Temperature Quilt Top • January 2020

One-thousand-ninety-five triangles along with six rectangles make up the face of this heat map quilt, cataloging the temperatures and rainfall of Riverside, California in 2019.  I have no plans to make another, but I was pretty proud of myself for keeping up with this, faltering only in my crazybusy November to December (finishing those two months in the first few days of January — which is why I couldn’t get the holiday decorations down until January 7th).

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Of the four numbers at the top of the fabric square, the color numbers are the three numbers written on the right side. The first number is for cataloging.

Here is the original Temperature Quilt Key, for those on IG who keep asking for it (it lives here, on the blog); it was first published early in the year, outlinging my intents and purposes.

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The un-adorned face of the quilt, today in my sewing room.

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I’m thinking of a narrow border before I begin to add other blocks around this quilt, to make it a bit larger.

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I embroidered the temps on the corresponding triangles in my Temperature Quilt Key.

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I have a lot of triangles leftover, so I thought I’d sew them together, fit them into a pattern, somehow, and sew them on the outside.Seoul Korea Triangle Doorway

I guess I have in mind the doorway we saw in Seoul, triangles everywhere.

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Thought I’d flash up here a photo of me with four of my amazing granddaughters.  I have two more, just as far away.  They make me look young.

North Country Quilt with Dani

Danielle agreed to help me lay out the interior of my North Country Patchwork Quilt.  I finished all the interior pieces; now on to the rings.

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While this shows just the sky quilted, I have now finished the quilting on My Small World.  I’m still looking for a good title for this quilt, but My Small World is such a great shorthand.  I’m determined to have it finished by Road to California, as I’m in two different classes taught by Jen Kingwell, who created this quilt.  Yep, I want her to sign a label.  Which means I have to get the binding on, then make the label.

Circe book

Finished this, too, just about the time I finished up the quilting.  I could listen to narrator on this audio book read the phone directory, she’s that good, but the novel is wonderful by itself.

 

It’s that New Year Stuff

When I’m deep in the tired mind blahs, mindlessly wandering through my Feedly list can sometimes yield nuggets that flash in my brain and perk me up.  I follow Zen Habits, and this week Leo Babauta’s words plonked into my brain with a spark.

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Apparently even Tarot cards are aware of this brain-fog issue.

What caught my eye was How to Have More Focused Hours in Your Day.  I see a lot of these change-your-life-in-the-new-year articles.  After having lived a few years on this planet, I usually just ignore their advice, but I did like this:

[Any] success I’ve had in increasing my focused time comes down to three habits:
•  Asking myself what meaningful, impactful work I can get done today.
•  Creating space for the meaningful work instead of just doing busywork or being distracted all day.
•  Working in fullscreen mode and diving in.

So I was interested to see that he and I have the first thing in common. I’ve used something similar for years: after I’ve ditzed around for part of the day, I ask myself “What do you want to have done before you quit working today?” and after identifying that ONE thing, I get to work on it.  It’s cured a lot of procrastination issues when I use it.

He expands by noting that “Most of us just dive into our inboxes, social media, favorite online sites, and busywork to start our day. We might have some bigger tasks on our lists, but they get lost in the woods of our day. It’s an incredible habit to take even a few moments at the beginning of your day (or the end of the day before) to give some thought to where you’d like to concentrate your attention. What is worth doing today? What is worth focusing on? What is worth spending the limited time you have in this life?” [italics are mine]

He approaches the second idea — of creating space — in a more roundabout way.  It’s almost like we have to trick ourselves.  He says “Set aside the next 20 minutes for writing, or getting moving on a big project. I don’t have to do the whole project in this time, but just the act of giving myself more space to focus is a huge shift. This is more of a mental act than a physical one: you just tell yourself that it’s time to focus on this important task. You breathe, and say, ‘This is worthy of my attention and effort right now. Let’s put aside everything else and give this some space.’ “January 2020 Messy RoomBut it’s also hard to get going when your sewing space looks like this.

Notice the chair is clear.  I can still do some work.  That’s what he means of working in the third idea, fullscreen mode: ignore everything else around the edges, and just focus in.  I used to only be able to work in a very clean, very tidy sewing room.  But I got over that.  I still like to clean it up, and did leave it sort of clean when we went up to Utah to help Mom and Dad clear out their condo of 30 years, in preparation for moving to a senior community, but I brought back various sewing things, a small Viking sewing machine THAT WAS MADE IN SWEDEN (I know, I know!) and I just plopped them around.

I spent three days quilting My Small World, and now it’s ready for borders.  I need to put a slim border around my Temperature Quilt before I move forward, and just like that…I am making a list in my mind about what I want to do first.

It’s also helped that the busyness that has been present in my life since — say, about September — culminated with our First Monday Sew Day this past week (pictures, above).  It’s quite gratifying to see Hayley, a beginning quilter, turn out such pristinely perfect pinwheels (lower left corner).  She’s only been sewing for about a month, and puts me to shame!

Here’s our flier from that day, where we covered snowball blocks and half-square triangles:

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For the handout, click on this title: FirstMondaySewday_Jan6_2020

Pattern HSH underconstruction

Still working on revising Home, Sweet, Home–there are lots of new illustrations to make — as I will be teaching this a lot this year and want a shiny new version to take with me when I visit Guilds.  I also began new duties as VP of Communications for our local Modern Quilt Guild, and have my first board meeting next week.  I’m impressed with all the service I hear that you give to your Guilds and wanted to do the same.

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Finally, I always begin the new year by writing my thank you notes.  These, from Quiltfolk, were perfect.  I hope you all have good beginnings to your new year!

Christmas Gifts

Since all the recipients of my handmade Christmas gifts have received — and opened — their presents, I can now share what I made for my four children. Gifts for adult children and their families can be challenging. Sometimes we’ve given money so they can share an experience, sometimes we’ve purchased gifts for the whole family  — spending hours in the toy aisle at Target — but sadly, most of the grandchildren want something from the toy aisle at Amazon these days.  Other years we’ve given a beautiful Christmas picture book.

This year, we went this way.

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I had leftover bits from my Criss-Cross Christmas quilt, but had to search to find more fabric to make what I wanted, then used an entirely different line for the backing and binding.  When these lines sell out, they are gone gone gone.

I started these in April (in process photos, above) and finished, quilted, and bound them in November and mailed them before Thanksgiving so the families could use them in their decorating (if they wished).  I unpicked the upside-down animals, righting them (as seen in the left photo).

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Christmas Criss-Cross, quilt #219

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We were at my daughter’s for Thanksgiving, and I snapped this quilt, casually tossed on her bed.  I thought it looked great.  I hope to get photos of what the other families are doing with their table toppers/bed accents/wall hangings/whatever.

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We finished up our 2019 Gridster Bee by making these hot air balloon blocks, free from Woodbury Way.  They are for Afton, who lives in an area known for their hot air balloon festivals, so it’s a fitting block for her (although she may just really like them, I haven’t asked).  I was supposed to do Block 4, but things just kind of morphed  into something else once I got going.

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Finally, in other happy news, this is a photo of me dropping off three quilts that were accepted to the upcoming Road to California Quilt Show.

We have quite a group that will meet up there, with Lisa bringing friends from Utah, Carol coming all the way from Boston, Kelley from Palm Springs, and the locals (Simone, Leisa, Laurel and I).  It will be a gathering, of sorts, for a few members of the Gridster Bee!  We generally meet upstairs for lunch, overlooking the gallery of hanging quilts.  This year I’ll have a quilt in that gallery as well, as our Inland Empire Modern Quilt Guild has been selected to provide those quilts.  I’ll have more news about all of this when it gets closer to Road, which will be held January 20-26, 2020.

I have one more Christmasy post on Christmas Day, so until then, keep your spirits Merry and Bright while finishing up the shopping, baking and gathering.  And if you are having a solo holiday experience this year, I wish you lots of good music, great take-out, and quality sewing time.

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!!!

A Piece of Her Mind: DAR Exhibit 2019

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When my husband and I traveled to Washington, D.C. recently, we took in an exhibit at the DAR Museum titled, A Piece of Her Mind.  It had a focus on how technology — in an historical sense — affected quilters at an earlier time, just as much as it affects us today.  I thought you’d like to see some of the quilts, so here we go.

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I actually have to give a lecture in 2020 about the impact of technology, and all that was swirling around in my mind were topics such as social media, rotary cutters, our fancy high-speed sewing machines.  But this showed me that technology’s impact is not just a recent phenomena.

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An example of a table-top sewing machine with foot pedals was in front of a beautiful quilt of basket blocks.

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The blocks were appliqued (interesting to note her use of black thread, no matter what color the fruit), and from the appearance of it, stuffed (trapunto?).  It also looks like she quilted the “plain” blocks first, then sewed the basket blocks in between the quilted blocks — a really unusual way to construct a quilt.

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The Red and Green Bethlehem Star Quilt (1840-1860) benefitted from the relatively new ‘Turkey red’ dyes.  According the title card, previous to this invention, “dying cloth this color of red was a complicated dye process. [In addition] [g]reen had to be dyed in two steps (yellow, then blue) until late in the 1800s, but a more reliable option called ‘chrome green’ provided the leafy and emeral hues seen in mid-century quilts.”  This cotton quilt was made by Sarah Hall Gwyer (1819-1882) in North Carolina, or Omaha, Nebraska.

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I loved this broderie perse (or appliquéd chintz panel) quilt from the 1820s not only because of the design, but because of those stitches!  Seeing evidence of another woman’s handwork always makes a quilt more personal for me.

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This Baltimore Album Quilt is from about 1850, and is made by a member of the Hayden family from Baltimore, Marlyand.  It’s cotton, with wool embroidery.

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This appliqué quilt was made by Mary Swearingen King (1811-1902) in Findlay, Allegheny County, Pennsylvania.  I loved the applique birds:

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They look almost pre-historic, here, feeding berries to their young.

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Beyond the technology-oriented quilts, there was a section on quilts that were affected by the culture of the day.  I was drawn to the red, white and blue quilts.  That center block is the flag from Cuba, explained below:

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I zoomed way in (the ropes around the quilts didn’t permit close inspection) so the picture is a bit globby, but you can see the Clay ribbon in the outside border.

The exhibit also had a series of crazy quilts, some quilts made with toile prints, and quilts inspired by popular fictional characters.

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Afterwards we went to the library–quite stunning in a panoramic view.

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There was also a quilt of another kind in the Renwick Gallery, just up the street, made out of snippets of movie film.  The title of this is “Fibers and Civilization (1959)” and was made in 2009, using 16 mm film and polyamide thread.  This piece of art is from Sabrina Gshwandtner, and I’d seen some of her work before at LACMA.

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Then we hopped on the Metro and went over to the National Museum of American History.  Can you tell I looked up on the internet where all the quilt exhibits were?

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Unfortunately, this spectacular quilt was behind a piece of highly reflective glass, so the only way I could get a photo was to gently lean my photo lens on the glass to cut the glare.  This means that I couldn’t get a photo of the complete quilt, but here are some segments.

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In another small exhibit, they had a lot of crazy quilts.

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I was quite interested in what this title card (above) said about the advent of patterns for crazy patchwork.

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In between all this, we stopped for some lobster rolls at Luke’s Lobster shop, meandered around the Mall, and hung out together.  We really like DC, as you probably know.  More photos can be found on Instagram.

DCDAR_pressclub.jpgFall Cookies 2019

Later that week we had a gathering at the The National Press Club in D.C., where they host the White House Correspondent Dinners, and we had a spread of yummy desserts to choose from.  I chose one of these (it’s the color, naturally!) after I’d had the requisite chocolate treat.

So, here’s your spot of fall color–happy quilting!