Fun with Other Quilters at Valley Modern Quilt Guild

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Last week I had the chance to head over to Los Angeles, and speak at the Valley Modern Quilt Guild, held at HighTech LA, a very cool building (with great gates).

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They had these signs all over the school, which I think is a good motto for retreats and workshops, right?

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The place we met was one of those classrooms that can be changed around to suit the needs of those using it, and it was a good space for giving a talk: well lit, comfortable with a good microphone.  I stayed until the end of their Guild, as I was curious to see what they were working on.  I especially liked their Challenge for that month: Curves.

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Saturday, I headed back to teach a workshop for them at a local high school; the workshop was held in the costume department of the high school, and the teacher worked on costumes for an upcoming production while we used her room.

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First up, a little show and tell.  The woman holding the quilt is the principal of the school, and I’m happy to be in her company, along with the other fine members of this guild.

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It’s always fun to see what gadgets people bring, and I loved this one: a veritable traveling trunk of supplies, that you just unzip and Voila! it is available.  No more packing up and forgetting something.  (I don’t have anymore information on it, but I know she purchased it online.)

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As soon as we finished the center block, it was photo time.  I love how some centers come forward and some recede.  Such a creative group!  I didn’t do a very good job on taking a picture of the group, but there might be more on their Guild Website.  They decided on the Two-For-One class: a quilt in the morning, and free-motion quilting in the afternoon.

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Thank you, Valley Modern Quilt Guild–I had a great time!

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And in other news…  It is the ONLY reason I did an update on my iPhone this early.  Usually I wait a while until they get the bugs out, but I couldn’t resist.  They also have a ball of yarn, if you are interested in that.

Gridsters 2018_November blocks

And I finished my November Gridsters Bee blocks early this month and am sending them off to Allison of Quilt Studio 62, who is our Queen Bee this month.

In addition, I’ve had a question or two about what paper I use in the foundation paper piecing I did for the recent Crazy Cushion Class. I recently purchased a ream of paper from them (after 10 years of using the first one), so I took some photos in the store.

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It’s a vellum from Neenah.  I updated this post, where you can find more information.

Don’t know what to do with all those real “decorator” pumpkins you buy for fall? A recipe for Stuffed Pumpkin is a good way to enjoy them one more time.

Fall Leaves

The year we lived in Alexandria, Virginia I brought home handfuls of leaves from my walks and scanned them for the future.  I love looking at them at this time of year, as we here in Southern California don’t have fall color like this.

Happy November!

Chuck Nohara Blocks This Far

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Well, I’ve finished three of the four June blocks.

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(a truly hideous nighttime photo)

The last block won’t be finished until July, because I lost my mind and chose something that is insanely complicated.  My block buddies, Susan and Betty didn’t complain at all, even though when they saw it, they must have known I was nuts.  That happens sometimes.
ChuckNoharar June 2016blocks

Here’s all the blocks so far: thirty-two fun little six-inch squares.  Susan chose the heart-in-the-hand block and I love it.UmanaUppercaseQuilts

I was busy the last couple of days making these two small quilts.  They are a combination of masterful creative ideas and talents from Kevin Umaña, and Janine Vangool’s Uppercase fabrics.  I have a post planned next Tuesday showing them off.  I even have a giveaway, courtesy of Ms. Vangool.

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I’ve also been busy finished the stitching on our Oh Christmas Tree Quilt, which will post on Saturday with the first of the borders — the troublesome red-triangle border. All secrets are revealed that day (and yes, there’s a giveaway that day, too.  These are getting out of hand, I think). . .

Simone's Color Chart

Simone posted her requests for the Oh Spelling Bee and used the above chart to help us reference her colors.  It was too cool to hide, so thank you, Simone.  Some of those color names are awesome: “Papaya Whip,” and “Alice Blue,” and “Old Lace Floral White.”

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I finished my block for that bee even before June started.  This was for Kerry of PennyDog fame.  I felt so smug as I mailed it off a couple of days early.  Then a friend in the bee reminded me that I hadn’t paid attention to the colors that Kerry wanted.  Smug faded right off my face.  Time for a re-do.  Kerry asked us to do all the names of the Canadian Provinces, as she just immigrated there from England.  (I guess she made it out of Britain before Brexit!)June block_2

Here is the re-do.  She made up her own pixelated alphabet, not using the one the rest of us are (that one is on Quilt Abecedary, if you want it), but the word went together pretty quickly.  I do think this version of the word “Alberta” is easier to read than my first one, so yay.  PressWrap1

I’ve perfected my mailing to Canada: buy some Press N’ Seal, that sticky plastic wrap, and tear off a square.  Fold your stuff-to-mail (just about one block only) the shape of your envelope.PressWrap2

Fold over one side, and smooth the heck out of it.  Make it really flat.  Then smash it some more, scooting all the air bubbles out to the side.PressWrap3

Fold it again and again, smooshing after each fold.  Squish squish squish out all the air bubbles and make it as flat as possible.PressWrap4

Slide into your envelope and mail.  I can send it from the US for a little over a buck.

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I’ll be taking a class with Gwen Marston on Friday, and can’t believe it.  I tried to get into her classes at QuiltCon Pasadena, but they were all sold out even before I could get the log-in code to work. Since she’s retiring in 2017, I feel really fortunate to slide into one of her last classes, held in conjunction with the Seven Sisters Quilt Show.

I’m so excited!

May’s Blocks (and some of June)

Random Number 6

Because my husband is busy this afternoon recovering from our trip (see below), I used an online generator to pick a winner today for the felt, and it’s Elizabeth (what a great name, eh?) who goes by catskillquilter.  Congratulations, Elizabeth!  I’ll be in touch to get that sent out to you.  I have two more giveaways lined up in the next couple of weeks, one courtesy of Uppercase Magazine, and the other from the Steam A Seam people (that one’s on June 13th–in conjunction with our continuing Hallowe’en 1904 QAL).  I’ll have some great news as well about that fabulous pattern.

MCM May 2016_Carla

Here we go, first with quilt blocks from our Mid-Century Modern Bee: Carla of Grace and Favor asked for a modern churn dash block, saying she likes mustard and plum.  Above is my block, but I was tempted by this, from @myquiltdiet:
Sawtooth Churndash

I thought it would be fun to try, but Carla said “Too much work!” I could hear the laugh in her voice, so I smiled and went with tweaking the center bars to give it a bit of a twist.  I hope she likes it.

Spelling Bee May

In our Spelling Bee Quilt Bee, Susan of PatchworknPlay asked for words to make up her saying, which she’ll reveal on her blog.   I first took three words with “w’s” but then Simone had none, so I gave two back, leaving me with the above.

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Since NOT staying at home seems to be the thing I do the best lately, we headed out Friday for a mini-reunion with my husband’s family in Zion National Park, about 7 hours away.  You can tell who has been coming there for ages (this makes about trip #20 for me) as we say “heading to Zion’s” as if there’s a possessive element there.  (However, I do feel like it’s “my” park.)  To try and catch up with my patchwork, I took some Chuck Nohara blocks on the road, stitching them in the car and in the park.
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We invested in new air mattresses this year, twin blow-up beds, and those of you who have slept on a queen air mattress with another person while it slowly deflates all night long, know exactly why I replaced our aging air mattress.  It also helps that my favorite camp quilt, Hearts in the Pines, is made for a twin.  The pattern is out of print, but you can find the blocks in this previous post.  My husband’s bed later on got a green nine-patch, but he left it off because it was. . .

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…pretty dang hot this weekend. Snapshot was from the next day, where it turned out to have a high of 103 degrees F (about 40 C.)Zion16_3

My husband and I, my son and his wife and boys always go out to dinner at Zion Pizza and Noodle Company the first night, as we all love their pizzas, and who wants to cook after setting up camp? I love their scallopy crusts.
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We were tasked with getting the S’more supplies.  I cracked up when I saw a whole section just dedicated to this.Zion16_5

We rejoiced to have my husband’s niece (shown here in the Virgin River with the  youngest of her six children) join us.  Several weeks ago she underwent surgery for a brain tumor, and while under anesthesia, had a stroke.  She awoke to a mostly paralyzed left side and has undergone significant physical therapy just to be able to walk with occasional hesitation.  But she’s walking! She’s our own little success story, and she and her husband and family are our very own heroes.Zion16_6 Zion16_7

Throwing rocks in the river was great entertainment for my grandson and the other small cousins. (No, he couldn’t lift that one.)Zion16_9

I left the river early because it was too hot, and went back to camp.  I picked up my Chuck Nohara stitching, sitting quietly in the shade, watching (and chasing away) the squirrels.  All of a sudden I hear a sound directly behind me, and using the reverse camera on my phone, caught this shot.  One of the other little cousins came running over, saying “Bambi’s here! Mom, Bambi’s here!”

Because of the above sitting quietly, I’m all caught up with my Chuck Nohara blocks from April and May:

April 2016 Chuck Nohara May 2016 Chuck NoharaNow to head into June!

Roaring into March

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First off the bat, the winners of the giveaway, using the Husband Random Name Generator were:

Janice, who wrote: “WOW! I just began following your blog and missed the start up of this QAL. After seeing your beautiful work, I am inspired to dive in and QAL too. I love the embroidery details. . . [and the] layering [of] the stitches. I’d choose the magazine. Thanks for the great give away. I can’t wait to see your finished tree.”  I’ll send you the magazine.

Camille, who said: “Thank you again for your excellent post. I’m almost done with the tree appliqué. Still have the freezer papers to cut out. This project is so out of my typical arena so I’m thrilled to be pushing myself. Thanks. I’d love to add the fabric medallions to my stash since I have the magazine.”

Good luck on the Oh Christmas Tree project to these two and to all of you (and me).  I tried out making birds last night and they went so fast, as there’s far less stitching work on them.  Can’t wait until next month to tell you about this.

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In my regular, non-digital life, I attended our monthly gathering of the Good Heart Quilters, a group of friends who have been quilting together off-and-on (with new members coming in, and old members leaving) for the better part of twenty years.  Charlotte, a newer member showed off what I think is only her third quilt top EVER, a Monopoly board.  All the fabrics are Monopoly fabrics.  Terrific!

Laurel brought two new rosettes for the New Millefiore Hexagon and re-arranged them to make more sense.  She has an exquisite sense of color.  Caitlin, whose house it was at, had a nice spread of snacks, including freshly baked brownies, and she worked on Christmas stockings.  Lisa and I did hand work–Lisa sewed together hexies and I worked on Step 3 of the Oh Christmas Tree QAL, which I already mentioned.  We had a lively and interesting conversation, running from mid-century modern furniture to QuiltCon to Donald Trump.Quilt Night Mar2016_2 Quilt Night Mar2016_3 OhChristmasTree_flowers2_1

I wanted to show everyone my newest flowers.  There they are above, all prepped up, with fabric appliqued on three of them.  And below, you can see my progress.OhChristmasTree_flowers2

I sewed the backstitch around the orange fabric not only so you’ll think I’m so clever, but also to cover up some wonky appliqué.  Okay, that’s the real reason.  Then I just got going on it, and kept adding stitching. OhChristmasTree_flowers3

On this one, I borrowed one of Wendy’s ideas for the center, then did “closed blanket stitch” for the green-on-red ring and then just a zig-zag backstitch with small French knots (3 wraps of the needle using size #12 pearl cotton) at each juncture.  It’s really a layering sort of task.  I add this stitch, and ask. . . now what?  It also helped that the program I was watching, “Sagrada,” a documentary on La Sagrada Familia cathedral in Barcelona, Spain was still going on.  We’re headed there this year and I can hardly wait to see all of Gaudi’s surface decoration and bring home more ideas of what to put on these circles.March MCM bee blocks

Lastly, I finished up two sets of bee blocks, the first for Linda of the Mid-Century Moderns.  She asked for tiny churn dashes; these are measure 4″ finished.  We were also supposed to make some unusual section but still keep the church dash recognizable.  I wasn’t too inventive, switching around colors and turning corner blocks. March SpellingBeeblocks2_2

Mary of the Spelling Bee (#spellingbeequilt), an IG bee, asked for sewing words, then asked for us to add one more word.  I wonder if that “i” is too long; I included extra fabric in case she wants to shorten it up.

Chocolate

Lastly, I thought you’d be happy to have some solid research behind our quilter’s habit of eating chocolate, from an article published March 4, 2016, in the Washington Post.  Definitely need to keep up our visual-spatial memory and organization in order to keep sewing our quilts together!

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February’s Procrastination

Giveaway picking a winner

I did the Husband Random Name Generator today and Diane Nelson is the winner of the pearl cotton bubbles.  Congratulations, Diane!  I mailed them off this afternoon to you.  Glad you are making good progress on your Oh Christmas Tree.

Frivols Feb 2016

I received my latest Frivols tin, with the cutest little scissor holder–it will just fit nicely over my embroidery scissors.  I signed up for a year of these as a retirement present to myself.  So far it’s going along nicely: I have a stack of seven tins on my sewing room shelf (they have numbers on the side to keep track of them), with none of them made.  I think I need to stop putting this off.

Laurel's puzzle

Laurel let me stipple on her quilt for her yesterday.  Isn’t this just the dream of a mini quilt?  It’s for an auction for Autism Research.

Bee blocks are in my life right now.  I was Queen Bee for January in two bees, and they are rolling in–one batch of words for Spelling Bee was held up by a snowstorm in the midwest, and the rest of the words are being held back by my procrastination (see notes at the end of this post).
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I finished this book block for Cindy’s granddaughter’s quilt last night, and there’s my signature block.  I love that in our bee we do signature blocks for each other; we also do them in The Spelling Bee too.

Chuck Nohara Feb 2016 Blocks

Time to gear up for February’s Chuck Nohara blocks.  Looks like we have more piecing than appliqué this time around–should go quickly together.  Susan has already started hers: here and here.  She’s quick!

Maybe not getting to them until now means I’m just taking to heart the advice from Adam Grant in his recent New York Times article “Why I Taught Myself to Procrastinate.”  He wrote that “while procrastination is a vice for productivity, I’ve learned — against my natural inclinations — that it’s a virtue for creativity.”  There’s a term for that process of always working to finish things early.  It’s pre-crastination.  Grant notes that  “Pre-crastination is the urge to start a task immediately and finish it as soon as possible. If you’re a serious pre-crastinator, progress is like oxygen and postponement is agony. When a flurry of emails land in your inbox and you don’t answer them instantly, you feel as if your life is spinning out of control.”  Some of this is to reduce “working memory loads,” because, as Grant reports, “psychologist Bluma Zeigarnik found that people had a better memory for incomplete tasks than for complete ones. When we finish a project, we file it away. But when it’s in limbo, it stays active in our minds.”

Yes, apparently putting things off can make you more creative.

How can procrastination help?  Grant writes that “[o]ur first ideas, after all, are usually our most conventional. . . . When you procrastinate, you’re more likely to let your mind wander. That gives you a better chance of stumbling onto the unusual and spotting unexpected patterns.”  Of course, as anyone knows, especially my daughter who was helping her son with his last-minute science project  (how do these things slip our children’s minds until the due date??), excessive procrastination can also work against creativity, forcing you to choose the easiest route in order to get things done.

And today, this day in the first week of February, when I’m tired from chasing January’s deadlines and putting away the Christmas tree lights and mailing back all the things that were left in the house over Christmas vacation and summer is too far away to be of any help and QuiltCon is looming so how can I possibly concentrate, it might be helpful to realize that sometimes it’s really okay to put things off, as well as knowing that procrastinators have lots of good company.

Spelling Bee Begins • January 2016

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Sometime ago, I hatched an idea of making letters and words and ideas up in cloth.  Not a new idea, but just one that emerged from the morass to capture my attention, I’d say.  Getting a few friends to join me in this endeavor was the easy part.  I set up a blog, Quilt Abecedary, where I experimented with making letters free-form, teaching myself as I went, failing and succeeding, jumping off my comfortable quilty cliff.  That done, I wondered what to choose for a theme.

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My first thought, and the one that lingered the longest was to do a series of words around the theme of “Someone’s in the Kitchen with Elizabeth” — verbs like bake, roast, chop, sauté and so forth.  I have a recipe blog, Elizabeth Cooks, so thought to add that blog address to the mix.  But somehow it just didn’t seem satisfying, as I couldn’t just settle into it.

Saying w:o names

I made my parents an embroidered sampler some years ago with a lovely saying celebrating their marriage:

When the one man loves the one woman and the one woman loves the one man,
the very angels leave heaven and come and sit in the house and sing for joy
The interesting thing about deadlines is that they force you to a decision, whether or not it’s the “perfect” one. And this idea–of making a Valentine’s quilt — resonated with me.  For better or for worse, my marriage is the key to my happy life, and I wanted to celebrate that idea with a Valentine’s quilt.
Spelling Bee Fabrics
I chose a range of reds to dark pinks in all shades, with minimal patterning, with creamy whites to light pinks to serve as the background.  I’ll mark our progress as we move through this one-year commitment (the bee will disband at the end of the year).  My beemates will choose their words and I’ll make the rest.  We’ll pop up now and again on Instagram at #spellingbeequilt.  We have no blog or Flickr site as it is only a year-long project. If this idea piques your interest, drop me an email with a photo and I’ll share your words on here, too.
Happy New Year
Since tonight is New Year’s Eve, I thought it was a good way to celebrate the New Year by trying something I hadn’t tried before.  I was quite struck by something my nephew’s wife posted today on Instagram.  She wrote that she’d seen babies born, a friend’s wedding, job losses, and sadly, buried a brother; she summed it up by saying “So much great that I want to remember forever and so much heartache I hope I never know again.  Goodbye 2015, you have made your mark.  And now on to 2016, I have so much to tell you.”
She echoed my feelings exactly.  I’ve learned a lot this year, working through my Lost Summer of surgery, continuing health problems and had to come to grips that every time I look in the mirror I think of more of my grandmother than I do those pictures of me as a young woman. But I’ve had the sweetness of my husband’s company during this time, good friends who rallied round, lovely readers of this blog (many of who have become good friends) and lots of new quilting opportunities to enjoy.  So, to echo Casey’s words: Goodbye 2015, you have made your mark.  And now on to 2016, a clean slate, full of hope and plans and big challenges.
Happy New Year, everyone!