of how it is for me with these blocks.

I love making them.

There are five more to go.

A couple of people asked me what the name of the block was. I didn't know. I had seen the block on somebody's blog and figured out the math and copied it.

Research indicates that it has been called Prickly Pear and it has been called Roll Roll Cotton Boll. I think what I'm doing is scrappier than those blocks.

Each of my blocks has the same fabric for the center, and then six other fabrics. Other than the center, no fabric is repeated throughout the dozen blocks.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Three, Four, Five

Oh, are these blocks fun to make!

There will be twelve. The centers are all done and the squares to make the HSTs are all cut.

Yes, this was supposed to be a L-E.

We all know how that goes!

Monday, July 28, 2014


I bought a black linen skirt a month or so ago. It's perfectly plain and has nicely detailed movement slips on either side. As a person of normal length (5'3" or thereabouts), I am always astonished that clothes are made for giants. In recent years I've paid a tailor at the dry cleaner shop to shorten pants. I could do it myself, but have an irrational fear of getting one leg longer than the other.

But the skirt is pretty straightforward and it should be no problem at all for me to shorten it. The question, though, was "how much?" Ordinarily I'd go over to my sister's and press her into service as pinned, but this time I asked Himself if he could manage to do the honors. He thought he could. And he did.

It brought back memories. My mother made many dresses and jumpers and once even a fully lined spring coat for me when I was growing up. She sewed beautifully and I enjoyed wearing the things she created. But the last step always had to do with "pinning up the hem," and I dreaded that. Our house had a landing at the foot of the main staircase with three steps going down the right side into the den. I would stand perfectly still on the landing and my mother would sit on the step below and, using a yardstick and a cushion of pins, mark exactly where the hem should be. She would tap my leg with the yardstick, telling me to make a microscopic clockwise turn, and insert the next pin. I didn't know it at the time, but I had low blood pressure, and standing still for a long time caused me to become light-headed. I'd feel like I was going to faint. Worse, once I was held captive in position, this was an ideal time for a discourse on my many flaws and failings. Oh, how I hated it!

My memory tells me that  back in the fifties, hems went up and hems went down. I recall my mother raising and lowering the hems on her dresses, depending on how many inches from the floor fashion was calling for that season. Can this possibly be right? My sister, being older than me, was trusted with measuring hems for mother.

Do people still care now if a hem is precisely the same number of inches from the floor all of the way around? I'm going to go ahead and hem my marked linen skirt. I'm going to cut off precisely the same amount all of the way around, turn under 1/4", press well and stitch, and then turn that edge up two inches and sew it in place. The original hem is machine-done, of course. But I'll prolly do mine by hand.

Saturday, July 26, 2014

The Other Side of Middle Age

It was a coincidence bordering on grace.

I came across this blog post and the photograph to the left on the same day.

Please read the blog post.

Himself and I will be seventy on our next birthday. Seventy. Married forty-seven years already and talking about fifty coming up in just the blink of an eye. If we are lucky.

"Grow old with me; the best is yet to be." A lovely, sentimental thought. Brings to mind those twin bathtubs on the beach in the Cialis commercial.

One of my Circle sisters has passed away. Three are widows. Among the Good Guys, two have lost husbands and one seems mighty frail.

Yesterday I heard from a long-time friend that her husband will be undergoing extensive surgery in the coming week, surgery for a cancer that would scare the bejesus out of me. My good neighbor has come out of the hospital after a life-threatening bout of acute congestive heart failure; she has graduated this week from physical therapy, but I wonder what the ongoing strain of caring for her at-least-91-year-old husband will do.

If you google "elderly couple embracing" and click on images, you'll see a whole slew of photos of people who are thinking about getting into their twin bathtubs. Every hair is in place. They smile broadly. There are no wrinkles. No horrid age spots.

I look at him and am reminded of the "widow maker" heart attack of six years ago. I'm well aware of the ongoing visits to the dermatologist who deals with the skin cancers -- two of the three kinds -- that are running rampant.

We're on the other side of middle age.

Friday, July 25, 2014

First Block, Second Block

My leader-ender project for the past couple of weeks has been doing something very similar to Ninety Degrees in the Shade, but using contemporary fabrics rather than Civil War. They will have a slightly different setting. 

As is usually the case, they have demanded full project status. Twelve blocks have been made and the first two have their borders on them. I am smitten. You may click to enlarge if you want to see the fabric in detail. Oh, Kaffe, whatever would Bill say!

First Block

Second Block

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Busy Like A Bee?

Well, I finished all of the geese I needed for Veteran Lap Quilt #6 and then stopped. I'll get them together. But not today.

The Guild has decided that a Bee is in order for the coming year and my indefatigable friend Kathy agreed to organize it. I've not been in an actual bee previously, though I've done similar exercises.

Each participant must choose what she wants the other members to do for her, and each month a different participant is the recipient. We will make two blocks each month for the recipient.

I am asking for 9" churn dash blocks with interesting black and white for the background and bright, contemporary fabrics in orange, yellow and red for the focus. The second block reverses the request: the black and white becomes the churn-dash and the bright fire-color fabric becomes the background.

Anticipating questions, I thought it would be wise to produce a couple of samples for each block type and I think I'll develop a data sheet explaining exactly what I want. You can click on the photos to get up close and personal with my churn dashes.

What absolute fun I had picking out the fabrics and assembling these churn dashes! I'm hoping that my month will come early in the year because I'm going to be eager to see what my bee-mates come up with for me.

Also, I'm looking forward to the challenge of fulfilling their wishes, stretching myself, and perhaps earning some new techniques.

Sunday, July 20, 2014

The Current Gaggle

Here's the current gaggle of geese-in-progress. Above is a glimpse of my leader-ender project, more about which in a minute.

Believing that somebody is going to ask how those geese were made, here's what I did:

  • Cut squares of telephone book pages that measured 8". Bonnie Hunter taught me this technique several years ago. Sometimes it takes me a while to actually try something I've learned!
  • Cut a bunch of fabric strips, at least 8-1/2" long and of varying widths from 1" to 2".
  • String-pieced the strips onto the paper, alternating blue and red with red in the approximate center. Pieced the strips STRAIGHT on the paper, not on the diagonal.
  • After a good pressing, trimmed the squares to 7-1/4".
  • Cut a bunch of 3-7/8" squares from white.
  • Made flying geese using this method, which makes four at a time. Note that half will have the stripes running vertically and the other half horizontally. That's it!

Oh, yes, the leader-ender project.

So far I have four blocks made and two more in progress. They are the same design as Ninety Degrees in the Shade. I'll get all twelve blocks made before adding the "teeth" around each one.

Trying to be very gentle with this leader-ender; you know how mine have a tendency to get pushy and demand to be released from L-E status and convert to "real" projects.

Sewing on a Summer Sunday afternoon, Near Philadephia

Thursday, July 17, 2014


Lap Quilt for a Veteran #5 is a flimsy and I like it. I hope some Veteran in a wheelchair will find it suits his taste.

While I was  making this, I started a new leader-ender project. I'm using the same design as Ninety Degrees in the Shade but with contemporary fabrics from the Kaffe Fassett Collective. The blocks won't have the final 1" border around each; instead I will use some nice gray lattice and cornerstones as yet to be determined.

I want to start a sixth LQ for a Veteran, but haven't decided the design for it yet. I'm looking at my Pinterest board to see what might strike my fancy. I will delve back into my Civil War bin for the fabrics.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Lady of the Lake: Swap Being Organized

First of all, let me start by saying this is not my quilt. Heck, it's not even my photograph! It is Bonnie Hunter's quilt. The photo is used with her permission and she calls her quilt "Out of the Blue." Excellent name.

Okay, credit being given with gratitude to dear generous Bonnie, let's move on with what's happening!

Back in the spring, blogless Marilyn and I got the idea of swapping Lady of the Lake blocks. I put some pictures up for friends to look at and this block is the one that appealed to blogless Helen and somebody else. We are going to swap blue and white blocks made from batiks and WOW; at least that is where we are at this point. Details are being finalized. We're also deciding between 8" and 10" fished blocks. Prolly going to go with 8".

The problem is, there are just a half dozen of us. And it sure would be nice to have another half dozen. The more variety of blues, the more beautiferous the quilt, IMNSHO. It will be a centralized swap, i.e., participants will send all of their blocks to me along with a SASE. I'll do quality control and swap them out and send them back. I'm thinking sign-ups by July 20 and blocks due by September 25. I'm working on a set of precise guidelines and will make them available to all participants. If participants are on Facebook, I'll set up a private FB group; if not, I'll run it through my yahoo group.

If you've ever thought about making a LOTL quilt, now just might be the time! Leave a comment if you are interested in participating and make sure I have a way to contact you. And then go dig through your blue batiks and fondle away!!!!

If you are not interested in swapping, please hold comments for this post. I don't want to get confused!

Monday, July 14, 2014

Best-Dressed Doggy

Remember that great big stash of fabric scraps I received last week? How could you forget?

It was divided up into various categories including quilt fabrics, large pieces for the rummage sale, etc.

There were some small pieces that fit the "elegant" category. They included velveteen, lace, taffeta, slinky-slithery, and other couture fabrics. I knew immediately what their purpose was and put them all together into a smallish box.

Our daughter is spending two weeks in Melbourne on business. That is a long time away from Mommy for a person who is just six, and yesterday when son-in-law and kids arrived for dinner, Caroline was showing some wear and tear. Fortunately, she had brought along her [possibly transgender, or perhaps just cross-dressing] stuffed dog, Woofie. The remedy did not fail. Woofie appeared "on the catwalk," according to C'line, in various magnificent ensembles. My favorite was a lime green creation with a matching mantilla. S/he left garbed in a slithery pinkish-purple outfit, perfect for relaxing at home, in the arms of a happy mom.

Thanks be to my friend for taking the edge off a little girl's distress!

Friday, July 11, 2014

Memory Lane

It's been a few months since the news broke. The news that the old elementary school in town was to be razed. It's been unoccupied for a number of years, now, and apparently it has become a safety-and-fire worry. The school district has no plans to use the oldest school building in the township again. Should the population increase significantly, a new structure will be built.

Many people were hit hard by the news. A "save the school" campaign was begun. A Facebook page was created. Final tours were provided. And then the destruction began, and I thought it was unfortunate, but necessary. Then, this afternoon when I went to the nearby grocery store, I had a view of what's happening. And I felt sad. A rush of memories flooded my mind and the sad feeling was almost a fear that destroying the building would destroy the memories. Irrational, but that's what it felt like.

See where the classroom on the right on the first floor was? That's where I attended Kindergarten. My teacher was Miss Fairlamb -- did you ever hear a better name for a Kindergarten teacher? After being promoted, I didn't set foot in that classroom again for thirty years -- the day I took my oldest child to attend Kindergarten. In the same school. In the same classroom. Miss Fairlamb, obviously, was long gone.

I can remember all of my teachers from elementary school -- Miss Eisenberg, Miss Hartzell, Mrs. Murphy, Mrs. Marte (a mean, mean lady who stuck her thumb in our collarbones if we misbehaved), Miss Koons (who labeled me a gifted speller), and Mr. White. The school was very, very big -- after the K+6 grades of elementary school, students crossed over to the junior high where we spent another three years with the likes of the dreaded Charity Jane Godfrey (7th and 8th grade math, stern beyond belief and a stranger to underarm deodorant), Dr. "Nose" Uhler (8th grade history and something else), Miss "Froggy" Green (the flakiest art teacher imaginable with red hair and eyes that bulged due to a thyroid disorder), Miss Twining (the home economics teacher who told me I would never be any good at either sewing or cooking -- boy, would I like to get my hands on her now!), Mr. Shorb, Mr. Check, Mrs. Koch, Miss Derstine, Miss Dubson, Mr. Broadhag, Miss Bateman (who broke her glasses the same weekend she became engaged), Mrs. Lamont (a close friend had a serious crush on her), and others.

The school colors were blue and gold, the mascot was a tiger, and I can know all the words to the "fight" song, but I won't bore you with those (and you know how well I can carry a tune). I was in the band, and was so proud to wear my blue and gold uniform in the Memorial Day parade. I hated gym class with a passion and had a minor crush on Mrs. Capaldi, the woman who had a one-year appointment as librarian. I can still picture Mrs. DeWalt and Mrs. Hawse in the cafeteria and have fond memories of the meals they prepared; eight ounces of milk for a nickel, by the way.  I remember a lot of my classmates and who some of the couples were. I can still picture the huge paintings of people in international dress on the sides of the auditorium and could easily identify the smell of the locker room blindfolded.

I'm still in slight contact with a small handful of the classmates; today I'm thinking of some of the others and wondering what ever became of Carol Triebel and Lynn Shadle and Bobby Gouak and Woody Strawbridge. Did Bonnie Maniaci grow up to be a veterinarian as predicted? Are Thea and Regina, inseparable for years, still best friends? Is Bill Fegley still incredibly handsome and what about Diane Simmons?

So, "they" are tearing down the buildings, but the memories remain intact. Many of them are fuzzy; others are crystal clear. I needn't have worried.

Three and Four

A couple of years ago my church pledged to raise a great deal of money towards the eradication of malaria worldwide. I'm delighted that we surpassed our goal of $25,000 within two years (we had allowed three).

My main contribution was the creation of a raffle quilt. Since the focus of our effort was a community in Nigeria, I decided that African fabrics were the way to go. Fortunately, right around that time there was a quilt show -- how convenient! -- and while I was there I bought a bunch of FQs. I wanted a little more variety, and lo! and behold! my internet friend Wanda was working with African fabrics at the same time! I wrote and offered to purchase any scraps she didn't need and she responded with a bulging bag of goods for a ridiculously low price. When I challenged that, she said she wanted to make a contribution to the cause.

My quilt brought in more than $1,000 and I even knew the person who won it!

When I wanted a break from Civil War stringss this week, after completing two flimsies from them, I happened to stumble over the bag of left-over rectangles I'd cut for the malaria quilt. There were more than enough of them to complete two more lap quilts for wheelchair-bound Veterans, bringing my total to four flimsies at present.

These quilts will be bound in black. They measure 36x36.

So I've upped my goal from four to six, and I'm back to the Civil War for #5. This one will involve a flock of flying geese.

Then, for #6, I'm going to plunge into those fabrics I received yesterday and try to get at least one lap quilt from them. It would be nice to share a picture with my friend.

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Someone's Scraps and Remnants

My friend has been cleaning out her mother's house and recently asked me about "some material scraps" that she'd found in the attic. What should she do with them? Would I have any use for them? After all, I am a quilter.

If you're a quilter, too, you prolly have a similar story to share. I said I would take the scraps off my friend's hands, and we agreed that she didn't need to know about anything I couldn't use.

We met for lunch and when I came home, my car trunk was full of boxes and bags; the scraps were sorted by color, each one in a different container.

So little of it is actually usable for a quilter. We are talking, here, fifty years' accumulation of dressmaking scraps. There is lots of polyester, some lace, some boucle, some pique, stretchy knit, heavy linen, heavy unknown, slithery rayons and jerseys, some very flimsy stuff I remember as "whipped cream," and not much cotton at all. I sorted out four piles -- the cotton that I might be able to use in my veterans' lap quilts; some small exotic pieces that my granddaughter might like to play with; the large purchased remnants, 1-5 yard pieces of chiffon, polyester, linen, unknown, that will go to the rummage sale in a few months; and everything else. There was one big piece that I believe will back lap quilt #3. Most of it went into the "rummage sale" and "everything else" piles. You don't need to know, either, about what happens to the "everything else."

My friend's mom was partial to blue and to green, preferred bright colors and textured fabric, and apparently never, not even once, got rid of any left-over fabric, however small. The photo above isn't any of what I've been dealing with this afternoon, but rather an internet image. But you get the idea.

Wednesday, July 09, 2014

Flash of RWB: A Flimsy

The second of the planned wheelchair lap quilts is finished. The photo is a little dark, but I think if you click on it, you'll be able to see how it really looks.

For this one I used many of my red and blue CW pieces, but there are still some left.

As for the white, back when Judy and I belonged to The Other Guild, one night we came to the meeting and found fabric everywhere. Apparently a long-time member had passed away and her stash came to the guild. The quilting cottons had already been consumed by the vultures other members, but there was this big three-yard piece of heavier weight white, almost like duck or twill. I claimed it, thinking that somewhere there would be a use for it. The string blocks are pieced on a muslin foundation, and the combined weight is similar to the white, so I went ahead and used it.

Today I began work on lap quilt number three. Needing a break from the Civil War, I'm working with the scraps from the African quilt I made for our church to raffle in the fight against malaria. Some of the fabrics came from Wanda; she liked the idea of raising money to eradicate malaria. I bet she'll also like the idea of lap quilts for wheelchair-bound Veterans.

Monday, July 07, 2014

Lap Quilt #1

I believe I mentioned earlier that our hand-sewing group usually does some sort of a mercy project during the summer. Many of our members are teachers and have more time available in July and August. This year one of our proposed mercy projects is lap quilts for wheelchair patients at the VA. 

I thought I would like to make four of these, with the fringe benefit of using up my stash of Civil War fabrics. My plan is to get all of them to flimsy stage before quilting/tying and binding. I cut and cut and cut from the left-over fabrics from Ninety Degrees in the Shade, and the CW bin is still mighty full. These little quilts are to measure 36x36 up to 36x47, so it could turn out that I make more than four.

A second one with a different color scheme is in progress. Stay tuned.

Friday, July 04, 2014

Ninety Degrees: A Flimsy

It's too big to fit on my design wall!

Nonetheless, here's Ninety Degrees in the Shade, completed on a day when it was more than ninety degrees in the shade, Near Philadelphia.

It started as a leader-ender project and, as so often is the case, it insisted on being a "real" project.

You can click on it to see it more closely.

It has no designated recipient at present, so it will remain a flimsy. At some point, I will know that it is the perfect quilt for someone.

I have decided to phase out my Civil War stash, and that thought is what got me started on this project. It has made a dent in said stash. I took the left-over fabrics from this project and cut them into strips; I have begun making string blocks -- one of my summer goals is to make four lap quilts to give to the VA for wheelchair patients. So, with any luck, this first one will be finished within the week.

Thursday, July 03, 2014

Purple, Blue and Green

So somebody formed a group on Facebook wherein people would swap fabrics and blocks and whatevers from Kaffe Fassett and associates fabrics. I'm wary of swapping with people I don't know, but it's been a while, so I thought I'd give it a try. The first swap was for 12" finished blocks using only fabrics from the KFC collective. People had the option of specifying the colors they would like. Some people were very particular; others were happy with whatever they received. 

I was very specific. I wanted only blues, greens, and purples used in my blocks. I was excitedly looking forward to 20 or so gorgeous cool KFC blocks that I would make into some sort of a huge and delicious flimsy.

It all started ages ago, possibly in late March or early April. I made my blocks and mailed them during the first week. Then the blocks started trickling in. It was fun to sit by the mailbox see what the postal person brought each day. The above blocks come pretty close to my specification. Some of them are terrific; others are kind of casually put together. The one with the big red portion may or may not work with the others.

These are the rest of the blocks I received. Some of them actually have a little bit of blue, green or purple in them. One has some non-KFC purple inserted as though the maker suddenly realized I wanted that color. One is really pretty from a distance but up close you can see that there are actual selvedges included in the block! Two people haven't bothered to send me a block and have become ominously silent on the Facebook group.

Looking at these blocks makes me cranky. Makes me feel duped. Makes me want to get rid of them. Now there's an idea! Anyone out there want them? If more than one person stakes a claim, I'll draw a name on Friday night. They'll be in the mail on Monday. But don't say you weren't warned.

Now I feel better. Going to go to FB and withdraw from that there group. No point is explaining to them. Just quietly leave and get back to business. Thank you for listening.

Mooing Once Again, Near Philadelphia

Wednesday, July 02, 2014

Baby Quilt

Someone Who Matters asked me if I would make a baby quilt for her to give as a gift.

Well, of course.

She thought aqua would be a good main color and was thinking something kind of contemporary.

So during a recent trip to Burkholder's Executive Committee meeting, I spent some time in the Kona section and really had a good time picking out FQs to go with the robin's egg main fabric. A bold color scheme for me, and I like it. A lot.

The blocks are from the Tula Pink book, of course, and someone said they reminded her of nautical flags. I can see that. The photo below shows a close-up of Mary Ellen's remarkable quilting. Done in variegated thread. Exactly right.

Tuesday, July 01, 2014

Roller Coaster

The school for autistic children that is part of my daily life will be leaving the church at the end of the summer. Autism is on the rise, the school is growing, and the Sunday School space will no longer accommodate their increasing population.

Moving is expensive and the school has embarked on a variety of fund raisers to foot the bill. Of course I offered to help. I had pieced this top prolly four or five years ago and it was just sitting. I pieced it prior to taking The Pledge, so it is entirely from Rouenneries fabric. And I like it a lot.

I almost never do a binding in a light fabric, but with all of the dark brown, it seemed to be the right thing to do. Clicking to enlarge will show the different fabrics better, as well as Mary Ellen's lovely quilting.

The pattern, I think, came from "Fat Quarterly," and was called "Roller Coaster." At the time I made it, I had in my mind a roller coaster that was in Willow Grove Park, an amusement park near Philadelphia; that coaster was called "The Alps." So I always thought of this quilt as "The Alps." I hope its raffle will bring in a nice amount towards the move.

I suspect the school's director and employees feel as though they are embarking on a roller coaster. Moving a school sounds a daunting task; add a couple of dozen autistic kids and "roller coaster" seems too tame a label.

The school was closed for the last two weeks for a break and the church building was way too quiet for my taste. I was delighted to welcome them all back on Monday, and dread the thought of the end of the summer when they move out. The church is actively seeking another tenant and is close to an agreement with a start-up day care operation. Which sounds a bit tame compared to Gina, Alfred, and the others I've come to be so fond of.

Golly, I'm gonna miss 'em.