Behind the Curtain · PatternLite · Patterns by Elizabeth of OPQuilt

The Flowering Snowball Block Grows Up

Now where were we?

I think we left the Flowering Snowball block here:

Don’t get me wrong…that was a good place to leave it, and I still might try to make this version of it, but the idea that I should do one in Anna Maria Horner fabrics just wouldn’t leave me alone. Thanks to Patti, I just had to give it a go.

First draft, using 12″ blocks from the PatternLite Flowering Snowball pattern:

The finished quilt center:

For some time I was stumped on what to do for a border. I try to subscribe to the Ruth McDowell school of sneaking in a border if you can, that is, having it be integral to your quilt, but not the same as the quilt.

I tried to do that with Summer Snowcone.

As well as a version of it with Sawtoothmania.

I looked at the center section for a long time, and was bothered that the tips of the petals were cut off. So I had the idea to extend the petals, re-draw a new border piece and see where that took me.

First draft of border, using the petals I’d originally cut for the center (but in the end, chose the warm yellow-green instead):

This is still an AMH fabric, called One Mile Radiant, a lovely design with Queen Anne’s lace all over it. I’d show you what it looks like, but I cut it all up.

(Aren’t we supposed to do that with fabric?)

The white was ho-hum, just didn’t sing it for me. So I auditioned different colors of solids: medium purple, light periwinkle and deep pink.
But as I said to Carol, “That dark pink on the left just looks like freshly manicured fingernails to me.”
And then she said, “Once you see that, you just can’t un-see it.”

Reject.

The smart and handsome youngest son and his brilliant and lovely girlfriend came yesterday for an early Father’s Day lunch (which is why this post is late but that’s a good reason), and they graciously posed in front of Sunny Flowers just before Dave (DH) suggested they go up to the sewing room to help me with my conundrum of freshly painted fingernails. They were like, what?

But then I showed them the stack of AMH and started flipping through the bits, and one of these two said, What about that one? pointing to what is now front and center.
I think that might work, I said.
We all agreed (by now Dave had joined us) that the tips of those leaves were like an extension of the yellow-green and that the pink bits echoed the center of the larger flowers in the quilt.

So, after church today, we went out back to the pavilion and park and took a few pictures, before heading home to celebrate Father’s Day. As usual, Dave was my Quilt Holder Supreme.

Happy Father’s Day to the man who married me and four children, all at once, and raised us all.

The day my husband became a father to four children. He’s a keeper.

I was also fortunate enough to have a magnificent father, who raised me, as well as being surrounded by many fine fathers: brothers, brothers-in-law, our sons, friends we know — all men who are doing their best to influence their families for good.

Happy Father’s Day, everyone!

Our grandchildren: a long time ago in a galaxy far far away.
Behind the Curtain

Thieves Meet Old Woman

At least that’s what Google Translate said it meant, when I typed in…

…which is the newest song for the newest dance craze, introduced to me by my daughter on Instagram as well as other celebrities (make sure you turn on the sound):

And this led me to a whole rabbit hole of watching lots of people dance in 7 second spurts (mostly young ones, hence the title of this post makes sense), the thieves being whoever stole all those years from me when I was busy raising children, schlepping groceries and making an occasional quilt.

Which led me to an article in the New York Times that found a correlative link between creativity and exercise:

“If you often exercise, there’s a good chance you also tend to be more creative, according to an interesting new study of the links between physical activity and imagination. It finds that active people come up with more and better ideas during tests of their inventiveness than people who are relatively sedentary.”

There is no hard and fast connection, but maybe all these dancers are on to something. And yes, I downloaded the song to listen to while on my walks, but you can forget me trying to do that dance.

My burst of enthusiasm for the Triple Sunflower took several hits this week, as I tried to figure out where this quilt is leading me. Here’s the progression in two montages, Progression Forward and then, Progression Backward:

Too blah, too pastel, and as my husband pointed out, the flowers and stems in the center were bolder than the borders. The quilt was headed to a pastoral landscape, but I was thinking more Paul Gauguin or Wolf Kahn, with more saturated color. And I noticed the slight curve on the right border and worried it was going to amplify onwards, outward through all the rest of the construction. It was at this point that I emailed The Medallion Quilt Queen, Melanie of Catbird Quilt Studio, who knows everything about medallion quilts. She talked me down off the proverbial ledge, and got me re-oriented towards making progress:

Yes, progress meant I ripped off all the previous borders and then, in between watching young people dance on Instagram, doing all the laundry and shuffling nearly every fabric in my stash from the ironing board to the design wall and back again, I finally added the medium-dark blue border. I am also auditioning some brighter fabrics for the next one. Which I will probably change again.

The happy dance this week was having Kelley, my quilter, stop by and show me some new samples she’d stitched out, and we auditioned them for my Wealth of Days quilt. Can’t wait to see it finished.

I’ll give social media the last word:

Behind the Curtain · Patterns by Elizabeth of OPQuilt

Spectral Light

My husband is a photographer who specializes in small landscapes: detailed shots of flowers that he finds around our neighborhood. Since we live in a climate that is temperate, we have plants from Brazil, Australia, New Zealand, and even Madagascar, and he finds and captures them all in their exquisite tiny details. The plant above is called Mother of Millions.

But sometimes when you step back, the plant just isn’t quite so lovely. And so it is with quilts.

I had challenged myself to make a larger version of Triad Harmony, which — when it’s figured out — will be added into the first pattern. I had spent hours drafting patterns, printing them out, perfecting them, and finally it was time to try it in cloth.

Fail.

I really thought it was a loser. I had great fabric, Gem Stones by Riley Blake (shown on this post). I thought, well…every quilt starts out as spindly Mother of Millions plant, with their virtues disguised in the making. I wondered if this smaller quilt just couldn’t scale up to the larger version. So I stepped away for a day, a bit grumpy about the whole thing. But I just needed to look at the details.

And the details came down — as so often it does — to contrast. The second tier of triad blocks needed contrast from the outer heavens in which this star lives. I needed to change out some pieces, but now I think it’s on track. I will soon get the borders on, then take it off my design wall to quilt it. The moral of the story? Keep working, make changes and soon the quilt will show itself.

In other news, I had a wonderful class last Saturday with the Coastal Quilters from Santa Barbara, a Zoom class of 19 students. We have our follow-up session this coming Saturday, and their quilt pictures have been coming in. I am most excited about this–this follow-up session is such a wonderful time where we talk about quilts. That write-up is coming soon, as is a giveaway for the new Encyclopedia of Pieced Quilt Patterns. So stay tuned!

colorful image from here

About the name: I had originally wanted to name this quilt Spectra, as that is plural for spectrum, or an array of light. But when I found out that it is the brand name for a breast milk pump (?!?), I quickly changed my mind. I read that car manufacturers go through this on a large scale, as not only do they have to check English, but the car’s name in many other languages as well.

And now, a little light reading:

from here

Happy Quilting!

P.S. Did you notice I changed this triad piece, too? I subbed out the lightest piece for a really dark one — you know, more contrasting — and then I rotated it to put that darkest piece at the lower edge.

Behind the Curtain · Housekeeping · Live-Online Classes

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!