Oh My Stars Where Have I Been?

I could say to the moon and maybe to the stars, and back.
I could say Guatemala, but you already know I’ve returned home from there.
I could say sick, but now I’m better, and yes, I had a nice Thanksgiving at my daughter’s house.  They even had a quilt shop in her tiny town in Arizona, but since I’d been in there several times and the fabric was all the same, every bolt every time, I didn’t think it warranted another stop.

I could plead The Fifth and just get on with it, which is what I’ll do.

November 2019 Gridsters

It’s always good to begin with a finish, even if it is only a block.  In this case, this finish went to my buddy Allison in the GridsterBee: a free online spider-web block, which we printed out onto paper and got to work with all those skinny litle scraps of fabric in that bin over there, next to the iron.

Above are scenes from my Thanksgiving (click on image to enlarge):

(from upper left, going down) 1)El Travatore, an old motel in Kingman AZ (the longest piece of extant Route 66 runs through this town), 2) the family just before enjoying the two turkeys and two kinds of sweet potatoes and salad, and multiple pies and then falling into food coma sometime later on, 3) teachers’ gifts my ever-talented daughter dreamed up and put together.

Sign at top right: a Truth.

Two views of storefronts across the bottom that my daughter designed: THE  Farmhouse used to be her shop until last year, and West of 3rd is her friend’s shop.  We went out Saturday for Small Shop Saturday, so I hope you visited yours.

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Sunday morning, really early, heading out across the Mojave Desert.  (Mojave is spelled with a “j” in California, but spelled with an “h” in Arizona, as in Mohave, and that’s just the way it is.)

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I picked up a few of these. It’s washi tape on major sale at the Get To Work Book website.  I bought it because I’d seen this from here:

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and figured out we could draw our own lines on either side.

Washi tape Carol

My friend Carol figured it out.

Pear Tart

Monday, I launched into laundry, but later rooted out the pears we’d stuck in the fridge the week before and made a Pear-Almond Tart.  I always know the routine is coming back when I start baking again.  The recipe is over on my recipe-blog: ElizabethCooks.com.First Mondays_D19

Then fun-of-fun, we found a couple young women who wanted to learn to quilt, and so we rustled up a small group, calling it First Monday Sewday.  (We’re missing a kid from the photo, and me, of course.) It was chaos, but really fun.

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I made up a little handout for the newbies; click below on the link if you’d like to print it out:

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Relax Grant Snider

All good suggestions from Grant Snider, except for the top right.

Many years ago we took our children to Italy, scraping together frequent flier miles, and saving for months before we showed up in Rome on Christmas Eve.  Being in a different place for Christmas broke my “Overwhelm Them with Gifts” habit, well-formed after raising children for twenty years, helped along by American merchandising.

That night we walked down to Vatican City, walked through the newly opened Jubilee Door, and experienced a midnight mass where they placed the Christ Child back into the empty manger in Nativity Scenes everywhere.

Christmas Day we slept in a bit, then went out again to see the parade of the Pope’s Swiss Guards, listen to the service in Basilica of Santa Maria Sopra Minerva where, after the service, I stood to sing the Hallelujah chorus with everyone, but I did it in English.  My family sat beside me in the church for all of about ten minutes, then ducked out to see the Pope bless the crowds gathered in front of St. Peter’s.  No, we aren’t of that religion, but seeing the holiday from another perspective changed how I view Christmas.

I believe in gifts (I’ll show you what I made our families later) and celebrating, but I try to do it in a quieter way, enjoying hours of Christmas music, decorating with my husband’s nutcracker collection, baking up a few treats, while taking the incessant retail merchandising blast in much smaller doses.

Target Birds 2019

Target’s newest birds

Glad to see you all again!  I hope you ease into the holidays, too.

Mary Joseph Donkey Vatican

Favorite small sculpture in the Vatican; December 1999

 

My Small World Top • flimsy finish

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It’s done!  I decided to forge with ahead My Small World because basically, nothing else in my life was getting done with that mess in the sewing room, and I wanted to be finished with this project, the Third Hard Quilt of 2019. Here, in my backyard studio, I’m showing the finished flimsy of My Small World, a pattern by Jen Kingwell.  I made some changes here and there, but it’s basically her pattern.  Began in 2014, I was nudged to completion by a new Instagram Quilt-a-long #mysmallworldsewcial, where many others are still working.  Let’s take each of the last two sections, one at a time:

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One late night I was thrilled to discover an Eiffel Tower in one of my fabrics.  I love the embroidery others had done, but it wasn’t for me.

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I took the hexie bubble with me to Guatemala last week, and stitched it up while chatting with my sister/BIL (who we went to visit) and on the plane home.  I brought home some illness, courtesey of the Chicken Bus airplane we flew home (kidding, it was a regular airplane but there were a lot of people sneezing, coughing, etc).

I made a teeny video of our visit to the bus depot in Antigua, where we saw a lot of Chicken Busses, so nicknamed because they can carry everything, including live chickens.  If I could have figured out how to add a chicken bus to this quilt, I would have; I fell in love with them, as well as Guatemala.

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I also fussy-cut a unicorn (just under the top rainbow, but everyone on IG called it a horse–his little white horn is hard to see).

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Underneath the arches and hexie-bubble are bigger blocks of fabric, as I figured I was going to cut them out from behind the two structures at the end, and why waste all that piecing?  I cut out the fabric from behind the rainbow (shown above) and the spikey arch and hexie-bubble:

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Those arches were a grind, but I did them.  I included other tips and tricks in this post.

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Section six was a relief to get to, after those arches.

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I liked the two blue silos, but they were a bit stark, so I added signs to them: a sewing chicken and the word Quilt.

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I changed the order of the bottom row of patches around, and I just couldn’t face another eight teeny flying geese, so I did a square-in-a-square with fussy-cut horses, since this is the farm section.

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I sewed those two sections together, then stitched it to the other part of the quilt I’d already completed.

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Yes, I’m pretty happy to be at this point.  My friend Laurel added a border to hers and I’m considering that, too.

My To-Do list of items is lengthy, all being held hostage by this quilt.  Now I need to go and clean up my sewing room, vacuum, clean some bathrooms, and try to find the extra furnace filter in the garage, as well as maybe take a nap. But I’m done!!!

Sing for Joy • Quilt Finish

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Sing for Joy • Quilt #226

This is the second of my Three Hard Quilts to Make for 2019.  It’s a lovely day now that Sing for Joy is finished.

Here was my recipe in four easy steps:

  • I decided I wanted to make a quilt with words, so I bought every quilt book there was on words.
  • Then I decided I wanted mine a bit wonky and NOT paper-pieced.  I posted the how-to’s, one by one on Quilt Abecedary.blogspot.com, where they still live.
  • I sent around an email to see if anyone else was interested, and some colleagues in a former online bee jumped in, so we ran the Spelling Bee ran for one year, all of us making words for each other.
  • I follow Kviltstina on Instagram, and she has the sweetest little creative shapes on her feed, so I put some of them in this quilt.

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The back, showing the signature blocks of my beemates.  I had to remake one, when the ink started running down the block when I pressed it; I guess she grabbed the wrong pen.  (It’s always something, right?)

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My husband and I went out for some photos in our neighborhood park, and several of the walkers asked about it, wondering how long it took to make it?  (Why is that always the first question, when people talk to us about our quilts?)

I began in 2016, and finished it this year (some early photos, above). I had to remake some of the words and cut down others, so I could fit them evenly on the quilt.   I hand wrote a label and pieced it in with the signature blocks, but if I printed one out it would say:

Sing for Joy label screenshot

My brother and I had an active discussion last week about whether or not there is such a thing as a soulmate.  I said I believed there is no such thing, as it was the stuff of movies and greeting cards.  What is possible is that you find yourself a partner and you work to build a relationship and sustain each other and the family.  Soulmates are ephemeral, I said.  Of course, he disagreed with me, as so might some of you.

But what I think I do believe in is a cheerleader, someone who has your best interests at heart, who encourages you, listens to you when you’re sad, upset, cheers you on in happy times and is steady and consistent.  Someone who is always on your team, and for who you’ll do the same.

This quilt is a tribute to my cheerleader of a husband, who 30 years ago married me and my four young children, raising us all.

He makes me Sing for Joy.

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First Hard Quilt of 2019

Second Hard Quilt of 2019

Third Hard Quilt of 2019

My Small World • Section 3 & 4

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I know you are thinking, no — praying — that someday soon I will be through with This Quilt, and believeyoume, you are not the only one hoping and praying that I can add it to my list of Three Hard Quilts of 2019 to be completed.  I’ve finished two Hard Quilts and I’m determined not to put any other quilt up on that design wall until I slay this Patchwork Dragon.

So I’m here to report progress: Section Three AND four are finished, hallelujah, but I’m celebrating probably less than you are because I have two more sections to go and I get stuck on the smallest things.

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Like the flying geese in Section Three.

The approach I took the first time I made started this quilt was to pull every fabric out of my cupboards, strew them around and clip a square of this or a square of that and piece it into this quilt.

I occasionally try that approach again.  Which doesn’t work, again.

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The best approach is to see what you’ve already thrown into the first two sections, then replicate that, either via color/value or the actual fabric, if you can find it the mess. The completed flying geese, above — which you can see is sort of an amalgam of all the geese I tried.

I’m finding the paper piecing templates from Sarah of SewWhatSherlock very helpful, if you want to get yourself a set.

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I also learned that I am truly stuck, lunch helps.  And maybe read the newspaper.  And then start in on the big shapes, letting the detritus come later.

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I can work in new bits here and there, like this woman with her bird.

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Or some fun repeated shapes, the appliquéd half-circle echoed in the fabric.  I can’t decide if this yellow is a fancy front window, or two hidden doors, camoflauged, or a re-planted tunnel under this European-style gate to the city.mysmallworld2019_4_2.jpgmysmallworld2019_4_3.jpgThen I charged into Section Four — and why not? the whole sewing room is already a disaster — hand-sewing clamshells and fussy cutting blocks, and cutting multiples of the lower section strips but finally deciding, and now these sections are sewn together: 1 & 2 & 3 & 4.

Seam Presser

New notion: this little seam presser, purchased at PIQF from Edyta Sitar‘s booth.  I’ve tried the roller ones, and this one’s on par.

To recap:

My motto: Making progress, square inch-by-square inch.

My Small World Quilt, a pattern by Jenn Kingwell.
Mess in the sewing room, by Elizabeth Eastmond (me).

Citrus Belt Quilters Guild Visit • October 2019

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The Citrus Belt Quilters Guild offered their members one of my Two-for-One Classes this week, and since it was October, several of the workshop members went for a Halloween themed mini-quilt. We worked on Merrion Square and Home Sweet Home, which are available in my PayHip shop. Below are some of the quilts in progress:

When Hollie started hers, it became a challenge to see how the value was spread around the circle of house blocks: orange and purple can both read as medium-valued when you look at them.  By switching the camera’s settings to Noir or Silvertone, we could spot the value shifts and distribute them more evenly.

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Linda brought a pile of door pieces, and we had fun distributing them around her circle of houses.

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Tessa had pre-cut all her pieces, and was nearly done by the end of class.

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Now Linda has added her bushes, using her own hand-dyed fabric.  That green — a perfect floating of a color — livened up her composition.

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By the end of class, Lorraine, with nails to match, had created a spooky Halloween neighborhood, with lots of really fun details.

Citrus Belt Quilt Guild Workshop

We had a great time in class–thanks, ladies!

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I arrived about 45 minutes early to the next day’s guild meeting, and the nice ladies there set up the quilt frames and my quilts for me while I put all my programs out on the chairs.  That done, I walked around to see all the program tables.

This Guild, which is celebrating its 39th year this year, runs a full and varied program from “Sew What” (sewing items for sale) to a Charity program with this month’s Angel Tree for foster children, to the other items seen here.

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Because their workshops are the day before their meeting, a group of quilters finished their house mini quilts and showed them off to the guild.  Of course, I loved this part!

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Some made Home, Sweet Home.  Here is Sheryl’s; while she wasn’t able to come yesterday because of worries about the fires in the canyon near her home, she sewed along with us in spirit, using vintage fabrics.  I’m glad her electricity stayed on — because of the fires, many are losing power.

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Linda finished up her Merrion Square, minus a border of the aqua dot and binding of the stripes.  She has been to Merrion Square in Dublin, and used the stripes to echo the wrought iron fence that runs around the square.

Well done, everyone!

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After hearing from all the Program Chairs, they broke for birthday cake.

I liked the tiny hats women wore in honor of Halloween.  I need to get one of those, for sure.  And then it was my turn.  This guild was most responsive and enthusiastic, and I appreciated the interest they had in my quilts and my stories.

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Thank you Citrus Belt Quilters for inviting me!