Buzzing

Let me start with the easy stuff, the stuff that’s in my hands all the time: cloth, needle, thread, shapes, stitching.

While I’ve called this the #dungeonofcute on Instagram, I am happy that I finished it, and that it is really cute. I set up a place on my blog to corral all the handouts I made while working through this. I made a series of tip sheets that collect all the disparate information that Lori Holt presents on her blog, and hopefully will serve to help those who decide to jump in to Bee Happy. Borders are up next.

I started to wonder why this was so hard for me. There is the matter of all that stitching. By hand. It is also a quilt of medium tones and values, and while I do like those quilts, I tend to be more comfortable using stronger contrasts. And maybe I’m not as patient as I could be? And maybe because I felt like I was always buying her fabric, so everything could neatly “fit in together”? Sunshine and rainbows and unicorns and charming motifs and flowers and buzzing bees?

This week has provided us all with a way of looking at the side we don’t often see, the side that gets hidden behind a tidy facade. I’m a Pollyana from way back, and am always looking for the rainbows and the hearts and flowers. But there were more than a few things in the past few days to knock me around. It was that kind of week.

From this, the (mildest of) images, to the videos and pictures generated by another visitor to Lafayette Park, the news stories chronicling the fights and the hate and the soldiers and the protestors and the (unneeded) clashing.

This week, our Instagram feeds filled with these sorts of images:

House in my neighborhood

Then a couple of days ago, I was surprised to see this statue from Alexandria, Virginia in my southern California newspaper. I’d walked past this statue often when I lived there, and thought it a rather simple memorial.

The art critic calls it a “racist civic sculpture celebrating white supremecy.” Its location in Alexandria is right where the main street through town gives way to a bigger highway, shuffling the traffic over to bridges and it faces south, away from the town. It was, when I was there, a mostly ignored statue. Is it okay to admit to liking this simple memorial in an area full of memorials, a soldier contemplating his fallen comrades? But this week, given our new vantage point, and out of necessity, it came down. And as my historian sister says, a lot of ink has been spilled on this topic recently.

So, this week I sewed.

This week I listened and watched.

I spent time in my garden, catching a glimpse of a late-blooming peony. I read through news stories of the protests, stunned at more instances of thoughtlessness. I would step away from the television and computer every night then lay awake in the dark, wondering what kind of senseless world I was living in, when people were singled out for how they look. I had no answers, just a lot of tired mornings, when I would repeat the cycle again. I wanted to make it all happy, turn the cloth under, hide the fraying and the raw edges, but I was being asked to see it from another view, a richer, more nuanced, and painful view.

A flower for George

I wish I could wrap up this post in a tidy little package, give a neat turn, but this is not that kind of week. This is the kind of week where you wonder. This is the kind of week where you decide what you want your country to be. This is the kind of week that you pay attention to what’s on the other side of things, knowing that they can make all the difference.

Bee Happy in April 2020

While I titled this Bee Happy in April 2020, part of that is a statement: I’m working on my Bee Happy Quilt, started at least a year ago.  But part of that is also a question: is it possible to be happy in April 2020?  Let’s tackle the first, wander through the second and I promise I’ll leave you with something funny.

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Like many of you I’ve been reading — no, gorging — on the news at this time, and one article about how nature is taking back the canals of Venice, the meadows of Yosemite and how we are seeing less pollution in our skies also commented on the amount of bird songs available now to us in our own backyards.  So one mopey day, I pulled out my Lori Holt Bee Happy quilt (!) and started anew.  I sat at the kitchen table, stitching, listening to the avian calls, and took a break from the chatter.

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BeeHappy6_full quilt April 2020

Hens stitched, blocks sewn and what I’ve finished is all smoothed out onto my design wall, a sort of vertical storage these days. Three of her rows are finished, ending with the clucking hen sisters.  I numbered how many I have left: 13 blocks.

I’ve been making a little tip sheet to go along with all the weeks on Lori Holt’s blog, where she has all her photos and pictures.  However, sometimes the info is not arranged as easily as I would like, and so I offer these as an adjunct to those working on the quilt who also need a bit more.  Click to download the PDF files. They are found on a page up in the tab section, under 2020 Projects, if you need to find them again.

Bibimbap Bowl
African Peanut Stew

I laugh at those COVID-19 memes that list a full menu for dinner on the first three days then devolve down to cereal and soda by Day 20.  I alternate between complete angst at dinner time and diving in to make a cool meal.  Here are two of my successes: bibimbap (top) and African Peanut Stew (bottom, recipe on ElizabethCooks.com).  My daughter, who lives too far away, has been baking these:

Barbara Macarons

Baking and selling them.  She’s really mastered this treat.

Like the rest of you, I spend far too much time scrolling on my phone, I’ve been happy to see the contests sponsored by major museums across the world to have those of us keeping quarantine to mimic famous works of art.

Art Imitation Frida Kahlo
Art imitation Last Supper
Art Imitation Rivera
Covid Meme Quarantine houses

I also follow the hashtag #quarantineart to break up the quilty quality of my IG feed, where I found this image.

Other components of our COVID-19 lives: Zoom conferences (this time with my brothers and sisters and my two elderly parents highly quarantined in their senior living building), memes, walks around our neighborhood in the morning, and finally, peering into the homes of TV newscasters, where I spotted a quilt on the back of a sofa.  Hey!  A quilter lives there…or at least they appreciate a quilt.

So, can we be happy in April 2020?  Possibly.  Probably.  Often.  Sometimes. Always.  Occasionally.

In January 2020, way back in another time and place, my local quilt shop asked us to nominate someone who could use a sewing machine in their lives, along with some sewing helps from Olfa and fabric from the store.  I wrote about my friend Hayley, a young mom who is in my First Monday Sew-day group, who has really taken to quilting.  She’s the wife a medical student, and has a sweet young daughter.  I then waited…and waited…and finally heard this week that she had been chosen!

Hayley Wins Machine
Hayley Wins Machine2

We all wore our masks, kept our social distance, and Janet, the shop owner read from a prepared paper, thanking all those responsible for giving this award.  Then the curtains parted to reveal a sewing machine–Hayley started to cry, I started to cry, Janet started to get emotional.  I was so happy that someone who is starting to love quilting could get her own machine.  Here’s the video on Facebook.

Kay sews a mask

Now a funny video about how to sew a mask.

Here’s hoping you’ll  Bee Happy/be happy in April 2020!

Bee Happy QAL Progress • June 2019

BeeHappy_June_1The wheeled devices in the So Very Cute Project I  lost my mind and decided to do are completed.  It’s nice to see it before it goes to a Time Out in my closet, so I can get some Real Quilting Work done.

But before I tell you about the basket of flowers in the back of the truck, you need this chart from Whip Stitch:

WhipStitch Bias Tape Cutting Guide

Head to her website to read all about it, or download it here.  Trust me, you’ll want this, as the weensy little instructions with the Clover bias tape makers will drive you batty.

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This is Lori Holt’s logo for this delightful project.  Notice the dog in the back of the truck.

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Notice how the people who live in my quilt realized that they needed the space in the back of the truck for hauling baskets of flowers.

Make 1/2″ mini-hexies for the flowers, fussy-cutting a couple. Cover some triangles, sized in relation to the flowers, then give each a pleat in the lower edge before sewing them on.  I used three “leaves” and five flowers.  I used the lower edge of piece D8 as a pattern for the basket, then turned it upside-down to get the wider edge at the top.

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It is really dense in that section, with the layering of fabric.  I’m one who cuts away from the back whatever I can to lighten it up for quilting:

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one more wheel to cut out
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The Guidesheet for this week can be found in the tab above, Bee Happy Tutorial Sheets, under Projects for 2020.
See you later, Bee Happy-Sew-Along-gator!

LadybirdQuilt_June13

I’m still working on this quilt, which I call Ladybird, because it reminds me of a ladybird beetle (sometimes called a Ladybug).

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I finished the first book (long, but good) and am now onto another:

SAVE ME THE PLUMS -- cover
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And this happened. Yes, no more PT. Now I’m getting ready for my project for tomorrow, Flag Day, the day when we find our rolled up flags in the front hall closet, and hang them out front, a prelude to the month of July, when it’s all red-white-blue all the time.

Betsys Creation Wallhanging

Okay, my wannabe flag quilt morphed into this flag-like wall hanging.  I say flag-like, because I read one Instagrammer say that she had to make another less flag-looking quilt because her family didn’t want to lay hers on the ground for picnics.

Flag wall hanging
Another version

I opened up my QuiltPro program, guessed out the proportions and figured it out.  There is no pattern in my worksheet, because I do assume that you’ll figure out how to make this, if you really want to.  Again, if either of my arrangements bother you, make one that you like.  I was inspired by a lot of what I saw on this post from Quilt Inspiration, where you can find lots of free flag and flag-like quilts for your patriotric needs.

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Here’s my worksheet, with all the dimensions, in a downloadable PDF file:
Betsy’s Creation_OPQuilt I named it after the original creator of the flag: Betsy Ross.

Happy Flag Day!!

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Trapped in the Dungeon of Cute

Bee Happy June2019_1

Working on this quilt makes me feel like I’m trapped in the Dungeon of Cute.  I discussed this with my friend Laurel, who is also doing this, and she said wistfully said, “Yeah.  But it’s so cute.”  It is, so I keep working on it.

That first section, sun-bee-butterfly-jam-jars-long-flower-two-trees-churn-dash-pinwheels-flower, is all stitched together. I’m trying to get the second section finished before I leave it for awhile.

Bee Happy June2019_2

Obviously the different between the top photo and this one is that I’m trying to get that truck and camper block pinned up, but the other difference is that I re-did the star on the flag.  Ms. Holt has us back every shape with interfacing, stitch all around it, clip and turn, press and appliquè.  I did it with the star in the top verion; that’s why I had to re-do it.  I say, there are multiple ways to appliquè, so do your favorite method.  Mine is a combination of needle-turn (à la Becky Goldsmith) and also using freezer paper.

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To say the directions are frustrating would be an understatement; they look complete, but are missing crucial information, like the truck piece is too long.  I’ve worked out several weeks worth of instructions for Laurel and I, and have put them in PDF handouts.  You are welcome to them: Bee Happy Tutorial Sheets. They are found up above under the tab “2020 Projects.”

I put in pictures belonging to Lori Holt, as they are an additional guide to this pattern.  I acknowledge her at every turn, and don’t give away anything that’s not on her blog, but hopefully I make it clearer.

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Bee Happy Words

Believe it or not, but the Bee Happy block was the easier than the Jam Jars block or the Truck-Camper block.  The missing dot on the exclamation point will be a small button.

Ladybird Beetle Quilting1

Quilting this is my antidote to the Dungeon of Cute.  A couple of hours every day.

In spite of our president’s tariffs, I ordered new 2″ cotton webbing from China off of ETSY, and it arrived so I could fix my tote bag.  If I purchased a certain amount of precuts at Quilt Market, I was given the bag free (free=haha).  This happened back in Salt Lake City, and the handle began to shred almost immediately.  The New York Times had a great article recently called “What to Do With All Those Tote Bags.”  What to do, indeed.

Flag QAL

Wanted to play along with this QAL…

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…and even purchased the red, white and blue fabric (there’s more in the stash).  Sigh.  Just like I finished my Christmas quilt in June, I’ll probably get this done in November.

Decibels in CPK

The other night at a restaurant, since my husband and I couldn’t hear each other in conversation, I downloaded the NIOSH (National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health) app to figure out how loud the dining room was at California Pizza Kitchen.  As a guideline, the average noise level in a home is around 40 decibels (dB) and noise becomes harmful at 85 dB.  My husband and I pretty much gave up on conversation, ate our pizza in silence and went home.

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I’ve been haunting Letterfolk lately.

Do Something but in pajamas
from here

Not quite, but I’m thinking about it.

Temperature Quilt, Etc.

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I’m making progress on my temperature quilt.  I don’t attach the months together until they are complete, so what’s shown is only January and February.  In my garden.  Of course.

Temperature Quilt_12

The Los Angeles Times published the unique factoid that our past February was the coldest it had been in 113 years.  I was remembering back to last year when we had a high of 84.  We get cranky in Southern California when it is that hot, that early in the year.  So we’re all loving this year, of course.

Wunderground, which is owned by Weather.com, has changed up my easy-access for looking up past weather.  So, after some searching, I found the Time and Date had the information I needed.  Their information for March for my area is not presented in a neat little calendar, but in a scrolling graph.  It works for me, though.  (Don’t know why Wunderground changed everything–now it only gives forecasts, not history, and yes, I sent them an email.)

Temperature Gauge for quilt

I finished my “Temperature Gauge” block, to go on the back of the quilt.  We had hail (!) the other day, and I wished I had some sort of indicator for that.  But my choice is to keep it simple.

Bee Happy Week 2

I finished Week One’s blocks of the ancient-history Bee Happy Sewalong Quilt, or as I call it, Being Trapped in the Dungeon of Cute.

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I used Sew Sassy Threads on the detail stitching on the Flower Pot.  It’s a thicker thread, made by Superior Threads, and it sews really easily.  Sometimes on thicker threads I like to use sashiko needles, but I this time used a regular needle with a slightly larger eye and it worked just fine.Bee Happy March 2019

Here they all are together, and yes, they are cute!  Leisa made me promise that there was no deadline for getting this done (we are doing this in tandem), so I’m taking it slowly.  It’s a good project for me to have as I like to have handwork at night to do while I watch Marie Kondo’s Tidying Up episodes.  I live in dread that she is going to ring my doorbell and make me pile up all my fabric on my bed, then make me give away all that doesn’t spark joy, saying thank you to each fat quarter that doesn’t make my heart sing.

Happy St. Patrick’s Day!  

Dublin and Fish and Chips

I leave you with this image of my husband standing out front of a genuine Fish and Chips shop in Dublin, Ireland, when we visited last September.


May your heart sing everytime you touch fabric.

Dublin Fabric Shop

This was right across the street from the Fish & Chips place.

 

 

This and That for February 2019

Bee Happy Quilt_Feb_1

You think I might have caught that wonky churn dash.

I’ve been watching the second season of Anne with an E, a show on Netflix that re-thinks the well-loved story about a certain red-haired orphan.  I binged-watched several episodes while hand-sewing and emobroidering the bees and other blocks from the sew-a-long Leisa and I decided to do.  It’s been good company while I’m still recovering.

Bee Happy Quilt_Feb_2

Okay, now it’s fixed.

blossom

I’ve been able to get out for a few walks around the neighborhood; this is our first blossom in our front yard.  We’ve had a ton of rain, and since we’ve been in a drought, the plants (and I) are loving it.

Flower Hexie strips

I was able to sew my Flowers for Emma blocks into strips.  Next up is sashing, the borders. I love this design by Sherri McConnell.Flying Geese BlocLoc ruler

I gave in and pressed the small triangles a different way, because, gosh!  How can I possibly make a year’s worth of triangles and not use this?

Temperature Quilt_Feb13

Here’s a month-and-a-half’s worth of triangle temperature markers.  It’s also an interesting way to note the passage of time. And yes, I have not yet Marie-Kondo-ed my design wall.  I like it just as it is.

Gridster Bee Blocks_Feb13

Bee blocks from my Gridster pals have been coming in: a row of houses!High Quality Life label

I’d actually prefer dark, rich chocolate to give me a high-quality life, rather than Snickers.  (Sign in my local Japanese/Chinese import store)

Quilted quilts_1

I sent out three quilts for quilting, and got them back in record time.

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Now what will I do with them?  I have to figure out how to trim them, and bind them with one working arm.

Time Marker for Surgery

Only now we’re almost at six weeks.  I make these monthly time markers to send to my mother, to show her I’m still around.  Still have the sling, still one-armed, but I’m trying to keep up with all the projects around here.

Happy Stitching!

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