Criss-Cross Autumn Quilt Top

I’m getting ready to do a live-online presentation and teaching at Glendale Quilt Guild next week, and a deadline always sends my I-should-try-this into overdrive. So while I have the Criss-Cross pattern up online, and I thought I was pretty settled, a little voice in the back of my head said I should try some autumn colors in the largest size block in the pattern.

Okey-dokey. So I pulled a group of red-orange, purple, gold, orange, yellow fabrics and I was cooking along, pretty happy with the choices I’d made, but when I was looking for another darkish to put into what was up on the design wall…

…this fell out of a bin. It was Jennifer Sampou’s Chalk and Charcoal fat quarter stack, purchased some years ago. I used to have it out on a surface, just because I liked the colors so much, but had never opened it. (I’m sure you have never done this.)

So, in a flash, all the previous choices were down from the wall, and I had cut and was arranging all the new choices up there. The last image is adding in the strips.

So here is Criss-Cross Autumn, a 35″ square wall hanging. And since we don’t live in a climate that has a lot of rusts, golds, purples, reds in the tree canopies, but we do live in a climate that at the end of summer has a lot of golds, browns and yellows, my husband and I took a drive out in the countryside to shoot some photographs.

We were out in Hemet, by the golden San Jacinto mountains (shown above). One writer once compared the California hills to a tawny mountain lion. I grew up in the Bay Area, where in autumn, the golden grassy hills are interspersed by giant spreading oaks. What we have mostly now is not native, as I discovered when reading this essay, but like the author, I do love the colors.

Now, what to do with that other almost-quilt? How about I give it away? I’ll send you the almost-quilt (already cut!) and its strips (also, already cut, although I have to tell you that once you get adding and subtracting, you may find yourself adding more). There are also a few extra pieces in there, in case you have a different vision. I will also include a hard copy of this new pattern, with multiples sizes and variations.

Leave me a comment at the end, tell me about what colors are in your landscape around you right now, and how you feel about those colors. I’ll pick a winner using the husband-draw-a-paper-out-of-hat method, and let the winner know by email. Here are some image/photos of Criss-Cross Quilt, done in Christmas fabrics:

I’m looking forward to live-online teaching this quilt at the Glendale Quilt Guild next Saturday!

P.S. There’s a coupon code for the pattern, good for 25% off Criss-Cross Quilt through the end of August. The code is listed on the PayHip page.

UPDATE: Comments are now closed. Winner will be contacted via email on Monday, August 10, 2020.

Zoom, Part 3: Follow-up Workshop

Zoom Class

This morning, we had part three of our Zoom experience: a Workshop Follow-Up, the final meeting together. I designed my Zoom structure from the point of view of a student, and something I would always like to see would be all my fellow students holding up what they’d made from our class. The date needs to be far enough in the distance to give me some time to get my quilt/blocks/project finished (or at least have a good start), but not so far that I can put off the making.

So, this morning, one week after our Zoom Workshop, we all got together again. Several of the students sent me photos to put into a slide show, but sadly, some were too small to see the detail, so we had the quilter hold up what they’d finished so we could see it in person. As the pictures were shown, each quilter narrated her process, and talked about her quilt. It was wonderful.

One quilter sent me a picture of her quilt after this, so here are three to share:

From the top: Betty Ann’s quilt, then Martha’s and the bottom quilt is Judy’s. I’m quite impressed with this group of quilters, happy that they were able to use the videos and the other materials I’d provided for them this week. I was glad they found them helpful.

The pattern for the workshop was Merrion Square, found here on my PayHip Shop. I have quite a few more ideas about what I want to try with this pattern, given the wealth of choices shown to me this morning.

My next Zoom Guild presentation will be in less than two weeks, for the Glendale Quilt Guild, where I’ll do another evening presentation, then a Workshop. The quilt for that workshop is Criss-Cross Quilt:

I’ve designed a couple more variations, which I’m madly sewing on now, trying to get the tops done in time for the workshop. Today I finished up my videos, and uploaded them to the Workshop Password-Protected Page, so I’m making progress in getting ready to meet the Glendale Guild!

source

Now I think we’d have to say almost five months ago. Yes, it’s been 144 days (a truly Biblical number) since we started living Covid quarantine. I think we all deserve a pat on the back!

Happy Quilting!

Live-Online Class • Technical Side of Things

First, I apologize for sending out two posts right after one another. This is the nuts and bolts side of setting up a Live-Online Class, one where you will be hosting the class, but also include some online extras for the students to watch during the week while they work. If you don’t plan to do this, or could care less about knowing what goes on behind the curtain, feel free to ignore.

Zoom Codes, Zoom Tips, and Zoomzoomzoom…

Guild Evening Meeting: I suggest you let the Guild set up their own Zoom codes for their evening meeting, as they can set up security any way they like, as they know their members if they choose the Waiting Room option. This way, the presenter just has to worry about their presentation. I recommend getting the Zoom codes from your Guild about a week ahead, just to alleviate worry.

Workshop: We bit the bullet and got our own Zoom Pro access this year. I like that I can set up the access codes for this myself. Our workshop schedule went like this:
Class (live): 9 a.m. to 11 a.m.
Break: 11 -1 p.m.
Class (live): 1-2:30 p.m.

I set up the Zoom to start at 8:30, but then got on early to put on some music and post this sign:

If you don’t know how to do this, I recommend taking the Zoom Training Course, level 2, found on their website.

I used the Advanced Share when I had to share screen (showing them how to get onto the Password Protected section of my website…read on for more details), but mostly, I kept the Zoom Gallery View up and going, except when I shared my iPad as a document camera on the cutting table.

Yes, I wear a headset. When I presented my program the night before, I didn’t use it, but by the end of the evening, my voice was hoarse. (Funny how we think we have to talk louder to reach them All The Way Over There.) One of the tips in the Zoom training I took was to wear a headset. I prefer a lightweight mono-headset, with the ear pad on only one side. I use an adapter to plug it into the side of my laptop in the audio port, as these are the headphones I use when on long calls on my telephone handset.

For some reason, the Apple Earpods don’t work for me. Whenever I use them, people can’t hear me, so it’s old school for me. I do know you can get a Bluetooth headset if you don’t like wires, or one that plugs into your USB port: do your research to find one that works for you.

Setting up the Video Station

Early version of our set-up

I used my cutting table for the place where I recorded my videos. Equipment I would not want to be without:

Daylight Light. It covers the entire area with well-balanced light, and has dimmer settings. It can swing it out over the cutting mat if I need more light in some position. It was a birthday gift and I use it every day.

Just before starting class

Device Holder (Document Camera workaround) Initially we used two smaller tripods and yardsticks stretched across them. Clearly we needed to upgrade. We went with this gooseneck device holder, also called “Lazy Supporter.” It’s made for people to lie in bed and have their video devices held for them, but hey! it worked great for me. One end of the long arm clamped to the side of my table. The flexible arm is really strong, so it stays put when I move it into position. I learned not to bump it, though, as it would jiggle.

Document Camera. I read that some people buy dedicated document cameras, but since I have a smart phone, why not use this? This holder, made for an iPad, was a little tricky to use on the smaller iPhone, but no worries. I just slid it out of the bracket a little more. I turned the iPhone sideways (landscape) to do my videos. When I hooked up the iPad sideways (landscape) to do an Advanced Screen Share on Zoom…no go. Apparently the software is not yet available to do that, so I just lifted the device up higher and kept it in Portrait mode.

(I just read over this, and boy, what a lot of jargon. Basically I’m writing this post for someone who wants to try this, and maybe for my own reference in the future. Again, if you aren’t interested, just slide on by.)

Recording a Video and Putting it Up on YouTube

I researched what else I should make available for my class and short, technique videos were mentioned over and over. TECHNIQUE VIDEOS?? I think this was the scariest part of getting ready. I have some friends in the movie business and I knew about storyboards and editing and splicing and I didn’t want to do any of that.

made with Affinity Designer software

What I did have going for me was having taught this class multiple times. I knew what technique students wanted me to demo over and over. I knew where the tricky spots were. And I knew how to teach adults, given that I taught ten years at a community college. I have new classes coming up, and I will apply those same criteria to any new class: What will be the hard part? What is tricky? What might make the difference between a successful quilt construction experience and a total fail?

I made double my samples to work with in the videos as I had decided to do it all in one take. I recorded my demo twice, then picked the better one. On one of the four videos I made for this class, I don’t know what I did, but the video disappeared from off the phone (I was trying to edit it). So I re-did that video, but with already trimmed up samples. I hope they were sympathetic. Important: At the beginning, introduce what segment it is and what project it is (ask me how I know this).

Upload videos to YouTube and set them to Unlisted. You can set them to Private, but then you are about the only one to see them. You can research to find out the difference, if you are curious.

Setting up a Password Protected Section in WordPress

I use WordPress as my blogging platform, and they have a nifty feature: I can password-protect a Post or a Page. I opted for Page so a publication notice wouldn’t go out to my readers.

When properly set up, if an outsider wanders into the Secret Space, they will see this page. Unless they know the password, they can go no further, ensuring that your content for your class will remain protected and only your students can see it.

part of their password-protected webpage

I’m leaving this Page available to my class for a week. At the end of the week, we’ll have a follow-up session to show off quilts, talk about our experiences. After that, I will change the password, set the YouTube videos back to Private, cleaning up after myself.

I’d explored the idea of using a commercial site to upload my content for the class. There is a monthly fee, if done properly, and since I was still in exploration mode, I went this direction. Having a commercial site would be helpful if you weren’t doing a Live-Online class, but instead one where the videos existed without a teacher needing to appear.

And if you are a blogger with WordPress above the free version, you probably already know how helpful the “Happiness Engineers” are in the online chat. They’ve saved me, more than once.

Writing a Pattern

I use the Affinity Suite to write my patterns. I purchased them outright; there are no subscription fees (as in the Adobe products). I began writing patterns using a basic word processing program, but always drooled after those patterns that had nifty illustrations and pages that looked WOW. I’m not a graphic artist, but as a quilter, I do know what I want out of a pattern, and I want it easy to read and easy to find. I’m quite happy with these three pieces of software:

Affinity Photo — does what it indicates…it works with images, mostly photos.

Affinity Designer–you can make illustrations with this, moving around shapes, adding text, and about a billion other things. I barely scratch the surface with this, but I can make a decent patchwork illustration.

Affinity Publisher–It sets up a document where you can load in your text, your illustrations. I can also set up a Master Page where everything I place on there will be distributed throughout the pattern (helpful for page numbers, identifying logos, etc.).

Okay, That’s It!

I’m tired, you’re tired, so let’s stop here. I’ve tried to be specific in what I’ve used, and how I did things. If you found this helpful, pay it forward and help someone else Get the Hang of Things.

Overall, I think I may really come to love teaching this way, so I’m kind of glad the Covid-19 Pandemic forced me to learn how to do this. It’s a hybrid, for sure, but there are many positives I can see to this way of conducting a workshop. I may make comments going forward, changing how I do things, but for now, this is a record of what I’ve discovered and how I proceeded.

Happy Teaching!

Zooming a Live-Online Class

Having run through the vocabalary of descriptors for what happened this week, I think calling this a Live-Online Class is the best term. This wasn’t an Online Class, where you pay your money to a website and download a video. This wasn’t a live class, where you haul your machine and the contents of your stash closet to a class, where you might get something done. This was a hybrid, the best of both worlds!

Truth be told, all these lovely women of the North Cities Quilt Guild (above) could be called pioneers, for when I sent a survey afterwards, the majority response was that this was the first Zoom Quilting Live-Online class they’d taken. They were so fun to spend the day with in this new form of a quilting class. We’d also shared a Zoom Guild Evening Program the night before, and that, too, went very well, as they had two moderators manning the technical side of things.

Note: I’m putting up another post after this one, describing in more clinical/technical details the things I did to make my Live-Online Class run smoothly, having done gobs of research. I will update this post to link to that one, when completed.

Our day together began at 9:00 a.m. In truth, my day began a bit earlier, when waking out of a dead sleep at 6:30 a.m. I realized I hadn’t written down my lesson plan. I bolted from bed and wrote it on a giant sticky note and slapped it up on the calendar next to my cutting table.

I also realized that when we had painted, we’d taken down the curtain hiding all the mess in my sewing room closet. A quick fix with a tensioner closet rod and a quilt quickly fixed that. I spent the next couple of hours doing last minute prep, printing off the Secret Code to admit them into the Secret Room of my blog, getting ready (including mascara, ahem). Then I settled into my chair at 8:45 to welcome them to class.

We started pretty much on time, and I had a Moderator, who helped people get started and ran things smoothly. There was some awkwardness at first, as we worked through some technology hiccups (but nothing serious–Zoom does make it easy to click-and-go).

More about setting this up on the other post

After I introduced them to their Secret Site, and we squared away the password entries, they were able to access the videos and other materials I’d put there for their class. Pretty soon, they had all settled into sewing. One quilter had her computer in one room and her sewing in another; we solved that by having her log onto her phone, so she could have it next to her for comradery while she stitched. I saw her walk back and forth between the two rooms when she needed to watch a video.

The Merrion Square Conga Line

A few were able to use their computers to “show” me what they were working on, and we chatted about color and value choices and ways to make it all come together.

The class followed the outlined schedule, and when I returned from lunch break, I noticed a distinct shift. They had ceased being a bunch of screens, and now were a happy classroom of busy quilters. The change was welcome, as there is always this place where technology can get in the way of the humans. And these wonderful pioneers figured out how to get the humanity back into this distancing situation.

from the after-class survey

The afternoon was a series of lovely moments, as they held up their successes to the camera, showing off what they’d accomplished, bit by bit, section by section. I told the class that if they sent me decent photographs of what they’d been working on, I’d put them into a slide show for them to see when we all got back together a week later, in our planned Wrap Up Class.

from the after-class survey

Before we parted, we talked about the pros and cons of this situation (and they agreed to fill out a survey after the fact). One comment was that they didn’t have to lug their sewing machine down the stairs to their car. Another quilter mentioned that she had been able to pivot quickly when it was apparent that the choice of fabrics she’d laid out weren’t working: all her fabric was right there around her. I also love what this anonymous quilter from our class wrote in her survey: “Learn Zoom–it’s a wonderful tool.”

I was about to sign off, but a couple of women asked if the class could go longer, so I set extended it so they could keep sewing, which made me feel like this had been a great experience for them.

Can’t wait to see them all again!

Zooming into 2020

By now we all know what a Zoom conference is, we know not to angle the phone so people see up our noses, we know not to have a crunchy three-course meal on the Zoom chat, and we have learned the importance of the Mute button. That’s the participant side. This month I’ve been trying to learn what to do on the presenter’s side, getting ready to take my regular In Real Life (IRL) program to Virtual.

First up, gather a bazillion pictures of quilts and plop them into a PowerPoint slide program.

Secondly, do you-don’t-know-what and lose the last half of the slide program.

Third, re-construct what had been started and save it in TWO different places this time. It’s all a big fat learning curve. I did watch several different groups of people talking about going Virtual, and one common theme was the idea that when invited, they said “Of course, that sounds great! It’s very do-able!” Then the admission to those of us watching, was that they really had no idea what to do.

I can relate.

Here are some of the things I’ve been doing the past two weeks:
PowerPoint Slide program — luckily a lot of the graphic arts skills I’d picked up this past year while learning Affinity Photo/Designer/Publisher carried across onto this platform.

Buy a ring light and tripod. Figure it out. That’s me trying out light levels and light settings: White, Warm Yellow, Warm White. Or as I like to say, Death, Near-Death and Jaundiced.

In this view, there is a green border around the slide.

You can find that in the Advanced section of the Slide Share tools in Zoom. What that does is put a border around what the people on the other side of the screen can see when the desktop is shared. You can keep all your notes in a Word Doc if you want (see below).

Write notes for the program and rehearse. I did that last night, ring light on, running through the program, recording myself. With the ring light on, practicing looking at the camera, and trying not to freak out, I have to say I did okay. My husband is continually encouraging me onward; he used to coax his grad students through this ordeal. And by the way, the recording will be deleted, never to be seen again, but I’m glad we purchased a Zoom Pro account, so I can rehearse. I’ll make another one tonight, just to keep practicing.

Last tip: I set up another screen right in front of me when I was rehearsing (an iPad will do) so I could see what others could see. I doubt I’ll do that when presenting (I want to focus on looking at the camera), but it was helpful when figuring out how all the parts go together.

If you are a Guild, there are an equal number of tasks for you, too. In working with the current guild, the Program Chair has been terrific, as we worked to move this forward. Not only do they have to worry about getting the Speaker situated with Zoom codes, timing, technology, they also can’t just hand them a check when it’s over; payment has to be worked out as well, and not everyone has a PayPal or Venmo account.

And getting the patterns to them is also a challenge, because of that “not everyone has a PayPal account” thing. My patterns are digital downloads from PayHip, which requires either a PayPal or Slice Account, which has been a trouble for some of their members. So we worked out that the member would give a check to the Guild, the Guild would alert me and give me the guild member’s email address, and then I would send them a “how-to” PDF document and a code to enter to get their pattern. I plan not to do this again, if I can help it.

The contracts have to be re-written, or an addendum provided. I ended up scanning in the originals, adding the addendum and emailing them over. Some of the language I used in the addendum is in the “Zoom Explained” document below, available for download.

All of this post is to say, that we are headed over a cliff into the digitalized 21st Century, and we have to be our own superhero and figure it out ourselves. I plan to do that Lecture next week, the Workshop the next day (more on that, later), and keep going. I plan on my vehicle sprouting wings so I can zoom out over the landscape, and enjoy the view.

Nuts and Bolts of Presenting

After reading extensively, I wrote up a document outlining how I wanted to work my virtual teaching and presenting. You can download it below.

There are plenty of sources out there for the physical space you’ll need to set up. At the very least, invest in a ring light so it will throw an even cast of light across your face. Others have fancier set-ups. Try not to be overwhelmed.

In working with my fantastic Program Chair for the upcoming Guild, I thought it might be helpful if they had a checklist they could consult to make they had all their ducks in a row. You can download it below.

I have so much to learn, as do we all. But I’m actually pretty excited to go forward. In putting together my presentation I could include lots of views of my quilts in the slide show, things I normally wouldn’t be able to show them (like mood boards, quilts in settings, interim steps). There will be good and hard things about our quilting lives in the next two years. Let’s make getting together one of the more lovely things!

Basic String Piecing • First Monday Sewday Lesson (and a few other things)

Nice and tidy bag of “strings”

This month’s First Monday Sew-day Lesson was on teaching the newbie quilters about String Piecing, or Strip Piecing, or whatever you want to call it, but it involved laying out a shape on paper, arranging fabric and stitching through the paper. Foundation Paper-Piecing? except that we are using long strips of fabric. So I’m going with String Piecing. And the block I chose to teach was a traditional Spider Web Block.

For the handout for the Making a Spider Web block, click to download a PDF file:

It’s bit longer this time: multiple pages instead of just one sheet. There were a lot of illustrations for teaching this, like this one:

Since it is free, please don’t distribute — send your mom and your kid sister and your friends here to download the handout. (If you are a quilt shop or quilt guild, and need a virtual activity, please ask first before distributing.)

So this was my final block, taken at night, when all the lighting is really mellow. I chose low-volume prints for the centers, a deeper blue for the first strips near the center, and then circus-circus after that.

I did a virtual layout after that, trying to approximate how interesting this block can be in a quilt. More discussion of this is on the handout.

My “string bag” was left exploded on the floor after all this mucking around, but I just wadded everything back into it and threw it back in the closet.

I also made two sets of Gridster Bee blocks: first one was for Mary, for June. She requested a whole lot of little houses, and we used the free download pattern from Moda.

Kelly was up next, and for July she chose to miniaturize a flag, using the Grand Ole Flag handout from Pat Sloan as a starting point. These are tiny little things, finishing at 4″ x 7 1/2.”

Here’s a whole slew of them, all laid out together.

I was tipped off to two new mask patterns, and the Creative Grids mask template also arrived at my house. Updates are on my Face Mask Info Post, up there under Projects for 2020 tab at the top of the blog.

So this was interesting to see all week. Mancuso Brothers surprised me by using my Ladybird quilt in all their advertising for their online show in August. I had entered Ladybird in their Pacific International Quilt Festival, held in Santa Clara, California last fall. The picture they are using is my image, I must assume, as the lighting is good and the colors are bright (the lighting in that show was problematic). Most of the time my name and the name of the quilt were attached, but often I saw it with the orange lower banner chopped off, so no accreditation whatsoever.

Should I be honored and flattered that someone wants to take my artwork/quilt/work and use it for their ad campaign without asking permission or offering some compensation, like a teaching spot or something? (The real irony is when they use my quilt to announce another teacher.) I am very happy that, most of the time, my work is acknowledged. Should I just let this roll on by, knowing that I get “free publicity” — which is always what is said — although I don’t have a pattern for it, and I’m not teaching it anywhere, so it’s hard to know what good the free publicity does.

It’s a tricky proposition. I am not angry. I might be perplexed. Mostly I don’t yet know how I feel about it, but I do think it would be nice to be asked. I’d be curious to know what you all think. (Leave your comments below.)

Thought I’d show you the Betsy’s Creation quilt on the bottom of my bed for July. The smaller one is hung in the downstairs hallway. That pattern (which includes both, and really more like a handout) is free, found here. Hope your last few days of July find you quilting!