Thursday, March 23, 2017

Sixes and Nines

I think these 6-inch squares and nine patches are all Kaffe Fassett Collective fabrics. I've still got a whole tub of them and have halted the acquisition process. For a while. I don't know what else to say about this quilt. Except that I love it.

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Another Baby Quilt

Out neighborhood is a nice enough one. I sincerely believe that if anyone had any real trouble, any of the neighbors  -- except the Nonspeakers -- would help out. But it isn't the kind of neighborhood where we are in and out of each others' houses. We don't get together for coffee. I have a key to Andrea's house and she has a key to mine; we take in mail for each other, that kind of thing. When we moved in, back in 1999, there were so few children that we didn't even turn on our light for Trick or Treat. Over the years, though, this has changed. Some young couples have moved in; down at the far end of the street is a family with three elementary school boys and across from them is another with three elementary school girls and a toddler boy. There are other young couples with even younger children. Across the street, next to the Nonspeakers, there's the cutest young woman; she's an English teacher and her husband is in the Navy. For one long stretch, he was in Afghanistan (or perhaps Iraq, I'm not totally sure) and the rest of us kind of kept an extra eye out. He's back and I believe is on his last tour of duty before leaving the military. They have produced two cute little girls and just before the weather got cold I saw her outside and she had a familiar look about her. "Have you got something going on there?" I asked and she replied, "Yes, another girl, due in February."

I kind of forgot about that and a couple of weeks ago when we had some unseasonable warm weather I saw her out front with a bundle in her arms. That third girl had arrived. I mentioned this to Himself who promptly suggested I needed to make a quilt for her. Mindful that third children don't get much recognition upon arrival, I pulled out the scraps from the Tula in solids quilt that I'd made for my coworker and made sixteen free pieced blocks. Before long I had a flimsy and since it is such a small quilt, I machine quilted it myself.

Monday, March 20, 2017

A Quilt for a Brother

I've mentioned before that the little school for autistic kids where I work is a hotbed of fertility. And I love it. It is fun to be around young women who are starting their families. There's a rule that there must be at least one pregnant person at all times.

One of the behavior analysts is expecting her second boy in a very few weeks. I don't usually make quilts for babies after the first one in a family, but I didn't know Laura when Lucas was born, so that doesn't count. I hope she likes this bright collection of Tulas in solids. You might want to click on the photo and enlarge it so you can see the quilting. My machinist is gifted at knowing just which design to use, and the circles on this piece add something special to the quilt.

Sunday, March 19, 2017

Ninety Degrees in the Shade

Every January for the past several years, I've vowed that this is the year to get the UFOs finished up. And I diligently pull a few out and do some token stitching. And that's about it.

You prolly haven't noticed that I made no such promise this year. Instead, I've stacked up the flimsies and taken them, two at a time, to the machinist, to turn them into real quilts. Several have been done, and actually bound, so a new stack of finished quilts is forming.

Even though Ninety Degrees in the Shade is made entirely from Civil War repros, to me it has a modern look about it. The blocks are all the same, but the color placement makes them look like different blocks.

The name comes from my childhood, back before air-conditioning was in our homes. Come August, there'd be a sweltering scorcher of a day and without fail, my mother would proclaim, "It's ninety degrees in the shade." I never knew whether this was actual or an alternative fact, but it doesn't really matter, does it?

Today we had the weather and the time simultaneously to go out and photograph finished quilts. So that's what the next few posts will be.

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Fifth Grade

The school I attended from half-day (afternoon) kindergarten through graduation from ninth grade was torn down a few years ago. The building was ancient and probably full of asbestos and lead paint and god-knows-what-else. There was a minor uprising from alumni, but I thought that the right decision had been made.

A wonderful thing that came out of this was the establishment of a Facebook page by one of the alum for any and all other alum. Through it I've reconnected from folks I knew when I was very young. It's been fun reading other people's memories of our histories together. Recently, apparently some people from my particular age bracket have been cleaning out old things and finding memorabilia that they'd thought was long gone, and they've posted photographs, programs, assembly leaflets, and it has been interesting to read through them.

This morning a terrific guy I remember as a trumpet player in the elementary and junior high bands posted this picture of our fifth grade trip to Pennsbury; this would have been circa 1955. I downloaded the photo to my desktop and have returned to look at it so many times throughout the day. Fifth grade was the last happy year I would have until tenth grade; I was younger than all of my classmates, and when puberty hit, I was out of my league (whatever my league may have been). I really didn't fit in well from sixth through ninth grade and have few good memories of those years.

But fifth grade! Oh, my! Our teacher was Miss Koons and I adored her (a minority viewpoint, it turns out!). She recognized and lauded my gift for spelling, we studied Quakers, learned about the changes our bodies would undergo in the next few years, and the entire grade most of the students went on the first ever fifth grade camping trip (I was sick with a fever and was unable to participate). This photograph that John shared was taken on the field trip to the home of William Penn (think famous Quaker), and I can name about half or more of those pictured.  The woman with us isn't Miss Koons; she was our student teacher that semester. This was from a time long ago where girls only wore dresses, jumpers, skirts or Girl Scout uniforms to school and absolutely nobody wore blue jeans (they were called dungarees). It must have been a wonderful day; we all look as though we are happy to be there. If you haven't found me, I'm in the front row, the one with the braids.

Sunday, March 12, 2017

All the News

I imagine we all go through these periods. You know, the times when our own personal worlds are filled with unpleasant news. For me, the current spell began just after Christmas when a friend was suddenly hospitalized with a new diagnosis of out-of-control diabetes coupled with a too-nasty-to-be-viewed infection in her foot. This was to set the stage for the next couple of weeks: In short order a close friend underwent a knee replacement and another slipped on some shoe polish (don't ask, I didn't), breaking her ankle in a couple of places. A darling young mom from church developed breast cancer and then, suddenly but hardly unexpectedly, a Circle sister was hospitalized with a serious heart problem. I wasn't eager to see what else 2017 was going to bring, but I had been hoping that the worst was going to be over after these first couple of months.

Turns out this was just the warm up.

This week I learned that another "old" friend's son is ill. Seriously ill. This friend is one of longstanding; it's been a bit of a bumpy relationship with some extended period of no contact. We wouldn't call each other "close" friends; rather, we are dear ones. She once told me, "We've got this connection. Whether we like it or not." She's a resilient woman; she's had to be. I won't go into details; suffice it to say that her family has been dealt more than the average amount of Truly Nasty Medical Stuff.

Years ago, someone close to me confided, "I've reached the age where it isn't my parents' friends who are having horrible illnesses; it is my friends." Obviously, I reached that age some time ago, but our friends' children -- that shouldn't even be a category.

I learned of Clay's illness through Facebook, of course. Because someone has set up a Go Fund Me page. Since the news first broke, the diagnosis has escalated from Stage III to Stage IV. He and his family have an arduous road ahead. His chemo begins tomorrow.

It hasn't been revealed as yet what form my support for my friend will take. I'm waiting, and watching. So far I've offered to come give her a big hug and a box of kleenex; in true form, she responded that I should buy stock in Johnson and Johnson -- they'll be using many kleenex.

I'm thankful that my three unidexters are all doing well (in fact, there are plans afoot [see what I did there] to take one of them out to a fabric shop); the young mom from church has finished her chemo, and the Circle sister has moved from intensive care to a regular room. My own mild head cold and lingering strained ankle muscle have taken on perspective. I am thankful for all of that, because this newest news has caught me totally off balance. I wait to see how best I can help my friend.  Meanwhile, if you've a prayer to spare, please remember Clay and his mom and his wife and his three children. I've changed his name for this blog post; that doesn't matter -- God knows who he is.

Thursday, March 09, 2017

Good To Go!

This will be the last cat update for the foreseeable future. As you can see, I completed the bonding of block number eleven using the fabrics I was given. For block number eight, I made the cat gray because I thought there were already plenty of yellow cats. Happily, I found fabrics that I liked in my stash and scraps to make blocks five and six. Block five had planned another checkerboard foreground and I thought we already had enough checkerboards and made it solid. I went into my floss supply (years ago I was a counted threads stitcher) and found all of the colors that I need. Since the photo was taken, I put a red border on block number seven. Last night I embroidered whiskers on three of the blocks that were otherwise finished. Each of the seven bonded-but-unembroidered blocks is in its own ziplock bag with the correct flosses.

Since the whole idea in resurrecting this ancient project is to have something portable for planned travel, it feels very good to have everything all organized and ready.

If I ever get all of the blocks completed, I'll check in again, I think, before assembling the whole thing. Meanwhile, Meow!

Monday, March 06, 2017

Those Dratted Cats Again

Every few years, it seems, I have to blog about the primitive cats project, a BOM that I subscribed to and started in -- ahem -- 1999. If you have nothing else going on, you can read the previous posts by clicking "Primitive Cats" in the Labels section of the sidebar. Actually, I don't recommend it. Those posts contain a bit of whining and vowing and not a whole lot in the way of progress.

This photo is the completed quilt as planned by the designer. See those checkerboard lattices? They are pieced; they are not made from a checkerboard fabric. See that border -- it, too, is pieced. Ye gods. Do you see how detailed and intricate these blasted blocks are? Simplify, simplify, simplify!

It all came to the surface again about ten days ago, and this time it has stayed out! Five of the blocks are finished, or very nearly so. Keep in mind that I use a hand-buttonhole stitch for this kind of project. They take for ever. For blocks 5 and 6, all I have are the two patterns, not the fabric that should have come with them. I don't know why. And at this point it doesn't really matter. Another complication is that the individual blocks don't come with color images and this finished photo above is from a different provider than the one I used, so the colors I have aren't necessarily the same. You can see what I mean.

Here's where I am now. Still have those five just about done blocks. I decided that the thing to do was to put everything up on the wall, start making the backgrounds, bonding down the body parts and so forth, and make a list of the DMC that I'll need for the stitching. Blocks 8, 9, 10, and 12 have been pieced and bonded since the rediscovery. And block 8 was a deliberate variation; it was supposed to be a narrow-striped yellow cat and I thought there were too many yellow cats and not enough of other colored felines and enough stripes already. So I made that cat gray using fabric I had on hand. Block 11 is currently in progress. When that is up on the wall, I'm going to take the patterns for 5 and 6 and make a copy of each and using crayons color them the way I think they would look best and then take those coloring pages to the stash and, if necessary, to the local fabric store. Once those two are pieced and bonded, I'll go thread shopping.

We have some travel planned for later this year; ordinarily, I do not take handwork along on trips, but this time, I think I shall. But no catnip. No.

You know, I just might actually finish this someday!

Sunday, March 05, 2017

Not the Mad Hatter's Tea Party

A month ago I wrote about the quilt that was the result of a big group effort involving two pattern designers, a dozen quilt bee members, a clever machine quilter, and a ballet school director. You can read about it here.

Today was the ballet school director's tenth annual tea party to raise money for the Susan G. Komen organization. I learned that as of today, she has raised $300,000. The tea party was as much fun and as elegant as usual. A friend at my table asked, "You know these tea sandwiches -- the ones that are cucumber and cream cheese? That are so good? And so easy? WHY don't I ever make these at home for myself?" I didn't know. I have the same problem.

Everyone was buying raffle tickets and putting them in jars. I put most of mine into a jar for a spectacular vacuum cleaner valued at $779 (that someone else got to take home); a lot of people were interested inn the ballet quilt.

I was excited when Miss Jane pulled the winning ticket for the quilt and it turned out to belong to one of the school's students! Here's a picture of her -- the lovely young dancer on my right wearing the black sweater -- with me and her sister (in the pink sweater).

On the way home, I started thinking about next year's quilt. Tea party . . . yes, a tea party quilt!