Something to Think About · This-and-That

This and That • August 2021

Oh my goodness. The brain is fried, the eyeballs are smarting because of smoke in the air and it’s too hot to move or do anything which explains my SECOND round of August This and Thats. What can I say?

I have finally OD-ed on podcasts (more on that later) and found myself a good book: another Maisie Dobbs novel. I have three hours left to go.

What I mean is, it’s the first one done of four I have to do for the first-of-nine giant Bear Paw’s Ruler-free block. I’m playing along in the FingerPaintsQAL on IG and had the opportunity to take a class with Laura yesterday morning (I scribbled on the pattern above to hide her work). It was fun to see people I recognized! Above this block are scenes from class: the fabric key at the ready, the stack of fabric (I took her advice and cut 5″ strips of fabric from all the colors: saved me a lot of time) and ruler-free cutting in process.

Like the lady says, it’s not a race.

Did I mention that California is having a gubnatorial recall? Like either of these goofballs will win my vote, but check out Mr. Drake. Wouldn’t it be cool to tell your kids that one time you ran for governor of California? Or drop that bit on a first date?

Just want you to know I still have a few things on my To Do List from March 2000. This is because we chatted about To Do Lists in the last post.

Occasionally I fall down the rabbit hole of art galleries on Instagram. Jim Isermann turned up. Quilters, start your engines:

I think this is a quilt…

We’ve had more than a few fires in our state this summer, but I loved the write-up about grabbing a quilt.

Generally, the news has been weighty and ponderous and horrifically sad, with covid, airlifts, fires, babies in hospitals, angry young men (and some angry old men), divisiveness, coupled with more suffering and death in country far far from here. I realize that this post could be construed as lightweight and frivolous. But all this news reminds me of old news: the fall of Saigon long ago, my father’s bout with polio and stories my mother told me of getting her first vaccines for Whooping Cough because her baby sister had died of that disease. That is why I have avoided podcasts: they are wearying. Add in the sorrows I read daily on Instagram in all your lives, the divisiveness in our families over vaccines and masks (and yes, I’m making more masks this weekend) and it’s no wonder I’m grabbing bits and pieces, sewing and quilting, poking fun at candidates for California’s governor when inside I’m weeping a bit that it has all ended up in a Big Fight All The Time.

Our individualism has run rough-shod over our ability to come together as a community and do what’s best, what helps those babies and children have a better world. And then I see little toddlers held tight in Afghan arms as they walk into the belly of a very big plane with no seat belts and no snacks and somehow they all don’t need to be ducktaped to their seats (what seats?) for their 3 hour flight to freedom, to what we have and what we fight over but somehow don’t understand how fragile it is. They leave everything behind: little treasures in their bottom drawer, ties to their communities, friends and that bowl that Grandma always had on the top shelf, and I snip off a piece of this hope, tuck it into my heart and keep going.

The other night I found a photo of the first sewing machine I ever owned: The Genie, by Singer. My parents gave it to me for Christmas when I was a Freshman in college, majoring in Clothing and Textiles. I sewed on it forever, then passed it on down to my daughter. I have a lot of memories like this that are easily recalled when I see photos. I’m thinking on what I have that I could give up…give up to the refugees that are certainly coming our way. And to end this post on a better note (I’m not really going to jump out the window, I promise), I want to give something away to you.

I finally got all the bits from the last two giveaways mailed out, so before summer disappears, Shelley of Nanakaboodle (ETSY) and I are doing a teeny giveaway of Cluck, Cluck Sew’s Diagonal Seam Tape. I’ve ordered multiple times from Nanakaboodle and she always has really prompt shipping and a cheerful customer service.

UPDATE: Giveaway is closed, but thanks for reading!

To win this roll of seam tape, leave me a comment below telling me about your first sewing machine.

Think Good Thoughts & Let’s Share Joy and I don’t know what else, but you do.
Happy Quilting!

Affinity Tutorial

Wrapping Up the Leftovers • Affinity Tutorial

Far Away Doors, Quilt Number 216 • Merrion Square Pattern

Do you ever finish a quilt, but not quite finish it? Like forget the label? Or find scraps that needed to be put away from a quilt that is two years old? Or do you have tasks that still await you even as you transfer them from list to list to list? Or do you add tasks to your list of things to get done? Or do you feel like you spend so much time working off your list that you have no time to think, to create, to play, to imagine?

Signature Blocks: lost, then found, then lost again, and now found once more!

All of these are types of things that plague creatives, as we are known now. The list is endless, and we can keep adding to it. I was quite intrigued, then, with Mark McGuiness’s solution: a 3″ x 3″ Post-It Note. Actually, he uses two of them. On the first one — as outlined in this article from 99U — he writes one main task in the upper left corner, and then adds the rest of the day’s chores to the Post-It Note. Since it is only 3″ by 3″ it can’t get overrun. McGuiness writes: “But what about all the rest? All the phone calls, emails, and requests that come in during the day? Not to mention all the new ideas that pop into my head as I work? Good question. There’s a place for all of these things, and that place is the second Post-It on the stack, a.k.a. my to-do list for tomorrow.”

He then quotes Mark Forster, noting the idea of an “open” and “closed” list. The first Post-It Note is closed. The second one, is open.

Signature blocks sewn together, then pinned onto the back of the quilt

Here are some of the things I did this week that were on my list, putting together disparate parts of my life. I made this quilt with the help of the Gridster Bee, but had misplaced the signature blocks. And then when I would find the signature blocks, I couldn’t remember which quilt they went to. But we put a new shelf in our closet to hold the stack of quilts, and in the shuffling, I was able to put the two together.

I did the bulk of the little houses on the front of the quilt, but it’s fun to look at all the different houses my bee-mates and others sent to me. I often keep my quilts hanging up around my house, because I enjoy them finished.

That is something that Janet Choi might appreciate: “The simple act of pausing to reflect and acknowledge your efforts provides valuable boosts of motivation, focus, and insight that would otherwise be lost amidst your busy day.” It’s like the other side of the To Do List…it’s the Done List.

“Your done list acts as a signpost, a manifestation of all that day’s hard work. This flips an overwhelmed mindset into action mode to correct course, learn from mistakes, and ultimately make better progress” (Choi).

I tend to write my “Dones” at the end of the day in my journal, made for me by Amy, an artisan book maker. I was in a workshop of hers at Camp Create, and she made me this. It’s a treasure, but not only for what it is: it holds a lot of my Dones, but I also like reading backwards to find out what I thought about things a year ago, or even a month. Although I don’t write every day, I write enough that there is a general trend.

I also write my Quilt Dones up on my master Quilt Index at the top of this page, cataloging them on this blog, and then listing them one by one. I know several of you have started a Quilt Index of your own, judging by my emails.

Choi says to count our smaller wins, too: “Don’t wait until you’ve hit big goals like completing a project or getting a promotion — which happen only occasionally and make it difficult to appreciate small but important advancements. Don’t dismiss all the smaller things that fill out your days and are building up in the long run.”

Which brings me to this: the little rotary cutter in the illustration above. I was making images for my new workshop, Blossom, and I always like to have a visual header as to what is going on in the paragraph where it links to the instructional video, and gives tips. I had the scissors in my digital image file, but when I went hunting for a rotary cutter, I thought: I could make my own. So I did. I have the how-to’s below for those of you who are so inclined (including a video!), but for the rest of you, I leave you with this: I hope you will now not only consider not only a To-Do List, but also a Done List. Isn’t that why we started quilting in the first place? To have things stay done?

Happy Quilting!

How to Make a Digital Rotary Cutter in Affinity Designer, by a Verified Amateur.

  1. Start the program. Open an artboard. If that already feels like a foreign language, an artboard is basically just a big scratch pad. I can open multiple artboards in one file and save them all under one name. So I can have a scratchpad for rotary cutter, a scratchpad for a quilt block, etc.
  2. Open Affinity Designer, click on “New.” A screen will show up with lots of sizes to choose from. I usually go with 9 x 11 as I can always resize it, but it fits on my laptop screen neatly. I choose “inches” not pixels from the set-up screen and I like mine sideways, so I click on Landscape. Don’t forget to click “Create Artboard.”

3. And then I realized I would be writing a book, so instead, I made a video.

And then I uploaded the video to YouTube, where you can watch it. (And I do not know why the full-screen version is blurry. Working on that.)

It runs about six minutes, if you have that much time. Of course, it took me three Google searches to figure out how to record from screen (pretty nifty, once you learn it), then I uploaded into iMovie so I could cut off the end where I keep saying, “How do I stop recording this?” over and over all the while critiquing my voice. I then uploaded titles on the front and back and even a little Title Card saying Thank You For Watching. Yes, sirree. I’m a rank amateur trying to act professional.

But there you go. Obviously I should have majored in graphic design in college, but that was some years ago when it was Photoshop Version 1.0. (Now, I’ve left Adobe behind and moved over to Affinity where there are NO monthly subscription fees. I’m just saying.)

Illustration from Newest Project…coming in October

I’m most excited about how Affinity Designer now has a gazadget that will let me automatically draw quarter-inch seam allowances around any shape I make (called a Contour Tool). So, so happy with this!

Happy Drawing! Happy Quilting!

300 Quilts · Patterns by Elizabeth of OPQuilt · Quilt Finish

Merry Christmas in August: Advent • Quilt Finish

Mrs. Claus, from Berlin, Germany
133 days until Christmas
We always have nutcrackers around our house.

Advent
Quilt Number 256 • 35″ square
Blossom (pattern based on the Flowering Snowball block)

I’m teaching the Blossom pattern in a Workshop for the Santa Clarita Quilt Guild this coming month, and in celebration of finishing all three samples, shooting and uploading five videos for their workshop and figuring out how to make fancy-schmancy title cards for the videos, I’m celebrating by giving you a coupon for 20% this new pattern.

Right now. In the pattern shop.
Use the code: Blossom20 at checkout.
Expires at the end of the month, August 31st.

Blossom, version #1: Colorbright Blossom (47″)

Blossom, version #2: Advent (35″) (see above)

Blossom, version #3: Hanagasaku (23″)
They are made with different sizes of blocks, and the pattern has these three different sizes, plus three different (original) border patterns to fit.

Here’s the full line-up, available only through the workshop. Now, since I worked all day in a medium I’m not used to (video editing), and I think I don’t have any brain cells left to think, I’ll end here.

A version of the final end title on my videos, which I think might make a nice new logo.

Happy Quilting!

Gridsters · Quilt Shows · This-and-That

I can hardly waits • This and That August 2021

I open the page in my calendar for the new month and write in family birthdays and decorate the squares with a looping border, even though all the people I celebrate live far away from me and I won’t be getting together with them, singing songs and having slices of cake. Next, I write in the mundane: car service, dr. appointments, reminders for a hair cut (which lately has been a fraught experience). And then I notice: Where are my I can hardly waits?

This idea came from Annie Mumolo, in an interview in the LATimes

“My dad calls them the “I can hardly waits.” He says there came a point when he turned 40 and he felt like all of his “I can hardly waits” were over, and then what do you do? I can hardly wait to get married, I can hardly wait to have kids, whatever your hardly wait is.” 

The interview is worth the read, if only for Wiig’s and Mumulo’s description of middle-aged women who are kind of “invisible,” but I was most struck with this idea of the I can hardly waits, and by naming them, I realized mine had all but evaporated over the last two years. Yearly, my husband and I had penciled in travel dates on the calendar. We’d circled squares for visits to family, notable achievement celebrations and so on. We sorta-kinda had one coming this fall for a conference in Ann Arbor, but that’s turned into a virtual conference with the rise of the Delta variant.

Which leads me to registering for QuiltCon. (You knew I’d get here eventually.) It’s an annual ritual of controlled mayhem. The management at QuiltCon is always looking for a way to reduce the bloodshed, wailing and gnashing of teeth that happens at the moment the registration site opens. They’d changed this year to the people who manage ComicCon registration, but apparently the new people (Configio) didn’t read the specs, didn’t allot sufficient bandwith/server space/whatever and so the whole thing was The Worse One Yet. I imagine Configio treated “all those nice little quilters” much like the women in the movie Barb & Star, who are “kind of invisible,” “aren’t on TikTok” and are an “unrepresented portion of the population” (from here).

I got on at 7:00 a.m., which was our time here on the West Coast. It’s always good to have a registation buddy to rant text with, so Simone was in Northern California doing the same thing. She got through to the registration portion before me, at about 7:15ish. I tried every which way, but saw these too often:

Finally, by 7:44, I had two of my classes. I went back in three more times over Wednesday, and by the afternoon, I had all my lectures and classes. Here is my schedule, if you are interested:

Yes, I know I clipped short the foundation piecing class on Saturday to go and hear Tighe, but I figure (since I’m in the age group of Barb & Star) I’ll be sort of <all done> by the time 3 p.m. rolls around. If not, I’ll be late to the lecture, or miss it. Here is a class that made me laugh:

I actually have one of these going, stashed away in my sewing room, along with a vintage family apron for inspiration.

Many athletes had a lot of I can hardly waits with the Olympics this past two weeks. The Washington Post put up an array of photos that were fascinating. Here are a few:

This month’s blocks for our Gridster Bee are a combination of three flying geese (cut the colorful part 2.5″ x 4.5″ then snowball on two low-volume corner blocks 2.5″ square). Strips on the side were added (cut 1.5″ x 6.5″). Although Linda only asked for four blocks, once I got started in my scrap drawer I couldn’t stop.

And in ankle news, at almost 6 weeks I’m getting there, walking on it a little bit, going to get a pedicure, although I was really careful to let my pedicurist know not to touch the sore spot. We had moderate success in that goal, and I cut it short to go home. I also got a hair cut yesterday, trying to salvage the over-processed mess from the last stylist. This new person is my third to try after my regular guy moved to Florida. And yes, I know. it’s pretty pathetic if your I can hardly waits consists of a visit to a hair salon.

not mine! It’s Posh Penelope from Sew Kind of Wonderful

I looked at Road to California classes (coming in January) and thought Sew Kind of Wonderful’s Posh Penelope was lovely, but do I really want to add another project to the pile waiting to become quilts? Not really.

I have a lot of the not reallys going on lately, and not too many of the I can hardly waits. However: I have a pattern I just finished writing last night for a workshop I’m teaching in September to the Santa Clarita Quilt Guild, my very last Guild presentation and workshop. I’ll be teaching Blossom and if you are interested in seeing if they have any openings, let me know. I’ve taught for them before and they are a super guild with lots of lovely quilters. That and QuiltCon are the I can hardly waits right now for me.

Happy Quilting!

300 Quilts · PatternLite · Patterns by Elizabeth of OPQuilt · Quilt Finish

Hanagasaku: Flowering Rings • Quilt Finish

Hanagasaku: Flowering Rings
Quilt #255
23″ square

What’s that word that describes that feeling of when you finally get it, that gradual understanding, the skill opening up before you and the lights going on? We often use the word “blossom” to describe this but in a more long-term sense of the word, of working hard at something and all of sudden (or so it seems) it’s gone from a tight little bud of mysterious possibilities to a bloom in gorgeous bouquet.

The Olympics are like that. These athletes spend hours out of sight, working hard until all of a sudden they blossom out on the world stage, touching the wall after a 1500 meter swim, or sticking a landing.

We blossom into our quilting, beginning with learning how to make a proper cut, then a proper seam, and then all of sudden we are flowering into patches and designs and colors and quilts.

So this is Hanagasaku: Flowering Rings, in honor of the Tokyo 2020 Olympics (held in 2021), partly inspired by Barb’s quilt of the Beijing Olympics (and others).

But here’s also to you: a quilter, whose creations grace our world with as much beauty as a whole garden of blossoms.

While I started this from my Flowering Snowball Pattern Lite series, the intention was a new sample for the class I’m teaching in September for the Santa Clarita Quilt Guild. And in a couple of weeks, this Pattern Lite — whose concept is just a few pieces and general guidelines — will grow into a full-fledged pattern which is better for teaching, with more instructions and yardage guidelines.

UPDATE: In other words…it blossomed into Blossom!

Thank you to all who entered the giveaway for the Painter’s Palette swatch pack. I actually found more than one set, so there are winners (plural)! Emails will be going out tomorrow to alert the winners.

And if you were a winner of the book giveaway, I mailed them all off this morning. Look for them in about a week (depending on where you live).

Thank you, mostly, to you! (all my readers). I appreciate the conversations, the stories you share, the coaching you give and the gold medal hearts you all have.

Happy August!