stars shining brightly

stars shining brightly
quilt #237 • 35″ square

This is the second sawtooth star quilt top I made during the Time of Covid, but that first one is still awaiting quilting. One night, dragging around, looking for something to do besides all the things I’d done every single day for the last few months, I thought I would just knock this one out, get it done.

It had held me up for a while, as I kept thinking that it had to have precision ruler work in all those fine-pointed stars that were made when I was testing out my Sawtoothmania pattern, but in the end I decided that Done Was Best.

I’m about ready to sew the labels on the back, but I’ll pin them on then wait for a Zoom call to finish this up.

We snucked sneaked zipped up to Utah for a very quick trip last weekend to go to my niece’s wedding, dithering about it so badly that it wasn’t until the night before that we actually made our final decision. You know…covid. But the evening was idllyic, the food delicous, the bride and her father (my brother) both giddy and slightly delirious with happiness, so I’m glad I got to see that. She had three pages of vows, he had two pages, and all of us old marrieds are thinking: seriously? But in the blush of youth, why not pledge your troth in a really big way? Life will do what it does, and I’m thrilled they both climbed in the same buggy for the ride.

While going through photos the other day, I found this screenshot. It’s the headline that makes it delicious. Or awful, depending on how your day is going. Yep, it’s not like we wear those kinds of clothes in the photo anymore, right?

So I fell down the Riley Blake Gem Stones ombré fabrics rabbit hole. Here are some brights from The Cotton Cure, complete with a fun piece of candy and a sticker (which I put on the front of my calendar that I still am having a hard time filling out…who needs calendars these days?) I wish I could unfurl the fabrics for you to see the wonderful gradation of color and hue.

Here is another batch of half-yards from Quilt Expressions, who included this little note pad. These two shops know the way to any woman’s heart is a little gift. I found both these shops by doing a search on ETSY for this fabric, which led me to them.

All of them together.

Plans? Another Triad Harmony quilt, as I have my first live-online class with this pattern in a couple of weeks, when I Zoom into the Coastal Quilters for an evening and a fun Saturday. I’m starting work on the password-protected page on this website, shooting videos, freaking out when I try to edit them. You know, the whole digital experience of teaching these days.

Lastly, we are saying good-bye to too many people these days. The flags at half-mast are for Judge Ginsberg, and the 20,000 flags in front are to honor the over 200,000 dead due to Covid-19, since March. I wrote about the first 100,000 dead some months ago, and I struggled at this milestone. Are we not talking about it because we are numb? Are we not making a big deal of because it’s an election year and all the rahrah is distracting us? Or, more soberly, are we not noting it with fervor because we expect that soon there will be a 300,000 milestone, maybe even a 400,000 and we want to save something for that event?

This last idea scares me to death, for that means that many more people we love will be gone, from grandparents to aunts to friends and neighbors, almost sliding out of our lives without much notice. All that history. Gone. All those relationships. Gone. All those memories that will have to stand in place of these who died of this disease; gone too soon, they now grace the heavens, stars shining brightly.

I wish for all who remain behind, solace in their sorrow, and hopefully a quilt somewhere to curl up in on a bad day. Take care everyone. Wear your masks. Be kind.

We are not out of this yet.

My grandmother (left), my great-grandmother (right) and my Aunt Alfarette as a child, all wearing masks during the 1918 Flu Pandemic.

New Mask Pattern • Sept. 2020

I found a new mask pattern that I think will be the best one yet. It’s from the Japanese Sewing Books site, and she has multiple sizes on one page, or you can download them one by one. She also has a video which clearly explains how to make one. I wore one of these masks around today for a while and not once did my glasses fog up–a real plus!

I use two (2) layers of quilting cotton and one (1) layer of featherweight nonwoven interfacing–it doesn’t really matter what kind. Just really light nonwoven. I made the Large size, but I might try the XL size next time–it will give a little more coverage.

I like to add a little casing for a flat piece of aluminum across the nose bridge so it will snug in. I cut a piece of matching fabric about 4 1/2″ long and about 1″ wide. I turned in one short end and stitched down this seam allowance. Then I finger-folded the raw edges under on the other short side and one long side.

I aligned the long-raw-edge side with the raw edge of the lining piece, centering it and placing it at the top of the lining. To finish, I top-stitched it down on two sides, then made the mask as the video indicates. That last long raw edge will be caught into the seam.

I bought some of these “nose wires.” Funny name. I used this elastic cording, threading it through the little casings on either side (watch the video). I cut each piece 9″ and then threaded it through and knotted it.

I didn’t want the little tip on her pattern, so I just folded it under when cutting. It looks cute, for sure, but I wanted to make the nose strip casing, and it wouldn’t work with this.

You can see me modeling my mask on Instagram.

Yep. I’m no Lady Gaga in the mask department, but I’ll bet she doesn’t wear hers to the grocery store, either!

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!

Returned Samples

Samples Returned

I didn’t want to open the envelope when these teaching samples came back, even though I’d been expecting them.  The Guild Program Chair wrote me a lovely note telling me they’d never had to cancel a speaker before, and they were sorry.

I cried.

outer shell virus trojan horse

How do I write a blog post about what’s going on under the surface for those of us who love going out and teaching and meeting new groups (groups of 50+!) and hanging out with quilters and celebrating what they make in their classes?

When Bill Kerr and Weeks Ringle of Modern Quilt Studio, in a newsletter, said that they’d canceled all classes and Guild visits until there is a vaccine, I knew that what I initially thought of a just-a-few-weeks experience was now going to be at least a year, if not two or three.

I think it’s been slowly dawning on most of us — as we stay carefully put, doing our “i-sew-lation” sewing, doing our best to be cheerful — that a creeping sadness is all around us.  It’s not only the horrific amount of deaths from Coivd-19 or the stories of those on the front lines in the hospitals or that we share memes incessantly, trying hard not to be sucked under. That creeping sadness some call grief (and that may be what it is), interrupts creativity, joy, connection, and a host of other daily living patterns.

Urge to create is gone cartoon

One morning’s walk this week, I dissolved in tears as my husband discussed all the formal steps we would have to take for possible retirement: forms to be signed, Zoom calls, separation from his job and mountains of research and careful planning. It wasn’t that we aren’t prepared or ready for this new shift in our lives.  I was just jealous that he had forms to be signed, Zoom calls and mountains of careful planning.

I cried because all of sudden, doing what I loved was gone, and for the foreseeable future–it would remain out of reach.  There were no forms to be signed.  Just a lonely envelope in the mail from a most kind fellow quilter.

So many tears for such a little crisis, I thought.  I immediately shifted into Counting the Blessings Mode, as that’s my usual.  I have a wonderful home to shelter in, a sufficiently stocked sewing room, a kind and loving husband who works hard to understand me, sufficient steady income, a large family of brothers and sisters and parents and children and grandchildren and a wide expanse of friends, both in person and digital.

But it’s just hard to retire when you weren’t expecting to, when you’d found what you really loved to do.  I don’t know how long it will be until I can greet quilting friends again in person.  No one knows. But we’ll all just keep going, keep trying to count our blessings, keep working to bridge that not-in-person gap that we all face.  Some days I do fine at this.

And other days an envelope makes me stop and have a good cry.

Happy Box.jpg

I’ll be in my Sewing Room — my particular version of a Happy Box — if you need me.

tiny nine patches

QuiltCon 2021.png

This came in my emailbox yesterday.  Given what I wrote about above, I’m not surprised.  I’m glad that the Modern Quilt Guild is being proactive on solving the problems that might exist in our new covid-centric world.

And as far as my teaching goes, I am in contact with my future quilt guild gigs, seeing what their plans are, if they will be holding events.  If you have questions, and have already booked with me, please get in contact to discuss.  Things change quickly.

tiny nine patches

The illlustration of the virus above is:

“A rendering of the outer shell of an adeno-associated virus with the exterior partially removed. The shell is used as a Trojan horse to deliver a genetic component of the coronavirus to raise an immune response. Credit: Eric Zinn and Luk H. Vandenberghe”

I thought the illustration beautiful.

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.

BeeHappy6_2

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.

BeeHappy6_1a
BeeHappy6_1
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!

April Flowers

Gridster Bee April 2020

We had our April showers this week, and while the verse says that the flowers aren’t supposed to show up until May,  Nancy of Patchwork Breeze, our Queen Bee for the Gridsters this month, asked us to make these giant blooms for her block…so I made her two, just because at this time of Being Shut In, why not?  It’s the Totally Tulips Quilt from Missouri Star.

Yellow Quilting Tools Block

I also am attracted to happy, yellow posts, and this one from Karolina fit the bill.  She brings string-pieced blocks to a new level with her photo styling.

Roz Chast Cartoon April 2020 COVID

Roz Chast says it best.

Oliver Meme

More Instagram memes, which also remind me to be grateful that I’m esconced in a house with a sewing room with all that I need to sew.

April Masks_35

Beauty Queen in an Face Mask

I chose to put a little dart at the nose and chin of my accordian mask with ties.  I had run out of elastic when I made this batch. Then the universe, and Elin, smiled on me, providing more elastic for more masks.  While I am choosing to serve our country during this critical time by making a few masks, I think there are very many ways to serve.  Maybe your best way is to stay home, or take care of your children, or bring a neighbor some groceries, or put something in the mailbox for your mailman (I usually put treats, but yesterday I left a mask), or treat the people with who you live with a little more patience, or call up someone who is alone and have a chat.  We can all do our part.

Somewhere in this mess of a house, or in my garage somewhere I have a whole box of black pipecleaners that could be used for  shaping in a face mask.  Can I find them?  No, but I found a box of my grandmother’s large silver hairpins, given to me upon her death several years ago.  Thank you, Grandma, for doing your part in donating wires for face masks!

I updated my Face Mask page, after getting the official names for masks.  I found another version on the Washington Post website, so now you have your pick of what you can make — if you need to for your family/friends/health care workers.  Our county put a “wear a mask” mandate out there at the beginning of the week, the neighboring county did it yesterday, and Los Angeles will adopt this as well.  If you don’t have a mask made of batik, then good-quality quilting cotton will do, and in a pinch, a bandana.

Why are you doing it that way Meme

This hit a little close to home.

Fast April 2020 icon

Our church is inviting everyone to fast and pray with us — or just think on it, if you aren’t affiliated — this week on Good Friday.  Our main ideas are “that the present pandemic may be controlled, caregivers protected, the economy strengthened, and life normalized.”  I personally can’t do much for the caregivers, health workers, scientists who are scrambling to find us treatments and vaccines, but I can pray and fast that the suffering may end soon, and that those who are on the front lines, supported.

Discouraged Sailors Advice Meme